“Here is an article about sleep,” Samuel said, moving the AARP magazine closer.

A few days passed before picking it up. Most of the suggestions, like not drinking coffee later in the day, and keeping a regular bed-time, are things already in motion, but one suggestion caught my eye; CBT-I Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Sleep disturbances over the last month have become severe. So is the search for confidence, well-being, fullness, or any other feeling offering succor. The coldness outside froze my insides. Regret frosted growth spiraling me backwards. Coming off the ‘path,’ I became lost in the forest of doubt, anxiety, and depression.

I’m doing my homework. Many sites seemed like scams, wanting money for completing this therapy on-line, which can be done without a therapist if the depression is mild. But one has offered guidance, already easing my mind and body during the night so that sleep came even after two separate trips to the bathroom.

You know the work. Someone wrote on my blog that maybe you won’t have to constantly keep telling yourself you are OK throughout the day. And my squirrel mind felt criticized, though the remark was a caring and compassionate one. I do need to tell myself that day and night. Living is fearful for me.

Danger lurks around every corner, and in every relationship. My job is to allay unfounded fears, challenge them, offer other plausible scenarios, and so much more pinpointed clearly in these articles. Looking at things less rigidly offers more solutions. Maybe there aren’t aren’t any, so stop worrying over what you can’t change or influence positively.

I took notes. It was so helpful, and the notes will be kept handy as this transition from winter to spring takes place. Even if not read again, they are my security blanket; you’re not alone, and there is a way. 

Labile emotions, joyful to the moon one day, the next a waterfall of tears. The tears come like this each spring, a washing off of winter depression, cleaning out the dull, brain chemicals opening windows for happy endorphins that bring balance. I will get there, and do the work.


Spring to Come

photo by Patricia

The Cold wet ground, sodden with melted snow.

Geese squawking, red-wingers trilling melodically,

The repose so sought, brought by digging into the earth.

The spade into soil recently unfrozen.

Bulbs already sprouted covered,

And when the snow returns will slow them down,


Until, like me, they blossom under the warm sun.

Time Change/Spring

photo by Patricia

“Oh, this time change is easy,” huffing to my son over the phone.

After more than an hour trying to sleep, it’s out of the dark bedroom and Jimmy Kimmel to make me chuckle despite irritation over continued sleep disturbances. Then Italy’s problems with olive trees dying. That was fascinating, so there is an upside.

Spring’s mixing bowl of weather affects me. No time change, or seasonal change is easy. Each comes with disturbances in sleep, and an array of other challenges, mostly with my volatile emotions which can become irrational.

Why one brain continues stable and another such as mine goes awry is for scientists to determine. My challenge is to accept it.  My guess is unprocessed trauma and its long term effects. That includes memories of violence so acute that 60 years later my body has decided it’s still not safe to allow up, and maybe never will be. That’s OK with me. I know Danny committed rape, but that memory stays repressed. 

That does something to the brain, and the body’s systems that keep one on high alert at all times. Because if the danger isn’t ‘out there,’ there’s plenty still swimming around inside me.  NO place is safe, No place to run. What are small shifts to others are huge upheavals to those who experienced traumas that were not processed. Damage is hard-wired in… corrupt. 

Some days Hercules conquers the world, the increase of light making me loopy; 5 laps around the meadow become ten, or an hour of exercise at the Community Center feels easy. The next day little to nothing, or more truthfully enough but the critic bangs in my head saying, ‘look what wasn’t accomplished.’

Tame the critic. The most valuable work is that,  and gentleness. . 

By 3 AM medication was taken. When a regular sleep pattern is achieved, it feels like a miracle. And it will come. Just buckle in for the ride. You don’t have to live up to the pace of others, or what that pace looks like. Go gently my friend…. 


The Things We Learn

And so it goes, recovery. Shane forgives, why can’t I? We spent time together watching his son play in his basketball tournament winning by a landslide. But more sweetly was time with Shane after my regretful expression of long standing anger which had built up over time. 

Shane’s voice sounded dry and some ground needs making up. The call this morning started with the same coolness, but ended with ‘love you,’ something he had left out of the last few calls. We will resume our monthly lunch dates, though his office is on the other side of the city.

There hasn’t been lunch dates the last few years because after three hospital stays in one year, fear had grown in my belly. Even shopping at the grocery store brought uneasiness, anxiety, and ungroundedness.

As health restored, and internal bleeding became better controlled by the daily high potent antacid, my bravery at doing more increases. That long ago stomach stapling caused severe complications due to the newness of the procedure putting my life at risk over the loss of so much blood.

Though one ER doctor pressed for blood transfusions, another suggested recovery was possible without it, Over the 4 day stay a few years back, I managed to improve without the transfusions. But at home full recovery took many months to heal the internal opening made by the surgeon in ’85.

Eating often caused debilitating pain for hours afterwards. Now that things are more stable, lunch dates might be a very good way to again spend some time with my busy son. He sounded happy to hear of resuming our lunches. So mending occurs on all levels. 

So often my own sufferings are kept to a minimum when it comes to relaying them to my sons. Why burden them? Yet being factual is also necessary, which means being upfront about challenges. 

Things we learn along the way…

The Butchering of a Soul

a memoir by Patricia  Grace 

My stomach is still sore from what I did to it. The old ways come back and won’t go away. It is a daily issue to temper them, the eating till sick ways. To punish myself I eat. I knew eating what I did would cause problems, so ate more.

Then spent the rest of the afternoon until bedtime in pain wondering if it would stay down. It was the kind of pain that occurred after the stomach stapling in ’85 when more than a few tablespoons of food would put me down on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor in agony waiting to throw it up. I spent a lot time there because butchering my stomach did not take away the real need to eat like I ate. 

Hating myself. My mind twisted into the past where the only feeling was self-hate and punishment. All the work in decades gone by dissolved, and back there I went, where eating and throwing up were the only ways out of terror.

How can one go so easily backwards? Yet self-hate for causing my son pain of any kind comes easily. Which is why there are also too many times when things don’t get said that need to be said. I don’t know how. I don’t see that changing. Opposites. Where is the middle, that place of rest where such extremes co-exist?

A person permanently present in my life does things I’d never even think of doing to another person. She targets me with a precision that destroys. Sabotage. The confusion of why continues. Perhaps it is my need for space, or that I see her as she is.

I accept her as she is, just be honest and upfront.  How do you confront someone so wily? You don’t, which is why such exhaustive underhanded efforts are plotted then carried out. The slipperiness of her self-esteem is as desperate as mine.

How we choose to recover our sense of worth is the chasm that won’t be bridged, and most likely won’t be brought to the light. That kind of slyness through the years by Tom is what had the power to kill. Not the sexual attacks, but the invalidation afterwards eroding my self worth to less than nothing. I had no right to be here. 

It is not self-loving to put into your body something you KNOW will cause pain. Blocked into a box, no way out. So suffer, then figure it out. Time to say no. You are punished, now move on. Is this a cycle to suffer till death?

Fuck me. Fuck life. Why is it so hard for some, yet others go on their tra la la ways without these mixed up dark thoughts in their heads of who does what and why, and I am always the target? Targeted because I lack a voice, able to speak up for others, but not for myself. . 

Maybe this is the craziness of spring that causes slight madness as the depression of winter mixes with the warm sun, twirling my emotions at will. Something that makes so much sense one day, mortifying me the next, wishing so fervently to take it back but can’t.

So I ask forgiveness, and go on. But it is me who needs to forgive me the most.


Life is Messy

Awake too early, the flight of panic needs calming. Breathe deep, long and slow. This is an awake that won’t be lulled back to sleep. Thinking about the recent troubles, trying to take the unruly toddler who had been kept from me for two years, and how hard it was. After a few visits here attempting to calm and play with him, I told my son we just couldn’t do it.

Running after and playing with a toddler is exhausting enough, but a child never left with anyone else screaming Mommy repeatedly in my ear was just too much. Yet the feeling of letting down my son in his time of need caused my waking to be one where the critic was lashing at me with leather strips holding barbs at the end of each one of them.

STOP! Though sleep wouldn’t return at 4 AM, the lashing stopped. I am beautiful, smart and kind, my mantra of late stolen from another blog. Will this break us further apart? Is there a way to let by-gone’s be by-gone’s, and move on?

Relationships are messy, life is messy. You know that. My need is one where I can feel at ease and be myself, without stepping lightly afraid to upset the one who so long ago threatened me with not seeing grand-children before she even had any.

My inability to be as close with my daughter-in-law as she likes has caused this. I need space. She is open, loving and trusting. We are like oil and water. Yet the bowl of water runs deep.

Hope. Hope for a better relationship that blossoms out of honesty. Yet what more likely lays ahead is a schism never crossed with a divide growing wider.


Sweet Daughter-in-Law?

A daughter-in-law should not feel like an arch-enemy. Yet the campaign undertaken, even if unconsciously vindictive, or a story concocted and believed, shook my world and undermined my confidence severely. It has always been this way. Her lagging self-esteem built up by trampling mine. To stand on another to feel righteous. 

For the peace of family, to not make waves, to not add to my son’s pain, hardship, or haranguing by her, for all reasons other than my integrity and right to a place in this world, my voice continues in silence. Until it can hold no more.  

It feels just like Tom’s silencing of me. Her attacks come with smiles, hugs and false syrup, just like his. Maliciousness on any level cuts ones legs off. Divide and conquer. Make a case to others while killing the one hated. But do so invisibly. Look at a person and her defenses, attack from there.

No family other than Cory, Shane, and Samuel. And none of them go against her, why should they? She hadn’t crept in expertly shaking their credibility, digging their roots. And no one wants to confront a nicely wrapped package with such repressed anger lurking within. Her ways may seem innocent, but not to me. I used to be that way… with rage locked in. 

Someone acting so nice, but isn’t. Someone who hasn’t learned how to speak up, so strikes down subtly so no one sees. Taking advantage of me who has had my own voice stolen so viciously. Her ways have come out of a pampered existence, one I never had.

How do two paths co-exist when such malevolence from one drums so expertly in the background ready to grab its prey by the neck and yank back and forth? It’s never going to stop until I say enough. .