A Passover Haggadah for Trauma Survivors

Who wants to re-enact trauma?

Sure, we want to grow from our experiences; remember those times in our lives we showed up like never before. When our survival instincts kicked in, when our visceral responses led the way. When we were reminded of our prowess and capabilities, which are often so overlooked in a modern culture in which we become soft and/or numb.

But to remember the tears? The hardship? To go back to those darkest moments in our lives?

Surely it can be triggered unknowingly throughout our life experiences, but who would choose to go back?

And yet, that’s what the Passover Haggadah does. It recounts the bitterness of slavery, the tears, the mortar used to back-breakingly build the pyramids.

It starts with the suffering, the struggles, and then tells of how G-d redeemed the Israelites from it all; with miracles and wonders. Then we eat! After which songs of praise are sung.

So maybe recounting trauma can work. The Haggadah seems to posit this.

But who’s to say which trauma we choose to recount?

And why recount a nation’s trauma, if and when our very lives provide enough of it, which is so much closer to our hearts?

And thus, below you will find excerpts from a trauma survivor’s Haggadah…

Leaving in Haste

She packed a bag 
Not because she was leaving 
But because she didn’t know when she’d have to
The next time things got heated
It could be in a day, in a couple weeks
It could be in a matter of months

It didn’t matter
For when it did happen
It would be sudden
It would be fast
And she would have to leave in haste

No time to pack 
Surely not a time to remember one’s essentials
No, she would set them aside ahead of time
During a time of peace
When her mind was calm
When the home was calm
And the moment it became otherwise
She would take her child and leave

Enough Is Enough

Cursed at
Dignity shot
Even if she didn’t need it
Forget dignity
Girl just needs to breathe
Heated times call for walks
Impossible to know if it will ever get better
Just a week of peace, is that enough?
Kidding herself
Longing for a return to healthy communication
Meandering the streets
Not a neighbor in sight
Only can count on her self
Police are a last resort, when necessary
Questioning her own worth, her own sanity
Respecting the other’s pain
Stupefied by her current situation
Together seems infinitely far away
Unlike any circumstances she has ever been in
Violated, torn apart
Why did it get this bad?
X marks the spot
You don’t see it, but I do
Zenith reached; Clarity, Good-Bye

Praises of Renewal

The matzah she would eat tasted like cardboard
But first she had to manage all the actual cardboard

She organized her new furniture deliveries
Placed them into her new home

Then turned to dismantling the boxes
Just in time for recycling the next morning

Finally, a new beginning

She recalled times of adrenaline
Of deep-seeded fear

That was in the past

Now, she could take calm steps
Start anew with her child by her side

A fresh start

Hello, Spring!

Latest release, Inner Piece: Decluttering a Soul, available here.

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