TRIGGERED

On the patio sipping coffee with Samuel, our usual morning pleasure as the sun rises over the meadow and flowers abounding in our gardens, my head bends over as a sob erupted.

“It brings up my entire life, the feelings of shame and blame. Thinking that Cindy or Bennett MUST have said something about mean Nana. Because he clung to her and didn’t want to be here,” I cried to Samuel, adding, “he won’t want to come here anymore.”

“So what,” Samuel said, adding, “but he will come, of course he will. But so what if he doesn’t?”

These feelings kept me awake that night after the kids left, making it necessary after a two week hiatus of not needing night meds to sleep necessary. I was pulled right back to the life lead; one filled with feelings of shame, blame, and badness. Something Tom’s treatment instilled in me after his attack. His innuendo’s about my unworthiness, being less than others, a dullard, anything but what I really was so that what he did didn’t look like any big deal.

It worked.

Samuel said, “I don’t know why you let it bother you. You know you are right in correcting Bennett.”

Incensed, I howl, “You don’t know? You know me. You know my self-esteem is in the toilet, and why. I will have to work on it till the day I die. You know how Tom treated me after he attacked me, and continued with his nasty remarks and putdowns all through life!”

The sobs came then just as abruptly left. So used to taking all the crap handed to me. In every relationship when there is any kind of friction, problems, or negativity, (which there is in every one of them) I take the hit. The booming critic insures it.

This new life, only just beginning, has created a space inside me where a softer place welcomes. But it dissipated like a mirage up in smoke when something goes on behind the scenes. When the feeling that there’s things going on behind my back that I must make conjectures about. And my conclusions always cast me in a very bad light.

After another day passes with time from the bruising of a grand-child not wanting to see me, the more truthful reality sets in. It is not me, it is Bennett. It is his parents that need to feel a bit a shame at how they are raising him. That if asked if he can come again, some ground rules need to be set. That what needs to be said is not how BAD I am, but how bad Bennett’s behavior is, and what he needs to be told before coming.

That we are the bosses of this house… not him. And when we tell him he cannot do something, he is not to put up his fists at us, or make horrible faces. He is to mind us. And when he doesn’t, he will be sitting in the hallway until he can act respectful.

That has been a theme of my entire life, feeling BAD for the bad behavior of others. And it will happen again, this triggering of my past causing sleepless nights, bringing me right back to it all; feelings of badness, unworthiness, shame, desiring death over life because of it.

The work continues, and perhaps over time it will happen less and less as my own truth is revealed internally….

DARE TO GROW

Once again back into my core, my own mortality is grasped. Though sounding morose, it is a daily confrontation when my mind is not going in circles and peace extends herself throughout my being. It is when facing my own death each day that worries piling up dissipate because suddenly they lose importance up against the reality of the time limits of life.

My home comes back into full view, feeling the prettiness and safety. The meadow comes alive swaying in the breeze or its stillness when there isn’t any. Scents zone into my center that were always there but not noted due to fractures in my thoughts and centeredness.

My path becomes confident, the questions of how dare I do what I need to instead of what others want me to slipping away like so much waste. It is waste when putting my life in how I perceive others want me to live it.

It is my life. Choose your path and have the courage to the follow it.  Let go of Mother’s teachings: You should be ashamed of yourself. DUMMY. That’s not nice. All the requirements she had in order to feel loved or at least not abandoned.

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.

MARILYN

And so death gets in the way of the idyllic life just as expected. A friend all the way back to childhood has died. Though she moved from the area almost 30 years ago, you do not forgot someone so dearly loved.

She owned a small horse ranch up the country road from me as a young girl, horse lover age, about 12 or 13. All summer long I’d bike up to help her train young horses, leading them in their bosal bit-less bridle behind me and the sturdy older horse she had me saddle up.

Eventually she gave me the older horse with the condition of never selling it. That when the horse could no longer stay with me I give him back. What a miracle for a young girl. Miracle upon miracle Marilyn gave me.

Sweating in the summer sun, as hoof falls clopped on the dirt roads, we went around the countryside on horseback. Waking her with scrambled eggs and toast, as she slept late after her night job, we went out to feed the horses and muck out the stalls. Candy, another friend from down the road often was with us.

The scent of straw and horses thrilled me, the work all pleasure as Marilyn’s presence was witty, trustworthy, and loving.  We kept in touch, once she came back to visit which was when the above photo was taken, now hanging in my hallway. Though I’ve been overweight since age 8, she never was. But in the photo she towers above me…my strong tree.

Of all my friends, I was the chosen to help her train. For a young girl so severely damaged by what was happening in my home, Marilyn instilled a sense of dignity in my soul, purpose to my life… and hope. Though numb the first 24 hours after hearing of her death, some tears do fall in my quiet moments. My dear friend, my tall tree. I love you Marilyn and you are missed.

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.

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.

A New Day, A New Joy

Hello little robin. They are back!
Taken through the screened window just yesterday…

So much was stolen at such a young age the mourning of a certain life lost goes on, the life that would have been— lived whole, centered, calm, and joyful.

My body performed the motions of living, but not in one piece, not as if feeling what was happening or connected to it. My body performed what my head told it to robotically.

Connecting to others? Not possible. My being moved along frantically, disoriented, always at the ready for sudden danger. Now in later life some pieces discovered have been put back in place. Others gone forever, taken at age eight during the first attack.

But mourning is not my choice any longer, having done it till no tears are left for the past. That takes time, washing the wounds of a traumatic childhood. Going back, looking at just how hard it was, causes an appreciation of what’s inside me.

So it had a purpose, but not to drag me back into that mire staying stuck. Life’s journey opened new horizons, vistas of plenty with peace settling in where the ragged parts were.

COVID 15

Like a duck out of water, early trauma made me feel different from everyone, a searing differentness that was real. Trauma unprocessed is broken glass. No amount of glue makes it like it once was.

When others ate out of hunger, my hunger was of the soul, searching for love never finding any… especially inside myself. Eating blotted out unspeakable pain. By replacing anguish with food, numbness and self-hate increased.

Every bite since the age of 8 came with a dose of guilt. Blaming myself for using it as a survival tool wasn’t the answer, though it took till just recently to realize just that. Even by adolescence diet groups became part of my life. Being overweight was never the problem. It was a symptom of unhealed wounds covered up by enforced silence. The only outlet provided was eating. It was what my mother wanted, that is until she didn’t.

When others gained weight, like during basic training after joining the Army, my jeans began to droop down my hips after weeks of meager meals in the mess hall. Other girls filled their trays with gravy topped potatoes, meat, breads, and cake with ice cream. Mine had plain meat and vegetables with lots of hot crappy coffee to wash it down and fill me up.

Then scurrying out early, leaving the laughing young women behind. Back in the paint peeling barracks no snacks were available to ease the voracious soul hunger. The necessary discipline needed was only at brief intervals three times a day. Weight melted away.

It is not dropping off quickly now, but it is dropping after meticulous talks with myself about who I really am, what I have desperately wanted since childhood, and what I truly deserve to be happy inside myself where it counts. When even in the worst of times, a place internally welcomes with kind, loving, acceptance.  

The Covid 15 talked about, similar to the freshman 15 for those first semesters at college, are the opposite for me once again. 15 pounds are gone! This time the way forward is much different that the millions of other attempts at weight loss. Success comes not by white knuckling it, but by loving myself even with failures, which are many. Loving myself back onto the path by judging that all of me is OK even in the midst of failure.

When thin, because there were times at a healthy weight, feeling shitty prevailed. The gastric stapling butchering my stomach and intestines years ago after my mother’s urging to have it done did not cure the emptiness in my soul, or heal the ragged wounds. In hopes of becoming normal, because in my mind slim=normal, feelings of not being normal kept wearily on.

Decades later, dangerous, and extremely painful internal bleeding occurred over the course of many months. Finally an ambulance was called because I couldn’t stand up. Hospitalization was required for several days.

Reasons why were not known till after discharge when a surgeon specializing in gastric stapling identified the cause of the bleed. The surgeon of long ago is responsible. The on-going risk of bleeding at the surgical site is managed with a daily dose of a high potent antacid taken permanently.

It’s not about weight and never was. It is about liking, then loving myself, a daily struggle, and my most important work. The messages of being different, bad, unlovable, incapable, and not normal, like dark swirls cemented in a piece of granite, are here to stay. Chipping away at these harsh voices is not always easy or successful. But chip away I do, with small, wondrous achievements along the way.

Happiness, or failure, all lies within. No matter what happened way back when, it is in my grasp to decide what messages to give myself. Easier when rested, about impossible when not. But over time, when the source of my being is tapped, comforted, and accepted, great things happen. Maybe not ‘great’ in that I’m saving the world, but in saving myself.

1976

V-Day

PHOTO BY PATRICIA

There’s not enough pot oil in the world to stop my mind from racing with the coming of spring and more light. Just grin and bear it. Breathe. Be strong. And be kind, the biggest hurdle, only feeling kindness is deserved if all the daily boxes are checked; did you meditate, walk, keep the house nice, do something productive, or lots of productive things?

What if rest is needed? Kindness is needed most when things are so hard these other activities aren’t completed. That is the when a soft place to fall inside myself is so yearned for. Often looked to from others, but it is internally where that sweetness must be cultivated.

Brutal is the word that most describes the habitual self-talk. Noticing the harsh language is step one, half the battle. And often it is so habitual it is not noticed, or at least feels satisfying. Satisfying to beat myself up?

Like, someone has to do it. Someone must pay for the crimes sustained at age 8— abused, terrorized, and alone. No one came to rescue, help, offer love, or protect. The message of not being worthy grew each year, and is the hardest to overcome.

On this day may we all remember that love is where the softness is, especially and firstly, love for oneself, even if the chores were not done. Even if eating that piece of cake, even if sitting all day licking wounds that have yet not healed. V-Day, victory over obtrusive, negative, and harmful thoughts….

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.