SNOWFLAKES

It’s dark at 5 AM. Flicking on the flood light, snowflakes fall which sooth. Another day, my sigh releases tension that the simple act of waking incurs.

Another day to tackle despite all the gifts bestowed upon me, the cheer of the season, and the thrill that is present for being alive… another day. My shoulders fall with the expressed breath as if in defeat.

Sifting through the digital file of quotes collected, the words bring me home unto myself. That is living. Being present, in my body, the place escaped from more naturally than inhabited.

 

Finding the Light

The repeated traumas as a child of 8, 9, 10, 11, caused a severe ripping inside me, though one sexual attack by an older sibling was enough to cause the life-long rift. And by attack, physical force was not always necessary. There are many ways to ‘attack’ a child that are just as destructive as force.

All that was precious was shattered, and there was no going back to the whole that was. A life has been spent trying to find it from others, a connection to my insides, and a belief in myself. The dependence on others was like hand candy, once dissolving more is needed.

It is only by finding myself in myself that long-lasting comfort becomes permanent, fleeting but a place to return to with self-talk because the ever present bully is there berating, beating down, and smack talking loudly.  

That happens to a child sexually abused by loved ones. Who is bad? I am. Because if it isn’t me, than it is the family I love and trust, and most importantly need to survive.

So life goes on, dimmed, feeling hunted, and hiding inside. The outer shell lives life, the inner self muzzled and contained, so much so, that touching the place where I was really was became inaccessible.

Buzzing through life on the carpet of anxiety, fear, and will, feeding off the light of others, was hardly enough at all. It is only in this later stage of years gone by, only after facing, and telling my real story, that appreciation of just how hard it has been begins to let up my own light, and to feel it warm me.

 

SILENCE

The silence. It kills, destroys, implodes, shatters. What was done to the body can be processed. Painfully, yes, and still some parts of a child destroyed irrevocably. But it is the silence imposed upon a child that will most likely cause a life-time of struggles unfounded. And no one knows.

What is seen may seem odd, or normal-like. Tornadoes whirling inside are invisible to onlookers. Even now grown, it feels impossible to tell, to break the silence once imposed, the taboo of childhood sexual abuse.

Is it the abuse that is taboo, or the telling? Or perhaps we are too ashamed as a society to pull our heads out of the sand to save our children. The prevalence is as it always was. Isn’t it time to break the silence? Forget your shame that one of your own has done this, save the child. 

To reach out for help takes so much courage. Yet to survive, one must. I needed to. It took decades to reach where I am now. If I were to be out among others, I would say what was needed.

Now it is mostly said in a medical intervention where I plainly state why a special kind of anesthesia is needed. I’m not around others too much anymore, and that is one loss taken permanently, the ability to go fast, move fast, and do a lot. Friends do, my sons, my husband. Others aren’t a threat to them.

For a child grown to woman, the skill of setting boundaries doesn’t happen without great will. It takes copious amounts of practice beforehand, often delivered via letter or on the phone. When as a child, a brother forced himself upon me, the memories of what others are capable never leaves. PEOPLE ARE DANGEROUS. My body never forgets. and lives with muscles taught even here in the safety of my home. 

When no intervention was provided to heal my torn body and mind, the message learned was silence. My mother reinforced it with skill time after time. “That’s not nice,” or, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” a few of her favorites. 

PTSD erupts even now without invite, though periods of peace make it livable. That wasn’t always true. Anxiety was ever present. But now, even during a lull when thinking things are going smoothly, the body is tense without knowing it. And with no reason why, it just is. Being awake means being on alert.

Had my mother sought the things needed when her little girl was raped, medical examination, therapy, the things provided for any physical catastrophe, healing could occur. But it is more common for silence, distance, and nothing to occur for the child sexually abused by a loved one. She becomes a piranha within the family, the memory of what was done. Shun her. Silence her, dig her grave.

I will not be silenced. I will have my life, and because of these determinations have the best life I ever imagined.

My Best Life

My best life is now. How could something have been found to latch onto earlier? Life was a constant of anxiety darkened with depressions, one after another. Lifting the first foot out of the muck took so much courage, the fear palpable, yet unwarranted.

Stepping out for therapy, seeking help from a non-family objective person once coming of age, caused unfounded terror. What if they too concluded I was as bad as I felt? Yet in my core the truth be known. Stopping me was not going to happen.

A child sexually abused by someone known to her, trusted and loved, shatters her, her world, and too often her life for decades to come. No one comes to help, to lift her from the wreckage, and tell her, “It’s not your fault.”

Oh how I needed to hear that, and hear it over and over again, backed with love and support. It is uncommon for that to happen within a family where one of their own has attacked a child in that family. Their shame is so great the burden lay upon the child to keep their secret quiet.

The muzzle of silence can kill. Returning to the years when my sons were growing is not something yearned for. The pain of dealing with the monsters within was too great. The yearning that sometimes comes is to go back and be a more settled person, more open, happier, and freer.

Yet that is not even how I am now. Seriousness often hardens me appearing on my face deepening the lines. Staying alive is a serious business. Happy equates to peace. Peace means living with less crippling feelings of inadequacy that were compounded by the legacy learned in those years of always being bad, wrong… not normal.

To come to a time where much of that has lifted is peace, and it is freeing.

That moments can be lived not feared. PTSD interrupts these peaceful periods, and sometimes it takes a week, even more, to settle back into the core of my being that has finally been found. A place to connect to, depend on, and grow to love. A place where comfort is waiting when all the parts blown into orbit come back home.

COMING HOME

A secure feeling internally is so elusive, but once anchored even if momentarily, it is returned to more and more. Upheavals uproot, then the coming ‘home’ so pleasant; fullness, wholeness, confidence in oneself, and the ability to make decisions that add to well-being.

Be sad for what was, a life ridden with anxiety, rage, buzzing like a bee ready to sting, twirling like a dervish gone mad, no home inside to seek comfort and solace in? Or taking this phase of my life for what it is after a life-time of work…. peace.

Walking in the meadow brings joy, even excitement, enough excitement for me. My home made beautiful by my hands took years to cultivate, not just the external home, but the one in my center. As that flourished so did the ability to adorn the environment around me.

When my insides were a tornado, it wasn’t possible to decorate what was around me. Survival mode does that. Surviving by clawing to stay just above the surface, feeling life waters choking my throat with panic, confusion, and crippling self-doubt.

Clearing out the debris, the blackened tarry scourge lining my internal walls, took decades. Finding what my own feelings were took as long. Expressing those feelings once they are truly found is still a process unfolding that takes gentleness and patience. It was one of many things stolen, a voice.

The elusive voice finds expression on paper, and after the fact. Though my heads nods yes as my internal voice screams NO in many interactions with others even now as a well past grown woman, giving myself permission to say my truth later works better than the kick often bestowed upon myself by myself.

It is OK to speak up even if unpleasing to another. That still takes work. Some things broken remain broken. Maybe the best thing that can be done is learn how to be gentle about this lack that still plagues me.

When someone presses me to do something their way it seems I am all too easily swayed, causing a rift inside of self-hatred for going along. Samuel helps by saying it is OK, that others get caught in this trap too. His words of wisdom comfort. 

 

Comfort and Joy

As my body recovers from the terror of the cataract removal procedure, my hands need busying. Projects on hold are finished; an old jewelry box found recently at a garage sale, painted golden like the sun to match our bedroom walls, gently gluing felt into the tiny drawers– a string of ornaments hung which will be left up all year, and mason jars with a cloth flounce top to be filled for Christmas goodies for both sons and their families.

It is almost a week later and has taken that long for my body to calm down. Waking in the night causes my body to become vigilant, arousing excessively as if on alert. Going through the procedure gave the message to my body it was in mortal danger, and that message has taken time to dissipate—to feel safe again. 

But each night with discipline, efforts are employed to stay in bed with words mentally said to myself; it’s OK, stay, you are tired, you will sleep. It is very hard to keep an agitated body down, but each night improved. It feels almost as if things are back to what they were.

Temps drop, and while sipping coffee fat, white flakes fall against the black morning. Everything is brighter, clearer, and in focus. So is dirt. While mopping, the floor showed layers of it my eyes hadn’t seen. Using a powder not recommended for floors, but worthy of removing just about any dirt, my mop whirled while a sheen of sweat dampened my shirt. .

Down the drain went bucket after bucket of brown water. The floor whitened dramatically. It took three days to come back to the living and stop laying around like a dead fish. Shane and Samuel encouraged me to venture outside before the winter storm hit.

Year-end gardening of emptying clay pots of their dirt saving the bulbs to replant next year was done robotically. Then as movement warmed the muscles, feelings came back with a joyfulness too.

After that laps in the meadow felt doable, but with the dark glasses provided from the surgery. The brightness even then was a lot. Lap after lap with a rest by the swollen, inky creek. The ability to be productive once again brings comfort and joy. .

SURGERY

The rattling that occurred in every bodily system took such a jarring that even days later after cataract removal exhaustion still overcomes me. Each day brings more strength and clearer vision. Due to the traumas of childhood my doctor agreed to remove both cataracts at once, unheard of in modern day American medical procedures.

Others have one done, then go back two weeks later for the other one. And not under general anesthesia where a breathing pipe is put down the throat. That left a sore throat for a few days, but with it a gratefulness to be fully out with no awareness of anything.

Though my heart began pounding when the mask was put on concerning the anesthesiologist because the mask brought in gas to put me out not wind me up. She underestimated the effects of long term PTSD that was not processed at the time the trauma(s) took place.

But then out, and done. Others surely recover quicker, but each day is a slow process of recovery from the anesthesia, even more so, the terror. Tears down my cheeks told the story to others, and each one provided compassion in their own way, wiping the tears, offering words of comfort.

That was good, but no words calmed the terror of the body which believed itself to be in mortal danger. It’s done. I awoke. I’m not blind, both things worried about beforehand.

There is an adjustment to the new lens and the extensive brightness which the cloudy lens had blocked out. And that will take time for the brain to adjust to. Reminder to self; this was done to improve my quality of life. That when walking the meadow the nausea of not seeing well will lift, and that things wouldn’t continue to become more and more blurry.

I know others recoup faster, with so much more zest. But others also don’t come with frightful memories still locked inside making these events so strenuous and exhausting. Allowing myself to take each day as it is at whatever pace is needed with gentleness is the way through this healing process.