If you would’ve asked me a year and a half ago, “Is there any hope for you?” My answer would have been a clear NO.
But even for a girl like me, there’s a way, and there’s hope. And anyone who has a heart and wants to help, this is truly the place…
I grew up in a family in which both parents were on their second marriage. So when I was six and my mother remarried my stepfather, I was pushed aside by the “new” kids; there was no place for me in either parent’s heart.
I should mention, my mother is not a well woman. That is, she’s mentally ill. And her way of relating to me was solely through physical and verbal violence. Extreme violence. I never had a childhood, nor an adolescence. When I was supposed to be a kid, I was busy being the mother to the other kids in the family. And when I was supposed to be a student, my head was nowhere near the books. Of course, I never went on class trips. And if by some chance I did go, then when I went home afterward, the door was locked and they wouldn’t let me back in… Shabbat and holidays were just ordinary days of drudgery to me, and sometimes the police visited our home… And in all this mess, I was just a teenager trying to quiet the cries of other scared children.
My other family members took advantage of this hideous situation, and I was sexually abused from a young age. Yes, that’s how I grew up – with pain too great to bear.
When I was nine, I found the solution to all this. I found a “pacifier” that quieted all the pain – by providing an escape. I escaped to places no Jewish girl should be. I escaped to the computer – it started with just chat, but soon I was whiling away hours and hours at the community library. I found myself spending hours and hours with men, with movies – anything that would quiet my inner demons. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: it works. It works really well. So I kept doing this for a long, long time.
The situation at home grew even worse. Eventually I left home and got married, and then divorced. My community threw me out, and was left entirely alone, with not a single soul to help me, care for me, or support me. I sunk deeper and deeper, and this time I didn’t stop only at my computer screen… And so the hole in my heart grew and grew, and I couldn’t live with myself, living a double life, acting against my own principals day and night. My soul was desperate, pleading for help. I didn’t know any other way than to turn to my “solution.” But it no longer filled me. I tried to be strong, but I kept falling… I turned to every place I could think of, but to no avail.
Finally, I found Retorno, where I discovered that my “solution” had a name – addiction. I learned that my problem grew out of this dark pit that was inside me, a raw, bleeding place where a young girl kept crying, begging for someone to listen, to understand her pain, to give her the love and warmth she never got at home. Retorno was that place.
But of course, treatment costs money, and I had absolutely nothing. I sent dozens of letters to organizations all over the country, but not one organization came to my rescue.
And then I met Rabbi Eckstein, the director of Retorno. He would not rest until he found a benefactor – a kind Jew who heard my story and promised to pay for my treatment.
At Mifgashim, Retorno’s outpatient center, I found a new way of life. I’m in treatment now, and I’m recovering emotionally. I’m surrounded by love! I’m not alone. I have a family now, a family that cares about me and takes care of me – the Retorno Family.
I’m writing this with trembling hands and an overflowing heart. I have met many, many lost “kids” like me. They come to Retorno to ask for help in getting out of their addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, self-harm, etc. And they have no support! No way to pay for the treatment they so desperately need!