Life is Messy

photo by Patricia

Sometimes you just have to wing it. Sometimes you have to trust when there isn’t any, faith that all things will work even when they don’t because messy is what life is.

Waking at 3AM, by 4, giving up, it’s TV and coffee, caffeinated because falling back to sleep wouldn’t happen.

Avoiding conversation with a loved one whose actions already have caused a sleepless night causes yet another one. It is always an indication that my character needs work. That however a thing is tempted to be handled, in this case fully removing myself from the offending person’s life, would be injurious to all. Rise above tends to be a constant to work at.

I am weary of rising above it, stuffing down feelings seems more like it. Yet others are where they are, and there’s not much to be done about that.

No one will call me a saint. I don’t make a good martyr. My humanness is difficult to accept and live with. Living moments awake when I’d rather be sleeping? Complain, or make the best of it, maybe both.

This is a day sleep is really needed. Our annual progressive dinner with my monthly friend’s group, along with their husbands, occurs in the afternoon. Now we meet at one home instead of progressing house to house for each course. Everyone brings their assigned courses there.

It is always a happy time, with games before the dessert course, including charades. But now tiredness will make it harder. Such is life.

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Keep the Peace

photo by Patricia

How to keep the peace? Luxuriating in this period of deep, long winter sleeps, then? No falling asleep. I could feel it. I could feel the restlessness in my brain traveling to emotions with the chorus of warning bells clanging louder as the time sleep should have come— not coming.

A call from a loved one earlier in the day set the string of past memories in motion. Not one to let go of hurts, they pile up inside embedded into the already existing quagmire of brokenness.

Much effort has gone into reducing that ball of red-hot pain, cooling it, down-sizing it to manageable proportions. It has shrunk from molten lava…rage, to earth’s crust, mostly cool except for sporadic eruptions. When flaring, even a simple phone call ignites pain churning the unhealed turmoil. The bell dinging wouldn’t be soothed.  

Just take what you need, don’t wait till midnight or 1 AM. Resigned to taking medication sleep came within the hour.

How to keep others from interfering with internal peace? Go deeper, or be less attached? The answer always lies within if you possess the courage to look. This is yet another FOG, another fucking opportunity for growth. 

 

Honor Thy Spirit

photo by Patricia

Even though unsure of this lull in agitation, and the long hours of peaceful sleep, both are absorbed gratefully. Could it have to do partly with learning to allow authentic expression to rise rather than the knee jerk reaction of closing someone off when they don’t do, say, or email in a way that is desired?

No answer, or a one word reply from someone cared about, makes me throw up my hands in disgust wanting to terminate the relationship. Tit for tat. You don’t care about me, I won’t care about you. But it never works, because I do care, and eventually I choose to initiate an interaction.

How to say what I need with grace? How to speak up to someone who knows me as a doormat, a pleaser, a person seemingly without needs, or who doesn’t require respect because she hasn’t demanded it?

After trashing my younger brother’s one word response, the next morning after sifting it back out, my response included my dismay at his one word response along with softness which balanced the critique. It felt so foreign. Speaking up, along with loving words? Can it be possible this was achieved? After a life of stitched lips this really is a miracle. 

During meditation it was evident that my little brother is not someone to throw away. We spent a lot of time together on our own as children while my mother worked. We were free to roam the neighborhood unsupervised. There is a bond to cherish even if we don’t share much else, and even if he seems to want the attention of two older siblings instead of me. I still have feelings for him.

My response, after some thought, honored my feelings even in the face of another not responding as I’d like. Staying true to my deepest core feelings, not reacting thoughtlessly with the old story so ingrained in my perceptions, that no one cares, keeps me aligned with my true self. This authenticity must add to the long nights of peaceful slumber, instead of waking feeling something urgent needs to keep me awake.

Traveling that wire from brain, to heart, then to my core, keeps the peace. It has taken a life-time to get here, and the linking is tenuous. Meditative thought brings up the true soul’s needs.  A being comes together as a whole when soft whispers are listened to, giving myself the key to unlock their mysteries, and then to express them.  That is freedom. 

I may not hear from him for months, or longer, or at all, but I can keep the love for him in my heart. And if there’s a time he needs me, I am here. But he won’t. We both wrap our pain around us a like an iron curtain. You learn to do that when young and no one’s there to help. You learn to do it on your own.

 

Winter Solstice

There’s a change. There is hope in my heart, a surge of life bursting forth with the coming of spring. Yes it is January, but the days grow long, a minute a day. After 5pm there is still light. The sun moving back our way casts crimson clouds on the horizon swimming in maroons, pinks, and turquoise.

No wonder since September each month became harder, November drowning me in sleeplessness and negativity, December, a time for celebration but having to put on the power switch to see it through. Then, slowly, relief.

Dec. 21st was the shortest day. It makes sense the struggle to stay afloat began to lift in the weeks after. An uplift. Hope. A happy feeling powering me to join an exercise class for those my age, then going!

Brain chemicals adjust to the longer days, starving for the light, soaking it in. Consistent use of full spectrum lights may have helped somewhat, but not like this. A feeling of well-being craved during the shorter days begins to fill me with a wholeness that satisfies grounding my being.  

GHOSTS

photo by Patricia

Ghosts lurk around every corner. Safety eludes me. You crept in the dark. You still creep. The startle response continues. Seeing things move in the dusky corners causes my mind to perceive danger. Always on the look-out, it is rare to feel totally relaxed. Work continues to dispel the perceptions of danger in the safety of my home, but the looming dread from childhood years threaded its malevolence into the synapses of my neurons.

With dawn, relief comes.

Hiding myself deep down where no one can hurt me saved what was left after brothers had taken what they could, and what they wanted. My shell, looking very much like a whole person, went on split apart.

It was always a huge effort to bring all parts along when some parts are so deeply hidden, as if in another dimension. Keeping up with others is sometimes still a chore.  

“What did you say?” I reply, even now when zoning out occurs.

The chains of childhood bound me, vaulting in any semblance of the little girl I was, the little girl I was meant to be, or the woman I would become. Laughter halted. The seriousness of surviving took away innocence, spontaneity, and freedom of speech.

Hiding the real me, my body lived my life while I resided elsewhere. Dissociation made life possible, an unconscious survival mechanism that is a habit even now, every day, or a part of it.

Unfortunately it buffered me from living a full life that is really living. A robotic being took its place. Only a rare few bothered to find me, but they did, and those few saved me. 

I will have peace, and cherish it when having it. I will make each day count. I will dispel the lingering hands that evilly stole so much, that grew into goblins, and the monsters of my nightmares, that loom so large in the dark before dawn. I will.

The Price of Abuse

photo by Patricia

Price tag? One life.

Thinking back on my life, and looking at it now,  the wonder is how this place was achieved with so much trauma and anxiety ruling each day.  The power of one individual makes me take stock, but with a sense of sadness at what was stolen.

My life is worth admiration. Yet I’m not in it enough to appreciate that fact. There it is beside me as if I’m living that life apart from the real body and being. Retreating to my safe place is where I still go.

Though work occurs now to be present in the moment, it is work. At least now there is awareness that I go elsewhere.

A therapist once said, “Just show up.”

What did that mean? Years later, after the book, and delving into the community of women survivors of childhood sexual abuse blogging on-line, I learned there was a real clinical word to describe being apart from the body during trauma, and for some, long after. What I refer to as ‘zoning out’ is called dissociation.

It happened without my conscious knowledge. No therapist ever told me, or mentioned the word. This unconscious survival tool buffered me from any more taken from me because precious little was left; an ember burning for life, one spec of fire buried under rubble, a kernel of hope almost extinguished by the hands of brothers.

They didn’t mean it. They were messed up. I was an easy target. It was never about me. It was all about me. Rage and dissociation took my life. Yet the work was diligent to have a life, forging on to fight for one, pushing through no matter what. That takes lives too, draining the already over-taxed adrenals so much it could kill you.

At the least it has gobbled up energy stores, unlike most others around me who go, go, go. The body takes many hits for psychological pain, pointedly traumatic pain where the family requires silence. Unprocessed traumatic pain inflames all body systems damaging them permanently, alone with the psyche, and spirit. Emotional growth becomes stalled requiring much work and many years to catch up.

There are many outlets to this unconscionable  pain running deep in the bones of little girls growing to womanhood…  those take lives too.

You did not mean to take my life. Yet you did. And the guilt ate you dead. Though I envisioned ways to chop you up, I did not really wish you dead. I wanted to love you. I wanted you to love me. I wanted a loving family, with loving brothers. I wanted warmth. Connection. A body to be in. You took that. You didn’t mean to, but you did.

 

PLEASURE

Photo by Patricia

What can you do today to bring pleasure into your life? That’s a concept left behind. The daily business is about caring for a sagging mood, and an aging body. But pleasure? Yes, you can have pleasure. You deserve pleasure too, as if to need validation and permission.Winter depression pulls me to down to a place where just getting through the day getting things done is all there is. 

Samuel asks, “Want to take a canoe ride?”

“Sure,” I respond while resting in the Adirondack chair by the creek after a few laps.

Coming in later from an unusually sunny day, the idea of pleasure drives me to chocolate. Swirling the syrup into my coffee, topped off with whipped cream left over from the holidays, then red sugar sprinkles, also left over from the pancake Christmas breakfast, a satisfied smile erupts. Forgotten was the special use of chocolate for its curative effects on mood and endorphins. Chocolate, a necessary medicine.

What other simple pleasures await? It is up to you to provide them. Take the time to implement pleasurable activities to help the winter months pass more agreeably.

A hot bubble bath, working on a puzzle, a brisk walk in the meadow, a delightful canoe ride on a 50 degree January day, a special meal made with care, being present with the cat warmly nestled in my lap instead of dissociating—be there, be present.   

That cold pit in my stomach that comes during the winter craves relief. In it worms a restlessness unrelieved, an anxiousness lacking till the green leaves grow. What can be done to help bring me back to my core, feel good being there, and stay?

What brings you pleasure? I’d like to know.