PAPER DOLL

Though summer brings oppressive heat, walks bring peace to a mind working on over-drive. Before breakfast the heat and humidity is tolerable, even pleasant until the sun comes full up. So many thoughts bombarding into each other on a day when feeling scattered too.

How to come together? Time alone by the water— birds, raccoons, turtles, frogs, carps as big as sharks, and the water weasel, all keeping me company. It is OK to stay where safety is found, the decision to cancel so many plans repeatedly questioned.

No, we are not being too extreme. Others seem to be taking risks we’d rather not take. We are being cautious. Camping next week with Shane… no, nor any camping. A trip to Cory’s in Massachusetts’s…no. We don’t care to deal with public restrooms, or any other possible source of contamination.

And finally peace over these things. It is the right and safest decision for us. Whatever is needed is right here, it always has been. There is also relief at not having to travel. It always took its toll on my fragile nervous system, depleted after a life of excess cortisol coursing through my body unnecessarily. My startle response raced into fight or flight many times daily. My body still does it, though years of meditation have helped calm it down.  

There are wounds still needing attending to. Trust is not something regained, but maybe in increments. Samuel and others aren’t out to get me, a belief cemented into my views since childhood when learning just what human beings are capable of. That belief won’t completely change, but some cracks open up letting in light during rare moments of peace and safety.

Chet spent a good deal of time figuring when he could get at me, and that expectation, that others are trying to do evil, will last. It made an indelible imprint, a deep wound to attend to… a crumpled paper doll needing gentle care.

The Destroyer

Giving up control so easily, has that become a way of life? Well, yes. Giving into a sister-in-law’s guilty pressuring to come to a party, or a myriad of other cave-ins, it happens regularly. Not respecting and paying attention to my own soul whispering’s, neglecting my needs for another, is a way of life since age 8.

Always please or be alone in the dark in the middle of the night. Be kicked out of an abusive family, or stay with it. As a child this doesn’t come in words but in the gut to survive. The family is all a child has, though someone should have come to remove me, or them.

It takes every atom to stand my ground, simple things like saying no, and it is exhausting. The terror of rejection and taunting too keen, because in childhood that’s what Tom did after his night-time attack.

I am the victim, victimized and ganged up ever after. But the subtleness of his emotional attacks after the physical attack were what annihilated me. Any chance of wholeness pick-axed till nothing was left but a shell in a whiff of smoke.

Every time he smirked, a part of me died that could have flourished.

Bestow Love not Hate

photo by Patricia

An unease invades the morning reverie. Perhaps it is the lack of sunshine hiding behind thick clouds on a balmy morning still warm from yesterday’s heat. Perhaps it is a change in me. Day after day of an upset stomach the realization surfaces that my body is telling me something. But what, so disconnected from it that I really don’t know. 

Connect. That doesn’t come naturally, though it must have in my first 8 years before the attacks began. A skinny kid with long blonde hair, happy on a beach before my father died, Then all went tragic and crazy.

Boom, like lightening, weight came on and stayed on for the next fifty years keeping me safe, hiding me, making me someone other than who I was meant to be.

Trust is the most grievous loss, gone forever. What kinds of relationships sustain without trust? None. The daily feat is picking up pieces of shattered me trying to trust enough to get close… husband, son, or friend. 

The timidity to speak up about likes, dislikes, to put forth anything looking like a boundary, gone. Boundaries obliterated when even my body was not my own. When unmarked boundaries are crossed and my mouth stays mute, then grudges, resentments, and hate howl. 

Oh that anger, not allowed either. It takes a lot of food to suppress anger. Over the years anger began to  erupt naturally on rare occasions expressed in the moment, naturally, freeing and normal. Taught to stay quiet this was miraculous even in its rarity. 

And with a quiet muted mouth, my body grew large screaming unhappiness, terror and pain. Nobody listened. It was one more thing to hate about myself.

But what if I listened to its cues? What if love was bestowed not hate? With no map, no direction, no permission, could I do it? Over and over I try, and fail. But what if?

 

LOST

photo by Patricia (lilac)

Sit, stay. The mourning dove coos at 6 AM, a gentle breeze softly skimming over me, leaves newly erupted soothing with a ruffled whisper. Lost, feelings of losing my way for the last several months.

Could it be the challenge from a sister-in-law hardly ever heard from though she lives in the city less than an hour away?

“We are all getting older,” she said in an email, using the heavy power of guilt to persuade me to come to the Christmas party with the other two brothers and wives.

My relationship with Don, once father-like, changed over the years after he expressed the burden of playing that role. The rift became pronounced during my mother’s decline when bickering under the duress of debilitating emotions, explosive and labile. 

Her words swayed me, going to the gathering with a chip on my shoulder, not hugging, not entering easily into conversation unless wanting to. A person different than the malleable people pleaser they grew up with.

And with it came a very fast weight gain still hanging on making me so unhappy. The different person is not so different, pleasing by going to something I did not want to go to. My going meant losing respect for myself, and my ability to look out for little girl me. ‘She’ is scared of them, and I didn’t protect ‘her.’

But if my brother wanted it so badly that he enlisted his wife to work for it, I went, not wanting to live with regrets. But in going something inside myself was denied. If the question is whether to hurt someone or myself, it is almost always myself, even, or especially, when unconsciously… a knee-jerk reaction taught and beveled into my core when very young. You don’t matter. Never put yourself first, you’re invisible and unworthy anyway. 

And with going so did my safety. Weight is about safety. The more weight, the safer.

That group of people always felt safe. Those three were the three out of seven who didn’t sexually attack me. So safe, right? But aren’t those that know and do nothing just as culpable? Maybe more so.

There are still no words of comfort or support. Each continues a relationship with the last surviving attacker now living out west.

His presence, though distant, casts darkness on the sunniest of days. He haunts the brightness in the form of Trump, or other people lacking integrity. Those that love to manipulate while acting like victims as they manipulate and greedily take without remorse or shame. The only shame lies in me for ever being born. 

The craving for family will continue, the need for safety remains.

SADNESS

It is hard to come to grips with the present when the past often pulls me back. Think of those suffering so much more than me right now, as tears fall watching the funeral of a family as they say farewell to yet another victim of the corona virus.

Yet denying my own place in the world which encompasses reality, not the origin family’s narrative of the truth which obliterates the trauma’s endured as a child, is not living wholly or authentically.

There is sadness, there always has been since the first attack, but the reality of what happened was denied. So I denied it too, there wasn’t an alternative. But then, like now, denying something doesn’t make it go away.

Opening up the country as if the virus suddenly has disappeared is causing great grief inside me, rupturing a well of sadness and loss that is preventable if we had a leader who would lead. He instead sits on his ass pontificating how wonderful he is but admits, yes people will die. Does he give a fuck? No. 

And opening myself to the reality of my life causes sadness, often choosing to try to act like others instead of with my own truths. Living split. The body moves but the rest of me works to catch up, or fast forwards ahead of it.

Prostrate over my mother’s grave 11 years ago, cut in two with grief, it took years for the pain to ebb. But during that time was when healing was more than a word. Instead of going to a dry well for love, my mother who really did love me but with exceptions, I learned (and am still learning) how to love myself.

That little girl hurts. She’s sad. She may always feel sad. A family left, abandoning me as they had their own grief to attend to. Living in the same house, still they left in all the ways that matter.

And I left her too. Coming back as a whole means owning it all.  Wrapping my arms around myself, just as Mother Nature does when sitting on the patio in the warm sun.

Mother Sun caresses me while in my thick bathrobe wrapped in a blanket on a sunny spring morning. The heat warming through as if she is rocking me. There must be ways to soothe a tender heart as the nation fractures in chaos due to the evil one. I know that the majority of hearts are pure. That they will conquer and endure, but hell is still to come.

Trying not to think of what is really happening is the same as not being who I am. How to stay in the boat as it sways sharply in the swells.

 

 

 

 

What Broke

photo by Patricia

Re-entering my body has taken days. To notice and absorb the scent of the candle in the warmer, to check internally understanding the depth of tiredness that descends each day, acknowledge it, and attend to it. Then do things accordingly at the pace that meets my energy without splitting.

My being feels like a walking injury that must be cared for, and who else but me? Yet for much of life that me was buzzing around my body disconnected not wanting connection. Living that way causes dis-ease. People take time to care for themselves.

I was taught not to. To ignore traumatic injuries, to stuff them down because no one comes to help. The ever-lasting loud message is STAY SILENT.  That equates to a life of disrepair spent chaotically and desperately craving healthiness. It isn’t possible to make healthy what was severely broken. Some pieces cemented back together became stronger. Others break over and over again cracking at the joints. There is no fix. 

What is possible is to tend to my needs, which also requires staying present, another affliction caused by leaving my body at age eight and thereafter. The energy required for the task can be draining calling for great care and attention. Slow is the pace, long is the way, wonder and joy are found in the ‘moment.’ 

As the lines on my hands are noticed. As the birds sing across the meadow to each other. As the sun rises full and bright with rosy wisps of clouds in the purply turquoise sky.

There are pressures adding to the already pendulous weight of living that make caring for oneself harder but more necessary. Pleasure awaits in this moment of time, simple pleasure that money can’t buy.

BREAKING THE PEACE

Creek side

“What, you took my trees and shoved them in the hedgerow?” storming out, I slammed the door. 

A friend dropped off three tulip trees by the shed where they sat till Samuel could plant them. As usual there was divisiveness about where to put them. He went out to do the chore never asking me where I wanted them. 

In the house doing dishes making dinner, the thought occurred repeatedly that I should go out to stand my ground knowing he would choose awful places. 

“You put them in the hedgerow with no room to grow?” I asked, the unwanted anger bubbling up.

“I can cut back the bushes,” he said.

Then I really exploded, not wanting to, the usual camaraderie a more pleasant choice. Yet my body and some other part took hold. This was from my past. All that was taken from me… not yours to take, the rage burning internally for most of my life.

“I’m changing them,” I retort.

“You can,” he said, unperturbed.

Clearing after the morning rains, it was a sunny crisp afternoon. My upheaval in mood was not the Buddha-like behavior I’d hoped to achieve. But realizing where it came from brought forth compassion, rather than self-loathing for breaking the peace.

Pondering my blow-up which had been unplanned, one thing was different. There was no rage as in decades past. Rage that curdled my insides with hate and vengeance believing the slights and hurt were done intentionally. Being my partner, Samuel has survived many bouts of volcanic blow-up that weren’t really about him.

He is just bull-headed with his own stuff. Yes, he should have asked. Plant them for me if you like, but ask where I want them.

I dug them out and put them in a place where they will stand proud, growing with air, light, and space. Much like what I have needed.

No we didn’t talk the rest of the night. But I wasn’t enraged, just offended. There’s a spark of life left in me after all. Yes, I could have handled it much more gracefully, but I understand why I didn’t –allowing space for my flaws.

MEDICINE

Being so different can cause a rejection of self, the countering voice of rationality so needed but rarely the first voice I hear. Awake yet again, the banging critic starts in but cut off immediately with a wiser gentler voice… it is not your fault. Don’t do that, do not blame yourself for this continual inability to sleep. Perhaps a resistance has built up towards the CBD oil.

Still my mind goes over the day. It was different from other days where my being feels as if it stays together quietly without disruption.

Samuel insisted that no new carpet be purchased without painting the walls. This was 8 months ago. I was fine with the walls, especially after scrubbing them down. The new color, picked by me, is still yellow but bright enough to require sunglasses.

Dam you Samuel. I’d love to blame him, as I’ve tended to do in all the years of our marriage. Someone needed to pay for my pain.

But this time, (I’ve grown see?) the responsibility is mine because I elbowed him away while choosing the color. Still the habit of blaming him remains, this time resisted. He just finished painting so out we go to find a rug.  At the home improvement store the newly hired sales kid was exasperating.

While working with this very young inexperienced clerk, with huge rocks in his earlobes stretching holes in them over an inch wide, my eyes kept staring in wonderment. Quite quickly a manager was called after the third, “I don’t know,” in response to our very basic questions. 

The manager was older, and with lazy slowness coughed up a few details of interest, though his demeanor suggested total disinterest. As Samuel worked through pricing I mentioned the many ads posted in repeated succession about free installation that neither were aware of.

“Oh yeah,” both sales associates proclaimed, as if being aware of what they really weren’t aware of.

We collected what scarce information we could heading back home for a breather. Then out again to another store. While this salesperson gave us the spiel, my eyes focused on her super long yellow fake finger nails that motioned avidly while she talked.  

We went back to the original store buying the carpet from the boy with the fascinating earlobes. Again a manager was called to walk him through it. 

By this time my system felt as if on divided over-drive… the body, the head, and the heart. But really, can’t a person spend a day shopping with her husband? I didn’t heed those feelings early on when one store was most likely enough for one day. We drove to one end of the county, to the other end, then back again.

Not falling asleep, the tossing and turning hated so much began. By 2 AM a second dose of Xanax was needed. The doubling of CBD oil tried first had no effect. It is medicine, you need it, but detesting the need. The improved self-talk comforted slightly with soft bits of gentle kindness.

Sleeplessness is not my fault, no matter how many avenues are driven down to see where my mistakes might be. Perhaps one store per day could have circumvented the sleeplessness. Though that thought arose early on, the idea was rejected preferring instead to just get the job done. Who knows what the reason is on any certain sleepless night.

Perhaps the real culprit it is the sham of our president committing serious amoral crimes getting away with it over, and over again. Trump, who likes to grab at other’s pussy’s, has always been one of the monsters of my childhood.

The sadness behind his ability to get away with countless crimes,  and being a living container of all that is evil in the human race, ignites into anger. Then sadness wrapped in hopelessness descends once again. Are my hopes and beliefs of good winning over evil gone?

Perhaps there is no reason other than this life of mine means living with the effects of PTSD made permanent because no intervention was provided early on after repeated traumas.   

My nervous system is busted, and cannot take too much stimulation, especially too many interactions with others. That is acutely taxing, more than I willingly admit or accept. Around others my antennae rise sharply. Are you lying, being real, or falsifying like the fake ‘trial’ happening here in America? Can you be trusted?

No, the answer is no. We all lie, or at least fudge the truth when it’s beneficial to oneself, and I cannot take it. I never will be able to. After the gum thrown down the hall, and the ensuing (almost) rape, Chet tackled my body then thrusting his penis up and down my eight year old vagina after managing to yank my pants down.

Sex was introduced to my child self with violence. Sex from then on was forever linked with force. That has never changed. Trust for any human being was forever gone. And gone too, a wholeness of being that came with my birth irrevocably shattered. 

I fought at him unable to breath. Breath was chosen over fighting after that. 

“Here,” he said, holding up a pack of gum that used to come in a box with pillow shaped gum squares. Chicklets, peppermint Chicklets.

The box was empty. Picking it up with dismay he slammed into me with a body much larger than mine, suffocating me. Trust will never come again. Like most other challenges before me, gentleness and kindness are far better thought patterns than the harsh critical bully.  

Little Girl Me

Dusty corners remain that no one knew, or wanted to know, what little girl me went through… not even me. If everyone else chastises her, so will I.

Tears leak out, trailing down my cheek, like squeezing a sponge dry during a period when nothing is stressful or bothering me, yet something is. A memory is provoked, perhaps by the quiet, empty house with a feeling that a sudden scare is impending.

Like Chet bursting out from behind the shower curtain with an evil joy at terrorizing me. He’s been dead three years. I check behind it some nights while brushing my teeth, lately more often than others. What, am I ten years old?

Much of my life is like that, something ready to happen to crack the peaceful silence keeping me always on edge. The exception is when I’m outside, unless Samuel approaches without offering a clue, then I jump with a yelp of fear erupting. Usually he remembers to signal his coming near when I’m resting by the creek after a walk in the meadow. That took years of reminders before he took heed.

This unaccounted for stress is of course due to early trauma(s). So nothing could be bogging my life down. Gifts of good sleep, good health, and all loved ones doing well… still tears come with a good dose of sadness.

When to know gentleness and acceptance of what’s there, and when to exert the discipline of pulling myself up attending to things with a brightness that is not really there. The debate loses out to the tenacity of a feeling of sadness that stays. Patience with what I’m feeling instead of brushing it aside. 

The sadness of what was done, how deep it goes, and how much destruction was caused. To be tender towards myself and the little girl I was. No one bothered to know her, not then certainly, and now? Now it needs to be me. Those parts are speaking, and I’m listening. 

While meditating the thought comes, he held me down. He held me down. And there is one tear, two, then done. Enough to appreciate the feelings and why. To know what has been driving me to eat in ways abhorred, that hurt. Hating myself just like my little girl felt hated by all those around her.

Those that did it, those who did nothing- everyone, even the school nurse who was my aunt, and she knew. The silence to me as a little girl sent the message that I was nothing, hate-worthy, not loved. The only way though this is with love, a sword that cuts.

Love is not welcome, love is tainted by force and evil. What love is left shelters deep inside, only flickering with warmth on occasions of safety which is rare. Because monsters are everywhere, even alone in the silence of my own home.

I have known since age eight what people are capable of. And since loved ones are capable of such evil, everyone is.

The only way through is with love for little girl me.

Black and White Meet Grey

What if you beat the beast by not beating, but loving with soothing counterpunches in the form of words that shower care? A fight or a soft cloud. As it often is in the world of Patricia, finding a balance can be difficult as my world has been black or white. As years pass more grey lifts up offering a sultry fog mixing both. The ups and downs begin to meet in the middle as if standing on the center of a see-saw.

And that’s OK, it’s called balance, and I like it. No great highs to come down from, nor lows to rip myself up from, though there seems to be more of those than the highs. A general evenness has evolved.

Be aware of the successes savoring them, not dwelling on what’s lacking but relishing all that is; the sparkle from the twirling items sending prisms along the wall and carpet causing the kitty’s head to spin one way then the other.

Enjoying her antics, then her need to curl up on my lap offering her belly for pets until my legs ache and need to move. Love flows freely between human and cat. She responds to it, and I surely do if I pay attention to the moments.

So many pleasures at hand, right here at home. A trip to return a few items starts out enjoyable making me wonder if I ought to get out more. Faces smile back at my smile bringing a feeling of joy. By the second hour, and an argument at the check-out, not heated, but ongoing, the manager is called who allows the return.

Weariness takes over with a wish to be home, the tiredness hitting like a stone wall. The external world can be exhausting, reminding me why my life remains reclusive. Each person is parroting their needs, like the cashier who doesn’t understand the benefits of satisfying a customer, repeating the store’s policy as if it’s a edict from the King.   

Home. Home Sweet Home.