A FRIEND?

My friend’s remark last week (with friends like that, who needs enemies?) erased a lifetime of work in her one-liner, you are back to square one. Six little words set me off my rails doubting everything about myself.

It wouldn’t help to tell her what an airhead she is. But it does call for my internal depths to deepen and grow. There’s no making someone understand who cannot.

To ease the pain lingering from her shallowness, and to understand myself better, a letter that won’t be sent, or maybe will be. The risk of letting myself be known is losing this ‘friend,’ because it already came close this time once again. Let it go, or work on tolerance, acceptance, and forgiveness? To not speak up when someone puts a boot in my face is not healthy.

Though I’m able to forgive your blithe remark, I won’t forget it. To look down on me without knowing the ramifications of my childhood and erase a lifetime of working at keeping myself alive?

Because yes, it has been that hard. In one short sentence you delete lifelong work. It tore me up, not because I believe it, but because you believe it. That after all these years you don’t know me or want to. And that’s OK, how could you? But to take a quick peek and dictate such a thing?

And interestingly, the answer I sought wasn’t forthcoming. You had said out of the blue recently that you were glad I was learning to love myself. My curiosity was in response to your blunt sentiments, entering a space you hadn’t been asked to join.

I regret asking. Boom, what seemed like a positive observance from you replaced with unsolicited advice that had nothing to do with my question.

You don’t know what a destroyed nervous system is like. Adrenaline pumping through my veins daily, cortisol bursts draining precious resources. My body, psyche, emotional being, and mind, all tired from a life of it. Daily occurrences that don’t make others jump with terror, terrorized me. Because all people became dangerous from what was learned in childhood.

We have sold the camper, giving up something loved. The possibility of going to Cory’s again is probably too much for me take on again. I cannot fly around the country like you do or drive anywhere long distances without my body being upset for days.

I need to stay home, and accept it, because I love the land, and being here. I am happy. I am mostly at peace, though little changes in routine upset my tired-out body. No, you cannot see my scars, but they are there, and they are life-long growing more challenging as I age.

Even Christmas with Shane made for a fitful night of sleep waking at 1:30AM and staying awake all day yesterday feeling teary and tired. I have a lot of days like that due to my sleep issues from Chronic PTSD, spilling over from what happened at age 8, terror so deep my body 60 years later still protects me from remembering, though I do know a rape occurred. I remember everything else which is bad enough.  

I believe a hidden agenda in such a grievous remark compounded with a lack of knowing your own motives was behind it. But it came out anyway sword-like. I never became accustomed to your barbs couched in syrup drawing blood over the years, but this one so trite in black and white I won’t forget.   

I write in the hopes you might see a miniscule fraction of what my life is like and stop quick judgments. The respect I deserve is sadly lacking. It is enough that I know.  

Patricia

Is this a friend to keep or not? That question has occurred many times, once almost ending it, but she stuck by loyally and loyalty is most valuable to me. To end it would also mean ending the monthly group of 5. What would remain is Samuel and my forest friends. It is as Samuel said once, “You don’t stop picking berries because of the thorns.” Well, actually I have.

Love of Life

Photo by Cory (my younger son)

Each day there is a job to do, work on self-esteem. Though possible to improve on that front, the core of my being already formed is staying that way.

You cannot cut into the layers of a tree and remove its inner ring without killing the tree.

I am who I am, who was formed during childhood, with beliefs about myself that became embedded into my personality.

So, each day takes focus, work, and effort to counteract the life-threatening critical voice which thrives so dramatically inside me. To tell it, I do deserve life, equality, pleasure, and happiness, even amid all the other struggles and pain that life brings to each of us.  

LIARS, MANIPULATORS, DECEIVERS

Very often the weak character of others instills great doubt in me because my tendency is to blame myself. And the hurt coming with being blamed (by me) goes deep as if my insides might crack.

Since beginning the journey of learning to love and accept myself, with it comes a wiser eye to the truth. Others who do not like my truth or my need to tell it, seek revenge in the form of niceties that sound so sweet yet cut to the bone.

That is the social norm; don’t yell, don’t tell the truth, cover it up with lies, but do harm anyway and don’t get caught.

People closest to me do the most harm, and go to the greatest lengths to conceal what they do. Flower it with lies that sound believable but aren’t true. There is no way to confront such brilliant masqueraders.

I despise liars, manipulators, and vengeful people disguising themselves as something other that. And no wonder considering what was learned early in childhood.

Tom, who spent his life putting me down so skillfully that even intelligent people in the group of people I was unfortunate to be born into (origin family) didn’t realize they too began treating me badly because of the light cast on me. Tom made it OK.

And Chet who threw the pack of Wrigley’s Chicklets down the hall, “Get it, if you get there first you can have it.”

I did, it was empty, then he plowed into me dragging me down the hall to my mother’s bed half-way suffocating me as he yanked down my pants rubbing his penis up and down on me then ejaculating.

Who would like being lied to after that? Deceived? Manipulated? And everyone does it to some extent, but some are masters at it.

My quiet life suits me. People ARE dangerous.

Knowing

Happiness is not ready-made; it comes from your own actions.

But what are the actions needed? My body and me, we departed from each other at age 8. Reconnection slowly occurs in snippets, yet mostly remains a mystery.

The rift is too widely cracked. Is it activity or rest? A life of adrenaline filled days has worn out my body no matter how hard that fact is denied. Easily overwhelmed systems need a great amount of rest, stillness, and inactivity.

The urge to push, push, push backfires making me physically sick.  Feelings of being different, weird, or unusual can be transcended with acceptance of all that I am, was or will be. Patience with self fans the spark of self-love into flame.

JOY

Each day challenges: old haunts, familiar yet unhealthy ways of being, habits ritualized over the years- habits of thinking that put me in a negative light, all that I touch, think of, and do is perceived as bad or wrong.  

There has been no crime committed, yet in my mind I am the crime, a disturbed self-portrait painted by familial sexual abuse at an early age.

So, each day begins anew with self-talk, much needed self-talk. Friends have given a helping hand over the years but could take me only so far.

The real change, the real challenge, is what’s inside, and discovering self-esteem for myself. What others have given has saved me many times, pulled me up from drowning, live-saving, yet temporary.

It is a new and delicious way of viewing myself, the world, and my place in it… that I deserve joy and happiness.

Not from what I’ve done or will do, but by being me.  

Life is not easy, it is hard, yet there is joy, there is light, but it must be found both inside and outside myself.  

IT’S OK TO FEEL HAPPY

A smile, the first time in too long, a full on, full felt smile from the inside out. Darkness and cold made me pasty faced with a dour bent. But sunshine, warmth, and azure skies opened me wide, cracked wide open with glee, joy, and happiness. So what is that tinge of darkness holding me back, smoldering with doubt and self-blame internally, always yapping away, pounding against any good feelings to be had?

The breeze lifted my hair moving through me as if to say, ‘come.’ Out again, over, and over, around, and around the meadow now glorious with crystal blue skies above and toasty waves shimmering downward. Off came hat and gloves, next, coat. Then rolling up pantlegs to expose calves, shin, and skin.

What a magnificent string of days! The depressed me couldn’t help but feel glad. It still takes work, hearing my head speak silently, it’s OK to be happy, a new mantra adding to the usual it’s OK, a mantra often repeated throughout a day because being present might be unsafe.

It’s OK to be happy? The decades of silence causing a guilt to turn inside me like a hot poker in fire. Guilt brought from internalizing the horrors of sexual attacks that seemingly went unnoticed, uncared about, and continued even after being exposed more than once.

She did the best she could. Her mantra.

Cohesion not collision. My work is finding ways for the splintered parts to coexist, meet as one, the jagged edges nestling into other sharp pieces smoothing the shards.

It’s OK to be happy, It’s OK to be happy, it’s OK to be happy…

LIVE

Patricia’s photo

It is such a new extraordinary experience to take my own needs into consideration, after first allowing myself to recognize all that really made me who I am.

Not running away, but running to my core. The pull to connect with the three remaining brothers is strong, even coming up in last night’s dream. Upon waking, sipping coffee, the thought- call and make a plan to get together.

But no. My own needs are real and every time this occurs my entire system goes awry. The sister they see isn’t me, the grown woman, aging, wiser, more in control of the impulsiveness that leads to self-destruction. And the anxiety erupting when playing the part they require is destructive… every time.

My mother, now gone 13 years, instilled such a guilt in me; that’s not nice, you should be ashamed of yourself, and on it goes if ever advocating for myself. The guilt in not keeping connected continues strong due to her life-long manipulative, persuasive, intrusive, pressures to keep the ‘so called’ family intact, niggling at my insides like Medusa’s head. But this time my choice is for equanimity, the centeredness coming from attending to my needs of body, mind, and spirit.

Her expectations demanded that I love the very monsters who attacked me, their wives, and the ones who didn’t but colluded in the lie that nothing happened because it was, and still is, more comfortable to do so.

And that is the rub. My love needs to be from afar, because there is love when feeling safe from treachery of lies and pretense. They don’t visit on their own, but together, when the force of more can get away with treating me as was done in the past, like dust in the wind. They each know they are welcome to visit, but don’t. Or only together. Too scary on your own? Then you must deal with the me that is real?

She couldn’t let her daughter tell the truth, she had to silence me. And she did until after her death. That is when I began to live.  Each moment is precious. ‘We shall never pass this again.’

Anne Heche 1969-2022

She was one of us, a woman surviving childhood abuse by a loved and trusted family member, her father. I mourn her loss. She didn’t make it. And it hurts to lose one.

My compassion for those silent goes deep. She has been a part of me since reading her memoir, Call Me Crazy. (published September 2001) Voracious for any spark of meaning in life to keep me going, memoirs and autobiographies were devoured when facing my own past buried deep where many of those sexually abused as children had to keep it.

The fiery crash, speeding into a house, matching what her interior may have been all along. Because we hide the chaos.

Looking fine on the outside, sexual abuse tears apart souls, the pieces tattered, blowing in the wind.

Is it a coincidence that after too many days to count of miraculous sleep, last night my spirit couldn’t after hearing she died that morning? My stomach plummeted like an elevator with a busted cable.

To be that connected to someone I’d never met.

Never Hush an Abused Child- HELP HER

And they said through actions not words, ‘don’t speak of it.’ And decades go by without barely doing so.

How does a little girl sustain such injury, all alone, inside herself? While walking on a gorgeous summer day, my glumness took me places I’d rather not be.

But after a life of being other than who I am, allowing myself the freedom to feel what’s there, maybe remnants of a dream needing working out, I go where I really am.

So there Mom. Mom and the rest, wanting to hush up the reality of what those in our so-called family had done. To suffer such trauma, repeatedly, then? No one comes to help, love, cuddle, protect.

But hushed. Hushed from ever speaking a word of what they had done. And they kept doing it, over and over. Then you make me be quiet about it, but don’t help?

The injustice is more than unfair, or cruel. It took me away from myself for an entire life. Buzzing around myself. Pushing to do, yet not being in my body while doing it.

Just an anxious mass of mess trying to survive. How I did makes me wonder, and offers a look into a person worthy. Appreciating just how hard it was and offering a blessing that all the wonders found today are OK to be in, enjoy, and be whole in.

SUNNY DAY

While riding the bike trail along the banks of the water, my legs pump hard and fast leaving Samuel behind.

Once he caught up I said, “If I go too far ahead, I’ll just wait at the turn around spot,” adding, “I think I’m mad at life.”

Physical exercise might metabolize the medication needed the night before. But no, it didn’t really, once coming home the most that occurred was vegetating on the couch with a bag of Oreos feeling sorry for myself.

But maintaining the ‘keep quiet and still’ routine hours before bedtime so that my system doesn’t light its rocket worked… sleep came, fitful, but good enough. It is a challenge to do these things that are needed, preferring instead to pretend I’m just like everyone else I know. (in person)

While biking my thoughts sort out things, like gratitude. Sometimes friends don’t always come like usual, in person. The closest women friends now are those I’ve never met in person, but rather through emailing, pen pals, the usual term.

But for me, they are more than that. We share hearts. No hiding, no show for conventional social etiquette, which requires saying, ‘I’m fine,’ when you’re not.

It’s an understanding beyond that, much deeper, more meaningful. So, I’m lucky. Yet the saying ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps?’ Uh, no.

I will feel what I feel, after a life of being trained not to, so much so it is an everyday adventure discovering just who I really am. Act upbeat? Be happy? Be positive? How about just being me.

The self-talk while gliding on the path with sun splashing through leafy trees on a brilliant summer day reminded me; I have one life, live it. Live each moment my way. Take it, it’s mine.

After a life of feeling owned, what’s left I want to be mine.