It is 3:00 a.m. in the morning. The night is dark and serene. The children are sleeping peacefully, dreaming pleasant dreams…

They were rocked to sleep by their mommy. I held my precious Shimmy who is five years old tightly in my arms humming to him sweet songs …gently coaxing him to close his eyes. You see, he is one of those that believe sleep is a very unimportant thing to do…. He just has more valuable pursuits such as asking me "what's after space?" Go figure that out.

It is my fervent wish that all people who have had deprived childhoods that included neglect, abuse and pain shall be infused with courage, faith and feeling of connectednessAnd then there is my daughter Rachel who is seven. As I lay next to her, tenderly stroking her blond streaked hair, she calmly dozed off into a blissful sleep. She is one delicious and adventurous personality. A little bit like curious George- just a whole lot more clever…and well she doesn't get into "that much" mischief. I love her. I kiss her rosy cheek. "Rachel sweetie": I coo "You fill my life with unlimited joy…" Thank you G‑d for Rachel and Shimmy.

Tonight is not my night for sleep. I feel alert and awake. Tonight I reflect… allowing my mind the luxury to wander way back into a different world, into an era that has long faded away…

The crickets are chirping cheerfully. Oh- the pleasure of a tranquil country night. I open the windows in my cozy kitchen and inhale the cool invigorating air of the inky black summer night. I continue breathing in life sustaining oxygen, deeply and slowly-two three four and then out goes the carbon dioxide- two three four…I repeat this exercise a number of times and I can feel my whole being becoming more … more and even more relaxed.

I gaze into the glistening star studded sky and whisper "Thank you Father." Yes, I have adopted an attitude of gratitude. You see, this is my spiritual oxygen… Recognizing that it's all a gift…and appreciating it all. I breathe in "Thank you G‑d" I breathe out all tensions, fears and insecurities. G‑d is here. Right next to me holding my hand. Caring and loving me. There is no need to worry.

Expressing my thanks and love to the Almighty at every second, every moment, every hour of my life is what keeps my faith rock solid strong. Keeping the connection is what helped me overcome and recover from a tragic childhood that was filled with misery, pain and constant struggle. Thank you G‑d for helping me overcome this challenge: the dreadful storms of childhood neglect and abandonment...

Those tornadoes of life have now passed. The waters now are warm and calm and all is well. However; once in a while, I get an urge to relive what has happened. As the ensuing emotions wash over me, it is my fervent wish that all people who have had deprived childhoods that included neglect, abuse and pain shall be infused with courage, faith and feeling of connectedness. I have a great desire to reach out and call to them "You are not alone." I believe that it would comfort them to know that there are others out there, in the world at large, who share that sorrowful past.

I write this with a prayer in my heart "thank you G‑d for testing me…" I know that it was for my good although I cannot understand it all. The hours are moving by. It is 5:00 a.m. I better finish soon. Shimmy and Rachel'le will be up by 7:00. Where do I start? Where do I end? What shall I disclose?

I grew up in the quaint town of Manchester , England . Me and my seven brothers and sisters lived in a two bedroom apartment. Thankfully, from my window I was able to see a garden with trees and wild flowers. Nature always kept me company. The trees, birds and flowers were all my friends. I had and still have a vibrant imagination. And in my world of uncertainty G‑d's beautiful creations spoke to me. I would talk to the ducks in the pond confiding in the goslings my deepest blackest secrets…

I remember feeling hungry most of the time except when I had a good meal at schoolMy home was not much of a home. It was a place of tension so thick you could have felt it with your fingers. There was no domestic harmony. My Father was immersed in his own world completely detached from us. I practically had nothing to do with. He was cold and indifferent. He never touched us, played with us or displayed any type of emotion, forget about affection. I remember my mother as too absorbed in her own world of pain, too bitter to pay any attention to her children. I felt misunderstood and invisible.

The poverty was rampant. Our place was filthy and infested with roaches and mice. It was more their home than ours. There was no money for food or clothing. I remember feeling hungry most of the time except when I had a good meal at school...

I shopped for clothes in big black bags that were sent to us from neighbors or strangers. Rummaging through those bags I was sometimes lucky enough to find something pretty to wear. When this happened it was usually from my next door neighbor who was one size bigger than me. The only problem with this was that it caused me extreme humiliation. I remember sending my sister to check if Simi was around, before leaving or entering my home so as not to bump into her.

One incident will remain forever etched in my mind. I remember once leaving the house in one of her clothes and seeing her I scampered up to change. When I came down, wearing a different outfit she looked at me and said: "this was also mine."

I ran to the park. Broughton Park was right up the road. I headed straight for the swings. I soared on that swing higher and higher, far away I went from my degrading existence. As the tears rolled down my cheeks I swung vigorously, furiously oblivious to the raindrops which were coming down hard now. The teardrops and the raindrops fell into my parched mouth rejuvenating me as if it were some kind of homeopathic formula. I aimed for the soft fluffy white clouds. …How I yearned to hide there….to run away …

For some reason, still unknown to me, the circumstances of my upbringing affected me more than my siblings. I was an ambitious individual with a keen eye for fine things. Beauty mattered. I desired pretty clothes a nice home and a good education. This did not contradict the fact that I had a very spiritual personality. I was talented and creative. I was a natural performer always getting the main part in the plays. That positive memory was marred by the uncomfortable feeling I had when my mother walked into the auditorium. She looked shabby and was obviously different than the other mothers.

As my teen years moved on I slowly began to rebel. I struggled to make sense out of a reality filled with despair and sorrow, a reality of intense isolation. I zombied through my high school years without getting too close to anyone. A part of me had given up. I was thankful to have a roof over my head . What more could I ask for?

Ten years later…. I became willing to reach out and discovered that there were people in my family and neighborhood that were willing and able to provide support and assistance. I became willing to change my thoughts (no easy feat) and let go of attitudes that were no longer helpful. I learned to believe in myself. I filled my mind with positive affirmations. I learned that I can handle conflict and tension with confidence. I learned to look for solutions. I learned to let go of resentment. I learned to rejoice in the here and now. And most important, I learned to live with gratitude.

My children are full of love, confidence, energy and life. They are intelligent and delightfulToday, I can describe myself as a well groomed tastefully dressed friendly woman. My children are full of love, confidence, energy and life. They are intelligent and delightful. My home is the place where all the kids want to come and play. There is always something fun happening. However, looks can never reveal what I have endured. My life has taught me never to assume anything, and never ever to conclude that someone has it easier. …

Because of my experiences I have become less materialistic and more tolerant and accepting of others. I appreciate inner beauty such as compassion, determination and perseverance. I treasure every single day that I have to give and receive love and to make a difference in the lives of others. I feel it is my mission to care for the less privileged. Children hold a particularly special place in my heart and talking, listening ,playing, and laughing with them is something I find very soothing and satisfying.

It is 5:45 a.m. This was a night that took me on a journey to the past. Back in my kitchen, the window is open to a cool breeze, I sip hot cocoa. I indulge in scrumptious homemade soft blend chocolate chip cookies. I listen to the birds singing a sweet melody. They have a message for me. A brand new day is beginning, full of promise, hope and opportunity, and my heart is replete with thankfulness.…I remember my neighbors' phone call. "I just want to tell you how much I enjoy having your daughter around. She is so mature, helpful and considerate…what wonderful character traits," and my being sings with appreciation for all I am so blessed with.

It is Friday morning and the mouth watering Sabbath food is waiting to be prepared. But first I want to cook oatmeal for breakfast, the way the children like it: boiled with milk and spiced with cinnamon. From my window I can see the fire of the sun. Its rays spreading over the mountains making it glow. It is morning at last. I thank G‑d for another day to serve Him with gladness.

I will call my mother to wish her a wonderful Sabbath. I have forgiven, forgotten and moved on. Today we understand each other. After many years I realized that she loves me and although was unable to be there for me as a child she is the one that stood the trial of time… She was the one I was able to turn to in my young adulthood. She helped me heal and our relationship has blossomed.

I feel that if I have inspired even one broken heart and if I have infused one soul with hope my mission of writing this article has been achieved. To all people who have experienced childhood hardships: Pain hurts. Neglect steals our self esteem. Abuse destroys, but the joy of life will prevail. "The power of love and gratitude can move mountains, and it can dissolve all negativity in our lives no matter what form it has taken" (Rhonda Byrne).

Take a moment, this moment, to look around and notice the beauty, blessings and miracles that surround you. Smell a flower. Hug a child. Be positive and say "I can." It is all a gift from G‑d, your father, who loves you, is with you, and watches over you at all times.