Forgive, Forgive, Forgive

 

Yesterday was quiet but enjoyable, the warm weather pulling me outside to walk the meadow then meeting Samuel creek-side for a gentle canoe ride, even sighting the beaver a few times. Oh, a sigh of relief while Mother soothed me with her loving arms, the warm sun and centering stillness. 

Our Christmas is yet to come. We gather together Saturday, a once in a year tradition when both sons and families are with us. Cory, wife, and little daughter arrive tonight from a near-by state.

“Promise not to get over-excited,” Cory says on a phone call, and my gut knows the directive is coming from his spouse.

“I promise,” my response comes with a bitter feeling towards her.  

My young daughters-in-law are without the blemish of childhood trauma, so how could they understand? It’s true, my anxiety makes it hard to be around, though sons are very used to me. Anxiety overwhelms even when erupting from pleasurable activities like family gatherings.

Any heightened experience makes my nervous system go haywire. But my intention is keep my promise, and not let resentments towards young women who have never been splintered by trauma to tarnish a special event.

Forgive, forgive, forgive, let love up.

Kindness to Self

After trying to help a friend who struggles with very similar self-esteem issues rising from the sexual attacks by beloved family members in childhood, after emailing the supportive letter, I wondered at my own words later. Each and every day I must fight the phantoms of my own beginnings, and the cruelness of psychological patterns that are incurred due to the traumas suffered. 

Expressing anger? Nope. A natural defense coming out of a nurturing childhood. Not mine.  Blaming oneself for any and every negative occurrence, even those that have nothing to do with me? Yes, yes, yes. Raymond, a psychiatrist once seen regularly, called it ‘personalization.’  At least there’s a name for it. 

These conditioning’s were learned early. A child must blame themselves. If we didn’t where we would be? With no family, and a child needs their family no matter who there are or what they’ve done. As once stated in a book read early in my confrontation of the true facts of my family and childhood, “It’s the only game in town.” 

So as a child, she takes it in as if the sexual attacks were her fault because there’s no other way. The insanity of it has shortened lives, either by one’s own hand, or by so many other medical issues that plague a body due to all that trauma trapped inside.

When anger isn’t expressed in the moment, this wonderful thing others are capable of with such immediacy, tears come. Pent up feelings need to unload somehow. Yes hurt is present, but more so, feelings that are unexpressed. 

I was taught to be silent, even about the theft of my body. Healing afterwards, as crucial as a setting a broken arm, surgery, or stitches, did not occur, causing all the implosion of rage and hatred for what was being done to turn inward. Attacking oneself has become a way of life. 

Why fault that little girl who had to keep it all in? She is in there, getting hurt all over again.

I wish my adult self had the tools to protect my little one. But how could I learn those? I chastise myself for that, and for not shouting back anger in the moment now as deserved.Of course I couldn’t as a child, but it is still a difficult struggle even now. Criticizing myself for these losses isn’t kindness. Yet it’s my first reaction after another’s cruelty, stupidity, insensitivity, and that list goes on and on.

There’s as many ways to be hurtful as there are people. And each time it is all about the other person. There are some who pick up on who would be a good victim for their ‘oh so subtle’, and not so subtle attacks. Learning never to express anger makes a person vulnerable to those who lack character, are weak, and take advantage of others.

Like Tom, my sibling. Like another close family member who repeats what Tom did, though he has moved away and is also losing his memory. There are many ways to take advantage of a person who never had a say in her own life.

One, like me, who wants to treat others fairly, with kindness, not vindictiveness even if hurt badly can be easily mistreated on an on-going basis. When another wants his or her own way and can get it, they manipulatively keep taking.

Removing myself from such toxicity has been successful, but not always possible. Taking the hit keeps me up nights, but improvements are being made there too. Kindness. Forgiveness of self, which can then extend to others for their quirks, hurtful ways, and selfishness. 

It is enough to break a person, which is why kindness to self is something to nurture like a baby plant or helpless kitten. The job each day is working on kindness to self.

Rebel Forces

photo by Patricia

Though summer is very slow to arrive, this spring day is crisp, sunny and just right. Peace descends into my core with the deep silence except for bird melodies. My meadow walk begins. Something made me turn around. A jet bomb blasted towards my face. Screaming, hands up, the killer bird backed off… but not much.

Past thinking was that mockingbirds were our guard birds, but they are guarding their own, not us. And this one has a nest very near our house. Too near.

Continuing to walk, but turning back to check, the torpedo zoomed in again right towards my eyeballs. True adrenaline hit my veins. My anger made me stomp towards him swinging my jacket like a wild woman.

As he sat stoically atop the snowball bush I hissed, “You want to fight? Let’s fight!” Bad move.

He stood his ground becoming more aggressive. My body shook with the rush of chemicals while backing down the path afraid of this little bird which had become a beast. It uncannily knew when my back was turned waiting for that opportunity to attack.

Keeping guard on the way to the house, he watched from the roof barreling down once more while entering through the back door. Filling both water bottles my artillery was loaded. With weapons of mass destruction the march goes on.

Each lap we faced each other, round and round. After splashing him once he kept his distance with a tidbit of respect. When my defenses dropped, the torpedo swept in. Nearing lap ten my hands became numb from holding up my armor. 

My little patio, now a war zone, needs protecting. Getting out the hose, my gun lay across lap locked and loaded. Come on mother fucker. It came, I hosed.

Flapping its wings atop the garden arch, he screeched out to his rebel cohort next to him, “She’s got water!” Both stared me down while I held steady.  Apparently water effectively hampers good aeronautics. 

Daring to fill up flower pots with my head slightly turned, a swoop to the jugular. Too late my rapid fire hose missed this birdbrain who was outsmarting me.

Samuel sticks his head out the door, “Training?” he asks.

“Yes, but they called in relatives to help,” I reply.

In 15 years living here, fighting a bird is a first. The war goes on…

 

A Soft Place to Fall

Building from the ground up, no matter that my age has become golden. My spirit, or part of it will always remain at age eight, and many other parts lag behind because growth becomes stunted when traumas held in go unprocessed.

Look at the pieces, scattered, shard-like, curved or smooth, but all badly broken. Hold them tenderly because each is a part of me, and needs gentle care. There is meaning when patience and understanding is applied doing some unraveling. Learning what lies beneath my anger, pain, and resentment offers a recipe towards freeing myself from the agony of stagnation.

Instead of floundering, instead of sinking, look at what hurts and why. Though unaccustomed to softness towards self,  work towards offering compassion, understanding and acceptance. Those are the nutrients that provide  growth, and a soft to fall inside myself.

 

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…

Lock Ness

Forgive: When a person decides to satisfy their lust using a child’s body, their actions are not forgivable. If one does not forgive the unforgivable how do you move on? By unclenching the clawed, hairy fist of the beast from my heart, squeezing it so tight I could hardly breathe or function. Rage, hate and anxiety ruled my life.

It took years to release the grip of each finger, blood flowing smoother until each sticky claw was off. The beast slipped back into the murky black depths of the scum topped lake. My precious heart was free and once again able to gently pump blood to the extremities, pure, clear and at peace.

Yet the beast rears it’s ugly head at times. In present day scenarios hurts occur. Some run deep reminiscent of wounds unhealed that never will. My heart becomes grasped by hate, anger and resentment.

Help me to forgive. Release me from this. The call to the source within that universally connects us all to each other helps set me on the path to peace. So easily my heart is disrupted needing to be soothed.

Compassion and kindness erupt while walking the yellowy meadow. Tears fall for the child held down, the child despised by the adult me.. 

The Silence That Kills

The silence demanded from a child after she is sexually attacked by someone within the family system is where the most harm comes, not from the sexual attacks. A child can recuperate from those with love, help and protection from any further attacks.

It is the silence most children are forced to bear to keep the family safe from shame which kills, figuratively and literally. The family’s shame is too great, greater than the survival of the child. This mistaken belief, that all must be kept quiet to keep the family’s name and unit together needs to radically change to save our children.

Society would not approve, and that must reverse. We as a society must face that this crime occurs and occurs at an alarming rate within families; one of every four girls and one in every six boys.

Forced into silence at an early age, containing horrors that traumatize, a child grows into adulthood mute only knowing how to please others. She is sensitized to the feelings of others not knowing her own or even if she has a right to have them.

It is a constant effort to go down deep and access what is really there because it is still very much a mystery to me. I remind myself daily that I have the freedom and the right to have my own thoughts, views and feelings.

I could have healed and moved on from the sexual attacks when a child. My belief is that an entire family can heal and move on. But only if the attacks are brought to light along with one(s) committing them.

The child should never be alone with the attacker again. All in the family have the freedom to talk about it and to show anger toward the attacker but compassion for the child. Family and individual therapy must be provided.

Compassion for the child must supersede all else. Others are taught to love her even more and protect her from further damage. Then they are taught to work to forgive the attacker(s) but to never forget and always remain vigilant. 

It was the silence demanded that took away everything I had. My body was taken, and from that I could recuperate, it was the silence that took everything else.

Note: I name all childhood sexual abuse as attacks even though the crimes are usually committed manipulatively and quietly. Each one is a heinous, serious assault on a child’s mind, body and spirit.

Becoming Visible

photo by patricia

Stevie, my one younger brother, emails rarely and does so in group form adding my name to the list with the other three remaining siblings including Tom. It has always bothered me as Tom is the worst offender due to the psychological abuse suffered after his crime which has never stopped even throughout adulthood. Family members seem used to his covert comments about me. 

An email came yesterday, innocent enough. Though I love to hear from Stevie, being in a list with Tom causes my inner core to fracture. It takes the rest of the day to feel restored. In the night after waking in the dark, sleep would not return. It is time to let Stevie know that including me in his group email causes pain and why.

I have been inclined to keep my thoughts to myself because I don’t want to add pain to Stevie’s life after the loss of his daughter four years ago. Becoming visible is very hard— crossing the taboo line that sexual abuse draws.  I dare to cross it, over, and over again. I must. If I don’t stand up for myself, who will? And Stevie is an adult who can handle hearing my preference and why. 

Hi Stevie,

I’d like to be left off emails that include Tom. It brings up a lot of bad memories that interfere with sleeping. He is the worst offender of all four due to the way I was treated all the years after he sexually abused me. I was only 9 when he crept up in the night and committed the crime. He was home from college. You were on the other end of the couch as we had been allowed to fall asleep watching the Christmas tree.

The way he treated me since that shattering moment harmed me more than all I have endured and suffered. He caused great damage that could not resolve because he never apologized or took responsibility. Even in middle age sitting at my table right here, he made remarks to you about how dumb I was when buying this house.

I sat as if invisible while he made the usual sly, cutting remarks and no one thought anything about it. It seemed OK to belittle me. And that is what he has done, albeit slyly, since I was a child… snickered cruel remarks that made me look bad.  

He is not safe for me. He has never shown sorrow for his crime or actions. To be in a group email that includes him causes deep pain as if I still don’t exist because all I went through is not being acknowledged.

Thank you Stevie,

Patricia

Complex Trauma

This is very much worth listening to, all 51 minutes. Thank you Broken Blue Sky and GettingRealwithPTSD for sharing this. Although reblogged this morning, I updated it twice making it hard to access. So I’m posting it again to ensure its availability to readers. 

There are portions where her faith is referred to but all spiritual beliefs could be put in place of her beliefs for the short duration she speaks of it. For instance in referring to he for god, I interject she, and envision my mother earth angel who feels much safer and trustworthy.

Diane Langberg is amazingly compassionate and knowledgeable. It is the first time I’ve heard Complex PTSD explained so succinctly. 

The second part of the lecture is available at the you tube site where this takes you. 

 

The Courage to Live

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FEAR

I have lived a life-time of fear since age 8 invading every moment in one way or another. Forced to grow up within a male population called brothers who attacked in the night, or even during the broad light of day, made fear a constant companion. Even though Chet, Dan, and Pete are dead, and the most evil, Tom, still lives spreading his poison, I live in fear at the easiest upset. 

It is hard not to resent what they did. Living with low esteem added to continual fear of people, and the inability to speak up for myself, eroded my natural abilities and has been debilitating.

Yet I persevere. I can get over what they did to my body. But what they did to my trust, shattered beyond repair, what they took from ever feeling safe with touch and loving sex with my husband, the betrayals of each attack, and this list goes on… these I can heal from or after time have learned to live and accept as the damage done.

But fear? Anxiety? Jumping at every loud sound, or medical people working on my body in any way sending me in panic for days, even months after? These are just some of the life-long effects I resent living with that were caused by these tormentors.

These challenges erode my courage, weakening me, and in the wee hours of the morning tend to make me wonder how I can continue to cope; especially since an aging body needs many more medical interventions to keep functioning.

It pisses me off. I’d like to put my real name on my blog and use real names for who did what when. Not to get even, but to stand up and say NO. No this is not alright. NO, it is not alright to silence me out of your own shame and fear of how it will make you look.

Yet the anonymity of the freedom to talk openly without hurting anyone offers a resource I cherish, as if this outlet is a replacement for therapy. Expression of honest feelings, which aren’t right or wrong but just there, is a freeing experience. Dumping it all and feeling heard and acknowledged is a human need as crucial as air.

I do not want to give that up. So even though I could put my name on my blog, I chose not to. Not out of fear, (I don’t think so) but out of my own need to talk freely when and how I like; and for the first time ever in my life.

Taught to be pleasing, to live with and love the criminals who attacked me masked as ‘brothers,’ makes it a challenge to discover who I really am even now. I continue to search for ‘her’ going below the surface of the ‘nice’ girl my mother manipulated and trained me to be.

Mom’s need reined, that of ensuring the fallacy of an upstanding family was on show, but at the expense of her daughter. I acquiesced because I craved her love to the very end unable to provide a moments warmth for myself and needing what little she had to give.

The book erupted out of me after her death 8 years ago. It was finally safe to speak of her sons. All that had been suppressed arose; the joys, the traumas, the black tarry secrets of others, and the wonders that sustained me. 

Yet I am left with challenges I resent. It makes me turn resentment into fortitude, grasping courage like an old tree rooting it deeper, transforming the bitter truths into beauty. This I will do, or try to day after day. 

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