IT’S OK

A mantra throughout the day, you’re OK, you’re OK, you’re OK. Someone once said, ‘maybe someday you won’t have to do that,’ me taking it as another bad thing needing to be changed. But what’s wrong with supportive self-talk, especially when my being is so supercharged with anxiety?

Those are needed words to calm myself. That is one of the problems with people, often giving more credence to a complete stranger than to myself.

Getting to know myself is a full-time job. It is a good thing to finally have the time to do so. Waking when Samuel came to bed in the quiet of a dark night, he was soon lightly snoring while my senses came sharply alert, every sound magnified.

No way is getting up an option, it is happening too much, so not this time. Thoughts of growing up flashed through my mind of years after the horror of abuse; dumpy houses with dangerous heating systems barely containing all the people living there.

Yet more dangerous than even that fire hazard was living with abusers but not being able to voice the terror or even recognize it. Sexual abuse within families is often forced back down the throat of victims and she lives with it contained…. akin to keeping lethal snakes in a box squirming inside her.

So an imaginary person was believed to be living in the attic. I was in tenth grade, yet couldn’t understand the real terrors were brothers living in that little box house half underground, the house as buried as my feelings and memories.

Life has always been hard, and these memories are not going away needing airing. So lying there they ran through my mind, but then came happy times during the terror; my motorcycle, bright red and new, bought with savings from the restaurant working as a salad girl. After school firing it up ripping through the meadow across the road. And the two fluffy chickens kept as pets in the shed. Somehow through it all sanity remained amidst the horrific anxiety.

Not sure why these memories run through my mind in the stillness of night, but gratefulness fills me that Samuel lies by my side. Taming anxiety in the daytime through breathe and paying attention to each moment helps me stay in bed until calmness and sleep returns.

It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK…

HUMPTY DUMPTY

Sometimes you have to fall apart to come together. For much of my life it has been the falling apart, but now when peace can be sustained for more than two moments at a time… still, there is a monster on my back.

It is sleeplessness. The why? Round and round laps count up to 20 trying to make up for a night of senseless eating- AGAIN. The only trigger that might be attributed to this inability to sleep after 6 nights of improved sleep probably due to drastically decreasing the pot oil, yet on night 6 lying there 2 ½ hours before giving in to a sleep aid, and an hour in front of the TV at midnight- then FOOD, because food has been used to quell anxiety since the age of 8— the only reason that might make sense was a 3 pound weight loss noted that morning.

That ought to be good, right? Celebrated, congratulated, especially after a summer of being stuck? Yet it triggered anxiety. Unless something on the news or a movie set me off, what else could it be?

Weight loss scaring me. Therapists suggest overweight women who have survived childhood sexual abuse become overweight to feel safe. That is an improvement over many who look at an overweight person and think lazy, glutinous, and disgusting.

The thinner my body becomes, the closer to an unwanted memory. What is remembered is horrific enough, but the one repressed memory must have been really bad. Danny said in his twenties when asked what he did to me, “It’s better you don’t know.”

But I do know a rape occurred, there just is no memory of it except before and after. As the weight comes off there is movement toward what was unconsciously repressed.

Lap after lap, talking to myself… I will not be deterred. I will do this, I will do this, I will. And if the memory comes I will be alright. It already happened. I already lived through it. And there are hospitals to stay in if needed. The self talk doesn’t seem to help alleviate the anxious terror.

FOOD or FEELINGS?

So eerily quiet this morning even the birds aren’t talking and a queasy feeling surfs my stomach. Crickets hardly peep, not a sound, barely a movement of leaves at first until a soft breeze moves in. Perhaps the animals instinctively feel what the news last night warned of, the possibility of tornadoes.

At least the day was not faced with dread. The full spectrum lights, a return to a diligent mediation practice, the push off the couch to walk, and a drastic reduction in marijuana oil for sleep issues are all helping.

In order to treat myself with respect, which mean not gagging down feelings with food, my doctors have gotten a mouthful out of me after not speaking a peep for years. My primary responded by finally paying attention to me and my needs.

We discussed my use of pot oil and for the first time heard from her that just a few drops are needed. My dose kept going up and up thinking that helped, but it backfired causing more sleep issues, and an exorbitant increase in anxiety rather than decreasing it.

The cardio Doc has yet to respond to my personal letter to him after his nurse wouldn’t answer a simple medical question because my choice was to cancel an appointment due to the pandemic. ‘You haven’t been here, make an appointment,’ her note coldly read in the on-line chart after my question was posed.

Really? I have to come in and spend 50 bucks to know whether to continue taking a baby aspirin each day? Reports are saying there’s a bleeding risk as we age.

After going there for many years you can’t answer a benign generic question? The only reason for several decades of cardio appointments was not due to need or directed by my primary care doctor. It was out of fear that I’d fall dead just like my father who lay there at my feet at age 8.

Oh, the years of unneeded EKG’s, STRESS TESTS, EHCHO’s and yearly visits out of terror I might succumb to what my father fell victim to. And doctors, even the best ones, will gladly do it to keep their revenue going. This one too because he did say in my father’s case it had more to do with his smoking.

Yet he continued to oblige my need to ease my mind each year. That could be looked at as a positive then, but no longer, the pandemic making me reassess just how many appointments are needed each year. Unless a heart event actually occurs, NOT HIM! To hold back medical advice is cause to go elsewhere if a heart event ever occurs. Unconscionable. I’m sure they have their own spin on it, but so do I.

In me lies the need to finally advocate for my needs though with many stops and pitfalls along the way because my training was to stay disturbingly quiet about my needs. Traumas, too many to count, were forced to stay within me causing my skinny kid frame to burgeon dramatically into an obese one shortly after the first sexual attack by a loved one, also at age 8.

To keep family secrets throughout my life took a LOT of food. I want a healthy life. That means NO MORE SECRETS. That means speaking up for my needs even if different from your expectations or beliefs, and doing so even when terrified of the outcome. Who is this new me? Or maybe it’s discovering the me always there waiting for one special person to be on my side… me.

FALL INTO FALL

Amends were made to the three brothers pressing me to join in explaining why it’s not possible for me do so. Now they are placed beyond daily thoughts so much because the ones who really are interested in me and my life are my real family, Samuel, sons, grand-children, a sister-in-law, and friends.

These brothers act as if they are caring, but aren’t interested enough to answer emails or interact in a way other than what serves their own needs. OK. My situation has been put forth plainly without their decades of gagging me. That took enormous effort. Maybe once again going forward can occur without so much angst.

The ups and downs of being drawn to the fire of origin family… all it’s memories, the secrets forced on me to keep, the ravages of expecting me to be someone I’m not (pleasing doormat), getting burned, cooling off, then doing it all over again, over and over… well, maybe sufficient mental beatings have occurred to stop doing that. It is challenging enough to keep my sanity.

My mood dropped like a rock, forgetting how severely the change of season affects me. The warmer mornings called me onto the porch to watch the sun rise, rather than hunkering down under the full spectrum lights to improve mood. So that has begun again.

The usual meditation routine went by the wayside for months after years of hardly missing it, but that too is needed and room must be made for it once again. And the pot oil, no wonder sleep wouldn’t come.

When sleep issues arose the dose kept going up and up, doubling over time. No wonder my head felt manic with thoughts. Too much causes problems instead of curing them. Backing down to a modest does has helped a great deal.

And the simple work of being with me begins again. How hard it is to be in my body and be OK. To not run. To breathe, and be OK.

HONOR THY TRUTH

To boldly go where no man has gone before… (thank you Star Trek) yes, breathe, go inward, don’t be afraid, traveling through layers and layers built up over decades. Move through walls guarding my interior like fortresses built out of fear ignorant of my own truth. It is only when you relax the herculean sinews straining to keep you out of yourself that suddenly you arrive at your core.

Galaxies of resistance can be battled by a single breath. And then? The miracle of knowing who you are, what you want, what you need to do, and who you need to address.

Armor is melted by the breath.

Resistance is too.

And so you find love and all the things you’ve been searching for…. Knowledge of the why’s for your actions which confuse you, tending to ask others why you do what you do.

How would they know? You know, but you have to be brave enough to look. It isn’t all bad in there. There are things to do to make amends.

There is also beauty in my truth. You must honor that too, perhaps the hardest things to do… to honor one’s own beauty.

Hole in the Floor

Negative thoughts about myself cave in devouring me as much as I devour whatever foods I can find in the middle of night. The next day a tear falls in pity for the ever present ghosts from the past interfering with a peaceful sleep filled life.

The ravages of chronic PTSD are here to stay no matter how hard the effort is to sway them from their path, rooted within without a cure.  That could have been cured had shame not made the family embarrassed to seek help for me, the victim injured so critically had it been a physical injury someone would have had to sop up the torrents of blood. Someone would have HAD to help!

Once the tsunami of sleeplessness passes, it is back to basics; persuade my negative tendencies about blaming myself for just about every little thing that doesn’t seem right, and when in that mode, every little thing seems wrong, and work on countering those beliefs.

Really? Are you as bad as that devil on your shoulder says you are? This badness, kicked to the curb over and over, comes seeping back in because it became part of my being at age 8. And it is fall after all, the time when mood plummets no matter how hard you don’t want it to. So acceptance is also a work in progress.

No one came to tell me otherwise, I was left alone except the attacks. My childhood beliefs about being bad cemented into my self-view as an adult. It is daily work, constant work sometimes. Back to happier moments of being OK to be me…

FOCUS

SLOW, slow down. For life it’s been fast, moving ahead of my body- like two separate entities. Staying as one, after a lifetime of division, takes focus. My body cradled my spirit, yet my spirit has been flying off somewhere, often not knowing where.

There is that safe dreamland where much of me spent. You talk to me? I’m not there. I could pretend to be, yet most time was spent in that safe place others call disassociation. I call it zoning out.

With the very first meditative session presence began. Wanting more of being in this body that has carried me all these years, meant more meditation, years of it. But with the addition of marijuana oil came a whole new definition of presence. Not fleeting but with staying power.

That gift, suggested by my younger loving son, has offered a world where sleep is possible. My arthritic knees and other joints don’t ache. Anxiety is kept at a minimum as long as my days are unfettered with worry or too much stimulation out there in the fast paced ruckus.

The gliding, graceful heron takes me with her as she swoops for fish in the creek. The orange of the butterfly shines in the sunlight as she flutters by as if following me while crunching over hickory nuts in the hedge-row. The squirrels have been busy because most are just shells, the meat already having been buried.

Days can move from one to the next with grace and beauty, but it does take focus on slowing my ever busy mind down, and focusing on being in my body. My mantra still works, it’s OK, it’s OK. You’re OK, you’re OK, you’re OK…

A gift from a friend.

Wise Moves

It was a wise move to delete Seth’s response without reading it. Then I’m able to proceed with what I need to say unencumbered by negative, hurtful, angry, defensive responses which were what came from him after sending a link to my book. I wrote the following to him this morning:

I wish good things for you. There is a sweetness about you I have always loved. We share the same passion for nature and animals which touched me and made me smile so many times via emails. And you uplifted me when I was down, which was a lot.

Yet in spring an email was sent to Tom with our photo at the Mill after camping. It was only this past year that I finally asked both Don and Stevie not to add me to emails he was on. I didn’t think I had to ask you.

But after the criticism about writing the book detailing horrific abuse, the realization hit that your shame about what others in the family had done outweighed my need to finally have a life I wanted to live.

That you didn’t answer my email for a very long time? I was the victim, not you. For much of my life I’d lament to Samuel that I didn’t want to live. He finally told me how hard it was to hear that. So I changed it to, I wish I had never been born.

It wasn’t until after Mom died that I finally faced the truth and let it up. Before then I couldn’t destroy her fantasy family with the truth we both knew to be true. With it came the joys of childhood too. One chapter horror, the next one joyful. Because when one is suppressed so is the other.

I am not ashamed of writing the book. And you should applaud me for the courage in doing so. But it seems you want a fantasy sister. One who didn’t go through such horrors.

But in seeing only what you can handle, you deny the existence of who I really am, and the strength it took to get here.

I don’t want to give up the sweetness we shared, but I also cannot pretend to be this fake ‘Sis’ you seem to see me as.

You were there for me as much as you could be throughout life, uplifting me with humor and positivity. I am thankful for that. I don’t need anything from you anymore except to see me as I really am which includes the horrors you seem to need to pretend didn’t happen. As if hearing about it is harder than my going through it.

I’ve grown to see just what exceptional qualities lie inside of me. Something I’ve never seen or experienced before.   

SAFE

Safe, feeling safer from those who do damage, the silent ones imposing silence on me. There is no way to have family of origin be part of my life. And though knowing this there continues to be a craving for it. But peace has been restored along with healthy sleep habits. Peace and freedom, something lost when interacting with those that muzzle me. Or consort with Tom.

The people who love me, who truly love me, don’t do that, and have nothing to do with the devil. Tom’s face, something about it. I see it in those that lie like Bill Cosby. Deceit on faces look similar.

The morning comes with peace filling me from the inside out as the golden globe rises above the hill. All is quiet. Oh how these mornings are cherished. A bird here or there tweets a hello as crickets in abundance still dance creating a happy drone.

Peace, hope, and love fill me once again…chasing away the terror of telling my truth which origin families do anything not to hear. And freedom. Freedom to feel my hand, notice the whiff of apple scent from the warmer, to be in my body as a whole person for more moments than not when focusing on it.

To remember, don’t go fast, slow down so all parts stay together. And know you are OK, not the problem origin family makes you out to be. You are OK, you are strong, beautiful and loving. And you have a right to be here.

(Seth’s email was permanently deleted before reading it as his defensiveness would hurt me drastically, and he has hurt me enough- I am safe from it.)

PEACE and CHAOS

Feelings of joy burst forth from me. Sleep came like a baby night after night. Feeling so good an email was sent to Don, his wife, Seth and his wife, inviting them all for pie. What?

And that night no sleep. A double dose of sleep medication was needed. The next morning, believing this is the only way for my soul to speak (sleeplessness), an email was sent to both brothers about the feelings being wrestled with all summer and before.

Don’s response was warm, kind and thoughtful, though no comment about his continued interactions with Tom. Seth’s in in my mailbox with fear of reading it. When he criticized me for writing the book and wouldn’t answer me, it sent me to the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. That is how vulnerable telling the truth makes me.

Why do you consort with the devil who did so much damage to me? That is what runs though my mind. I am a fractured person, shying away from them as they make an unlikely friendship between themselves, along with Stevie and Tom, then suddenly a happy email with an invite?

Because, that’s what happens when you grow with horror but are forced to pretend calm and love towards attackers appearing as brothers. It does make a broken person, or a split one. Half of me wanting a family that gets together for a pie party, the other half who lives in reality.

Instead of beating myself up for the email invite, which has brought much pain during a wonderful week of sunshine and peace, maybe it is just one more leap of growth- growth, truth and authenticity. It is exhausting and one of the hardest hurdles accomplished taking 6 decades for words to come that no one wants to hear.

My soul feels ragged, like the pieces that fit so smoothly just a few days ago, now don’t. With time, and loving kindness towards self, wholeness and peace will be restored.