When the Soul Speaks

photo by Patricia- our favorite Adirondack lake at sunset

Red-winged black birds are back, their trilling can heard down by the creek. Now the hunt is on for the first robin because they must also have returned. Unusual heat continued through morning so we pulled chairs onto the pool deck and sipped coffee with our bare arms exposed to the sun.

Soon the breezy wind caused the temperature to plummet twenty degrees and the windows were shut tight to the cold.  The studio beckoned me. A piece arose easily as if it were meant to be and I was just a conduit for its birth.

The PTSD beast sleeps. The lull in the usual upheavals sustains, the balance and repose nourishes. When the soul speaks it is not always about pain but what might take flight out of you if unburdened by it. 

 

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The Soldier

photo by Patricia

Who was the girl who marched by day yet was terrorized by night. Why didn’t she break? What is she made of, this girl? Grit, and stamina, love and light. But how can that be? As she matured the night-time terrors awoke in the day bringing her down, wishing no life.

And as the years passed it became harder, not easier. She reaches out, grasps life-lines and accomplishes astounding miracles, but it takes it’s toll. Being out in the world where demons multiply wearied her soul; every live being if human could be deadly.

As she moves into the years when she knows she’s next in line to leave this world, the demons have submitted to her courage at confronting them…peace comes. Peace comes because she demands it, and the spirit she was born with stands defiant. 

She has learned to be soft and when to be hard. It is OK for both and essential. Instinct wells up, she listens and responds. She has herself back after a life away from her core. 

 

Move and Be Still

photo by Patricia

Winter has taken hold, beat me down, and won’t let up, even as the days grow longer. One last hit to let me know she’s there. Waking for the day, not yet wanting to get out of bed, the thought occurred that it was February when my friend died. Maybe that adds to the odd numbness, memories of her and the reciprocal love and respect which flowed.

Gathering with friends for our monthly get-together, my feelings were ambivalent and cool which was curious. Even in the hardest times the warmth is felt but mine remained encapsulated, hard to reach. Perhaps it was missing sweet Sue adding on to the winter blues.

Figuring things out further helps one to be gentle with oneself. Soon my brain chemicals will lighten up, get squirrely causing labile moods from feeling down to euphoric then leveling out as warm days become more consistent. Geese are moving, squawking and flying in V’s overhead.

Sitting creek side the ground cover looks barren, but below the soil roots may be waking up preparing to grow. The birds that have returned could already be building nests. Soak it in, renew, and trudge on. Make my boots move when my spirit doesn’t want to.

The movement quickens my mood, it always does.

 

Breaking the Rules

photo by Patricia

It is too easy to get caught up despising myself. It’s an ingrained habit that began at age 8 when the first sexual attack occurred by a monster who looked like a brother. Monsters have hid in the darkness ever since. My bodily senses have been on high alert against them damaging parts of it permanently.

Children blame themselves for what goes on around them. It could be divorce, arguments they overhear by parents, even death. But the confusing horror of being sexually attacked by those loved dearly traumatized all levels of my being, turning me against myself. That cemented into rock and continues to be very hard to chip away at.

It’s not OK to love myself. I was taught not to in the very inaction of no one coming to help. Of my mother sitting across from me telling me to tell her if it ever happens again; not holding me in her arms telling me she was sorry and that she would never allow it to happen again.

It did. It went on and on and on. The devastation is complete. The incongruencies of her love along with her requirement that the traumas be held within my young soul, and requiring I love the terrifying monsters attacking  me, caused a chasm impossible to bridge. There is the me put forth, then the real one still being explored. 

My first response at failing anything is self-hate, beating myself up. It is very difficult to change. As my head lay on the pillow the usual barrage began. Then a quiet voice whispered, What if you let those thoughts go, what replaces that space? Are you afraid to find out? Does it feel like breaking the rules of what you learned as a child?

The rules still bind and suffocate. Not growing from a place of self-love, the map to finding my way there takes intrepid determination, grit and persistence, but maybe most importantly, a softness given to others but often hard to find and feel towards myself. It is there, keep digging… but do so gently like the archeologists delicately excavating for relics.

The Scare

photo by Patricia

Turmoil is just something to accept. The calm after the storm is all the more appreciated. A solitary life does not mean less upset. A confrontation with a circling, aggressive pit-bull on a walk down the road set me spinning. Lying owners kept the whirl going until the mail-carrier who saved me backed up my story to the dog control officer.

Walking the meadow opens my lungs, and the air expelled after escaping the warm house invigorates. The meadow is fairly safe except for the Doberman pinscher next door which the owner occasionally lets loose in the back yard. If it spotted me and the owner wasn’t paying attention it’d be all over me in seconds. While walking my mind ponders the aftermath of such an attack which feels like when not if.

A system drained of resources seeks safety, quiet and peace. It is too easily stimulated and catapults into clanging warning bells which jar my entire being. It takes a while to calm down. A body tired of fighting needs a restful life reliable in its habits. Yet even on a plot of land in the country the stillness inside is easily disrupted.

The Spin

photo by Patricia

Birds chirping in the morning, snow melting, temps hitting almost 60 degrees, could Spring be trying to slowly carve her way up? The additional light affects brain chemistry and nights are interspersed with sleeplessness. The mixing of chemicals confuses thoughts, emotions rattle my equilibrium, and decisions evade me.

Find your base. Again and again it is lost. Remember the work, it’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK. You’re OK. Fluctuations in mood and thought are jarring at opposite ends. The tendency to go too fast, faster than now, reminds me; breathe, be here now, in this moment, in this body.

Shadows of the past invade, always there hovering. They claw at me claiming the present and must be dealt with. Accepting how then affects now and opening up to the painful sadness, welcoming it, soothing it, understanding it, and addressing the many layers with nurturance, that is when peace returns.

The chaotic turmoil spins one moment to the next. Feel the center of the tornado where it’s quiet, that is me.

 

Safe Touch

My husband has long ago lost interest in sexual interaction. Perhaps it’s due to the vasectomy over 30 years ago which is his excuse. Or perhaps it was my frigidity which only changed when I came up with the idea of using my past, unlocking the frozenness by imagining being raped, tied down and given an injection which forces my body to enjoy the rape — not so far-fetched because my body responded to some of what was being done during childhood, certain touches to the chest that had not yet become breasts. Of course sexual stimulation occurs for children being abused because our bodies are made that way. But that was yet another reason to blame myself for decades. 

Perhaps Samuel sensed this disconnection accompanied by the change from a frozen board during sex to suddenly responding. Before coming up with the idea I wasn’t responding to him, or any loving touch. I was far off somewhere else, very still, cold and numb. When I used the memories from childhood to my benefit, and found a way to enjoy the experience, my body moved with pleasure in reaction to his touch. It was then that he stopped wanting to participate.

Perhaps it is just what he says, a nerve was injured in the procedure of the vasectomy. I don’t think so. And if so, there are still the first ten years of marriage where he was interested. Though I tried, it seldom was enjoyable. I wasn’t able to move or like any of it except the cuddling afterwards.

The natural course is not to have to envision being raped to enjoy sex. Rape is not something I could survive again. It was how sex was introduced to me; being held down. The suffocation of that and the terror of not being able to breathe made me lie still after that encounter. I might well have been bound because the terror of feeling suffocated kept me still as if I were. 

So much is taken from a child sexually attacked. All attacks, especially those done with syrupy words, soft manipulations, and coercion. These are poignantly violent stripping away trust with a permanence seldom restored.  

I’d maim and kill anyone who did that another or to me if I could. I would have done it then, when brothers were stealing my body for their own pleasure. I spent many decades believing that I should have done something like beat them on the head with a lamp to get them off me. At the suggestion of a therapist I really looked at a child from the ages of 8 on. That child couldn’t beat up her attacker, how could I?

Brothers stole all good things, including the simple pleasure of touch. Do not get in my space. Do not get too close. I cannot breathe when you do.