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.
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.
Maybe it’s nothing, but that’s doubtful. After a few weeks coming back from camping with a brother who is impossible to relate to due to his brain turning to mush over the years of alcohol abuse, sleep returned consistently till last night.
Out of nowhere? No way. It could be the sudden feeling of fright because the realization struck that my odd practitioner once again foiled the activation of a renewal of my marijuana card because it had not yet come.
Why oh why do these dilemmas come in the dark of night? But there had to be another reason because the wise came spoke saying , ‘it will worked out.’
Something else had set off alarm bells beyond my control. I can feel when it happens though try to ignore it. This time ignoring it for two hours before taking something. AND THAT DIDN’T HELP!
Rarely two doses are needed, but by 1AM it was necessary. Hating to admit it had to do with an unusual movie watched on NETFLIX— that must be the root of my hyper-arousal. It was unique in that it bluntly talked about childhood sexual abuse. In her dissociation, as her husband made love to her, she saw her father above her instead.
Um, duh, of course. My issues are many and most exposed by writing except Danny’s attack so brutal it is repressed to this day. So as much as it would my preference not to have this disease it crops up without permission. IT IS NOT MY FAULT.
A mantra I have to keep telling myself… as the tears fall.
It has taken an entire week to come back to a place where peace had cupped me in her arms. A week to come back down from severe PTSD affecting all systems dramatically causing real illness.
Without understanding why, the sad truth is that origin family members are like drinking poison. Go ahead drink it, but the sickness comes after…. every time. It was OK for a while when meeting with one at a time, but becoming so immersed with all three, as Seth’s wife was indisposed, became overwhelming.
They talk about another not there. If you have something to say to someone, say it to them. It does no good to discuss it with others. More importantly it’s disrespectful along with cowardly.
There is still a part of me wanting to do what others seem to do so easily. Attend a brunch, go on a spur of the moment camping trip, whatever. But again, no, my body will not comply splintering in a million pieces.
Coming home it took days to unwind. Finally peace seeps in fully. The sweet scent of blossoms are noticed, my breath is felt, and the songbirds fill me. By the creek the gift of a graceful heron fans her enormous wings as she glides past over the water looking for another fishing spot.
Heaven is again discovered as the sun shines down warming like an embrace, right here in my back-yard.
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.
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.