SAFE LOVE

Two friends of late, on separate occasions, said, “I love you.”

Stymied, the best I could offer was, “I have a hard time expressing my feelings, but I’m feeling it!”

I am loved. Why can’t I feel it? I can feel it with my animals, the present one, my cat. I can feel it with my grand-children, and my sons when they were children.

Grown? I know the love is there, very deep love, but. well, they are adults with lives of their own, boundaries, and the ability to deal with me on a different level, one I must find threatening at times.

So that love though there, doesn’t flow as freely as with grand-children. Even there things change as the child grows, and that must also feel more threatening.

It is only with my cat where love flows freely— always. (except when her meowing starts up without end)

A therapist once implied I was incapable of love. He wasn’t such an oaf that he came out and said it, just rearranged a saying replacing the word love with compassion.

Or maybe it was my negative over-thinking mind which decided he meant that. I should have asked him. I’ve been trying to prove him wrong ever since, but whether he implied it or not, I don’t believe love flows easily for me. .

I can love my cat. I can love on-line. I can love from afar. But even on a phone call when a friend says she loves me, I freeze and am caught off guard.

It is understandable considering a past where family members took almost all I had except one tiny kernel of hope kept alive by the army of guards around it. Adding to it is that the girl attacked, attacked herself, and grew into a woman who is still learning to love herself. That lonely ‘bad’ little girl inside needs so much love yet is abandoned over and over again. 

It is in coming ‘home’ to my core, really going deeply, accepting what is there. Not running away, but running to. It is wrapping my arms around what is there, like my child running to me enfolding her with love. It is there that love blooms and grows. 

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Home Sweet Home

Cory’s photos

“Would you rather come home instead of meeting at the lake house?” I asked Cory.

“Oh no, we have to have a lake,” Cory said.

And that was that. My cloak was to make it sound as if it might be a better choice for him. But I fear the real ploy was because I don’t do well in traffic or staying elsewhere.

But we made the best of it, enjoying our two year grand-daughter and son for three nights, four days. Long kayak rides, long talks, and constant playtime made it all worthwhile. During the visit his wife was at home directing the movers into their new home. Oh young people. My younger years were more energetic and adventurous too.

Now? Home is where my soul rests free. Home is where the adventures take place into my own self, connected to the world yet safely ensconced where all things are familiar. 

The call of certain birds living here, not there, so comforting. An early morning walk in the meadow with dewy grape leaves sparkled with jewels at every tip. Mist rising over the creek as the sun’s warmth begins to lift them away. 

A body jarred throughout life with adrenaline rushing through the veins becomes depleted. Taking care of my needs looks different from others. My illness isn’t seen except in the tears making rivers down my face expressing the stress of living.

Yet Cory’s challenges with the move, coming home to boxes up to his ears, and their commute today, three times as long as before, outweigh my challenges ten to one. Or so it seems.

In another place my body shuts down, all of it to some degree, the five senses, even internal organs. Nothing works as it is meant to because the warning bells have clanged. When danger is sensed all energy goes into survival.

My medication should be used more not less. But I laid awake hoping for sleep. When it doesn’t (of course) then I take it, waiting another hour in the dead silent darkness till sleep comes.

When away from home, why not take it an hour before sleep like I did in the forest when camping? Because my denial system keeps hoping for something that will never come, to become a person other than myself. One that hasn’t been traumatized, then living with it unprocessed. That has fractured my being in many unseen ways

The need now is constant loving care. I’m working on that, both the care and the love. Throw acceptance in the mix too.  

When apologizing for asking about how to meet my needs when we visit his new home in a month, Cory says offhandedly, “Any illness needs care and planning, just as much as someone in a wheelchair.” 

My son possesses unusual depth. Though I’m not one to use labels, sometimes it is just easier; PTSD, Anxiety NOS, Depression. The depression isn’t debilitating at the moment. There have been bouts that needed a support person, and may need one again in the future. But for now I limp along doing OK on my own. 

Accepting what is… Many tears come from not wanting it to be so. But Cory understood. And Samuel, as much as he is capable.

Home. Home Sweet Home. In spite of the challenges, I wouldn’t trade a moment of the very special, sweet memories. One of the best parts of going away is coming home.

 

SHE RISES

And then stillness. The waves subside and calm prevails. But for how long? Is it my mind observing how peaceful things have been stirring it up causing havoc just for variety? Or is it years of suppressing trauma, unprocessed at the time of the events due to the type of trauma; childhood sexual abuse.

Because no family will , (rarely) take that child and hold her in their arms lovingly. Or give her the medical and psychological intervention necessary to heal and have a life. Want a life.

How many times has the wish come for it all to be over? How many more times will I wish it? 

A child sexually abused is cast out. Not out in the middle of the road, naked, alone and cold. But inside, naked alone and cold…still with the monsters, and now the collusive family who wants her kept quiet.

There she shivers, from cold. From terror. From aloneness.

From there she must grow. Her body does even if she wishes not to. She must traverse all the steps of life that others climb, but her journey is always naked, alone and cold. No one to help, because she was trained not to ask, not to talk.

She is mute. Alone. Naked but no one sees. Reactive to every stimulus, because PTSD does that, makes every nerve on edge for what’s to come.

There are too many challenges making one wish not to be here. For it all to be over.

But she is a warrior. Each one a warrior, the ones that don’t make it too. No one knows this, not even her. But someday she does. One day she rises yet again, knocked down over and over, she rises, tries again, and begins to see, feel, and know that inside her resides courage, beauty, and strength.

She blooms into a powerful woman, a beautiful soul that shines from within radiating outward onto a aged face that sparkles with peace, knowledge, and depth.  

 

RAGE

Something trivial, seemingly innocuous occurs of Samuel’s doing and my entire body is in upheaval. Walking the meadow, can the neighbors hear the string of vile curses, the hatred, spewing out of me? A walk to unwind, untangle the rage woken from long past. Praying to heal what lie beneath the rage. What is it?

It can’t be a simple occurrence that set me off. It makes no sense. It must be something deeper. What he did is reminiscent of Chet and Tom, both at separate times stealing my pony, the other my horse, without my permission. Both laughing about it, even my mother laughing when Tom was bucked off. My sweet horse bucking? Lobo, not once ever, bucked with me, which made me realize how cruel he must have been with her.

Disrespect, not being heard, not mattering, invisible, requests, needs, desires, basic rights going unnoticed, not listened to…. freedom, taking what little bit of joy there was, or is. Theft out of selfishness. 

Old feelings rise up choking me with rage. Meditation, and walking didn’t ease the violence construed inside me. I wanted to hurt back, choke to death the ones who took everything I had, my body, my life, my dearly beloved horse, and my mother who thought it was funny. They took her too.

Alone.

Alone with old rage able to fume out of seemingly nowhere and choke me dead. Dead but so alive; it took a whopping dose of xanax to fall asleep finally at 3 am.

The ghosts of the past will forever haunt me.

Happy Family

After hearing nothing from Don since Christmas, he sends family photos. This one is before the 8th and last child was born. Tom, the oldest, is holding me on his lap. 8 years later he crept up in the night and sucked on my vagina while I slept. 

All these beautiful children, none of who had their needs met to live a healthy life. One died by suicide. Two with heart attacks just like my father, and all at an early age. The other four still living aren’t part of my life, and that makes me sad. My feeling is that no one possesses the ability to really know me. 

The Vicious Cycle of Childhood Sexual Abuse

The tears drip down as email after email goes back and forth between me and my son. The more we share, the better I sleep. It has been too much held in for too long. Not wanting to hurt him, I held things in. And in, and in, and in.

And in the process have allowed myself to be taken advantage of and treated poorly. That helps no one, not him, not me.

After reading the post shared before on my blog called, I Am Beautiful, one thing mentioned by the other author, Aishwarya Shah, was that overeating was a form of self-abuse. There are many other ways too, but that is my go to. I don’t want to abuse myself with food anymore. When hurt by others, I eat.

What if I respected myself not to overeat? That would force speaking up, and expecting respect. Because not doing so leads to eating. But others resist this change in me, preferring I continue being a doormat. My husband, my son, and certainly my daughter-in-law who tramples all over me, and probably always will.

But I don’t have to trample on myself and treat myself badly. And I don’t have to tolerate it from others either, even my son. I have felt much guilt over my son. He was also sexually abused at the age of two. Immediately upon learning about it the offender was taken away never to be around him again. Though I took action, what I allowed to happen to my child has haunted me all these years. 

I have needed to forgive myself for that, and in the process proclaim my right to be treated with dignity and respect. Instead of allowing transgressions because of the guilt for what I felt I allowed to happen, I need to take care of myself now. I cannot change the past. And at 36, if he has issues about his childhood, he needs to do the same.

Sleep?

The 2 AM dance in my head occurs. If only the use of the bathroom wasn’t needed, because returning to sleep afterwards is often hard work. No, you will not get up. Stay. And a long time later sleep did come, but not till my brain calmed down and went over every painful experience it ever had.

I don’t think of this shit in the daytime, why does it feast on my brain at night? Hushing the harsh voice that blames me for not disciplining my mind, the knowledge that parts of my brain are broken from the unprocessed repeated traumas of my youth, brings some balm to at least that aspect of my nightly troubles, but the thoughts continue to swirl. 

That included thinking about abusive siblings who feel as close now as they ever did. In the thick of darkness these thoughts invade, even though for a good portion of my adult life another ‘family’ was built from ground up that had nothing to do with blood.

To love those that hurt me so much? To hate those that hurt me so much? But the hate is gone. The rage is gone. In its place is sadness. Sadness that each of them lived with what they did, and grew in a family that drove them to it.

The love and closeness of blood family does not dissipate like a poof of air at the end of a wand. Family is family. This was mine… sadly. And yet while these rabid thoughts played out, a hint of something else flickered… the awareness of the light of my own soul. In the dark, while trying to sleep, a spark of truth.

My tired brain, awake like an hot wire frantically whipping wildly in the road during a storm, won’t stop and move onto other mundane matters until it had its ride. Eventually fitful sleep comes.  But this new awakening of what lies beneath holds promise of growth, light, and ever-lasting life.