Darkness to Light: Poor Vision and Trauma Lead to Spiritual Insights

I was born with severe strabismus and astigmatism in both eyes.

By age three, I had two surgeries and wore very thick glasses.

Because of the bullying, at age nine, I got hard contact lenses. The eye doctor said I was his youngest patient ever. I was so grateful for those contact lenses, even though they were uncomfortable.

As I began to better see the world around me, I also learned to experience the world within me.

I started crying out to G-d around age 11. I remember some of our first conversations, while sitting in my mauve-carpeted closet.

I also could sort of ‘see’ within others. Sometimes I would just feel what they feel.

I’d put my small hands on my grandfather’s arthritic legs and imagine I was helping ease his pain.

The emotions of others also became my own, but I didn’t know what to do with them.

My Jewish great-grandparents fled the pogroms in Europe, carried their unhealed trauma with them to America, and passed it on.

Really, the trauma goes back much further, as my Jewish ancestors have been expelled from every place we’ve lived.

At 17, I began a journey of therapeutic work, healing the trauma and understanding how to use it.

I am learning to be a gracious host to my feelings, to honor and release them—turning darkness into light.

Around age 30, I discovered Torah Judaism, reconnecting my ancestral chain that goes back to when G-d gifted us His guidebook at Har Sinai.

For 16 years, my husband and I have worked to learn and integrate Torah into our lives and to pass on this legacy, this inheritance, to our children.

Four months ago my family and I made Aliyah to Eretz Yisrael. It feels like my soul is home, as much as it can be while still in a body here on earth.

I’ve shared much of my journey over the years in published essays, which has helped me better understand myself.

It also helps connecting with others, sharing and listening—being authentically human with friends and mentors who also acknowledge their pain.

I’ve gone from hurting, to healing, and now, thank G-d to helping. Though I still sometimes vacillate between all of them.

As a Jewish woman—a wife, a mother, a daughter, a writer, a coach, a teacher—I strive to unite the physical and spiritual worlds.

A pure and powerful G-dly soul exists within each of us.

Opening our spiritual eyes and authentically sharing ourselves, including our struggles, can set us free.

“We must translate pain into action, and tears into growth” — The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Tehillim 17:8

Guard me as the apple of the eye; in the shadow of Your wings You shall hide me. חשָׁמְרֵֽנִי כְּאִישׁ֣וֹן בַּת־עָ֑יִן בְּצֵ֥ל כְּ֜נָפֶ֗יךָ תַּסְתִּירֵֽנִ

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