HUMPTY DUMPTY

Sometimes you have to fall apart to come together. For much of my life it has been the falling apart, but now when peace can be sustained for more than two moments at a time… still, there is a monster on my back.

It is sleeplessness. The why? Round and round laps count up to 20 trying to make up for a night of senseless eating- AGAIN. The only trigger that might be attributed to this inability to sleep after 6 nights of improved sleep probably due to drastically decreasing the pot oil, yet on night 6 lying there 2 ½ hours before giving in to a sleep aid, and an hour in front of the TV at midnight- then FOOD, because food has been used to quell anxiety since the age of 8— the only reason that might make sense was a 3 pound weight loss noted that morning.

That ought to be good, right? Celebrated, congratulated, especially after a summer of being stuck? Yet it triggered anxiety. Unless something on the news or a movie set me off, what else could it be?

Weight loss scaring me. Therapists suggest overweight women who have survived childhood sexual abuse become overweight to feel safe. That is an improvement over many who look at an overweight person and think lazy, glutinous, and disgusting.

The thinner my body becomes, the closer to an unwanted memory. What is remembered is horrific enough, but the one repressed memory must have been really bad. Danny said in his twenties when asked what he did to me, “It’s better you don’t know.”

But I do know a rape occurred, there just is no memory of it except before and after. As the weight comes off there is movement toward what was unconsciously repressed.

Lap after lap, talking to myself… I will not be deterred. I will do this, I will do this, I will. And if the memory comes I will be alright. It already happened. I already lived through it. And there are hospitals to stay in if needed. The self talk doesn’t seem to help alleviate the anxious terror.

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…

Fall Reverie

PHOTO BY PATRICIA

Shadows appear longer, with mornings dark, cool and wet with dew. The usual fall into fall with a lower mood seems less severe probably circumvented by the incorporation of exercise and a long path to healing which has taken decades– yet continues. The meadow dances with yellow mustard dotted at the edges with sunflowers opening happy faces as if nodding when walking by.

Pumpkins gathered in Samuel’s patch decorate the house and some are fun to paint. Others await painting by grand-children at the next birthday party in October when my son reaches the ripe old age of 40.

How did that happen, as the memory of him in a little powder blue sun-suit carrying his sand pail out to the sandbox is still so vivid? Memories of over 50 years ago are also in sharp focus, my first apartment in college, cooking hamburger helper in the evening, but also the feelings of loneliness that never quite left since childhood.

And that slowly melts once getting to know and make friends with myself. The loneliness of childhood sexual abuse is unlike any other, sharper, emptier, so painful one runs from it until learning to stop, be still, and let it up with all the gunk that my origin family would not hear and barely acknowledged.

Healing is a life’s work…

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.

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.