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.

 

The SCHISM

There is a fear of being in my body and staying there. Others seem to check in with their body unconsciously knowing when there is hunger, fullness, cold, pain, and the list goes. Often I’ve checked out.

My fear is internal, also unconscious, yet the terror is there laying wait. Perhaps the rape, repressed, causes this schism between body and mind. Perhaps it is the next couple of years after that when the others took what they wanted.

Coming ‘home’ and staying is fleeting. Zoning in a place other than the here and now still is comforting at times. It takes energy to breath, notice my hand as it washes the dishes, and be among the living.

After time, it becomes easier to be present, yet that far off place still calls, still offers comfort, and still owns me some of the time. And the disconnect, the fissure from the body that others don’t have to deal with yet take for granted, it still a force to be reckoned with.

Wholeness is fleeting, but necessary to take good care of body, mind, spirit, and soul. I may be different, alone in many ways, but still shine. We all offer a specialness no one else can; the tree in the forest set apart from others but still beautiful. 

 

ESSENCE

Remember why you do this. It is not to garner ‘likes.’ But to go inside myself, a place often run from.  A time all mine, delectable. See what’s there, feel what’s there, stretch around into all the dark corners and own them.  Each morning, a new day, new ideas, new feelings, as if all the cells died overnight growing new ones. 

A day to hold in my hand like a wilting blossom. Use it wisely, fully, and become all that is. That doesn’t mean saving the world, it means saving myself.

A person almost gone, often still drowning in past habits of pacifying, pleasing, and twisting myself into a person who hardly resembles who really resides inside me.

Authenticity isn’t going along. It is touching my core where truth rings clear, which can mean disagreement with another. Not a nod of the head accompanied by a fake smile to keep things smooth.

It is finding me, being me. Not an easy job after 60 years of fakeness to fit into a world where I don’t want to be anyway.

My world. The trees, wind, and mother, who guides me with her seasons.