I know it’s bad to look at Facebook.
I know, believe me I know. That’s why I have a fake account that lets me just dip in and out when I need to go and look up things for research purposes.
So yesterday, I was doing some research that took me to a Facebook page, and then I noticed a picture of a young woman with striking red hair and a sad face under all her makeup – Shiran – and something compelled me to look at it.
Man, I got so sad, so fast.
As I scrolled through all her selfies from the last five years, I saw how a beautiful, religious, ‘edgy’ girl went totally off the rails.
It started in small ways. The skirt was still black, but way too tight. Then it got shorter. Then the tops started revealing more and more cleavage.
Then, some big ‘break’ happened, and the hair got dyed a vampy red.
Then the makeup went up a level, with kohl-ed eyes and dark red lipstick to match.
And the clothes continued to disappear.
And then the first tattoo showed up – something ‘subtle’, just a signature on one wrist.
And now, five years later, she’s totally covered in tattoos up and down all her limbs, and a few other places, too.
I know this, because the last ‘selfies’ posted up were artistically-shot pictures of Shiran running through some grass with her tattoo-ed butt cheeks hanging out of her cut off shorts. P*rnography, pretty much, but so artfullll….
What can I tell you?
My heart broke.
The last few months, I’ve been getting to know quite a few of these ‘souls of tohu’, these big souls that can’t really fit into the world as it’s currently configured, and so they want to destroy, and tear it down to its foundations.
At their root, these kids, these teens, these young people are really only good.
They want that ideal version of planet earth so badly, it literally pains them to have our current flawed version. So they lash out, and they try to do anything they can to minimize the pain of simply being alive in our current, difficult reality.
And the first person they lash out at is themselves.
What are tattoos, after all, except bruises of the soul, publically displayed for all to see?
I’m still heartbroken about all this. There are so many kids like this, who are growing up in homes – frum or not – and falling straight to the bottom of the world. And everything is being documented with selfies on Facebook and Instagram.
I can’t help but wonder, if there was no Facebook page to post all this amateur p*rn up on, and no Smartphone to take pictures of the ‘latest’ self-mutilating tattoo, and no fake Facebook friends to egg-on all this self-destructive behavior with little red hearts and ‘thumbs up’ emojis, would it still be happening?
Would Shiran have transformed so violently, from an off-the-derech girl to a tattoo-d vamp-call-girl-wannabe?
I find that question so painful.
This world is so hard.
So please, go and give you teens a big hug right now.
Tell them how good they are. Tell them how much you love them – even if they’ve already slipped, even if they’ve fallen. There is always a way back, there is always a stairway up and out of the muck – I learnt that from Rabbenu, and from Rav Berland.
But the first step is our love for our kids.
Turn that love on, whack it up to full volume and let it shine a path for your kid to return to their true selves, return to their souls, and return to God.
He wants everyone back.
As I was writing this, one of my kids told me she wanted to show me an ‘amazing’ video.
It’s called neshamot shel tohu – souls of chaos – and it depicts a little of what I’m writing about in this post. These lost young people, running through the streets of Jerusalem, smoking, drinking, hanging out in Mahane Yehuda. Acting out, because the world is just so painful to them. They are mamash the biggest neshamas.
The chorus says:
Neshamot shel tohu
Bishvil l’argish mashu
Souls of chaos, looking for ‘pain’, just so they can feel something.
What can I say?
I started crying again.
Here’s an English translation of the lyrics:
Souls of ‘chaos’
Looking for ‘pain’
Just in order to feel something
Only so they can feel something
I got used to this now
Prisoner of the cycle
Scared to come close
‘Diseased’ and frightened
Knots and more knots in the heart
I want [to come closer] but don’t know how
A scared boy
Angry at the world
He runs away to each place
And doesn’t understand where he’s even going
To love from close up, it’s still not possible
There is a ‘ruach sayera’ (storm wind)
Shards of light from those days
Broken vessels are wandering around
Broken-hearted because of other people
The smallness of ‘skin’
The separation between light and light
The heart is so very sensitive
It’s hard to endure the world
So if you are wandering around
With a hungry heart
The buried treasure is within your own deepness
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