Monday, September 23, 2013

FLASHBACK


  I am relaxing in bed on Shabbos morning with a good book, when suddenly I'm feeling very young, and very scared.  My arms are shaking and my face is wet.

 I can hear my children playing downstairs.  I don't want them to see me crying.

I put the book down and go into the bathroom.  I hear a young voice speaking, gasping with sobs.  The words are coming from my mouth.  She is telling me something.  It is so garbled I don't think I would understand the words, if they weren't spoken in my own mind.  She is saying...

"...Then he banged my head on the floor like this. And he hurt me like this."

  Some very young part of me is urging me to listen to her, to stay with her, and feel her feelings.  She wants and needs to be heard.   


  I often look in a mirror when I'm alone having a flashback.  It's so hard to believe that I'm real and that my feelings are real.  It's so hard to trust myself.  I need proof that I exist.

I pull myself up to the mirror. The traumatized, eyes of a terrified four-year-old gaze at me from my forty year old face.
The adult in me, the protector of children, snaps to attention.
I realize I am having a flashback.  I cross my arms across my chest in a hug, and grab my shoulders.  I hold us both firmly; my adult self, and my child self.  I rub my arms, trying to touch the young part inside. I tell her, "No one is hurting you now.  Your safe.  I won't let anyone hurt you."  I try to make my voice soothing and firm.

In my mind I can see and feel what is happening to me, as a four-year-old.  It happened so very long ago, but in my body, and in part of my mind, it feels like it is happening right now.

 I am lying on the floor in the bathroom.  Tatty is hurting me, again.  He wants me to do something disgusting.  He is trying to force me. I can't do it, yet I want to please him.  I don't want to make him angry.  I don't want him to hurt me.

My body won't obey.  I can't do what he wants.  I can't make myself do it.

My mouth opens and closes and I gasp for breath.  The silent, screaming child's voice shatters my mind.
"Tatty, don't hurt me!"  No, Tatty, don't hurt me!  Stop!  I want to bang my head.  When he bangs my head then he will stop!  Bang my head!! Bang my head!!"

 In frustration and disgust, Tatty bangs my head back on the floor.  My whole body tingles and goes numb.
 He picks me up and carries me back to bed.
 It's over for now.
Desperate, terrified, screams try to come out of my mouth. 

 Be Silent!

I don't want to scare my children who are downstairs.

Be Silent! 

 I need my husband's help, but I am so grateful he is with my children.

Be Silent!  

The terrified four-year-old inside me knows that she is not allowed to make any noise.

  She has to be quiet so no one will find out how bad I am.  Tatty does this to me because I'm bad.  I don't want anyone to know.

I grab my arms again, hugging myself, the adult and the child together, and I hold on tight.  Willing myself to stay present, and not abandon this four-year-old part of me alone in the past with this pain and trauma.  My family abandoned her.  Her community abandoned her.  I can't.  I won't.

"I hear you."  I tell her.  "It's not happening now.  I'm an adult now.  This happened a very long time ago.  I'm with you.  I'll always be with you."

The tears and shaking stop eventually.  Then comes the headache.  I hold my head 
on the floor in the bathroom.  Exhausted.
 My daughter is calling me.  She wants me to read to her.

I wash my face and leave the bathroom to read to my young daughter.
She doesn't seem to notice that my eyes are slightly glazed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

FATHER DAMAGE


Father is a story too confusing to tell
his loving and hating
so strong
his legacy of rapes and hugs
kind words and large hands
in private places
father will do anything
to control your love
gifts and trips
an open heart to his daughter
who understands
and is an important confidant
of the all powerful father
the same one who makes her naked
looks deep inside
the privacy of her soul
climbs into her with every part
that might fit into every opening...

...The child’s mind dissociates
her spirit passes through dimensions
slipping far away to safety
and forgets
as he comes daily
to haunt and probe
the depths of the soul he was given
to destroy.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Life is like a piano. The white keys represent happiness and the black show sadness. But as you go through life's journey, remember that the black keys also create music...

(Does anyone have the source for this quote?)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Journey of Healing

The following quote is from,  Healing from Trauma  A survivors guide to understanding your symptoms and reclaiming your life  Jasmin Lee Cori, MS, LPC, 2008

"Many times this journey feels like traveling through the fires of hell.  Yet through it, we can come to know the meaning of heaven.  We find heaven within us when we recover our own preciousness; we find the heaven between us when another tenderly helps us heal; we find the heaven around us when, moving from hell to well, we find in the ordinary world the beauty and meaning that was earlier bleached out of it.  And some, too, find a heaven of angels, which may pierce through the veils of our lives in moments of need or when our spiritual search takes us there."

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Children are Spiritual Beings Having a Human Experience (and so are we!)

Note: I took a break from blogging due to the busy start of a new school year.

Let's listen to a child in my Gan, four-years-old: (quoted with his parent's permission)
We were discussing Rosh Hashana, and the creation of the universe.

child: "Outer space is Hashem's mouth.  I goed to outer space one day and Hashem told me that I was in his mouth!"
 Keep listening, as this child explains a picture that he drew of his theories about Hashem:
"There's a bad Hashem and a good Hashem.  I drew me shooting at the bad Hashem and he exploded, and the good Hashem is smiling cause the bad Hashem exploded."
Me: "but, It says in the Torah that there is only one Hashem."
child, "The Torah is joking. It's not the real Torah.  I exploded the bad Hashem, cause I'm stronger than the bad!"
This child is grappling with issues that we, as adults, struggle with daily, especially as Rosh Hashana approaches.  How can a good Hashem be the same God that allows bad things to happen? 

How could one of  my best friends, mother of young children, be dying of cancer?  How could a friend's mother, a pillar of the community, die suddenly in a senseless car accident?  How can my father at times have been a loving father, and also a child molester?   How can my family, who has so many strong, good qualities, treat me like I am dead, for years on end, because I remember being molested by my father?

We tend to go into denial when bad things happen.   In our inability to hold two conflicting realities in our minds at the same time, we deny truth.   In our pain and confusion we push away Hashem.  We deny that good and bad can come from the same source.  We deny that otherwise good people are capable of doing terrible things.

  My young student has found a working, albeit immature, (yet, developmentally appropriate) solution, to this epic problem.  He knows that both good and bad come from Hashem, although in his mind they can't possibly be the same guy.  This child also knows that he is good and that good is stronger than bad.
  God allows bad things to happen in order to give us free will.  Free will and choice is the basis for morality.  Without choice we have no free will.  No judgment.  No responsibility.  Like non-human mammals, we would always simply be reacting to instinct. 

  Choice is synonymous with free will and is the basis for judgment and morality. Encouraging children to choose develops their awareness of how their minds work, and helps their teachers perceive their innate differences, revealing what Gardner (1983) calls intelligences. " 

(Possible Schools Lewin-Benham 2006 )
In my classroom I listen carefully to the children to try to understand their world view.  My goal is to help the children discover, express, and test their theories.  I am much more interested in teaching the children to make good choices that affect their daily lives, than I am in teaching them to, "listen" and "obey."  We encourage even very young children to take responsibility for their choices.

 For example, If one child hits another, we ask the offender, how will you help them feel better?  If he doesn't know how to help, we suggest asking the child he hurt what would help him.  Would ice help?  Would an apology help?  Would drawing him a picture help?  a band-aid?
 By allowing our children to think, to make choices, and to take responsibility for themselves, we raise our children to be moral, ethical, and aware human beings.

 I always learn more from the children in my Gan than I teach them.  I'm so happy to be back in the classroom!