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Posts Tagged ‘childhood violence’

Initial Reflection post last night’s Houston Vigil Against Detention Camps at SW Key:

Last night, I went to an action/vigil against detention centers or what I now choose to call concentration camps. Together I joined hundreds of people in front of the SW Key Juvenile Detention Center in Houston; ironically this center is on a street that was recently renamed Emancipation Ave.

As I stood strong against these centers, I found myself wondering why more of my friends didn’t join me; I do understand some were bound by Jewish law so a Friday night or Saturday vigil is not appropriate for them, but I have been at a bunch of actions and I haven’t been seeing enough of them. If we are supposed to take care of the stranger, the widows, the orphans, the poor, why aren’t more of our faith based leaders and their congregants joining this holy work?

As the evening progressed, I watched as the police officers initially charged at the peaceful activists with their aggressive energy and a bunch of horses too. Watching them, I found myself fully grasping that they were  following orders regardless of their beliefs. Is that what many Nazis did? Follow orders without wondering the full ramifications of what they were responding to. To be clear, the officers were not cruel, they were simply ‘doing their job’ and following orders. But I wonder if they even considered that all of the protesters were feeling deep pain for what brought us to stand for hours to protest how our country is treating refugees and undocumented people.

And finally, I stood in awe of the protesters. People of all ages, backgrounds, and spiritual traditions who stood together chanting, singing, drumming, and sharing their thoughts. The vigil was grounded in values and kindness. People were coming together for love of humanity and anger about how horrific our government is treating those they deem illegal. No human is illegal!

Salas Haider and I

7/12/2019 Houston Vigil Against Detention Camps at SW Key with my beloved tribe including Donna Olson-Salas, Chava Gal-Or, Sarah Haider, Federico Salas-Isnardi  

 

 

 

Deeper Reflections: 

As a young girl, I remember questioning, ‘where were all the Germans when their beloved neighbors were being taken away?’ I also used to question how all of those Nazi soldiers could have been OK with the dehumanization of people. I am still wondering those same questions.

Today, the questions are the similar. Why aren’t more people standing up for humanity?How can the border patrol, police officers, and other ‘professionals’ who work at the Deportation Centers live with themselves? How can we have so many leaders who essentially describe refugees as vermin?

As we watch parts of our government dehumanize those seeking asylum from their own hell, I am wondering why more moral people aren’t standing up against the atrocities we hear about daily in the news? Why aren’t more people actively engaged in loving humanity?

While the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum may demand that people don’t use “Holocaust” terms to describe the current treatment of refugees, I feel certain that many of the “Detention Centers” could be better described as Concentration Camps on a good day. Children have been ripped from their families; families have been separated from their loved ones; there is a shortage of water, beds, food, and all necessities for those that are being detained.

And meanwhile, there are many loving people that are choosing to do little or nothing to help humanity. What’s wrong with this picture? LOTS!!!

A long time ago, I came to understand that I can do many things and some will be done well, some less well. Regardless of the fact that I can’t do it all, humanity always needs me to do as much as I can. That means I can love and care for my family, work for a living, have a nonprofit that helps people, write, paint, and I can still do more than one thing. Babies are in jails instead of being loved and held by their mamas and papas!  And that is not the only issue I care about; I also care about the environment, education, health care, and so much more.

And what angers me more than anything right now is that I have good friends, community members, and neighbors that would probably watch their neighbors be taken to a concentration camp before choosing to show up and defend them. What is their excuse? Work. Family. Hobby. Too much to do to take on one more thing.  Or perhaps they think they can only do one thing at a time. . .  I call BULLSHIT! And I am not talking about my friends who have loved ones who are struggling with health challenges. They need to focus on navigating health challenges. When my sons were critically ill at different times, I also stopped doing what I could to make the world a better place, but as soon as I could, I returned to showing up in the world or at least I really tried.

Young families have their own challenges too. . .I get it. AND I also understand that my own sons learned that I cooked for those who were sick, went on actions for humanity, used to volunteer/sleep at a homeless shelter one night a week throughout the late fall and winter.  My sons understood that I showed up. They also watched their father leave the house to go on volunteer calls with the Red Cross whenever disasters hit our community. Our children can handle us showing up to make the world a better place. In fact, if they see us parents caring deeply, they may even choose to show up themselves. One of mine does; the other, not yet. 

My Past Is Guiding Me:

As a child, my neighbors stood by as I suffered. They did nothing! They heard the screams; they closed the ears. I want to be better than that.

Hineini, Hear I am. Where are you?

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

 

 

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July 24

A few weeks ago, I realized that I was falling in love with myself.  For the first time in my life, I have come to accept where I am, my own unique beauty, and the many realities that are me.  There is no man telling me that I am beautiful; there is no job that affirms my self-worth; and, I am a human being with deep loss and a violent past that has made me who I am today.  I am a mother, a sister, a friend, and lover of life; I am a woman.  And through it all, I have grown to deeply love who I am and how I walk in the world.

My entire childhood was surrounded by the barrage of angry words and mannerisms that showed me of my unworthiness.  One of my first memories was when my own mother tore my pajamas off and beat me.  She was the one to tell me that I was fat and ugly; she was also the person who believed that I was ‘retarded’ and limited in every way.  While I had a loving brother and a loving father, they never could make up for the damage that penetrated my earliest days.  And yet, knowing that I was loved was still a blessing.

Protection rarely came as I prayed and hoped it would, but it did come.  As a young girl, I was sexually abused at the hands of a neighbor and then raped by a man that was supposed to protect me from my family.  He didn’t.  Violating a child at any age can rip her spirit and shred it into nothing more than confetti.  And yet, even with those realities, I found my footing with an amazing therapist, a loving brother, and a strong inner core.

I grew up; I am still growing up.

A white picket fence has never been part of my life.   That doesn’t mean that I didn’t experience a loving family as an adult or many precious experiences throughout my life.  I am truly fortunate.

My body has been both my protection and my tormentor.  It has kept me safe even as it has suffered pain and defeat.  Each scar is very real.  While I have birthed one amazing baby (who is now 21 years old), I have lost at least 9 pregnancies by treating each as a toxic impurity that needed to be destroyed.  Thanks to the universe, one child survived.  A C-section, a hysterectomy, many laparoscopic procedures, exploratory surgery with a resulting appendectomy are part of my many physical scars.  And then there are the scars that no one will ever see, unless I choose to share.  Yet my body did protect me.

Chava with her first fruits

Chava with her first fruits

My heart beats strong; it has supported me at every turn.  My heart allowed me to run non-stop as a teenager and young woman; by running I was able to leave the world of drugs and stupidity behind me.  Each and every heartache could have destroyed me, but my writing kept me alive and gave me the room to sort out my pain and heal.  The strength has always come from my heart and allowed me to soar as a human being.

In spite of some of my challenging experiences, the parts of me that were once full of pain have become filled with beauty.  When I was a little girl, my mother chopped my beautiful hair off (perhaps for a reason, but I don’t recall).  Over the years, my hair has become a part of me that I have grown to love.  The texture, the curls, the wildness are all part of what I have grown to see as quite stunning. My body has received emotional and physical beatings at every stage of its life until now; today, I have come to not only accept all of my parts, but to see how precious and lovely they are.  And finally, I do not see myself as brilliant, I used to hate that I couldn’t figure things out like other people.  I wanted to have a mind that could do whatever I needed to do, but today I have learned to ask for help and to figure out that which I can.  In fact last night, I learned how to add a Hebrew keyboard to my iPhone.  I know that seems like small potatoes to some of you, but to me it was huge.  There is nothing about me that is retarded, there are things I can do well and things that I have not yet mastered. The very facets of my life that had once caused me pain have actually become what has helped me find my inner and outer beauty.

Over the years, I have learned to treasure who I am.  My writing has allowed me to touch people in positive ways and to make an impact for good.  My dreams to positively affect people are coming true over time; I have people in my life that I value and that value me.  And today, my dream of growing my non-profit called My Second Foundation for adult thrivers of childhood trauma is starting to take shape.

I am finding my inner and outer beauty.  Today, I look at some photos (mostly selfies) and see a beautiful woman.  I am a little stunned that I can see myself as beautiful.   I no longer cringe when I see all the photos of me.

While I would love to have a career that will financially sustain me as well as give me the opportunity to be fully me, I am strongly aware that my job doesn’t necessarily define who I am.  Today, I help people in ways that I never knew I could.  As a care-giver, I help people at the most challenging time in their lives as they are aging and sometimes losing their mental abilities; I do make an impact for good.  This is not what I ever planned to do, but it is a blessing that I can be where I am today.  And today, I have been given windows of opportunities to do things that allow me a greater understanding of me and what I hope to one day accomplish.  I am not bound or limited by the expectations I once had.  In fact, I know that when I take a new position in Jewish education, non-profit work, or in something I have yet to see coming my way – the decision will allow me to be impactful and to touch lives professionally or as an activist.

 

Doors have never been closed to me; they are and have always been wide open.  I just have to be aware of the opening and to decide which side of the door I should stand or whether standing in the doorway is exactly what I need.

I love being loved, healthy relationships, and feeling beautiful in another person’s eyes.  AND I know that while I treasure that, I don’t need someone else in order to see each and every square inch of me as loveable, precious and worthy.  (OK, I’d love to lose my double-chin and it is time for me to deal with the excess arm fat, but neither of those things makes me cringe.)  My body, all of my body puts a huge smile on my face because all of it is part of who I am.  I feel blessed to have the ability to care for myself and to work on whatever parts of my body I want to.  While I want to have a man to hold and treasure me for who I am, I don’t need another person to label me in order for me to have self-worth.

Yoga gives me many of the tools I need to create a stronger and healthier yesod (foundation).

Yoga gives me many of the tools I need to create a stronger and healthier yesod (foundation).

My vulnerabilities are also part of who I am.  I am far from perfect.  My writing gives me the space to develop my ideas and share the real me.  I look forward to the time when I can financially and physically return to a regular schedule of yoga with a class that is safe for me to grow physically and spiritually. I’d like to lead a chant group or another spiritual group so that I can share all the tools that have made me who I am today; I am deeply introverted even if people see me as an extrovert.  I struggle with the fear that I won’t be articulate or that I will be laughed at for my spoken words.  As a young girl, I needed 9 years of speech therapy in order to be fully understood.  Whether I like it or not, that is still part of who I am.  My voice matters and I love sharing who I am through my voice – written or spoken.  I hope that I always continue work on myself and be the best that I can be.

I am who I am because of the many parts of my life that made me that way.  Today, I have a beloved family consisting of my sons, my brother and his family, and friends that love me for who I am and who I also love.  I am beginning to realize that I don’t have to be anything less than what I am with each of the individuals that I call my family.  There are also other people in my life that have taught me valuable lessons at every step, not all are friends; but each person has impacted me deeply.  I am blessed.  The people around me are a reflection of exquisiteness that can be found within my essence; perhaps I have grown to be as charismatic as those I adore for who they are.

I am emerging as a butterfly after feeling surrounded by a loving cocoon called life.  I am thoroughly beautiful, inside and out.

Arms spread

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