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.

HOME

And so we are home from the 5 hour journey to Cory’s in the neighboring state. My eyes mist wishing to live closer, but Cory always had his own path and it seemed to take him away from home starting with his college years. He really never came back.

But oh, how satisfying to see him fathering his two little ones. (With one more to come in December) Oh how my two sons make such devoted fathers! They are better parents than me, also better people.

But it’s good to be home, home where kitty nestles in my lap, the wild look in her eyes from being alone slowly dissolving as the afternoon wore on. Though someone comes daily to feed and play with her, she really misses us, and I miss her too.

There is something so satisfying to have a cat curl up happy with my touch and closeness. At least one live being is allowed closeness with me. But also, the touch on my son’s shoulder, the warm embrace upon arriving, and again while leaving which made me weep… it will be months before that happens again.

We live a strange life in this go, go, go world. Where once families spread out on the same road for their entire lives, it is rare for children to stay in their growing up town once reaching adulthood. Jobs, college, etc.- these things make moving necessary.

Now home with warm memories and a congratulatory pat on my own back for taking on the challenge of traveling. And at Cory’s it feels like home away from home, so I’m able to sleep and advocate for my needs.

And my needs are particular. If sleep came through the night, than in the mornings my energy is at its best. By the afternoon I tend to retreat to our apartment for silence and rest. I wish it didn’t have to be so, but I’m learning to respect what a lifetime of adrenaline bursts daily and repeatedly have done to my body, so tired out from the feelings of crisis at any moment.

He knows me better than anybody, and is loyal, loving, and kind. No Mom could ask for more. Though he’d like a more energetic Mom to help with the kids, and would prefer I didn’t have such struggles, he is glad Samuel is there to tag along holding the one-year old while he does tasks he cannot do with that duty. And Samuel likes it too!

TERROR

Samuel comes in quietly as usual around 11:30 PM with me asleep but that little sound woke me. After using the bathroom the routine is going back to sleep, sometimes easily, sometimes not. This time memories began to cave in like bolts of terror, each one worse than the one before.

Memories of brothers, what they did to me as a child, and after. Once taken down and repeatedly used for their lust, especially Chet’s, my tendency to be easily manipulated increased one-hundred fold.

And he took advantage of that in many ways after the sexual attacks ended. They all did. And many more out in society. Learning that my own body was not mine, going out in the world was so very dangerous. And that certainty won’t change. It was experienced by those trusted, loved, and looked up too.

The knowledge learned as a child of what humans are capable of, coupled with a lack of boundaries, makes living around people frightening. Encountering others who take advantage of people, manipulate, lie, cheat, and do evil, makes me vulnerable. It is home on our land where safety is felt most.

But lately? While walking the meadow there is a feeling of ever present danger, as if Chet will suddenly jump out of the bushes from his grave to terrify me. On edge, this feeling has developed all summer, making it a summer of ups and downs interfering with my sleep. Is it due to weight loss?

On nights when sleep is interrupted, the deal is that food is allowed to quell that anxiety. Food, food, and more food, the eating orgy along with medication making a stupor that allows for sleep. The next day grogginess and guilt. This is no way to live.

My intensity and focus on diet and exercise… gone in the middle of the night. Is it due to moving so close to my core that the memory of Dan’s attack is about to rise? The one attack repressed only remembering the before and after. Is the loss of weight bringing me closer to my psyche allowing for that memory? Has the excess weight been there to keep me safe from it?

Because as weight comes off, horrifying fear creeps in.

SUFFER

As tiny an event as the cat escaping under the bed instead of being able to close the door with her out, kept me from falling asleep. Lying there thinking about this noise, that noise, or that Samuel found her coming out and shutting the door (which he didn’t but that little sound made me look up from my pillow) kept me awake way past the ‘fall asleep’ time.

Then? Up past midnight, the next day groggy feeling so sorry for myself because of what must be effects of long-term PTSD. But today is a new day, and isn’t life like that? Pain with pleasure, yet it is not something easy to accept fighting the bad days with bitterness, sadness, and hopeful illusions of growing up in a safe family.

The wishes don’t all go away. On hard days they crop up like bubbles popping once hitting my consciousness. This is your reality and it’s unlikely to completely change. The addition of marijuana oil has certainly helped greatly but the hard nights, and other difficulties are here to stay.

Though not my fault, not my doing, suffer it I must.

REPRESSION

No matter how much is put in having body, mind and spirit mesh, the brokenness occurring at age eight might be permanent. That is impossible to accept.

Would work on repression help to mend this divide? The divide between body and mind go on as if no work was done. One positive that can be said, hard work is taken on daily.

With a working mother, my job was clean the kitchen and get dinner ready. No mother awaited us coming home from school no matter how much longing there was for it. That began at age eight when dad died, right there on the floor in front of us. Trauma enough, but every detail is burned into memory- no repression there..

There is at least one severe and traumatic attack that is repressed. Dan’s attack. Would that coming up help at all? Would it help these nights when nothing is much different but my body is on high. Seeing 2 AM while all others sleep SUCKS.

These males, not brothers- once you touch that way you are no brother, or family. I had 7 seven of them. the other three stood by, did nothing once hearing the truth, said nothing, but most injurious are buddies with the remaining attacker, but also were friendly with the ones now gone. It is not OK.

Night after night of uninterrupted zzz’s, then a night when after almost two hours of trying to sleep everything looms as a grave disaster causing a double dose of medication to sleep. What is the cure?

Walks in the meadow lately bring fear; bees, snakes, someone popping out of the forest to scare me, just as the attackers disguised as brothers would do each finding it funny. They must have hated me. Would reading about the repression of Danny’s attack help? Would finding out what repression does to the body help? Would remembering the violence of his rape help?

It must take enormous energy to repress diverting limited resources needed elsewhere. That repressing a memory every minute of every day must depletes precious energy even if it is unconscious.

The search for answers, truth, authenticity, and knowing my real self continues… along with the need to speak up to the origin family about my true anger with each of them. There is certainly a bucket of it, but the cork stuffing it is slow to open.

Learn to LOVE Thy Self

Even a solitary life such as mine brings pain. The world comes in, how could it not with the amount of news we watch? But other things, such as saying no to a younger brother who over the years learned to expect things from me that are out of bounds. Yet with my poor self-esteem, and feelings of duty to care for my younger brother, I hop at his requests, just like I tend to hop at Samuel’s requests.

Stevie was trained early on by Tom to treat me cruelly with no consequences. That I deserved it. Because Tom had a secret- what he did to me, so with it came making me look bad and unworthy. That helped create a scenario with all 6 other brothers. Since the outlook towards me is that I’m more worthless than others, it’s OK to treat me with scorn, and as if I’m invisible. I easily went along with it so you will just love me.

This summer the angst of saying no to little brother Stevie has caused a great deal of pain. Saying yes to my needs overriding his took great strength. It has been a long time coming. At eight years old after Dad died, Mom and I sang Silent Night each night to Stevie, along with the ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ prayer.

 Stevie would ask me, “Is Daddy gone?”

Even at my young age taking care of Stevie came naturally. Mom became absorbed in going out into the work force despite her grief, and also started drinking more.

“He’s not gone, he’s up in heaven looking over us,” I said.

As we grew the older boys were out of the house a lot. It was Stevie and me wandering the neighborhood on our bikes while Mom was at work. Keeping an eye on him became my job.

But also through the years his tendency to treat me differently than others, less than, not worthy of respect, went unnoticed by him, but hurt me sharply. It has only been recently that in my own quiet way I say NO.

Not without angst. Finally having a talk with him yesterday, I did relay that after saying no about visiting so Samuel could do electrical work for him he completely stopped emailing, calling, or videoing.

I repeated it because he didn’t seem to hear me.

“After I said no, I didn’t hear from you,” I said, adding, “I thought you must have been really hurt. It’s not that I don’t want to see you, I cannot sleep elsewhere and must take something every night. It’s a huge challenge. After going to Cory’s, then camping with Shane, I felt I met my two biggest challenges and goals. Adding one more was just too much, plus I’ve been sick for a month with diverticulitis.”

“Oh, well, you think too much, you overthink it,” he said, obviously wanting to move on, unconnected to his own inner workings.

Later while walking the meadow my thoughts bent on what he said that in the past might have hurt me. It was a criticism saying I think too much. Talking aloud to myself I said to him, “You don’t think enough!” Not something I could do in person, not just yet. He is way to sensitive to criticism himself of any kind.

My tears began while trying to explain to him about how hard it is to travel, especially after his slight show of compassion about it.

“Sorry you have such a hard time traveling, but it’s OK,” he said. More tears.

“No, it’s not. I can’t do what I want to do. My body is just tired out after a stress filled life,” I said, not going into childhood issues which I’ve always kept from him, protecting him. Don has recently told both of them the broad issues of my being a survivor, as that’s what dysfunctional families do, tell personal things about someone who is not there.

Not going up to help my little brother bothered me that much, enough to cause tears. My needs came first, and though taking that step was incredibly hard it also came with more understanding, love, and care for myself… and more self-respect.

That is growth, healing and growth, which can often be painful.

A RECKONING

MORNING SUNBEAMS AT THE CREEK

It’s a little early for melancholy, the drop in mood that occurs each fall. Yet some birds are grouping in trees and practicing flight plans, and others may have already left for warmer climates. The sun sets earlier, rises later, and that feeling of sadness creeps in. The core work of turning a belief of unworthiness into worthiness seems much harder to confront, but there it is smacking me in the face.

Day after day of reversing that loud critic that screams badness, wrongness, and that I’m unfit to live. Hasn’t any progress been made? It seems that the excess weight is proof of my unworthiness. That carrying it is all I have to prove my worth. If I hate myself, will I then be loved by those brothers who feel so unsafe?

That it has always been my job to carry the burden of what was done to me so that the others won’t have to? Yet three out of four attackers have died, and died too early for the normal life span of most. I believe they did carry a very heavy burden which lead to a shorter life. The fourth, not a bit, but at least he moved out west and I have no contact.

Even as little as a month ago Seth sent a group email including that fourth attacker with no awareness that I DON’T WANT TO BE IN AN EMAIL WITH HIM! It took up till this year to request that Stevie and Don not do it, then Seth does it. I did not ask Seth thinking he must know.

But they continue to remain clueless to the wreckage Tom left behind after attacking me. All the years of put-downs, which broke me as much or more than the attacks.

And oh how I want family. Yet cannot. How can I? When those three interact with Tom frequently by email as if nothing ever happened? When I know if he had done to their daughters what he did to me, no way would he be their good buddy.

So the craving continues, both for core feelings of worthiness because that is still elusive, and for family. Having my woman friends over for our monthly get-together brought to light again just how safe I feel with them which is in such opposition to the three brothers who didn’t abuse me.

Making arrangements to spend time with these three brothers brought on sleeplessness with danger sirens so strong they drown me in self-doubt with feelings of failure for not being able to connect. But who really is at fault for that?

When others who profess to love you don’t stand up with you and your testimony of past torture, how can they be trusted? How can I know of my worth if you don’t see me, hear me, or believe me? If you won’t even listen, then put me down for telling my story (which Seth did)?

Reaching an impasse at weight loss isn’t about weight, but about loving myself; honestly respecting my authentic self, my factual story, even when others won’t. Especially then. A reckoning of self. A true face to face. Do you have the courage to truly love yourself? To keep going to places where peace and love grow?

PATIO FLOWER