Please to Survive

Life hones down to myself and Samuel. Yet even just one person pushes my ‘please you’ buttons. My tendency is to move around his needs neglecting my own at great consequence. He  seems unaware of me, and exists as if we are in two houses. At other times he hovers so closely, and is so in my stuff I can’t breathe. How can the gap be so great?

Rushing to go visit my son and grand-kids down the road for coffee because Samuel said he was ready, meant forgoing lunch. And that means returning very hungry finding it hard to feel satiated because care hadn’t been extended to my needs. It is up to me to do that, no one else.

This pleasing aspect so seemingly permanently embedded? It arose from pure survival. Stuffing tragedy after tragedy with the food Mother pushed my way pleased her, but not me. There was no me. Me didn’t exist except when and if it pleased others.

Becoming mindful of my body and its needs takes great and constant focus. The natural instinct of hunger and satiety along with all other body related functions was driven out at age eight when survival became desperate. Survival meant please others always. And eat. Eat to drown out the pain of non-existence, and the terrifying agony of living.

To take a stand for my needs feels so foreign, selfish, and even aggressive. As if I am doing something so very wrong and must stop. Yet in doing so, being demure, submissive, and pleasing, my body takes the hit.

Eating last night too close to bedtime hurt my stomach causing it to be sore this morning. Skipping lunch ignited the eating hunger machine. What was eaten was only a bowl of high fiber cereal, larger than usual, and after the 3 to 4 pm shut off time. But eating past then, except for cheese or an apple, causes digestive problems when lying down. It wasn’t eaten out of hunger, but out of the ongoing ever-present need to feel loved.

My mind believes that Samuel loves me but doesn’t see me, though that sounds contradicting. Maybe it’s because I don’t take a stand and stay stood. I give in to very little pressure. When he said, “I’ll go drop off the present,” my reply?

I wanted to go too? Didn’t you just hear me talking to Shane about us going over for coffee?

“I heard coffee and thought that you asked if he’d give me a cup,” Samuel replied.

My head shook in disbelief. Samuel was sitting not five feet away, his nose in the newspaper during my conversation with Shane on the phone. And yet when Samuel said he thought he’d go over now to deliver our grand-daughter’s get well gift my response was ‘I’m ready?’

My hair was soaking wet from the bath and I hadn’t eaten, but if Samuel was ready I had better be too. That pressure comes from within, not him, though it would be a great comfort to feel heard, seen, and known.

How does one lose sight of her own needs so quickly, and why? Fear of abandonment or rejection? What of abandoning oneself?.

 

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COCOONING

photo by Patricia

Cocooning myself against the threats in the world was crucial to survival. Every living being posed a threat. This type of cocooning lead to decay, not growth, but I knew no other way.

Reaching out for help from the black hole took great courage and persistence. One starts where one can. The local Mental Health Clinic took on clients based on income so my fee was very low. With only Samuel working at minimum wage we scraped by each week. My babysitting, crafts and frugal spending habits kept us afloat.

Those steps outward were so terrifying. What will they think about me? The urge to blurt forth what brothers had done had become too much to contain, yet along with it was great fear of how badly I’d look. The dirt by others dirtied me and in my mind must be my fault.

Yet there remained one glittering speck of instinct knowing all that was not true. And that speck grew and grew with the help of therapists throughout the years, even ones that behaved badly. Perhaps those spurred me on even more.

Reaching out for friends and outside activities brought anxiety and was scary yet the need for connection grew greater. Always a part of school chorale my love of singing drew me to the local chorale. That became a healthy opportunity for growth in many ways for years. With shaking knees at concerts, friends held me up with their kind support. Each concert became easier and rehearsals less scary and fun.

Friends have remained and due to taking risks and asking others, a group was formed that has met monthly for over 15 years. We rotate at each other’s houses for crafts, cards,  snacks then a dessert. The comfort and camaraderie of other women became a base like earth to grow from.

The need to cocoon myself from too much stimulation remains. Many should’s arise in my mind, yet one rational voice whispers my truth, It’ OK, do what you need to for you…

 

SUNSHINE & DRAGONFLY’S

There is in each of us a wealth to discover of untapped resources. But how to dig through the layers of injury to find the treasures? It wasn’t until middle-age when the filth left behind by others began to break away. Feeling clean arose from deep within. My life had stopped at the age of eight. Who I was went underground. Who you knew was not me.

There were periods of success and finishing what was started, but more often any hopes, dreams, goals or even a small simple project was left unfinished. Darkness and pain mired my body and mind in turmoil and self-hate. 

Working with mosaics brings satisfaction on many levels. Sometimes the jagged pieces cut my fingers and reminds me how like the shards I am; warm and beautiful sometimes, prickly, cold and sharp other times. And the broken pieces, not usually cut carefully but pounded with a hammer, come together in wholeness with a unique presence not found when scattered. 

It gives me hope. It feels good to finish what was started, from rolling out the clay, glazing it, firing the tiles, and then hammering the tile into pieces. The design phase allows a conduit from the soul outward, a route heavily blocked since childhood- the iron doors too thick to penetrate either in or out.

As the sun splays through the window upon my shoulder, reminding myself to breathe as muscles relax on the exhale, incense burning and music softly playing in the background,  the process of coming together is happening with broken tiles, but also, most satisfying, with me.

This is my life, putting back the pieces…

What lies beneath?

The Blizzard

photo by Patricia

Reproaching constantly when failing to meeting goals, expectations or plans fortifies the harsh force living inside that leaps to the forefront more quickly than the warm, soft one. The latter is newly cultivated and without nurturance wilts quickly needing continual moistening with tender attention.

You know winters are hard. Yet you expect to perform as if it is not. Reminders of its challenges and how difficult they are will soften expectations, heighten your ability to see successes over failures, and make the path more enjoyable.

It is work to repair so many years of engrained self-flogging that started at age eight and only flourished as decades passed. As a child touched in such criminal ways, and silenced to meet others needs of normalcy, it is common to take the crimes on as if they were your own.

Hating oneself solidifies. Self-love, what is that? That is the work, softness, warmness, and acceptance towards oneself. Is there a part of the brain that  never softens from the blizzard of self-reproach?

The windows yesterday were closed when temperatures began to drop from 60. Rain melted the snow filling the creek into a pond. Wind raged through the night. Upon waking it is 16 degrees and snow swirls to over a foot.

Kitten curls up on my lap as the word gratitude wraps around me like snow.   

The Harvest

photo by Patricia

The journey within is often dark and scary. Issues of low self-esteem grew since the first wrong touch as a child of eight. Low self-worth became as solid and strong as bones that grew with them.

To move beneath those shadows can be frightening. Voices bellow a cadence of grim put-downs that put a being in a grave while still living. But with work fallacies dissolve and the real humanness inside can be explored. Treasures found have been there all along.

With realistic eyes see where you add to dysfunction or unhappy interactions. What is in your power to change, and what is not? What can you do to provide yourself with what you need so that there are no regrets? It is up to you and no one else.

The road is fraught with pits of self-recriminations because that is what I know. To furrow new rows where love  germinates takes attention and work. Newly spaded soft warm earth needs tending and care. Too often robotic me drives on and no softness sprouts up.

When feelings of cold self-rejection overtake trying to harvest a soft place to fall where before only ice existed is new territory that doesn’t come easily. Bringing softness to places where harshness tends to live is an ongoing journey into the depths of my being.  

The Core

Two fears faced daily, death and that of being unlovable. Despite much evidence to the contrary, the fear of not being loved, or worthy of it, are what rattle around in my belly causing an anxiety that needs calming each morning upon arising. Usually it is not a conscious need, but there like a low growling monster needing feeding.

The monster hasn’t changed much since childhood. Drowning it with whatever would silence it only works temporarily; food, shopping, alcohol, super busyness, excess caffeine, sugar… What would it take to quiet the beast and reduce her roars to a manageable way of being?

That is the work and the goal… What do you need to love yourself? Others love you. Why can’t you feel it, why can’t you love you? The core so hidden to preserve what’s left is heavily vaulted. You can’t access it either. Go there. Be brave. Only then will you discover the treasures awaiting.

 

AMAZING GRACE

photos by Patricia

The grace of peace envelopes my being. A life of battles make this miracle sweet, battles within myself that were never won for long because another quickly took its place.

Living on the edge with a nervous system smashed by early childhood sexual abuse made life an anxiety ridden existence. There is no wish to do it again. Contemplation over the hurdles it took to find these moments of fulfillment takes me back to my mother’s death eight years ago.

It was only then that the truth came up in explicit detail, every nuance, every trauma. It was only then that instinct allowed for release of all that been hidden in order to protect her need for a view of ‘family’ that eased her conscious.

As each chapter arose it came with sorrows but also joy because locked down trauma locks down joy too. Blackness carried from the crimes of others vanished from my core.  

Finally the enormous load of feeling dirty and bad lifted. There is space to explore what really is there without clouds of filth from the hands of others. The journey continues…