In trying to repair an estrangement with my brother Don over the phone, he tells me, “Chet died.” Don and I have not been close since my mother died when we quarreled bitterly over her care almost seven years ago.

I pause. No feelings. A fact was stated. I wait a few seconds in respect, and restart the conversation. I hadn’t read the email sent from another sibling which explained a little more, more than I cared to hear or needed to know. After hanging up, I was still devoid of feeling.

The studio calls me. Still dark out, I turn on the soft light over the workbench, then the music. The reds and oranges of this new butterfly seem to match my fiery mood of late and the upcoming February Valentine’s Day, both by accident. I just wanted to do red. Or is it an accident?

My work often coincides with my life. The beautiful tile cutter my eldest son Shane bought me for Christmas years back was returned, but I didn’t tell him. His gifts are so thoughtful and specific to the recipient. But I like to find homes for the broken shards just as they are. Like me. My pieces, no matter how shattered, do fit back together making a beautiful whole.

As I work, one part of me, and it must be the little girl who never feels safe, says, “Three down, one to go.” Or not. It is just a passing thought with no vengeance or malice. A primal need for things to be made right, for justice to be served. Seems it rarely is. 

I understand the thought. The world is not a safe place with them still in it. Yet with almost all gone, it is still not safe because I know human nature and what others are truly capable of, and I am wary.

I’m at peace. It is not my worry that he has died at 68 from a heart attack, completely detached from what little family life of origin goes on here while he lived the last thirty years in Texas. People die. I have no idea if I’ll make it that far. Sad as that is. And I do feel sad, not just for him but the fucked up family I was in, each one hurled out into the world feeling unloved or cared for.

That is sad and does create a scratchy scraping on my inner, tender linings. It is odd how a bond existed. And early on we did have an unusual bond. I didn’t hate him, but rather what he did.

My hate was at Tom’s treatment of me. Tom’s attack occurred only once, but the confusion and veiled rejection coming from him throughout the years is what has had the potential to destroy me. And it is why I cut myself off from ‘family gatherings.’ I’m the oddity, the outcast, the one who wouldn’t attend. And the functions I did attend were fraught with anxiety and hyper-vigilance.

The force of my beliefs about child rearing being the only and best job there is, screams out its truth once again. I am sad our parents pumped out babies like a factory, too drunk to go to the drawer for a condom. Each grew up so messed up and could have been so much more, and so much happier, or at least at peace, had basic emotional needs been met. 

My day began with Shane calling on his way to work as he often does, discussing family life, and all the little intricacies that make me smile. How the librarian complimented his son, my grandson William, saying how polite and caring he is of others. How lacrosse, basketball, and cub scouts is going. I love having a connection so special with my son.

And lo and behold, now that my other son, Cory, has come back across the pond, he also called from Boston and chatted with me as he drove to do errands. Not something he could do from London. My sons are out living full lives, loving life, working hard, and doing so much more and so much better than I did at their age. That’s something.

I kept going inside myself, searching out my feelings, waiting for some type of feeling or grief. But no. I separated internally a long time ago. I let go of him, the rage, I forgave. There was never a discussion about it between us.

I believe he felt bad about his past and lived a hellish life.  In later years I know nothing. Just that I am glad he never moved back here. He was mixed up, and I really hold no ill will.  May he rest in peace, even though I still suffer from the horrors he inflicted upon me. The sexual things he did when I was such a little girl were atrocities to a child whose days were spent playing with dolls.

There’s no longer that twisted thing that I used to feel. The sadness about all the siblings that attacked me. If only I hadn’t been born, they wouldn’t have attacked me, and everything would be fine. They could all be a family. 

I worked hard for this life I created. I don’t feel bad because he couldn’t or didn’t. Therapy exists for everyone. The money, time, and years I invested into it has served me well and has kept me alive.

I have earned what I have fought for; life, pleasure, and a peaceful joy, though I still suffer the after effects of what they have done; the over-eating driving me to a butchery surgery which is now causing complications.

Unfortunately many other complicated challenges exist which haven’t gone away with time. They became cemented into my being and neural pathways at an early age, for instance the resurgence of adrenaline which spikes easily and too often, derailing this peaceful life no matter how hard I try to protect myself from it. 

I wish things could have been different, but they weren’t. That is my sadness. 

15 thoughts on “PEACEFUL JOY

  1. ” My pieces, no matter how shattered, do fit back together making a beautiful whole.” Lovely.

    I still feel fragmented and like my pieces are spread far and wide, with little hope of pulling them together and reassembling them into a whole. It’s all about time and healing and progress, I suppose. But it is so hard!

    I love, love, love your butterflies! And I think I understand the comfort you get from the assembly. They are a beautiful extension of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This shows what a wonderful person you are. Forgiveness and your feelings of wishing it had been better “for all of you” and not just you. A genuine, compassionate, empathetic strong woman you are!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. An exquisite butterfly and perfect colours of emotional healing.

    I have wondered a lot what I might feel when I get that message to say ‘_____ has died’. I have grieved for their loss already, but have I grieved for their passing from this life? 1 gone and 5 to go, with only 1 of those 5 remaining in my life. Will I be sad? Will I even be told, that’s a very real possibility and I’m okay with that. The world will be sure to to be a better place without 1 of them in my eyes. Will I ever see them again…I hope not!

    Beautifully expressed with such eloquence as always, thank you for sharing your heart so boldly and trustingly ❤

    You have reminded me today of an album a dear friend and exquisite lover of music, put together for me back in December 2000. It was a collection of songs and a reflection of where I was at in that time. I have been and found it because there is one particular song title I kept hearing over and over that I'm guided to share with you. Brings tears to my eyes to remember where I was at 15yrs ago while listening to these songs as I copy them into my playlist, wow, how interesting to reflect having not listened to it for so many years. THANK YOU Patricia, you truly are an Angel who has swept through my life so delicately as you share your heart through your blog and your beautiful book. I will send through the track ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t believe I missed this post, only seeing it now!

    These words “My pieces, no matter how shattered, do fit back together making a beautiful whole.” say it all. You have worked so very very hard to gather all those pieces of yourself despite the family of origin that tried to tear you to pieces. Your spirit was always far too strong! You have two grown sons who you have raised with everything you didn’t get, wow, that is quite an accomplishment!

    I love the fiery reds and orange, it screams strength and a fire that is getting stronger and deeper as time goes on.

    Your feelings are your own and you have every right to grieve or not. I admire that you have come so far beyond hatred and malice, you are up there in a league of your own and none of them can touch you know not by their living or by their deaths!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, that is the real sadness, that things were not different for that little girl that played with dolls, well said. How sad for that little girl who ever felt like this “If only I hadn’t been born, they wouldn’t have attacked me, and everything would be fine. They could all be a family. ”

    I loved to hear about your sons, I am happy for the connection you are having with them.

    The red hearts on your butterfly are beautiful, and fit Valentines perfectly, even if by happy happenstance.

    “I worked hard for this life I created… I have earned what I have fought for; life, pleasure, and a peaceful joy.” TOTALLY!!

    “for instance the resurgence of adrenaline which spikes easily and too often, derailing this peaceful life no matter how hard I try to protect myself from it.” It is amazing to me how much those adrenaline rushes can effect my energy, and ability to get things done. I often need time, alone and in the quite, just to recuperate from another adrenaline rush.

    I am sorry to hear about your struggles with physical health. I hope you continue to recover and get better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. Recovery time.
      I have been coloring a lot lately in the beautiful adult coloring books (butterfies, flowers, etc. ) my sons gave me and think of you while I color. My coloring isn’t as exquisite as your doodling, but the peace and quiet probably is. So good to hear from you… : )
      I am sorry you relate, but feel heard and understood. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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