AUTHENTICITY

We met a few towns over for brunch. I told Cory it was OK, that coming from Massachusetts for such a quick trip to be best man at his friend’s wedding, and staying at the venue instead of with us, was OK, OK, OK. I’m sure I said it four times at least, but never that I’d rather not drive to meet for breakfast before they went on their way back home. Oh course, never that!

He seemed stuck on it so that we would have a little time together, but it didn’t feel like him. Something wasn’t right or real. My urge was to say Nah, I’d rather not, just go ahead and get on the road. It was couched in another way much less direct, as if it would be for his benefit, which it would be, but also mine.  Driving to meet for an hour in a little cafe was not appealing..

And once there, it did come out that his sweet wife had encouraged him to make time to see us. Had I known that for sure, my insistence that they just get going would have been more authentic. It is a 6 hour trip.

Weaving the threads of what benefits my spirit, balancing those with the needs and wants of others, all while the darkness of shorter days also darkens my internal world, becomes much harder. Summertime breezed by happily, but the long months to come will take new initiatives to conquer it. When is pushing myself beneficial, and when does it backfire?

But once again inauthenticity strikes. It was an ongoing struggle deciding the week beforehand; my instincts vs what he was suggesting. Not going seemed so outrageously unmotherly. It would have been fine. Cory and I tend to be honest like that. His wife has softened him in ways that work for them.

But not this time. The world I try to control to keep my internal workings calm is disrupted by inauthenticity. Doing for those I love comes first, including the cat. It also includes just about anyone else. Inauthentic choices are becoming harder and harder to swallow, keeping me awake when I should be asleep.

Can you be honest, say no, and still like yourself? I will have to try it sometime. Courage is not always slaying dragons. Sometimes it is just showing up. 

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How to Brighten a Rainy Day

Though tedious for some, for arthritic hands needing movement to maintain agility, this simple project has brought hours of fun. Some will be gifts, and others are strung from the double window for year round sparkle when the light hits them just right. 

That they are Christmas themed does not matter as the rules of the house are mine. Well, Samuel’s too, but he doesn’t care.

After a day of doubling down on the usual negative messages that pop into my head unbidden, last night sleep came. When feeling powerless without voice, memories of all that I’d hoped to have dragged myself out of come flooding back.

It happens like a switch turned on, suddenly right back in that lonely, tarry hole. A seemingly innocuous experience becomes poignantly piercing leaving a residue. Support hastens recovery.  

It isn’t a lack of character or strength. It was the damage done.

A new day, full of happiness after speaking with both sons on their way to work. First one, then after hanging up, magically the other calls. I am the luckiest Mom filled with pride and joy.  

Say NO

“Thought I’d come for tea. Would you like a visit?” Chris asked.

“Oh sure,” I replied, then remembering our outing planned for the gorge the next day I added, “Oh, I forgot, we are going to the Falls tomorrow.”

“Maybe we can come. Jerry might have to work, but I’ll ask him,” she said excitedly, while my mind was immediately yelling what my mouth would not— I didn’t ask you!

Caught off guard without defenses to ease myself out of the situation, the day to come already felt ruined. Enjoying the freedom to do what I want, when I want, was stolen.

Then the reproach begins, adding to the disappointment of having others go to my special place that weren’t asked to come: At your age, you can’t speak up? That thread bangs down heavily making the dissatisfaction of a friend’s overstepping her boundaries particularly jarringly, also making me aware of how easily others take advantage of me. 

I’m a mouse. But another voice breaks in, you were put in a tough position without time to think of way to say no gracefully. How about, FUCK NO! Instead it was a meek, mild, fake enthusiastic OK.

“I’ll ask Jerry, and get back to you,” she says.

“OK,” I respond, my being somewhat fractured, perhaps dissociating. Part of me with her on the phone, another part elsewhere in the magical world where I had a voice.

The usual self-hate crept in for not speaking up, for allowing it, then feeling victimized. For her yet again taking something from me. We’ve had serious friction before. My dignity stolen with the constant swipes, like daggers to my belly being hurled whenever she needed a cleansing.

After years of not speaking up, I finally did. The crack in the friendship since then remained deep. She did not like me calling her out about the snotty remarks.

She phones after more than a year of not calling. We still meet monthly with our little group that travels to each other’s homes for cards, snacks, laughter, and fun. But we stopped doing too much together like we once used too. And we definitely stopped doing things as a foursome.

It was OK. We got through the day without major catastrophes, but I would have rather been on my own. There were specifications about what time they had to be back. A quick peek at another falls on the way home was scraped. On our own we would have.

Going along with something unwanted disturbed my peace. Waking at 4 AM, I was very awake. That has not occurred in over a month, and it’s probably not coincidental. Only this morning have words bubbled up that could have been said; no, we planned this outing just for the two of us. Simple, direct, and oh so easy.   

When my inner life is disturbed it causes this upset in sleep. A voice stolen such as mine was, doesn’t come back, not really. A life where my own needs were ignored while attacks to my body occurred over and over, takes the voice and a life.

I live with punches, whirling around like a dervish just to please others. Giving up what little I have, then nothing’s left. That is not OK. It wasn’t OK to say OK. Rationally it is such a little thing, but looms large because it feels like a repeat of the past. 

The solitude I crave and flourish within has much to do with this flaw in my character. I cannot speak up about my own preferences and needs. Resentment, even hate follows, for myself, and the offenders.

It is easier to navigate life on my own where freedom is sometimes found, luscious freedom oh so sweet. Even in solitude I am captive to my own negativity, but am finding my way out of the bondage. 

It becomes much harder around others, especially those that are so needy and controlling. 

 

EACH MOMENT

The balmy morning, though darkly silent, draws me out on the porch with the cat without shivering from the cold. The flux in temperatures is interesting, nights dropping cold, the sun warming the land causing thick clouds of low lying fog drifting off with the warmth.

Some days slowing my mind to absorb the beauty around me does not come. Walking the meadow, the tall grasses once lush green have dried causing a swoosh walking by as the breeze makes them sway.

Leaves fall in swatches while sitting creek-side making a crunch underfoot grounding me to the earth. Wake and notice. But my mind drifts off elsewhere, and it is hard to stay present. Thoughts turn to the miracle of long periods of sleep, and what has changed since the trip to Cory’s.

Because that is when the miracle of night after night of sleep started. Perhaps the knowledge that the seemingly impossible is possible if enough effort and determination is put forth. That my mind is more powerful than given credit for.

That feelings are welcome, yet some can be turned from gently closing the door on them. Fear? Anxiety? Come to the moment to chase those away. An upcoming call concerning when the eye surgery will be? Dismiss it. There will time to face that fear when it happens. No need to dwell on it now.

Instead offer myself encouragement that it will be handled. And with aplomb. You can do it, and do it with a sense of peace, prayer, and hope when the time arrives.

But other feelings? Those need to run through me, not be avoided, because stuffing them only causes the pain to linger coming out in other ways often by disturbing the body’s physical health..

How to know which ones to keep and which ones to maneuver? That is not a ‘head’ decision, but one of soul. That place is now open, not clogged with hate, bitterness, and oily, tarry hands of what brothers did. Rage like layers of volcanic earth far below the surface needed out.

All that had to be expunged. And what work to excavate. Decades. The work done, joy and peace spread up through over the red raw healing interior like balm.

Enjoy the day. Enjoy the moment, it is finally OK to be in my body; ligaments, muscles, arteries, bones and flesh, moving into the doors of my soul to explore.

RECOVERY DAY

Bent over my work with movies playing in the background, my body found calm, but it took all day. During meditation it almost became a nap. The walk was put off for another day, though the ever present bully was saying, GO WALK, GO WALK, GO WALK throughout the entire day.

A softer, wiser voice was saying, stay. Stay, let your body rest.

One hundred and fifty photos of garden flowers and meadow surprises were glued onto stationary, some for my uses, others made into packets, wrapped with clear cellophane, and ribboned for gifts.

The work was satisfying, both for my bully and my wise self. It took a day to recover from the day prior where others came so close to my body I could smell their breath. When the great need to advocate for myself, a task so hard it has taken a life-time to succeed at, was faced and conquered.

When something so big, so fearful, so needed growing more dire as the months passed, was taken on and decided. These things take my body to the stratosphere without my permission.

It just happens and is out of my control. More tests next Wednesday, more close-ups of my eyes, making the decision not to go to Cory’s the next day all the more a much healthier route, but also deeply saddens me.

I cannot do what I want. I cannot do what others do. The truth is, that I can, but the cost to my body and psyche is too much right now. Conquering this needed operation is a great feat, one that has been pondered the last few years with enormous trepidation, terror really.

And then there is fall. The fall into sadness, despair, and depression. It is already happening. Each day pick up the beast of despair. Brush her off, make her ready for the day. Make the best of it. Do your best. See the beauty.

The job gets harder, as the days grow shorter.

TRUTH

It’s three in the morning and my fear is that with fall on its way, so is waking in the middle of night without being able to go back to sleep. Summer gave relief from that, though falling asleep was sometimes a problem. My body seems to thrive on more daylight. 

Or maybe it’s just recovery from a tough day. Meeting the eye doctor went well. On the way there, and beforehand, stress tears fell. But then a crack deep inside opened with light. You’re a good person.

The whip of being me was lain down, then strength. Letting go of the insults; being weak, not traveling to Cory’s, being so scared about a simple appointment, all the differentness felt over a life-time that were about to break me became friendly and softened. 

The adult needs to advocate for the terrified child. Dissolving into a teary mess will not get my needs met. That was the internal speech as Samuel drove us to the city. While the assistant tested my vision that’s exactly what happened. When asked to read the very large letters with my left eye I fell apart.

I couldn’t, then turned into a soppy mess. I’ve been holding it in over the last few years as my eyes, especially that one, became more and more blurry often causing unbalance and nausea from not seeing well. 

But then I would remind myself of impoverished countries where older people became blind due to cataracts. They accepted their fate as if it were natural. Volunteer doctors came into their town doing cataract removals, and suddenly the miracle of sight.

The assistant stopped and very gently asked what was wrong. What was it about my history?

Wiping the tears I told her about a traumatic childhood and that someone coming at my body, or changes in my body that I can’t control, terrify me. Handing me a tissue, she also offered water. Kindnesses such as this ease the experience exponentially. 

Once gathering myself, facing the fact of the eye being so bad, we continued the exam. She left as the eye dilated from the drops. The doctor arrived after Samuel and I watched a video about the procedure which was very helpful.

He impressed me, along with the office, super clean, friendly, and conscientious to details. He shook my hand firmly, always a good sign. When discussing my needs he asked for more information.

“I was sexually attacked by 4 out of 7 brothers. I remember everything 3 of them did. The other was so violent I have blocked it out. The PTSD is why I need deeper sedation, enough to be out, not conscious at all. I cannot guarantee keeping still with someone coming at my body,” I said distinctly, without tears, or emotion.

He continued on with professionalism. In rare cases, he is willing to do both eyes at once if general anesthesia is used. The usual practice is to do one at a time. My regular eye doctor assured me two at once is not possible, but this doctor agreed to my request.

So it’s done. The date will be in October once the scheduler calls to set it up. It has taken a very long time to outright discuss my needs, and why. It has been a haltingly slow process. The early family chains to keep it all hidden reached deep.

This force to remain quiet about such deep traumas made for a life of duality; my real life inside me, the other life where all that came out of my mouth were lies. Nothing was real. Trained to be pleasing meant having no needs, no anger, no nothing. Especially no truth.

Learning to be true, to even feel my real needs, and then to express them is incredibly hard, and still new, but I have done it, and keep doing it.

 

BRAVERY

Bravery. It took bravery to decline my son’s offer to visit, and to explain why. It is more usual to put my husband’s, and son’s needs or wants before my own. It is unusual to pay respect to my own. It brings me great pleasure and satisfaction for my family to be happy.

Cory really wanted me to come see his new home, which is why I said yes, while my insides were screaming NO! And to decline only a week prior seems very discourteous. He has been aware of my extreme ambivalence.

Last week I gave another firm yes. But I also mentioned at the tail end of my ‘yes’ about tomorrow’s appointment meeting the new eye surgeon, and the trepidation that involves.  

There are limits to what I can do. Facing the upcoming eye surgeries is taking a great deal of courage, even if the actual procedures are a month or more away. Every day a thrumming undercurrent of terror vibrates in my belly. Someone cutting on my eye? Strangers at my body? 

To drive 6 hours on busy freeways to visit Cory, then stay away from home for several nights, would cause a huge disturbance in my well-being. No matter that it is with loved ones. Being away, dealing with traffic, and an unfamiliar environment, will cause dire stress inside me. Yes, I can do it, but at what cost? Too much right now.

That decision plunges me into the abyss of sadness for having these limitations. But no, I choose not to go there either. I am so lucky to have all I have. To have a loving husband, and two amazing sons who are happy in their lives, and are thriving. This lovely home, and the meadow which brings so much peace. No, I won’t go into sadness. Why should I?

But, just as everything else in my life seems as if in opposition, if a day brings tears mourning once again for what was lost during childhood, that is OK too. Feeling what I feel is a better road than denial. Acceptance is necessary for the feelings to flow through. Much was lost, or taken. Grieving isn’t over in a day, and may take years to mourn. Making a decision not to feel something might not work.

Yet gratitude fills me, and that is my focus. Much of my life has been scorched with anxiety buzzing through my veins like acid. That has changed dramatically over the last ten years… after my mother died, when the freedom for authenticity blossomed. When there was no longer a need to pretend for her happiness that we were a ‘happy family.’

The hate for myself is evolving into self-love and respect. The shame once making me wanting to die daily, dissolved when writing the book; black-tarry snakes wired inside my gut slithering up and out each week, scraping the tender internal issue on its way out. Every nasty evil thing my little child body endured was released with the telling.

Also popping up and out like carbonated, sparkling bubbles were joyful times. Those too had been imprisoned inside with the traumas. Suppression took it all. Healing began to be more than just a word.

The shame is not mine.

I admire the woman I’ve become, the endurance, strength, persistence, and courage it has taken to get here. I look at my husband and begin to feel sorry for him, that he has a wife who keeps him from doing what he wants, who won’t fly, take big trips, blah, blah, blah. Really? What about all the positives? Fortitude, compassion, creativity, devotion to family, ;;; 

I will continue to work at honoring the things about myself others have seen but I’ve been blind to, and to honor my real needs.

I will love who I am, and all I have…