Last week I sent my parents and siblings announcements of my son's recent Bar Mitzvah. I included a family photo. I don't expect much in response. I fantasize about a connection with someone in my family in the future.
Anyone, who is willing to allow me to exist.
Perhaps, it is as hopeless as the Palestinians admitting that we Israelis have a right to exist. I sure hope not. Yet, my family treats me similarly to the way the Palestinians view Israel. I am the aggressor in their minds, although I know they are the ones who hurt me. They deny my right to exist. They want to silence me because I speak a truth they can not, and do not want to hear.
My family's view of me is that I am fake. A liar. A figment of my own imagination. To my family, either my inside world, my outside world, my past, or my present has to be made up. In their minds, something has to be fake about me.
Until now, I accepted this as truth.
Nothing matched. Nothing made sense to me. Something about me must be made up if my family said it was, and I had only to understand what it was...The past? The present? My feelings? My memories?
The truth, as it turns out, is that nothing about me is fake.
The only thing fake is my family's bizarre and inaccurate view of me. There view of me is a lie. A figment of their imagination. The only thing that doesn't match who I know I am, is their treatment of me. I was always a child who wanted to be good and to be loved.
My inside world, my outside world, my past and my present are all real. I recognize the truth of this statement, and I'm still processing this as a new awareness. I never made the connection in quite this way before. Intellectual knowledge of my constant reality and existence is finally turning into emotional acceptance.
I was not allowed to know I was sexually abused. I was not allowed to try to defend myself as a child, or to heal myself as an adult. I coped in the only way I could. I separated the feelings and
the knowledge of the sexual abuse into dissociated parts. I separated real parts of myself that were, and still are, unacceptable to my parents in order to try to gain there love and acceptance.
That is how badly I, and every child, needs our parents' love and acceptance.
Badly enough to participate in our own destruction, if it will only earn our parent's love.
I pretended, like they do, that very real, very hurt parts of me, were neither real nor hurt. I called them different names, and agreed with my family that I made them up.
Because I did make them up.
I made them up in order to try to distance them, hoping they would indeed become fake, so my parents would love me, accept me, and take care of me unconditionally.
Whatever it takes,
Mommy and Tatty. Please just love me. Please just take care of me.
But as hard as I tried, it didn't work.
In the end I was forced to choose between life and death.
My parents and siblings continue to hurt me by ignoring my existence. It's still hard for me to come to terms with the cruelty of their behavior. Not one of them called to wish me mazal tov on my son's bar mitzvah. Not one of them calls to check on my safety as rockets are aimed at my home, and my children, their grandchildren, nieces and nephews. As air raid sirens blare, and we hurry to find shelter in our safe room. Not one of them can care about me, and love and accept me as the sister and daughter I am.
I am alive.
I am very real.
I am willing to love and accept my family in spite of their limitations.
I felt my grandfather, Grosspapa's, presence very strongly on Shabbos at my son's bar mitzvah. I cried together with Grosspapa. The tears, for both of us, were tears, not of sadness, but of joy, of gratitude and relief. We both felt relieved and grateful that in spite of what he and my father did to me as a child, I was really in a a shul, really celebrating my sons bar mitzvah.
Considering some of the other places I could be, and some of the places I have been, finding myself in a shul celebrating my son's bar mitzvah is indeed a miracle.
I felt wonder at the situation, wonder at the love of my husband's family, and close friends, my family of choice, surrounding me. Love at the greatness of God, who allowed me to heal to the point where I could watch my son read from the Torah proudly, with tears streaming down my cheeks, in spite of having been molested in a yeshiva by my father and grandfather, and having almost died as a result.
The rebbe looked up and caught my eye. He nodded, and made a throwing motion. It was time to throw candy at my son.
It was time for a miracle.
This is a time for miracles.
There is a God in this world and He is good.
God will continue to protect my right to exist as a person, to heal and to thrive, just as He protects our right to exist as a nation, to heal and to thrive, in spite of those who want to destroy us.