The Shift

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“I would like to ask for healing today.” I declared to my friends in our healing circle that takes place under a 500 year old tree.  Today, there is a new member yet he seemed that he had always belonged to the healing circle. The loving friends were ready to support me.

“Today is the 5th anniversary of passing of a man who molested me when I was just a little girl.” I was mindful of the issue possibly being overwhelming for the new member. His kind eyes were reassuring and safe.

“I like to make sure that I have released all distancing emotions and all negative impacts of this experience and ask you to join me in sending him unconditional love and healing energy.”

Two of my friends knew about the experience well and we had several healing sessions together. I thought a brief history would help the new member to join in.

As I was sharing the story, I noticed a heavy feeling in my throat. My voice was cracking. Oh God, I had the illusion that I had released the impact of this childhood memory. I had convinced myself that I had shared and processed my inner pain in therapy long ago. I have written pages and pages with the aim of releasing the dark energy. I had hit pillows with a baseball bat to the point that my skin had come off and I had shared the “story” with several trusted friends. The last stage was writing the experience in a form of a short story which I completed years ago.

Now, my tears were showing me that I had much more healing to do. It is interesting how the ego cleverly avoids painful process, denies and seeks pleasure. I shared my story one more time. What I shared was of a time when I was seven years old  and remembered clearly. However, he had access to me when I was a baby; an insight emerged, as a candle was directing me towards the truth with a strong flame.

As an adult, I learned that he had been sexually violated by a male servant at a young tender age. Children are likely to repeat the pattern with younger children without any intervention. Perhaps he was simply projecting his inner pain. I was available and an easy target for him.

My friend suggested going back to the age of two, imagining him in my mind and speaking out as a “child” expressing what I had not been able to say or do as a child. It was meant to empower my inner child by dropping the old story of “a voiceless victim” and to create the transformation cycle of healing. The tears were washing away the toxic shame. My voice was trembling as I remembered the old memories. I was reminded again that healing from childhood traumas may be a lifelong process. I closed my eyes to help me feel as a two year old. I had no idea how a young child verbalized her pain besides crying.

A significant shift was felt inside. It seemed as I had disconnected with the trauma. I could not imagine how a two year old child would feel. As I listened to my inner child, there was an echo repeating in my mind, “I hate you.” Yes, I had felt the feeling of hatred at such a young age. That was clear. I could see my child hitting and kicking the abuser.  A kick to his genitals was empowering. It felt as though causing pain may make him aware of the pain he had caused me.

A female friend suggested playing the role of my mother in the aim of expressing the pain of not being protected. I looked at her beautiful loving eyes and it was a challenge for me to imagine her as a neglectful mother. My choice was to close my eyes and imagine the face of my mother at the present time. It was easier to feel the anger of the child, feeling I had denied and repressed my anger growing up with fear of consequences. “I hate you, I hate you, I hate you…” was repeatedly echoing in my mind. The psychologist in me had minimized the effect of the trauma recognizing that my mother was a severely traumatized untreated child. The two year old needed to feel loved, valued and empowered. She did not have it to give it.

After three hours of healing, I felt the shift inside. I was done with the “story.” The past no longer had any hold on me. I felt light inside as the white healing light was back in my heart and soul. Something had shifted inside, out with the dark – in with light.

This shift took place after 40 years of active healing with traditional therapy and various modalities of healing.

My invitation to all adults violated as children is to be mindful of the process of healing. There is no quick prescription, no magic wand and no shortcuts. It is a lifetime process of layers of healing. Many children of trauma learn to be self sufficient, want to be strong and develop the attitude of healing on their own, having difficulty receiving help. The healing is not a cognitive process that one can do alone. The emotional and spiritual healing happens much smoother when to do the process with experienced, trusting and loving persons who are able to facilitate the course of healing.

Naturally, a seasoned clinician experienced working with childhood trauma is optimum. For those, that seeing a licensed therapist is not a possibility, there are resources within the community from support groups, healers who are willing to share the gift of healing from personal experiences and pay it forward to those new to recovery.

Every step counts towards experiencing the shift. The shift for me took a longtime because my fear and ego had been reinforced strongly and had attached to the “story” unconsciously. The book “Courage to Heal” is a possibility for those who do not have access to a healer. For me, this significant shift took place after many years of active healing with traditional therapy and various modalities of healing. Healing is not only a possibility, it is a reality.

A Bad Seed

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 I had a dream about a cousin of mine out of nowhere. I was not thinking about him, and there wasn’t any reason or trigger that brought him to my consciousness. If it was up to me, I would have wanted to release him from my awareness forever, and delete him from the brain’s memory. I asked myself, what is the meaning of this dream? Why now? And what am I supposed to do? Instantly, I knew that I needed to have closure with an issue from my childhood. The universe was giving me the sign that it was time. The memories from long ago came to my awareness, as if I was watching a movie.

My maternal uncle was a good looking man. In the family it was said that as a young man, he was popular with women, dressed well and was a good catch. He fell in love with an older woman, who was serving as a nanny in one of his relative’s home. She had been married before, and was a fun loving woman. In a culture that social and economical class is considered to be highly important, some men would like to marry much younger virgin women, beautiful and  from wealthy families. This uncle had gone against all the important social values. Naturally, his family was against the marriage.

He married her and had a son immediately. His wife was described as being a good entertainer, singing, dancing, creating a fun atmosphere for her husband with alcoholic drinks and delicious food when he came home. They seemed to know how to have fun together. However, the responsibility of daily life and raising a child requires much demand on parents. Shortly after, their marriage was in trouble. His wife left the baby when he was only 9 months old, and my grandmother was the one who raised him. As long as I remember my uncle drank alcohol every night. As a child, I did not have any sense of addiction and did not understand alcoholism. Within the family, and cultural context, it was common for men to drink and smoke. I realized that my uncle was an alcoholic as a teenager. This cousin, who was about 7 years older than me, grew up with me and my brother. I did not like them. As older boys, they bossed me around, did not let me play with them. They were verbally and physically abusive to me if I did not submit to their orders. They were practicing their cultural “rights” of dominating females. For the first time, I experienced the feeling of hate.

When I was about  7 years old, this cousin suddenly became nice to me. He was usually home alone when his father was at work .  We were off from school for 3 months with not much to do. He invited me to his home, telling me that he had bought these cool stickers that I loved. I did not even think for a moment why this bossy, mean cousin was suddenly being nice to me. I wanted to see the stickers that were the type that would peel off, after soaking them in water. Then you could stick them on paper, body, book or where ever you wanted to. They were the joy of my life at that time not having much to occupy my time in those long, hot Summers in Tehran.

I remember as it was yesterday. This predator was like a cheetah, ready to grab the unsuspecting deer, by setting the sheets of beautiful stickers in front of me; letting me choose whatever I wanted. When I was putting my favorite stickers in the water, he started touching my legs and thighs. I am aware of my own anger after all these years. What stopped me from slapping him in the face? How come I never told anyone about it in the family? Did I feel that as a child, no one cared about me? No one stopped him or my brother from being physically abusive to me. Had I given my voice and power away? What choices did I have? Did I intentionally know that being invisible and staying under the radar would be the most effective option for survival at my age? I wonder what would have happened if I had shared that with my parents.  Am I going to blame my parents for my lack of courage? Am I excusing myself for not defending my boundaries? How does a lamb fight the wolf? How did I become the lamb? Was he really a wolf? The questions were pouring into my mind, trembeling inside. The questions in my mind were pouring out.

In my family, they called him the “bad seed.” They said that he got his bad genes from his mother. Of course his father was the “perfect” gentleman and father. How convenient it is to blame others. I heard that even as a child, he stole money from members of the family.  He had cleverly created a hole in the lining of his jacket to hide the money he had taken without permission. When my mother or grandmother was sewing up the hole, they found paper money hidden in the lining. He was an intelligent, creative thief. He took care of his needs and wants with the money he took.

I became aware of the challenges of this  cousin’s life when I became an adult. He said that his father frequently had drinking parties after work, and as a single man, frequently brought prostitutes home. He observed the sexual behaviors of adults under the influence of alcohol at a young age. He soon followed in his father’s footsteps, started drinking and using opium. He became addicted quickly.

As a young adult, perhaps in order to support his addiction, he got involved in illegal activities. Every time he visited a family member, valuable items and jewelry were missing. He visited when relatives were not home, so servants let him in. Then, big pieces of Persian carpets were missing. How does a family deal with this type of “shame?” in a culture of keeping the cheeks rosy no matter how. Keeping family secrets is understood by all.

He got married at a young age and had three children. His wife confided in me that he beats her with a belt. They got divorced and he got custody of the children. I can’t even imagine, how growing up had been for those 3 children.  His son was  heard to be in a mental institution, and one of his daughters became chemically dependent, and homeless.

My uncle continued to drink vodka every night alone. I wondered what was going on in his psyche that made him choose a gradual, self destructive path. He lost his home, and my cousin offered to let him stay with her family. Towards the end, he could not keep his balance, so he was taken to the hospital, frequently with broken bones. He drank himself to death; a life wasted.

I am thinking about my cousin, who is thousands of miles away, and wondering if he is still alive. What happened to him? The family cut the cord and released him long ago. I wonder if there is such a concept as a “bad seed.” I wonder if it is simply an expected process when a child is abandoned, unloved, abused, and traumatized, expressing his internal pain by acting out. I asked myself how I would have coped, if I did not have a mother, only an alcoholic father. Yet I know of several wonderful human beings with severe traumas in their childhood, who have devoted their lives to helping others heal from their life traumas. I have always wondered how come some people become abusers, and others become compassionate human beings, having experienced similar traumas in life. I wonder that perhaps the ones who become loving human beings, understand human pain and suffering, had hope and perhaps one human being was nurturing to them; a ray of sunshine in the total darkness. I wonder…..

Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn’t matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow

a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come.

-Rumi

Life is Beautiful

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“My connection with my father is difficult to describe in words. It is like a soul connection. All my life I felt that his soul was with me and within me. It feels like he always understood me and felt my pain and I his. Now, he just turned 96 and has had three bypass operations. I feel him as his body is aging.”  My friend was emotional; tears were present as we were on the phone, sharing her deep love for her father.

“But you know what?” He loves life and always says Life is beautiful. Never complaining about anything and wanting to live to be 100.

I was on the phone with my dear friend of 40 years.

I had never heard anyone speak of her father with such deep love.

I noticed my own longing to be able to love my father that way.

What was the secret behind this 96 year old man that has the privilege of having his seven children around him so often in the hospital? His room was always filled with the more visitors than the place had ever seen!

Sufism, she described. “He is the most loving, caring, generous and spiritual human being I have ever met in my life.”

“What do you know about his life?” I asked.

She said she knew that her father had a challenging life. He was the oldest son. When his father passed away, he was only 18 years old. He had a high school diploma and had to start working to support his mother and younger siblings.

He had an older half-brother from his father. My friend’s father being from the second family did not get much inheritance. The young man joined the military to earn a living. He had to buy an old pair of boots from another military man to go to work. He would wake up at 3 a.m. in the morning to walk to work since he did not have a coin for bus fair. It was about a penny at the time. He was full of energy, love and positive attitude.

When he was 23 years old, he married the 12 year old daughter of a man who was a mentor to him. The father in law was an alchemist; a strong person with strong intuitions. The two men created healing homemade remedies and served the community at large. Many, with all kinds of illnesses would come to them and felt well. They would work all night. In the morning, he would wash his face and go to work rested. Their relationship was like Rumi & Shams, a unique spiritual connection.

Their first two children were born prematurely and passed away within a few days; a heart break for the young parents. Their first surviving son was born when the mother was 15 years old. He is about 67 years old now. When they had four children, the father went back to school, even though he was working full time to support his family. He studied accounting and got his Masters degree. His passion for learning was deep. He was like a walking encyclopedia, memorized Hafez, Saadi, Omar Khayyam and Koran by heart. He was willing to read different point of views, even those he did not agree with, a sign of an enlightened being.

He shared a story from his school years. It was Geography class and he had written all the responses correctly and the teacher accused him of cheating, using the book perhaps to get his answers. The responses were so accurate it was as if someone had copied the book word for word.

“Did you cheat?” the teacher asked.

“No sir, I did not.”

“Ok, then tell me the answer to this question.”

The young boy started responding and before he knew, the teacher had tears in his eyes, realizing that there was a brilliant child in front of him.

The father worked for the department of finance. He managed the payroll of government employees in many states. His job required a lot of traveling and monitoring the human resources and salary of the employees. When his oldest son was about 17 years old, he was traveling to Shiraz with a driver. For some reason, the driver lost control and the car went down a deep valley. No one expected the two men to survive. At this exact time, Dr. Namazi, a well known MD in Iran who owned one of the most sophisticated hospitals in Shiraz drove by that road. He noticed the accident and without any delay called the hospital requesting for a helicopter to transport them immediately.

He went to the hospital at once, waiting for the injured men, not knowing if they had survived. When the father arrived at the hospital, all his bones were broken, big and small! The bones in his right hand and fingers were shattered at contact. There were no physical therapists at the time. It was a miracle that he had survived this trauma.The doctor told him that regardless of the excruciating pain, he must exercise his fingers; otherwise he has to amputate his right hand.

When his wife, after a few weeks was able to travel to Shiraz to see him in the hospital; she couldn’t recognize him. His face was all black and bruised yet his spirit was intact and hopeful.

Years later, when he was able to see an orthopedic surgeon in London, he was told that his operation was a masterpiece of orthopedic surgery. It makes me wonder if this man was watched over.

He was an influential person in his work, dealing with financing resulted in many temptations and complications in his work. He had experienced frequent encounters with high officials wanting to bribe him, asking for favors and offering monetary rewards and then threats when offering money did not work. He shared a story one time about a high ranking official not getting his way and making a threat to intimidate him.

“You did not come when his majesty, the Shah gave us time and visited our department!”

“I was doing my job.” The father responded.

“Do you know what the consequences are? Sir, you know what you are doing? You may need your job, status, salary, etc., and would do anything to keep it.

“I don’t. I can walk away this very minute, sit in front of this Ministry and sell anything, even cigarettes. I have no need for this job. You cannot intimidate me sir, with all due respect.” And he left without looking back.

It takes a great deal of integrity to stand for what you believe in. To trust the path and journey that life has dealt you requires courage.

He offered the gift of trust to his children.

Whenever they asked him for his permission to do something or go somewhere, he suggested to them to trust their own intuition. A priceless gift any parent can offer. Total trust! Letting the child make his/her decisions, choices and be able to experience the natural consequences. How did he learn such wisdom? I wonder.

“We are all connected, coming from the same source.” He always says “treat others as you wish to be treated.” He shared a story. He had a checkbook at work, wrote large amounts for salary payments of employees. One day he received a call from the president of the bank.

“Have you signed a check for this amount?”

“No, I have not. What is going on?” He asked.

“An employee has brought a signed check by you, but I noticed a little difference in the signature.”

“Please identify the employee when he comes back to get the cash and let me know and thank you for contacting me.”

The father respectfully confronted the employee in person and in private. As such, the employee confessed and begged him for mercy; said he had a large family to support and going to prison brings shame to his family. The father made him return the cash and transferred him to another department, saving his dignity while hoping for some inner transformation.

My thoughts went to the book “Les Misérables” by French poet and novelist Victor Hugo; when Jean Valjean stole the silver from the priest’s home and was caught by the police. When brought to the priest’s home in handcuff, the priest asked to release him, said he had given him the silver; a life altering experience.

My friend was sharing warm memories from childhood; a river of loving and heartwarming memories. She said one of my earliest memories is that her father was a great story teller and always shared great stories with us. Now after so many years, not only do I remember many of the stories, I even remember the scent of his body during summer nights when we would sleep on the roof top. “My brother on one side of him and me on the other”. We put our heads on his chest watching the endless sky with millions of stars, and his stories nurtured our imagination.”

Tears of joy were present. I felt the longing in my heart wishing I had such heart warming memories with my father.

She said when she started her menstrual cycle she experienced excruciating pain each month. Her father would make her remedies that he had learned from her maternal grandfather, rub her daughter’s back to heal the pain. I was trying to imagine in my mind this loving father, longing to meet him in person. I have never heard of a Persian father being so loving and caring to his children. This man seems to be a Saint.

“When I was 12 years old, one day he gave me all his monthly salary and asked me to go put it in the bank in his account. I could not reach the counter yet when the clerk asked me what I wanted, I said I want to put some money in the bank. He asked how much? When I gave him the cash, he took me inside the counter and asked who gave you so much cash? I said, my father. The man was in shock!”

She said when she looks back, she realizes that her father not only totally trusted her but also he was teaching her life lessons, an opportunity to take responsibility and accountability.

She said he always took us hiking with him to the mountains. He simply loved and respected his children and spent quality time with all of us, seven children. My brother has the same passion for mountain climbing and has traveled to many countries, even doing ice climbing. One time in Iran, my brother took a group on a mountain climbing expedition. It was dark, late at night and he was not back yet. Our father was waiting for him. He finally came home at 1 a.m. completely exhausted. Our father asked him what happened and he said that a few people could not come back so he had tried his best to assist them. The two people simply could not make it and he came home. The father told his son that he was responsible for the group and a leader never leaves anyone behind! The son feeling exhausted went back in the middle of the night and brought the last two group members back safely.

Now I understand how he has climbed the most challenging mountains of the world. Once we were in Switzerland going to the Matterhorn. For me, looking at the majestic mountain from far away was an honor yet he and his companion actually climbed it.

“During my childhood He always called me my Little Lady” I feel he lives in me and I live in him. It is a spiritual connection of the soul.

It is said that a miracle is a shift in perception. This father changed my perception about Persian and all fathers. I feel a deep sense of gratitude inside. I feel as I already know him.

Happy 96th Birthday.