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A Safe Place for Pain

Rachel Ginsberg

Most of us view difficulty as something to endure and move past. Miriam Millhauser Castle, founder of the Inner Torah process, teaches that pain, disappointment, and unfulfilled dreams are all ways that Hashem communicates with us.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

After reading Walking Mom Home, I felt a sense of devastation. Irrevocable loss. And the acute pain of missed opportunity. In this stirring account, Miriam Millhauser Castle records how she shared the last year of her mother’s life, meriting a profound level of intimacy and giving, transforming a time that could have been fraught with emotional entanglements, confusion, and even hysteria into an opportunity for blessing, meaning, and direction as the two of them stood at the door of transition into the Next World.

When my own mother, a”h, died thirteen years ago, I was neither at her side in her last moments, nor in an emotional place where I could give to her unconditionally. There were still resentments, there were still unresolved barriers. Would I ever be able to feel whole, or would there always be that looming pain that comes with the realization of no second chances?

“Actually, there’s an enormous opportunity in the missed opportunities,” says Miriam soothingly. “All of us have things in life we wished we’d done differently. They are part of the inevitable losses that are part of living in this world.”

This step, grieving for a loss of what could have been – “if only… (fill in the blank)” – is one of the basic skills she teaches in the emotional repair work which she calls the “Inner Torah” process. Inner Torah is the name of a system Mrs. Millhauser Castle created to help women come into loving and forgiving relationships with themselves, with others, and with Hashem.

In her three Inner Torah works – Inner Torah, Practical Inner Torah, and The Breath and Body of Inner Torah (Targum Press) – she teaches that our lives, including all the disappointments and unfulfilled dreams, are really holy texts through which Hashem communicates with each of us individually. When we learn to interpret the messages hidden in our life experiences, we see that our circumstances, painful or disappointing as they might be, are exactly as they need to be for our souls to evolve and reach their potential in this lifetime.

“Grief can pull you under, or at least it feels that way,” she explains, “but the key is to trust that you can stretch enough to contain the pain without breaking. There are two things that need to happen here. One is allowing yourself to acknowledge that there was a loss, and at the same time to be able to make peace with the part of you that did what you did at the time, because that’s what you were capable of doing then. Looking back now, and wishing you – or that younger version of you – would have been different just leaves you out of a place of wholeness and acceptance of yourself. This is part of your Inner Torah. It might be a painful part, but grieving is one of the most important skills you can learn. It’s intended to move us from whatever the loss was to whatever opening is created by having experienced it. So by facing all that pain and learning more about yourself from it – why you were so blocked, why you couldn’t be more forthcoming or loving -- you can crack some of that armor around your heart and learn to move forward. The loss you feel in your relationship with your mother can actually influence how you go forward in the world now.” That, she says, is essentially the rectification of the relationship.

 

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