Radical Pleasurist – a business, a calling, a movement, a path to my own healing and continual spiritual awakening – came from me and I am my stories. You are your stories. What stories are you made of? I’ll tell you mine.
I am made up of Jewish ancestors who suffered greatly and witnessed many deaths. I am made up of Russian and Soviet Communists and anti-communists who struggled greatly and were gravely betrayed by the Soviet government (one of them being my father who was imprisoned as a young man after serving in the army). I am made up of women who had many abortions and took care of many children and families in their lifetimes. I am made up of wealth and poverty. I am made from humans who spoke using racist words as I was growing up, who have racist beliefs and thoughts, who have fear of those not like us, and who have experienced violence from people of color with their own circumstances, stories, beliefs, and fears.
I was born in another country, another continent during a time when it was deadly to be Jewish (1978). My mother lied to the nurses as she was giving birth to me. I have no birth certificate. She had to keep to herself that in a month’s time, we would be fleeing the Soviet Union. She had to lie about being Jewish. I was born almost dead with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, nearly suffocating me. My mother was 21 when I was born. She was terrified and I inherited her terror. We fled as refugees along with many immigrants that year. Some of us were bound for Israel and some of us were bound for America. We were headed to Brooklyn, but not before enduring a European winter for four months until we were allowed to enter the U.S. We had no money or English. To this day, I don’t know how my mom survived with a newborn and a tyrannical family (my father’s parents). She told me not too long ago that I was the reason she kept herself alive. She endured abuse back then as a young woman and continues to 42 years later. By now, she is used to it, and perpetuates it herself, along with whatever beliefs she has about relationships and self-love (which is a luxury when you have a family to care for, in-laws to stand up to, men to prove herself to – she is an engineer, and money to make).
I inherited those beliefs about myself and I inherited abusive relationship behavioral patterns. I inherited beliefs about the futility of feelings and self-care. I learned that the only salvation is education (and marrying a rich Jew). (Side note: I’m realizing the education I received from the top public schools in Brooklyn was disastrously biased, not that I retained anything from history classes anyway). Also, never married a rich Jew and would be very surprised if I do in the future (that’s another story for a future newsletter).
I inherited ancestral trauma and it is only now coming to my attention. I don’t have the luxury of ignoring or being ignorant of my lineage any longer because I am a teacher. I don’t want to pass on my ignorance. I’m here to teach how to be lovingly and compassionately aware of patterns; how to choose light and love (instead of fear) when there is darkness. I’m here to offer self-love as an option while also being tolerant of the excruciating pain that is arising within us and around us as we witness our brothers and sisters dying.
Relationships feel hard when I’m really showing up. Relationships are easy when I’m going with the flow (i.e. ignoring my intuition, feelings, and warning signs). They can also be destructive and abusive. So I choose the hard path because it’s worth it. When I’m feeling my feelings (sometimes that’s hard too when all I want is to be numb), having hard and scary conversations (which continue to feel scary even though I’ve been practicing for years), and asking for what I need; relationships feel bottomlessly hard. They also feel comforting, pleasurable, and deeply rewarding when I muster the courage to show up in the ways I believe matter. My relationships with individual people, some of whom are close to me, are microcosms for the relationships happening in the world. There are many people on all points of the spectrum of awareness who are having a hard time relating. We all come into this world with inherited beliefs no matter what we learn as we become adults and no matter how we’ve been educated.
We’ve all inherited:
Beliefs about people.
Beliefs about relationships.
Beliefs about ourselves and how we fit in.
Most of the time those beliefs are unexamined and don’t stir things up until they do.
Like they are being stirred up now.
The pandemic has stirred them up.
Black folks dying, riots, and protests have stirred them up.
The stirring up is bringing patterns (thoughts, beliefs, behavior) to our individual and collective awareness.
I encourage you to allow these patterns to arise without turning away. It is painful and hard. These patterns coming to your attention, whether they are in your own local bubble or showing you a global crisis, is a blessing. It means you are ready. It means you are strong enough to see them now. It means you are no longer blind. Look at them, dear one. Judge them not. You don’t need to feel guilty. You’ve done nothing wrong. No one has done anything wrong. Actions come from false and deeply hidden beliefs we’ve inherited or learned in our lifetimes. This includes white people or men or whoever you have deemed a perpetrator. This includes the harsh voices inside your thoughts. They are neither right or wrong. It’s what you have learned. It’s what everyone has learned. To change a belief, you must want to see it. You must face it. Then, and only then, do you have a choice. Then you can learn to replace the false belief with a belief that is true.
In my world, what I see and know as true is this: I am neither right nor wrong, good nor bad, selfish nor selfless. I am a student and a teacher always. I have many hidden layers of blind spots. I am afraid of anger. I have a low threshold for witnessing suffering. My little girl, Sophachka (the one inside me), needs a lot of words of affirmation and gentleness (I’m tearing up as I write this). She needs a lot of reassurance that no one is going anywhere. I ache for those who are hurt and being killed. I ache for Black people. I’m starting to open myself up to the deaths of Jews and my own lineage. I ache for women who allow themselves to be violated by men who don’t know the profound pain they are feeling and causing. I ache for the waters being polluted. I keep returning to compassion and love to light the way. I feel good when I am heard and I practice listening as best I can. I don’t always succeed. Forgiveness has comforted me on countless occasions. I forgive endlessly. It is my greatest medicine. I try to speak only what I know to be true for me and practice listening when I don’t know.
I know that not everyone is equipped to face the suffering and awareness of dark truths. I know that I am privileged to be able to because I have access to resources in a way that many do not. I forgive myself for not knowing who I am and not knowing others’ pain. I hope you can forgive yourself too. No one taught you how to face suffering, how to witness suffering within yourself and of others. I can barely tolerate suffering myself and I have been learning how for decades. I want to check out daily. I want to focus on pleasure only (pleasure is important because it co-exists with pain). There’s a lot I want to run away from. I understand if you do too.
I leave you today with three desires: allow yourself to feel, allow yourself to be loved, forgive yourself. Some resources below if you need them. Please share them in any way that feels ok to you.
Phoenix Project: inclusive, trauma-informed, and social justice friendly community platform for those seeking reprieve and free classes/gatherings. Created for trauma survivors and open to all. I am part of the leadership team and slowly learning how to best use the platform to provide classes and information to people.
Epic Relationships Consult: a free 50-minute conversation with me to learn how you can have conscious relationships in a way that honors you and everyone with whom you interact.
I love you fierce,