PTSD BRAIN

photos by patricia

The mornings feel like fall, cool, damp and with a wet echo-like sound from cars in the distance. Contentment found easily dissolves even from little things. A disruptive thought repeatedly bangs in my head as it rests on the pillow awaiting sleep.

Hopping out of bed to rant at Samuel over not enough to do so over seemed the only remedy. Expelling the vomit did help though left us both feeling bruised. Going to bed a bit later, sleep, blessed sleep came. He hadn’t gotten so upset that his sleep was interrupted and that soothed me.

Part of keeping a contented equilibrium is choice yet the PTSD brain can go haywire without my permission. Little things can set it off. Control what can be controlled, let go of the rest…

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CONTENTMENT

“Don’t say anything negative,” I quip to Samuel laying down several green tomatoes from the garden. “I’m frying them the healthy way.”

He is quiet with a quizzical expression then walks away. Later he fills up his plate three times munching happily while watching his show.

Contentment enfolds me with warmth and coziness. There are no emergencies, and with my quirky brain an emergency is ever present. There are no relationships that need dire attention though there is always work to do on them. Everything is alright.

That’s not boredom, it is pure contentment. With the camera hanging from my neck the hammock by the butterfly bush beckons. It is so close to the blossoms there ought to be a few good shots. Today’s visitor is yellow.

Contentment is not something familiar after a life of adrenaline pumps several times daily. Cherishing it while also questioning it, the evenness needs reaffirming. It is OK. This is OK, accepting that it is also ever fleeting. Take it for now and basque in it. 

You don’t need great ups then downs. Like the cat lying in the triangle of sun sprawled out like a long furry rope, then moving with the sun to the doorway to soak up the sunshiny luxury again, you too can follow the sun and move with it.  

Watching the sun rise, then late in the day go down while sipping iced tea with fresh picked mint, the rocker on the porch creaks and I’m settled. Where once there was restless, deep cavernous loneliness, there is now centeredness and contentment.

Something very important inside has connected. When the hide tide with waves takes me to hurricane seas there is a sure way back home, an internal place of peace, contentment and joy. Now to master it even during the storms… 

 

The Vital Truth

today’s blooms

If the adults around the child sexually abused turn toward her at the time of the attack(s), allowing expression, offering love, protection and sympathy, the child can move forward without the strictures of self-blame.

In most cases, or the majority of them, because it is a family member who has attacked the child, the shame of the family silences the child. In their silence, and shaming her to remain silent, she takes it in. Shame becomes part of her. Her personality is formed around that black boulder embedded deeply in her psyche… and there to stay.

As an adult I can go to therapy and hear the words, “you are not bad.” So intellectually that fact is known, but not felt. In my core I learned otherwise. Shame is the bedrock of my being.

“I am bad, it is my fault, because of me this thing happened…” always my first response in every situation even those that have nothing to do with me. I will find a way back to what I could have done that would have prevented a negative outcome.

Raymond, a previous therapist, called it ‘personalization.’ I call it a life-long albatross to lift up daily and throw out.. A child can survive the attacks. It is what comes after that kills. No intervention comes.

A child can heal and move forward if helps comes. Everyone in the family can. 

The attacks in childhood leave me with a lifetime of work challenging that very damaging concept.

MASSAGE HANDS

In honor of my niece, a massage therapist. Love, grief and loss erupted onto the frame 4 years ago after her death. She stayed with me until this trip to see Stevie. She now resides with them. 

PARADOX: a situation, person, or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.”the mingling of deciduous trees with elements of desert flora forms a fascinating ecological paradox”

It took a solid week for the cat to rest curled up in the corner, and for me to curl up in bed to sleep many consecutive nights in a row for both of us to begin interacting with each other and the environment again. She has recovered enough to nuzzle my finger with her nose and her eyes are present, and I’m able to respond with real feelings not robotically.

A paradox seems always present in my life. The opposites called ‘life’ feel too hard to manage sometimes, yet there they are. Holding precious memories close from being with our sons and their little babies over the Adirondack vacation will take precedence over the insanity from lack of sleep which took me away from my body and its sensory faculties.

It could be said it was a week wasted. Is your cup half full or half empty? Well both. It was a difficult struggle to maintain cordiality and look out for others emotional needs when my own were bare and had run dry, yet that extraordinary feat was accomplished.

Added to the stressful burden was being with my dear younger brother still coping with the loss of his beautiful daughter only four years ago. Being closer to them brought me closer to their grief, the weight of it potentially burying. How greedy of me to profess wanting space from their pain. I bring it home like a sad cloak feeling guilty for not wanting to feel it.

Processing it all takes time and help. God help me, as the soft breezes and twitters of birds’ calm my frazzled emotions. The losses in the group of people I was born unto is astounding; a brother, Dan, by suicide at 28, my niece only a few years ago, then a nephew about the same age a year later both not yet 30.

The neglectful, chaotic childhood affected all eight children in this group of people negatively and severely. The word family does not fit so I cannot use it. That is my history. My present is much different. I could run from my younger brother or try to be there. I chose being there. 

Joy in the Mundane

As the frost melts the mundane tasks of life bring joy. Usually one to start a task then before finishing start another, my scattered brain takes me to a third and a fourth. Slow down! Dammit fucking hell, as the basket drops from the shelf and scissors slip from my hands.

The broken brain is on overload. Slow down, breathe. Taking in air slowly the feel of the metal pan with warm sudsy water is sensed by my fingers and the breeze coming in the window… a caress.

Oh how I’ve missed the sweet joy of just being in my body and noticing the miniscule daily occurrences that bring sweet peace and joy.

It is in the mundane where life excites me; my body and mind at peace so the spirit is free to explore, dream and grow. Oh, how I’ve missed this thing called ‘life’ while forces out of my control took hold and I went someplace else.

Being back home in all ways brings quiet satisfaction and joy.