Choose correctly// Anat Gopstein

Choose correctly לבחור נכון
By Anat Gopstein (from her book מעפר קומי/Rise from the Dust)
He’s a husband, a father to small children, he loves his wife and children. He promised himself that he would love them and protect them from everything, to be a good father and husband.
He remembers the home he grew up in. A happy home, but very violent and rigid. “A father at home is like a king or a Turkish sheikh”, he would describe it, “and we and my mother were his servants. When my father wasn’t home, we had freedom, we could talk, we could breathe. When my father was home, we were forbidden to speak aloud, forbidden to breathe. We were good kids, energetic kids. When we did what our father wanted, there was a good atmosphere at home. When we didn’t, our father would get mad, irritated, he would turn into a monster. At those moments, I hated him. He did bad things: Morbid violence that the mind does not tolerate, beatings, abductions, harassment. He blamed us for causing him to get irritated. He explained to us that this is education, spare the rod and spoil the child. That’s how he quoted things and allowed himself to hurt us again and again. When he got irritated, he couldn’t control himself. The house shook with his screaming, and I assume the neighbors heard the shouting, but chose not to get involved. We were good kids, disciplined, but nobody identified what was going on in our hearts. The most painful thing was his treatment of our mother, he would throw things at her. He would always come down on her, belittle her. My mother used to walk on eggs in order not to make him mad, but when he did, he ran amok, he couldn’t control himself. “Don’t beat my mommy!” I would shout. He stopped, couldn’t believe I would speak, that I would dare to object. Since then, he didn’t beat her in our sight, he only looked at her and said, ‘Wait, wait’. He had a look of murder in his eyes. When the door to their room was closed, we were afraid. But we kept quiet. Our mother kept quiet, she didn’t talk about it, and neither did we. We just absorbed it and kept quiet.”
He took a deep breath and went on:
“I ask myself, what kind of father will I be? How will I guard myself from reacting like my father? I’m afraid of losing control, I’m afraid of hurting my wife and child. I want love and connection, not fear and separation. I want to know how to argue and stand my ground, but with healthy, proper communication, with marital and family space, without things getting out of hand. To use my judgment and behave like an adult person. I actually want the difficult moments, so that I can have compassion for my wife and kids. I want my kids to look up to me, not to be afraid of me. I believe in words, not in punishments. I promised my wife to love and protect, and I want to keep my promise.”
We can stop the cycle of violence. It’s hard, but it’s doable.
In therapy we get the tools showing us how to act in the marital and family space. To create a healthy relationship based on respect, not on possessiveness and objectification. To know how to manage challenging situations and express ourselves without getting out of control. To develop awareness of the thoughts and feelings that flood over us and to cope with them. We think before we act. To challenge the thoughts that lead to angry responses and violence. And to learn how to give proper expression to anger, with sensitivity towards yourself and to the other.
And mainly, to believe that we have the right to choose.
A person has the ability to choose his actions, for better or for worse. Every individual is given permission: Whether or not to direct himself to a good path and to be righteous, it’s up to him; whether or not to direct himself to a bad path and be evil, it’s up to him. And it’s better to choose the good, to choose life.

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