Editors note: "Ricki" from New England has been corresponding with us for over two years now. She's a very talented Baalat Teshuva, attractive, smart as a whip, and her potato kugel is just as mean as her tennis backhand. She could easily be Miss Jewish America, but she's no longer a Miss since her wedding three years ago. She has one other problem - her heart is deeply scarred from a nightmare childhood with an abusive father. We can't even write 10% of what Ricki went through with her father.
Ricki's first year of marriage was stormy to say the least. But, since she's been in contact with us, we've been trying to help her to heal those scars with emuna. Ricki no longer takes tranquilizers or sees an analyst. Her courage and willpower are deserving of praise. She consented that we share her recent letter to us with you:
Rabbi, I just finished listening to “Family Connection
” and “Hashem Loves Me
” while preparing Shabbos dinner. The good news is that my husband was amazing tonight and helped around the house, spent 30 minutes with me over dinner, and cleaned up after the cooking with a smile and amazing attitude.
I would like to comment/get feedback quickly, if you don’t mind (I'm crying as I write this):
Family Connection: THANK YOU for being totally forthright about the importance about getting away from abuse! Time and again I hear stories of Rabbis trying to keep a wife with an abusive husband, or children told they need to continue to honor and live with a heartless and abusive father. It doesn’t surprise me, but thank you for taking a stand! People don’t seem to understand that no connection is better than abuse – “family first” can't be husband over safety of others. Seeing an abusive family member isn’t worth “having contact” because it’s too destructive. I wish someone had told my mom, and I wish my step-mom would listen – Get away, stay away, and keep your kids away! Don’t think he won't do it to them because they’re his kids! HE WILL!!!
In terms of your comment about tearing down kids, that they’re “like living dead” – Rabbi, this is a sore spot for me. Those are EXACTLY the terms I use to explain how I feel. I feel like my main goal right now is to attempt to come back to life because inside. So much is dead having been the victim of parental abuse, there is such thick heaviness around my heart. I'm so limited in my abilities due to the abuse I suffered…and it feels so alienating, because most people don’t know how to deal with a walking dead person. Sometimes I just get this overwhelming sense of – “you just don’t get it. You think I'm alive! Can't you see that I'm really dead?” For the most part, they don’t really want to know. Too scary and tears down their little gingerbread house. Even my husband has a hard time understanding, especially with my issues, and mind you he tries really hard. I wish it could all just feel normal and painless. I wish I could feel anything besides pain.
Anyone who says that murder is the worst sin in the world is a liar. Child abuse is, especially severe, especially physical and sexual abuse. At least with murder the person is dead and doesn’t have to suffer such excruciating pain for their entire life. The child doesn’t even get to know what life is before it’s taken from him/her, and then has to fake it and act like they’re alive in a world that doesn’t want to know the truth and doesn’t want to be reminded of it. I'm trapped in a body that is constantly reliving my death. I must be dead because this is certainly hell.
Which leads me to Hashem Loves Me
– what an amazing CD, I think your best ever. SO inspiring and moving. Your explanation of Psalm 3 was unbelievable, and by the end of the CD I was sitting on the floor crying like a baby because someone loves me! It seems so silly in writing but honest I never really believed it until just now. It’s hard to believe but deep inside I don’t believe I'm lovable. I was told in no uncertain terms as a child, over and over again, that I was garbage, that I belonged in the garbage, that I was a monster and horrible words I won't repeat. You mean I don’t have to be the biggest tzadekess
on earth in order to deserve love? I can be imperfect and that’s OK, just keep trying and do your best and that’s enough? Making a mistake doesn’t prove that I really am a piece of trash? I don’t have to beat myself into perfection? I'm still bawling.
I thank you and Rabbi Arush for giving me the greatest gift in the world – life, and the knowledge that Hashem really does love me.
Thank you. Good Shabbos. Sorry if this was a little heavy but those CDs opened up so much… Thank you Breslev Israel and thank you Rabbi Lazer for being there... Ricki