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…

FOCUS

SLOW, slow down. For life it’s been fast, moving ahead of my body- like two separate entities. Staying as one, after a lifetime of division, takes focus. My body cradled my spirit, yet my spirit has been flying off somewhere, often not knowing where.

There is that safe dreamland where much of me spent. You talk to me? I’m not there. I could pretend to be, yet most time was spent in that safe place others call disassociation. I call it zoning out.

With the very first meditative session presence began. Wanting more of being in this body that has carried me all these years, meant more meditation, years of it. But with the addition of marijuana oil came a whole new definition of presence. Not fleeting but with staying power.

That gift, suggested by my younger loving son, has offered a world where sleep is possible. My arthritic knees and other joints don’t ache. Anxiety is kept at a minimum as long as my days are unfettered with worry or too much stimulation out there in the fast paced ruckus.

The gliding, graceful heron takes me with her as she swoops for fish in the creek. The orange of the butterfly shines in the sunlight as she flutters by as if following me while crunching over hickory nuts in the hedge-row. The squirrels have been busy because most are just shells, the meat already having been buried.

Days can move from one to the next with grace and beauty, but it does take focus on slowing my ever busy mind down, and focusing on being in my body. My mantra still works, it’s OK, it’s OK. You’re OK, you’re OK, you’re OK…

A gift from a friend.

JOYFUL CHILD-LIKE ABANDON

The wind through my hair, legs pumping round and round, tires crunching over the fallen leaves along the trail by the water.

“This is so much fun!” I exclaim to Samuel more than once, adding, “I feel joy!”

The sun dappling the path, warming my back in the open spaces, a deer skittering across still with its spots. A bike ride after a few good nights of sleep was just the tonic to bring joy, happy memories of childhood rekindled, of which there were some.

In those days, our country road had little traffic so we had free reign, riding our bikes all day everywhere in the neighborhood unperturbed by parental restraint. She was at work. We could hike the hills too exploring the ponds, cow paths, and trails, with no one to say we couldn’t.

Of course, having no adult monitoring the home also had horrific consequences for me- but interspersed between the horror was joyful abandon. Joyful memories didn’t come up out of me until the horrors came too. (writing the book after my mother died 12 years ago)

Samuel and I decided to shorten the usual 1 ½ hour ride to less than an hour so our butts wouldn’t hurt. Now it is fun and not so much work. I want to do it again and again!

SAFE

Safe, feeling safer from those who do damage, the silent ones imposing silence on me. There is no way to have family of origin be part of my life. And though knowing this there continues to be a craving for it. But peace has been restored along with healthy sleep habits. Peace and freedom, something lost when interacting with those that muzzle me. Or consort with Tom.

The people who love me, who truly love me, don’t do that, and have nothing to do with the devil. Tom’s face, something about it. I see it in those that lie like Bill Cosby. Deceit on faces look similar.

The morning comes with peace filling me from the inside out as the golden globe rises above the hill. All is quiet. Oh how these mornings are cherished. A bird here or there tweets a hello as crickets in abundance still dance creating a happy drone.

Peace, hope, and love fill me once again…chasing away the terror of telling my truth which origin families do anything not to hear. And freedom. Freedom to feel my hand, notice the whiff of apple scent from the warmer, to be in my body as a whole person for more moments than not when focusing on it.

To remember, don’t go fast, slow down so all parts stay together. And know you are OK, not the problem origin family makes you out to be. You are OK, you are strong, beautiful and loving. And you have a right to be here.

(Seth’s email was permanently deleted before reading it as his defensiveness would hurt me drastically, and he has hurt me enough- I am safe from it.)

PEACE and CHAOS

Feelings of joy burst forth from me. Sleep came like a baby night after night. Feeling so good an email was sent to Don, his wife, Seth and his wife, inviting them all for pie. What?

And that night no sleep. A double dose of sleep medication was needed. The next morning, believing this is the only way for my soul to speak (sleeplessness), an email was sent to both brothers about the feelings being wrestled with all summer and before.

Don’s response was warm, kind and thoughtful, though no comment about his continued interactions with Tom. Seth’s in in my mailbox with fear of reading it. When he criticized me for writing the book and wouldn’t answer me, it sent me to the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. That is how vulnerable telling the truth makes me.

Why do you consort with the devil who did so much damage to me? That is what runs though my mind. I am a fractured person, shying away from them as they make an unlikely friendship between themselves, along with Stevie and Tom, then suddenly a happy email with an invite?

Because, that’s what happens when you grow with horror but are forced to pretend calm and love towards attackers appearing as brothers. It does make a broken person, or a split one. Half of me wanting a family that gets together for a pie party, the other half who lives in reality.

Instead of beating myself up for the email invite, which has brought much pain during a wonderful week of sunshine and peace, maybe it is just one more leap of growth- growth, truth and authenticity. It is exhausting and one of the hardest hurdles accomplished taking 6 decades for words to come that no one wants to hear.

My soul feels ragged, like the pieces that fit so smoothly just a few days ago, now don’t. With time, and loving kindness towards self, wholeness and peace will be restored.

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.

The INNOCENT or PERPETRAOR?

A child victimized sexually by a family member often becomes both the innocent and the criminal. No wonder it is hard to silence my critic’s hammering, brow-beating voice, bending my back over daily as if being hit repeatedly with a stick.

It is commonplace to do harm on myself even now over 60 years later. Coming out of such dysfunction the learning is that it’s not OK to feel good, happy, or at peace. Not allowed. Someone must take the hit for the family shame, especially to keep her quiet so no one else has to feel bad or ashamed.  

“Please do not add me to emails where Tom is included. What he did to me as a child was horrible,” I said at age 68, finally speaking up.

“What?” Don asked, not sure he heard me, or maybe incredulous that for once a truth had been spoken.

The innocent and criminal. Because speaking the truth about crimes in the family about a family member is betrayal. And though now fully grown, that gag order still exists. That shame still causes me to hurt myself.

A girl, now woman, expressing the horrors of my childhood casts me out once again unless abiding by their rules. They may be as subtle with their tactics as they were then, but there are in place even now, and honed to perfection.  

My mother was especially good at it, extinguishing the fire in my natural personality as if throwing a bucket of water on my soul darkening my spirit as if never having one… and it’s still elusive, I am still searching for my true nature. And the others followed, a gang against a small girl just trying to grow.

And they ganged up again over the last few years. A rare visit to one or the other meant a phone call behind my back in the other room calling the other one who shows up quickly. Is that because you’re so eager to see me, or is it the same old story? Two against one means that two can keep things as they have always been. Me silent and/or pleasing. Keep me down, the little puppet we can control.

The ramifications of growing up treated this way caused badness to grow inside me like a steel skyscraper blocking the light. And as an adult this shatters me again and again. Each attempt to build a relationship with any of the three causes harm. They collude in crimes against me by their continued interaction with the fourth who ravaged my spirit the most.  The rule of silence cannot remain. The only way out is not to be in.

+

Learn to LOVE Thy Self

Even a solitary life such as mine brings pain. The world comes in, how could it not with the amount of news we watch? But other things, such as saying no to a younger brother who over the years learned to expect things from me that are out of bounds. Yet with my poor self-esteem, and feelings of duty to care for my younger brother, I hop at his requests, just like I tend to hop at Samuel’s requests.

Stevie was trained early on by Tom to treat me cruelly with no consequences. That I deserved it. Because Tom had a secret- what he did to me, so with it came making me look bad and unworthy. That helped create a scenario with all 6 other brothers. Since the outlook towards me is that I’m more worthless than others, it’s OK to treat me with scorn, and as if I’m invisible. I easily went along with it so you will just love me.

This summer the angst of saying no to little brother Stevie has caused a great deal of pain. Saying yes to my needs overriding his took great strength. It has been a long time coming. At eight years old after Dad died, Mom and I sang Silent Night each night to Stevie, along with the ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ prayer.

 Stevie would ask me, “Is Daddy gone?”

Even at my young age taking care of Stevie came naturally. Mom became absorbed in going out into the work force despite her grief, and also started drinking more.

“He’s not gone, he’s up in heaven looking over us,” I said.

As we grew the older boys were out of the house a lot. It was Stevie and me wandering the neighborhood on our bikes while Mom was at work. Keeping an eye on him became my job.

But also through the years his tendency to treat me differently than others, less than, not worthy of respect, went unnoticed by him, but hurt me sharply. It has only been recently that in my own quiet way I say NO.

Not without angst. Finally having a talk with him yesterday, I did relay that after saying no about visiting so Samuel could do electrical work for him he completely stopped emailing, calling, or videoing.

I repeated it because he didn’t seem to hear me.

“After I said no, I didn’t hear from you,” I said, adding, “I thought you must have been really hurt. It’s not that I don’t want to see you, I cannot sleep elsewhere and must take something every night. It’s a huge challenge. After going to Cory’s, then camping with Shane, I felt I met my two biggest challenges and goals. Adding one more was just too much, plus I’ve been sick for a month with diverticulitis.”

“Oh, well, you think too much, you overthink it,” he said, obviously wanting to move on, unconnected to his own inner workings.

Later while walking the meadow my thoughts bent on what he said that in the past might have hurt me. It was a criticism saying I think too much. Talking aloud to myself I said to him, “You don’t think enough!” Not something I could do in person, not just yet. He is way to sensitive to criticism himself of any kind.

My tears began while trying to explain to him about how hard it is to travel, especially after his slight show of compassion about it.

“Sorry you have such a hard time traveling, but it’s OK,” he said. More tears.

“No, it’s not. I can’t do what I want to do. My body is just tired out after a stress filled life,” I said, not going into childhood issues which I’ve always kept from him, protecting him. Don has recently told both of them the broad issues of my being a survivor, as that’s what dysfunctional families do, tell personal things about someone who is not there.

Not going up to help my little brother bothered me that much, enough to cause tears. My needs came first, and though taking that step was incredibly hard it also came with more understanding, love, and care for myself… and more self-respect.

That is growth, healing and growth, which can often be painful.

TOM vs CUOMO

Summer came with struggles that didn’t have to happen, but, there’s always a but, BUT, maybe growth that occurs because of it is needed.

Seeing those who profess being ‘family’ has caused a great deal of pain, confusion, and what feels like going backwards… not just a step, but back to childhood. The 68 year old turned right back into the pleasing doormat.

How can a person handle cravings for the poisonous family she was brought into, trying to be part of it after feeling pressured to do so, then be caused even more damage than what occurred coming out of it? So much put into growth… gone in an instant. First saying NO to Stevie, and the ensuing guilt for not being there for my little brother, my needs taking precedence. (miracles can happen!)

Seth- inviting him to camp at my favorite place, but catering to him, making all the food, becoming the slave of my youth at $2 an hour, jumping up to do whatever he asked back then; iron a shirt, get something for him to eat, etc. But it added to my stash being saved up for my pony so I didn’t care. But I care now. I care not to become his maid nor anyone’s. I care to have the freedom to be the woman I’ve grown into, not the pleasing doormat he requires.

Cuomo. As a resident of New York, (up in the boonies, not New York City) his handling of the virus and ability to come along and calm down my wild anxiety as the deadly invading virus crept closer and closer to our area, will never be forgotten. My gratitude extends to him always. My sadness at losing his outstanding, extraordinary capable work ethics and ability profound.

But I always wondered why he didn’t seem to date, divorced a beautiful, accomplished wife, (or she him), and didn’t have a steady committed relationship. So many women (more his age) chirped in tweets during his daily briefings that they’d love to date this late middle-aged attractive man.

But he didn’t have time. He threw all he had into his work excelling at it. From reports it seems he copped a feel along the way with very young women who were his daughters’ age. The ones that worked for him, looked up him as a father figure and mentor. Creepy. Like Tom, my eldest sibling. There’s power in that too.

I always felt uncomfortable about how much he reminded me of Tom, even looking similar. Both accomplished, though Tom is now retired, and was a lawyer at a prestigious firm. Yet in the dark corners lurked a lack of character, a dark character that neither are aware of? Not possible. You can’t be that smart and not know. It’s no longer possible to love either one of them.

They both lack the ability to be fully honest with themselves. I wouldn’t want to live with holes in my soul like that. I have holes. I flutter in the breeze like a tattered kite, but their rips of blemish are not mine. My rips come from not seeing my good, but I’m working on that.

You can have character, and not. Each has character with their work, but sadly, and criminally, fail elsewhere. Would I take advantage of my little sister, creeping in at night to suck at her vagina while she sleeps, then spend the rest of her life making her feel like the worst outcast that ever existed?

Would I become a world class state leader then take advantage of my adoring employees, copping a feel, kissing, or making off color jokes? I not only hope not, I wouldn’t.

A RECKONING

MORNING SUNBEAMS AT THE CREEK

It’s a little early for melancholy, the drop in mood that occurs each fall. Yet some birds are grouping in trees and practicing flight plans, and others may have already left for warmer climates. The sun sets earlier, rises later, and that feeling of sadness creeps in. The core work of turning a belief of unworthiness into worthiness seems much harder to confront, but there it is smacking me in the face.

Day after day of reversing that loud critic that screams badness, wrongness, and that I’m unfit to live. Hasn’t any progress been made? It seems that the excess weight is proof of my unworthiness. That carrying it is all I have to prove my worth. If I hate myself, will I then be loved by those brothers who feel so unsafe?

That it has always been my job to carry the burden of what was done to me so that the others won’t have to? Yet three out of four attackers have died, and died too early for the normal life span of most. I believe they did carry a very heavy burden which lead to a shorter life. The fourth, not a bit, but at least he moved out west and I have no contact.

Even as little as a month ago Seth sent a group email including that fourth attacker with no awareness that I DON’T WANT TO BE IN AN EMAIL WITH HIM! It took up till this year to request that Stevie and Don not do it, then Seth does it. I did not ask Seth thinking he must know.

But they continue to remain clueless to the wreckage Tom left behind after attacking me. All the years of put-downs, which broke me as much or more than the attacks.

And oh how I want family. Yet cannot. How can I? When those three interact with Tom frequently by email as if nothing ever happened? When I know if he had done to their daughters what he did to me, no way would he be their good buddy.

So the craving continues, both for core feelings of worthiness because that is still elusive, and for family. Having my woman friends over for our monthly get-together brought to light again just how safe I feel with them which is in such opposition to the three brothers who didn’t abuse me.

Making arrangements to spend time with these three brothers brought on sleeplessness with danger sirens so strong they drown me in self-doubt with feelings of failure for not being able to connect. But who really is at fault for that?

When others who profess to love you don’t stand up with you and your testimony of past torture, how can they be trusted? How can I know of my worth if you don’t see me, hear me, or believe me? If you won’t even listen, then put me down for telling my story (which Seth did)?

Reaching an impasse at weight loss isn’t about weight, but about loving myself; honestly respecting my authentic self, my factual story, even when others won’t. Especially then. A reckoning of self. A true face to face. Do you have the courage to truly love yourself? To keep going to places where peace and love grow?

PATIO FLOWER