It was my savior as a child, distancing me from the chaos, hate and violence that surrounded me. It was another disassociation I concocted along the way to survival as much as the eating was/is at times.
TV took me to places I wish I were, people I wish I had known and families I wanted to be a part of. My life and TV were parallel universes.
As a young child I was enchanted with Superman, the old black and white TV series.
It astonished me that no one could hurt him-no bullets, no punches, no slaps, and no beatings.
Nada. Nothing. He would protect all his friends and people he didn’t even know from harm.
Of course every once in a while a perpetrator would find some of that nasty green kryptonite to disable Superman’s powers, but he always found a way around it.
I can remember wishing he were my father. No one would hurt me, or call me names and I would always be protected. He was just a super man.
On other channels, shows captured my fantasies. Leave It To Beaver, The Donna Reed Show and Ozzie and Harriet and Father Knows Best.
These homes had two loving parents, brothers and sisters who actually liked each other.
The mother always stayed home and never worked and they were never beaten.
My universe was devoid of any similarities. It’s as if I grew up on Mars. Mine was just the opposite. A mother who always worked, was never home, my father a mystery and gone, and well, you know the background about my brother.
Yet I always found myself airbrushing my existence into their lives, morphing into one of their relatives, where I could find safety, acceptance and love. Where people actually spoke to each other instead of punishing them with walls of silence.
I Love Lucy taught me how to laugh and be funny. Laughter in my house was a seldom visitor.
TV land is where I wanted to live.
I felt a certain kinship with the Circus Boy, a story about Corky; a young boy whose parents were killed in trapeze accident and one of the clowns in the circus adopted him. Corky then became the water boy to a baby elephant named Bimbo. Corky’s life consisted of traveling with a group of misfits whose kindness and love showed him there was hope and healing after tragedies, no matter what kind of freak you felt like.
I was in a circus of my own with the White Tower. At a very early age, I was friends with midgets, drag queens, hookers and street people who were some of the kindest and gentlest people I have ever known and who I felt safe with.
Home was more or less like the Twilight Zone. You couldn’t really believe what was happening. I used to think as a child my mind was playing tricks on me. What I “saw” of the outside world and what was happening with my “inside” world conflicted in every way how a child should grow up.
As the shows reached the end of their lives and seasons ended, I too had reached a point of knowing that this would never be my life. My so-called “involvement” with these fantasy families were archived and put on a shelf.
But there were other channels to explore and watch and other dreams and fantasies to take their place.
One thing was certain. None of these shows were mine. I was a spectator at best.
I was the audience, not a participant.
I was in the cheap seats.
Channels kept changing and so did my life. My years in art school,and working at Yale resembled the entertainment Channels.
It was there I found friends, learned by watching others, how to play and be myself and for the first time truly be accepted, or at least a hint of what it could be like. We were all misfits of some kind. Scientists, and artists who marched to a different drummer.
I fine tuned my portrait photography, had exhibits and thought life was grand and would never end. I made friends with people who I let decide what was best for me, never having the nerve to step out on my own.
It was safe living inside their dramas and never dealing with my own.
But all that came to a crashing end.
Things changed, I changed and this time I was truly lost.
It seemed as if I had run out of fantasies, channels and any kind of hope. Nothing seemed right. Nothing made me happy. There was systemic damage and I couldn’t figure or watch my way out of it.
It’s as if someone had pulled the plug on my view of life/TV.
I realized all of my life had been spent living on everyone else’s show. I had walk on parts in everyone’s play, but never a main character. It’s like when you see a soap opera and the two main characters are talking, you see people behind them carrying on conversation, but they’re not. Their lips move to indicate the illusion of a conversation. My life seemed mute. My existence was an illusion.
I was always living in someone else’s play and it had ceased to work.
I crashed hard, without a net.
Fragments of my life were scattered all around.
Nothing held together.
There was no one else’s life I wanted to copy or imitate. I needed my own.
Truthfully I didn’t even know what I needed.
One last time I changed the channel and found nothing.
The screen was blank. I had to start over. From scratch. From nothing.
I had reached the end.
But then enter, stage left, a producer.
A producer for my very own show on my very own stage.
The definition of a producer for any show is:
“The producer is the person on a movie set who makes sure everyone shows up and knows what to do when—. The producer is the person who shows up on set only when there’s trouble, and then causes more trouble, cell phone in one hand, bullwhip in the other. The producer does all the hard work on a film and gets none of the glory. The producer sits at the right hand of God, and even then sends up notes.”
Enter Dr. Hadar Lubin MD Psychiatrist. Dr. Lubin is Founder of the Women's Trauma Program and the Co-Director of the Post Traumatic Stress Center in New Haven CT.
She is also an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine. She developed the Women’s Trauma Program and has written extensively on treatment of PTSD.
Dr. Hadar Lubin is a stunning Israeli woman with the proverbial wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, teaches endurance within strength and has a gentle intensity that immediately captures your trust.
No accident that in Hebrew, the name "Hadar" means "spectacular", "splendid" and "greatness".
There is a story in the Bible of a woman named Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah. There are several versions of this story. One is that Dinah is raped. Her son born from this rape is taken away from her to become an Egyptian Prince. The bible does not give Dinah a voice to tell of her experience of rape and violence and the pain of having a child ripped from your life, and yet Dinah’s spirit has somehow survived. We ourselves can give Dinah a voice. We can imagine that Dinah found the persevering strength, to go past her victimhood and become truly free. We are most like Dinah when we find a voice to speak of our tragedies, and transcend them.
Dr. Lubin teaches us to find our voice and let it be heard, far beyond a stage whisper.
Dr. Lubin has given me the tools, resources, and guidance to finally stand center stage in my very own life.
It has taken four years to get my character right. There is still a lot of tweaking and fine-tuning left.
There are channels left to change, my character will change, but I will be the only one on stage.