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Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Have you ever felt invisible?

  • You know the moment when you have a FABULOUS idea and no one will listen.
  • Or perhaps, when you were waiting for a call from someone who simply chooses to disappear without warning.

For me, I think I was invisible for nearly my entire childhood until I went to Israel for high school when I was 16 years old. And even then, I wonder if I was mostly invisible until I was in my forties. I may never really know.

As a child, I am not sure that I understood how to engage in normal ways. I had no idea how to interact as others did. My guess is that I learned to fake it because I was an actress. In truth though, I was invisible. No one really knew me or much less saw me. If they did, they would have had to look inside themselves in order to understand why they stood by and did little or in most cases nothing for a thoroughly battered young girl.

I grew up in what many refer to as idyllic neighborhood outside Baltimore. Yet I will never understand how the neighbors growing up on Pikeswood Drive, my extended family that lived within 3 miles, and my school community could have closed their eyes to the child that stood in front of them, next to them, or within their worlds. Perhaps I was a fabulous actress, I doubt it. More than likely, the adults simply did what felt easiest for them. They closed their eyes, their ears, and their hearts; more likely than not they choose to stay disengaged.

With that disengagement, I had to learn how to navigate a world that made no sense. As a young child, I never wondered why folks didn’t show up. I do now, but back then, it was simply my norm. And that norm was so lonely to navigate.

I have a distinct memory of believing that all my screams were silent when I was a little girl. They weren’t. I have one distinct memory of seeing my mother passed out from one of her many drunks and me screaming at the top of my lungs.  There were no words just what I would describe now as a guttural cry. At a ripe young age, I learned that no one could hear my cries and no one really cared. As I got older, I remember creating a silent scream, I would feel my mouth open, my heart race, and my tears roll down my face, but no sound came. My life experience had taught me to hold my pain inside.

To make matters complicated, I was seriously hearing impaired as a young child. If my memory is correct, I didn’t really hear until I was about 5 years old. I am not sure how I communicated or even if anyone understood me before that time. While I remember other sensations, I don’t remember real communication.

And even when I did start to hear, I knew without a doubt that I spoke funny, everyone struggled to understand me, and besides I could barely hear what people were saying anyways. Somehow along the way I was blessed to learn how to read lips. And over time, I learned how to “act” normal. I even learned how convince my schools that I understood what was going on in the classroom, but that was another one of my lies; I was simply acting.

Reading lips opened up the door to real communication. I am not sure when I figured out that I needed to see people’s lips in order to hear them, but wow did my life get a little easier. While I have never read lips fluently, what I do does help me connect with people.

Lock EyesAs I got older, I learned that I could really connect with people by looking at their lips, reading their expressions, and really locking deeply into their eyes.

Eyes speak volumes and when you look deeply into the eyes that you are facing, you remind yourself and the person in front of you how present you are. When you are locking deeply into the eyes of whoever you are facing you are actually saying “Hineini/I am here”! Our conversation is the most important conversation in the world.

While I don’t always lock eyes, it truly is one of the most holy ways to fully engage with another human being. After a childhood of believing I was invisible, being seen and heard and doing the same for others feels INCREDIBLE.

SARK, my spirit mentor and teacher ends many of her letters with:

You are seen, You are known, You are loved.

After years of being invisible, I believe that the only way that I can see people, know people, and love people is by listening to both their spoken and unspoken words.

To this day, I still have brief moments when I feel invisible, the only difference is that all I have to do is reach out to my beautiful tribe of beloveds that are there for me.

Make sure you take time to lock deeply into other’s eyes. I promise you that it will by one of the holiest connections you will experience.

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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(Note: If this is your first time you are stepping into my Elul Reflections 5776, please read the Introduction to this series at http://wp.me/pthnB-1Nm.)

Chava's Shadow 17January2016

Over the last many years, I have found myself struggling with communicating my thoughts and my feelings within close relationships. While intellectually, I know that I am articulate, the inner child in me has had to cope with feelings of inadequacy and feeling like I am sometimes invisible.

In truth, I understand why this is. This has been a reaction to losing a couple of my closest friends who didn’t want to hear my voice any longer. I may never know the full story, but it probably doesn’t matter. It is what it is. At the time, those experiences triggered memories of my childhood. During those early years, I learned that that I was insignificant; no one heard my cries or helped me in any tangible way. So I learned to hide behind the shadows. Sometimes that is still my safe space; sometimes I still go there.

What’s beautiful is that there is a part of me that understands how articulate I am. And there is another part of me that knows that my thoughts mean something to my family, my friends, and my community. My holy work is to fight the demons that try to silence me.  You know the voice in your head that tells you that you aren’t good enough to share your thoughts; or that voice that reminds you that you are showing too much passion. My job right now is to stop that voice from affecting how I communicate.

 

Moving to Houston just over 16 months ago has contributed so much to my healing from loss of loved ones. It has also helped me to see that I have not been silenced by those closest to me unless you count me.

People want to hear my thoughts, my stories, my ideas, and most don’t mind hearing me fumble with words. I don’t always have to be articulate.

Over the last year I have listened to Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert. I love these podcasts that have inspired me to honor my creative soul and was especially touched by Episode 205 that I heard earlier this week. In it, Liz shared that our words are “better out than in.” While my passion sometimes feels unweildy, it is always intensely real and from my heart. As long as I remember that sharing my voice is like speaking my truth, I can ride the waves of life with a little more ease.

Plus it came at a time when I am planning to share more of my stories and ask others to share their stories of childhood and life traumas. I am starting a project in which I collect stories of positive souls that have had to overcome harsh traumas. I want to hear how people navigate the darkness and ultimately find light.

Hearing the podcast felt like a huge punch into my gut because it helped me to realize that I have been minimizing my voice instead of sharing it with the passion that is part of me. The good news is that this didn’t happen all the time, but it happened too much. So as I get ready to address some hard stuff in my writing and storytelling, and even within my personal relationships,  it is ok for me to also say that “it’s really scary for me to let this out, but I’d so much rather it come out all wrong than stay in all wrong.” My voice matters.

Being emotionally honest is how I navigate the world. Thanks for joining me on this journey.

Onward with light & love,
Chava

 

 

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Chava looking at large canvas 3

Rothko Exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts;             Photo Courtesy of David Cooper

Last night, I learned to listen to that quiet voice that reminded me to remain silent when what I really wanted to do was share the thoughts racing around in my head. Somehow I knew that I needed some time to reflect before expressing myself in any serious way.

Communicating is easy. At any moment, I can pick up my phone, send a quick (or lengthy) text, quickly shoot of an email, blog from my soul, shout out to my Facebook/Twitter community, or scream at my sons. I could do that, but I didn’t. At least, I did not do that last night.

Instead of going for instant gratification, I took a deep breath, a long walk, and a shot of vodka. I decided to refrain from major conversations, long involved letters, intense blogging, or even small talk. While I wrote a few quick responses on Facebook status lines, I did not pour out my heart, make any major decisions, or say something that I would later regret.

For once in my life, I (mostly) listened to that quiet voice that provided a shadow over my soul. Sometimes it is better to allow for the quiet.

When I was a little girl, my father used to loving put his hands over my ears and give a gentle squeeze. As he did, he would whisper the words, “Listen to the quiet.” I believe that act may have been the most loving act my father ever did. He knew that when I was sad, tired, sick, or struggling that I needed the cocoon of silence. I probably also needed his loving hands to remind me that I am loved.

While I don’t have my father’s hands nurturing my spirit with his gentle touch and loving words, I do have the ability to remember that sometimes, I need to listen to the quiet. And sometimes, I simply need to allow for the silence before finding and sharing my voice.

Writing is how I best communicate. If you want to know what I really feel, don’t ask me to tell you, ask me to write. Years ago, I learned:

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at,
what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
~Joan Didion

Through writing, I share the deepest part of who I am. And while I know how to use my voice, I am a much more honest writer.

So when last night’s darkness loomed, I did the only thing that made sense. I allowed for the silence, refrained from making any ‘real’ decisions, and I sat in my sadness, my frustration, and my anger. And the hardest thing that I did was refrain from writing. I didn’t send words out into the universe that could never be taken back.

At this point, you may be wondering what was feeling so heavy. Was it that one of my sons was acting out? Was it an internal struggle I am having? Was it that I have an upcoming meeting that is reminding me of my many vulnerabilities? Yes, it was all of those things. AND it was the sense of foreboding I feel with the upcoming election that was intensified by this week’s AIPAC conference. It is also the growing rift I see in the larger Jewish community. Maybe it has always been there, but in the last few years I feel the rift growing. Whether we are talking about Israel or the Jewish people, politics or immigration, human rights or the environment, each and every issue seems to create clouds over our people and the larger world too. And with each serious challenge being brought to our attention at break neck speed, the struggle is inevitable.

Last night, I did my best to take a deep breath and to listen to the silence. I chose to go inward, to cry, and to sleep for a couple of hours. It helped.

I am not sure that the world is a better place or that the elections will bring out the best in people. I do know that this morning I have a little more clarity about what I need to do today, tonight, and in the upcoming weeks, months, and years. Mostly I know that I have to sometimes trust the silence and sometimes trust my voice. And perhaps, what I need most is to:

“Step out today not seeking to be in the spotlight but seeking
for a spot to light
– be a blessing to someone.”
Bernard Kelvin Clive

 

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Photo courtesy of Ann Cameron Siegal!

Photo courtesy of Ann Cameron Siegal!

All of our deepest truths are paradoxical when we try to express them in ordinary, linear discourse. Quote by Rabbi Jonathan Kligler

Time and again, I am amazed how challenging it is to share the deepest part of my soul or to hear the innermost feelings of others.  For me, to invite people into my world fully means sharing the layers of my being in a way that feels a little overwhelming. I am sure the same can be said for others. Each of us has a past, a skeleton that may be better left alone, but which is still part of our fabric.  We are also our dreams, our hopes, our obsessions, our darkness, and of course our light. At any given moment, we are navigating the world we live in and the world we are striving to live in.

Each and every one of us are human beings with deep thoughts and emotions.

Feelings are so complicated. Putting experiences into words can be daunting.  Life is complicated. And with that reality, simple words don’t always make sense. We use them because they are the tools we have in a world in which communication is essential.  But what does fully connecting look like? How can we intuit what is really being said when words are not enough?

Have you ever noticed how beautiful communicating can be with a lover who understands your intensity without ever needing to hear what you are thinking. They can look in your eyes and feel where you are; touch enables clarity to flow. Words can enhance what is happening, but the kindred energy is so much fuller when you can include the senses. In a different way, the same can be said for close friends and close family. In recent months, I have been blown away by the nature of all healthy relationships and I have been distressed by the connections that once were.

Words are never enough. Communication is made whole by the silence between the notes, the light or darkness in one’s eyes, a touch, or simply trust.

May each of us be blessed to experience relationships where we hear and feel heard.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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