BEING WITH ME

Shifting internal dialogue has taken decades, many, many years of therapy, but of late the resolution to a life of forever feeling bad has taken a turn towards lightness by being with myself in nature- the woods, the land, and me.

And it’s fleeting, as tomorrow my writing may be pain filled and down. But there are moments that have stretched into days where my internal world is gentle, loving, encouraging, and accepting of ME.

And it is more than a kinder voice, it is feeling wholly accepting of myself, more than OK, but that I too am a good person.

Raymond asks one day, “Good? That you are a good person?”, a psychiatrist who knew what he was doing, though pushing me into a career because I had the intelligence to do it might have been more about his being successful than me.

Though glad to have succeeded at such a feat because it paid for both sons education at a prestigious college and set them both on a burgeoning career in the technology field where they still work, the years it took me to accomplish it stressed my already overloaded nervous system.

Daily cortisol bursts from each challenge and the ever present fear of people caused my body to develop a syndrome of fatigue that cannot be repaired. It was worth it to see them thrive now, even if I don’t, not in that way, but in my own quiet way; learning to be with me and be OK, a place always run from before that I now inhabit fully.

Fractured, now whole, perhaps a bit bumpy, but whole.

It has always been about goodness, that I wasn’t, I was bad, abnormal, bad, bad, bad. The revelation that I am of good heart, as human as any with mistakes, flaws, and quirks? That it is more than just words? All new.

Every minute alive is one minute gone. Getting older one begins to realize that, that this moment is precious and living it feeling bad because I’ve been habituated to feel that way doesn’t have to be. I am learning otherwise, I am learning the truth.

The rabbits, soggy ground, icy earth, birds, and running water of the creek have taught me that. That being with me is the best place to be.  

A FRIEND?

My friend’s remark last week (with friends like that, who needs enemies?) erased a lifetime of work in her one-liner, you are back to square one. Six little words set me off my rails doubting everything about myself.

It wouldn’t help to tell her what an airhead she is. But it does call for my internal depths to deepen and grow. There’s no making someone understand who cannot.

To ease the pain lingering from her shallowness, and to understand myself better, a letter that won’t be sent, or maybe will be. The risk of letting myself be known is losing this ‘friend,’ because it already came close this time once again. Let it go, or work on tolerance, acceptance, and forgiveness? To not speak up when someone puts a boot in my face is not healthy.

Though I’m able to forgive your blithe remark, I won’t forget it. To look down on me without knowing the ramifications of my childhood and erase a lifetime of working at keeping myself alive?

Because yes, it has been that hard. In one short sentence you delete lifelong work. It tore me up, not because I believe it, but because you believe it. That after all these years you don’t know me or want to. And that’s OK, how could you? But to take a quick peek and dictate such a thing?

And interestingly, the answer I sought wasn’t forthcoming. You had said out of the blue recently that you were glad I was learning to love myself. My curiosity was in response to your blunt sentiments, entering a space you hadn’t been asked to join.

I regret asking. Boom, what seemed like a positive observance from you replaced with unsolicited advice that had nothing to do with my question.

You don’t know what a destroyed nervous system is like. Adrenaline pumping through my veins daily, cortisol bursts draining precious resources. My body, psyche, emotional being, and mind, all tired from a life of it. Daily occurrences that don’t make others jump with terror, terrorized me. Because all people became dangerous from what was learned in childhood.

We have sold the camper, giving up something loved. The possibility of going to Cory’s again is probably too much for me take on again. I cannot fly around the country like you do or drive anywhere long distances without my body being upset for days.

I need to stay home, and accept it, because I love the land, and being here. I am happy. I am mostly at peace, though little changes in routine upset my tired-out body. No, you cannot see my scars, but they are there, and they are life-long growing more challenging as I age.

Even Christmas with Shane made for a fitful night of sleep waking at 1:30AM and staying awake all day yesterday feeling teary and tired. I have a lot of days like that due to my sleep issues from Chronic PTSD, spilling over from what happened at age 8, terror so deep my body 60 years later still protects me from remembering, though I do know a rape occurred. I remember everything else which is bad enough.  

I believe a hidden agenda in such a grievous remark compounded with a lack of knowing your own motives was behind it. But it came out anyway sword-like. I never became accustomed to your barbs couched in syrup drawing blood over the years, but this one so trite in black and white I won’t forget.   

I write in the hopes you might see a miniscule fraction of what my life is like and stop quick judgments. The respect I deserve is sadly lacking. It is enough that I know.  

Patricia

Is this a friend to keep or not? That question has occurred many times, once almost ending it, but she stuck by loyally and loyalty is most valuable to me. To end it would also mean ending the monthly group of 5. What would remain is Samuel and my forest friends. It is as Samuel said once, “You don’t stop picking berries because of the thorns.” Well, actually I have.

Love of Life

Photo by Cory (my younger son)

Each day there is a job to do, work on self-esteem. Though possible to improve on that front, the core of my being already formed is staying that way.

You cannot cut into the layers of a tree and remove its inner ring without killing the tree.

I am who I am, who was formed during childhood, with beliefs about myself that became embedded into my personality.

So, each day takes focus, work, and effort to counteract the life-threatening critical voice which thrives so dramatically inside me. To tell it, I do deserve life, equality, pleasure, and happiness, even amid all the other struggles and pain that life brings to each of us.  

Knowing

Happiness is not ready-made; it comes from your own actions.

But what are the actions needed? My body and me, we departed from each other at age 8. Reconnection slowly occurs in snippets, yet mostly remains a mystery.

The rift is too widely cracked. Is it activity or rest? A life of adrenaline filled days has worn out my body no matter how hard that fact is denied. Easily overwhelmed systems need a great amount of rest, stillness, and inactivity.

The urge to push, push, push backfires making me physically sick.  Feelings of being different, weird, or unusual can be transcended with acceptance of all that I am, was or will be. Patience with self fans the spark of self-love into flame.

JOY

Each day challenges: old haunts, familiar yet unhealthy ways of being, habits ritualized over the years- habits of thinking that put me in a negative light, all that I touch, think of, and do is perceived as bad or wrong.  

There has been no crime committed, yet in my mind I am the crime, a disturbed self-portrait painted by familial sexual abuse at an early age.

So, each day begins anew with self-talk, much needed self-talk. Friends have given a helping hand over the years but could take me only so far.

The real change, the real challenge, is what’s inside, and discovering self-esteem for myself. What others have given has saved me many times, pulled me up from drowning, live-saving, yet temporary.

It is a new and delicious way of viewing myself, the world, and my place in it… that I deserve joy and happiness.

Not from what I’ve done or will do, but by being me.  

Life is not easy, it is hard, yet there is joy, there is light, but it must be found both inside and outside myself.  

PTSD

The PTSD rocket takes off without my permission, leaving many parts behind right here on earth. But a body can’t sleep splintered like that. On night three of rough, erratic sleep, a stronger sleep aid was resorted to.

Grogginess from it caused a bad fall the next morning possibly breaking a toe which throbs even now, also looking black and blue. That day, yesterday, a cardiology appointment was completed where a treadmill and ultrasound were used for my routine check-up. The gel felt so cold on my bare chest after huffing and puffing on the treadmill’s incline.

Though I did it, I cried like a baby during the undressing- the anxiety of the appointment, the hurt toe, but especially the after-effects of Xanax which always leaves me full of self-pity the next day for having to use it due to the traumas from childhood- bringing me right back to it all as if it were yesterday. Luckily the technician possessed all the qualities you’d want in a medical person, compassion, and competency.

“Everyone gets anxious at appointments. You’re doing great,” she said. (more than once)

“Samuel, will I ever heal from it?” I asked through tears, adding, “no wonder some people believe in reincarnation. No one reaches their full potential in one lifetime,” wondering how I could ever let this one person affect me so dramatically. Haven’t I grown? Can’t I find depth and wisdom to handle this, and rise above it?

Samuel doesn’t say much because I prefaced my lamenting by asking him not to say anything, to just let me express myself without trying to ‘fix’ it. So, he was blessedly quiet.

The peaceful lull of night after night of sleep ended as it always does, a happy period of sleep, then? Whether caused by an acquaintance who unfortunately is part of my inner circle of friends, or it just periodically happens because my bodily systems were broken in childhood, I just don’t know.

Seems too coincidental not to be due to this one person’s cagey deceitfulness reminiscent of my entire life; living in the shadows invisible to even myself because it made my mother’s life livable. And the others who did such monstrous things to their little sister. My close inner circle of those allowed in is limited. Rosalie doesn’t belong, yet there’s no way out of it.

Great effort is being put into trying to see some positives about having an untrustworthy person as part of my small, safe, inner circle. So far none has been discovered.

MAGIC

How to make this day magical. It isn’t outside of me, but within. Walking in the meadow then resting by the creek brings magic, the magic of great tranquility and peace.

My body unfolds like no place else except floating in the pool on a hot summer day. My body lives a life of tenseness. That nature can tenderly caress even my internal organs along with my psyche is a great gift to all parts of me.

Why? The answers aren’t fully known, but perhaps it is knowing that down by the creek my life is mine. The only one to bother me there is a squirrel or bright blue bird, or other forest creature.

But why there and not in the house? What is it about the house that tenses me? Even Samuel can cause a tenseness because it’s one person to please or displease.

The answer still eludes me, but the magic is real.

NOW

The focus needed to stay in the present moment takes energy, thought, and concentration. Too easily my mind slips away either to the future, the past, or the zone created as my ‘safe’ place from the here and now.

Yet it is in the present moment where my future is claimed, and all the past angst doesn’t matter because the preciousness of life folds in making me whole.

Bad Days Come

The hard-fought challenge each day is finding a way to my center making connection because too many days are left hanging, like pieces of me blowing side by side on a clothesline. No center, no hope, no peace.

Lack of sleep does it. Overwhelmed senses too, and that happens ever so easily even with happy interactions especially if it involves more than just one person.

No job, no nothing to do except whatever pleases me. Yet days occur where my being is disjointed like paint splattered on the wall, dots of me so far apart there is no cohesion.

The shattering in childhood means special care now, a need making me rebellious, desiring instead to go along at a pace others go at. Samuel’s out in the meadow daily, mowing for the once-a-year removal of any trees or bushes growing which inhibit our view of the creek, or hand buzzing them. Then sleeps like a bear.

No overstimulation or over-tiredness to stop him from sleeping, nor the worry machine that often kidnaps my brain into a realm of negativity. And others, friends, sons, their wives… all sleep, and even have a positive view of the world DAILY.

I must remind myself that in this season where depression doggedly comes uninvited, each day is challenging enough. Add lack of sleep and the pits of bleak darkness pull me down into blackness where no amount of self-talk helps.

Blessedly sleep came after a fitful day of tears. Peace once again with connection to my core.

HAPPINESS, WARMTH, & JOY

It’s a new and different life, living by the gut, some call ‘soul.’ Instead of the head full of the critic banging away, there is a subtle, softer voice going unheeded for most of my life.

How did the connection occur, and why did it take so long? And why so fleeting?

But once it is felt then flees, the need for connection makes it stay longer and longer so that eventually living any other way is unbearable. The shift back to wholeness occurs automatically out of necessity.

Most people live this way, always have, whole, not thinking about it, just checking in with their internal guidance system all the time. But trauma, especially during years when all parts of a person are growing and forming, causes fissures unfounded.

Soul? What’s that? My head guided me like a robot. A human with a robot’s mechanical parts. To live whole is new- a joyous life. Not odd. All that was done in my life felt abnormal.

It is not abnormal to surround myself with nature, and to curb outside stimulus as much as possible.

That my body cannot withstand overstimulation isn’t my doing, isn’t my fault. Trauma early on meant a life of adrenal rushes daily, cortisol bursts that are meant for only dire moments of life-or-death situations.

Not simple sounds or startles that cause a blood curdling scream to escape my lips or the intensity of being out in the world, a very dangerous place for a woman who learned too early that even those loved and trusted can attack with disdain and a caustic lack of care.

Then anybody could. The stresses on the body took a life-time toll. The only ‘safe’ times in a lifetime of stress are those in nature with a creek gurgling by. Or with a child, or animal, when manipulation, cruelty, and coldness was absent. Instead, moments of joy, warmth, and love abound.  

To wrap myself into a life a safety is to grow in ways never felt before. To feel full, grateful, at peace, and whole.