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Leaving the Darkness Behind

As Told to Malkie Schulman

Years and years of childhood abuse or neglect harm the psyche in myriad ways. Traditional talk therapy is often unable to assuage the pain. One woman’s story of healing, and a look at effective methods of treating long-term trauma.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One of my earliest memories is waking in the middle of the night to the sound of my mother’s mad laughter as she chased my father around the dining room table, his black shoe in her hand, poised to strike. His arms were held protectively over his head as he tried to escape. To me, it seemed like a wild, adult game. They took no notice of their eight-year-old daughter in the shadows. When they finally disappeared into their room, I went back to bed, frightened and disturbed. It took a long time to fall back asleep.  To outsiders, my mother — a schoolteacher — appeared competent, hardworking, the consummate balabusta. She always dressed us in the trendiest fashions. But we feared her. Control was crucial to my mother; our slightest misstep was dealt with with a strong punishing hand. My younger sisters would disappear whenever she raged — which was often. As the oldest, I tried to reason with her, to protect myself and my siblings. It never worked. Talking back to my mother was sinful. “You azzes panim!” she would snarl. “How dare you talk to me this way?” Grabbing the nearest mixing spoon or shoe, she’d bring it down on my rear, arms, legs. “I’ll show you!” Whack! She’d be panting from the exertion. “Who’s the mother around here?” 

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