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Posts Tagged ‘foster care’

(Note: This blog is full of raw honesty and may be hard for some of my beloveds to read. Please don’t feel obligated. With my 53rd birthday on the horizon, I am being to drawn to share an awareness that has been emerging over the last month as I have been writing for my upcoming book, Thriving: No Option.)

img_2681As a young child, I saw my father as my knight in shining armor. I adored him with every fiber of my being. I could never get enough time with him. Never. Wherever he went, I wanted to follow. His love for people and music was so contagious that I followed in his footsteps. He adored me and showed me in so many ways. But in truth, he didn’t show me in the most important way he should have. He left me navigating a life of pure unadulterated darkness. My father was the first man to leave my spirit shattered. A cycle that I’ve allowed to perpetuate itself time and time again.

While there is no question that my father loved me, he didn’t keep me safe. In fact, his silence permanently scarred me by allowing me to be regularly beaten, verbally assaulted, and ultimately raped. It is only recently, that the full impact of his actions and inactions have left my spirit gasping for air.

How could a man that loved me as my father did allow my own mother to beat me? How could a man that loved me as he did stay with a violent and mentally ill woman instead of providing a safe place to call home. My mother’s violence lead me into foster care and into the hands of a man that would rape me. My best friend’s family wanted to take me as their foster child, but I knew enough to say no even though I couldn’t stop the initial assaults.

My father might have been able to make a difference if he had been stronger, but that wasn’t my father. Instead I never learned that I was worthy of love and care. . . not really.

A few weeks ago, I was stung by the onslaught of this very  unwanted realization. Since then my sleep has been troubled and I have found myself shedding tears at some of the most inopportune moments. The nightmares and clenched teeth of my sleep have become unwanted guests. Although, as soon as I identified what was going on, the healing began.

At first, my awareness was about what my father had done and not done, but later I was stunned by what has become an even more problematic realization. The first relationship I ever had with a man overshadowed every interaction with men that followed. Instead of finding loving relationships with men that loved and cared for the person I was, I found loving relationships that ultimately left me hurting. How could it have been any different, I didn’t know how I needed to be cared for and loved. Besides that, relationships can be challenging. . .especially when they are ending.

The men were not intentionally hurtful,  I think I just struggled more because of the baggage I was holding. I lacked the inner strength to navigate reality.  Some relationships aren’t right or meant to last. Some relationships offer you the most treasured packages, but not forever. I believe that that’s life. The challenge is that my heart and spirit just didn’t have the grace when it was time to release old loves so that we could both move as we needed.

Today, I know this: I want someone to hold me when I need to cry inconsolable tears. I want to be loved through the pain of major surgery. I want someone who loves me when my entire being is on overload and I am celebrating both silly successes and major programs. I want to love someone who can listen to Elizabeth Gilbert’s wisdom and “embrace the glorious mess that I am.”

I have chosen people that can’t show up for me, but that cycle is breaking now.

Hineini, Here I am!!!

Onward with love, light, & blessings,
Chava

PS – I am sad that my father never kept me safe or loved the fullness of my spirit, but my responsibility to make healthy choices now. I learned a lot from my beloved father. I am just sorry I learned some really hard lessons too.

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BreatheThere are days and weeks when I know that I don’t belong – anywhere. The loneliness seeps in and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am alone. The sadness settles deep inside my core until I can take a deep breath and navigate the jagged edges of my soul.

I know that I am not alone when I say that certain seasons are a trigger. The good news is that after decades of being reintroduced to the darkness every year, I have learned to ride the waves and trust that these feelings will not last forever.

I have learned to breathe deeply.

This week has been really tough in some ways, but profoundly enlightening in other ways. I have allowed myself to ride the waves of emotions and to take the time to face whatever I am feeling at any given moment.

And yes, I am alone, but that is ok.  I don’t believe most people want to hear about what the winter holidays were like for me growing up. And I don’t think anyone wants to hear what I was doing 28 years ago this week. The stories are part of what was, but not really who I am today. And yet. . .

The memory is a funny thing. Even when you think all is ok, you find out that it isn’t when the watershed opens at the least expected moment.

Earlier this week I had the honor of joining an Episcopal church for Christmas Eve services. From beginning to end, it was a really beautiful service. Except there was this moment that triggered a flood of emotions. The only problem is that I stood paralyzed by my inability to cry, to run, or to scream. As I listened to Hymn 97, I remembered 37 years prior when I was forced to solo sing the chorus of that very hymn in front of a congregation in a Methodist church.

At the time, I was a young Jewish girl living in a foster home somewhere in Arbutus, Maryland. The family made me go to church every Sunday; I don’t know if I realized that I could say ‘no’ or that I could simply refuse to go. I didn’t have the tools and no one would have heard me if I did.

While the memory flooded my spirit on Sunday night, I also had this incredible moment that that hymn was transformed into something beautiful instead of the memory of a young girl who was alone at one of the hardest times of her life.

No child should be forced to practice a faith that isn’t their own. No child should lose their voice to a system that is broken, but the good news is that the story didn’t end there. On Sunday night, I was able to get lost in the memory only to be ignited by the beautiful passion that that same hymn was able to transform a beautiful community into a holy one. In a spiritual moment, I was able to transform a dark memory and create new memories.

So while I sometimes feel alone, what I know today is some beautiful things can evolve from a moment alone. May I be blessed to remember that while I may have moments when I feel alone, I have a village to hold me tight and love me for the person I am.

Breathing deeply – now and always,

Chava

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24 hours = 500,000 #MeToo tweets + 12 million #MeToo FB posts, comments & reactions. #MeToo is about women screaming out and saying that they were sexually violated. This has been a profound experience for because it took me decades to find my voice and tell anyone what happened.

As a young child, a neighbor who was also a friend’s father molested me on a regular basis.

And then at 14 years old, my best friend’s step-father molested me multiple times and raped me. There was no one to talk to and no one to listen. I was alone. This came at a time when the foster care system became my stomping ground because my mother couldn’t control her violent rages. Tracy’s family had wanted to take me in and treat me as their own, but Gary believed he had the right to do as he wished with my body and ultimately my soul. And he did.

Years later, I don’t really relate to the acts as being sexual assault; I seem them as violent acts. I was forced to endure what no child or adult should experience. In my mind, I was violated and thrust into the world of #MeToo.

Sunday night, I found myself in a total PTSD (or post traumatic stress disorder) meltdown. As #MeToo unfolded and then became viral, I found myself reliving the agony of those experiences and later the re-surfacing of those experiences. For just a couple of hours, I was temporarily back into the devastation mode. I remembered. I hurt. But I and so many others were being heard. How beautiful is that?!?! I was touched each and every time I saw a Facebook status line that said, “I believe”, “I hear you”, and “I am sorry”.

I’ve done a lot of healing work over the years. I also have done my part to empower young women as a way to break the cycle, and now I am sharing part of my story. And perhaps the best thing is that I have parented two amazing sons that understand that they have a responsibility moving forward. And after this past weekend, there a whole lot of women that know that they are not alone and a large group of witnesses to support them.

May we do this work together. May #MeToo become #NoMOre.

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