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  • Chaya "Hiya" Parkoff

I'm Broken and I'm OK: The Ultimate Dialectic

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

While scrolling social media (even though I could be doing so many other things that are better for my mental health) I came across a meme that a friend of mine posted.

It says: I'M BROKEN.

I'M BROKEN....AND I'M OK. That is how I, and so many of us have been feeling since Hamas's vicious attack on Israeli soil on October 7th. On one of the most joyous days in the Jewish year, Simchat Torah, they massacred and/or kidnapped over 1400 women, children, babies, elderly, entire families as well as some soldiers.

As a result, Israel is at war - at war not just for Israel and the Jewish people, but for all of humanity.

I'M BROKEN.....AND I'M OK. The ultimate dialectic!

What is a dialectic? If we try to fully define it based on its philosophical roots, it will take us down a long and winding philosophical rabbit hole. So for the purpose of this writing (and really for the purpose relating to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, DBT) lets use the following simple definition.

A dialectic is the ability to hold two opposing truths at the same time. For example, I want to change....and I’m afraid to change; I am happy with myself… and want to improve; I’m doing the best I can....and I need to try harder; I love my job....and I need a vacation; I love my kids...and sometimes I want to throw them out the window!


So many of my non-Jewish friends have reached out to me, asking me how I am doing, letting me know how much they are thinking about me, my family and the entire Jewish people. One of my clients who is not Jewish and does not subscribe to any religion or spiritual group, texted me shortly after the news broke of the massacre:

"Chaya, I am sure I am crossing some kind of line here, but I can't stop thinking about your family. Is everything ok? Is your son safe?" he wrote.

"Charlie (name changed), thank you so much. No lines are ever crossed when we are talking about humanity. My son is, thank God safe. It's very scary. It's very bad" I replied.

"Thank God. A sliver of relief in a dark time" he texted back.

So for the last two plus weeks so many of us have been living in dialectics such as

  • I want my son to come back to America AND I wouldn't want my son to be anywhere else but Israel right now

  • I am scared to be attacked because I am a Jew AND I rode my bike back from the rally with my Israeli Flag as a cape!

  • I am so glad my daughter has been in America for the Jewish holidays while on break from college AND I want her to go back to college in Israel because that is where she belongs

  • I can't get enough of social media AND I want /need to stop scrolling!

  • I am feeling so much grief AND I am feeling so inspired by the pure unity the Jewish people are demonstrating

  • I am sleeping at night (miraculously) AND I feel exhausted all the time right now

  • I am angry at God AND I completely trust God

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy teaches us that we can hold space for conflicting thoughts, emotions, attitudes and beliefs. We don't have to choose. They can both be true. It can be very freeing to know this. And this mindset (along with the skills that DBT offers) allows people to make incredible therapeutic strides. And for me right now, this mindset helps me feel more stable and grounded.

But there are certain things that have absolutely no room for a dialectic. There are certain things that require a clear choice. I know we hear in pop culture ideas such as "my truth" and "non-binary," however when it comes to good and evil - it's one or the other. And that is what this war is. It is a war between good and evil. Life and death. Humanity vs. terrorism.

Thirty years after obtaining my Bachelors Degree at a small liberal arts university in Oregon where I was one of two Jews on campus, I went back to college to get my Masters Degree at a local university in Denver. I was absolutely shocked at the way education had changed over those three decades. Where I once was taught HOW to think, I was now being taught WHAT to think! This has been going on in college classrooms and on campuses all over the United States and beyond, and the world has seen the results of that indoctrination over these last two weeks with campus rallies celebrating the massacre, demonstrations against Israel, statements from so-called prestigious colleges that clearly side with evil ( dialectics when it comes to good vs evil). I remember a specific day during my Masters program when we had to work in pairs and discuss a topic given to us by the professor. My 20 yr old partner was so clearly brainwashed. I asked her, where did you learn this from? "My professors" she replied. I begged her to use her brain and not to believe everything her professors tell her. I hope she heeded my call and has chosen humanity over terrorism.

What is really perplexing to me is the hate for Israel by so many in the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. Don't they realize Hamas would come after them too? Don't they realize that Israel's fight is their fight as well? I suppose they did not here the passionate speech last week by Eric Adams, New York City Mayor, who is an African American: “Hamas must be disbanded and destroyed immediately.......Your fight is my fight.....That swastika not only displays the pain of antisemitism, it displays the pain of racism among African Americans. You marched with us with Dr. King. You stood with us with all the fights we have. And I’m saying we’re going to stand with you and stand united together. And we don’t have to be all right. We should be angry at what we saw. Thank you, Israel.”

Last week my husband and I rode our bikes to the State Capital in Denver to attend the Israel rally. I carried my Israeli flag in my fanny pack on the way there and wore it like a cape during the rally. I decided to keep the cape on for our 45 minute bike ride back to our house. I wasn't too surprised to receive a lot of honks along the way, as many people from the rally were driving that way home. I was, however startled by a woman screaming "free Palestine, b#%*h!" from her passenger window.

"Don't you realize that the only way that Palestinians will be free is when Hamas is decimated?" I wanted to yell back. "Don't you know that it is their own so-called leadership that uses them as human shields, builds tunnels and warfare with the money that is supposed to be designated for schools and hospitals?" I wanted to scream.

These past two plus weeks so many of us have felt so broken...but we are OK. The Jewish people are OK. We have become united in a way that we have not been for way too long. We will win this fight because we are fighting for humanity. And while dialectics are my saving grace these days, as they help me to feel normal in a very abnormal time. (Another dialectic right there), the choice between good and evil has no space for dialectics.

It's about as binary as you can get.

I pray you choose wisely.

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