Sorting out the mess inside me, a soft quiet voice is heard. This time the ability to listen and heed its wisdom is realized. What if the goal of becoming whole, or connecting to my core, isn’t about becoming something different? Something better? Becoming anything else at all?
The insecurities, the negative critic, all the haphazard ways of doing things due to anxiety and the brokenness that comes with repressed trauma over decades… what if that is loved?
What if love is turned inward to the mess which includes beauty too even amidst the mess? That the messiness is beauty because it is the real me? What if I loved myself anyway?
Delete all the posts about Stevie which are so negative? Never, in spite of all that writing getting to the real issue. These thoughts invade while trying to sleep. Is this going to be another bad night? And that worry or fear makes it happen, my mind leaping off into drowning waters.
As the weight disappears anxiety consumes me. Sarah, a women on the View, a television show where the women are compassionate, bright, and very up on the latest events, says anxiety sneaks up on you. Oddly, athletes competing in the Olympics have boldly announced the very same thing.
Anxiety. Yes, of course. It has bitten me hard, feeling like a failure in every way. Wanting to be wise, grounded, just a font of peace and wisdom… I am not. Feeling so lost yet again. All the past revisiting in waves, slapping me in the face; the losses, fears, shortcomings, mistakes, oh so many mistakes.
Nothing about achievements, remember those? Remember the work of loving yourself? All those reasons of not visiting Stevie, of how he is manipulating me, asking for work out of my husband when he surely has plenty of money to hire it out. Yet it has nothing to do with that. Saying ‘no’ to him out of my own needs of safety, for traveling is such a challenge, and I’ve had my short fill of it this summer already, has brought on a tremendous amount of guilt.
Laying there long after Samuel’s regular breathing began, the hours ticked by and by 1 or 2 sleep came without a sleep aid. No way can dependence on that occur. And this morning in slippers and bathrobe with a long raincoat over it, padding out to mailbox, a note to Stevie was put in the box.
Please forgive my shortcomings, all the cancellations, and inability to visit you at both your homes. I love you more than might know and feel I failed you. Anxiety is a daily visitor and though I want to be there for you, I can hardly be there for myself.
The truth finally revealed, not just to him, but mostly to myself. I am not going because I can’t. I want to but can’t. I cannot even settle myself here in my own home where I feel the safest.
These limitations are mostly accepted except when others need me and I cannot be there for them. That is when it hurts the most.
“Maybe you are taking too much,” Samuel said while we sit on the patio with morning coffee.
The night before, for no apparent reason, sleep evaded me. Instead, every situation not working out how I’d like going back to almost birth invaded my consciousness. My head swam with negativity about everything I did being WRONG!
After such a fine day, Samuel’s answer makes sense.
“Maybe it’s the weight loss,” I said, adding, “I’ve lost quite a bit so maybe I need much less.”
“Yeah, maybe, take half, or take it earlier,” Samuel responded.
A quiet man, it was surprising during the silence interrupted only by birdsongs while sipping coffee that he piped up with his thoughts.
“So which?” I asked, “Earlier, or less?”
“I don’t know,” he said, and of course, how could he know what I should do?
But like much of my life, scattered insides makes me look for answers elsewhere, in people who seemed to have a wholeness that was not shattered. That has become less of a need, but lately has cropped up while hounding Samuel for decisions for every simple thing. God, Samuel?
He rides the fence on all things, maybe his favorite answer. Getting an opinion from him is like milking blood from a stone. So, what is going on? The dosage, or maybe I’m at a crossroads where a leap to growth awaits, or both.
Permission to reach a healthy weight is in question. As if I haven’t a right to feel good, but must carry the burdens of an unhappy family. To let go means chucking all that was learned about myself, that perhaps I really am a worthwhile person? The critic says otherwise.
The critic is overbearingly powerful, a conglomeration of all those in the origin group I was born into. And others who knew of the abuse and did nothing, like my Aunt down the road who was also the school nurse.
Back then there wasn’t a law requiring that those who care for children report abuse. But I sometimes wonder if it would have helped or made things worse. Would I have been removed from the home, or would the offenders have gone to a detention center? But either way, a different message would have been relayed, that I mattered. Or perhaps the family would then blame me for it all. I feel like that anyway.
I’ll try half the dose and stick with it till my body adjusts, which might mean more late nights and the dreaded sleep aid which leaves me groggy the next day. Perhaps the need to question that critic who loudly bangs in my head needs more aggressive work.
When you’re hit by a Mack truck and no one comes to help, no medical attention given, and no therapy to address the symptoms of so much trauma as a child, it makes PTSD and all its challenges a permanent fixture in my life. The message learned— I don’t matter.
That’s how a child perceives it which never changed through the years, because the message of keeping silent stayed. The most horrible, tragic, splintering, shattering traumas sustained as a child… forbidden to be let out of me. It does take a lot of food to lock it down.
Anyone in that group of people I had the misfortune to be born unto would tell you different. You’d be told of their kindnesses, their care, but it came with the price of silence. With the death sentence of pretending I wasn’t who I was, but a mere puppet or shell of a human being…. not me.
Back to basics, remembering what is so easily forgotten, the very simple plan of working on self-care and self-love. My job, as what occurred in the developing of my personality was just the opposite; self-hate, self-destruction, and the loud critic a constantly nagging companion.
It is not easy to change the trajectory of one’s upbringing. And had death taken me already, which at 68 is quite possible, the peace created now wouldn’t have materialized. It has taken decades. It has taken a strength of fortitude that only now can be appreciated.
Some people might like a do-over, but not me. No way could going through the depressions, and robot-like living be done again. The magic of meadow walks, solitude, and each moment of life treasured… a new miracle some have had the good pleasure to have never lost. It has taken a great deal of work to have arrived here, where living feels good more than ever before.
My center, my core, any basic trust in others was lost at age eight. Shattered, only now able to pick up a few fragments, but never knowing really what life would have been like growing up under the roof of a loving, functional family.
My sons are together for a week at Cape Cod. My usual feelings before now would include a searing loneliness wanting to be with them even though knowing it would be impossible. The drive, the traffic, and having to take something to sleep every night over the course of 7 nights— too much! The loneliness for it crept in anyway. But not now. Now? Gratitude.
Now I feel only joy that they can be together, and I can be at peace doing what I do. The sun, the birds, the critters, Samuel, a few friends, snaps and photos from Shane and Cory daily (enjoying their trip vicariously without the hassle), and summer. My days are full and happy.
A willful, spoiled, tyrant of a four year old stripped me of centeredness, confidence, or any belief in myself.
“Should I order chicken?” I asked Samuel, one of a barrage of questions about what to do about very simple mundane things that he wouldn’t know the answer to anyway.
Feeling scattered, I dump a puzzle out but don’t have the where with all to really sit and do it. Puzzles help to center me, forgetting that this feeling of scatteredness has been a way of life and even still can visit daily. There are ways to get back in there… to my core where wise answers come.
Losing weight makes it scary. How to keep losing it, feeling bones that had been hidden, feeling good, all ripped away by the rejection of a toddler making a war out of his way vs my way. Perhaps going along and letting him be king of my house like it seems he is at his own, is the best way to be happy?
Dr. Phil’s quote, ‘Do you want to be happy, or be right?’
I want to be happy, but something in me won’t allow disrespect from a child at any age. It is untenable to me, but my belief is that it is also harmful to a child. A child fights to have his or her way, but really does not want that kind of power. They need to know that the adult is in charge no matter what kind of fit is dramatized.
Yet doubts creep in, fear, and indecisiveness, not just about Bennett but about even little decisions. This wave of ungroundedness creates more questions about what’s going on and how it provokes memories of the past which really aren’t so past. The feelings of rejection for doing no wrong, but rather being ganged up on.
The feelings of being talked about, as in way back as a child hearing Seth in the kitchen with his teenage friends thinking I heard them say something about me. Seth, though not one of the attackers, chose to be closest with Tom through the years, the eldest attacker and the only one still living.
But what was happening was I was being attacked, I was not the one who was wrong, but felt that way ever since no matter how much work is put into uncovering the real truth. This has become the bedrock of my personality, my way of responding to just about everything; being wrong, bad, or even fit to live. The courage and work it takes to counteract this is enormous and ongoing.
These issues thought to be healed from are even present, and little bratty Bennett has poked a pin in them. Tom comes to mind while meditating. As the pounds dissolve there are thoughts of letting him know exactly how badly he hurt me.
Because he never got it. His one attempt to talk via phone wasn’t about ‘I’m so sorry, can you ever forgive me,’ it was excuses.
“I was so young,” he said.
After the call my fury sent me out to the forest to bang on trees. YOUNG? You were in college, home on Christmas break! You were old enough to be prosecuted.
During meditation when thoughts are to still, my mind whirled as usual. It is only the last moments when the buzzer goes off that my mind quiets. But this time my busy brain imagined sending an email with a link to my book. Maybe send a book. But really, do you want to share so much of yourself with a creep? Perhaps just the chapter about him? Now that’s an idea.
But then, why bother? Leave them all behind to be whatever they want to be as a group, and go on as I am, plodding along, but discovering on my own path that there’s beauty and peace both around and inside me. The deep wounds will not likely go away completely but need to be lived with. Those sorrowful feelings need space with the joy.
And that is the trick, acceptance of it all, opening up all the doors internally, letting the air flow between each one. Escape is not an option on the path to health, love, joy, and peace.
Floundering, lost, getting my footing on solid ground- a wish with memories of feeling so confident not long ago. So easily the apple cart is upset, the pieces strewn haphazardly, unable to find them all as many remain hidden.
Sometimes one needs to just accept the moment and its messiness. Remember? Even when it’s going well, that internal need for self-talk must be ever present and is always needed. You’re OK, a refrain which calms me all day long because moment to moment feels so uncertain.
The sureness will come, confidence will rise, and the days will become brighter. But rain comes to us all, a day can have both sunshine and dreariness. So take it all and just keep going…
On the patio sipping coffee with Samuel, our usual morning pleasure as the sun rises over the meadow and flowers abounding in our gardens, my head bends over as a sob erupted.
“It brings up my entire life, the feelings of shame and blame. Thinking that Cindy or Bennett MUST have said something about mean Nana. Because he clung to her and didn’t want to be here,” I cried to Samuel, adding, “he won’t want to come here anymore.”
“So what,” Samuel said, adding, “but he will come, of course he will. But so what if he doesn’t?”
These feelings kept me awake that night after the kids left, making it necessary after a two week hiatus of not needing night meds to sleep necessary. I was pulled right back to the life lead; one filled with feelings of shame, blame, and badness. Something Tom’s treatment instilled in me after his attack. His innuendo’s about my unworthiness, being less than others, a dullard, anything but what I really was so that what he did didn’t look like any big deal.
Samuel said, “I don’t know why you let it bother you. You know you are right in correcting Bennett.”
Incensed, I howl, “You don’t know? You know me. You know my self-esteem is in the toilet, and why. I will have to work on it till the day I die. You know how Tom treated me after he attacked me, and continued with his nasty remarks and putdowns all through life!”
The sobs came then just as abruptly left. So used to taking all the crap handed to me. In every relationship when there is any kind of friction, problems, or negativity, (which there is in every one of them) I take the hit. The booming critic insures it.
This new life, only just beginning, has created a space inside me where a softer place welcomes. But it dissipated like a mirage up in smoke when something goes on behind the scenes. When the feeling that there’s things going on behind my back that I must make conjectures about. And my conclusions always cast me in a very bad light.
After another day passes with time from the bruising of a grand-child not wanting to see me, the more truthful reality sets in. It is not me, it is Bennett. It is his parents that need to feel a bit a shame at how they are raising him. That if asked if he can come again, some ground rules need to be set. That what needs to be said is not how BAD I am, but how bad Bennett’s behavior is, and what he needs to be told before coming.
That we are the bosses of this house… not him. And when we tell him he cannot do something, he is not to put up his fists at us, or make horrible faces. He is to mind us. And when he doesn’t, he will be sitting in the hallway until he can act respectful.
That has been a theme of my entire life, feeling BAD for the bad behavior of others. And it will happen again, this triggering of my past causing sleepless nights, bringing me right back to it all; feelings of badness, unworthiness, shame, desiring death over life because of it.
The work continues, and perhaps over time it will happen less and less as my own truth is revealed internally….
Once again the ease of life presents her gifts before me, as she always does, but often my ability to be present, calm, and centered is so off I cannot let them penetrate. The lavender’s scent in baskets can be noted, though it’s been there all along the past week. The scented candle in the warmer seems especially fragrant. And a slight feeling of boredom sets in.
That’s when I know I am there at my center feeling peace. Because after a life of cortisol bursting days where my jumpiness is at the ready along with screams of terror at any little surprise, peace can sometimes be confused with boredom. It’s not boredom, the calm gives me with peace equating to happiness, even bliss.
Days home after camping, walks daily in the meadow with ‘mother’ nurturing me with her bounty of caresses… Hermie the young buck in the field lifting his head wondering what I’m doing in his territory, the graceful heron floating by over the water, the natural bouquet of blossoming milkweeds emitting a luscious scent amidst a spray of look-a-like wild baby breath, all these gifts are finally able to reach my center after a week of quiet, beauty, and plenty of sleep unaided by drugs.
It’s OK, you’re OK, the message needed often and daily. During the pandemic when all were essentially shut down from socializing, my feelings of oddness went away and good feelings replaced them. Others were forced into solitude… like me.
Forced solitude out of the knowledge that others cause harm. That was learned during childhood. It does not change. Also, there is a need for seclusion because too much stimulation sets me off into the stratosphere.
Now others have taken up their social activities, singing in choir, doing band performances in parades such as the couple we know, church gatherings and dinners, get-togethers… and the list goes on.
But it is just as OK now for me to live the life chosen for me even if it differs from the majority of others. A life with quietness, peace (hopefully), and with ease. With retirement there is a drifting of purpose.
Raising sons gave me purpose. Then my nursing degree when the kids were older. Then the job, haranguing as it was to my psyche and emotions. Ugh. Now what?
We saved like little squirrels, so now we know we can pay our bills even though no longer working. So, now what? What is the purpose? No answers here except life. Live it. Live it the best that you can by being in each moment, squeezing the goodness out of each one, even the pain that comes with them. Yes, even that.
Live, grow, oh, try to grow. Work at growing and becoming a better person, and there is much room to grow. And enjoy the simple bounty around you.
There is Herman, the young buck in the field, coming each day, even as I walk by. His head lifts up from the tall grass and we have a moment staring at each other.
“Hi Hermie,” I say greeting him, his big ears atop the brown body unmoving, then he decides to hop away, the white fluff of tail bobbing behind him.
Just enjoy all you have, temper the willful brain that likes to take detours into unhappiness, steer it back to the moment. Not all moments are happy, often there is sadness without knowing why. Feel them, release them by feeling, and let them go.
There is happiness amidst pain. Let it all come and flow through. That is living.
Though hard, it is good to get back to the work of inhabiting my body as one. The more time that passes after being with the chaos and drama of origin family members, the better I feel and the less my mind goes in loops over it.
Moving on to the usual, facing a day with its fears, and challenges with the diligence needed to be present. That is enough without the quagmire of the past, pulled back into old grooves where no growth occurs. It has. No going back, my core will not allow stagnation once tasting the fruits of expansion.
The time spent as a robot to please while with them, dimming as each days goes by. The wonders of each sunrise begins to settle in while worries, and mental games that sicken fade. Because the mind can make me sick if around others that are stuck in loops of their own.
My internal wisdom won’t let me stay in swamps of death-like goo, memories of what was that still are in that group. Who cloyingly begin drowning me with repeated attempts at collaboration in dysfunction. No, free me, let me loose. Tentacles of what seems like family luring me down into the tar that sucks a soul dead.
My issues are many without adding to them, all spelled out in the psychiatric textbooks of diagnoses. Though terms are not my thing, it is helpful to acknowledge my own reality so that gentleness towards self can grow; DISORDERS- Depressive, Anxiety, Trauma and Stressor related disorder, Dissociative Disorder…
It takes great care to manage my life without adding more stress to it. Perhaps these doors that have been left ajar with hopes of meaningful contact need to be closed, maybe locked. To come back to the basics each day, contemplation of my own mortality which spurs my desire to enjoy the simples pleasures amidst the pain.
Ah, to be free of it. As each day passes, more freedom lightens my being. Joy replaces depression. Tears dry, without knowing why they are there, wiping them away almost daily. Maybe it is a mourning all over again. Each failed attempt at connection comes with the price of mourning.
Bury the dead while they are alive? In a sense, yes. Or more succinctly, Live and let live…