It’s Chanukah morning, the Festival of Lights. Yet I lay in bed with a horrible migraine, feeling so much darkness. This migraine is a result of a few horrible nightmares that I had last night. Although the morning sun is shining through my bedroom window, it’s no match against the inner darkness that has completely taken me over. These horrible feelings are too heavy and deep for the outside sun to penetrate through. All this is making me feel so alone. In this darkness, I don’t see anyone else. It’s too dark to see anyone and I feel as though I’m in this all alone.
Last night, as I was lighting the menorah, something hurt me. I was suddenly bombarded with memories of my childhood. Memories of spending this holiday while I was being emotionally, socially and sexually abused. Of when I was lighting the menorah while feeling so dead inside.
Feeling all this, made me want to light the menorah in a different fashion. I wanted to light all eight candles and then proceed to blow each one out. I wanted to “commemorate” all the different parts of me that were extinguished throughout my childhood years by all my abusers. If each candle would represent a year of my abuse, the menorah wouldn’t be big enough. I would need to add many more lights.
So instead, I’ll consider the eight candles as different parts of me that were killed. My innocence, my purity, my inner spark, my carefree childhood, my safety in this world, my self esteem, my body and my inner core. These are the eight things that were stolen from me and I’d so love to light all candles and then extinguish them all. The method I would love to use is to put a metal cup over each flame, depriving the fire of its oxygen, thereby forcing the flame to extinguish.
That was my life. My oxygen was taken from me and life without oxygen can’t exist and I therefore died internally. I was therefore left without a spark. Without that jolly and innocent spunk that teenagers have. I was left without any fuel and was running a motor without the fuel needed to run it.
As I was lighting it, I needed to use all my energy to control myself from extinguishing the flames I just lit. My hands were lighting but my emotions were extinguishing. The candle I was holding was bringing light into the room yet my hand holding the candle wanted to immediately put the flames out.
I finished lighting and put an end to this internal war that was raging in my head. I gave the candle over to my dear children. I passed it from my hand to the hand of my child who is so innocent and pure.
I saw the image, the image of my child lighting his cute little menorah while I was onlooking. I saw this in the window which acted as a mirror because of the darkness outside. Tears slowly filled my eyes. In front of me, stood a man who never had a childhood, who was broken and bruised in every way possible, yet right beside him was his children, full of life and fun. Full of that inner spark and flame that I never had.
As he finished lighting and gave it over to my next child, beaming with pride, I had to use all my might to stop my tears. I wiped away the tears and looked back at my menorah. The one that I wanted to extinguish just a few short moments ago. The one that I had that enormous internal war over. I was staring at the flames, flickering so peacefully.
Yes, I’ve been through so much, but looking into the mirror and seeing the image unfolding, I knew that I did the correct thing by keeping mine lit. Yes, my world was extinguished but look what I was able to do. I was able to rekindle what has been put out. An empty barrel can’t fill and if my children had such joy and pride lighting their menorahs, it had to have come from me.
So tonight, on the fourth night of Chanukah, when I light the four candles, I will look at my four children. I’m crying just thinking about the emotions. Out of a dead soul, I got married and have four beautiful children. The four lights tonight are going to represent my four children. It will represent my triumphs. It will represent my battles that I’ve won. It will represent the strength and resilience that I needed, to create this beautiful image. The image in the window in front of me, lighting the menorah while being surrounded by my amazing wife and my four beautiful children! This will be my own personal miracle tonight. This will be my own personal Chanukah!