When Violence Is an Option

The greatest test for a person who has been beaten by “loved” ones, is the fight of putting their feelings into words rather than into their hands and their feet...

3 min

Dr. Zev Ballen

Posted on 15.12.2015

Have you ever been suddenly and unexpectedly thrown down onto the floor by someone you love and who “loves” you? Have you ever felt someone who “loves” you punch you or smack you with all their might? Were you ever beaten so badly by someone who “loves” you that you had to go to the hospital? If you haven’t, thank G-d for that – but just imagine how you’d feel if this was happening to you right now…

 

Miri and Max are deeply in love. When they met they knew right away that they were meant for each other but each one had a shameful secret that they couldn’t talk about, a proverbial “skeleton in the closet.” Both had been physically beaten by their parents. Child abuse had put a level of pain and shame and “screaming” rage into their souls that I can’t describe in words.

 

To say that children who are beaten feel murdered by their parents also doesn’t say enough. If you weren’t hit growing up, you can live to 120 but you’ll never understand people who were – even if you’re a therapist. One of the most impossible things to really understand is how easily violence becomes an “option” for them later in life even though they’re so against it. 

 

When there wasn’t enough money to buy food, Miri and Max did not have the internal “programming” to talk about it…to explore their options…to work together to resolve the problem. Instead of using their mouths to deal with the problem they turned to using their hands. Both of them had learned that violence was an “option.” It was horrifying and deeply shameful for them to feel themselves falling back into childhood – sometimes they felt like the tortured child-victim; and at other times they felt the self-loathing that comes from realizing that you’ve just re-shattered and re-murdered another person’s soul, someone who you love.

 

The greatest test and struggle for a person who has been beaten by “loved” ones, is the fight of putting their feelings into words and not putting their feelings into their hands and their feet. The urge to hit can come with such lightning speed. The hands lash out before the brain even knows what is happening. The person may see his or her hands pounding on somebody but not actually feel like they are doing it because their will has been overtaken by their dark side.

 

Believe it or not there is a much lighter side to speaking with people who hit. Again it’s not really possible to describe in words, but somehow when I speak with them I feel more whole and alive and connected to what’s most important in life.

 

When people bring their pain into the realm of words and work to understand each other’s pain in earnest – something is healed and released. I witness and stand in awe as they break new ground with each other by holding back from rage that is boiling in their blood even as we speak. None of us understand why they aren’t losing it on the spot. Words are breaking down and the deeply ingrained desire to hit is quickly surfacing. And yet, only words come out:

 

Miri: “I’m scared…I’m losing control…I want to kill you now!” (sobs)

 

Max: “I know…I understand…I’ve been there.”

 

Miri: “I’m so ashamed that I have no money to buy food. I’ve never been in this position before in my life. I hate you for it. You make no effort to find a better job. I hate you. I hate you!”

 

Max: “I know that I’ve made you promises, Miri that I’ve never kept. I can’t change that now. But Hashem knows that this time I mean it. I am going to get a side job…I’m going to give you money for food, Miri. You will have the food and the money that you need…I promise you.”

 

Miri: (crying and softly) “Thank you, Max. Thank you. I will believe it when I see it but thank you for trying to understand.”

 

For most of us to speak like this without throwing or slamming or punching isn’t such a big deal, but for people like Miri and Max it’s something to behold. Their battle to bring out their humanity and love for each is the greatest battle a person can fight. It’s a battle we all must wage; perhaps it’s just more obvious for people like Miri and Max because they were raised in a “world” where violence was an “option.”

 

Maybe this is why I love being with Miri and Max. They share with me how hard it is to bring out their human side and in so doing they inspire me to bring out mine. When I’m with them, I’m in the presence of something that is so basic and necessary and real. During our time together, they include me in their very personal struggle to break free from the ways of their parents and to become all that they can be together. I get to see the victory of good over evil…the joy of G-d when his children find Him and are united in mutual love, understanding and hope.

 

If that doesn’t make me feel more whole and alive, I don’t know what will.

 

 

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