ALONE IN NATURE

Winter can kick me down the stairs of negative and repetitive thinking. It is so hard to stay afloat wondering how those around me tolerate it, like Samuel for starters, but my sons too.

They do. Love is like that. And with learning to love, staying open, a fullness towards myself offers the same for others.

The process of learning to love myself, that I am worthy of love, is life-long, as my insides clammed up tightly at 8 years old. There was no one to love or trust except my cat or other non-human animals.

Time alone in nature offers the safety needed to feel love. Even around those loved it is difficult, either in person, via email, or by video. But alone, out in the meadow, without other’s inconsistencies or my raging self-doubt over interactions I blame myself for, love abounds filling me up satisfyingly.

This insulated life is not of my choosing. Shattered at age 8 and continually broken from then on, caused fractures so deep they remain life-long. Quiet and solitude heal. Acceptance means picking up the pieces and making a life of my own choosing, even if seemingly different or odd to others.

It is my life, and can be made magical by working to stop the negative yammering constantly in my head. (and hanging up more fairy lights to welcome me on dark morning walks) Easy, no, possible? Yes. Each time that voice starts berating me, blaming me, think of it as a challenge. With persistence, gentleness, and patience, healing and growth occur.

THE PHEONIX

When a soul is upset, scattered, unloving, it isn’t a happy or peaceful life. Waking to a new day, the first thought; another day of work and self-discipline, that even though retired, there is a job to do.

Clearing a head full of self-negatives is no easy task as the clamoring can be constant and habitual. Rising from the ashes again and again, only to be burned by my own inner enemy, happening day to day every day.

With determination and perseverance peace is found, fleeting, yet here for more than a string of moments, for days tied together like sweet grapes on a vine.

An email to Seth that he didn’t answer. Get worried or upset? You have a choice. To change a habit, you replace it. The replacement for worrying about doing something wrong is to see myself with gentleness, love, and acceptance.

Despair curdled my efforts so many times, but giving up? No, just keep at it, pull myself up as many times as needed, and keep trying.

BEING WITH ME

Shifting internal dialogue has taken decades, many, many years of therapy, but of late the resolution to a life of forever feeling bad has taken a turn towards lightness by being with myself in nature- the woods, the land, and me.

And it’s fleeting, as tomorrow my writing may be pain filled and down. But there are moments that have stretched into days where my internal world is gentle, loving, encouraging, and accepting of ME.

And it is more than a kinder voice, it is feeling wholly accepting of myself, more than OK, but that I too am a good person.

Raymond asks one day, “Good? That you are a good person?”, a psychiatrist who knew what he was doing, though pushing me into a career because I had the intelligence to do it might have been more about his being successful than me.

Though glad to have succeeded at such a feat because it paid for both sons education at a prestigious college and set them both on a burgeoning career in the technology field where they still work, the years it took me to accomplish it stressed my already overloaded nervous system.

Daily cortisol bursts from each challenge and the ever present fear of people caused my body to develop a syndrome of fatigue that cannot be repaired. It was worth it to see them thrive now, even if I don’t, not in that way, but in my own quiet way; learning to be with me and be OK, a place always run from before that I now inhabit fully.

Fractured, now whole, perhaps a bit bumpy, but whole.

It has always been about goodness, that I wasn’t, I was bad, abnormal, bad, bad, bad. The revelation that I am of good heart, as human as any with mistakes, flaws, and quirks? That it is more than just words? All new.

Every minute alive is one minute gone. Getting older one begins to realize that, that this moment is precious and living it feeling bad because I’ve been habituated to feel that way doesn’t have to be. I am learning otherwise, I am learning the truth.

The rabbits, soggy ground, icy earth, birds, and running water of the creek have taught me that. That being with me is the best place to be.  

HELLO AGAIN C-PTSD

What can you do in the New Year, or just today, to make yourself happy? Work to banish those voices of doom so loudly dampening my spirit during the dark months of winter.

Too easily the toll of my childhood is forgotten, comparing myself to others who go along happily, seemingly without the weight of such heavy burdens.

Though we all carry burdens, hardships, and loss, it is a singularly difficult load to carry the traumas of childhood, and it is too easily forgotten in my tortuous self-inflicting mind wanting to pull myself down at every second of every day.

Begin again the work of liking myself to stand equal, happy, and at peace. The burden of being me will sink me if I let it. The old feelings embedded in me since childhood, will cause me to drown.

Awake to the new day. Let the other night go and accept it because in a week or two it will happen again; waking at 1am to use the bathroom as usual, but feeling the C-PTSD rockets take off causing a need to take medication.

There was no reason, though I dug for one, because that’s how I grow and learn about myself. But there was no reason except my old nemesis, C-PTSD. Acceptance comes hard fighting it, but it’s here to stay permanently.

C-PTSD comes uninvited. Every few weeks medication is needed because sleep is needed. Trauma hard-wires into a person if not processed, and was hard-wired into me in childhood. No one helped, protected, or talked to me, ever, not about that. So much terror and trauma kept internally throughout life until my mother’s death 14 years ago when the book flowed out of my soul, both my traumas and my joys.

Feelings of failure because I needed to take medication make me weep the next day. Yesterday, to interrupt the crush of sadness, a trip out in the cool air to the craft store picking up discounted craft supplies to work on yet another photo book for my little grandchildren. That helped counteract my funk, pasting pieces of myself back together again.

REGRETS

Moving on to the new year, a new start, a beginning? I’m still me, with all the thoughts, memories, and regrets, blackening my interior much more darkly in wintertime.

How to manage the tendency to go back over every mistake in my entire life feeling it scratch like sharpened talons in the deepest recesses of my soul? I’ve made grievous errors in judgement that must be lived with. How do people do it, because I’m not the only one.

Didn’t we go through this already, just about every winter, you the critic, and you the wiser gentler side? Jekyll and Hyde. Light and dark. Breathe fresh air or drown?

Laying in the dark, ready to get up, anxiety erupts reliving mistakes from 40 years ago. The blackness of winter devouring me at the start of a day.

Yet there also is light if choosing to come out of that dark cave of regrets. Forgive yourself yet again, as many times as it takes. While walking yesterday I thought, ‘Haven’t you done this already? Forgiven myself for this?”

Yes. But do it again, and again and again, however many times you need to. Good practice for someone with a tendency to be so harsh on herself. And when remembering all your own mistakes, and forgiving them, it makes it so much easier to forgive others.

Henry David Thoreau

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”

THE PATH TO PEACE

The fifty-degree morning felt balmy and unusual for December, patches of icy areas, the rest soggy grass. So quiet, not barely a sound making it eerie yet satisfying.

While resting creek side, an owl, with an odd bird response each time it hooted. The new addition of solar fairy lights put up yesterday in the happy sunshine twinkled a welcome on the walk down away from the house’s floodlights.

Much thought is put on new growth and discoveries. Others in my life have been put on pedestals. You are normal, not shattered unable to trust, love, feel warmth, or let others in.

You are better in all ways. Close to 70 years old it is a new revelation that we all are just people with flaws, faults, and oddities added with mistake making, all of us.

The best plan is learning to forgive, others yes, but also myself, for all the blunders or other more serious errors. Take it all in and love it anyway.

This is my path to peace.  

A FRIEND?

My friend’s remark last week (with friends like that, who needs enemies?) erased a lifetime of work in her one-liner, you are back to square one. Six little words set me off my rails doubting everything about myself.

It wouldn’t help to tell her what an airhead she is. But it does call for my internal depths to deepen and grow. There’s no making someone understand who cannot.

To ease the pain lingering from her shallowness, and to understand myself better, a letter that won’t be sent, or maybe will be. The risk of letting myself be known is losing this ‘friend,’ because it already came close this time once again. Let it go, or work on tolerance, acceptance, and forgiveness? To not speak up when someone puts a boot in my face is not healthy.

Though I’m able to forgive your blithe remark, I won’t forget it. To look down on me without knowing the ramifications of my childhood and erase a lifetime of working at keeping myself alive?

Because yes, it has been that hard. In one short sentence you delete lifelong work. It tore me up, not because I believe it, but because you believe it. That after all these years you don’t know me or want to. And that’s OK, how could you? But to take a quick peek and dictate such a thing?

And interestingly, the answer I sought wasn’t forthcoming. You had said out of the blue recently that you were glad I was learning to love myself. My curiosity was in response to your blunt sentiments, entering a space you hadn’t been asked to join.

I regret asking. Boom, what seemed like a positive observance from you replaced with unsolicited advice that had nothing to do with my question.

You don’t know what a destroyed nervous system is like. Adrenaline pumping through my veins daily, cortisol bursts draining precious resources. My body, psyche, emotional being, and mind, all tired from a life of it. Daily occurrences that don’t make others jump with terror, terrorized me. Because all people became dangerous from what was learned in childhood.

We have sold the camper, giving up something loved. The possibility of going to Cory’s again is probably too much for me take on again. I cannot fly around the country like you do or drive anywhere long distances without my body being upset for days.

I need to stay home, and accept it, because I love the land, and being here. I am happy. I am mostly at peace, though little changes in routine upset my tired-out body. No, you cannot see my scars, but they are there, and they are life-long growing more challenging as I age.

Even Christmas with Shane made for a fitful night of sleep waking at 1:30AM and staying awake all day yesterday feeling teary and tired. I have a lot of days like that due to my sleep issues from Chronic PTSD, spilling over from what happened at age 8, terror so deep my body 60 years later still protects me from remembering, though I do know a rape occurred. I remember everything else which is bad enough.  

I believe a hidden agenda in such a grievous remark compounded with a lack of knowing your own motives was behind it. But it came out anyway sword-like. I never became accustomed to your barbs couched in syrup drawing blood over the years, but this one so trite in black and white I won’t forget.   

I write in the hopes you might see a miniscule fraction of what my life is like and stop quick judgments. The respect I deserve is sadly lacking. It is enough that I know.  

Patricia

Is this a friend to keep or not? That question has occurred many times, once almost ending it, but she stuck by loyally and loyalty is most valuable to me. To end it would also mean ending the monthly group of 5. What would remain is Samuel and my forest friends. It is as Samuel said once, “You don’t stop picking berries because of the thorns.” Well, actually I have.

STILL WATERS

Though things have been patched up after an email confrontation with a friend, my world feels topsy turvy. That angst compounded with some blood work that is off (low blood sodium), upsets the status quo.

It doesn’t take much to set off my alarm bells, especially interpersonal relationships that go awry, and anything to do with my body.

The weariness of winter doesn’t help. The best remedy continues to be gentleness towards self, something not learned earlier in life after a childhood of repression, neglect, and abandonment.

Parts of each day feel glum, then the sun rises, if not in reality, then in my being. Taking it all in without running is the key to equilibrium and calm.

Calm, oh calm, how that is craved, found, lost, then back again. Still waters among tall waves.  

TRUST

How many relationships have been blocked or lost through the years due to my inability to trust? More than what was kept. Yet slowly trust built enough to begin to sustain some, friends held close for twenty years now, maybe more.

But if feeling crossed, or more succinctly manipulated, and treated dishonestly, you are gone. And recently that could easily have happened yet again if not researched more by a touch of assertiveness in asking a question.

Her response made me sigh in relief and was believable. She just didn’t think about answering my email with her husband’s account even after asking her if we could converse privately as I do with all other women friends.

Strikes me odd that women do that, yet one friend sustained for decades had once done that too until asking if she’d open her own email account. She did and it seems as if she has enjoyed it ever since.

My friend could easily have been gone. By defying my request to have interchanges privately, my thought was she was upset with me for asking and was stubbornly going to email back with her husband’s account anyway.

But I asked why, and she apologized, saying she just grabbed a device and put in Patricia. I believe her- miracle upon miracle that some faith is restored, not an easy feat for me.

My childhood gave me no reason to believe anybody ever again. But there are some I am able to open up to, and yes, eventually trust.