Three decades ago. I’m not even eight years old. I’m in the hospital recovering from an illness. A nurse comes in and takes it upon herself to expose me to sexuality. Until then, I was blissfully sheltered. You see, in our community sexuality is an untouchable subject for adolescents. Let alone for young children. But for me, the genie is now out of the bottle.

I’m from a hassidic family. I am ashamed by what was done to me. I still am today. I speak to nobody. A few days later I’m discharged from the hospital. I begin subtly regressing. I carry burdens that I didn’t carry prior to my hospitalization. Perhaps too burdensome for my shoulders, yet I must resist collapse. Socially, academically and within the family, I begin an ever so subtle regression.

I survive the broken pieces of “childhood” with difficulty. I complete schooling, marry my lovely wife, and found a non-profit.

Now three decades later, I’m in a leadership position in “kodesh” (sacred [spiritual] communal work). Serving a community. It’s funny how the shoemaker goes with no shoes. I help others process their burdens yet ironically my own needs go unhelped. “Ain chovush matir atzmo”, – the confined can’t unbind themselves.

I can’t be weak. I can’t divulge the shame. I’m the same as the little kid version of me years ago, fighting to hold it together. Treading water in a vast pool of unprocessed emotions.

Enough life failures, struggles and yes, also successes to keep a mystery alive and ever constantly gnawing:
Of course my traumatic experiences have effected me, but what can be chalked up to my DNA destiny at birth, and what is due to my destiny post that event of trauma and its’ new normal of lowered expectations? Perhaps I was always destined to hover beneath the line of mediocrity. Or perhaps I was robbed of a rich destiny of success.

I remain in survival mode. Living to fight another day. I search for the exit sign to escape the confusion. The brilliant words that will empower me to rise above my struggles. Perhaps G-d in his compassion will elevate me one day from this abyss. That is just the redemption that I hope for to feel like the luckiest man alive. This is my humble prayer.



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