On Palestine (the intersections of oppression, grief and liberation)

I am against all war. I am against all genocide. 

I  pray for and demand immediate and sustained ceasefire and for all killing and terrorizing to stop. I pray for and demand all hostages be returned. I pray for and demand safety of all peoples and the land. 

I support the freedom of the Palestinian people and their right to a Palestinian state, free of terror.  

I hear and honor the deep grief of the Israeli, Jewish and Palestinian communities. Your grief is your humanity and I join you in this deep sorrow as it is also mine. My heart is broken with you. My liberation is bound up in yours and I know that none of us are free until everyone is free. 

I am Jewish and have lived in Israel. A DNA report years ago told me my ancestry was 99.7% Ashkenazi Jew. I come from a tribe. 

I grew up in a family system who taught and showed me I would be safest in the world if I could believe that everything was ok, if I could stay distant from the pain of intergenerational trauma, of oppression, and of life. We gained comfort and belonging from our relationship with Judaism. Youth group, camp and synagogue were deeply important to me. I spent a semester studying abroad in Israel. When my grandmother died in 2014, and then my mother in 2021, along with a deep grief of death, I felt such gratitude to have been born into an intact culture who taught me how to mourn and remember my dead. When my 2 nieces were Bat Mitzvahed (Talyah several years ago, Kol just this past fall) I felts so proud of them. I love them both so much and I really learned from them how a Bat Mitzvah is a rite of passage, a beautiful sharing and passing on of cultural wisdom and traditions. 

I have a deep compassion for how I was raised and a clarity that my parents and my people only wanted to protect me from pain. There is a resiliency in how you survive a genocide. I have spent years in therapy building capacity to recognize and understand the impulses that live in my body and that fire in my nervous system. This has meant years of building capacity to simply be a compassionate witness with what has been intolerable for me.  This has been a dedication to my own healing and to healing in my body the ancestral wounding I have inherited. I have learned to recognize and feel in my body the impact of coming from a people who have experienced genocide. Just 3 generations back. Not that long ago. 

So when Israel was attacked by terrorists, I felt horror and also felt the adaptive pathway I have learned to not feel.  And then the retaliation. The bombing. The death of so many thousands of people. Parents. Children. Hospitals. Homes. The Land.  2 roads and a day to gather your things and get out. Genocide. I was horrified. And numb. I couldn’t touch it on my own. I needed other people to feel it with me to be able to touch it. And I still do. Because we are not supposed to grieve alone and community trauma requires community healing. And because the actions and behaviors of this genocide remind my cells and the living ancestral wisdom of my body of the historical wounds I have inherited from my Jewish ancestors. This reminds my nervous system of death, of being hunted, of being exterminated. 

And as I was feeling all of this I began to see the grief, and wailing and the reliving of trauma responses of so many Jewish beloveds. Beloveds who supported the Israeli military response, which I do not. Nervous systems crying out for safety and belonging. Which we ALL deserve and we all need. 

I feel such deep compassion for this. But also a fear and a loneliness that I have never known before. To be watching so many beloveds grieve and to not have a shared experience of horror about the war in Gaza. I was worried about fracturing my relationship with my family. I have never experienced anything like this. To be a human needing belonging, to be a human who is a against all war, against colonization, again zionism, against racism, against all oppression, all violence, all degradation of the land, to be crying out for peace and to not have a shared experience of this.

I’m so grateful for the protest movement, the organizing of Jewish voices for peace and of all those who pray never again for anyone of us. I am grateful for the Rabbis and other Jewish community leaders who are bravely speaking up for Palestinian freedom. I am so grateful for the Jewish and Palestinian folx who are leading a movement of peace and demanding justice. Seeing the takeover of grand central station and all the actions around the world against the war have helped me move out of numbness into aliveness, where I can feel my grief and my boundary more clearly. This is the great turning. 

I reject all war. War will never be a solution and must not be a choice. I reject all racism, all colonization and all intersecting systems of domination. I reject all military action. I reject all prisons and all police forces. I raise up the voices of the Palestinian people who are traumatized and grieving and demanding their own freedom and I join their cry with my own. Liberation is our birthright. Safety is the intervention. Stop the war. 

The witchery and neuroscience of body based trauma healing

My beloved friend and teacher Nicole sent me this recent NY Times article on EMDR.  I’m what you would call a true EMDR devotee (I like to say ‘I have gone down the rabbit hole of EMDR and am not planning on coming back’) and I read this article with the typical enthusiasm of my Aries Sun/Enneagram 7 combo flare. 

I am deeply inspired by, and often reference, Michelle Casandra Johnson’s beautiful body of work around the dismantling of racism. She teaches and practices “We have to love ourselves into who we want to be. Love is part of accountability. I love people enough to ask them to change. Actionable love, the love connected to I believe in us.” So, as a white anti-racist liberationist, who loves and believes in us enough to ask us to change, I’d like to say out loud that this article should include pictures of BIPOC bodies healing. Of the 4 pictures featured in the article, all 4 are of folx who are white appearing. I want to say clearly, as a dismantling of racist culture and a mantling of what we are building, trauma recovery work (including, but not limited to EMDR) is for all of us and healing is our birthright. 

EMDR works by catalyzing our body’s innate wisdom and deep capacity for healing and transformation.  This is folk magic (meaning magic of the people; this belongs to us) that travels the riverbed of our bodies’ birthright capacity for healing and that taps into our deep embodied knowingness of how to heal. This NY Times article is speaking directly to the science of EMDR which, as a self-proclaimed EMDR devotee, is fascinating. However, science removed from magic (and awe) falls flat for me. 

This NY Times article explains, “the added component of bilateral stimulation theoretically anchors the patient in the current moment as they’re engaging with a trauma [memory]…The bilateral stimulation needs to be compelling enough to distract patients, but not so overwhelming that they totally focus on it.” While I somewhat agree with how this is framed, for me this description is missing the beauty and the magic of the transformation that becomes available to us during trauma reprocessing. 

In EMDR, we draw from the deep regulation of moving both sides of our bodies to help anchor us in the present. This is an anchor to the relational field of healing that creates the conditions for safety. The conditions for safety are the energetic container that allows our healing to shine through this work. Or we might instead choose to say this (this being what-is-created-between-us, between our bodies, hearts, nervous systems and souls) is where the magic happens.  As the relational neuroscientists say, “we heal when we have both enough stress and enough safety for change to happen.” And, as the witches say (yes, I am both), “what happens between the worlds changes all the worlds.”  EMDR  is both science and magic. 

While many EMDR therapists like to say we are working with one foot in the past, one foot in the present, I prefer to think of this work as building a bridge. Or, we might say, we are building a relationship. The parts of us that are burdened with trauma memories do not tend to understand they are in the present moment or that the past traumatic experience is not still happening. Our learned neuroception of the inner and outer world affirms this lack of safety to our nervous system and therefore our ecosystem body. However, when we are anchored in the present moment, supported by the deep regulation of movement, presence, attunement & the safety we receive when we experience true belonging, we can learn to be with the parts of us that are reliving past traumas and can deepen our capacity for presence with experiences that have otherwise been intolerable. As we build this capacity, we can bring a depth of healing and offer compassionate witnessing to these tender, wounded parts of ourselves. This is work we can’t access when we are fully reliving traumas or are fully blended with our most vulnerable, wounded parts. However, when we begin to access this from a place of love and care–which is possible and is the body of work we achieve within EMDR–we can bring healing to these wounds, releasing the negative beliefs we have (learned) about ourselves, replacing them with more whole and true beliefs about who we really are. And this, while science continues to try to explain it and sometimes comes closer to touching a piece of it, is absolute(ly) magic. 

And by the way, I am an EMDR CIT (Consultant in Training) and I offer both individual and group consultation for folx on their EMDR practice. Consultation with me is anchored in the rooted wisdom of trauma healing, anti-racism, intersectional ecofeminism, queer and trans/affirming culture, fat and body positivity, neurodivergent affirmation, relational repair and collectivist culture.  Right now, I have a monthly affinity consult group forming for trans/non-binary and queer folx, witches and fat babes. If you hold one or more of these beautiful identities & are interested in joining an affinity consultation group, reach out with your interest. 

hope comes

Feeling this in my bones today, letting this reverberate in the cracks.
folk magic from the Bengsons.

hope comes from the place where the hurt comes.

the part of you that is not alright. is also the part that loves the light.
the part of you that is suffering, is the part that calls in change.
and you don’t have to feel ashamed, there is nothing to forgive.
the part of you that is crying out is the part that wants to live.

hope comes from the place where the hurt comes.

when your world is burning down, getting hot is a sane reaction,
but one in need of action, because your spirit needs protection.
so gather up your sinew, and gather up your faction.
hey, hope is not a feeling. hope is an action.

hope comes from the place where the hurt comes.
we are not alright. we are not alright.

I’m gonna fall down on my knees. that’s an act of living.
I’m gonna say, will you help me please. that’s an act of living.
I’m gonna say I’m not alright. that’s an act of living.
I’m just trying to make it through this night. that’s an act of living.

hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes. hope comes, from the place where the hurt comes.