FOCUS

SLOW, slow down. For life it’s been fast, moving ahead of my body- like two separate entities. Staying as one, after a lifetime of division, takes focus. My body cradled my spirit, yet my spirit has been flying off somewhere, often not knowing where.

There is that safe dreamland where much of me spent. You talk to me? I’m not there. I could pretend to be, yet most time was spent in that safe place others call disassociation. I call it zoning out.

With the very first meditative session presence began. Wanting more of being in this body that has carried me all these years, meant more meditation, years of it. But with the addition of marijuana oil came a whole new definition of presence. Not fleeting but with staying power.

That gift, suggested by my younger loving son, has offered a world where sleep is possible. My arthritic knees and other joints don’t ache. Anxiety is kept at a minimum as long as my days are unfettered with worry or too much stimulation out there in the fast paced ruckus.

The gliding, graceful heron takes me with her as she swoops for fish in the creek. The orange of the butterfly shines in the sunlight as she flutters by as if following me while crunching over hickory nuts in the hedge-row. The squirrels have been busy because most are just shells, the meat already having been buried.

Days can move from one to the next with grace and beauty, but it does take focus on slowing my ever busy mind down, and focusing on being in my body. My mantra still works, it’s OK, it’s OK. You’re OK, you’re OK, you’re OK…

A gift from a friend.

Wise Moves

It was a wise move to delete Seth’s response without reading it. Then I’m able to proceed with what I need to say unencumbered by negative, hurtful, angry, defensive responses which were what came from him after sending a link to my book. I wrote the following to him this morning:

I wish good things for you. There is a sweetness about you I have always loved. We share the same passion for nature and animals which touched me and made me smile so many times via emails. And you uplifted me when I was down, which was a lot.

Yet in spring an email was sent to Tom with our photo at the Mill after camping. It was only this past year that I finally asked both Don and Stevie not to add me to emails he was on. I didn’t think I had to ask you.

But after the criticism about writing the book detailing horrific abuse, the realization hit that your shame about what others in the family had done outweighed my need to finally have a life I wanted to live.

That you didn’t answer my email for a very long time? I was the victim, not you. For much of my life I’d lament to Samuel that I didn’t want to live. He finally told me how hard it was to hear that. So I changed it to, I wish I had never been born.

It wasn’t until after Mom died that I finally faced the truth and let it up. Before then I couldn’t destroy her fantasy family with the truth we both knew to be true. With it came the joys of childhood too. One chapter horror, the next one joyful. Because when one is suppressed so is the other.

I am not ashamed of writing the book. And you should applaud me for the courage in doing so. But it seems you want a fantasy sister. One who didn’t go through such horrors.

But in seeing only what you can handle, you deny the existence of who I really am, and the strength it took to get here.

I don’t want to give up the sweetness we shared, but I also cannot pretend to be this fake ‘Sis’ you seem to see me as.

You were there for me as much as you could be throughout life, uplifting me with humor and positivity. I am thankful for that. I don’t need anything from you anymore except to see me as I really am which includes the horrors you seem to need to pretend didn’t happen. As if hearing about it is harder than my going through it.

I’ve grown to see just what exceptional qualities lie inside of me. Something I’ve never seen or experienced before.   

JOYFUL CHILD-LIKE ABANDON

The wind through my hair, legs pumping round and round, tires crunching over the fallen leaves along the trail by the water.

“This is so much fun!” I exclaim to Samuel more than once, adding, “I feel joy!”

The sun dappling the path, warming my back in the open spaces, a deer skittering across still with its spots. A bike ride after a few good nights of sleep was just the tonic to bring joy, happy memories of childhood rekindled, of which there were some.

In those days, our country road had little traffic so we had free reign, riding our bikes all day everywhere in the neighborhood unperturbed by parental restraint. She was at work. We could hike the hills too exploring the ponds, cow paths, and trails, with no one to say we couldn’t.

Of course, having no adult monitoring the home also had horrific consequences for me- but interspersed between the horror was joyful abandon. Joyful memories didn’t come up out of me until the horrors came too. (writing the book after my mother died 12 years ago)

Samuel and I decided to shorten the usual 1 ½ hour ride to less than an hour so our butts wouldn’t hurt. Now it is fun and not so much work. I want to do it again and again!

SAFE

Safe, feeling safer from those who do damage, the silent ones imposing silence on me. There is no way to have family of origin be part of my life. And though knowing this there continues to be a craving for it. But peace has been restored along with healthy sleep habits. Peace and freedom, something lost when interacting with those that muzzle me. Or consort with Tom.

The people who love me, who truly love me, don’t do that, and have nothing to do with the devil. Tom’s face, something about it. I see it in those that lie like Bill Cosby. Deceit on faces look similar.

The morning comes with peace filling me from the inside out as the golden globe rises above the hill. All is quiet. Oh how these mornings are cherished. A bird here or there tweets a hello as crickets in abundance still dance creating a happy drone.

Peace, hope, and love fill me once again…chasing away the terror of telling my truth which origin families do anything not to hear. And freedom. Freedom to feel my hand, notice the whiff of apple scent from the warmer, to be in my body as a whole person for more moments than not when focusing on it.

To remember, don’t go fast, slow down so all parts stay together. And know you are OK, not the problem origin family makes you out to be. You are OK, you are strong, beautiful and loving. And you have a right to be here.

(Seth’s email was permanently deleted before reading it as his defensiveness would hurt me drastically, and he has hurt me enough- I am safe from it.)

PEACE and CHAOS

Feelings of joy burst forth from me. Sleep came like a baby night after night. Feeling so good an email was sent to Don, his wife, Seth and his wife, inviting them all for pie. What?

And that night no sleep. A double dose of sleep medication was needed. The next morning, believing this is the only way for my soul to speak (sleeplessness), an email was sent to both brothers about the feelings being wrestled with all summer and before.

Don’s response was warm, kind and thoughtful, though no comment about his continued interactions with Tom. Seth’s in in my mailbox with fear of reading it. When he criticized me for writing the book and wouldn’t answer me, it sent me to the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. That is how vulnerable telling the truth makes me.

Why do you consort with the devil who did so much damage to me? That is what runs though my mind. I am a fractured person, shying away from them as they make an unlikely friendship between themselves, along with Stevie and Tom, then suddenly a happy email with an invite?

Because, that’s what happens when you grow with horror but are forced to pretend calm and love towards attackers appearing as brothers. It does make a broken person, or a split one. Half of me wanting a family that gets together for a pie party, the other half who lives in reality.

Instead of beating myself up for the email invite, which has brought much pain during a wonderful week of sunshine and peace, maybe it is just one more leap of growth- growth, truth and authenticity. It is exhausting and one of the hardest hurdles accomplished taking 6 decades for words to come that no one wants to hear.

My soul feels ragged, like the pieces that fit so smoothly just a few days ago, now don’t. With time, and loving kindness towards self, wholeness and peace will be restored.

FINALLY

Though groggy from a double dose of Xanax, it is not a wasted day. I sent a few letters that having been in me for 60 years but only now have been sent. To Don and Seth, the two older ones who have managed a mismatched brotherly friendship ever since Seth moved here from California a few years ago. And Stevie, my younger brother.

To Don and Seth.

You say you love me. But how can you love me when you are brotherly with a person who almost destroyed me? If Tom had done to Trista (Don’s daughter) what he did to me, you never could be such friends with him. Same with you Seth. Would Tom be your best buddy if he did that to Jennifer? But if it’s me that’s OK? That I am nothing?

I could have recovered from the horrific sexual act he inflicted upon me at such a young and tender age, but it was after that shattered me.

The innuendos, cut-downs, making me look to others in that group of people I was unfortunate to be born into as next to nothing. He did it in my fifties sitting here at my table at this house while we all sat around it.

Saying to Stevie what a dummy I was that I needed his help to make the sale because the realtor was so inexperienced and making fraudulent mistakes. No one said anything to defend my intelligence or integrity.

That has been how it was since he sexually attacked in the night at 8 or 9 years old. After that he did all he could to make me look less than a real person around all of you so that what he did wouldn’t seem so bad.

It was bad. It was horrific, and forever changed me. To have that done by someone I loved and trusted so much broke me. I only trust my cat.

Not you, not Samuel, not my sons, no one. My cat and grand-kids, but only when they were young enough to maintain that childhood innocence… something I lost at the very first attack. And that one? What about that one? Danny? I know I was raped. But only remember before and after. When he slipped in my bed saying, “We’re going to play mommy and daddy. You’re the mommy, I’m the daddy.” Then blank.

That memory’s repressed, but causes such dysfunction in my life and my sleep even now. I am still very hypersensitive, jumping at every little sound, the cortisol bursts over a life time draining me so that my energy has become very limited permanently.

You came into the bathroom because I was screaming. “It hurts down there,” and my vagina (at 9 years old) must have been ripped up from the rape.

But you seemed glad no emergency seemed imminent, almost disgusted with me, turned around and left.

No one ever helped me, nurtured me, held me, told me it was alright, or protected me from more.

I told Seth ‘DENNY FUCKED ME.’ His eyes looked shocked making me feel so much worse, that I horrified him not what I told him. He also did nothing.

Mom seemed to blame me, kept working, and left me there alone with those monsters who kept coming one by one.

Those that continue friendships with Tom are not trustworthy. .

I thought I could have a relationship with you but can’t seem to move past fear of you, fear of fatherly disapproval. You stood in as one early on. You are one of the few people who saved me from quite possibly death at my own hands.

But can we build from that? From indebtedness? I will always be indebted to you for stepping in and helping me build a life. You did save me. And I love you for it. But love is also loyalty. To also love those who committed such horror upon me are not to be trusted.

_____________________________________________________________

And to Stevie:

Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all. (I suggested a visit to see him at his new home in the Adrirondacks) Sorry. I am having such misgivings about family Stevie. To me what you call family is just a group of people I was unfortunate to be born into.

You were spared much of what my young life was like. It took till just this year to tell you to keep me off any emails that included Tom. Tom committed a horrific act upon my child’s body. But no one seems to care.

I protected you from it, never telling you. I watched over you best I could which wasn’t much because staying alive took all I had. It still does. The traumas of childhood meant a life of daily cortisol bursts and hypersensitivity that have drained me making energy permanently limited.

I don’t think I can really manage another trip this year. My mind says yes, my body says no. I have to accept that.

It took a lot out of me to go to Cory’s, and I’ll be gearing up to do it again in spring after the baby comes. As much as I’d like to see you, you’ll have to do the traveling.

PERMISSION for PEACE

PHOTO BY PATRICIA

The stillness permeates my soul. Quietness envelopes, as the crickets interrupt the peace with their constant happy drone. Sun rises into my face absorbing its rays until mornings are so dark the full spectrum light will take its place. Cold will require the porch door be shut.

Northeastern states have such a vibrant change of seasons, the brilliance stunning, the colors, sounds, and feel of each one taking my breath away.

In every moment there is vibrating living beauty if you are there for it. For most of life that has not been possible. The gift given to self is the permission to be at peace and love it.