Come Home

You get to have your feelings, space, body and mind. You get to inhabit all of that, still a reminder because for too much of the time my mind is squirreling away in its trenches of self-doubt and self-recriminations. Or buzzing off in some way due to anxiety that ebbs and flows, but is always there below baseline no matter how hard the work has been to soothe it.

You own it, it’s yours. Yet it has never seemed that way. My body was used, taken by those I loved and trusted most. Then when I fought or said ‘No,’ more force was used, either physically or psychologically. I was shut off and shut down. The box of my body was intolerable, and I escaped leaving my body and all else behind.

I have never come back and been able to stay. Moments stretch into minutes, and sometimes hours; when focused on my work in the studio, riding my horse of long ago, or hosing the foamy sweat off her after a summer ride, the stillness by the creek when parts dare to come in- join hands, and become one. There are periods of time feeling whole and content.

Waking in the morning is not one of them. Fears press down; being alone without Samuel, relationships that need improvement because of all my faults, and, and, and… then the voice of calm, reason and compassion, “It’s OK, you’re OK. You get to be in your body because you are OK, and as equal to others as anyone else. You get to have your space with boundaries.”

The soothing voice relaxes the ever present take off flight that signals leaving… going somewhere else to escape the pain of being me, and all that was learned in childhood that said I was bad. Come home. Come home again and again. You are OK, at home, and safe.

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Dungeons and Dragons

photo by Patricia

The human body amazes. Mine has taken severe abuse, not by others, though that is true, but by me.

“Punishment,” I said to Samuel.

There was no other explanation. The eating machine had taken control. Things went down my poor stomach that weren’t wanted, and didn’t taste good. My head says that Sunday’s inability to sleep after a happy afternoon with friends, then calls from both sons, was part of the PTSD package due to what happened so long ago.

My personality says it is something different, that I’m different, an oddity, a belief ingrained along with the permanent damage from the sexual attacks endured from age 8-11, ongoing attacks on all facets of my being. 

Living with the effects of PTSD from the childhood attacks of sexual abuse will not go away. The craving continues to forget those facts. Going along day after day, quietly and happily, these realities intrude with little warning or fanfare. Turning to food, stuffing it down automatically, kicks in. More damage is done. 

I don’t want to be weird, a misfit, different. Perhaps a bugle ought to play alerting me to the whys of not sleeping then I could be better prepared to handle it healthfully instead of the knee jerk reaction of food stuffing. 

The next day the bad eating continued even more severely, making me sick then unable to sleep… just like when I was eight and went to my mother tapping her lightly on the shoulder while she slept.

“I’m going to be sick,” I said.

She murmured back, “What do you want me to do, spit straw?” I went to the bathroom and threw up. The eating continued. She fed me, overfed me really in her zest to do something. But she didn’t stop the terrible nightly attacks. Nor did she do anything to relieve the belief that it was all my fault. That would be contrary to her need for a happy family to be on show.

That was her unconscious way of keeping me silent. That self-blame will keep the family secret in, and the shame. Her daughter’s weight bloomed along with the shame hidden in the thick folds of  my skin.

She also wanted me to love myself, giving me the book, “How to Be Your Own Best Friend.” Mother, you split me, broke me in two. I have failed at that too. 

You’d think I hate my mother. I love her. I also needed her desperately all the way into my fifties when she died at 91…desperately searching for the love that felt just out of reach.   

Sometimes I take up where my mother left off, casting myself away like so much garbage. My poor heart pounded with the extra effort of trying to digest the food, while also trying to sleep. Giving up, moving to the couch, it slowed and sleep eventually came.

A great appreciation comes for my body and its tenacity for life even after so damage has occurred to it; some by my hands, some by others. My psyche also has taken a disturbing hit that is also permanent. My unwillingness to accept that has to be readjusted over and over.

Accepting what occurred and how that destroyed many aspects of my body and mind is a fact faced repeatedly because the urge is be like everyone else. Accepting these realities time and again is an ongoing job needing focused diligence. Acceptance, like patience, does not come easily.   

The aspect of feeling abnormal and bad will always be there, ingrained into my psyche just as my wiring has been damaged by the feeling of constant danger lurking behind every corner.

Fighting the dragons and demons, and coming out of the dungeon to the light, is my work, and a daily challenge. So is learning to be kind and gentle to myself. As winter approaches the dungeon grows deeper, and darker, and the work becomes harder. It needs to be recognized, appreciated, and accepted.

No amount of denial helps. Acceptance and self-love does. 

 

A Simple Life

photo by Patricia

The fog hidden in that most call dissociation, surrounds with comfort. Tucked away from the world, my own life opens. Yet the outer workings of the world invade because tuning in to its happenings is ongoing, and crucial to feeling a part of it.

Peace can be easily interrupted, which makes the times when having it so gratifying. The tendency to invert inside myself like a turtle is what makes keeping relationships difficult. People like to interact.

That takes a significant amount of energy, energy that is stored for those who mean the most, a special few. And energy for things that need doing, or are high on the list of wanting to do.

Repressing trauma from decades ago takes energy. A life living with unprocessed trauma sapped adrenals, and the stores of it are depleted. Protecting what is left means a quiet life where tasks are paced.

Simple things bring pleasure; the colors in the leaf that gently dances down from the branch- wafting side to side on its way, the otter by the creek bank chewing on grass unperturbed by my presence, the gentle rain falling as thunder claps in the distance.

It’s OK to choose the life you lead, even a quiet one with simple pleasures.

 

KAVANAUGH

The theme that no one seems to care what happens to women when they are teens or children is a theme in my life erupting as if yesterday. Night after night lying there awake.

His hand over her mouth, his hand over her mouth, his hand over her mouth.

The Senate’s republicans still wanted to vote.

She could have died.

The Senate republicans still wanted to vote.

One man stood up and said, “No.”

INJUSTICE

3 AM, no sleep, no wonder. The present hearings in the senate have extinguished all hope, but more so brought up events from over fifty years ago. Smothered by Chet’s weight. That poor girl that was me. And Chet’s attacks were after Danny’s rape in the black of night. A rape repressed, but in there lurking.

It is in the dark of early morning, when daytime events have stirred up trauma burned into my psyche from childhood, that sleep won’t return after waking. It is not my fault. There is nothing that can be done differently to avoid the activation which sets off alarms that my world is unsafe.

How can it feel safe when politicians push ahead ignoring such monstrous acts, then reward the one who committed them? Only one did the right thing, Flake, who did so because he didn’t look forward to any more intrusions like the one at the elevator before the vote. Two heroic women confronted him with their own stories of being sexually attacked while he stood speechless with his head down.  

When my alarm system is activated there is not much to do except take something that calms my entire nervous system. TV was too blaring, so returning to bed was comforting, snuggling under the covers till the medication took effect, lulling me to sleep until long after the sun rose.

Talking to David about how the present brought up the past caused tears to spill out over morning coffee. Oh, how I wish it  weren’t so. Tears come hard and are exhausting, adding tired upon tired. These reactions out of my control are unwanted. My wish is to be like Samuel … oblivious to the treachery and scourge of others. 

Every time seeing Cosby’s face reminds me of the other liar I’ve lived in a hostage-like bondage with all my life, Tom. Mr. Kavanaugh’s face mimicked both.  I could not look at him while he pontificated during his testimony, nor listen to him. When a person lives a lie it shows in their face, the expressions and nuances. I would rather not be privy to such depth of knowing.

There is no reason to have been born into the mayhem that was my family of origin. There is no shining light about what was.

Shit happens. Injustice is lived with in quiet resignation. The goal it is to get on with the things that bring light and happiness, and in my world that means internal peace— very hard to hold onto when PTSD symptoms intrude. Yet it is accepted as a part of my life since the age of 8, along with a myriad of other challenges stemming from childhood sexual abuse. 

No one said I’m sorry. No one asked Tom, “Why did you do that to my sister?”

No one said “I’m sorry I didn’t stay around to protect you, and make sure nothing else happened.”

They pretend to care, just like now. My brothers put on a show of nice, then are more loyal to abuser(s). The senators put on a show of nice, then push the vote through anyway.  

POWER

So much excess carbs ingested without regard to the body’s fullness. A single-minded purpose of blotting out the pain, only to live with the existing pain ten-fold while watching her tell the story of such trauma long ago. .

As Dr. Ford detailed her account of the traumatic attack- tears fell, especially when describing the drunken teen’s hand over her mouth. He could have killed her in his stupor and strength. Tears fell for her because I know how that feels, to have that weight upon one’s body unable to move and stifled for air… death imminent from suffocation.

That is when I stopped fighting and lay still. He could have killed her in his drunken lust and need to overpower a weaker person. Because it is more about control than sex. Now he will rule on the highest court in the land, a power hungry charlatan, and hater of women.

Chet did kill something in me.

The wheels of power go on as predicted. One more lascivious pig will be put on the highest court in the land, to hold hands with Clarence, and snicker at what they got away with.

Would you be so quick to vote if it had been your daughter, your wife? Maybe so. Maybe nothing matters except staying in power.

Dr. Ford is a hero, with courage unparalleled. 

 

Thunderclap

 

Sleep comes at the usual time, then Samuel comes into bed shutting windows.

“Don’t close them,” I murmur from sleep.

“A storm’s coming,” he responds.

“Oh, I forgot,” I said.

The thunder woke me further . Returning to sleep would be hard. A strike erupted outside our window causing a boisterous scream to erupt from my lips, and my body to hurl onto Samuel’s in fright as he grasped my hand.

My heart pounded. All the bells and whistles went off signifying danger. Laying there for over an hour sleep would not come. Samuel’s gentle snoring made me envious. Finally giving up at 1 AM it was time for a sleep aid, and TV. 

At least one good thing about sleeplessness this time. Usually blame is put on myself immediately and unconsciously for not corralling in negative repetitive thoughts, or finding some other way to hang sleeplessness around my neck.

This time it was clearly Mother Nature at fault. A great load lifts when not haranguing myself with blame. That built-in tendency to burden myself with blame tends to add a heaviness along with a lack of energy the next day. Without that boulder on my shoulders this day feels brighter despite the darkness and rain.

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