Freedom and Safety

Waking in the night a breeze of fear passes through me. All the people called ‘family’ were put in the block sender list yesterday to feel safe. But what of the love felt for each of them? The love is from an immature girl, remaining a girl all through my 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, only beginning to mature in the last decade… a slow and painful process. 

And with maturity comes the realization that lies are not OK. Interacting with each of them, always on their terms, is not OK. Pretending is not OK. Being buddies with an abuser, aligning with him against me, is not OK. Pretending he didn’t slink up in the night to abuse me… is not OK.

By not talking about the crimes committed against me make the crimes loom larger. Lying awake in the night remembering. The confused mixture of pleasure and confusion as a little girl, still sleepy laying there at the end of couch with my little brother asleep at the other end.

Tommy’s head between my legs— waking to the soft pleasure but not understanding. The next morning, and all the years after, the brother I loved so much with admiration and trust, turned his hate upon me. I was a reminder of his crime. His fear of exposure compounding the punishment that would defeat me for decades. That leaves me fighting for a life even now. 

On little shoulders that would take even more trauma, some so violent that remembering isn’t safe to this day. My psyche protects me from it still.

I am blocking emails that never come unless someone dies or wants something. No one dares to get close, reality might set in. But what of my reality?

Attachments cause deep pain. My preference is to attach to the land and mother nature who soothes, bringing smiles of joy as the chipmunks play, or a flower blooms .

Attach to my children, and their children. To Samuel, who I’m learning to trust for the very first time in over 40 years of marriage. Trust for a friend whom I’ve finally learned to erect boundaries with, a miraculous feat… trust that will reach out only so far because she will slam me down if I let her. 

That is enough to be challenged with. The origin family carries baggage with heavy requirements I have no energy to meet. (Yet agree to anyway when pressured.) So take away the temptation. 

After trying repeatedly to develop relationships individually with no takers, it became apparent that groups were only what was wanted— herd immunity. My need for safety equates to detaching. Craving freedom that was lost when feeling forced by pressured guilt to do something I did not want to do paralleling my formative years. Freedom and safety come home. 

Little Girl Me

My Secret Garden

Running out of THC has caused sleepless nights with groggy days due to having to take other medication for sleep. CBD oil on its own does not work. An added bonus unrealized until the whole plant oil ran out was my legs and how much better they work.

Huffing up the meadow hill, or even just around the house, painful aches with stiffness became highly noticeable. How can this simple oil be so helpful in so many ways? The rat brain cycle kicks in, that of negativity, round and round, over and over again.

The little girl at eight, all alone when loved ones attacked, growing to believe it was all my fault. The loud voice of blame attacking me by day as brothers attacked at night. Those voices bang loudly again.

Despair knocks as tears fall. Going through years of sleeplessness again after months when the miracle of sleep was blessed upon me is untenable. 

“I cannot handle this,” weeping without wanting to while telling Samuel about yet again another sleepless night needing to take a sleep aid.

Samuel says, “You can get a prescription!”

“No, I tried on-line,” crying more, defeated, adding, “It is too hard, and too complicated.”

“It’s not,” he said. “I looked. All you have to do is find a provider. Fill out an application, pay the fee, get a card, then you buy it from a New York dispensary.”

Tears fall more. He had already been on the computer after the first rush of tears when I’d left the room. The tenderness towards him touched a very deep place covered with mistrust put in place years ago.

The only way to survive was to protect what was left after brothers obliterated the essence of me. The spark nestled beneath layers of iron needed protection, a tiny ember below all the doubt, fear, and surety of the destruction to come.

Not the virus, though that can kill, but people. My life has been about fear of people. Because little girl me learned early what people can do.

At Ease

photos by Patricia

Once precautions were taken to the extreme: dipping all groceries into a bleach solution, spraying mail and the weekend papers with disinfectant, leaving all packages on the porch 24 hrs. or more before opening, not going ANYWHERE except to have the Walmart worker load the trunk keeping my window closed…. after doing all that and adding a few drops extra of CBD oil in the mornings, anxiety abated, and so too the constant fear accompanying it.

Things almost feel normal yet patterns of eating since childhood when the attacks began erupt like a snake head with sharp teeth. Eating anxiety, a life-long survival tool. Go to the core where my being resides. Go there, be there, be connected. It is still scary. It is not possible to forget the suffering of people unknown to me yet close to my soul as they cry.

Still, an ease floods my being while sitting next to the creek. An ease unheard of for most of my life. Feeling at ease in my body, with my feelings, emotions, thoughts, and my body’s workings— something that others not dealing with the after effects of trauma take for granted, is something yearned for since childhood. It was not to be until recent years.

For decades the wish to be someone else who seemed connected within themselves consumed me. The pain of the shattering left in the wake of repeated sexual attacks by those looked up to, loved, and trusted wholly caused a rift within that may never have come back together.

But the parts came home, came together, and I am whole, at ease within myself, a miracle savored during those quiet moments when recognizing it. Meditative time by the creek warms throughout, deep down, through and through. The stillness of my being novel. 

 

 

BLOOM

photo by Patricia

Waking, the same dead dragging feelings wake too always present in my core needing work to banish and confront. Sipping coffee rocking by the fire, watching the cat pretend hunt on the porch through the sliding glass doors, the question presents itself— why?

Why always awaking with pessimism framed with rocks of depression? Why goes back to Chet, not the first attacker, but one who held me captive long after the attacks stopped. Captive in badness. Knowing it wasn’t my fault wasn’t known then.

Like weeds overtaking gardens with deeper, tenacious, stronger roots than flowers, thoughts and beliefs that developed in childhood grew thick and heavy, solidly intertwined, and muscled. Hack away at it, they grow back while sleeping waking as if all that happened was yesterday.

The feelings, the heaviness of blackness believing myself bad, abnormal, abhorrent really, not fit to be born, surely not fit to live, craving relief from the pain even if it meant thoughts of death for decades to come.

Why? Isn’t laughter, light and joy part of being alive too? Can’t these feelings dance? Why must the feelings upon waking be so forlorn? What else is there? As the delicious black brew is enjoyed, more of what’s hidden wakes too.

Wind blows through the tree limbs with a song as geese fly overhead, nature melodies comforting. Spring, a time to dance, play and laugh, as in any season if one tries, but spring is especially exciting. 

 

WARRIOR

Feeling sorry for myself for so easily being pulled into the past where fear, powerlessness, and hopelessness swirled like a constant tornado, and because the day called for something lovely baking in the house, cinnamon rolls were made from dough using the bread machine.

The problem with sugary treats is that it rings a bell in my brain saying, MORE. And the day is lost not counting calories, which also means losing self-respect. And that does not make me happy.

So a new day with more resolve about what really matters; renewed dreams, goals, and the excitement of living. Always it was food my mother used to help me fill the holes left ragged by rape and abuse. It is a habit taught to me, but not restraining me. I have free will. It is mine to own.

It is a battle not going away started at age 8 after Danny’s attack, and will forever be there haunting me like drooling, starving, rabid dogs. The abyss of self-love always yawning wide open for filling.

The beastly hole is daunting needing loving comfort, not hate. Filling it with food when the soft words won’t come, because soft words for myself are not my forte’, ends up causing more pain instead of the comfort sought.

Daydreams of cookies, ice cream, cake, or pie dance like sugar plums of happiness in my head. The feelings are temporary turning in on themselves like the savage dogs of need after the numbness of satisfaction wears off.

Left in its wake are the same deprecating sneers Tommy enjoyed making towards me throughout life. He knew no boundaries when it came to putting me down. I seem to have readily taken up where he left off. 

It will stay this way, but how to handle it can evolve, and is evolving. Softer words, kindness to self, opening my arms to accept myself, all going against what I was taught. All things not learned through life and are yet to achieve. Steps forward then backwards. The way to get even is to give myself the opposite of what I learned—- love, safety and acceptance.

And though challenging, ongoing, and taking persistent work, it is doable, possible, and a war worth winning— slaying the ghosts one by one, over and over again.

 

The Loneliness of Shame

Temperatures dip into the teens and still dropping as snow swirls in mini-tornados off the roof. The fire emits a burst of heat after the fan is tuned on. Even the house temperature dropped overnight.

After the cat ‘hunt’s on the screen porch during my first sips of hot black brew, she comes in to curl up next to me on Samuel’s stuffed rocker complacently watching me write.

The comfort of home cannot be overstated. Home where my depleted nervous system can be pampered, protected, and cared for. Home where creativity can blossom, and working on freeing myself from the internal too harsh critic can be accomplished over time and with much dedication.

There is no freedom being locked in with critical voices of the past yammering in my head ever since age 8 and the first violent attack. When no one comes to help, a child feels to blame. The family unconsciously understands how well this silenced me, and willingly added to it along the way.

Their shame of doing such deeds, or standing by doing nothing, caused an even bigger shame, the shame of silence, dumped on tiny shoulders willing to take it on. Taking the blame was far better than feeling powerless, not a conscious decision, but self-preservation. I’ll take the blame because otherwise the people I depend on are not dependable, then where would I be?

Guilt and blame are easier boulders to carry than powerlessness. So the family’s shame became my shame. I didn’t just do bad, I am bad. 

It took a life to unburden, rock by rock, right down to the empty wheelbarrow where loneliness clawed like finger-nails on a chalk-board, scraping my insides scratching outwards on tender, raw flesh. Only in going there could I be saved, facing the self-hate, staying, exploring, challenging the voices…

Go to my center, be there, hold me, love me, settle in for the ride, because all others will come and go. I am the only one who will stay. My mother once said, “Be your own best friend,” giving me a book with that title. It has taken a life-time to begin that process. Thank you mother, but it would have been better had you kept them off me. 

 

Calming the Chaos

Grape leaf in the early dew- photo by Patricia

Amidst the harshness there has to be comfort, warmth, and joy. But how to create that with an internal world that lives anxiously in fear? Who wants to go into the eye of the storm? Breathe. Embellish my internal world with beauty so that it’s a soft place to fall, then fall into it with arms open.

No easy endeavor for a being where chaos felt normal and monsters lurked near-by. But it can be done a little at a time, moment to moment, day to day, year after year, by trying. By working at it each time the voice roars BAD.

Because at my core the belief is BADNESS. With a life-time of chipping away at that rock of belief, eventually a softness occurs. There are moments expanding into minutes, then longer, when being inside my own self feels good, at home, finally.

The urge to escape is as strong as the wish to stay. It is in wrapping my own arms around myself that staying feels welcoming, and that continues to be a work in progress.

Holding my Own Key to Happiness

Forever at the root of my core resided the belief of being bad, wrong, and always the one at fault. That is the feeling turned fact at age eight, growing every year becoming rock solid.

And that belief did solidify. How could it not with no one to tell me differently? No one to hold me, rock me, tell me that what they did was wrong, that they would be punished, that it wouldn’t happen again.

Because it did keep happening, and happening, and happening.

This is a time of peace, a time when that belief has been chipped at, questioned, and challenged. A crack has evolved where warmth seeps in, or oozes outward. Ever so slowly, bits of comfort float up where once only animosity to self had been. It is a change that could have occurred fifty years ago.

If only someone had the courage to hold my hand and take a stand. No one did. But I do now… tentatively, fearfully as if I’m doing something wrong in liking myself, for showing acceptance towards my own being, like the axe will fall for doing so.

No axe falls. Taking that step towards kindness and self-love after so long is freeing. The origin family collectively used subtle tactics to sustain low esteem to keep me silent. But my true nature includes persistence.

Baby- steps, tiny fissures are pried open wider using words of encouragement and uplift rather than harsh criticism. Treasures are found never enjoyed before: peace, openness, self-acceptance, joy.

Freedom is savored, the freedom to choose to (learn) to love myself. And each day a reminder to embrace gratefulness for making it through the hazards and treachery of all the years past. Where self-hate ruled in a mixing bowl of adrenaline pumped anxiety, confusion, self-doubt, and a total inability to connect with my own soul. 

To come to a place others never lost, is now found for me. A delectable experience not to be contaminated by bitterness towards what was. My choice is to enjoy the miraculous now.   

 

FORGIVENESS

Some things are unforgiveable. Yet forgiveness has been crucial to my well-being, that of forgiving myself. Does a child deserve scorn for living through the terror of sexual attacks by the brothers she loved so dearly and trusted?

Yet it is scorn. It is betrayal. It is dumping a child off in the wilderness alone, though she still lives in a house of monsters. All pretending to love her.

Does this child ever grow to love again? To trust?

No. And yes in a way that is unusual, from afar. From a place that is safe, where you cannot hurt me. Or if you do it won’t annihilate me. Protecting the tiny flicker of hope and love that resides deep down inside. 

Forgiveness is, and continues to be work for me, to forgive me. Because being left on my own at age eight with the scourge of hands burning on me for the rest of my entire life, meant taking it in as my own evil.

Washing it away will never be complete, or moments of it can miraculously occur. It becomes part of a personality, blaming myself. Blaming the family cannot occur because it is necessary for survival.  

As an adult there is a home of my own internal and external that is safe, though the feeling is fleeting. All that was taken is not forgiven, though accepted… it happened, I was there. Forgiving myself for the misfortune of being born into that group is the forgiveness sought. May peace reign.