I’m sitting here on Chanukah night watching the small flames flickering on my menorah. The room is dark. The lights are off and the only thing lighting up the room are the small flames on the menorah.
I’m on my couch depleted of all strength. I’m feeling dark and empty both physically and emotionally. My inner self is dark and cold right now. I’m suffering from a heavy relapse back into my old painful self and I’m wiped out and left without any trace of strength to move on. I really want to give up as it’s getting so hard but then I look at the menorah stand and see my precious children’s menorah and I feel determined to continue fighting for them. They need a father. They need the love and care from a loving and caring father.
So I know that I need to continue climbing this seemingly endless mountain. At the top of the mountain there’s a beautiful building called inner peace. But until I get there, I know that I won’t have inner peace. My climb is full of peaks and valleys. I can climb and get to a very high peak but then a wind comes out of nowhere in the form of a trigger and blows me off the peak and sends me flying to a valley with a hard crash. After I’ve fallen I’m too afraid to look up and see how high I’ve fallen from.
What makes this challenge so much harder is the loneliness of this climb. I don’t have fellow climbers with me to cheer me on when I have a good day of climbing, nor do I have a fellow climber to soothe my pain when I slip off into a valley.
Who talks about sexual abuse? It’s still a topic that’s so laden with shame and secrecy and unfortunately so much cover up. So although I know that there are so many climbers scattered around, climbing the very same mountain that I’m on, I can’t find them. I don’t see anyone and it’s such a lonely climb.
Looking again at the flames, I’m reminded so much of my childhood. The little innocent flames can be so powerful if they grow; however, as they are now, they are so innocent and vulnerable and can be blown out from the slightest wind. They can be blown in any direction that you want them to go.
We all start off our life as a little flame, full of innocence and vulnerability. We all hope to grow past the stage of the small flame and grow up to be a big raging fire which is both powerful and full of determination.
However, some of us like myself, had our flames blown out as children. We weren’t ever given the chance to build our flame into adulthood. We are therefore stuck trying to live life without the strength of the fire that everyone else has.
We are left cold and dark and don’t have that fire inside of us that is so noticeably apparent when you look at non victims. It’s as though we are a whole different being. There are those that have an inner fire keeping them warm and vibrant and then there are those that are missing that flame, as it was extinguished so unfairly by a mean and selfish animal. We have to measure our strength all the time, and if something will take too much strength, we simply we can’t do it. We wake up in the morning and need to ration our strength to make sure we have enough to get us through the day.
So, is it possible to reignite the flame after so many years of living in the dark? The answer that I hope for, is, yes, it is possible. I have my days when I see and feel the flame in me and know that all my work in therapy successfully reignited my inner flame. But then there are days and sometimes weeks like this past week that I’m walking around in the dark and cold and feel no flame whatsoever.
This is my life. This is the life of an abuse victim. We all had our flames blown out at a young and vulnerable age. We weren’t asked beforehand and weren’t given a choice. A mean, sadistic and selfish human being stole our innocence and blew out that vital flame in us. We were left grappling in the dark, desperately trying to find our way out of the thick and heavy darkness.
Many of us didn’t even realize that our flame was extinguished until we hit adulthood and saw that we simply didn’t have the strength to get through the day and realized that something was amiss. It was then that we had to dig deep down into our heavily buried and guarded “secret” that we thought we would never expose. We had to go through the grueling work of facing our traumas head on and dealing with them.
This is my life and this is my story. I plead and beg Hashem that while Chanukah is the time of miracles, I should have my own miracle and experience a complete healing from my past. I should finally get to the top of the mountain and be able to feel true inner piece and tranquility. I should feel like I’m ignited with the flame of strength and perseverance.