I FOUND MY SMILE TODAY!

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Today while shopping I smiled many times. Not the smile I pasted on when it seemed appropriate the last few weeks while out, but really smiled. The kind where I know my eyes light up with my whole being behind it. 

I must have encountered 5 or 6 others who looked at my smile as I waited for them to pass before moving my cart, and my smile drew them to my eyes and my eyes into theirs, and most of them smiled right back. Not sure they could help themselves.

So many times I am lost in thought, or agitated. But not today. Today I found my smile, enjoyed the shopping, rather than just getting it done, and felt the smile throughout my being. 

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FEELINGS

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Feelings. I hadn’t realized how much I still run from them, run from them to food. And this past year full of one medical issue after another, including mysterious bouts of being violently sick in the night, I didn’t realize that my body has changed to such a degree that eating emotionally is no longer an option. If I choose that, then I can expect a night of violent retching until my poor stomach is emptied and quiets again. I thought on previous episodes that I had a stomach bug.

It was only after this last wretched one that I became aware of what was really going on. I just threw food down, without pleasure, without chewing sufficiently, and I suffered later waking up sweating, first one trip to the bathroom, going onto the couch, and another violent bathroom visit. And then I could sleep but not until wiping a tear from my face due to the pain and pressure, and a soft out-loud apology to my poor body, “I am so sorry.”

I cannot forgive myself for my inability to stop this. Because knowing I’ll be sick afterwards does not stop the tendency to get in the food quickly. Because whatever the feeling is that I’d rather not feel?—it needs blocking, numbing, stopping. I’m so good at it, eating fast, stuffing it and the feeling. I may not be able to stop the tendency, but I do need to work daily on it, more accurately, I need to just do it, do it right, do what my body needs… finally. Work daily instead on loving my poor body by chewing slowly. It is such a bother. What is supposed to be a pleasure is a bother to me. I’d rather not have to deal with it or deal with me.

That scratchy feeling of loss, of wrongness, of I don’t know what, I just don’t want to feel it anymore, is so hard. Days of it. One moment ok-ness, the next, that feeling. I want to make it better, a relationship gone bad, or complicated, or filled with friction. And feeling unable to do that, I eat. And get sick, so very sick.

And why or when will I stop? All the names I tend to easily call myself I try to keep at bay. My mother’s words, “Dummy,” for one, is right there beside me, in me. I can add many of my own names. But I don’t, yet still it is there, a very loud presence like a hovering shadow ready and all too willing to bash me down. Or maybe it’s a wise presence saying pay attention to this scratchy feeling. Be with it. Let it be there awhile until you figure it out. Or maybe it’s both that I deal with, riding that rocking iceberg, the loud banging voice and the gentle wise presence. 

But days, then weeks, it stays. And when I give up trying to run from it with food because that is just too much torture, the feeling begins to abate, dissipate, and even resolve slowly. Some paths leading to a sort of resolution make themselves known. It is a rocky, uncharted path, partly treacherous, and unfamiliar. Yet that feeling of riding an iceberg remains. I want to feel solid, knowing. Yet I don’t know. And riding that current of indecision and indecisiveness is uncomfortable.

So I get up and go back to the work of self-care each morning, right here in my own home. I try to shake myself from the stupor of zoning out. I mentally list daily goals: meditate, exercise, eat in a way that won’t upset this butchered stomach which 35 years after that regretful operation is falling apart—bleeding— and unable to tolerate any more abuse.

I try to remember to enjoy the fruits of the day given to each of us, the brilliant spring sunshine, colorful varieties of flowers erupting from the earth, the chortle of birds, the turkey crossing the road on my extended walks, a body that is upright and still moving, a husband I am getting to know maybe for the first time, and becoming friends with, and on and on my list goes if I let it, love it and work on it. It is just very hard during a time of turmoil and confusion, which too often seems to occur, to ride the waves of discontent, and to figure out just what is going on and how I want to proceed.

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MY FANTASY FAMILY

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Families do it all wrong. It is not just the victim who needs to speak of the attacks in the nights, and who did them, but so does the aggressor. Families remain quiet and take every measure to silence the child. Whatever it takes, because of their own shame and fear of what others will say or think about the family if others found about sexual abuse within the family system.

If that means killing the life essence of the little girl to silence her, so be it. The damage this causes for a child is a death sentence for life. I still struggle with those voices that silence me, that make me hate myself. Because how can I learn love if I knew that love came only with my silence over the crimes and heinous acts committed on my young body?

I learned that I am hated, unloved, and unworthy, no matter how much lip service is given otherwise. The original crimes went unpunished and I ate them. Literally. 

And does the offender get a chance at a life? Not really. If we make mistakes we want to correct them, apologize, learn better, and go on as a whole person living a full life and feeling accepted. With secrets and sorrows and debilitating shame over past crimes or horrible acts, how does one build a life?

Families keeping secrets out of their own shame, and fear of soiling their reputation, is not fair— first for the victim, the child, but also not fair for the attacker, the aggressor. All of it needs to come out. Out in the open. It’s done, it happened.

Love, support, attention and compassion is showered on the child, and the family rallies around her taking a stand against aggression. The aggressor must show true regret to be welcomed back into the pack. All are on watch to insure that the aggressor never be left alone with the child again and protecting her from further attacks becomes a permanent priority.

These are the things that must happen. This is what stops the death of the child. This allows her to lick her wounds and heal right then when the wounds are incurred. She can grow strong, solid, whole and know she is loved in every fiber of her being.

And the aggressor, whether Dad, Grandpa, brother, Uncle Ned or a family friend, has a chance to remain part of the family if he does the work to change and make amends. He must show true sorrow.

The aggressor has a chance at a real life too. One where he can work at being better, having made a mistake but been forgiven and accepted back into the fold with exceptions, but given a chance. And if he works hard enough at making amends, he too can have a full life and be a better person.

The way families deal with it, and have since the beginning of time, ruins not just one life, not two, but the entire family’s. These secrets pull everyone down into a blurry purgatory, no one rising to the surface where clear air revives and makes new. No one.  

NEW TOY

Samuel detests sawing out my projects so I invested in a scroll saw as suggested by my son, Shane. I feel proud to have cut out my first butterfly all on my own, though worked up a sweat doing so. It is a painstaking process…

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A fifty cent garage sale find with many missing glass pieces. I replaced them with mirror shards then grouted the entire project to breath new life into it. 

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We top off the brilliant day with coffee and a walk to the creek…

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