One Kind Word

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One kind word can change someone’s day, week, year, even life. When feeling down one can recall the kindnesses of others even decades later… One kind word is all it takes.

Thank you fellow bloggers who uplift and support,

and each ones does…

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WORRYING

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photo by patricia

March madness indeed. A beautiful sunshiny spring day called as the sun burned off the thick fog. While meditating my breath didn’t feel like enough air came through and the emergency system kicked in. Is this the day to die? What a nutter the other part of the brain mocked. The heart began beating in fear as the adrenaline kicked in. 

Going out to the new deck Samuel is building I cry, “I can’t breathe through my nose. Am I having a heart attack?” 

“I can’t either,” he stated, “We probably caught a low grade virus from the grand-kids. I’ve been sniffling for two or three weeks. You’re OK.” 

I needed that reassurance and calmed down yet later in the day felt the same violent fear as if superseding all else, mainly common sense. After a few years with scary visits to the hospital my body and psyche are experiencing a delayed response.

Though calm through most of it at the time, now that things are healing my delayed emotional responses are kicking in. Every little thing sets me off compounded by my relentless harassing of myself over my own silliness.

What about kindness? At age 8 the lesson learned was that I was on my own and not worthy of it. No one came to my aid to soothe or protect me from relentless marauding brothers.

The message learned? Unworthy, less than others, sub-human or not even human. Self-hate became embedded into my personality. It is daily adventure to explore kindness. Some days are more successful than others.

When I remember the ongoing work of granting permission for loving kindness towards myself, warmth seeps in like a soothing soft blanket, hot bath, or cup of cocoa; even moments of mother’s love, like a cool hand on a fevered forehead, rare as those times were.  

It is like a door opening wide to the sunshine. Softness melts my icy interior, tenderness replacing cold harshness. Of course you tend to become anxious easily. It is part of the ptsd. Not your fault. Remember?

Trained to keep horrors to myself meant I was the horror. It filled and consumed me having no escape or place to go. A child takes it all in blaming herself. Others encourage it to help keep the family shame quiet.. forever.

Even last spring now in my 60’s, brother Seth said after learning I wrote a book about my life, “Why would you publicize the family’s dysfunction?”

It was all about him. That interaction came only after months of no answers to my emails, rejecting me with his silence until I confronted him.  My need to belong puts self-respect on trial. 

Ousted at age 8, I am ousted again. Who is this brother I thought I loved? The panic of being ejected once again from the ‘family’ sent me to the ER with an overnight stay to rule-out a heart problem. Anxiety took hold and I couldn’t calm ‘her’ down.

Unable to be in my body easily or comfortably makes it difficult to discern true medical issues from those of the heart. The heart can be affected in many ways. 

His response last spring is the same response from the so called ‘family’ at age 8. Be quiet, hence be nothing. It is as if I await their permission for self compassion, waiting for one word of acknowledgment that never comes.

Where were you Seth after I told you Danny fucked me as a little girl? Did you stay around to keep me safe? Did you do anything? Did Don stay around to protect me from abuse after he came running into the bathroom due to my screaming because “it stung down there,” after the rape?

No one intervened in any way. My pain became compounded embedding into my psyche permanently with chronic PTSD because of the enforced rule; be silent or be abandoned. 

Caught up in this concept of unworthiness that the family encouraged in order to keep their secrets safe is a hard concept to erode then rebuild. 

Leaning to open the doors to my soul with kindness, acceptance, and love is a continuous journey towards peace, warmth and freedom… It is long and hard won, re-claiming my right to be here. 

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INTUITION

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photo by patricia

Is that out of the head and into the spirit, the gut, the soul? That is a new way of living that brings wholeness. Getting there took determination, and my battle-scarred body, psyche and mind crave rest; a slower paced life that now unfolds.

And if I can do it, anybody can. But the work entailed? I can tell you, if I was asked to go back being 20, 30, or 40, … NO, I would not. 

I hung cloth diapers by the wood stove, yet found so much satisfaction keeping the ‘home fires’ burning while Samuel was working. The old enamel stove sat like a queen in the kitchen keeping me warm twice by it’s cooking and the energy expelled filling her. 

The less one has the more things are appreciated.

I sit by our coal stove now as my 64th birthday approaches in April and still feel the coziness of being warmed by a fire, the cat curled up by my feet. The door to the porch is slightly open as spring birds sing, geese honk down by the creek and ducks belt out a hello. As the gentle rain melts the last patches of snow, the morning doves once again make a nest atop the clematis vine clinging to the screen only feet away. 

The anticipation of spring shall hold me through until green comes to the trees and lawns. The breath goes deeper releasing tensions carried all winter. Ahh, spring…

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Be In The Moment

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Be in the moment, I again remind myself while living ahead towards the other activities of the day. My mind snaps back to NOW. I watch my hand rubbing the silken body wash over the soles of my feet in the hot steamy shower. Be here now, not on the next thing. Why is that so hard to do?

Trauma brain makes it hard to do, my term for chronic ptsd. The up side is that the discomfort of hypersensitivity accompanied by anxiety drove me to learn another way of being. At a one day retreat at the Zen Center (2000) I felt a moment of peace even amidst a large group of strangers. That was all it took to keep going and practice most days since.

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GENERALIZED ANXIETY

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I am anxiety. Why? Was it the weakness for M & M’s, that boost of caffeine interring with sleep and eroding my self-esteem? Every thought bombards my flagging spirit with negativity; black thoughts, thoughts that end with disaster, every one. There’s no control button, no delete. The only escape comes during sleep… fitful, waking too early repeatedly until I am almost hallucinating.

“No one should wake each morning with a feeling of dread or intense fear,” I lament to Samuel as we sit by the fire drinking coffee; usually a place of comfort yet all waking moments carry a buzz I want to escape from. 

Is this guilt over bad eating for two days, deserved guilt but must it carry such anxiety? Needing a name for it will help but no answers come. Samuel is off to work for one of his five days a month. Usually I love my alone time yet being alone scares me. It’s OK, it’s OK…

The buzzing in my head and spirit drives me to meditate. I remember Raymond working with me a great deal due to anxiety. His quiet voice comes home within as his guided meditation takes me to waterfalls and riding the warm bare back of a big white horse. Raymond. Any person who ever showed me kindness is brought ‘home’ within.

My shopping trip Monday was cut short by anxiety. Get out of the store, go home where it’s ‘safe.’ Tuesday I wanted to go to the craft store for pretty ribbon, spring scented candles and other fun things, but could I? What was wrong?

The meditation turned into two half hours. My breathing regulated and quieted. I was in my body and it was OK. The buzzing ebbed. It can be controlled! Feeling empowered I arise from the prone meditation position but the buzz begins again as the heart rate increases. Breathe; diaphragmatic breathing, lower in the chest, deeply and slower. I keep at it throughout the day, take my fun shopping trip, and do alright. 

The change of seasons, March dripping into April, affect me greatly as my brain chemicals adjust to the longer days. It happens every year. I get squirrely and my usual hyperarousal goes berserk. But this anxiety is different and so similar to the time working with Raymond when he encouraged me to go out into the world and learn to be a nurse.  

That anxiety was debilitating causing panic. It developed in to more fears that became life-long— elevators and flying. I still cannot fly or do elevators. Once I had without a thought or problem. His urging’s and guidance didn’t come without a price. I often wonder if my success spelled his success. Might it been better had he taught me I was enough just as I was? 

Understanding the why of such anxiety helps along with the knowledge each morning that I can control it by breathing slow and deep. Anxiety continues to be an issue depending on what challenges I face. But this generalized anxiety, like a sparking, thrashing electrical wire, was hard to tolerate and weakened every ability. Each day is now faced with equanimity and possibility. 

I finally take my walk to the creek feeling uneasy as I embark into the bright sunlight. Reflecting on the too white snow doubled its intensity and drove me back inside for sunglasses. Breathe.

Slowly the bubbling anxiety quiets even as the heartbeat rises. This is what you love; listen to the assorted chirps, twirls and songs of various birds as they gather supplies for nest making and a light pounding in the distance as wood-peckers drill for bugs. 

The creek swells as the snow melts, the soft breeze causing ripples that glitter as sunlight pours onto it. The full sun warms my face while resting in the Adirondack chair. My body unwinds and the busy mind relaxes it’s grip. Looking upward I notice buds on the pear tree. The little snowdrops are trying to lift their frozen blossoms as they thaw.

This is what I’ve been missing for a week unable to face the cold and deep snow after the spring-like temps enjoyed before the blizzard. I sit quietly a long time, so still even the timid ducks don’t know I’m there. A group of four make a landing only feet away dipping into the water like gliders. One dives for fish then swims like an Olympian past me speeding away. I slowly get up to head back to the house, the peace of nature filling the cold empty places inside, fresh air and healthful activity chasing ghosts away. 

My boots sink into the thin icy crust with a satisfying crunch. Several little birds that always gather in the bush when I walk by sing ‘hello’ and I singsong back. 

My despair and desperation have alleviated for now as I await spring. Feel it’s pulse burgeoning just below the surface of the fading snow… 

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