A few years ago, I had the privelege to hear Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein speak. Her statement 'look for what was there, not for what wasn't' struck me as call not to dwell exceedingly on past pain without some effort to discern some bit of good that's also there. (Roy, think of Viktor Frankl's book). She wrote a book, "All But My Life." I'm sharing some of the words from the epilogue of her book here because I think many of us can empathize with the emotional and psychological (PTSD) experiences she descibes. Maybe we can be encouraged by a fellow (sister) survivor of a different sort.
1. Survival is both an exalted privilege and a painful burden.
2. I realize that it is impossible to do justice to ... years of memory. The acuteness of those recollections often penetrates the calm of my daily life, forcing me to confront painful truths but clarifying much through the very act of evocation. I have learned, for the most part, to deal with those truths, knowing well that a painful memory brought into focus by a current incident still hurts, but also that the pain will recede--as it has--and ultimately fade away.
3. I deeply want to belong. And I am still fearful of rejection, feeling I have no right to criticize, only an obligation to help correct.
4. The pain and loss I experienced ... obliterated the nostalgic thoughts of a childhood home for which I yearn.
5. I had to do something.
6. I can identify with them (abused children, and others), because I know what it is like not to be able to communicate one's pain and hope.
7. My experience has taught me that all of us have a reservoir of untapped strength that comes to the fore at moments of crisis.
8. There are, however, pains that will not go away, adding their burden over extended periods of time. They are more infrequent, but when they recur, they often cut far deeper. Though I know their roots, I am still unable to deal with them; I am resigned to accepting the small, indelible scars they leave each time.
These statements put into words much of what I feel as a survivor. To know that they're spoken from deep loss and pain validates my loss and pain. I cried when she finished her talk. Pain. Release.
What do you guys think?
All But My Soul,
(Thanks for the encouragement Lloydy).