Friday, June 13, 2003

On that why question.

Tonight (Thursday night 6/12), as I was standing outside in the mist taking care of my neighbor's cute (and spolied and cuddly) dog Giget, the good ol' "why" question came to mind. Why did my dad abuse me? Why did my mom neglect me and participate in my dad's emotional abuse? Wny didn't someone notice the tell-tale signs? Why? I don't know. I don't think my father and mother are crazy, I hold them responsible for the choices they made each and every time they abused me as a kid and each and every time they deny it and attempt to continue the emotional abuse and manipulation now.

One thing I do know is that I can't change the past. I can only change how it affects me. Thank God for the courage and the hope to do the hard work of healing. I can't imagine my life right now without the journey - - even the tough and horrible parts. Because I can't separate the parts of me that I am proud of and think are my assets from the abuse - maybe my empathy, my ability to listen, to accept people no matter what are touched by the abuse. Maybe I wouldn't be this way if I grew up in a "healthy" and "integrated" family. Who knows.

I think of the story of Dinah in the Torah. Dinah's story is so painful and so hurtful it is a wonder that it is still in the biblical text. Of course, we only know one thing about her - that she was raped. And what did her famiily - her brothers - do when they found out? They went and demanded that all the men of Shechem (the town where she was raped) be circumcised. The brothers demand this in the name of their father Jacob and when the king complies, the brothers murder and pilage most of the town. Disgusting. Horrible. Dinah is raped and that's all we know about her. But even though that is all that is in the text, it isn't all that we know. We can imagine what her epxerience was like - imaginings and questions that many have asked since ancient days - in a genre of literature called Midrash. An excellent modern book asks these questions too and completely reframes Dinah's experience - The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Read it. So why, at 1:30 in the morning am I thinking about Dinah. I don't just think it is sleep deprivation. I think that Dinah's story, like many of the painful stories in the Bible, are there to help us see that we are not alone. We are not alone in our suffering, we are not alone in our pain and - we are not alone in our recovery. We can grow, and change, find courage and friendship and even love and we can thrive.

So, enough wanderings through my mind for tonight.
Laila tov (Hebrew for good night),

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