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My Healing HeartA Life Journey to Find Love
By Rosalie B. Kahn
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Rosalie B. Kahn
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDreams, Betrayal, and Abuse
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When I was a little girl, a long, long time ago, I was addicted to fairy tales. My favorite was always the one where Prince Charming swept the beautiful young maiden off her feet and they both rode away to happiness on a white horse. Things have changed now that I am an adult, but what was important to me then was the dream itself. I don't know if I really believed that Prince Charming was waiting for me. Perhaps a part of me wanted to believe that a handsome man could rescue me from a childhood filled with inconsistencies and pain.
I would often daydream to get release from a home life filled with chaos and secrets. I was extroverted, reflective, overly sensitive, and funny. I believed in my dreams and in a fantasy world that helped me to make sense of things no one could explain to me. I thought that what I experienced was just the natural flow of life. It seemed that when you're little you get bigger, you go to school, you learn to be a good girl, you grow up, and you get married (hopefully, to your prince!). It all looked so simple back then.
But no one mentioned all the tears that would be shed or the frustration that would be part of the search, as I climbed each stepping stone and overturned each stumbling block to get to my prince. No one told me that little girls will oftentimes encounter events that can change their lives forever.
From a very early age, I began to have experiences that no little girl can understand. These things didn't fit with my Prince Charming story. Some of what happened is very typical in families—my parents argued a lot and it was difficult for me to reconcile how people could be mean to each other.
What happened when I was about ten years old, however, radically changed my view of life and love. Someone whom I loved and trusted started to touch me inappropriately. I didn't know about sex at that age, and I certainly didn't understand sexual abuse. All I knew was that this person whom I cared about and looked up to was doing things that I didn't feel good about.
Even talking about this now is difficult, but I feel that it's important to share the part of my life story that eventually became the catalyst for healing my heart and finding love. Each of us has such a catalyst in our lives, something that can help us grow spiritually and discover how to love. This was mine.
My life story, as it unfolds on these pages, is not about my early abuse. I only share a summary of it here to help explain my early catalyst for growth. I know now that it is not abuse that defines a person. I know that the important thing is the healing that can get set in motion when a person uses the situation as a vehicle for growth. I know, also, that true healing does not involve blame or the need to name names. There is no need here for those details.
The images of what happened to me never go away completely. The idea of an adult man whom I loved—naked and approaching me with a sexual agenda—is something that even today is difficult to reconcile. Remembering it, even now—of being ten years old and feeling defenseless and scared—is harrowing. There was no consent on my part.
Like many other young children, I was molested for years by someone whom I trusted, with incidents taking place sporadically over time. I was torn between love and fear, and I was tormented because I was betrayed by someone I loved. I also lost my sense of safety and security, not knowing when the next encounter would be or how I would respond. I felt trapped and helpless, and very much alone. I lived with constant fear, day in and day out, because of the ongoing contact with my abuser. This fear overwhelmed me, coloring my views about people and life, and crippled my ability to effectively respond to everyday challenges. Even my schoolwork suffered because I found it difficult to concentrate. My self-esteem plummeted, and self-doubt became a dominating force in my life. I was robbed of my natural sexual innocence at an early age. No one should have to suffer like this.
I also suffered emotional abuse because of yelling, anger, and being constantly criticized. Emotional abuse can hurt and cause long-term damage just as physical abuse does.
There are certainly different degrees of abuse. However, it's not the degree that determines the amount of damage to a child, but the betrayal of trust and fear created by the events. It's the damage to the child's self-esteem. And it's the emotional and mental trauma that accompanies physical abuse that can cause a person years and years of heartache and pain.
Today, with so many people coming forward and talking about their abuse, at least the topic is now out of the closet. That helps our children. If a child is abused today, there are more resources to help him or her come to terms with what happened and to heal. If a little girl like I was is molested today, and she tells someone, it's more likely that she will receive help.
That didn't happen for me. When I finally found the courage to tell my mother that I was being abused, all I remember her saying was for me to tell the man to leave me alone. Unfortunately, that was not the right thing to say to a young girl, especially one who felt powerless to stop an abuser much bigger and older than she. My mother's answer left me with an adult responsibility, which should not have been placed on me.
This was a life-changing moment for me. Although I didn't realize it at the time, my mother, whom I loved and worshiped, had betrayed me in not taking seriously the issue of my abuse. The pain of that betrayal affected me in ways I was not aware of at that time. I had turned for help to the person I trusted most, and no help was given. What would I do now? From that moment forward, I felt very alone.
In hindsight, I'm sure that it was not my mother's intention to hurt me. Most likely, she didn't know what to do with the information I gave her. She probably felt as powerless to act as I did. She could never have known how her response and lack of protection would create a life for me that was different from the one I might have otherwise had. She was not aware of how fear and loneliness became my constant companions from that moment. There was nowhere I could turn for help.
From this point on, I started to put on weight rapidly, and I began to fight a lifelong battle of the bulge. I didn't learn until later in life that children who are molested often feel that they must protect themselves from further abuse. One way they do this is by overeating or through other types of dysfunctional behavior. Overeating became my protection. I started a cycle of gaining weight and feeling unattractive—all with the subconscious motivation of preventing further abuse. This didn't stop the cycle of abuse, of course. It simply made me feel unhappy. I used food as my crutch, filling my stomach to replace the lack of love, nurturing, and protection that I so desperately needed.
During these early years, I was an extremely sensitive child who liked to stay in my room and write. There was so much inside of me that I started keeping diaries.
In one entry at the age of twelve, I wrote, "How can I find God?" and "How does one believe and find meaning and happiness in a world so mixed up and sad?" I realized that no one could help me with this and that we must each find our own way. The sadness, of course, was deep inside of me. I had no idea at that time that the abuse was the cause of my sadness. Several friends who have had similar childhood experiences have all mentioned the sadness that never seems to go away.
When one faces and deals with abuse, healing takes place and the sadness lessens. Nonetheless, children tend to bury the details of the abuse inside them in order to get on with life. That's especially true if the abuser is someone they know. Facing the abuse and dealing with it is extremely painful.
Many abuse victims feel that it's easier to just keep the memories buried. In my case, I kept searching and looking and wondering and hoping, peeling off the layers bit by bit to expose the sadness until I uncovered what had really happened. I felt that there was something beautiful that could fill the emptiness and I was desperate to find it in order to heal my lonely heart. But that process didn't begin until I was in my mid-thirties, and it went on for years and years.
Healing from the Abuse
Anyone who has been through abuse and who has tried to heal will understand that it is a process. It's not something that happens overnight. You learn to take baby steps, as I did. You fall down, you get up again, you read, you learn, you cry, and you begin to heal. As you read my life story over these next pages, you will understand how the trials and tribulations of my life were catalysts in helping me to heal. In addition, I learned important life lessons from very wise and wonderful people, and I want to share some of those lessons with you.
One of those wise and wonderful persons was the famous psychic, Edgar Cayce. The study of Cayce's life work helped me to find many of the answers I had been looking for as a young girl. In the coming pages, you will learn a great deal about Cayce and his wonderful world of readings. You will have resources to help you heal your own heart.
Chapter Two"Most Unfortunate Child"
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"We are all here to transcend our early limitations, whatever they were. We're here to recognize our own magnificence and divinity no matter what they told us. You have your negative beliefs to overcome and I have my negative beliefs to overcome." From You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay
When we are children, all of the authority figures around us tell us how to behave, what to think, what to eat, where to go, and how we should act. These lessons stay with us and are very hard to change later in life. If we are very lucky, they—meaning our parents, teachers, and grandparents—teach us about our divinity. They explain to us that we are all part of a loving, beautiful, and magnificent light, and that we matter. But most of us have not had those kinds of authority figures in our lives. So, in order for us to get to the truth—to know that we are loving, divine beings—we need to overcome the negative beliefs that we were taught as children.
I never really knew my father. Somehow his absence is my most vivid memory. I don't really know how to describe my relationship with my father.
My father had played the violin in the Latin Quarter, a famous nightclub in New York City, since before my birth. He slept during the days, worked nights, and came home in the wee hours of the morning. I only remember that I wasn't supposed to make any noise during the day while he slept. My earliest memories of him are of fear. In retrospect, I guess he looked bigger than life to me, and I simply did not know him, nor do I have any sense that he tried to get to know me. But I do recall one thing he told me: to try to learn something new every single day for the rest of my life.
When I was five years old, I appeared on a radio program with my father. I would sing while he played the violin. We rehearsed a song together, but when we arrived at the radio station, we were not allowed to sing that particular song. I had to invent another one on the spot. Consequently, I had to sing alone. My father played an entirely separate song on the violin. Although we didn't win the grand prize, I did receive a beautiful doll for my hard work.
By the time I was twelve years old, my father had been in and out of the hospital for more than two years with a malignant brain tumor. I hardly saw him during those two years, but toward the end, I was allowed to go to the hospital on Saturdays to see him for a short while. The visits seemed endless. On the days when I couldn't go up to his room, I had to wait in the lobby of the hospital for hours while my mother visited him. What did I think? What did I do? I remember being frightened of the unknown. I didn't understand what was going on and no one discussed it with me. I had a very vivid imagination and used to play a great deal. If I did have any knowledge at that time about what was going on, I escaped into my fantasy world to block it out.
One sunny afternoon in June, I came bursting in from the last day of school, waving my excellent report card. I was totally shocked when I heard that my father had died.
At the funeral home, I remember looking at my father in the casket. I didn't know if he could hear me, so I looked around to see if I could possibly sense something. I wanted to say something to him. I said, "I love you, Daddy." It made me feel better, but standing there, it suddenly occurred to me that if he had died so unexpectedly (to my twelve-year-old mind, it seemed sudden), then something dreadful could likewise happen to my beloved mother. I decided there and then that I would treat my mother with extraordinary kindness and love from that day forward. It was a blessing to have received that inner knowledge at such an early age, especially with the events that took place only a few short years later.
My father was addicted to gambling. There were huge debts and problems because of this addiction. Right before he died, he tried to straighten himself out by joining Gamblers Anonymous. Unfortunately, he never had the chance to see it through and live the life he might have otherwise had. It was at this time when I realized that the choices we make really do matter. Each choice is an opportunity for growth.
Most Unfortunate Child
Shortly after my father passed away, my mother received a letter from the school board advising her that I had been voted "most unfortunate child." I guess this was because I had lost my father. The letter said I was to receive a gift. I had never heard of this "gift." I was shipped off to a Girl Scout camp, fully paid for by the school, for two very long weeks. I had always been very close to my mother and for me it was an awful experience. At twelve, being away from home seemed more like punishment than pleasure. I wanted desperately to be with my mother, to help soothe her own pain of loss. I was removed from my cocoon at a delicate moment and it didn't feel good.
I felt awkward and strange not having a father like the other kids. Being chosen as an unfortunate child didn't help my already damaged self image.
My world then became a world of women. My brother Lewis was in his mid-twenties and was hardly ever at home. He was thirteen when I was born, so our relationship from an early age was not very strong or deeply woven into who I was. In the mid-1940s, thirteen-year-old kids in the Bronx were always outside playing, skating, running, and going to baseball games. The most vivid memories I have of my brother when I was young were when he used to pay me to shine his shoes. My little hands would get lost inside his big black shoes, but it was fun. And I always got a quarter, which I used for Wise's potato chips, without fail. My brother was tall and good-looking. He had lots of friends, who were also tall and good-looking, and I enjoyed it when he was around. I remember that when I was about seven years old, he and his girlfriend at the time took me to the circus.
I had two sisters. Freyda, who was seven years older than I, was still living at home. Marilyn was seventeen years older and already married with a small son, Michael. So, for many years, it was me, my mother, and Freyda. Unfortunately, Freyda had emotional problems when she was young that were never dealt with correctly. Consequently, there were violent outbursts in the house from when I was a very small child. To this day, it still bothers me to hear anyone shouting.
I always felt the lack of a strong male presence in my teen years. My mother was sweet, but she wasn't strong enough to handle my sister's outbursts. I guess she handled them the best she could. When I was very young, I remember hiding in the corner of our apartment to avoid all the chaos.
When I was a young teenager, I wrote this in my diary: "Dear Someone, growing up is so difficult. I'm always so confused. I wonder if everyone feels the way I do. I feel lonely and helpless, so very much alone. Sometimes I don't understand myself. At other times, I'm very emotional and get insulted quite easily. I cry for the silliest things and everything seems mixed up. I think that everyone hates me and that no one is a true friend. Oh help! I guess I'm growing up."
Excerpted from My Healing Heart by Rosalie B. Kahn Copyright © 2011 by Rosalie B. Kahn. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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