COMPASSION

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I am doing so much better. I had entered a period where my body revolted against the bad care. Though blood tests didn’t show it, my body knew. I was developing diabetes and was handling a metabolic storm. Will you fight your way out or continue on with dis-ease, both in body and mind?

I fight. I fight to be healthy and to care for myself. It does not come naturally. Or…extra weight is my way of protecting myself and has been since age 8. I could lose it without even trying when I felt safe (infrequent), but when threatened gained it quickly. It happened automatically, instinctually. It happened at 16 when a boyfriend did more than kiss. It worked, as the pounds came he found another.

Walking till I felt ill reminded me to go easy. Resting in-between ten laps is usually a better option. But I am walking every day and eating far less, plus eating in a way that is good for body organs to work properly; high fiber, no sugar or very little of it, not eating after 4 PM at the latest except yogurt, and choosing to experiment with meatless meals except white chicken or fish. It is fun to search recipes, experiment and implement a healthy eating plan, and it takes time, thought and care.

But akin to Edgar Allen Poe, winter takes my mood down. I don’t wake excited about the day, more like with a bit of dread. Not a good feeling, but I chalk it up to shorter days but envision the pool, sunshine and green grass to counteract the dreary outlook along with continual pep talks. We are on the other side of winter as the sun comes in the windows more and kisses me good-bye later in the day before setting

Sleep comes in a regular pattern, getting 7 ½ hours most nights, sometimes more. That seems to have a good deal to do with not eating past 4pm. Ding! Reminders toll repeatedly … self-care.

I work on it…a lot. What do I need, what do I want, what is best for my spirit and body? Gentler thoughts. Meditation is something I need. The simplest of solutions to everyday problems rise up quietly. The flurry that exists within me quiets, solidifies and centers as the half-hour ends. And exercise, the body needs to move.

But do not overdo. The one at the helm tends to whip at my psych mercilessly. Tamping the excessive harshness is an ongoing process. No, pushing oneself to march round after round in the thick snow is not helpful if after coming inside I feel unwell for the next hour or two. Be kinder. Though possible and doable it does not come naturally.

And why would it? Taught to be silent, pleasing and nice while growing up in a house with my nighttime monsters taught me I was unworthy and it taught me terror. Terror with no mouth. Learning this about myself has helped me take away the whips, chains and clubs, or subdue them somewhat when I work at it.

Stop beating up on the child now adult who cannot speak up, or to do so must blow the other up with her venom held back till she explodes. That was the rage I lived; holding it all in, until I didn’t, then look out. My solution now seems to come from a quiet, solitary life where I can feel at peace most days, not because I’ve learned to deal people better but because I deal with them less.

So I plod along the path of snow, my boots making a crunching muffled sound, with no need to hurry or push because doing so will only cause injury. Stopping, looking up as the sun bursts through the clouds, breathing in the crisp icy air, my lungs expand fully.

Pausing after the incline, feeling the heart pump a satisfying pace, I picture the blood circulating oxygen to all the right places and continue on. When coming out of deep thought to the present I observe bunny hops, deer tracks as one must have run across the meadow, see that along the hedgerow places where squirrels burrowed in the snow for nuts, and near the feeder many delicate imprints of bird’s feet. Try to be present, yet my mind drifts off as the laps go on.

I am leaning to understand and accept how and why my voice was taken and not beat myself up for the invisible threads still sewn in my lips. An internal world rich with depth, kindness and wisdom exists, burgeoning with pulsing life despite the silencing, and most likely because of it, a world below that is all mine.

A gentler, kinder life unfolds. I feel compassion for her- the little girl, and for myself now, the grown women with graying hair.

 

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“Want one?” Samuel asks sipping his expensive brandy while I’m busy cooking tenderloins and shrimp.

“No!” I exclaim, I like drinking too much to drink and my body does not tolerate it.

We aren’t painting the town this New Year’s Eve. I suggested having another couple over but he chose to keep it simple and quiet and I agreed. Maybe we are introverts and that’s OK. We both had difficult upbringings and desire peace, a hard place to be at and stay. 

After our meal we settled into our perspective comfy chairs and he picked out Terminator 2. I went in to bed to bed before it over. That is our New Year’s Eve and I loved it. I am happy my body seems in a better place.

Thursday I had such a scare I actually let my son turn around on his way to work in the city and drive to our house to take my glucose reading. I had become so dizzy I could not stand or look anywhere but at a spot on the floor. On the way there he said try to drink some milk and if you can, a piece of toast with peanut butter. 

By the time he arrived I was already feeling better. Tests later that day after seeing the doctor proved negative for any problems with diabetes. I hadn’t eaten for three hours after getting up. It had happened before feeling woozy after forgoing breakfast too long. My poor overweight body is telling me something even if the tests don’t show it. Get the weight off or you will develop Type 2 Diabetes…I know it, I feel it. 

I was so scared during the episode my heart beat out of my chest. I clung to a teddy bear and when my son arrived he did not seem to mind. He is such a kind, gentle soul and makes a great medic, something he does in his spare time. 

It is time to stop pretending to take care of myself and really do it. I was sent to a new doctor because mine had overbooked herself and sent the overflow to him. I instantly liked him when he looked me right in the eye. I felt seen. Tears arose.

She did me a great favor sending me to him. I think I’ve found what I’ve been looking for in a doctor for a long, long time… miracle upon miracle, capability and compassion. 

Good health and peace in the New Year…

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The Beauty of You

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The aloneness of abuse may be one of the hardest. It is not a ‘lonely’ like others, it is a scratching and clawing on internal walls aching for relief, making one’s spirit wanting to split from the body and it’s feelings.

Run. Get away from the feeling but where do I go? I lean on others and thankfully that got me through for many years until it was time to stop. With nowhere else to go but into the pain I ventured with curiosity and patience as it all came up, the sadness, pain and joy.

It was all there locked below. And I couldn’t know me or find me because I had been locked down as a child, surrendered to the will of the ‘family’ who was ashamed of their own who would do such things. So silence the child because no one should know of our shame. So she shall be ashamed. It is what will keep her silent.

It is also what will keep her from herself with no real friend because she is not her own. She is alone. It looks like she is in a family, but she is alone adrift from even herself.

And will she ever find ‘her’? Will she ever stop the harsh judging her family cast upon her that she then took upon herself? Will she ever love? Will she ever feel warmth, kindness, openness and safety? Will peace enter within where she is jailed and set her free?

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Dedicated to Alice

 

HOLIDAYS

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I have a rule not to talk about my kids. But is it OK to speak of them in terms of myself and working to be a better person? Cory’s photos of our decorated home were taken two years ago when he visited from London. The house looks just the same and I love the look as it reminds me of a little gingerbread house. Samuel does a great job and I’ve eased up my grip about mixing colored lights with white ones. Finally he is allowed to do what he likes. (and it looks good…)

Cory is not home, nor was he here Thanksgiving. I thought I was alright yet a deep sadness wells up no matter how much it’s tamped down with ‘shoulds.’ I should be happy because Cory is having his first baby with a vivacious, loving wife who has a huge, close family; two brothers, wives, children and tons of other relatives who live close and gather at all holidays plus many more occasions, a family that is now Cory’s. I can’t offer him that.

I should be happy because I have Shane and his wife I adore along with precious grand-children who are at the age where Santa is REAL. Also Nana and Poppy are high on the list of who they love. And Shane’s third baby is coming a month later so I will have an infant to hold, cuddle and love. I am blissful with satisfaction for these wonders, yet it accentuates the crevasse of what I won’t have with Cory’s. I beat myself up for feelings. It is hard to get below the battered self to see what lies below…sadness. 

His baby is due at months end so naturally you don’t take a 6 hour drive to another state when at any moment you might go into labor… so I should not feel this way.  I should not feel that Mother-in-Laws are a necessary evil in the eyes of Daughter-in-Laws. I made a remark when he called last night and wonder whose mouth it came out of.

“Well, if you ever come home for Christmas again…” I said, and couldn’t believe I said it.

I emailed him later after lying in bed unable to sleep, the bitterness of resentment still lingering on my tongue. Coming out by the fire I write and tears come. How easily I eat feelings, and these feelings most especially in the hopes of keeping the peace. But they need expression no matter how irrational they are. I tried not to feel them so badly I didn’t know I had them.

I’m sorry we seem to be having some friction. I’m just sad you live so far away and that your child is one I probably won’t know very well… I also miss seeing you for not just one but for both holidays. I try to be a good sport but it is hard as it seems the first time I’ve not seen you at least at Christmastime. If it comes out sideways try to remember it is only that.

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REST

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Yesterday was hard. I don’t know why. And how could I? The experts don’t know how the brain works. How PTSD affects me? Bringing Cindy back from preschool the usual is to pull in the driveway then pop out to pick up the mail. A car honks long and loud behind me and my adrenaline shoots off scaring me very badly. It’s Samuel’s friend thinking it funny to blast me. I don’t wave back, lacking so much sleep that politeness is gone.

By the time he pulls in behind me my anger dissipates but my scare stays with me. Once those chemicals are released there is no putting them back. Cindy innocently comes over to the couch while I was distracted surprising me so I jump again startled.

Just a bad day. Anxiety, tiredness and cortisol make a very vicious cocktail. I have no clue why one day is harder than the next, though lack of sleep may explain much. And there is nothing I can do about it, one night sleeping hard, the next not.

When Cindy is here just watch her and smile. That’s all she needs to make her beam. But yesterday being so distracted my mind wandered to lost places. Be present. Use the full spectrum lights.

No wonder you feel bad and down when only a week ago I could sit on the patio and soak up sun. With the heat on each morning there is no sun soaking to start each day with fullness, peace and contentment. Use the lights, soak in artificial sun, and do so consistently. 

Today is another day. After sleeping well the start feels brighter. Remember the work. Make each day count, though yesterday seemed a waste. If I cannot be active, productive and feel useful, it’s a waste. But maybe not. Maybe there are days when the body needs rest, especially one with unbalanced chemicals.

Being a couch slug is productive. It seems necessary some days. Rest calms internal warning signals, like train arms coming down with bells and lights. With rest they quiet, rise back up, and allow flow and movement. It just is. I don’t understand it, but must allow for it… remember, be gentle, show kindness, understanding and acceptance.

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(Cory’s photo) 

ENEMIES and LOVERS

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The mind takes me to places I don’t have to go. When all is well I create pain and chaos…but I don’t have to. It’s OK to at peace. It’s OK to be happy because peace to me is happiness. Then I create pain. Because I am used to it.

FOOD. Something for all others to have and enjoy, but since age 8, not me. So much is associated it. Love, hate, fatty Patty. My brothers friends whispering in the kitchen and I’m sure it was about me, never about the attacker, me. And that is how my personality was made, out of fear, shame, being bad, and being the beast, not the attackers.

Every time I ate I felt wrong, fat and bad. People in the environment reinforced the bad feelings because how one looks can be dealt with, how one feels goes underground. No one helps. No one listens. But if another can ‘help’ by telling you how fat you are they think they are doing a good thing. My aunt, the school nurse did that. Making me feel an outcast. A place I’ve always been, outcast.

In high-school when my breasts were beginning to grow, though I didn’t think much about it, I was bridesmaid for Danny and Donny, both marrying about the same time. During the reception Tom and I danced and an innocent moment made me feel dirty, bad and horrid.

He lured at me saying, “What are those things poking into me?”

I froze and stayed numb moving away in a trance, my body once again not mine and under lustful scrutiny by a brother I once dearly loved and trusted, never to make peace with him, never to feel safe with him ever again. I tried over and over but he could not forgive my being alive.

My very existence reminded him of what he had done and that was enough for him to hate me. Not outright. His plan to erode any scrap of esteem I achieved was slow, insidious, and very much made him out the victim…not me. Others backed him

My body and food? Enemies and lovers.

During all the formative years I felt an embarrassment due to my weight. No feelings against my attackers, it wasn’t allowed or expected. I wondered how any of them managed to be in public with me due to my weight.

That is what a little girl does when she is attacked by loved ones and everyone ignores, denies and does not come to her defense and protects her. She takes it in as hers. For me it took all my mother’s love at the end of a spoon to keep existing. She could not and did not love. But she cooked and I ate looking for the love that never came. I’m still eating and looking.

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LETTER TO ADELE

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(Not sent yet, but after making an appointment with her I had another sleepless night)

I’m sorry Adele, but there is no way I can come to terms with the rather bizarre behavior I was subjected to while I sat dumbfounded on your couch awaiting for my time to start. It is rather like buying a loaf of bread while the cashier takes a handful before bagging it. Or at two dollars a minute, I am owed a refund of about $20. Add in the extraneous, unwanted, and unneeded history about your own life, and that amount doubles. 

There was no apology in your email which suggests you do not accept responsibility for such bizarre behavior. And it is bizarre. I have never heard of treating a client this way.

More grievous and potentially dangerous to my well-being is that you seem to feel that dog playing, along with lengthy explanations of why you were not ready to work, lie more with me and my inability to accept such behaviors rather than the fact that you had simply made a mistake, and a very bad one.

Because you then spent more time telling me that people are imperfect and that they have bad days. That made it clear that if I had a problem with a dog in your lap, or that you left me to go get a biscuit, then it’s my flaw not yours…that is outrageous, and potentially very harmful for a person in so much pain that they need to seek out a therapist.

It is danger to the mental health of a client. There is no way I could ever trust a person who would put their bad behaviors or choices on to me, then lacked the integrity of character, or insight, to be aware of it then truly apologize.

I could readily accept a true apology. I cannot accept being manipulated and having someone else’s bad behaviors dumped on me. I need honesty, clarity and above all, a person who can be trustworthy. I cannot see someone who causes me even more pain than what I am coming to find help for.

Good luck in your endeavors. In twenty years of so you may have reached the place where you can be counted on to deliver the work you are being paid for.

Patricia

 

 

ARGUEMENT

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Samuel disappears with his cell phone after it rang. He returns to the kitchen and says, “Gotta. Thursday and Friday.”

“What, you’re working?” I asked, surprised, then rolled over as I usually do acquiescing to another’s wants and needs while discounting my own. “Well, I will have to change the garage sale to Friday/Saturday, losing a full day of selling.”

And as that sat a moment, I began banging the cupboard just a bit too much and the more it settled the louder and more vocal I became. The ‘F’ bomb was used nicely a few times rolling out of my mouth with a satisfying bang.

“How could you? We have worked all week clearing out the basement, and you know I can’t pick up Cindy Thursday without you here.” I spoke loud and clear, making my needs known, feeling they need more respect that his boss’s.

He quietly grabbed the phone and disappeared again. Returning to the kitchen he says, “Just Friday.”

I thought, can I handle it? Having my needs respected? And decided I could very much. Tears fell, because beneath the anger is pain. That fight didn’t last for days, the same old clash for years. Anger begets anger. Neither learn what lay beneath it. Both of us are talking…and still learning about each other.

Many have trouble expressing their feelings, as Samuel does. But for me, it is a problem highly compounded by the childhood trauma of sexual abuse. It is excruciatingly difficult to notice my needs, respect them and speak up because I was shamed into silence even as atrocities were being committed against me and my body.

The voice lost dares speak as the need for respect grows larger than the fear of abandonment.

STEVIE

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Hi Stevie,

Are you guys back at home home? How was your week at the lake? It was hot here so I was hoping you had enough heat to swim and have fun. 

Have you guys found anyplace yet to put an offer on? I hope you keep me posted on that front, it sounds so exciting. It must be really hard to find just the right place. I wish you all the luck in your search.

I wondered about the commission on our rental. You had mentioned previously that family could rent without paying that portion. I just needed some clarification.

Hope you and Terry are well,

Patricia

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After mulling this over and over since our stay at the lake near Stevie in August, I finally spoke up in the email above sent yesterday. I hope I did so gently and it scared me, causing a fireball in the pit of my stomach. I did it anyway and I do feel better because I spoke the truth of my feelings. My feelings are out there not running around in my brain over and over. 

I definitely ate too much yesterday out of fear of what Stevie would say. He made $450 commission from the house on the lake we rented. We drove 4 1/2 hours to spend time there so that we could visit him, and he made money off us.

I don’t expect a positive response, or a check in the mail, but I had to speak up. It’s not the money, it’s being treated like I don’t matter. I do not believe he’d charge anybody else, not Don, or Seth, or anyone in his wife’s family, just me. It’s OK to treat me second class. Tom made sure of that a long time ago. That’s my perception. Treat her badly and it’s OK. And I have taken up where Tom left off. 

I’ve been thinking and thinking about how wrong it is that he makes money off our visiting him. I am not trained to speak up for myself and it scares me terribly. Add to that the ten year estrangement Stevie and I had. I ate and felt too full the rest of the day. Not a good feeling.

I won’t do it today, or any day that he might answer, but he might ignore it just like he ignores other emails. Which is odd because he acts so friendly in person…but as I say that, not really. He is scary then too.

If I interrupt him he becomes incensed. So I become quiet. It’s not so much the interrupting, it’s that he wants and takes center stage. Because he began to interrupt me, held his tongue, then as soon as I finished cut in. So he couldn’t really hear what I said because he could hardly wait for me to finish so that he could speak. Not sure there’s much of a difference.

I won’t eat out of fear of Stevie. I won’t, not again.

TRAFFIC TRIGGERS

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Well, we made it to the house on the lake in the Adirondacks near where my younger brother Stevie stays in the summer managing lakefront rental properties… but not without some rather flowery language on the way.

“Dam fucking dam! Stay the fuck away from those fucking shit-heads,” I shouted, referring the wedge of cars, campers and trucks Samuel had just boxed us into.

“I am,” Samuel replies in the whiny defensive tone of a 12 year old.

“You child,” I retort, unwilling to dissolve into a heap of sobbing tears like the one on the way to the Adirondacks just two weeks ago.

“Just once I’d like some respect and consideration for my feelings. Just once!” I say evenly, containing the rage, not calling him the slew of names boiling up, my tongue, lips and teeth working hard to block their exit.

This has been an issue throughout our marriage, an assertive driver with a wife whose body escapes her grasp, heart racing in traffic, and wanting to open the door to jump out rather than be trapped in-between traffic with no escape. I need air space around me, but am put down for needing it. 

“You have to learn how to drive in traffic,” Samuel replied, disgusted.

I become quiet as I think of ways to respond, some not so nice. Later after the boiling died down he gets behind another vehicle a little closer than I’d like.

“Fall back some, will you?” I ask.  

“You have to learn to trust,” he says, assured that he knows what he’s talking about.

“Just go the speed limit, and stay back. I’ve asked you twice,” I respond, the list of ways to ‘off’ him becoming a mental check list I re-check with relish.

“I am, I am,” the adolescent responded again along with, “You have to learn to trust the driver.”

He doesn’t get it. He never will. The rage-beast still exists. I thought she dissolved years ago, but a loved one not bothering to understand my plight brings ‘her’ back in full force. I calm her down before speaking because I want him to HEAR me, not become defensive or angry.

“Right, take a wife who has had a horrific, traumatic childhood and suffers permanently from post-traumatic symptoms, and take her into traffic boxing her in!” I exclaim, fed up.

My mind becomes busy stringing together names to call him that seem fitting; You ignorant selfish insensitive ogre. I don’t say them. I want him to hear me, to understand.  

I haven’t explained my needs this way before, using the term PTSD, nor referenced my childhood that way. But it’s as if he didn’t hear me because he cuts me off with more defensiveness. He is sure that the problem is in my inability to trust. I know it is not. My body takes off without my permission.

How do I get him to understand?

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