A Soul’s Yearnings

photos by Patricia

Upon waking the first feeling is not to feel. A more rational voice intervened, “Welcome the feelings.”

Turning over trying to sleep more, an hour goes by before Samuel’s alarm rings. He has been asked to work a few days. At 65 he still likes to go in when needed. It offsets our medical insurance bills and he seems to enjoy the productivity and comradery.

We sit by the fire sipping coffee with new kitty Christy at our feet. My jaw tends to clench when greeting a new day. With intention the muscles relax and the body follows.. Relax is just a word and not something that comes naturally. 

Meditation offsets this, and conscious intention helps too but that only succeeds when not bombarded by external stimuli from the environment. It doesn’t take much to overload a system that copes with chronic permanent issues of PTSD.

These challenges need daily attention. The harsh voices alive inside at the ready to beat me down are more familiar than warm, loving ones. Confronting them takes work. Respecting a soul’s yearning comes naturally to some. For others who created ways to survive trauma in childhood, being centered in the soul is unfamiliar.

Breaking from it to survive occurred. And still now it takes work to come ‘home’ to my center, be still, and hear the callings of soul. Those yearnings are what living is all about. Without connection to the soul, curling up escaping elsewhere becomes the normal way of being.

Being present became too dangerous. With no intervention to help finding one’s way out of the collapse caused by childhood sexual abuse, staying safe by dissociating becomes a way of life.

During meditation, one moment at a time, I learned I could be present and be safe. But escaping when overwhelmed elsewhere into that mysterious safe place only known by others who also survived trauma still occurs. 

Coming to now, being here now is not worth it unless connecting with the soul, hearing her speak and satisfying those yearnings.

A kitty lying in my lap purring satisfies mine, a place to pour my love, a conduit for it that has brought me from age 8 to now. When humans became too dangerous to love, there were kitties. That hasn’t changed much. Loving from afar, emails, on-line, OK. Loving in the flesh? There are barriers. There has to be.

Too much was taken to risk losing more. There are other yearnings not yet discovered. And perhaps that is part of the daily work. Listen to the soul’s yearnings, the whispers that go unheard. Find places, make time and places where quietness allows the soft strumming to be heard…the vibrations of the soul.

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Kindness to Self

Work can be done to temper the tendency to make rash moves that occur from an overworked nervous system. Acceptance of that tendency is necessary to achieve a balanced wholeness where esteem for self grows. Allowances for such a struggle means softening my approach to myself. It is OK…this is something to work on, but with gentleness and kindness, not a whip, club and bat. 

In many instances my mind moves too fast and my body lurches ahead with it when what would provide more satisfaction is stillness and thought. Regret moves in adding a desperate futility that anything will ever change. 

Fucking stuck with a PTSD brain makes this a reality that will not go away. Offering kindness to myself and acceptance of what is and why it is helps to make a happier soul who loves herself. Only then is one able to offer that same love and acceptance to others.

If one can’t accept their own frailties and shortcomings, how can you be tolerant with others’?

Where Love Flows

The deal made with the crueler aspects of life, OK, I’ll go down this path with Molly as she withers away getting thinner and thinner. I will love her more and be extraordinarily gentle. And as long as she shows some interest in her surroundings then it isn’t time. I will do this but I’m getting another kitty when it’s time for Molly to go.

The months went by, and my tummy turned with pain watching her suffer and trying to ease her constant beseeching that I relieve her discomfort. Until it became necessary to finally do the only thing left that could be done.

During all those months what sustained me and gave me the strength to take on this role was the knowledge of getting another little animal. The urge to do so occurred immediately, the very next morning after her death.

“Cory,” I sobbed to my son over the phone, “How long do I have to wait to get a kitty?”

“Until you are OK on your own,” he responded. And Samuel seemed to agree. And the proper person in me agreed. Yet the unrelenting emptiness bent me over with sobs. The days went by with no relief. This wasn’t a normal grief. This was something else.

Since childhood I’ve had kitties to cling to and love. Humans became too dangerous. Having a warm being to love preserved something in me that might have been forever lost.

Animals allow a safe place where tenderness flows freely, warmly and openly. A heart needs to open. 

A friend calls. “I know you don’t want to do this, but I think you should go to the local animal shelter and look for a new kitty. So many are lonely like you and need a home,” she says. I could hear her tears for me. She is older and lives alone with her dog and two cats. She knows.

“Life is not worth living without them,” she confides. And my desolation matched that sentiment. “Follow your heart, she added.

Within the half hour I told Samuel I was off to do errands and headed to the shelter. A little black long-haired kitten was quietly being run all over by a smaller kitten vying for attention. She had only been there a week and had been rescued from an abusive home. She will have my home now.

The worker who put her in my lap as my tears poured forth said, “I know she will be well taken care of.”

And I responded, “So will I.”

Flaws Like Ocean Pebbles

As dawn approaches, only a soft haze in the horizon beyond the hill while all else is still and dark, the thought arises that you do deserve to have a day without self punishment even in spite of yesterday’s failures and flaws. More so, you need your own compassion holding mistakes in your hand like sea worn pebbles, investigating each one gently with curiosity and tenderness.

The heart constricts banded by a tightness learned in childhood. How does one go back and unwrap the wires that cut so deep? Embedded into the vessel they will bleed if removed. As each attack happened with no recourse of protection or love, the child decides she is to blame. As she grows so does the blame she takes upon herself. Her heart constricts with self-loathing not love. She extends softness to others but for herself…contempt. 

It is a process, this practice of self love.  

Happy Heart

Fall has come and gone, the trees are bare as wind whistles through the branches. Sitting by the fire cozily with the cat by my feet, thick fog fills the back hillside while the hickory trees nearby in the hedgerow sway dancing like black lacy tendrils entwined together. The bareness seemed to happen overnight but it really took weeks. Perhaps night winds took the last leaves. Dawn comes in a steely grey gloom, the sun cast away behind the smoky carpet.

Days like this tend to be more common than sunny ones in NE America during the long months of winter. One must make their own joy. Dragging the six foot fake Christmas tree up from the basement, a day is spent decorating the house with strings of lights a week earlier than usual. The brightness of color and sparkle lift the dreariness. As the gold shimmery tree skirt is gently tucked around the tree base, Molly the cat curls up under it in her favorite resting place, the echo of purring floating up to my ears.

Hunting season has begun, so bright red is added to outdoor gear for the usual meadow walks. And unless it is raining, the walks continue to boost my moral, invigorate the senses and keep my heart healthy. Keeping attuned to the needs of the heart- spiritual, emotional and physical, are what makes a day fulfilling and sustaining.

Make Your Own Light

With relief the weariness has lifted. Falling into a funk emotionally makes it an easy place to stay, the power of inertia or lack of it. A bit of sunshine does the body good too. So the meadow is now brown, dead and drab. It doesn’t mean I have to be too.

“Make your own light,” a friend suggests. 

Yes, make my own light. Find it within, enjoy it, and it radiates outward naturally. A tendency to compare myself to others leaves me consistently lacking. Following my own instincts and needs is authenticity. Have the bravery and courage to discover that uniqueness and provide for its fruition. 

A Moment of Now

Even it means becoming present if for a moment, that is a great thing.

For some people plagued by early trauma that was given no intervention, hence no processing, the damage stays and becomes permanent. To survive a being goes elsewhere because being here is too dangerous. Do you talk to her but she is not there?

My son would jolt me to now when we went to mall together to shop for his school clothes, “Mom, we’re at the mall! Time to have fun!”

And I would come to the Now and be with him while we shopped, then had lunch. It takes a lot of energy to be here now especially if another person is added to the mix where listening and responding is crucial to the interaction.

What comes naturally to another is unnatural for a person traumatized. Zoning out or going to that safe place in an ethereal dimension is common, necessary really. To survive in a world where one is attacked in their sleep by the people she most loves causes her to go elsewhere and stay there especially if no one comes to help, stop the attacks or let her process it all by talking about it as long as she needs to. 

And no one usually does. And no one usually lets her ever talk about it, ostracizing her even more if she does. Aloneness is her companion. Zoning out is her escape and her world. She is a warrior and a fighter. And she is in there if you look for her. 

You may not be like others around you, but you matter. And you matter just as you are.