Faults & Flaws

My walk this morning!

Even if restless after waking, uncomfortable in my own body, or mind, it’s important to sit still starting the day feeling what is there. Sounds easy but takes focus and a willingness to just be.

Stay unstirring while sipping dark, strong coffee even when wanting to escape. Face the day by facing myself.

Being with myself this morning is a struggle due to the fact of having faults, my mind dwelling on a common theme over the years that probably won’t change much, mistrust. Accepting it is there may bring needed gentleness and a capacity for wholeness.

These faults grew out of the early sexual abuse committed by various siblings. Mistrust compounded with an inability to protect myself from others makes for an extraordinarily painful combination. Taking just so much then barking out something without grace has happened burdening the existing sadness.

My critic says it’s a fault, a terrible unforgiveable fault, especially when the other person holds it over me and becomes vindictive. That leaves me with a great sense of failure. Why couldn’t I have handled that situation better? These thoughts invade the start of today, wanting to flee my own body, mind, and spirit… but stay. Use some discipline and stay.

How do you love yourself if there are things about yourself you don’t like? Mistrust is embedded, cemented into my personality. When understanding how and why, gentleness allows for compassion towards myself.

Keeping others away with doubt, mistrust, and judgement helps me feel safe, yet yields for a solitary life. That won’t change. By accepting the damage done, I’m learning it’s OK to live in a way that keeps me feeling safe and peaceful

To like myself is to accept that the barriers I have are not only necessary but need reinforcement. Others have basic internal shields to keep them safe from others ‘shit.’ When you come out of childhood intact, you have that.

Everyone has feelings, thoughts, problems, and interests. If I’m not capable of protecting myself from it I’m sunk. And it hurts, other people’s shit all over me most of life because I had no way to keep it out has caused so much pain- daily, hourly, minute by excruciating minute.

To have my own life, my own feelings, thoughts, and needs, then honor and try to meet them? All new. My ‘shit shield’ needed pounding out to reflect others bullshit, to have it bounce off, not sink in as it has most of my life.

Whatever you say must be truer than anything I might because of feeling worthless since childhood traumas occurred… growing as I grew. The concave shape of punctured self-esteem leaves an enormous gap for other people’s shit to penetrate.

My shield is becoming convex with other’s ‘stuff’ reflecting off. Understanding I’m not alone in pain, others struggle too. But I don’t have to absorb the pain of others, just try to be more gentle with it. And that begins with gentleness to self.

Love It All

Photos by Patricia (over the meadow)

In dreams they are there, this family that isn’t safe and who have insisted on my presence with my caving to it. As each day passes from inviting others to dinner without a response, safety is felt deeply allowing sleep, deep peaceful sleep.

It feels like sticking to a healthy eating program which during times of equilibrium, or even shakily so, happens with grace, persistence, and determination. But when PTSD strikes stealing my sleep, all bets are off. Eating away anxiety crops up like a volcano erupting. So too the never-ending craving for family and love.

Eating trauma since age 8 is my anchor, the time of the first attack still repressed due to it’s horrific violence. Going to my core, staying there despite whatever scary feelings are there is a new, magical adventure, feeling wholeness for the first time.

Parts cannot be cut off even though wanting to, the whole shebang needs acceptance as that’s my history, my life, my reality… like it or not. It isn’t easy digging in, inspecting these feelings of jealousy, resentment, and the whys of viscerally not liking somebody.

Taught that is wrong, the badness needs shoving away to really look at it. Pay attention to the feeling of unsafety with certain individuals. It is a warning bell to listen to. My empath abilities need respect, rise from the core, and are there to preserve and protect me.

Feelings of being left out crop up since before my dad died at age eight. With 8 kids and two parents who liked to party hard, there was not love and attention for everyone. Food and shelter, and those types of essentials, but a child needs so much more, and not one of 8 received it.

Be tender with what you find inside. Now is the time to provide what wasn’t provided, not scorn it. Bring it into your arms, love it, rock it with warmth, acceptance and attention, petting the hurt places tenderly. Let soft grasses make your bed, blue skies brighten your day, and rainbows make you smile. That is what to glue the broken places with…

ACCEPTANCE and JOY

It feels so magical, the freedom of accepting flaws yet love still sprouts. Waking in the nighttime with worries infecting my brain, a habit of mine, or a predisposition passed down by both mother and grandmother, (if passing down a worry gene was truly scientifically possible) …  soothing comfort flowed like a warm bath. I almost smiled before going back to sleep from the deep core relief.

This hurdle has been faced many times before, every day in fact when challenging the harsh critic thriving in me. Scenarios of others casting blame and shame on me in almost every interaction still creates much self-criticism automatically.  

That started so very young when dearly loved brothers attacked me sexually. By attack, I mean manipulate. After using force once it was far better to lie still and pretend sleep. To fight meant feeling suffocated.

But after, a pool of shame surrounded me everywhere others were. Hiding way deep became the only way to survive and protect what was left. Young children take blame for this and many other tragedies if no intervention is provided.

Now? No hiding within myself. The pieces are brought out to the sunlight to inspect, seed the good stuff in the earth of my soul, and work to improve the not so good stuff. Decades of daily cortisol bursts due to a PTSD startle response from even a leaf blowing suddenly across my path has caused chronic fatigue issues draining energy especially if adding social activities.  

It still feels dangerous to be around others. Space and aloneness with nature is my chosen occupation. Accepting my limitations (and flaws) leads me to fully love with joy.

ACCEPTANCE

Thoughts are as dark as winter; emotions too tend to run dryly negative. It takes extra energy to keep afloat. Little things submerge my emotional well-being, tears fall more easily. There is still peace if focusing on all the goodness right there to bring home.

A phone call to the bank’s customer service brought volumes of tears, the strong, gentle, CALM male voice on the other end while his customer broke apart unable to get on the banking site.

His calm ease helped wipe the tears away, success occurred rapidly. And this time criticizing myself was not allowed. The freedom to me with all my quirks, faults and GOODNESS… isn’t that what we all want?

MOTHER’S DAY

From Cory- delivered to my door the day of…

Why has it taken so long to love life, being alive, and to feel freedom possibly for the first time in 68 years? Wounds that don’t air fester. They develop pus, gangrene, and worsen, sometimes a body part needs hacking off, or death occurs.

Pretend you care, but you insist, ‘don’t tell.’ One cannot heal from trauma when the trauma is vaulted in tightly. When air, light and the hope of healing is withheld. Wound after wound, does it matter after a while, or does each wound compound upon the other?

And that’s what families do, pretend… victimizing the victim. So much healing yet to do. To go deep to find the black rot still there, evident in the way others still are allowed to take advantage of me. Because feeling poorly about one self does that.

And though some light of self-love is beginning to grow in my core, there are more doors to open and windows to rise. Corners well-hidden where parts still hide, cowering in fear of what others would think if they knew… more importantly what my thoughts are of myself.

The forgiving of self for past perceived crimes, even if only a child, still fester. Because what’s done in childhood came along like a fungus affecting all relationships negatively, like pus oozing out.

The only thing that would bring me back to the hell my life was, would be to become a better mother. To have my sons forgive my mistakes which were many and sorrowful. When asking forgiveness for my transgressions they say they have none to forgive.

They do even if they don’t know it. And isn’t that true of most childhoods, that we must heal some of the damage well meaning parents inflict? But most importantly it is powerful and relevant to be better now, and for me to forgive me. Bring light to the dark pockets still existing. Dig deep, see the truth with acceptance, tolerance, kindness and love. Let the newly found love for self grow.

From Shane– along with a happy dinner of chicken pot pies…

COVID 15

Like a duck out of water, early trauma made me feel different from everyone, a searing differentness that was real. Trauma unprocessed is broken glass. No amount of glue makes it like it once was.

When others ate out of hunger, my hunger was of the soul, searching for love never finding any… especially inside myself. Eating blotted out unspeakable pain. By replacing anguish with food, numbness and self-hate increased.

Every bite since the age of 8 came with a dose of guilt. Blaming myself for using it as a survival tool wasn’t the answer, though it took till just recently to realize just that. Even by adolescence diet groups became part of my life. Being overweight was never the problem. It was a symptom of unhealed wounds covered up by enforced silence. The only outlet provided was eating. It was what my mother wanted, that is until she didn’t.

When others gained weight, like during basic training after joining the Army, my jeans began to droop down my hips after weeks of meager meals in the mess hall. Other girls filled their trays with gravy topped potatoes, meat, breads, and cake with ice cream. Mine had plain meat and vegetables with lots of hot crappy coffee to wash it down and fill me up.

Then scurrying out early, leaving the laughing young women behind. Back in the paint peeling barracks no snacks were available to ease the voracious soul hunger. The necessary discipline needed was only at brief intervals three times a day. Weight melted away.

It is not dropping off quickly now, but it is dropping after meticulous talks with myself about who I really am, what I have desperately wanted since childhood, and what I truly deserve to be happy inside myself where it counts. When even in the worst of times, a place internally welcomes with kind, loving, acceptance.  

The Covid 15 talked about, similar to the freshman 15 for those first semesters at college, are the opposite for me once again. 15 pounds are gone! This time the way forward is much different that the millions of other attempts at weight loss. Success comes not by white knuckling it, but by loving myself even with failures, which are many. Loving myself back onto the path by judging that all of me is OK even in the midst of failure.

When thin, because there were times at a healthy weight, feeling shitty prevailed. The gastric stapling butchering my stomach and intestines years ago after my mother’s urging to have it done did not cure the emptiness in my soul, or heal the ragged wounds. In hopes of becoming normal, because in my mind slim=normal, feelings of not being normal kept wearily on.

Decades later, dangerous, and extremely painful internal bleeding occurred over the course of many months. Finally an ambulance was called because I couldn’t stand up. Hospitalization was required for several days.

Reasons why were not known till after discharge when a surgeon specializing in gastric stapling identified the cause of the bleed. The surgeon of long ago is responsible. The on-going risk of bleeding at the surgical site is managed with a daily dose of a high potent antacid taken permanently.

It’s not about weight and never was. It is about liking, then loving myself, a daily struggle, and my most important work. The messages of being different, bad, unlovable, incapable, and not normal, like dark swirls cemented in a piece of granite, are here to stay. Chipping away at these harsh voices is not always easy or successful. But chip away I do, with small, wondrous achievements along the way.

Happiness, or failure, all lies within. No matter what happened way back when, it is in my grasp to decide what messages to give myself. Easier when rested, about impossible when not. But over time, when the source of my being is tapped, comforted, and accepted, great things happen. Maybe not ‘great’ in that I’m saving the world, but in saving myself.

1976

Defeat

Contemplating the odd mix of feelings erupting inside me after our virtual Christmas with Shane, Cory and their families yesterday, the meadow path welcomed with its familiarity. The fresh air imbibing and after each lap some groundedness that was lacking in the vacuum left after the on-line party.

Nostalgia for not having sons little enough to wake up to Santa’s overflow of gifts beneath the tree? Nostalgia for my own origin family not really being a source of comfort but wishing for it anyway? Or for not wrapping my arms around my sons, especially the one living so far away.

Relaxing my guard somewhat I have hugged Shane at his outdoor campfire gatherings with both of us masked up. But Cory, so far away, missing him so. Shane had planned on heading there tomorrow for a week, but with the virus spreading so rapidly that trip was cancelled. My relief is tempered by my telling Cory not to do it leaving me with a bit a regret.

Perhaps they could have done it and got away with it like they did for a week at Cape Cod in the summer? The thought of Cory not seeing us, or his brother…. Is he sad about it? Is he OK? And of course he is as her family is large, close, like on the same road close including brothers and cousins. They are careful not to celebrate indoors by planning a large garage party today. Shane is gathering with in-laws later today despite my warnings not to.

The dichotomy of celebration alongside pain, suffering, and death is a hard one to digest. Snippets of ICU’s on the news showing patients unconscious on breathing tubes hit hard making it real. Sifting through feelings; acceptance, defeat, powerlessness, nostalgia, empty nest, wistfulness for a past never wanting to live again, a mix to feel as each one moves through leaving at its core a woman at peace. Prayers for all…

KNOW THYSELF

Remember who you are, what you’ve been through, how you came this far. Going along with the shuffle it’s easy to lose sense of my being, its interior, the workings of my body, my feelings, my own thoughts, opinions, and where to work on what.

You are not Samuel, nor anyone else. Comparing myself to what others do, say, think, or believe, may be helpful sometimes when the spinning gets too fast, but once some ground is found, the best advice comes from within.

Know thyself. Isn’t that a lifetime’s work?

AUTUMN

photos by Patricia

And so the windows and doors are shut to protect from fall’s first frost. Heat wafts up from the registers gently warming the rooms and my body like a cozy blanket. The unwelcome shuttered feeling needs counteracting.

Samuel brings in the purple grapes giving my hands an afternoon of slipping off skins, cooking the insides then sieving the seeds out, joining the hot mixture back with the skins and other ingredients to make pie filling.

Miniature sunflowers make a spectacular autumnal bouquet, and walks add pleasure to my day. With the crisp air and vibrant sun the pull is to walk more then a long repose by the creek. A baby blue-bird kept me company along with many other varieties, surprising me with activity and songs. So many have already left for the season to warmer climates so it’s usually quiet as a tomb! 

The sister-in-law Ginny, and brother Don came for the morning staying vigilant about social distancing on the patio then a walk to the creek with more relaxation.

They didn’t mind drinking freshly perked coffee from the tray perched on a pretty cotton tablecloth, and enjoying homemade apple hand pies. There used to be a taboo about food sharing at the beginning of the pandemic, but they heard it’s no longer cause for concern. 

The visit was OK, but left me wanting more that probably won’t come. The closeness craved needs loyalty. It felt like being kept at arm’s length, but perhaps that is coming from me. My truth expects loyalty, but you are not loyal (or safe) if you interact with friendliness towards anyone who abused me so horribly.

I am at peace with how things are, proceeding with baby steps, and that’s OK. Being cordial and open is my choice. Surface interaction will have to do on the rare times we meet. My life goes on bringing joy unfounded, joyful for the first time in over 60 years.

That joy comes from being at peace with my past, and the present. And by being in the present, not something a person used to disassociation could do automatically. What has been automatic was spending most of my time in Neverland; a safe place made for me in another dimension still visited sometimes…zoning out.

When meditation became a daily practice over 15 years ago, the process of learning that one can be present and be safe began. That was not something learnt as a child, leaving my body… and taking a life-time to reclaim it. 

Peace has been found, a peace that as a survivor has been an ongoing struggle. It can last for days until a bout of sleeplessness makes for the need of a sleep aid. That injects a tumultuous barrel of self-pity filling the day after with sluggishness. But luckily that too occurs less and less mostly during the change in seasons.

After spending time with so called ‘family’ it becomes harder to close the door and go on as usual because the pull for clan is timeless. Real closeness remains most safe with Samuel, sons, and friends, the chosen family.