And so right down to my core comes breath… clear, free, and pure. Hashed over all summer and before? The origin family, or what’s left of them, and being a part of it. It is (finally) OK.
But first things needed to be said, or written, as that is how my words come, through written form. Don took it well and with a loving response. Seth, quite the opposite. It came to a standstill almost ending altogether. But he came back with a response that lent credence and my armor was put down.
We had a grape pie party from our own grapes on what might have been the last sunny day in the 70’s. Seth, Don, and his wife, along with both dogs, loving the meadow running free. Huge cups of dark rich coffee sipped happily creek side with laughter and ease, coming up to a decadent pie lunch topped with large scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Hours passed on this sunny day, my soul set free, with a heart safe to open.
Pieces scatter like a bucket of wash water thrown out with a splash. Saying no to Stevie caused weeks of worry, sleepless nights, and guilt tinged with grief. All these feelings to sort out; guilt for saying no to my younger brother, grief that our relationship is so poor along with reminders of an origin family where insurmountable pain existed which wreaked lives shortening them.
Trust the wisdom that caused me to say no, though it has been hard to like myself ever since. The wonder of exciting days awaiting dissolved, my ability to stay on track nutritionally went too. All the feelings about myself went sour, positive feelings that took persistent, long-term work to develop.
Why can’t you help your little brother? (the critic ever-present) Though it wasn’t my help, it was Samuel’s he desired. Just bate my sister as if really wanting to see me, a TV in my room, put there just for me…NOT. Repeated video chats, once calling back SEVEN times when I wasn’t up to answering him, then the rarity of actually answering an email, also telling me how much fun it will be on the lake, etc., but what he really wanted was collusion in his chaos.
The man could have another house that did not need so much work. But he wanted to do the work. (I don’t) He is 65. Really, buy a house that has 30 outdoor stone steps required each time to just get inside it? No indoors stairs to the basement. You carry groceries and all else up those steps?
Flat surfaces for us. Also, with my limited abilities, focus is finally being honed onto the closest and most important relationships- my husband, then children, their children, and friends who feel much safer than brothers and more enjoyable to be with. Not so with Stevie.
He can be very demanding, even telling me what I can say and what I can’t. Like hating Trump. Maybe that is a sweetness within him, not wanting others to say they hate someone, yet in less than a year he was saying the same thing.
I surely don’t want to be around his energy, the chaos within him of both retiring and being in a new home, huge life changes that seem to be bringing out a excessive restlessness in him. That is an energy hard to around since my own insides are often in turmoil. What I crave is the ability to be still and be OK with that. To feel it to my core and have this newly found peace spread throughout me.
Long, long ago, when we were both living at Mom’s in our twenties. My rooms were in the basement. Mom was beginning Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. Stevie had begun a job as a bartender. He excitedly talked me into turning my little living room in the basement into a bar. Uh, OK. It doesn’t matter that’s where I live, or that Mom is drying out. Will you then love me?
The aftereffects of saying no have been grim. Yet in its wake there is an enormous leap of growth into self-preservation, respect of self, and yes, a continued path towards love of self.
“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.
A week of confusion and turmoil finally calming me back to my soul with input from friends, my son, and a friend far away, never meeting her in person but closer to me than anyone I know. And… Mother Nature, restorative, curative, and finally after several days of resting my tired mind, the energy arises to go out and be with her.
The walks bringing me back to myself. How easily the split occurs. With the origin people, that group one is born to with ties like tentacles, the gag order reduces me to robot like living. Home again among friends who accept me as I am with no hidden past, there are also no hidden agendas to shut me up.
Nature cradles me in beauty, the meadow filled with buttercups, daisies soon to join them. Carp in the creek as big as sharks nibble on the banks of the water, their gigantic sleek bodies twisting above. The breeze blows the leaves with a soft rustle above me. Slowly I move back into my body, soul, mind, spirit, and emotions, claiming them, feeling them, becoming one once again.
The day opens not depressingly as it did all week, but with wonder, mystery, and excitement. What pleasures await? What other goals can be achieved, realized for the first time in years? Because as freedom inside myself grows, freedom from the chains of childhood and the forced silence, talents, abilities, special qualities, and magic to achieve goals and become who I really am increases tenfold, blossoming like the flowers around me.
What else lies inside waiting to be discovered, nurtured, and developed? Like stoking the tiny spark into constant flame, that little kernel of self-love is still there. Sometimes I must hack down the brush and heavy foliage to find it, that harsh critic blocking me all the way. Persistence pays off, patience helps too.
But there it is, a spark to coddle into flame warming my entire being with friendship to self. To feel all that is there without judgement or denial. To investigate the wounds still needing care and release. To allow the wise voice to take precedence and try not to allow the willful child to run things again.
That part yearns for the loving family she never had. Another part riles things up when success is prevalent. My job in that group of people that some call family was to fail. Be bad, do bad, carry their burdens. And no wonder my life was spent not wanting to live.
That is no more. Success reigns. Peace sustains. All that I need, I have.
Hearing the ding of emails coming in, taking a breath, a sigh of relief calms me knowing that any emails coming from the culprits of those in the so called origin family will be diverted to junk mail.
I’ll never see them or know emails are there unless I look. And mostly there won’t be any. No one interacts much unless wanting something, which is rare. But it’s a necessary step right now to feel safe, find my freedom again, and be at peace.
The emails come from friends, those few that are real family, trusted and supportive in a honest way, not in ways that serve only them. And in they come, reliable, loving, and filling the ragged holes that the origin family ravaged with their fake interest and hollow words.
Friends, the family made after years of work, commenting on the video and photos of my 8 year old grand-daughter in a huge dance competition where she recently took first place among all the area dance studio’s participants.
Oh to see her whole, loving, and complete, the age when I was first attacked. An age where the longing for ballet classes was not to be because food used to survive the traumas put too many pounds on to my little kid frame.
She’s a winner to us regardless of any wins, her grace and beauty overflowing. Tears fill my eyes while watching, and joy sent sparklers of shivers down my legs to my toes….
Days later my body is still tight, freedom lost to the ages where in adolescence I was slave girl to Seth for 2 dollars a week.
There by the campfire bantering away, no way like the being in the meadow where peace reigned in my core. Just a play-doh woman of what he could relate to while sipping from his cup filled periodically rather secretly with more booze from a container by his feet.
Freedom gone. Did all that sudden planning come from the child in me still craving the family once known? And what of wise woman who knows better?
Though probably temporary, or not, all have been blocked from entering my email box.
“If one of them calls, don’t answer it,” I tell Samuel.
And the video chats won’t be answered either. Safety. One needs safety from their family of origin? Yes.
“How are you today?” Shane asked on his usual drive back from dropping off his son at school, a phone call looked forward to every morning.
Dissolving into tears I reply, “Not so good. I can’t be around ‘them’ meaning any of the brothers who keep pressuring me to join in their little group.
Thinking it was good for me, and meeting some kind of obligation to ‘family’, I called Don last week. He was glad I finally accepted his invitation to the city for bagels outdoors in his garden. But then in one breath he also added, ‘I’ll ask Seth too.’
Don picked up on my lack of excitement about adding people to the bagel brunch so stated he’d keep it just us if that would be more comfortable for me. And more people easily overwhelms me. But I said go ahead, ask him. (where did my wisdom go?)
So though it seemed like a normal get-together, that night after over three weeks of pleasant sleep patterns and joyful days of walking the meadow, medication was required to sleep.
Interacting with conspirators that forced silence from me about early repeated traumas awakened memories, taking me right back to age 8 and all the ways I used to be…. doormat, pleasing, invisible. Those that imposed this gag order heaped dirt over the grave of who I really am or could be.
Nothing has changed except me. I then invited Seth to go camping at our most favorite spot in the glen. Don and his wife came too. All this since Friday, the ramifications still clutching my soul, holding me down feeling victimized all over again, their puppet on a string.
My body shut down and didn’t begin to relax till coming home. There’s still a far way to go to resume my peaceful life. Sleep will not yet return. Memories flood my brain especially after Seth sent an email of photos from the trip but also added the eldest, Tom.
Seth has been Tom’s life- long buddy, always choosing to spend time with him and almost no time spent with me in any way except rare emails. Little in the way of actually being together. Seeing his name was a kick in the gut, including Tom who destroyed any semblance of the little girl I was.
Tom, who crept up in the night to suck on my little girl vagina while I slept. I awoke in the middle of the night to see his head down there wondering what was happening. My younger brother and I were given the yearly treat of sleeping end to end on the the couch by the Christmas tree falling asleep watching the Christmas tree lights. Tom was home from college for Christmas break. I was 8 years old. My grand-daughter is that age now.
Tom treated me horribly after that and decades more until cutting off all ties permanently. He would constantly put me down around others to make me look less than human. Then his crime wasn’t so vile if I wasn’t worthy of life. He did it so slyly no one really noticed, or if they did, did nothing to confront him. His campaign of destruction did destroy my self-esteem more than everything else suffered silently, the rape, the endless attacks, too many to count done by other ‘brothers.’
When you touch me like that, you lose the right to be called brother. You are nothing to me. Three others have died leaving me with feelings of relief and safety. But these three- Don, Seth, and Stevie- who did not touch me that way are also NOT SAFE.
My invisibility became solid. Seeing that email with Tom’s name added numbed me and made last night’s sleep impossible as memories stole my peace. I have asked the Stevie, and Don not to add me to their emails that have Tom in the list. So I don’t get any emails because they much prefer Tom.
Those requests are recent. It has taken over 60 years to ask for a scrap of respect. Seth ought to know better. But he denies that I even suffered such tragedies early on. How else could he make one of my attackers his best buddy, just as the others do too.
He also drinks heavily which probably has turned his brain to mush. Another reason to keep my distance. Alcoholism is very much a part of my growing up family, first my father, then my mother.
Seth’s modes operando is denial. When sending a link to my book he wouldn’t answer my emails for months. When I tried to repair that rift, his response was that I shouldn’t be putting our family’s dysfunction out there. (the book is entirely anonymous with made up names for everyone)
That denies my very existence. Around him I don’t feel good, nor can I be myself. I turn into the doormat that never can please, waiting on him, trying not to offend him, being a robot of who he needs me to be.
My son immediately says to his weeping mother over the phone before starting his work day, “I’m proud of you. You reached out and tried to make it work. Everyone’s older, there’s less time, and you tried. Don’t beat yourself over it. You will work through these feelings then know again it cannot work.”
“But I keep doing it, like a moth to flame,” I cried, adding, “I thought I’d regret not trying then one of them dies. But I regret trying.”
“Well, everyone wants family,” he gently added.
“I can’t love them with them. I can only love them afar.” I said, a mantra tossed aside when the need for family pulls thinking this time will be alright.
It isn’t, it won’t be. Love from afar, even if the love is for the idea of a what a loving brother would be…and accept the loneliness that comes with the knowledge that this group is NOT family. I do best as an orphan.
On my mind all week after speaking up to a ‘friend.’ Friend in quotes because we’ve not been able to really make a friendship although she’s in our little group that meets monthly.
“Is it OK if you pick me up at 10 of?” she emails after asking if she’d like a ride to our first get together in 14 months. We have done monthly gatherings on-line but this is the first in person gathering for me.
She has gone down to the coffee shop every morning for a long while, so quite the social animal. But has no problem making me late so that she can stay after church to chat with her friends. 10 minutes earlier and I wouldn’t be late to Chris’s, and her seemingly innocent question really aggravated me. Then the critic steps in, it is only ten minutes, she’s a widow, blah, blah, blah, my head battered and weary from the critic.
No way could my response be yes. For the first time, not only do my needs matter, but I must and do advocate for them. And it finally registered that in all the past years she has made me late every time so that she could stay longer with her other group of friends. She has been very wily about keeping that to herself, but Samuel goes down for coffee and has seen her there every time.
Saying no is so hard. What will the others think? What will I say when they ask where Rosalie is? But, but, but, what about me? What about wanting to see my friends, hug them, spend a lovely afternoon chatting, playing cards, and wiling away the time pleasurably? Plus the simple fact that I hate being late anywhere and avoid it whenever possible.
That is how hard it is to say no. But in doing it, more self-respect grows. In saying no to the inappropriateness of others I begin to become visible. That is a first. Being invisible is my motes operando.
Hiding because the real me is so detestable. No more.
Spring moves along at its beautiful pace while wishing for more warmth along the way. But enjoy the ride because once the heat hits you’ll be wishing for cooler days. Perplexed at why this spring was so upsetting to sleep issues, it has settled down.
Since returning from Cory’s, sleep has been consistent, deep, and lengthy. A blessing. Gratitude pours forth and energy abounds. Walks in the sunshine, or on a misty morning are miraculous in their splendor.
Each day new glorious with more growth than the day before. Blossoms everywhere! Just as it feels like something quite new blossoms internally. A shift of enormous magnitude that no one but me knows or notices.
The weights of the world once carried like boulders upon my shoulders have melted away, especially the ones linked to the origin family where every interaction was something I’ve done wrong if not pleasing, placating, or in agreement with what another wants or is pushing for.
Freedom and peace come from self-care, nurturing myself in a way never taught. Those are the roses growing inside of me, as bountiful as the explosion of spring…
Pondering the use of the word hate yesterday while walking, it occurred to me that the hate was for the situation. That families gather together against the victim to keep her quiet using any psychological tool available; criticism, rejection, whatever it takes to silence the voice of truth.
That’s the hate. Mother’s admonitions early on taught me to NEVER say hate, never speak up, never advocate for my own needs, especially quelling my nature to speak up about wrongs.
That’s my nature, but forever damaged due to her teachings so that her little daughter would never tell anyone what her sons were doing and what they had done. Because even after telling me to tell her if it ever happened again, it kept happening.
Of course. How could I stop what was never wanted to begin with? Although I’d spend most of my life blaming myself for just that.
Even on her death bed she directed me to take out a pen and write it down, a verse from a poem she once read. Still the dutiful daughter in my fifties, I did as she asked.
“Talk faith. The world is better off without Your uttered ignorance and morbid doubt. If you have faith in God, or man, or self, Say so. If not, push back upon the shelf Of silence all your thoughts, till faith shall come; No one will grieve because your lips are dumb.” Ella Wheeler
I still have that scrap that of paper. It seared into me the words of silence I was never to break. At first perplexing, then it dawned on me that even after her death she would manage me and try to keep me silent about her sons. A mother loves all her children.
To cause such damage to a child’s personality and nature so early on makes it very hard to reclaim. And of course I cannot to the extent I’d like. There are precious losses unrecoverable. But dwelling on what’s lost is a choice after it has been fully grieved, and that took years.
Now the key to happiness is mine. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, it always has been but I didn’t know it.