SELF-COMPASSION

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Though Cory asked us to stay longer, I could not. This past year has brought more troubled sleep than ever, which also comes with using Xanax more than ever used since prescribed by Raymond back in 1995. Yup, using it sparingly since seeing Raymond, a psychiatrist who lived on a little farmette with goats, chickens, and a horse. He even sold eggs.

It was under his tutelage that I dared return to college to earn my degree in nursing, but the anxiety of entering a world where my belief that everyone would hurt me skyrocketed. Yet even then my use of Xanax was sparse, not touching the height of my anxiety.

So, at Cory’s my use ratchetted to daily from every other day, both bothering me exponentially as using it all used to come much less often.

But sleeping, even if feeling drugged the next day, is better than not sleeping. Thoughts have been dismal, and the wise, gentle voice hasn’t been heard or felt much at all, abandoning me. Why?

The problem must be the combining of cannabis oil and Xanax, backfiring causing more problems, worse problems. So, the oil has been stopped. Several days later there are improvement along with coming home early.

It isn’t easy accepting my limitations, always wanting to take change with as much ease as others, like Samuel, snoring away besides me peacefully in a bed other than ours, moving from one state to another, with a new set of people and places as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Thank god for Samuel. There is one of us to keep us afloat with his calm and natural centeredness. Mine has been shredded.

Usually, it is when Cory comes home to visit then leaves- tears come, prodding that old empty nest loneliness. And when we visit elsewhere, at his house, camping, or a vacation retreat, then we all leave heading home to our respective places, no tears.

Back at home yesterday the questioning and self-hammering beat me senseless, and Samuel covered his ears. My doubts were vocalized as if on repeat even after he said to stop it, seeming to cause more to erupt.

“Why didn’t we stay?” I kept asking, over and over.

“Too late now,” he’d reply.

That is what I do, or used to, second guessing, wishing for perfect order, and a body that performs like others with a mind and emotions to match. But all of me has been shattered in childhood. It takes a life, or many to heal if possible at all.

Finally, one kind thought settled in deeply. Remember? Remember how hard it was? How hard I tried each day to soak in every moment with the 5, 2-year-old, and 4-month baby, the very first time holding her?

Remember just how much medication was used? And then a softness inside, a letting go, kicking out the critic who has raised its monstrous head this past year making me miserable.

A combination of medications can do that. In trying to relieve problems, it can backfire. Pot oil hasn’t been studied much, or enough. What we put on bodies affects each of us differently. In listening to my body, it will speak, and so will my soul.

The tears and self-pounding ended with self-compassion. Kitty purrs on my lap as we are once again united with peace, love and contentment, and loving Cory must continue from afar.

PTSD

It must be accepted that there will be bad days, and more often than wanted, sometimes a string of them. No matter how many healthy habits are put in place, an occurrence happens sending my body into orbit inhibiting sleep and spinning the negativity wheel.

To come down medication does help, and that too needs to be accepted, because using it, though much more sparingly, is extending a kindness towards myself.

Samuel believes my own self talk can stop the bad thoughts at night. Maybe, but considering the herculean effort put into it staying still with swirling thoughts for 3 hours or so, no way.

My body will take off without my permission, and this time it had to do with my son’s new van being hit, bringing back the awful memory of their other van being hit on the exact same road 9 years ago when the my grand-daughter was only three months old, and my grand-son 2, both in the car.

The baby’s femur was broken, and my grand-son’s body was burned by car seat straps because the collision was so brutal. He came often after that crash and his PTSD was very evident to me.

We had a used battery powered jeep for him to play with at the time. And all on his own while he played in the garage and driveway, he was the fireman at the crash helping the crying mother and children.

He took his own PTSD and processed it over and over while I watched in awe, knowing this would help him. Something I didn’t have as child but should have.

He talked of all the red lights swirling and the blaring sirens, but no longer the tiny victim child because he became the powerful rescuer, the saver.

God, no wonder I couldn’t sleep!

NEW WAYS- SOUL WAYS

It isn’t earth shattering, what I do. Waking after a restful sleep with deep gratitude for that simple bodily need fulfilled, there it is. What do I do?

A puzzle, a craft readying for the kids to visit over the weekend, or what? Movies play almost non-stop, as if that is my safe way to interact with people. While listening to the voices known by heart because they play so much, household chores are accomplished, or the next meal is prepared- which means a lot of time over the sink.

That is such a pleasure when the morning sun splashes on my face warming my upper body. So, it isn’t earth shattering, what I do.

Yet being in my body, and in my life, following that inner voice that often is ignored or detached from, can cause a reversal of negativity in my closest relationships opening them to growth and better lives for all.

Not just in my life but also in those I touch. Since childhood that voice was ignored. How could it not be when divided from it at age eight? That voice calls in the night preventing sleep till listened to. That or the PTSD devil, haven’t decided which.

It is an upheaval of deep angst and unhealth, but when re-connecting and following through…that IS earth shattering! Asking for what I need takes an extraordinary amount of energy and is exhausting. Others have become accustomed to my placidity and apologetic tendencies. When persevering for what feels right repeatedly and doggedly until the desired outcome, well, that must be surprising and difficult to ignore.

It is the little things that shatter the old ways creating new and wonderous ones…

Love It All

Photos by Patricia (over the meadow)

In dreams they are there, this family that isn’t safe and who have insisted on my presence with my caving to it. As each day passes from inviting others to dinner without a response, safety is felt deeply allowing sleep, deep peaceful sleep.

It feels like sticking to a healthy eating program which during times of equilibrium, or even shakily so, happens with grace, persistence, and determination. But when PTSD strikes stealing my sleep, all bets are off. Eating away anxiety crops up like a volcano erupting. So too the never-ending craving for family and love.

Eating trauma since age 8 is my anchor, the time of the first attack still repressed due to it’s horrific violence. Going to my core, staying there despite whatever scary feelings are there is a new, magical adventure, feeling wholeness for the first time.

Parts cannot be cut off even though wanting to, the whole shebang needs acceptance as that’s my history, my life, my reality… like it or not. It isn’t easy digging in, inspecting these feelings of jealousy, resentment, and the whys of viscerally not liking somebody.

Taught that is wrong, the badness needs shoving away to really look at it. Pay attention to the feeling of unsafety with certain individuals. It is a warning bell to listen to. My empath abilities need respect, rise from the core, and are there to preserve and protect me.

Feelings of being left out crop up since before my dad died at age eight. With 8 kids and two parents who liked to party hard, there was not love and attention for everyone. Food and shelter, and those types of essentials, but a child needs so much more, and not one of 8 received it.

Be tender with what you find inside. Now is the time to provide what wasn’t provided, not scorn it. Bring it into your arms, love it, rock it with warmth, acceptance and attention, petting the hurt places tenderly. Let soft grasses make your bed, blue skies brighten your day, and rainbows make you smile. That is what to glue the broken places with…

FORGIVENESS

And so, my spirit opens wider unclenching guilt’s shameful grip. When feeling this way, full of holes, hanging on the line like tattered laundry, there is no center, there is no love.

Not even open to my cat until focusing on her, giving her direct eye contact and gentle welcoming. When feeling a grave mistake has been made by my emotional behaviors, self-punishment is all there is.

But trying to pay attention worked and she tentatively moved upon my lap then lay full out for a long while until having to get up.

It takes work, focus and attention to care for oneself, and a feeling that it is deserved. That’s the hard part after hurting a loved one with an adolescent attitude and behavior. The ensuing self-flogging and out of control attempts to quell the upset by eating everything in sight injures me and needs to be reined in once again. There is probably a biological explanation for the eating, carbs increase serotonin.

Such is the story of my up and down life. Periods of calm and control, then not.

Yet aren’t we all flawed? And can you learn to forgive yourself which then leads to forgiving others too? All this is a mash of forgiveness and trust. Hard to pick out the pieces after being whipped in the blender of trauma.

There is such beauty in forgiveness towards self. But it is hard work. My background of trauma still exists with all those already existing daily challenges. Perhaps you shall remember that and be more gentle with yourself.

One more important undertaking to add to the list, forgiving myself for being so very human. The path leads me to that final day, and when it comes I want to know I’ve done my best, and worked my hardest. There is peace in that.

That is the work. During the night when thoughts run squirrely and desperation for sleep sets in, wondering, is this another night when PTSD interferes?… a feeling of peace soothes my soul instead.

Peace returns with help from a friend reminding me of how far I’ve come, and how harsh I’m being on myself. So now the work includes this newest revelation, forgiveness. Keep working, keep working, keep working…

CHRISTMAS PARTY

The winds howled and trying to sleep was of no use without a sleep aid, though later the next day when asked, my friends all replied that, yes, they slept great as if the wind sounds comforted them.

No, not me. That feeling of being so different sunk in deep once again along with the knowledge that the challenges faced daily are colossally more than they can ever understand. Yes, a solid group of friends, but the one who became the closest passed away several years ago. The privilege of knowing her, the best friend of my life, lasted only 5 years.

But it gave me a gift of knowing that the rift felt between myself and most others isn’t me, it is the unusual experiences of my childhood which were extraordinarily traumatic. Sue was also raped as a child, pulled off the street by a stranger.

And she willingly shared her experience when first meeting her, something I had not yet been able to do though eventually she would learn a brief outline of the overall facts. My attacker wasn’t a stranger, it was family. The taboo of talking about what happens in a family is still not something acknowledged or talked about. It has been that way for centuries.

But her family unfortunately handled it the very same. NO TALKING ABOUT IT, as if it never happened. These are missionary’s, you know, the ones who go about saving the world. What about saving your child?

By not allowing her to express such a trauma over and over until processed, and not providing help in the form of therapy too, Sue was cursed to live the same sort of life as me.

Going about pasting a smile on, and acting as if nothing is wrong, when anxiety internally threatens to break you in half or splinter you into a thousand shattered pieces. The cortisol bursts are exhausting. Your world spinning out of control in situations where there’s people, which is just about every situation unless you are at home.

So, Sue knew me to my core, without my ever supplying details of any kind, and without us talking about it. We just knew, and love flowed between us freely like warm swirling air enveloping our souls as one.

Waking after the storm, it was as black as the night before when having to light candles. No coffee? Starting the patio grill, upon it was placed a large kettle with water and coffee grounds. Walking the meadow in the early morning light, checking it after each round, finally the brew looked ready.

After 5 laps the kettle came in to be poured through the coffee filter and, Voila! Cowboy coffee! Samuel was surprised. It almost seemed that the planned gathering of friends might have to be cancelled, because how can glue guns be heated up with no electricity? But it came back on, and our party was a great success.

I do miss my friend Sue. That very special bond we shared, and that closeness found nowhere else.

Hello Body, I am Learning to Love You

It is a sad truth that is forgotten each time it is remembered. My body cannot take too much stimulation, even happy stuff. It is a hard pill to swallow. And when my body goes over its threshold of too much input, though overly exhausted sleep won’t come.

Laying there hours, long after Samuel came to bed, wondering why this time, sleep did come. But the next day, though still productive, a tiredness crept in that made me feel almost sickish.

It isn’t easy living within the parameters of what an aging body can handle, especially mine which has spent a life of cortisol bursting through veins daily. It takes a permanent toll on the body.

Now is the time to take care of it, be gentle, and offer kindness with all the support mustered. Do not live by whatever parameters you think others might set for a healthy life, follow my body’s directive. That also means sticking to daily meditation under the full spectrum lights, something that had gone by the wayside. That half hour helps settle me all through the day and night.

Early to bed, early to rise. And in winter, it means keeping my time, not changing with the time change. Bedtime is even an hour earlier than in summer to adhere to my body’s rhythms.

Such a miracle to be connected to my body. Such a miracle to be able to offer kindness to my own being after a life of hating it. Miracle after miracle keeps occurring… while growth deepens.

LEARNING TO LOVE

While meditating tears fell. Then again later while walking, and that’s ok. It is healthy for whatever that might be suppressed to come up. But curiosity into my own feelings craves the answer to why. That takes digging deeper.

So much of my life has been lived all on my own no matter how many people surround me. And by alone, not even with myself. Real wholeness only began in my fifties when my mother died, and the truth erupted out of me chapter by chapter into what became a published book. It was finally possible because she wasn’t there anymore and the deal ‘love for silence’ no longer existed.

Most of the time my being was cast aside by myself because that is what was learned in childhood when my body was ripped by terror and abuse by those loved and trusted. The real horror was after when NO ONE, no one helped the little child who was me.

While walking as a sob erupted the wise voice said, more healing, another layer. What about the child? Pictures on the beach show a skinny blondie kid with a lollipop building sandcastles.

Come little child. Yet? Something’s missing. That little girl wasn’t in need. Her world hadn’t yet been shattered. Daddy had not yet fallen dead on the floor in front of us. His sons were still ruled with a strict, sometimes violent hand. The skinny little girl still trusted and loved, her world was safe. It is the fat little girl all stuffed into herself that is in desperate need of love, comfort, and by god, medical help.

Come. It’s not easy loving a fat child. I’ve hated her all my life.

But come to me now, envisioning my arms open to her, giving the embrace she never received when needing it so much.

I was forced to portray love for the attackers and to protect myself because the lecture from mother outlined that. Instead of the love so desperately needed there was blame in the directive to come tell her if anything happened again. It did.

An eight year old cannot protect herself, nor 9, 10, or 11. So of course the horrors continued.

Little fat girl, come, I love you. All that terror stuffed inside you. Come.

STILLNESS

My brain cannot handle too much input, especially from humans. It always picks apart every word, gesture, and nuance looking for clues of deception. People do talk in circles, some preferring to come across as strong by denying their pain. That’s look on as brave.

Others prefer to seem more important by touting the latest gadgets or travel excursions, whatever it takes to improve status therefore ego. I am guilty of all these at some point, but my preference around others is that they just be honest.

That’s rare. As social customs require a certain performance, one I’ve never quite grasped preferring to keep to myself because of it. It is more peaceful than a swimming head of negativity trying to figure out just what others are really saying, or meaning.

And so? That has been my life. During the pandemic others suffered from the isolation. Other than anxiety over catching the virus, my life did not change much feeling for once that I fit in. Now that others are out and about like they like to do, the feelings of abnormality crept in again.

That needs confronting daily. You are OK, and it is completely OK to love nature and want to be in it more than being around people, or rushing about from place to place because I can’t be still. Stillness brings my parts together as a whole. The beauty fulfilling. The gifts endless.

You Can Count on HER

Old habits rise conquering my reasonable mind, taking over, driving me to do things unhealthy as they once did almost daily. Because my learnings were about punishment, punishing myself for being born.

Yes. If my parents hadn’t doted on the one girl-child with 7 other boy onlookers with not enough attention to go around, the 4 attackers would not have attacked. This is my adult brain reasoning the why, the why would you attack the little sister you loved?

But my child’s brain didn’t know that. My little girl thoughts went to badness. How bad I am for what was done. How much they hated me turned into a life-time of self-hate.

Yet these years with many behind me of working hard to change, grow, and heal, leaves gouges no amount of work will repair. When a sword is plunged into the body scraping bone, the autopsy reveals the gash because it is forever scored in it.

This I will have to accept. Good days, sometimes even strung together making a week, then? An upset made worse by self-blame, made then far worse by more unhealthy choices as if a form of self-punishment.

But believe it, that there is at my core a wise voice, a wise being, that has gotten me this far, and can, CAN, be counted on even in times of despair. She is you, and you are her… good, wise, and whole.