Monday Mitzvahs: Sharing Hope

Do you ever feel like an emotional zombie?  Dead inside but still moving?  That is the kind of week I have had.

DID is a mixed blessing.  I do believe that children’s ability to dissociate is a God-given gift to help them survive trauma.  Without dissociation I would be insane (I mean literally in a hospital unable to function) or I would have killed myself as a child.

So DID saved me.  Sometimes it helps me get through difficult situations today.  It has also helped me get some reprieve from the past and enjoy life.  But other times, it feels more like a curse.  Some days I feel so weighted down by pain that I fear I will suffocate, and I don’t even know why.

“Hey Leslie!” You say, “Monday Mitzvahs are supposed to be light-hearted, did you forget?”  No I didn’t forget, I just had a really, really hard week.  I am feeling better now, though I wouldn’t say I am happy–yet.

Today’s mitzvah is born of this week’s pain.  When I get into emotional quicksand like that, I fight like a wild animal to get out.  That does not mean I always succeed.  This time I was “triggered” out of the bad place I was in.  Who would have thought being “triggered” could be a good thing?

While I was in the pit, fighting to get out, I turned to one of my heroes, Marilyn Van Derbur (should I say heroine?)  I wanted someone who understood my pain to tell me it would get better, and she did.

Marilyn Van Derbur was molested as a child by her father.  She dissociated, in the sense that she did not remember any of it until she was in her 20’s and I believe she really began the work of healing in her 40’s.  During the years that she did not allow herself to remember what happened during the night, she was driven to succeed.  Driven, she realized later, to prove that she had worth because her “night child” who did know of the abuse was sure she had no worth.  One of her accomplishments as part of this drive was to become Miss America.

In the attached video, she starts out talking about the worst day of her life.  A reporter had found out that she was in therapy because of incest.  This was big news due to her status as a previous Miss America.

I love this video and her book, Miss America By Day, because of her message:  There is hope, you can get through this.  You can get to a place beyond the pain, but you have to do the work of healing.

Such validating and hope-filled words!

I have to note also–when she is talking about “the work” of healing, she mentions confronting one’s abuser.  I do NOT think this is necessary for everyone.  I suppose if your abuser is still a part of your life, it could be helpful  (talk to your therapist), but I haven’t seen my abuser for many years and have no desire to initiate contact now.  For me the hard work of healing is going to therapy each week, facing my demons and working through the pain of the past.  I am holding on to the hope she offers that some day this will bring me some peace.

So my mitzvah for today is to share this video with those of you who are also survivors.  Sharing hope.

And YOUR mitzvah, should you choose to accept it, is to SHARE HOPE with someone else.  There are many ways you can do that.  You choose.  You could share hope by sharing a video, or a song.  Perhaps by sharing your story–or like my husband you can give a loved one hope by letting them know that you will always be there — no matter what.  (Thanks Honey!)



Monday Mitzvahs were inspired by Linda Cohen’s book 1,000 Mitvahs



  1. This article is another wonderful gift to the world of healing emotionally, Leslie. It is special to me because I sometimes hesitate to be reassuring of those deep into the healing process out of concern that my reassurance will increase their pain. I remember how exasperated I was after 20+ years of seemingly no progress. Then in a moment the pain was gone. I had finished the work of healing. I believe it can be done. And that moment of realization that I had healed is the moment to which I “trigger” whenever I see a need for reassurance for others or myself. Healing does happen. Thank you, Leslie.

  2. It must have been one of those weeks for many of us. I an grateful that you have shared this and I am hopeful for that day of healing. I see the baby steps being made but the setbacks bite. You are amazing with your words and I thank you for sharing.

    • Cindy, so sorry you had a bad week too. Yes, those setbacks are killer. I am amazed how easily I can be set back and how far. Sheesh. Thank you for your kind words though, they mean a lot.

  3. Thank you for sharing your painful past with others, Leslie. Resources can seem scarce to victims of child abuse or any other crime against persons, simply because of the feelings of isolation experienced by victims. It’s a very caring thing for you to share and to offer resources.

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