JewBu Quest: From Abuse to Happiness

JewBu: a Jew who practices forms of Buddhist meditation & spirituality. This blog documents my quest to 1) heal from sexual, verbal, and emotional abuse, 2) come to terms with losing Mom and Grandma to Alzheimers, 3) find balance, explore the spiritual, stay present. Bascially, I've experienced some pretty crappy shit in my life and want to find a way to move past it and find happiness.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hatred in My Department

Monday night around 10pm, I got an email from a professor in my department that was sent to the department list serve. A very hate-filled email comparing Israelis to Nazis with horrible graphic pictures from the Holocaust and Gaza. One had a little girl's decapitated head in Gaza next to bodies of Jews killed by Nazis.

I was so upset that the professor sent this that I wanted to immediately respond. I called my friend Jennifer and asked her to talk me down. People often send heated things out on our department that lead to horrible disagreements. I have been warned recently that when I'm up for a job, people on the hiring committee will call any professor in the department that they know to ask about you. So I didn't want to get on anyone's bad side. But as an Israeli and the descendant of Holocaust survivors, I felt like I couldn't be silent.

My friend helped me come up with the idea to ask the department chair, who is on my committee, to say something so that I don't have to. I crafted her a well-thought out email explaining why I think what the professor said is over the line. And I didn't hear back.

I went into a trauma cycle and started binging on food and alcohol. I only had two drinks, but that's enough to potentially trigger a migraine for me. I fell asleep from a food and alcohol coma.
But, I woke up around 3am. I was wide awake with a bit of a headache and with all of the feelings. I had to teach on Tuesday. It was a long and disturbing night. I listened to my guided imagry CD and took homeopathic medicine.

The next day, I ran into the chair of the department. She told me that she had decided to not say anything because she thought it violated the professor's academic freedom to have her limit what could me said. This really hurt me because she's stepped in previously when a graduate student made rude comments to a professor and in another case when someone made racist comments to Chicano students. I felt as if my hurt didn't matter.

I was considering letting the whole thing go. I mean, I am graduating in 6 months, hopefully. I decided to write an email response and then just save it in my drafts. It felt better to get everything out and to spend the time carefully crafting out my thoughts and clarifying what my experience was in a thoughtful and sensitive way.

Then, I got an email from my chair justifying her decision that I could just get off the listserv if I wanted and that the list is meant for people to post whatever they want. I was so hurt and angry that I decided to send out my email response to the listserv.

At first there was no response, and that made me feel a little hurt. Then, I got emails from other Jewish graduate students in my department, thanking me for being brave enough to send the email. They felt the same way. I felt better for having said my peace and voicing what I need - to not have hostility in my workplace (and asking for what I need is something that I really struggle with).

The next day, another professor sent out an email to the listserv calling for an academic boycott of Israel. Now, this would include not allowing me to do what I had done for my MA research and not allowing me to apply for postdocs in Israel. The boycott call has been going around the world for years, so this was clearly posted, I and some of my friends believe, in direct response to my email. It was like a screw you to my request to be respected.

Now, I'm super upset. I can't focus. I have gotten several emails of support from fellow students, but the faculty are silent. Other than my advisor who asked me when I was okay about what happened; I told her no. I don't think that she's going to do anything about it. I took myself off the listserv, which means that I may not receive notice about conferences, jobs, and funding opportunities. But I'm not putting myself through all that.

My therapist says that I'm running, which is a pattern from me - that I shouldn't demonize the department and that I should learn to not distance myself from those who hurt me and take better care of myself when I'm feeling the trauma. Or something. I don't even know what I'm supposed to do. We ran out of time so she said we'd talk about it next week. I hate that.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

10 Things I Like About Myself

April inspired me to make this list to remind myself of the things that I want to hold on to whilst I think about what changes I want to make in my life in the coming year. I encourage you to play along and make your own list. Here goes:

  1. I am intelligent.
  2. I am brave and courageous.
  3. I am strong and resilient.
  4. I believe in people and in the future.
  5. I am good at my career.
  6. I strive for balance in my life.
  7. I have a good sense of where I come from and where I want to go.
  8. I have learned to take good care of myself.
  9. I am curious and open.
  10. I have amazing friends.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Results of Investigation by Kansas' Department on Aging

I received a letter from the Kansas Department of Aging sent a month and a half or two months after I called. I complained about my mother's lack of care, specifically about the lack of people at the facility to feed her, give her liquids, turn her, provide medication when needed, etc. -- basic care sort of issues. I just got a letter back which says that an investigation was launched because of my complaint and "as a result of this investigation, deficiencies were cited."

My hope is that the facility will go back to my father and encourage him to raise hours of the private CNA care for Mom. I haven't heard of them doing that though, and I'm not sure if I should call and speak to the executive director or just leave it. If they were to find out that I had launched the investigation, there could be retribution against Mom, and Dad would be very angry.

I'm back at home now, very happy to be here, but VERY stressed out about the work load. I have more to do than I can possibly do. I didn't sleep well last night. I want to work on creating a social life for myself here but I don't have time for that. I only have time for work and trying to get my home in order. I don't even have time to get to therapy probably this week, which is ridiculous, but apparently my committee member is going to throw me something last minute to do at the time I had therapy scheduled.