SNOWFLAKES

It’s dark at 5 AM. Flicking on the flood light, snowflakes fall which sooth. Another day, my sigh releases tension that the simple act of waking incurs.

Another day to tackle despite all the gifts bestowed upon me, the cheer of the season, and the thrill that is present for being alive… another day. My shoulders fall with the expressed breath as if in defeat.

Sifting through the digital file of quotes collected, the words bring me home unto myself. That is living. Being present, in my body, the place escaped from more naturally than inhabited.

 

Let it Snow!

As winter presses in, so does the urge to stay home. The Christmas rush is on, while my gifts lay sprinkled around the house already wrapped, hidden under blankets so that the cat doesn’t tear at the paper.

Turning on the outdoor light, snow lightly falls against the dark morning like speckles of stardust. The fire warms me along with sips of rich, dark coffee.  

Contentment. After the terror subsided from the surgery, contentment took its place, frosted with gratitude. These periods don’t last, but while here are savored and enjoyed fully.

Let it snow…

 

Finding the Light

The repeated traumas as a child of 8, 9, 10, 11, caused a severe ripping inside me, though one sexual attack by an older sibling was enough to cause the life-long rift. And by attack, physical force was not always necessary. There are many ways to ‘attack’ a child that are just as destructive as force.

All that was precious was shattered, and there was no going back to the whole that was. A life has been spent trying to find it from others, a connection to my insides, and a belief in myself. The dependence on others was like hand candy, once dissolving more is needed.

It is only by finding myself in myself that long-lasting comfort becomes permanent, fleeting but a place to return to with self-talk because the ever present bully is there berating, beating down, and smack talking loudly.  

That happens to a child sexually abused by loved ones. Who is bad? I am. Because if it isn’t me, than it is the family I love and trust, and most importantly need to survive.

So life goes on, dimmed, feeling hunted, and hiding inside. The outer shell lives life, the inner self muzzled and contained, so much so, that touching the place where I was really was became inaccessible.

Buzzing through life on the carpet of anxiety, fear, and will, feeding off the light of others, was hardly enough at all. It is only in this later stage of years gone by, only after facing, and telling my real story, that appreciation of just how hard it has been begins to let up my own light, and to feel it warm me.

 

SILENCE

The silence. It kills, destroys, implodes, shatters. What was done to the body can be processed. Painfully, yes, and still some parts of a child destroyed irrevocably. But it is the silence imposed upon a child that will most likely cause a life-time of struggles unfounded. And no one knows.

What is seen may seem odd, or normal-like. Tornadoes whirling inside are invisible to onlookers. Even now grown, it feels impossible to tell, to break the silence once imposed, the taboo of childhood sexual abuse.

Is it the abuse that is taboo, or the telling? Or perhaps we are too ashamed as a society to pull our heads out of the sand to save our children. The prevalence is as it always was. Isn’t it time to break the silence? Forget your shame that one of your own has done this, save the child. 

To reach out for help takes so much courage. Yet to survive, one must. I needed to. It took decades to reach where I am now. If I were to be out among others, I would say what was needed.

Now it is mostly said in a medical intervention where I plainly state why a special kind of anesthesia is needed. I’m not around others too much anymore, and that is one loss taken permanently, the ability to go fast, move fast, and do a lot. Friends do, my sons, my husband. Others aren’t a threat to them.

For a child grown to woman, the skill of setting boundaries doesn’t happen without great will. It takes copious amounts of practice beforehand, often delivered via letter or on the phone. When as a child, a brother forced himself upon me, the memories of what others are capable never leaves. PEOPLE ARE DANGEROUS. My body never forgets. and lives with muscles taught even here in the safety of my home. 

When no intervention was provided to heal my torn body and mind, the message learned was silence. My mother reinforced it with skill time after time. “That’s not nice,” or, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” a few of her favorites. 

PTSD erupts even now without invite, though periods of peace make it livable. That wasn’t always true. Anxiety was ever present. But now, even during a lull when thinking things are going smoothly, the body is tense without knowing it. And with no reason why, it just is. Being awake means being on alert.

Had my mother sought the things needed when her little girl was raped, medical examination, therapy, the things provided for any physical catastrophe, healing could occur. But it is more common for silence, distance, and nothing to occur for the child sexually abused by a loved one. She becomes a piranha within the family, the memory of what was done. Shun her. Silence her, dig her grave.

I will not be silenced. I will have my life, and because of these determinations have the best life I ever imagined.

My Best Life

My best life is now. How could something have been found to latch onto earlier? Life was a constant of anxiety darkened with depressions, one after another. Lifting the first foot out of the muck took so much courage, the fear palpable, yet unwarranted.

Stepping out for therapy, seeking help from a non-family objective person once coming of age, caused unfounded terror. What if they too concluded I was as bad as I felt? Yet in my core the truth be known. Stopping me was not going to happen.

A child sexually abused by someone known to her, trusted and loved, shatters her, her world, and too often her life for decades to come. No one comes to help, to lift her from the wreckage, and tell her, “It’s not your fault.”

Oh how I needed to hear that, and hear it over and over again, backed with love and support. It is uncommon for that to happen within a family where one of their own has attacked a child in that family. Their shame is so great the burden lay upon the child to keep their secret quiet.

The muzzle of silence can kill. Returning to the years when my sons were growing is not something yearned for. The pain of dealing with the monsters within was too great. The yearning that sometimes comes is to go back and be a more settled person, more open, happier, and freer.

Yet that is not even how I am now. Seriousness often hardens me appearing on my face deepening the lines. Staying alive is a serious business. Happy equates to peace. Peace means living with less crippling feelings of inadequacy that were compounded by the legacy learned in those years of always being bad, wrong… not normal.

To come to a time where much of that has lifted is peace, and it is freeing.

That moments can be lived not feared. PTSD interrupts these peaceful periods, and sometimes it takes a week, even more, to settle back into the core of my being that has finally been found. A place to connect to, depend on, and grow to love. A place where comfort is waiting when all the parts blown into orbit come back home.

ADVENTURE

Though in the low 40’s, the brisk day was sunny teasing me out. Samuel joined me for a paddle in the creek after my laps were completed. Bare trees make a stark environment, though the dam is still high causing a gentle cascade over the waterfall.

We sat a few moments at the edge of it in wondering at how hard the beaver had worked in the last few years. We had once enjoyed going down that part of the creek unencumbered by any hindrance at all. The dam began as a slight pile to 5 feet high, and growing, tightly packed with mud, twigs, sticks and large branches.

The beaver has added more mud to his hut along with piles of wood stuffs around the lodge for food, or to fill in holes in his house where wind might shear off walls in the winter to come.

So much is lost when the green goes away. No sigh of relief is felt like on a summer day when all the muscles relax. Instead my body remains rigid to resist the cold. A red coat was adorned with a bright orange cap so that hunters looking for deer don’t mistake me for one.

The beaver has made canoeing possible year-round because his dam has caused the creek to rise, and stay high. Most people find beavers a nuisance  either shooting them (illegally) or trapping them to move elsewhere. We like them, finding their habitat and work habits fascinatingly admirable.

 

THANKSGIVING

Since writing Seth via email, expressing what bubbled up needing to be said, thoughts of him encumbered with a vague feeling of wrongness drift about and inside me. Should a friendlier note be sent, or perhaps a Happy Thanksgiving card by snail mail?

Not wanting to focus on him as he has little to do with my life today, thoughts continue to come back to him clouded with feelings of wrongness. Of course feelings would sway that way as that has been the taboo. Families are adept at keeping a survivor shut down.

This time around it isn’t as severe, nowhere as severe, because the last go-around caused me to believe a heart attack was occurring which included an ambulance to a one night hospital stay in the observation wing. 

It is shadows of the past when my voice was locked down tight along with my feelings that were as much as mystery to me as they were to anyone else. A relationship with anyone from that group where my needs are respected and heard is not going to occur. Accepting that fact must be faced once again. 

Reading this from another blog this morning reminded me of the seriousness of remaining firm in my needs. My memories may not be denied outright, but there are countless other ways just as debilitating. 

One of the worst pains suffered by survivors who remember their abuse is exclusion by their family, who deny the truth of their memories.”

~John Backus, Sc.D., and Barbara Una Stannard, Ph.D.

And so the day goes on. Today Shane and his family come to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. A turkey is ready to go in the oven, along with all the fixings including a cold cider punch, and pecan pie.

It is OK, and a part of life, to make room for both joy and pain.