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Dear Dr. Ford

Dear Dr. Ford:

I would like to recommend to you a recently published book, The Choice, by Dr. Edith Eger. Dr. Eger, a psychologist who has worked with victims of trauma, details her own process of healing from the brutal, dehumanizing experience she suffered as a young adolescent in Auschwitz and in two Nazi labor camps. She made her “choice” to return to Auschwitz, 36 years after she was liberated by U.S. infantry, to confront the demons of guilt that plagued her for all of her adult life. Hers is a story of courage and redemption. I trust that you will find some parallels in her story to your own journey which led you back 36 years, not to a physical location, but to a time and place in your memory. Trauma as we now know, and as you detailed in your testimony, resides not only in information in the hippocampus, it also contains the residue of all the bodily, visceral sensations experienced during the trauma.

I am a psychologist myself, and teach Kabbalah here in Denver. As such, I am often in discussions about letting go of the past and the healing power of forgiveness. The lens through which we understand how a process comes to completion (fully or partially) is the Tree of Life and the flow of energy from the infinite down to the finite; from beyond what we are aware of, can perceive or have planned and what winds up manifesting in our lives. While there is always choice involved, we are often guided by serendipity and the challenges and opportunities presented to us.

For Dr. Eger there always was the possibility of returning to Auschwitz but it was an invitation to share her expertise with chaplains at a trauma victimization conference in Germany which led her to the choice of returning to the concentration camp where her parents were murdered in gas chambers. For you Dr. Ford, your secret of the sexual attack was shared just a few years ago in therapy. Your journey of healing though was not what you planned, but was revealed, both as an extreme challenge and opportunity. The choice was yours. Instead of declining you pushed forward and in so doing, heroically modeled for others the choice to heal.

Dr. Eger: “ I was not able to have the joy and the compassion until I was able to return to Auschwitz. Until I was able to somehow able to reclaim my innocence, assign the shame and guilt to the perpetrator and forgive myself.”

I truly hope you have reclaimed your innocence, assigned the shame and guilt to your perpetrators and forgiven yourself.

David Sanders

Comments 8

  1. Our painful experiences are not a liability…they are a gift…
    Prejudice is to pre judge. You were victimized, but did not end up broken,and you certainly have not run away from your past. There are lives that you are trying to save,as the past did show up…right in front of all our TV sets. You certainly can’t change the past,but you have shown up in front of a senate judiciary confirmation proclamation pannel,to make sure the future of women are not imprisoned,held hostage…like you were bound down and silenced, by Kavanaugh’s attack on your person. His attack had not used you up and caused you to deny your innosence.
    Your speaking truth to power,certainly caused the masks of Kavanugh to fall apart.
    You wanted them to take responsibility for the way their senate hearing was going to contribute to the further suffering of women by a known perpetrator.
    The Anita Hill hearings should have been the end all,to monsters lurking in the halls of the supreme court of the U.S.
    Moving forward meant circling back…back to Dr Anita Hill and when she transformed from victim to thriver, by breaking the conspiracy of silence.
    The darkness that comes out of the senate hearing is that women do not matter. Nothing will make up for the universal loss that women feel…as we have been taught to believe that we do not matter, and we have internalized the feelings of unworthiness…and then this!?!?!?
    We have a choice to pay attention…to really pay attention.
    We are heading towards a place worse that any of us have yet seen.
    To be a hero requires us to take effective action at crucial junctures in our lives as well as the life of a nation.
    We all sat with with a gut feeling on our stomaches that some things was terribly wrong at the senate hearing-
    a calamity institution and discriminatory law…rigid,blaming,punative,stuck in the past, pessimistic,arrogant,angry,untrustworthy….the same old same old…
    For the dark side of our Senate needs to clue in and get with it….
    You can’t hid and deny the dark side that come out of this hearing and was broadcasted across our TV sets…It is high time you got authentic,and stop giving lip service to women.

  2. The upset is that it is business as usual.With Kavanaugh… we will have the usual ground hogs day…with women not having the right to choose what happens to our bodies, our ovaries, and he could turn over Roe vs Wade. The job is a life time appointment. What is going to happen if Trump lasts till Jan 2025?. The 60 minute interview with Trump,had the president claiming, that he got Kavanaugh confirmed, as he made fun of Dr Ford. He mimicked Dr Ford. He won by making fun of her. Kavanaugh is required to be an open book, when he asks to sit on the highest court of the land. RBG was put through a fine tooth comb. So why do the rules get changed in the Kavanaugh case?

  3. “There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies.”

    ― Walter Lippmann, Liberty and the news
    Kavanaugh lied…What a spectacle !!! A sexual predator, denies the truth telling of the three ladies who came forth, to correct the farce, in the wake of a supreme court contender to protect the democratic process. We are in crazy land.

  4. Standing with Christine Blasey Ford and all Sexual Assault Victims
    by Rabbi Phyllis Berrman
    October 4, 2018
    Editor’s note: Rabbi Phyllis Berman is one of the inspired teachers of the Jewish Renewal movement and sometimes blesses Tikkun with her thoughts. She prefaced this note with the following:

    Last week, before going to Washington, I had a dream or maybe a nightmare. I suddenly realized that we’re now part of the biggest revolution in human history, even as the majority, in calling for the overthrow of “the way it is and the way it’s always been” between women and men.

    [Now the note from Rabbi Berman followed by a statement sent to Chrstine Blasely and to national media from Tikkun, the NSP, and dozens of other religious organizations and clergy]:

    The powers that be, the old white men in the Senate (Graham, Grassley, Hatch) and the “good ol’ boys”, the fraternities, and the bosses, and the politicians, and the police, and the courts, and the priests, and the rabbis, and the teachers, and the fathers, and brothers, and grandfathers, and uncles, and nephews, and cousins, and friends, and the rich white men, and the power mongers, and all the systems, are not going to give up their entitlement-through-the-ages that has given them power over women and our bodies and our voices without a huge backlash. This is no easy fight to win.

    Last night I had another dream; this one felt like a nightmare. There was something wrong with my mouth – I needed to have an operation to correct a malformation – in order to speak. What is it that hasn’t been able to come out and be heard?

    Almost every woman I know, almost every woman I’ve ever spoken to in my 75 years of experience, has a Me-Too Story. I wasn’t raped, and no one attempted to rape me, nor was I denied a job or an advancement in my profession. But I certainly lived in a world in which it was “the way it is” that so many women experience and rarely, till now, have spoken about.

    I was six years old. We lived in an apartment house, one of two that were connected by a dark and frightening cellar, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. Our apartment was on the second floor; we knew and liked all our neighbors on our floor, and I had friends living throughout the two buildings and on our block whom I played with outside until dark.

    In the hallway, beyond the entrance to the building, there was a place to sit, a bench across the entire width of the space, close to the staircase, on the other side from the mailboxes. One day, walking into the building and toward the staircase, there was a stranger sitting on the bench. I didn’t recognize him and couldn’t then and can’t now identify anything about him. He beckoned to me to come and talk with him, inviting me to sit on his lap. I was a friendly child at that time, still innocent of any experience of evil, and sat down on his lap. Very shortly, his hand was inside my underpants. I got up immediately and ran up the stairs to our apartment.

    How did I know that there was something wrong about some stranger putting his hand inside my underpants? I don’t know; I don’t remember if parents then, as most do now, warn their children that strangers (and even people who aren’t strangers) have no business in your underpants. And how did I know to feel that it was shameful and that I shouldn’t talk about it, even to my mother, that somehow I had done something wrong?

    Nothing like that happened again. But when I rode my bike from our neighborhood over to Prospect Park, as kids did in those days when parents thought that the streets were safe and children had freedom to explore, I often saw men exposing themselves, which frightened me. And walking not so far from home there were often men and boys heckling me with lewd comments. And on a crowded subway in my 20s there was a man who ejaculated into my open lunch bag which I didn’t realize until it was time to take my lunch out of the bag. I threw it all away, sick to my stomach, unbelieving that someone could and would do something like that in a public place. And the men rubbing up against me, at every age, during rush hour on the trains.

    This, I thought, was “the way it was”. We all experienced it. We all hated it. It seemed unchangeable. And most of us lived in spite of it though rarely if ever talking about it.

    In October 2016, when the tapes were released with Trump bragging about how he could have his way with any woman because he was “famous”, he could grab them by the pussy, he could kiss them, he could sleep with them and pay them off to shut them up, I thought finally it would be over. No one, no woman for sure and maybe no man, could possibly elect this crude gross man as president, I thought to myself. Finally, I believed, the world as it had always been for women was about to change, so that my granddaughters wouldn’t have to live in such a reality. On election night, I watched the numbers in horrified disbelief. I so badly wanted the world to change.

    It didn’t. Although other “famous” men have been taken down and one has even gone to prison, the man in the White House models for others that anything is theirs to take control of. The Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee have shown themselves to be part of that “boys club”, unwilling to open themselves to a woman’s story about one traumatic night as a fifteen-year-old that has plagued her for all these years. Instead, they feel outraged for a man who might have blacked out the memory in a drunken fog or simply lied, as he has about the extent of his drinking and other details.

    Anita Hill deserves to be believed now. Catherine Blasey Ford deserves to be believed now. The women in the elevator with Senator Flake deserve to be believed now. All of us who have tried to tell our stories and been shut down by those who like things the way they are, and those who never even tried to tell our stories with details that continue to choke and silence us, deserve to be heard and believed. It has gone on far too long, and we’re tired of being silent, and we shouldn’t have to take it any more.

    May the Senate make the right decision this time. As Rev. William Barber says, this isn’t about red and blue states, about Republicans and Democrats. It’s about a moral revolution of values; it’s where all of us need to stand. Please stand with us!

    Rabbi Phyllis Berman
    bermanpo@aol.com

  5. Matthew Fox
    ,
    Contributor
    Spiritual theologian Matthew Fox is the author of more than 30 books, including Occupy Spirituality and Meister Eckhart: Mystic-Warrior for Our Times. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.
    Men Behaving Badly
    All the bad news about men behaving badly offers us an opportunity to speak out, to ask the deeper questions, to redirect the messages our boys and young men are getting from a patriarchal and reptilian-brain-driven culture that is dangerous to women and men, children and the Earth.
    Recent news stories have not been showing the better side of men. From police brutality to domestic violence and international terrorism, we’ve seen stories lately to raise horror and concern.

    We’ve seen a white male cop gun down a young black man, apparently for walking while black on the streets of Ferguson, Mo. We’ve seen a NFL halfback, Ray Rice, slug his fiancée on an elevator so viciously that she fell unconscious. We’ve heard of another player, Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers, who apparently hit his girlfriend during a party. We’ve heard of Adrian Peterson, one of the great running backs of all time, beating his baby child. There are now documented cases of 56 serious cases of domestic abuse by NFL players in the past eight years, yet in most cases there was no punitive action taken by either NFL or law enforcement.

    And it’s not limited to the U.S., or the world of football.
    We hear of young men in ISIS who are beheading journalists at will while recruits for ISIS pour in from around the globe. Recently I saw a YouTube recruiting piece from ISIS where young men, dressed in full beards and with machine guns on their laps, tell the viewers to join ISIS and the “the cure for depression is jihad.”
    It is true that many young men are depressed these days. Given much that is going on in society and in our depleted earth community, one can see why. And given the dearth of healthy male role models one can understand the depression. Realistically, what are we to do with it?
    As I see it, the real issue has to do with what passes as masculinity in our culture. Recently two authors teamed up to express their opinion on these matters in a thoughtful article entitled “Depression in Men Is a Public Health Problem” by Dr. William Pollack, author of Real Boys and Jennifer Siebel Newsom, filmmaker of The Mask You Live In, a documentary exploring the bad images of masculinity among boys.

    In their article, they point out that boys are more likely to act out their depression than are girls, and so “the early warning signs of depression in boys are often missed, leading to a misdiagnosis as a conduct disorder or attention-deficit disorder.” Young men in the U.S. are committing suicide on an average of three per day — five times the rate of women. The authors conclude:

    Depression in males of all ages is a public health crisis that must be addressed. To do so, we must redefine healthy masculinity and recognize that even if men are putting on a face suggesting ‘everything is fine,’ real pain may be lurking beneath the surface.
    Some years ago, I addressed the issue of redefining healthy masculinity in my book The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors for Awakening the Sacred Masculine.. Even today, the response from people on the frontline remains very strong. A Native American who has worked in prisons for 12 years told me that he’d found getting men to look within themselves was practically impossible — that in prison men are always trying to project on others. After bringing my book into his program, he said it was the first he’d found that got men to look inwards and “find the nobility inside.”

    That is key: Finding the nobility inside, the original blessing, effectively heals the lousy self-image that most men carry. And this is the process I offer in Hidden Spirituality: I gather ancient archetypes of the healthy masculine that take us far deeper than superficial messages of our culture (“be a winner; don’t feel too deeply; be a Marlboro man,” etc.). Such metaphors as Green Man, Spiritual Warrior, Father Sky, Hunter-Gatherer, Blue Man, Father, Grandfather and more, alert men of all ages to the greatness of which they’re capable.

    This New World
    The current capitalist system is broken. Get updates on our progress toward building a fairer world.

    In his recent Washington Post article, “I Understand Why Westerners Are Joining Jihadi Movements Like ISIS. I Was Almost One of Them,” Michael Muhammad Knight shares his own story to illustrate the appeal of jihad and ISIS to young men. He was attracted to jihad not by Muslim philosophy (of which he was ignorant), but by his growing up in American culture. Leaving his Catholic High School in upstate New York, he traveled to a Saudi-funded madrassa in Pakistan. He writes:

    It wasn’t a verse I read in our Qur’an study circles that made me want to fight but rather my American values. I had grown up in the Reagan ‘80s. I learned from G.I. Joe cartoons to (in the words of the theme song) ‘fight for freedom, wherever there’s trouble.’ I assumed that individuals had the right — and the duty — to intervene anywhere on the planet where they perceived threats to freedom, justice and equality.
    He learned from his (conservative) Muslim teachers that Muhammad had said that “the ink of scholars was holier than the blood of martyrs” so he eventually gave up soldiery aspirations to become a writer.

    But here is the crux of his testimony:

    We [Americans] are raised to love violence and view military conquest as a benevolent act. The American kid who wants to intervene in another nation’s civil war owes his worldview as much to American exceptionalism as to jihadist interpretations of scripture. I grew up in a country that glorifies military sacrifice and feels entitled to rebuild other societies according to its own vision. I internalized these values before ever thinking about religion. Before I even knew what a Muslim was, let alone concepts such as ‘jihad’ or an ‘Islamic state,’ my American life had taught me that that’s what brave men do.
    What DO “brave men” do? That is the question. What awakens a man’s soul? What calls for courage and generosity and sacrifice and community? How does a boy mature to become a man? What values are we passing on to our boys and young men? The values of the reptilian brain (“be number one; conquer; win at all costs; control others”)? Or of the mammalian brain (compassion, caring and justice-making)?

    We are living in a teachable moment. All the bad news about men behaving badly offers us an opportunity to speak out, to ask the deeper questions, to redirect the messages our boys and young men are getting from a patriarchal and reptilian-brain-driven culture that is dangerous to women and men, children and the Earth.

    Feminist poet Adrienne Rich put it this way, writing about her two sons:

    What do we want for our sons? To discover new ways of being men even as we are discovering new ways of being women… a manhood in which they would not perceive women as the sole source of nourishment and solace… If I could have one wish for my own sons, it is that they should have the courage of women. I mean by this something very concrete and precise: The courage I have seen in women who, in their private and public lives, both in the interior world of their dreaming, thinking and caring, and the outer world of patriarchy, are taking greater and greater risks, both psychic and physical, in the evolution of a new vision… I would like my sons not to shrink from this kind of pain, not to settle for the old male defenses including that of a fatalistic self-hatred. And I would wish them to do this not for me, or for other women, but for themselves, and for the sake of life on the planet Earth.
    Rich has perceived deeply how men are stuck in “a fatalistic self-hatred.” Men have internalized the lies about original sin preached not only by bad religion but also by bad consumer-capitalism more deeply than have women. Men need to find the original blessing, the “nobility inside.” There lies the medicine for an obviously sick manhood that drives men to addictions, militaristic brutality and domestic as well as international violence.

  6. Without Roger Ailes, there would have been no President Richard Nixon, no President George H.W. Bush and definitely no President Donald Trump. All three were blessed by the keen mind of a master manipulator who knew how to sell political candidates like Apple sells iPhones. Was there buyer’s remorse? You betcha, but Ailes – like most ad-men – believed in the motto of “you buy it; you own it.” He didn’t care; all that mattered was he won, eventually earning the title of “kingmaker,” a designation he didn’t wear humbly.

    He liked to brag, and watching his story unfold in the fascinating documentary, “Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes,” it strikes you how many cues Trump takes from Ailes, right down to his belief in transactional relationships, his thirst for power and his misogynistic treatment of women. It was the latter that famously got Ailes booted from his job as CEO of Fox News, a network he founded and long championed to the top of the ratings. It’s also where he fostered an environment of rampant sexual harassment of his female employees, offering quid pro quo ultimatums in which sexual favors were sought in exchange for promotions. Refusals of which, were sure to get you fired or placed on a “do-not-hire” list. In that respect, Ailes ruined as many careers as he made.

    Director Alexis Bloom (“Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher”) wrenchingly introduces us to his victims, or at least the handful willing to discuss it on camera – or not under an non-disclosure agreement as part of their lucrative settlements with the network and its oily owner, Rupert Murdoch. What strikes you is the fear in their voices, cringing at the mention of Ailes’ name, even though he’s been dead for 18 months. It’s the reaction of someone who’s faced down a monster and lived to tell about it. What causes men like Ailes, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and Trump to behave so callously, so entitled?

    Bloom, to her detriment, has little inclination to find out. Hers is more a just-the-facts-ma’am approach, which is devastating enough. The stories are appalling, especially Ailes setting the example for his male anchors like Bill O’Reilly, Eric Bolling and contributor Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator. The takeaway being that men and power is a rancid mix.

    If that wasn’t awful enough, Bloom makes a convincing case that the current political temperament of us vs. them, red vs. blue and the incivility such divisions sow, can all be traced to Ailes and his infamous Willie Horton ads credited with Bush 41 erasing a 15-point gap to Michael Dukakis in the 1988 presidential election. When questioned about the ad’s overt racial messages, using a black escaped murderer as a political ploy, Ailes cavalierly replies, the public reaction would have been the same if Horton were white. Yeah, right.

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