During the Christmas break I usually read and this time as I scanned through the psychology shelf of the local Hungarian bookshop and came across a book that I heard about recently: the Choice. It did not only raise my attention because the author has the same first name as me but also because the abstract was really calling me… The book is a must read, especially for those who experienced trauma.
The book starts in 1944 when this sixteen-year-old ballerina and gymnast Edith Eva Eger is sent to Auschwitz. Separated from her parents on arrival, she endures unimaginable experiences, including being made to dance for the infamous Josef Mengele. When the camp is finally liberated, she is pulled from a pile of bodies, barely alive.
In the biography she is writing about the denial she was carrying for the 20 years after her liberation. She went to the US, had three children, went to University and never spoke about the horror she went trough. Its not a coincidence that she learned psychology and got a Phd in clinical psychology. She was unconsciously looking for solutions for her PTSD and anxiety. The book writes about the details on how she faced her trauma and how her own patients helped her learn to live again with a life-affirming strength and resilience.
She repeats often what her mother said her before she died in the gas chamber: ‘We do not know what’s gonna happen but remember that nobody can take away what you put in your own mind.’ She argues that the choice is really in your mind. It depends on you what you do with your traumas: if you gonna behave as a victim for the rest of your life or you are going to build something positive on that experience. The choice is up to you and ‘the key is in your pocket’-she says.
This sentence so much inspired me, and realised that Edith is right: you should not forget about the past, this is not what therapy and healing is about. It is about acknowledging what happened and make peace with it. Then, moving on and building something positive on it. Edith also says that there is no healing without rage and I have a lot of rage towards my father, especially in my dreams. I guess that I am in the process of healing… but I would need more efforts to arrive to the making peace with my past part…
Edith says that ‘our painful experiences are a gift. They give us perspective and meaning, an opportunity to find our unique purpose and strengths.’ For me, the unique purpose is my art and the will to help other peoples’ healing trough my workshops. These group workshops are primarily about human connection and secondly about the jewels. People really enjoy discussing around the table, that I am convinced has a healing impact. This gives me satisfaction that I contribute to building a kinder world.
The book is an eye-opening piece, I recommend it!