Sunday, February 28, 2016

Understanding Those who Deny my Reality

Dissociation As a defense against emotional pain, dissociation is separation from and loss of awareness of our experience of the present moment.  

Repression is similar and related to dissociation and denial. Repression is an automatic psychological defense against unbearable emotional pain wherein we forget a painful experience and store it in our unconscious mind.

Denial is complex defense that involves not recognizing and thus avoiding our awareness of the reality of a traumatic experience.  While considered a "normal" defense at times because it may allow a graded acceptance of hurt, loss or trauma, denial is maladaptive if it interferes with rational or appropriate action to address or heal the hurt, loss or trauma...

( fromMemory and Abuse, remembering and healing the affects of trauma, by Charles L. Whitfield M.D.  Health Communications Inc. 1993)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reposting: The Brave Princess: A True Fairytale

"Mommy, tell me the story about the princess, and the king who did something bad to her."

My four-and-a-half year old jumps into my lap her glittery purple princess crown sliding down over twinkling eyes.

"Oh sweetie, it's Friday.  I still have to get the guest room ready, and I really have to be in the right head space to tell you that story."

"Oh, please, please tell it to me Mommy.  PLEASE!"

My beautiful princess gazes into my tired eyes, hers filled with trust and anticipation.
She doesn't know that the story I am about to tell her is true.
  It's a story that happened to me, and to many other Jewish girls, princesses all of us.
 It's a story I need her to know for her own safety.  I guess I can stand to take a break.
My princess and I settle into our comfy old blue leather couch.

"Once upon a time there was a beautiful little princess.  She lived in a palace with her father the king and her mother the queen.  She had sisters who were also princesses and brothers who were princes.  The princess was a good girl and a kind girl.  She cared about others feelings.  She went to school every day and had a teacher who loved her, and who she loved, just like you do!

 Now the princess had a big problem and she didn't know what to do...Maybe you and I can help her find a good solution.
Her father the king sometimes did things to her and the other princesses that she knew were not OK.  Things that a king shouldn't do, and usually doesn't do."

"What did he do Mommy?"

"He did things that were not tzanuah (modest).  He touched the princesses in private places."

"A king wouldn't do that, Mommy!"

"That's exactly what the queen said when the princess told her!  She said,
 "The king would never do such a thing!"

"The princess didn't know what to do!  She loved the King and didn't want to hurt his feelings.  But she did want him to stop touching her.  She tried to tell her sisters but they wouldn't listen to her either.  The princess knew that her sisters knew the truth, but they were too embarrassed and ashamed to admit it.  What should the princess do to help herself and her family?  Should she keep it a secret?  Should she tell her teacher?"

My daughter knows the answer.
How can she not?  I'm her mother.

"She should tell!  Even if she's embarrassed, she should tell!"

"Well, that is just what the princess did!  She told her teacher.  Her teacher hugged her and said,
"I am so proud of you for telling me!  You are a very brave girl!"

But then the teacher got serious.  "Is the King doing these things to anyone else?"

"Yes."  The princess said.  "My sisters.  My friends...and to my brother the Prince."

"Guess what the teacher said? "

My daughter knows this answer as well.

"She has to tell!"

"Yes.  You are so smart!  As smart as the princess in the story."

 The teacher indeed said,
 "You have to tell!  You have to yell from the roof of the castle until people listen and stop him."

The princess shook her head.
 "But, I'm embarrassed.  And, the king and the queen won't let me live in the castle any more if I tell everyone.  They will be so angry with me.  They will say it's not true!  Where will I live?"

The teacher gazed firmly and lovingly into the brave princess's eyes.  "If that happens then you will live with me.  I will love you and take care of you forever and ever. "

Well, that is just what happened.

 The princess yelled from the rooftop of the castle about the king and his terrible touching problem.  The king and the queen were very angry and embarrassed, and insisted that it wasn't true.  They commanded that the princess leave the castle.  Many people in the kingdom were upset too.  They thought the princess must be wrong.  They said, "The king would never do such a thing!"

The princess was sad and scared but she knew just what to do.  She went to her teacher who loved her, believed her, and protected her.  The teacher made a party to celebrate the princesses bravery and invited all of her friends from school.  She made her a special dress and crown that was befitting such a brave and courageous princess."

For my four-year-old this happens to be the most important part of the story.
  "Tell me more about the dress and crown that she wore at the party!"

Her dress was splendid.  It was white with gold threads and real diamonds and pearls woven into it.  It had pink glittery gauze covering the whole thing.  the dress sparkled in the light.  When the princess spun around her special dress twirled and swirled with her.   Her crown was made out of gold and was engraved with the words, "A Real Princess Inside and Out."

Now comes the million dollar question.
Deep breath.
"If you were the princess do you think you would tell like she did?"

"Of COURSE I would!"

I hope so.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Reposting: Silence Of the Rabbis


About a year ago, I sent a copy of the following letter to every rabbi of an Orthodox shul in Baltimore. I received not a single response to my letter; neither in writing, phone call, or e-mail.

Fifteen years ago, the president of the Vaad Harabonim of Baltimore, Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer, advised my family to cut me off unless I promise never to state publicly that my father molested me.  The problem is that my father is the principal of an elementary school in Baltimore, Torah Institute.  My father has never taken responsibility for his actions and continues to work with children.

Please publicize this and hold the Baltimore rabbis accountable to their words:

To the Vaad Harabonim of Baltimore, and The Baltimore Frum Community: 
Over twenty years ago, when I disclosed that my father molested me, I was given the message that I would be better off dead than speaking my truth. 

Back then, I believed the message that the 
rabbonim and my family gave me, and at the age of twenty two I survived a serious suicide attempt. A few years later, I was told by Rabbi Hopfer, through my family, that unless I agreed to keep quiet about my experiences I would receive the worst punishment in the TorahKares

I could not survive and keep silent, and so I lost everyone that I loved. 

On April 11, 2007, The Vaad Harabonim of Baltimore issued a letter to the community where you claimed to know something about child sexual abuse.(I am quoting directly from that letter) 

"The greatest allies of the abuser are ignorance and silence. The abuser thrives 
in an environment where he is confident that his victims will not report what 
they have experienced, or where their reports of abuse will not be taken

The Vaad Harabonnim of Baltimore have effectively created an environment where my father is confident that any victim of his, who dares to come forward,(and not many will dare, after the example you made of me) will not be believed
 or taken seriously. 

You claimed in this letter that survivors are:
"so richly deserving of your compassion and support." 

Yet, you abandoned me, and continue to abandon me. 
You wrote that a single abuser will often have many victims. 
Yet, you continue to allow my father to be in a position of power and authority over innocent 
children. You wrote in your letter: 

"The damage that abuse can cause is devastating and potentially life altering; it
 commonly ruins an individuals sense of self, their ability to trust others, and 
their ability to engage in a healthy intimate relationship."

These things are all true. 

I am, to this day, still dealing with the after effects of the abuse that I endured.
 You wrote that your own poskim pasken that an abuser is a "rodef", that he is incapable of teshuva, that publicizing his status as an abuser, while causing enormous damage to his own family, may be the only way to truly protect the community from him. 

You claim in your letter to believe that abusers must be stopped, and that you
 have made terrible mistakes and that they haunt you. I am one of the mistakes that will haunt you.
 I have nothing to hide. 
I offered to speak with you, as well as to allow you to speak with my therapist, 
and you ignored me. My offer still stands.

Everything you wrote in this seven year old letter is true...and yet, you have not been capable of applying it in a situation where you know and trust the 

Dr. David Pelcovitz, a community expert on this topic, often says that the closer
 you are to the perpetrator, the more you can identify with him, the less likely
 you will be to see the truth, and the stronger will be your denial. You all know 
and trust my father. Some of you knew my grandfather. None of you know me, 
as an adult, nor have you tried to know me. 

You are all allies of an abuser. You are all still failing to protect our children
 from abuse. 

Some of you may not be aware that I was not always considered crazy. I was actually, according to my bosses at the time, Rabbi Velvel Rosen and Sara
 Itzkowitz, one of the best pre-school teachers in T.I. That is, until I spoke my truth and tried to get help.

In Israel for the past nine years, I ran a progressive and very successful early childhood program:

When I heard about Eliyahu Goode's death, I felt his neshama crying out to me 
and I thought it was because he, like I, was also an abandoned victim of child
 sexual abuse from our community. It was only afterward that I realized that 
Eliyahu had been a student of mine, when he was five, and I was twenty, and teaching pre-1-A at Torah Institute. Eliyahu was a sweet boy, and a good boy. He too needed and deserved your support. 

I know, Hashem knows, and Eliyahu knows, that I am doing everything I can to express what he and what so many other victims of child sexual abuse in the Torah community can not say, because we have been silenced and shamed by you, the rabbonim.

I think it is a mistake for rabbonim, or anyone else, to think that they can judge
 between me or my father, or evaluate my mental status. 

The fact that my father has more than one serious allegation against him, raises doubt about his safety around children. Attacking an alleged victim's mental
 health to prove non-credibility, is as ridiculous as saying that a girl can't
 possibly be anorexic since she weighs seventy five pounds and barely eats. 

It is a fact, that in many cases, child sexual abuse and incest cause mental 
health issues, just as anorexia causes weight loss. In my case, and all cases of
 alleged child sexual abuse, assessing risk is appropriate. Judgment is not. 

Hashem is unconditional love and truth. Torah is truth and love. Truth and love 
are stronger and far more enduring than power and control.

Abusing your power and authority to silence victims of child sexual abuse,
 as you have in my case, has nothing to do with Torah, and should not, and will
 not, last. 



Let Rabbi Hopfer know what you think about this:

 She'airis Yisrael (Glen Avenue) shul 
Phone: 410-466-3060 
Fax: 410-367-9183

Thank You Baltimore Women!

I am incredibly grateful to the many wonderful women of Baltimore who have been offering me validation and support online!
Hodu La'Hashem!

Many people don't realize that the secondary trauma of not being believed, or supported, is even more traumatic and damaging than the actual sexual abuse (which is bad enough.)

If a child tells you they were abused, especially by someone they love, believe them.  
No one wants to be abused by someone they love and depend on.
It is devastating.
There is nothing quite as shameful.

When I first reached out to the Baltimore community over twenty years ago I was given the message that I was a liar, crazy, hallucinating, or that even if something happened I should forget about it and move on....And those were the nicer reactions.

About two years ago I sent a letter to every Rabbi with an Orthodox shul in Baltimore. I included my contact details and those of my therapist.  
Neither my therapist, nor I received a single response.

A valid investigation includes speaking with the actual people involved.
Those women who want to make a difference, please respectfully ask your rabbi why he did not respond to my letter.

It would be healing to hear that your rabbi didn't receive it.
Or, that he trusted another rabbi who claimed to have conducted a valid investigation.
And that he is actually interested in truth, and in the safety of Baltimore's precious children.

It is healing to have a voice in Baltimore, and to discover that their is a safe community of religious women in the very same community where I was so badly hurt.

Thank you Hashem!
Thank you Baltimore!

P.S.  I will republish the letter that I sent to the rabbis later today.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Have you Done your Research?

Those who say that they have done their "research" and that my allegations are false, ask yourself this: 

 Why does your research exclude speaking to me, my rav, or my therapist?

  I am willing to share their contact info with anyone interested in the truth.  One sided research is not valid.

This was just posted by someone on a private Facebook page for Baltimore Jewish Moms:

"I actually spoke to the detectivce in the special victims unit about 15 years ago, maybe more, about this. Because I needed to know (for a lot of reasons that I cannot will not make public here). What the detective told me made me sick and oh so sad. I was told that there were complaints about this individual BUT that they were not able to prosecute this indiviidual because of the obstructioninsm of the community that the detectives were encountering. The detective went further and said that in his entire carreer he had never encountered anything like this. I was also told that they had a certain number of complaints but that they needed another complaint so that this could be prosecuted. Unfortunately, that is where it stopped, because of the obstructionism. So there it is. Now you know. A detective who specializes in this believes Genendy  and says that there are OTHER VICTIMS. This was more than 15 years ago. Gd only knows what else has happened since. Yes, sick and sad.

Nothing Happened: Trigger Warning VERY Traumatic Content!!

...Nothing happened...Nothing happened...Nothing happened...

Their story is a broken record stuck on a scratch of trauma. It simply can not play anything else.

It's not a mystery why my family avoids me..
I understand how trauma works.
Trauma gets stuck inside if it doesn't get processed
...Stuck inside, just like a scratched record, playing the same few words over and over, feeling as present and traumatic as it did when it happened, ...even if it was forty years ago.

We all try to run like hell to avoid traumatic memory that we can't process.  We deny, repress, dissociate, rationalize, minimize...
And because I can't outrun this horror
Because I have to process it,
My family avoids me.

I need to process this memory.
To figure it out.
I need to break its hold over me and my life.

Every time I am sick, every time one of my children is sick, and I need to go to a doctor, this memory is triggered.
Then denial kicks in.

How could my father have done this?
How could anyone possibly get away with something like this?
How can I remember the details so clearly when I was so young at the time? 

I know I did not ask for this memory and the havoc it causes me.
 I did not ask for the pain. The shame.  The humiliation.  The trauma.
It hurts me, still.
And I am going to share it in order to decrease its power over me.

 I am about two and a half. Tatty hurt me and I'm bleeding. 
I don't know exactly what he did to hurt me this time, just that he hurt me badly. 
  He pushed something inside me that felt like it was cutting me open, breaking me in half. 
It's not the first time he did this, and it won't be the last.  
But it's the first time I'm bleeding like this.

 Tatty takes me to the doctor.
I am terrified.
 I am screaming and fighting. 
 I do not want anyone to see what Tatty did.  
It's too shameful.  I know it's my fault.  I'm worried that someone will tell Mommy.  I need Mommy to hold me.  But I don't want her to know.  
And I don't want anyone to touch me, or to look at me. 

They are telling me I need help, to stop struggling, to stop moving, to cooperate. 
 They are trying to help me. 

I don't want help. I want to die.

 I want my mother. 

I am not given a choice.  
Adults are just stronger. 
There are at least three adults here, holding me down, taking off my pants, my underwear.  Holding my legs apart, looking at me, touching me.  Telling me I need help, to stop moving, they will help me.
  I need stitches.
It hurts when they look at me and touch me.  
What are stitches?
 I'm so scared and humiliated. 
 I don't want to have a body. 
 I don't want to have a bad part. 
Don't tell Mommy I'm bad. 

I have to get away and I can't.  
 I am desperate.
...But I am also a tiny bit hopeful. 
Maybe, they will really help me.  
Maybe, they will fix me so I won't be bad anymore. 
 Maybe, they will get Tatty away from me and not let him hurt me anymore.
I try to bite the lady's face that is near mine.  She moves her face away.

I see a needle.  
My stomach hurts; I'm so scared.
Stabbing pain in one side of my vagina.  I can't move.  I can't get away.  I feel another stab. 
 They are sewing me for real!

 I leave in my head.
I can't be real. 
 I will kill off this part of me.  
She is dead.  
She is not real.
The real me is safe.

  The real me has a Tatty who would never hurt me, and a Mommy who would know if I was really hurt, and help me.

At home, Tatty bathes me.  He wants to see if I'm OK.  I try to push his hand away.
He lookes anyway.  He always looks.
Tatty says; If I tell Mommy about this he will hit me so hard I will never talk again.
I believe him.

 Tatty takes me back to the doctor. 

 The doctor and nurse and Tatty hold me down again. 
 Take off my clothes again.  
The doctor touches me again.  
Looks at me again.  
He says I'm just fine.  
Good as new.

Then something I could not have guessed happens.
The doctor hurts me on purpose.  
He pushes something in me down there.
His finger?
I don't know.

He is showing Tatty how to hurt me without making me bleed.  
I am such a bad shameful girl.
They think it's fine to hurt me as long as I don't bleed.
I deserve it.

At home, I take a needle and stab it into my hand on purpose. 
It's my way of trying to tell Mommy what happened.  
Without really telling her, because Tatty said I can't.  
I can't tell her anyway because
I have no words for this.

Mommy takes me to the hospital and I get stitches again. 
But unlike with Tatty, Mommy is not allowed in the room.  
She doesn't hold me. 
 She doesn't touch me when I need her.
This time I am wearing all of my clothes, strapped inside a purple streight jacket with only my bleeding hand hanging out.

This memory is inside me.
Stuck in my mind and body.
Twisting in my gut, every time I see a doctor.
 Every time I let a doctor touch me.
Every time I see a scene in a movie with a doctor examining someone.

My stomach clenches, and that familiar stabbing feeling of pain, terror and shame makes the world stop for a moment.
...Before I push it away.
I push it away together with  the little girl inside me who is crying,

Help me, don't hurt me. 
Hold me, don't touch me.  
Look at me, don't see me.  
Don't tell Mommy... I need Mommy right now.

The part of my mind that was stuck in this trauma knew how to make the memory stay buried inside so I would not have to talk about it or share it.
I would keep it buried by acting it out.
I knew how to shame myself and hurt myself.
I knew I deserved it.
 I didn't have a choice.
Some part of me knew it would happen again sooner or later.

Now I am doing something different.
Something safer....for myself.  For my hurt child part.
I, the adult, know the doctors in my present life, won't hurt me.
I know that now I DO have choices.
I go to a doctor only when I can do it in a way that feels safe.
I won't hurt myself anymore because of this memory.
And I won't continue to doubt this little girl who thinks she is bad.
I have never met a real little girl who is bad.
And I know that adults molest children all the time.
I know my father molested me.
I have many memories of him molesting me.

My childhood pediatrician is not someone I can get reliable information from.  He lost his license when I was about seven.
He murdered his wife .
She was found buried under the picnic table in his back yard.

My mother was sad because she liked Dr. Sugar.
She told me, in spite of his crime she would have continued using him as our pediatritian if he hadn't lost his license.
 She liked that Dr. Sugar never made her bring us in for a checkup or give us medicine, even when we were sick.

 I can not get reliable information from my family about what happened to me. 
 They spoke openly about how Dr. Sugar killed his wife, and how he was our beloved pediatrician at the time.
 They spoke openly about how I stabbed myself with a needle and got stitches when I was two-and-a-half.
But they can not admit to the possibility that I was molested.
By anyone.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thoughts on Suicide

Anyone who has not survived childhood sexual abuse cannot imagine what goes on for survivors on a daily basis.  It's like living in the eye of the storm every day.  I do not know any survivor who has not had suicidal thoughts at some point.  I pray that Hashem continue to give us strength to live well in spite of the pain.

I dreamed that I killed myself.
I committed suicide.

In my dream I leave this world of pain behind, and I am free  of my body and of all confusion and suffering.  My soul is with God. I am held in a safe eternal embrace of love and truth.
As far as the world is concerned, I am dead.

 In reality my soul has been restored to eternal life.

 My physical mind and senses are no longer blocking me from awareness of truth, from knowledge, from joy and unending love.
I am home.
And I never want to leave.

But there is a problem.
God wants to speak with me.
God has a mission for me down on earth.
He says I am the only one for this task.
Three children have lost their mother.  They are alone, in pain, devastated, broken.  Their father is suffering, lost in a world of depression.
My mission will be to marry this man as a second wife, and to be a mother to his three children.  To love them and raise them as my own.  To bring this family comfort, security and joy.

I ask what my life would be like if I accept this mission.  What would my resources be?
I am assured, that would have everything I need to succeed.
My husband would love me.
My children would love me.
I would have a network of the most amazing supportive friends.  I would live in Israel.  I would live in a beautiful apartment.  I would not have to worry about food to put on the table.  I would be a talented teacher.
My mission to help the grieving children, and family heal, this would be my challange.

I have one more question.
I want to know what happened to the children's mother.
The answer comes to me, and I am horrified.
 She took her own life.
How could she do that to her children?!

God does not want me to judge her harshly.
 She was a victim of severe childhood sexual and emotional abuse.  She worked hard for years to overcome her challanges. She gave her children a good start, and a lot of love.  But she succumbed to the pain and chose to end her life early.  It was the wrong choice because she did not complete her mission. And she left behind  a lot of pain that now needs healing.

I decide to accept the mission.
Without dying and coming back.
I will do my very best to be the loving mother to my children, and loving wife to my husband that they need and deserve.
My children are OK because I am here and I am not leaving. My beautiful, precious, children love me...and need me.  My children do not deserve the unending pain that I was given by my parents, passed down to them.

Instead, they have a mother who is doing something very different than my parents did.
I am putting my children ahead of my desire to escape pain.
I am modeling how to take responsibility for my choices.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Dear Tatty,

I don't know why you molested me.

 I don't know if you're a pedophile, or if you lack an ability to empathize, or you're a guy who gets off on a power trip over a weaker person.
 Or, maybe all of the above.
I just don't know.
  I do know that because of your terrible choices you lost a daughter, and  I don't envy you.
I feel sorry for you, Tatty.
I don't judge you as a person, although I abhor what you did to me.  We all have to live with our choices, and you are living with yours.
 I love and care about you.
I do not want to hurt you.
You are my father.
You are a complex person,who has made good and bad choices in your life.
 You loved me, and almost destroyed me... Nothing can change the confusion and devastation that you caused.

It would be easier if I hated you, and you had never loved me.
It would be easier if I knew you were a horrible person.
I know you are not.
You had a traumatic and abusive childhood, just like me.
Your mother beat you with a broomstick.
She would hold your nose and force food down your throat.
She also tirelessly collected tzedakah for hachnasas kallah.
As we both know, people are complex.

I would like to think that if you would have had any idea of the damage you were causing you would not have done what you did to me.
 I would like to think that at this point, because of the damage and pain that you are suffering, you would never do it again.

 But I don't know.
I may never know.
 I do not know what went on in your head when I was so little and vulnerable, and I do not know what goes on in your head now.

 You won't speak to me, or my therapist about this, or invite anyone else to, either.
You refuse to go with me to a rav or a gadol, or even a trauma therapist who does not have a vested interest in your innocence.
You are very comfortable allowing people to think I'm crazy.

We both know I am not.

Tatty, you continue working with vulnerable children. You repeatedly lie, and deny what you did to me.  You avoid me, and hope everyone else in our family and your community will do the same.
You hide behind the ignorance and naivity of the Rabbonim in Baltimore, and their blind trust in you and your psychologist friend Aviva  Weisbord.

Tatty, I think you are afraid of me, and for good reason.
You are afraid of the truth.
You know I am not crazy.
You know I speak the truth.
Truth is stronger than lies.
The truth always comes out in the end.

Your daughter,

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Powerful words from Rabbi Steinsaltz

Mishpatim’ – Judaism Abhors Child Abuse
Mon, 02/01/2016 - 17:12

Read more at Adin Steinsaltz:

"There are some objective reasons why such things happen quite often in religious institutions. Children are taught and trained to be obedient and to accept their elders as authorities – which makes it so much more difficult for them to resist abuse or to report it. Unfortunately there is no sex education in some of the schools; nor is the subject discussed in some homes. So when something like this happens, it takes time for a child to understand it and even more than that – to talk about it.

Child molestation almost always causes enormous, multi-level damage to the victim's soul: it may make the victim unable to form healthy relationships. They may lose trust in people, because the molesters are often those who were supposed to be their caretakers and protectors.

It should also be stressed over and over again that this crime of child molestation is not just a civil offense: it is also a very severe religious crime. Under Jewish law, it may even deserve capital punishment. Offenders may also be liable for the most severe punishment of karet (untimely death by the hands of the Almighty).

It is important to say all that because there is a tendency to cover up such incidents, especially in institutions, and sometimes even to protect the perpetrators. Partly this is so because those in charge are often more in touch with the molester – who may be a colleague or a friend – than with the children. This is especially the case since children hardly ever express their hurt. And, of course, institutions do not want their reputations to be harmed.

The first and foremost duty of any educational institution, and the prime responsibility of its heads and leaders, is to be rid of anyone who causes such great harm. Good reputation or personal friendships must by no means stand in the way of investigation and clean-up.

We must make sure that such a person will never again be in a position to repeat such offenses. It is therefore not enough to fire the perpetrator from his (or her) work place: it is both the organization’s and society’s duty to make sure that the crimes are known and punished."

A New Reality

I'm tryng to adjust to a new reality.

 I don't know where it's going to take me. 
 It's a place I have never been before and I don't recognize the landscape. 
 It's slightly familiar, and yet completely unfamiliar at the same time.
 I know I have seen something like this.
 But not this.
Never this before in my life.
 Inside I am different.  Changed.
 I have rewired my brain.

My relationship with my therapist, Deena, is what caused this change. A reparative relationship. A healthy, connected, and respectful relationship, that we built together over a long period of time.  Deena has given me tremendous doses of love and patience. She makes it possible to heal parts of me that were so wounded I could not own them as mine. It took me eight years to begin to trust her. She has given me all of the space and time in the world.

  I sit with Deena and I connect with her in a way that I should have been able to connect with my mother. 
 Every child needs to be able to connect with a safe mother.
Mother is safe and strong.  
Unconditionally loving and accepting.  
Mother wants to protect me. 
She wants to hear me and to know me intimately, the good and the bad.  
And it is safe to let her in.
 She wants what is best for me in a real way.  Deena can not take away the bad that happened to me, but she holds it and contains it with me.

And the biggest miracle of all, is that I let her!

 I let my therapist be a "do-over" mother and come close.
 And I let the hurt parts of me close.
And I let her hold me.

It is a role play I call,  "If you were my mother."

It makes me think of the children's book, Are You My Mother?  I have read it a thousand times to my own children.

I ask Deena scary and risky questions.
Scary, because I don't  know the answers and I need them.  
Risky because the parts of me that did not have a safe mother are right here, 
 listening and hoping for an opportunity to heal.

"If you were my mother what would you say to me, the little girl who was sexually abused?"

 My real mother could not, and did not want to know about the sexual abuse.
 She didn't believe it happened when I finally told her twelve years after the abuse ended.
She said, "If it really happened I would have known."
 Children know instinctively what is not OK to talk about in families.  I was a bright kid.
  I knew my mother could not protect me.  I knew that she could not see that I was hurt, nor hold my pain.

But my therapist can.
  My therapist is. And she does.

We walk together on a breathtakingly beautiful and dangerous ledge...I, somehow, trusting that I won't fall because she is with me.

  When a child has a parent who is safe and strong, it makes her safe and strong inside of herself.
From my therapist, I am borrowing safety and strength I never got from my parents.  And I'm beginning to understand on an emotional level how some children actually feel safe inside their bodies, and in their lives.

At a very early age I was intolerably hurt and hopelessly alone.
 I was not safe.
There was no one I could trust.

Now, I am allowing something completely different to happen.
 I am allowing safe connection with another human being, a safe mother figure.
 I am allowing trust in a way I never knew was possible.
 I am not alone, and I do not have to ever be alone again.

Deena tells me things that I often tell my own daughter, but have never heard from my mother.
 She tells me that every part of me is precious.
 She tells me she wants to hear what happened. 
 She wants to hear about everything that makes me happy and sad. She wants to know all of my questions and all of my thoughts.  
She tells me I am good and wonderful and beautiful. 
My body is good. The bad things that were done to me do not make me bad.  
The shame I feel is only because shameful things were done, but it is not my shame or my fault.  She tells me I am lovable, and safe, and real.  She encourages me to be connected and present in my world, and in my life, with people who are good and safe.

My therapist has a question for me.

 "If I was your mother what would you need from me?"

The question catches in my chest.  It is an unexpected and wonderful and dangerous question, because I don't know if she can give me what I need until I take the risk and tell her..

 I need so much.
I need everything I didn't get.
I need to tell her everything that I could never tell my real mother.
 Everything that happened and everything that hurts.
Everything that sometimes feels like it is still happening, even though I know that it is not.

 I need her to know how scared I was of my father and my grandfather.
I need her to find a way to protect me somehow, even though I knew it was impossible.
 I need her to understand that something was very wrong, even though I don't have words to explain what it was.
I need her to believe me that it hurt too much, and I blamed myself.
 I need her to help me understand what happened to make it hurt so bad, and tell me she will take care of it.
 I need her to see where and how I was hurt.
I need to know that my body is not shameful, even though it was shamed, and that she can look at me and see me, and know that it hurts.

I need my therapist to hold me. 
 All of me.
 Including the parts that my mother could not look at, name, or know of.

Most of all, I need her not to disappear, as my mother did, when I needed her the most.