Fill Up on the Simple Things

Back to basics, remembering what is so easily forgotten, the very simple plan of working on self-care and self-love. My job, as what occurred in the developing of my personality was just the opposite; self-hate, self-destruction, and the loud critic a constantly nagging companion.

It is not easy to change the trajectory of one’s upbringing. And had death taken me already, which at 68 is quite possible, the peace created now wouldn’t have materialized. It has taken decades. It has taken a strength of fortitude that only now can be appreciated.

Some people might like a do-over, but not me. No way could going through the depressions, and robot-like living be done again. The magic of meadow walks, solitude, and each moment of life treasured… a new miracle some have had the good pleasure to have never lost. It has taken a great deal of work to have arrived here, where living feels good more than ever before.

My center, my core, any basic trust in others was lost at age eight. Shattered, only now able to pick up a few fragments, but never knowing really what life would have been like growing up under the roof of a loving, functional family.

My sons are together for a week at Cape Cod. My usual feelings before now would include a searing loneliness wanting to be with them even though knowing it would be impossible. The drive, the traffic, and having to take something to sleep every night over the course of 7 nights— too much! The loneliness for it crept in anyway. But not now. Now? Gratitude.

Now I feel only joy that they can be together, and I can be at peace doing what I do. The sun, the birds, the critters, Samuel, a few friends, snaps and photos from Shane and Cory daily (enjoying their trip vicariously without the hassle), and summer. My days are full and happy.

SCATTERED

Yesterday after the rains finally cleared…

A willful, spoiled, tyrant of a four year old stripped me of centeredness, confidence, or any belief in myself.

“Should I order chicken?” I asked Samuel, one of a barrage of questions about what to do about very simple mundane things that he wouldn’t know the answer to anyway.

Feeling scattered, I dump a puzzle out but don’t have the where with all to really sit and do it. Puzzles help to center me, forgetting that this feeling of scatteredness has been a way of life and even still can visit daily. There are ways to get back in there… to my core where wise answers come.

Losing weight makes it scary. How to keep losing it, feeling bones that had been hidden, feeling good, all ripped away by the rejection of a toddler making a war out of his way vs my way. Perhaps going along and letting him be king of my house like it seems he is at his own, is the best way to be happy?

Dr. Phil’s quote, ‘Do you want to be happy, or be right?’

I want to be happy, but something in me won’t allow disrespect from a child at any age. It is untenable to me, but my belief is that it is also harmful to a child. A child fights to have his or her way, but really does not want that kind of power. They need to know that the adult is in charge no matter what kind of fit is dramatized.

Yet doubts creep in, fear, and indecisiveness, not just about Bennett but about even little decisions. This wave of ungroundedness creates more questions about what’s going on and how it provokes memories of the past which really aren’t so past. The feelings of rejection for doing no wrong, but rather being ganged up on.

The feelings of being talked about, as in way back as a child hearing Seth in the kitchen with his teenage friends thinking I heard them say something about me. Seth, though not one of the attackers, chose to be closest with Tom through the years, the eldest attacker and the only one still living.

But what was happening was I was being attacked, I was not the one who was wrong, but felt that way ever since no matter how much work is put into uncovering the real truth. This has become the bedrock of my personality, my way of responding to just about everything; being wrong, bad, or even fit to live. The courage and work it takes to counteract this is enormous and ongoing.

These issues thought to be healed from are even present, and little bratty Bennett has poked a pin in them. Tom comes to mind while meditating. As the pounds dissolve there are thoughts of letting him know exactly how badly he hurt me.

Because he never got it. His one attempt to talk via phone wasn’t about ‘I’m so sorry, can you ever forgive me,’ it was excuses.

“I was so young,” he said.

After the call my fury sent me out to the forest to bang on trees. YOUNG? You were in college, home on Christmas break! You were old enough to be prosecuted.

During meditation when thoughts are to still, my mind whirled as usual. It is only the last moments when the buzzer goes off that my mind quiets. But this time my busy brain imagined sending an email with a link to my book. Maybe send a book. But really, do you want to share so much of yourself with a creep? Perhaps just the chapter about him? Now that’s an idea.

But then, why bother? Leave them all behind to be whatever they want to be as a group, and go on as I am, plodding along, but discovering on my own path that there’s beauty and peace both around and inside me. The deep wounds will not likely go away completely but need to be lived with. Those sorrowful feelings need space with the joy.

And that is the trick, acceptance of it all, opening up all the doors internally, letting the air flow between each one. Escape is not an option on the path to health, love, joy, and peace.

Yesterday after the rains…

HOME SWEET HOME

Growing older has its compensations and tribulations. No stress of making ends meet and raising children. But keeping an aging body going takes work, time, dedication, and fortitude. It also scares me, all the things that could go wrong, and all the things in the future that might go wrong.

And my body is so tired out from a life of PTSD that didn’t begin to be voiced until middle age. That’s the crime of childhood sexual abuse, the silence and no one coming to the child’s aide.

Children are resilient and can come back to health with help. Without any intervention for trauma upon trauma, I’m left with some damaging effects for life, taking to my grave (or ashes in a can) issues of trust- making sustaining relationships hard, issues with my body and staying in it, self-esteem issues, mostly in the toilet needing draining out daily, and the list goes on.

After a trip to the Adirondack Mountains to camp with Samuel and my eldest son, Shane, and family, adjusting back to home is a relief. Some life-time issues include entire body systems going out of whack even in happy times needing a sleep aid every night in the woods.

So three nights camping is my limit, though all through prior years when the boys were little sleep came easily. Other issues tormented me more back then like extreme fear of people which has lessened somewhat. I still prefer home, the meadow, animals and children VS people.

“Take you pot oil,” Samuel said.

“I have it,” I reply.

“Don’t forget you pot oil,” Cory said.

“I have it,” I reply. I didn’t.

And my supposition is that is why my head is so squirrely now, jumping from thought to thought magnifying little problems into disasters. That little plant does more than regulate sleep and help with my arthritis, it seems to calm my rat in a wheel brain too.

My friend drives to Tennessee this week, then flies to Utah, along with daily outings which are way too much for me. And once feeling envious of her ability to do so much, at least this time I realize where I’m most comfortable and why. It’s OK, and so much better to know my place without trying to be something different than what I am.

So home, home sweet home…

Camp photos by Shane

C-PTSD

Maybe it’s nothing, but that’s doubtful. After a few weeks coming back from camping with a brother who is impossible to relate to due to his brain turning to mush over the years of alcohol abuse, sleep returned consistently till last night.

Out of nowhere? No way. It could be the sudden feeling of fright because the realization struck that my odd practitioner once again foiled the activation of a renewal of my marijuana card because it had not yet come.

Why oh why do these dilemmas come in the dark of night? But there had to be another reason because the wise came spoke saying , ‘it will worked out.’

Something else had set off alarm bells beyond my control. I can feel when it happens though try to ignore it. This time ignoring it for two hours before taking something. AND THAT DIDN’T HELP!

Rarely two doses are needed, but by 1AM it was necessary. Hating to admit it had to do with an unusual movie watched on NETFLIX— that must be the root of my hyper-arousal. It was unique in that it bluntly talked about childhood sexual abuse. In her dissociation, as her husband made love to her, she saw her father above her instead.

Um, duh, of course. My issues are many and most exposed by writing except Danny’s attack so brutal it is repressed to this day. So as much as it would my preference not to have this disease it crops up without permission. IT IS NOT MY FAULT.

A mantra I have to keep telling myself… as the tears fall.

GROWTH

Cory’s Photo

Who will comfort you when you are sad… you will. Who will rock you when you are upset… you will. Who will love you when you feel unloved …you will.

For most of my life the leaning for needs to be met was to others having no center of my own, but the help was short-lived and unfulfilling. The hunt for love was the pot at the end of the rainbow, not really there because it did not exist outside myself. It had to be found internally.

And how could that happen when raised to hate myself? Where no compassion could be found, only cruelty and wishes raining down upon a little girl that she would just dispose of herself. Then everyone else could be happy.

Happy because if I didn’t exist, you don’t need to feel bad about what you did. And the rest who stood by and suffered me to silence could feel less guilty too. So many knew of my incestual jail and did nothing out of their own shame; brothers, aunts, my mom. Nothing. The message though- SILENCE.

In learning about the true person inside myself, and giving me my own permission to live free, happy, and whole, riches abound free to absorb lightening my soul from darkness, making life genuine, full, and exquisite even with the painful times which we all bear.

GAGGED

The more dedicated I become towards personal goals, the more I need to speak up, erect boundaries, then stick to them. But who will do that for me? It feels impossible for me to cough up self-assertion.

Like pushing a boulder uphill, huffing, shouldering the rock hard weight of childhood sexual abuse stifles, even kills. So many times the thought of dying was day-dreamed about. Just not be here.

“I wish I was dead,” I said once again many years ago

“I don’t like hearing you say that,” Samuel said.

So that feeling was said another way, because depression and wanting to die continued for decades.

“I wish I was never born,” I said.

And my belief is that if given a choice knowing what was to come, that would be my choice.

Since that won’t happen, learning to assert my needs continues, but it’d be nice to move on from Kindergarten to at least first grade.

Night-time Invaders

After completing one Diamond Art painting for my younger grand-daughter (which she loves and was hung promptly on her wall), I started another for the older grand-daughter whose bedroom theme is Paris. Keeping my hands busy doing crafts is my happy past-time, and the outcome so satisfying. There really is no paint involved, it is placing tiny plastic dots in the proper places filling an entire picture once done with shimmering color.

This spring is affecting me much more severely than other springs. My whirlwind thoughts don’t wake up and excite my body negatively till my head hits the pillow and the lights go out. It’s as if I must get up in order to fix things because ‘things’ are so bad.

Why aren’t these thoughts invading my daytime when there’s brainpower to think on it? But no, at night, alone, in the dark, fear hits my stomach like a hard rock. Fear of being me, of all the terrible things I’ve done in my life. Really? I did terrible things?

Questioning these rabid thoughts in the dark of night is enough to wake me up fully. Why? Why must these things trigger a full waking? My younger brother called thanking me for the flag I designed for his new ice boat that he had built. HIs birthday is the day after mine next week.

Sad thoughts of my poor and iffy relationships with the origin family magnify. Sad that there is no close relationship, then thoughts of ones who man-handled me though they there only teenagers themselves.

Doesn’t matter really, because the damage done to me is the same as if they were fully grown, but as teenagers it is hard to hold fury against them. And does it matter since three have died? Those three had the good sense to know they did wrong. Sadly it affected their lives too.

The fourth, still living, goes on with his life, interacting with the three brothers who never touched me that way. And that sullies any hope of my getting close to them. To me it says I’m weak if I interact with those who collaborate with the last attacker still living. It makes for a feeling of loneliness there in the dark of night left with thoughts of a past I wish wasn’t mine.

OASIS

Hang onto your hat! If you think spring euphoria is hard to handle now, wait till the green starts greening. A watcher of signs that seasons are changing, the excitement over it plus more daylight keeps me up nights.

When my head hits the pillow, thoughts implode. Nothing drastic or important, yet seemingly so in the dark all alone. My being seems split, one part forever gone flying away splintered at age eight. That part will never come home to become whole because it is the memory of the first traumatic attack too dangerous to remember or comprehend.

It is likely to stay hidden because of the horrific terror behind it. And that is hard to accept as my eyes tear up due to the long term effects of what brothers chose to do to me when just a little girl. I loved and trusted them.

That part of me is broken, or maybe it is the wisest part, because it is keeping me sane and able to move through life. That is the part that takes off into the never-lands, launching like a rocket when triggered. And I can do nothing about it. It is the body’s reaction to unprocessed trauma.

The best remedy is gentleness to self. Sounds simple, yet for me it takes work. Raised believing my feelings, thoughts, wishes, or desires didn’t matter, it has taken decades to begin believing that they do matter. That I matter, and I matter most to me. That it is OK to care for myself. That it is in fact crucial to survival.

That simply stopping the self-hate is not so simple. It still takes work, because that tendency to blame myself for things I have no control over happens automatically. Catching myself while doing it is a start, quite shocked at how it happens so easily as natural as breathing.

But there can be an oasis inside where warmth and welcoming exists. I’m just having a hard time right now finding it.

FOREVER BETRAYED

Tears couldn’t be stopped. All over a ten dollar purchase on Amazon. That’s all it takes sometimes, a manipulation, a break in trust, doing something different than what’s promised, and it all falls down. Suddenly before you is an 8 year old child.

Head in hands weeping, “It feels like when Chet threw the gum down the hall,” I said to Samuel, adding, “I don’t trust anyone, no one. Everything was taken.”

And the wound bleeds every time someone picks at the scab by lying even if it was an honest mistake. If you don’t do what you say, if you take my money for one thing then do something else with it leaving me without what was promised… whether it’s ten dollars or ten thousand, the feeling is the same.

Betrayed. Betrayal shattering me into a million pieces as a child and throughout life as each incidence of dishonesty forces the original trauma to the forefront.

Samuel says, “Of course. I can see how it reminds you of the past. No one likes being scammed.”

And he may finally understand. When my rage at him ended, which really was almost always rage at the abusers, a new beginning began. A relationship more peaceful, tolerant, and knowledgeable of each other’s pain. It has taken a life-time to get here.

Instead of the journey being somber as it always has been in order to survive, it can be joyful and more peaceful. The tsunami of betrayal hits without warning disturbing sleep causing the need for a sleep aid. The day after feels wasted and unproductive because recovery requires stillness. A wasted day? Illness needs care, quiet, and rest.

Chronic PTSD remains because at the time of the original traumas no help was provided for processing it. Accepting that these days happen and allowing for recovery by supplying the love and care I would devote to another isn’t a waste of time, it is courage. Roaring waves roll in uninvited engulfing me by surprise every time. Wanting control but having none. Waves threatening to drown, yet there lies hope.

In the hurting lay the bastion once protective but now interfering with healing, the inability to trust. The most important person to trust is myself, from there it will flow. A new day, a new start, a jockeying of parts settling back to where they belong.  

RECLIMATION

The sun came out invitingly. My boots crunched on the icy snowy path, round and round. Looking up from my usual reverie it is bright aqua skies and sparkles glittering atop the snow meeting my gaze. Coming out of my thoughts it is brilliant to be alive, this is living, not in the past, future, or that other zone visited from time to time when things get bad.

Being in the now, investigating my body and its workings, being present, that is the gift of Christmas and all year round. Most of my life it couldn’t be done.

Survival meant being elsewhere because the people here will hurt. My psyche learned to escape from my body at age 8 never to return. Though finally this late in life, the ability to be present, and be safe, is a miracle occurring.

It could be due to 3 out of 4 attackers being dead. My mother would shame me for admitting that. Part of me felt relieved as each ‘monster’ died. No shame need be attached to real feelings, feelings don’t kill, and I never wished them dead, yet relief occurred quietly when they were gone. Brothers loved and trusted. I felt felt sorry for them, except Tom who continues to thrive and be included as part of what is left of the origin family more than I.

I do not feel safe with people. My life now isn’t much different than pre-pandemic. The isolation is usual for me. Discovering the deep wells of character, strength, and generosity residing within cured the gnawing loneliness once plaquing me for most of my lifetime. A gnawing so intense it was hard to breathe.

Risking to reach out attachments were made to make the journey doable. But it isn’t like others who easily interact daily. Like a buoy bouncing side to side in the chaotic ocean of life, my being felt lost touching on others to prop me up.

After each one died, more honesty surfaced about just what they had done and how much was irrevocably taken. The damage permanent no matter how young they were, the memories inescapable.

To finally live in my body, reclaiming my own self— is freedom