ARMOR

Looking at my own flaws, mistakes, and faults is overwhelming igniting PTSD rockets when trying to sleep in the night. Much of my life has been about how others hurt me, which is every day due to an inability to trust or have faith.

And that is my flaw, though not my fault. Who would trust after a childhood like mine? But no free passes because life is among those who do trust, love freely, and tolerate closeness from others, even welcoming it daily while my own being shies away from it.

That mistrust compounded by a self that beats herself up? Like a prickly porcupine, cute when the quills aren’t out, deadly when they are.

That is my curse. Discovering it nearly drowns me in the night when the black thoughts hit. Looking at my armor reflects a face of aloneness. And if you don’t drill some holes in it you will be all alone.

GRANDAUGHTER FUN

She spent the night and as always we had such fun: making valentines full of glitter, doing puzzles together, talking, laughing, and the time went so fast. Before having to leave she said (to my delight), “I’m sad to go.”

“Well, how about next time I have a craft waiting for us to do?”, I asked.

She smiled and said, “Flowers!”

The very next morning my search came up with two great ideas, hyacinths and peonies.

And our glittery Valentine’s fun…

The Fairies Are Out!

A ¾ moon lit the path along with my lantern, the frozen earth sparkling all the way which means the fairies were out. Another magical morning, but tears leak out involuntarily while resting by the creek in the dark midway through the adventure.

A friend seeing her mother after many years of a rift has me worried, but also brings up old angst with my own mother gone 14 years ago.

My mother used to say upon waking to a frosty winter morning when the sun was out sparkling the snow, “The fairies have been out.”

That’s been my belief ever since, add to that- the Easter Bunny, Santa, the tooth fairy, leprechauns, and all things magical including mystical fairies.

There was a lot of good things mom brought to my life, but much of my life was spent hating her for not protecting me. Healing is like eating fruit, you go through layers. First the skin which can be tough and hard, then the juicy interior which is wet with tears but heals, and eventually the way to my own core is found.

When once it seemed all things mom had been aired, digested, and healed from, I’ve not yet bitten the core, or gone right down to my own. Because the tears came thinking about the how she’d do preposterous things with a little daughter she knew was abused but put me through anyway.

Already gaining weight after Danny raped me, Mom put me in a fashion show where my clothes had to be bigger than the other girls, making me feel worse than I already did.

Then there was the princess thing. She said I almost won, yet there were these questions about loving my family which silenced my little girl lips. These were not quests I wanted, but pushed into by her.

Family? My brothers were creeping into my room at night doing things to me. Where were you?

Layers. When working on mom issues after her death rage flamed. Now, no flames, just ashes of sadness.

No one came. No one helped. Not the princess questioner who might have noticed a little girl uncomfortable when asked about her brothers. Not the Bible School do-gooders who became shocked when we sang ‘Jesus Loves me,’ and I said, “He doesn’t love me.” Not the school nurse, my aunt, who weighed the class every year, and that year after the rape and rapid weight gain- also knowing sexual abuse was occurring, she just chastised me and did nothing else.

And not my mom, who continued to leave me home with them while she worked until Chet gave me crabs. After discovering that she hired a babysitter. It finally stopped. I was 11?

There has been an overload of tragedies in my life. Healing is a hard, arduous, and a very long process. Getting to my core means looking at some things once thought healed from, like mom stuff. When it comes up again it is without strong feelings, or deep dysfunctional connection. Her blunders forgiven. A more objective eye without the overwhelming emotions helps me see how much I’ve overcome. And…I still believe in magic.

ALONE IN NATURE

Winter can kick me down the stairs of negative and repetitive thinking. It is so hard to stay afloat wondering how those around me tolerate it, like Samuel for starters, but my sons too.

They do. Love is like that. And with learning to love, staying open, a fullness towards myself offers the same for others.

The process of learning to love myself, that I am worthy of love, is life-long, as my insides clammed up tightly at 8 years old. There was no one to love or trust except my cat or other non-human animals.

Time alone in nature offers the safety needed to feel love. Even around those loved it is difficult, either in person, via email, or by video. But alone, out in the meadow, without other’s inconsistencies or my raging self-doubt over interactions I blame myself for, love abounds filling me up satisfyingly.

This insulated life is not of my choosing. Shattered at age 8 and continually broken from then on, caused fractures so deep they remain life-long. Quiet and solitude heal. Acceptance means picking up the pieces and making a life of my own choosing, even if seemingly different or odd to others.

It is my life, and can be made magical by working to stop the negative yammering constantly in my head. (and hanging up more fairy lights to welcome me on dark morning walks) Easy, no, possible? Yes. Each time that voice starts berating me, blaming me, think of it as a challenge. With persistence, gentleness, and patience, healing and growth occur.

THE PHEONIX

When a soul is upset, scattered, unloving, it isn’t a happy or peaceful life. Waking to a new day, the first thought; another day of work and self-discipline, that even though retired, there is a job to do.

Clearing a head full of self-negatives is no easy task as the clamoring can be constant and habitual. Rising from the ashes again and again, only to be burned by my own inner enemy, happening day to day every day.

With determination and perseverance peace is found, fleeting, yet here for more than a string of moments, for days tied together like sweet grapes on a vine.

An email to Seth that he didn’t answer. Get worried or upset? You have a choice. To change a habit, you replace it. The replacement for worrying about doing something wrong is to see myself with gentleness, love, and acceptance.

Despair curdled my efforts so many times, but giving up? No, just keep at it, pull myself up as many times as needed, and keep trying.

BEING WITH ME

Shifting internal dialogue has taken decades, many, many years of therapy, but of late the resolution to a life of forever feeling bad has taken a turn towards lightness by being with myself in nature- the woods, the land, and me.

And it’s fleeting, as tomorrow my writing may be pain filled and down. But there are moments that have stretched into days where my internal world is gentle, loving, encouraging, and accepting of ME.

And it is more than a kinder voice, it is feeling wholly accepting of myself, more than OK, but that I too am a good person.

Raymond asks one day, “Good? That you are a good person?”, a psychiatrist who knew what he was doing, though pushing me into a career because I had the intelligence to do it might have been more about his being successful than me.

Though glad to have succeeded at such a feat because it paid for both sons education at a prestigious college and set them both on a burgeoning career in the technology field where they still work, the years it took me to accomplish it stressed my already overloaded nervous system.

Daily cortisol bursts from each challenge and the ever present fear of people caused my body to develop a syndrome of fatigue that cannot be repaired. It was worth it to see them thrive now, even if I don’t, not in that way, but in my own quiet way; learning to be with me and be OK, a place always run from before that I now inhabit fully.

Fractured, now whole, perhaps a bit bumpy, but whole.

It has always been about goodness, that I wasn’t, I was bad, abnormal, bad, bad, bad. The revelation that I am of good heart, as human as any with mistakes, flaws, and quirks? That it is more than just words? All new.

Every minute alive is one minute gone. Getting older one begins to realize that, that this moment is precious and living it feeling bad because I’ve been habituated to feel that way doesn’t have to be. I am learning otherwise, I am learning the truth.

The rabbits, soggy ground, icy earth, birds, and running water of the creek have taught me that. That being with me is the best place to be.  

MAGICAL FUN

PHOTOS BY PATRICIA

Though winter takes a substantial chunk out of my already serious minded self, causing a mild depression to color my world more darkly, there is still fun and magic to be had. One only has to make it.

A walk by moonlight, then a fire, all while darkness slowly turns to dawn. The warmth of the fire soothing, sparks flying as an air current oxygenates it brightly.

Then a call from our son after he drops off his eldest at Middle School, a daily pleasure looked forward to with the phone by my side, making sure I’m back inside to catch it by 7AM.

The other son usually video chats at the same time, bringing us both to the island at their house in a neighboring state while the grand-kids, one 6, one 2, and one 1, all eat breakfast. The eldest granddaughter usually is in charge of us through the tablet.

A wonderful start to our days!

HELLO AGAIN C-PTSD

What can you do in the New Year, or just today, to make yourself happy? Work to banish those voices of doom so loudly dampening my spirit during the dark months of winter.

Too easily the toll of my childhood is forgotten, comparing myself to others who go along happily, seemingly without the weight of such heavy burdens.

Though we all carry burdens, hardships, and loss, it is a singularly difficult load to carry the traumas of childhood, and it is too easily forgotten in my tortuous self-inflicting mind wanting to pull myself down at every second of every day.

Begin again the work of liking myself to stand equal, happy, and at peace. The burden of being me will sink me if I let it. The old feelings embedded in me since childhood, will cause me to drown.

Awake to the new day. Let the other night go and accept it because in a week or two it will happen again; waking at 1am to use the bathroom as usual, but feeling the C-PTSD rockets take off causing a need to take medication.

There was no reason, though I dug for one, because that’s how I grow and learn about myself. But there was no reason except my old nemesis, C-PTSD. Acceptance comes hard fighting it, but it’s here to stay permanently.

C-PTSD comes uninvited. Every few weeks medication is needed because sleep is needed. Trauma hard-wires into a person if not processed, and was hard-wired into me in childhood. No one helped, protected, or talked to me, ever, not about that. So much terror and trauma kept internally throughout life until my mother’s death 14 years ago when the book flowed out of my soul, both my traumas and my joys.

Feelings of failure because I needed to take medication make me weep the next day. Yesterday, to interrupt the crush of sadness, a trip out in the cool air to the craft store picking up discounted craft supplies to work on yet another photo book for my little grandchildren. That helped counteract my funk, pasting pieces of myself back together again.

REGRETS

Moving on to the new year, a new start, a beginning? I’m still me, with all the thoughts, memories, and regrets, blackening my interior much more darkly in wintertime.

How to manage the tendency to go back over every mistake in my entire life feeling it scratch like sharpened talons in the deepest recesses of my soul? I’ve made grievous errors in judgement that must be lived with. How do people do it, because I’m not the only one.

Didn’t we go through this already, just about every winter, you the critic, and you the wiser gentler side? Jekyll and Hyde. Light and dark. Breathe fresh air or drown?

Laying in the dark, ready to get up, anxiety erupts reliving mistakes from 40 years ago. The blackness of winter devouring me at the start of a day.

Yet there also is light if choosing to come out of that dark cave of regrets. Forgive yourself yet again, as many times as it takes. While walking yesterday I thought, ‘Haven’t you done this already? Forgiven myself for this?”

Yes. But do it again, and again and again, however many times you need to. Good practice for someone with a tendency to be so harsh on herself. And when remembering all your own mistakes, and forgiving them, it makes it so much easier to forgive others.

Henry David Thoreau

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”