Holding my Own Key to Happiness

Forever at the root of my core resided the belief of being bad, wrong, and always the one at fault. That is the feeling turned fact at age eight, growing every year becoming rock solid.

And that belief did solidify. How could it not with no one to tell me differently? No one to hold me, rock me, tell me that what they did was wrong, that they would be punished, that it wouldn’t happen again.

Because it did keep happening, and happening, and happening.

This is a time of peace, a time when that belief has been chipped at, questioned, and challenged. A crack has evolved where warmth seeps in, or oozes outward. Ever so slowly, bits of comfort float up where once only animosity to self had been. It is a change that could have occurred fifty years ago.

If only someone had the courage to hold my hand and take a stand. No one did. But I do now… tentatively, fearfully as if I’m doing something wrong in liking myself, for showing acceptance towards my own being, like the axe will fall for doing so.

No axe falls. Taking that step towards kindness and self-love after so long is freeing. The origin family collectively used subtle tactics to sustain low esteem to keep me silent. But my true nature includes persistence.

Baby- steps, tiny fissures are pried open wider using words of encouragement and uplift rather than harsh criticism. Treasures are found never enjoyed before: peace, openness, self-acceptance, joy.

Freedom is savored, the freedom to choose to (learn) to love myself. And each day a reminder to embrace gratefulness for making it through the hazards and treachery of all the years past. Where self-hate ruled in a mixing bowl of adrenaline pumped anxiety, confusion, self-doubt, and a total inability to connect with my own soul. 

To come to a place others never lost, is now found for me. A delectable experience not to be contaminated by bitterness towards what was. My choice is to enjoy the miraculous now.   

 

Little Girl Me

Dusty corners remain that no one knew, or wanted to know, what little girl me went through… not even me. If everyone else chastises her, so will I.

Tears leak out, trailing down my cheek, like squeezing a sponge dry during a period when nothing is stressful or bothering me, yet something is. A memory is provoked, perhaps by the quiet, empty house with a feeling that a sudden scare is impending.

Like Chet bursting out from behind the shower curtain with an evil joy at terrorizing me. He’s been dead three years. I check behind it some nights while brushing my teeth, lately more often than others. What, am I ten years old?

Much of my life is like that, something ready to happen to crack the peaceful silence keeping me always on edge. The exception is when I’m outside, unless Samuel approaches without offering a clue, then I jump with a yelp of fear erupting. Usually he remembers to signal his coming near when I’m resting by the creek after a walk in the meadow. That took years of reminders before he took heed.

This unaccounted for stress is of course due to early trauma(s). So nothing could be bogging my life down. Gifts of good sleep, good health, and all loved ones doing well… still tears come with a good dose of sadness.

When to know gentleness and acceptance of what’s there, and when to exert the discipline of pulling myself up attending to things with a brightness that is not really there. The debate loses out to the tenacity of a feeling of sadness that stays. Patience with what I’m feeling instead of brushing it aside. 

The sadness of what was done, how deep it goes, and how much destruction was caused. To be tender towards myself and the little girl I was. No one bothered to know her, not then certainly, and now? Now it needs to be me. Those parts are speaking, and I’m listening. 

While meditating the thought comes, he held me down. He held me down. And there is one tear, two, then done. Enough to appreciate the feelings and why. To know what has been driving me to eat in ways abhorred, that hurt. Hating myself just like my little girl felt hated by all those around her.

Those that did it, those who did nothing- everyone, even the school nurse who was my aunt, and she knew. The silence to me as a little girl sent the message that I was nothing, hate-worthy, not loved. The only way though this is with love, a sword that cuts.

Love is not welcome, love is tainted by force and evil. What love is left shelters deep inside, only flickering with warmth on occasions of safety which is rare. Because monsters are everywhere, even alone in the silence of my own home.

I have known since age eight what people are capable of. And since loved ones are capable of such evil, everyone is.

The only way through is with love for little girl me.

Black and White Meet Grey

What if you beat the beast by not beating, but loving with soothing counterpunches in the form of words that shower care? A fight or a soft cloud. As it often is in the world of Patricia, finding a balance can be difficult as my world has been black or white. As years pass more grey lifts up offering a sultry fog mixing both. The ups and downs begin to meet in the middle as if standing on the center of a see-saw.

And that’s OK, it’s called balance, and I like it. No great highs to come down from, nor lows to rip myself up from, though there seems to be more of those than the highs. A general evenness has evolved.

Be aware of the successes savoring them, not dwelling on what’s lacking but relishing all that is; the sparkle from the twirling items sending prisms along the wall and carpet causing the kitty’s head to spin one way then the other.

Enjoying her antics, then her need to curl up on my lap offering her belly for pets until my legs ache and need to move. Love flows freely between human and cat. She responds to it, and I surely do if I pay attention to the moments.

So many pleasures at hand, right here at home. A trip to return a few items starts out enjoyable making me wonder if I ought to get out more. Faces smile back at my smile bringing a feeling of joy. By the second hour, and an argument at the check-out, not heated, but ongoing, the manager is called who allows the return.

Weariness takes over with a wish to be home, the tiredness hitting like a stone wall. The external world can be exhausting, reminding me why my life remains reclusive. Each person is parroting their needs, like the cashier who doesn’t understand the benefits of satisfying a customer, repeating the store’s policy as if it’s a edict from the King.   

Home. Home Sweet Home. 

TRUE NATURE

Planning Christmas kept my sanity in the darkest month, now the wait for spring as each day becomes longer.

“Look,” Samuel says, “It is 5 and still light out!”

Looking outside I reply excitedly, “Wow, you’re right!”

My drudge through the dark months is proceeding with better management and brighter outcomes, though it takes work; disciplined habits including full spectrum lights, meditation, better diet, and daily exercise.

The uplift from exercise is curative, even moderate exercise such as walking or gentle movements on the elliptical. But it takes a push to go do it.

The food thing is harder as food is used to medicate PTSD issues that resulted from childhood sexual attacks by loved ones. Alone, stuck with it, and no one to burst the bubble of excruciating pain, it grew as I grew.

That beast stayed. The beast of self-hate, but compassion is slowly moving in as part of me steps back and notices that my use of food is not born out of laziness, lack of character, or that I don’t love, care, or respect myself.

It is self-care that turned to me food at age eight, bent over the toilet in the middle of the night vomiting up the food my mother pushed towards me in place of what I really needed.

Food was her love. My little body couldn’t take it, but it was all there was to numb the horror of what my brothers did and kept doing… the ones I loved so much and trusted.

Food is still used to medicate. To eat out of hunger is not usual. To eat to numb is. Hating myself for failing to be thin is a societal rule. Yet it also is a survival tool that sustains my life in the only way I know how. 

Turning to food saved me. It saves me now. It squelches PTSD symptoms by focusing my attention to how full it feels to the point of pain. Liking the pain because I’m so used to it. The other hurts too much to feel. 

The hurt of a family turning their backs, going on as if nothing happened. What about that pain? It is easier to go along with them. Sure I love you too. You did so much for me.

Donny did allow me to move in with his family because my mother’s drinking had adverse effects. I got a job, joined the Army, met Samuel. My life began. Don saved me at a time when I really needed saving. 

But what about when I was 8? You came into the bathroom at the sound of my screams while I was in the tub.

I said, “It hurts down there.”

What did you do then? Nothing. No one did anything. Not Seth either who I said to directly at the time, “Danny fucked me.” Just looks of horror in his eyes which to an eight year old meant I was the horror.

I want to ask these questions, but never will, though some was in an email to Seth causing more separation than closeness.  

Each day starts out, listen to my body. It will tell you what you need. By the end of the day the impulse to eat when not hungry for food, but ravenous for love, wins out. It blots out all other needs, and helps me hate myself.

A quiet voice whispers, perhaps it is self-caring, what you have done since the age of 8. A rumbling vibrates deep down in a space that is not bone, blood or tissue… a place that is ethereal, one where my true nature resides. The work is connecting, and staying connected.   

Prepare the Soil

Turning, wondering where to go, feeling confused as to my purpose… this room, that chore, back to the first one. With Cory’s presence my meditation practice stopped, and most of my exercise regime. Keeping present, and preparing food for each party exhausted me enough with little energy left for anything else.

Getting back to my usual routines feels odd. The out of sync, disjointed fracture left in his wake fades with each day. Work was done to tame the beast of anxiety while they were here and beforehand, but no attention was focused on how to handle his leaving.

So the ragged hole of emptiness visited, less intense than the days after his departure for college, then the move to another state, then marriage. With his marriage came more settled feelings of satisfaction in place of need.

The feeling of loss coupled with anxiety re-visits from time to time, the nostalgia of boys at home to care for, of family life. But times were hard then too, scorched with PTSD issues, entwinements with the family of origin, and my mother not allowing the truth be told which blocked true healing from what her sons had done.

Family now is Samuel and me. My close friend who chatted with me via email, phone, and by visiting on a frequent and regular basis died several years ago; a friendship later in life that was the closest ever experienced.

Other friends are not inclined to call or email perhaps because we don’t share a history of childhood trauma as Sue and I did. Though we didn’t talk much about it, we felt it, and how it touched our lives in the present. This bonded us in ways lacking with others. Ours was a once in a lifetime friendship, a friend so close, words were not needed.

Cory is close like that. Maybe that isn’t healthy between mother and son, but it is so. Samuel is a kind and sweet man, and the thought of living without him is terrifying. He is also lonely to be with at times. When Cory leaves it is hard to return to my quiet life. Acceptance is not my forte. I am a cat on a hot tin roof landing with the burn of anxiousness.

The separation separates me from myself. Feeling lost. Gather the parts. Bring them home. Paste them on, yet away they flutter to be harnessed again, stuck back on; waiting for wholeness, to be heard, understood, to feel close to one other human.

Meditation grounds me to my center with relief. Walks in the meadow on a sunny day almost 50 degrees helps blood flow. A fresh approach to the studio where work has gone stale is in process wondering what’s to come as its cleaned down to the bones to begin again new.

 

Come On Spring!

It is hard to describe, this vaporous hole inside searching for a mooring, finding none, so it whirls ungrounded craving connection without landing.

It spins in the night, waking me.

Thoughts keep the comet sparking sending me to the cabinet for antacids, then TV, then bed again till 5 AM rolls around. How to hold all that goes on outside of myself inside, and still remain balanced.

In winter it is struggle. So when the blues of Cory’s leaving passes, there is still the depression less daylight brings. As days grow longer by seconds, then minutes, the wait for spring begins.

Forgive, Forgive, Forgive

 

Yesterday was quiet but enjoyable, the warm weather pulling me outside to walk the meadow then meeting Samuel creek-side for a gentle canoe ride, even sighting the beaver a few times. Oh, a sigh of relief while Mother soothed me with her loving arms, the warm sun and centering stillness. 

Our Christmas is yet to come. We gather together Saturday, a once in a year tradition when both sons and families are with us. Cory, wife, and little daughter arrive tonight from a near-by state.

“Promise not to get over-excited,” Cory says on a phone call, and my gut knows the directive is coming from his spouse.

“I promise,” my response comes with a bitter feeling towards her.  

My young daughters-in-law are without the blemish of childhood trauma, so how could they understand? It’s true, my anxiety makes it hard to be around, though sons are very used to me. Anxiety overwhelms even when erupting from pleasurable activities like family gatherings.

Any heightened experience makes my nervous system go haywire. But my intention is keep my promise, and not let resentments towards young women who have never been splintered by trauma to tarnish a special event.

Forgive, forgive, forgive, let love up.