SUMMER

Some mornings it is hard to sit still by myself, with myself, the cat nearby on the screen porch, the little candle aflame flickering softly, the birds not yet up. A compulsion to do something is quelled knowing that going to my core only happens in stillness.

Why is so repulsive to be there? There is where solace lay, in my own being, with my own words, feelings and thoughts. Yet throughout life… running. Detached from it, and no wonder. Coming from a place of terror, chaos, and fear, fearing the very people I lived with- family.

So now the fears are from monsters dead. Chet, still around the corner ready to pounce, though now long gone. And others.

The peace of the land stills my fright with its wonder. Summer slips by fast, resolving to savor each moment more thoroughly as the days dissolve, sometimes with regrets for not wringing more out of them.

The flowers are abundant, tended and watered with care, along with the birdbath scoured out and refilled daily- bathers coming right after the fresh water is put in, splashing their feathers, lining up, who’s next?

As the sun sets the bedroom fills with golden light, my retreat, the yellow walls bouncing sunshine with a splash reflecting on walls, mirrors, and hanging sparkly gems twirling in an arc above. Yet another cherished time of day, that hour before dusk as the gold turns to red, orange, and all hues of yellow.

CALM/TERROR

Doubts creep in darkening a brilliant summer day. Even doubting if my son loves me or still looks up to me as he once did. How can a mother doubt her own son’s love? Walking to the creek along the meadow, sitting in the stillness, peace comes.

As it often does, nature’s gifts soothe in their simplicity and complexities. Round and round, the scents of various flowering bushes and milkweed, bringing me out of reverie into the present.

Monarchs twirled together, the first spotted this year, Samuel’s efforts at multiplying milkweeds where they love to cocoon paying off, the bright orange seemingly brighter than ever. Maybe they just came out of their cocoons.

Humid, the walking urged me into the pool, diving like a dolphin, then resting on the float as the current guided me slowly in circles like a river raft, or in a mother’s womb.

Out again for more walking, but with ease so that what’s around me is absorbed. By noon it was time for a movie. Getting up at 4AM causes a need for rest earlier in the day, but the ‘go to bed with birds and wake with them’ routine is working for me.

Cross-legged on the floor scouring my favorite DVD collection in the cabinet below the TV while the mid-day weatherman reports sunny cooler days ahead, a voice permeates the otherwise quiet room, “Looks good.”

There behind me was a man. A horrible scream came from my throat. The cat flew. Did you know cats fly? Mine does, bouncing like a ping pong ball ricocheting off the couch into neverland, as skittish as me. She had an abused beginning too.

Samuel had come in. With my poorer hearing I didn’t know.

“I’ve been behind you for 5 minutes,” he said, a smile on his face. That enraged me more than the fright while adrenaline still flowed through my veins.

Then he began an explanation full of nonsensical words because none included ‘I’m sorry.’

Cutting him off angrily I said, “Don’t say anything unless it’s ‘I’m sorry!”

He retreated to the back porch. My throat was really raw, pondering just how on edge my body always tends to be, even after a morning in the meadow experiencing great calm, then relaxing time floating in the pool. This still is fact of my life?

It is something I am accustomed to, but this was the most scared I’d been in a very long time. But am I really used to it? Because why was my face in a pan of Magic bars, a homemade concoction that is the same as a Mounds candy bar, eating till they tasted like sawdust, then eating more?

Trying my best even this morning not to be a self-hater, because these episodes have to do with unhealed parts of myself…. gentleness, remember that? That has been the only way to successfully lead myself on a path to improved health. Gentleness, kindness, and love towards self even with all my quirky humanness.

Naomi Judd

Thoughts dwell on Naomi Judd. We lost one of us, one of the little girls sexually abused. Though she came forward in an interview with Robin Roberts, did people still shun her as they seem to do because hearing about such things is repugnant to them?

I could sense her anxiety watching the interview, the wringing of hands that shook though she tried to hide them, the maddening back and forth of the smile we are forced to portray then the real wrenching pain of unhealed parts ripped to shreds as a child… and no one comes.

Back and forth, the smile, the paralyzing agony depressing her being so much she took her own life. That could be me.

My body does not cope with the decades of hypervigilance- daily adrenalin rushes with cortisol bursts over a tiny insignificant sound, or someone coming up behind me, even my child or husband. That happens even now.

We lost one of our own, and the sorrow cannot be wiped away. Someone needs to talk about it. People need to listen. This is happening to our little girls. Boys too, but little girls far more, we just hear about boys more.

Do a TED talk? Do a youtube? People don’t want to listen, but they must. Isn’t it time to protect our children? Who protected Naomi? She seemed so happy through the years with that smile.

Performing. There is so much performing, as families insist on keeping it quiet, and the child performs. But a body can’t hold out forever and the agony must be released be it too much eating, shopping, drinking, drugging, marrying someone to beat you, or dying.

It is hard road, and I am saddened that this woman has died because her sadness caused it to be so.  

LEARNING TO LOVE

While meditating tears fell. Then again later while walking, and that’s ok. It is healthy for whatever that might be suppressed to come up. But curiosity into my own feelings craves the answer to why. That takes digging deeper.

So much of my life has been lived all on my own no matter how many people surround me. And by alone, not even with myself. Real wholeness only began in my fifties when my mother died, and the truth erupted out of me chapter by chapter into what became a published book. It was finally possible because she wasn’t there anymore and the deal ‘love for silence’ no longer existed.

Most of the time my being was cast aside by myself because that is what was learned in childhood when my body was ripped by terror and abuse by those loved and trusted. The real horror was after when NO ONE, no one helped the little child who was me.

While walking as a sob erupted the wise voice said, more healing, another layer. What about the child? Pictures on the beach show a skinny blondie kid with a lollipop building sandcastles.

Come little child. Yet? Something’s missing. That little girl wasn’t in need. Her world hadn’t yet been shattered. Daddy had not yet fallen dead on the floor in front of us. His sons were still ruled with a strict, sometimes violent hand. The skinny little girl still trusted and loved, her world was safe. It is the fat little girl all stuffed into herself that is in desperate need of love, comfort, and by god, medical help.

Come. It’s not easy loving a fat child. I’ve hated her all my life.

But come to me now, envisioning my arms open to her, giving the embrace she never received when needing it so much.

I was forced to portray love for the attackers and to protect myself because the lecture from mother outlined that. Instead of the love so desperately needed there was blame in the directive to come tell her if anything happened again. It did.

An eight year old cannot protect herself, nor 9, 10, or 11. So of course the horrors continued.

Little fat girl, come, I love you. All that terror stuffed inside you. Come.

Hole in the Floor

Negative thoughts about myself cave in devouring me as much as I devour whatever foods I can find in the middle of night. The next day a tear falls in pity for the ever present ghosts from the past interfering with a peaceful sleep filled life.

The ravages of chronic PTSD are here to stay no matter how hard the effort is to sway them from their path, rooted within without a cure.  That could have been cured had shame not made the family embarrassed to seek help for me, the victim injured so critically had it been a physical injury someone would have had to sop up the torrents of blood. Someone would have HAD to help!

Once the tsunami of sleeplessness passes, it is back to basics; persuade my negative tendencies about blaming myself for just about every little thing that doesn’t seem right, and when in that mode, every little thing seems wrong, and work on countering those beliefs.

Really? Are you as bad as that devil on your shoulder says you are? This badness, kicked to the curb over and over, comes seeping back in because it became part of my being at age 8. And it is fall after all, the time when mood plummets no matter how hard you don’t want it to. So acceptance is also a work in progress.

No one came to tell me otherwise, I was left alone except the attacks. My childhood beliefs about being bad cemented into my self-view as an adult. It is daily work, constant work sometimes. Back to happier moments of being OK to be me…

TERROR

Samuel comes in quietly as usual around 11:30 PM with me asleep but that little sound woke me. After using the bathroom the routine is going back to sleep, sometimes easily, sometimes not. This time memories began to cave in like bolts of terror, each one worse than the one before.

Memories of brothers, what they did to me as a child, and after. Once taken down and repeatedly used for their lust, especially Chet’s, my tendency to be easily manipulated increased one-hundred fold.

And he took advantage of that in many ways after the sexual attacks ended. They all did. And many more out in society. Learning that my own body was not mine, going out in the world was so very dangerous. And that certainty won’t change. It was experienced by those trusted, loved, and looked up too.

The knowledge learned as a child of what humans are capable of, coupled with a lack of boundaries, makes living around people frightening. Encountering others who take advantage of people, manipulate, lie, cheat, and do evil, makes me vulnerable. It is home on our land where safety is felt most.

But lately? While walking the meadow there is a feeling of ever present danger, as if Chet will suddenly jump out of the bushes from his grave to terrify me. On edge, this feeling has developed all summer, making it a summer of ups and downs interfering with my sleep. Is it due to weight loss?

On nights when sleep is interrupted, the deal is that food is allowed to quell that anxiety. Food, food, and more food, the eating orgy along with medication making a stupor that allows for sleep. The next day grogginess and guilt. This is no way to live.

My intensity and focus on diet and exercise… gone in the middle of the night. Is it due to moving so close to my core that the memory of Dan’s attack is about to rise? The one attack repressed only remembering the before and after. Is the loss of weight bringing me closer to my psyche allowing for that memory? Has the excess weight been there to keep me safe from it?

Because as weight comes off, horrifying fear creeps in.

C-PTSD

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.

GAGGED

The more dedicated I become towards personal goals, the more I need to speak up, erect boundaries, then stick to them. But who will do that for me? It feels impossible for me to cough up self-assertion.

Like pushing a boulder uphill, huffing, shouldering the rock hard weight of childhood sexual abuse stifles, even kills. So many times the thought of dying was day-dreamed about. Just not be here.

“I wish I was dead,” I said once again many years ago

“I don’t like hearing you say that,” Samuel said.

So that feeling was said another way, because depression and wanting to die continued for decades.

“I wish I was never born,” I said.

And my belief is that if given a choice knowing what was to come, that would be my choice.

Since that won’t happen, learning to assert my needs continues, but it’d be nice to move on from Kindergarten to at least first grade.

OASIS

Hang onto your hat! If you think spring euphoria is hard to handle now, wait till the green starts greening. A watcher of signs that seasons are changing, the excitement over it plus more daylight keeps me up nights.

When my head hits the pillow, thoughts implode. Nothing drastic or important, yet seemingly so in the dark all alone. My being seems split, one part forever gone flying away splintered at age eight. That part will never come home to become whole because it is the memory of the first traumatic attack too dangerous to remember or comprehend.

It is likely to stay hidden because of the horrific terror behind it. And that is hard to accept as my eyes tear up due to the long term effects of what brothers chose to do to me when just a little girl. I loved and trusted them.

That part of me is broken, or maybe it is the wisest part, because it is keeping me sane and able to move through life. That is the part that takes off into the never-lands, launching like a rocket when triggered. And I can do nothing about it. It is the body’s reaction to unprocessed trauma.

The best remedy is gentleness to self. Sounds simple, yet for me it takes work. Raised believing my feelings, thoughts, wishes, or desires didn’t matter, it has taken decades to begin believing that they do matter. That I matter, and I matter most to me. That it is OK to care for myself. That it is in fact crucial to survival.

That simply stopping the self-hate is not so simple. It still takes work, because that tendency to blame myself for things I have no control over happens automatically. Catching myself while doing it is a start, quite shocked at how it happens so easily as natural as breathing.

But there can be an oasis inside where warmth and welcoming exists. I’m just having a hard time right now finding it.

WHOLE

photos by Patricia

Rather morbid thoughts invade my brain, chased away by simple projects that bring childish excitement, even an over-sized card for my grand-daughter’s birthday. Or puzzles that sit on the table most of the summer untouched. Working on one now lowers anxiety that creeps in as the days grow darker and colder settling the ragged places that threaten tranquility.

Some who grow older wish for youth, not me. No way would living my life over be tenable. It was hard enough the first time separated from myself like super-charged electrons buzzing around my body. My soul in shattered pieces making each decision the wrong one, causing more pain not less. How could one make a decision when disconnected from oneself?

And how can one be connected when taught to act and behave in opposition to the truth of their existence? That those I loved sexually attacked me with violence and malevolence. But Mom wouldn’t have it. You are to love your family. Broken, never to be whole again… but I wouldn’t have that either and worked hard life-long to have a life.

To have the zillions of pieces come home and stay is a revelation that most others take for granted. Whole, at peace, and happy, because feeling peaceful is happiness. That is how my life finally evolved after decades of fracture before piecing back together.