FEEDING THE SOUL

photo by Patricia

What is needed to make it a day that satisfies? Exercise, meditation, and feeding the soul nurturing messages. Not an easy feat for a person used to feeling that the joys of life do not apply to me. But over time progress is made.

Activity improved to the point where chances were taken that should not have been taken. Yet again trying to be like others, but these others aren’t living with the effects of early trauma. Going without treatment, having to keep all of it inside my little being caused lasting damage.

Learning to accept limitations is ongoing work along with sending messages that encourage instead of destroy. Habits can evolve over time, not by stopping it cold, but by replacing the old habit with a new improved one.  

Feed the soul with positive messages, messages that are true. You have value. Dive deep and look, you will see, feel, and live it.

SWEETNESS

Our new bird house up for only a week before being occupied.

There is beauty all around me, some of my own making, much from Mother, the same Mother who takes my breath away with her beauty and casts scourges upon us in the form of a virus.

But inside me there still lives darkness, gloom, and disaster, a surety of blackness that believes I don’t deserve life.

It lands on me like vulture claws in the quiet loneliness of night when sleep won’t come. This time due to simply sending an email to a brother, a non-abusive brother, but one who buddied up with an abusive brother for life choosing his company over mine. That makes him a co-conspirator of the worst kind, and very dangerous for me.

Yet, like a moth to flame… but who doesn’t want family? Picnics, holidays, to be part of a group? My groups call for safety. And those ‘people’ are not safe. To initiate contact ALWAYS means no sleep that night.

Taking a sleep aid finally at midnight, watching TV for almost an hour, resisting food as a way to numb, back to bed and my dooming thoughts. Because this is when everything looks bad, and feels bad. Every bright thing in the daytime becomes foreboding and all my fault.

The rock hard boulders push me further into the pillow with the weight. Then a gentle voice, as if an apparition of an angel spoke above me, what if you filled yourself with loving words, kind thoughts, sweet truths…

And the turn-around began, countering the badness into reality. The outcome? A feeling, a belief, the knowledge deep inside that began to open with love… you are a good and special person. Like everyone around you that you admire, you too are admirable. And with that sweet sleep came.

Our resident toad living on the patio making a home in a potted plant burying himself in the dirt every night. He has live there for weeks!

PEACE and GRATITUDE

photos by Patricia-Hollyhocks

Boom, boom, boom, the night skies lit up all around us, though trees blocked most of the sparkling neighborhood fireworks. Giving up sleep at the usual time, I padded out to the front porch to see. Not much could be seen except bits of the exploding colors over the tree tops, but fireflies delighted close-by in the front yard. The moon rose full, golden yet crimson, another jaw dropping sight as it opened huge in full splendor.  

After a while it quieted and so did I. It was an uneventful fourth as far as doing or going, yet still a nice, but HOT day. After the sunbeam walk, sheltering in the house kept me cool. The bread-maker was used for dough to make pigs-in-a blanket for Samuel.

The last patch of lavender was cut, as sweat dripped down, and my back hurt from bending. The bees competed for the last blossoms. Maybe the heat affected my head— I began talking aloud to the bees.

“This is my garden. I planted these, they are mine, you can’t have them,” I said to them buzzing near my shears as they snipped, snipped, snipped.

I am determined even though highly allergic to bee stings. As a child it was necessary to have a series of injections over the course of months to build up resistance. A serious reaction made me swell up with hives and become quite sick after picking grapes, squeezing a wasp in my hand accidentally.

Injections didn’t help much. I still become sick wondering when the next sting might send me to the hospital. But I will have my lavender making three beautiful baskets around the house decorated with purple ribbon adorned with white polka dots. When my senses are paying attention, the scent is luscious and soothing. 

And more walks, one at a time throughout the day, the walk back up to the house causing me to huff with the slight slope and heat. But a wonderful way to enjoy the day and get out of the air conditioned house. One enjoyable lap at a time reaching ten laps by day’s end.

Flip-flops are risky but easier than putting on socks with sneakers or hiking shoes. Though the meadow path is worn down, clover still grows attracting lots of bees. I may regret the risks I take padding through it practically barefoot. Even on this little plot of land there is danger. 

Our days are quiet but pleasurable most of the time, except when PTSD kicks in reminding me of what I can and cannot do, or just to say hello. 

Peace and gratitude reign.

Go Away PTSD

photo by Patricia

It was bedtime. Routine in that area has become very important, extremely so. Yet forgotten, or the hope that maybe this one time I could do something excitingly spontaneous and it would be alright.

It wasn’t. The next two days didn’t go so well.

So on the way back to the bedroom after putting the crazy cat in the studio for the night, I took a peek at the night from the back porch. Fireflies appeared, one by one, watching, mesmerized, feeling childhood awakening in the bones of my memory.

Dashing around the yard at dusk with the kids from the neighborhood playing Kick the Can, or Ghosts in the Graveyard. Being called in late once dark settled in, all dirty and tired, falling asleep easily after a day of hard play. But that is not Patricia-world now. Now routines must be adhered to.

But only this once? Since things are going so well, can’t this once be added on to what has been a stretch of wonderful summer days? Days when miles upon miles of bike rides along the path by the water are also combined with laps and laps of walking, because energy expended seemed to compound into more energy.

Can’t a quick dip in the pool be enjoyed? The quiet water luring as the last pink faded from the sky casting a rosy glow. Donning my swimsuit, an irresistible dip was risked. Fireflies grew brighter as the waves cuddled me. But my senses began to ratchet up rather than calm down as they should have been doing.  

The impromptu fun delighted, the water warm, the twinkling solar string lights making it a magical wonderland of joy. Too much joy, exciting me beyond any possibility of sleep. The haranguing voice began its pounding, ‘YOU KNOW BETTER! YOU YOU YOU.’ 

Routine. Remember that? You must pay attention to your unique body needs. Stimulating your senses when they should be winding down won’t work. Lying awake long after Samuel came to bed, medication had to be taken. Not only did my body go off the deep end, so did my mind.

The negative thoughts chewed like snarly, dripping fangs, taking bite after bite, pounding my being with fearful stabs. After staring at the television for over an hour, another dose had to be taken.

Finally drowsiness, and back to bed. Sleep came as if encased in a tomb like a mummy with no movement until waking. There goes a day of waste. No walking, no chores, no nothing except for the escape into watching beloved movies. Because a body that jumps into the dangerous pool of PTSD needs calm. No motion, nothing except feeling sorry for myself. That equates to food used to numb it all out adding to the load of crippling self-hate.

It takes a second day to recover and feel as if back into myself. Depression, disconnect, and displacement from my very being all needed time, quiet, and seclusion before re-connection to body, thoughts, and spirit. Go away Samuel, leave me alone. Everything had spiraled about like a mini universe out of control, all from a simple quick dip in the pool. 

This morning wholeness. The fresh picked lavender scent is noticed as the gurgling fountain settles my soul. The morning feels cherished, not feared. Because once the PTSD breaker is tripped, fear, panic, and the surety that a terrifying thing is about to happen exposes every nerve as it readies for danger. Terror from childhood when the peril was real crashes in putting my alert system on edge with red-light vigilance. THAT is tiring, and once happening, out of my control. 

A special day is one when my being feels whole and is whole. When the tiniest event floods me with pleasure; the toad living in the potted plant on the patio blanketing himself under the wet dirt as if it is a home with a bed, the birds sipping at the birdbath, the abundant lavender in bloom along with the heady scent calming my very pores with their aroma.

The morning is sweet again with wonder as we celebrate 42 years together. On this day, at this moment, I feel whole. 

The Tooth

“How are you?” asks the dentist.

“I am two people,” I reply, and the air was still, adding before she was able to figure out what to say next, “a terrified child, and a person who asked you for help knowing you are competent to do it.”

“I’m sorry you went through all that,” she replied, and the two of them went to work.

The process of getting the lost filling repaired took about an hour, but the rest of the day felt wasted. Too tired from the medication needed to calm my flight of flight response meant resting afterwards. I even fell asleep for a lengthy nap which is a rarity. But still, this time was different.

Rather than a rumbling terror each day prior, my message to myself, or more precisely to the terrified child within, was, I’ll take care of it. It’s only a tooth to be fixed.

And compared to the terror of what’s floating in the air these days, tooth problems do seem minor. Yet my PTSD symptoms worsening with age won’t go away because I tell them to. Medication was still needed.

Though seemingly a wasted day, it was not. It was of great achievement. The hunk of filling came out about when the pandemic hit. My tongue has slipped over the rough edged gap ever since not chewing on that side.

The owner of the office assured me that the they dispel a spray in-between patients, and I’d be first in anyway. But I wish the two working on me didn’t chat back and forth while only 6 inches from my face. Stick to what is needed to be said about the process, not senseless chatter.

In normal times unrelated chatter soothes, but now caused worry. They had on masks and eye gear, but no shields. How do I know if their breathing and talking wasn’t getting on me lying there with my mouth open? It seemed very wrong for both patient and provider.

But it’s done, I did it!

POWER

Turning on heat at the start of June is a first, the register next to me soothing as the warmth spills out. The temperature has uncharacteristically plummeted breaking records at one extreme then the other. Frost and snowflakes in May, catapulting to record highs, then needing heat from the furnace a few days later. 

Though the pool is open, and for a few days the temperature was 90 or close to it, my idea of going in was floating in circles as the force of the filter splashed a current to ride on. Samuel went all the way in a few times, but it isn’t quite warm enough for me yet. Now in the 40’s the water will take awhile to warm again. 

The summer looks different, is different. Cancelling an upcoming camping trip with Shane and his family at our favorite place in the Adirondacks, along with a trip to see Cory’s family and new baby… both a loss, but curiously a relief too.

Traveling is hard for me. The less it’s done, the better. My system hypes up and once that happens it is hard to calm down. And that is during what is the best years of my life.

Looking back would I want to live it again? No way. The anxiety running me was wild, reverberating like live wires through my system. The daily fear of living, and people, caused even simple decisions to go awry.

Even now I must tell myself, slow down, breathe, where exactly are you going so fast? Living in over-drive separated from my body is the norm. But not now. Now is the time to go slow, protect myself, and for the first time take care of myself in all the ways previously neglected.

It is not an easy job, or one that comes naturally. Taught to deny all needs, this takes conscious effort. Taking action to block all those called ‘family,’ even if only for a day or two, brought back a feeling of power and control that being pressured into doing something not right for me took away. Freedom was lost, victim-hood floundered, priceless freedom gone— poof, like a puff of smoke. 

Strength flowed back. Seeming a silly move, it was not. Then the thought of those I cared about possibly contacting me without my response caused me to unblock all but the sister-in-law who pressured me. The others can access me if needed.

That action reminded me where my power lies, within me. It is not something to give away again, but I will. The craving for family always there, always pulling, always in need of. A cauldron calling me into her dark brew where wishes come true. 

Freedom and Safety

Waking in the night a breeze of fear passes through me. All the people called ‘family’ were put in the block sender list yesterday to feel safe. But what of the love felt for each of them? The love is from an immature girl, remaining a girl all through my 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, only beginning to mature in the last decade… a slow and painful process. 

And with maturity comes the realization that lies are not OK. Interacting with each of them, always on their terms, is not OK. Pretending is not OK. Being buddies with an abuser, aligning with him against me, is not OK. Pretending he didn’t slink up in the night to abuse me… is not OK.

By not talking about the crimes committed against me make the crimes loom larger. Lying awake in the night remembering. The confused mixture of pleasure and confusion as a little girl, still sleepy laying there at the end of couch with my little brother asleep at the other end.

Tommy’s head between my legs— waking to the soft pleasure but not understanding. The next morning, and all the years after, the brother I loved so much with admiration and trust, turned his hate upon me. I was a reminder of his crime. His fear of exposure compounding the punishment that would defeat me for decades. That leaves me fighting for a life even now. 

On little shoulders that would take even more trauma, some so violent that remembering isn’t safe to this day. My psyche protects me from it still.

I am blocking emails that never come unless someone dies or wants something. No one dares to get close, reality might set in. But what of my reality?

Attachments cause deep pain. My preference is to attach to the land and mother nature who soothes, bringing smiles of joy as the chipmunks play, or a flower blooms .

Attach to my children, and their children. To Samuel, who I’m learning to trust for the very first time in over 40 years of marriage. Trust for a friend whom I’ve finally learned to erect boundaries with, a miraculous feat… trust that will reach out only so far because she will slam me down if I let her. 

That is enough to be challenged with. The origin family carries baggage with heavy requirements I have no energy to meet. (Yet agree to anyway when pressured.) So take away the temptation. 

After trying repeatedly to develop relationships individually with no takers, it became apparent that groups were only what was wanted— herd immunity. My need for safety equates to detaching. Craving freedom that was lost when feeling forced by pressured guilt to do something I did not want to do paralleling my formative years. Freedom and safety come home. 

The Destroyer

Giving up control so easily, has that become a way of life? Well, yes. Giving into a sister-in-law’s guilty pressuring to come to a party, or a myriad of other cave-ins, it happens regularly. Not respecting and paying attention to my own soul whispering’s, neglecting my needs for another, is a way of life since age 8.

Always please or be alone in the dark in the middle of the night. Be kicked out of an abusive family, or stay with it. As a child this doesn’t come in words but in the gut to survive. The family is all a child has, though someone should have come to remove me, or them.

It takes every atom to stand my ground, simple things like saying no, and it is exhausting. The terror of rejection and taunting too keen, because in childhood that’s what Tom did after his night-time attack.

I am the victim, victimized and ganged up ever after. But the subtleness of his emotional attacks after the physical attack were what annihilated me. Any chance of wholeness pick-axed till nothing was left but a shell in a whiff of smoke.

Every time he smirked, a part of me died that could have flourished.

PANDEMIC PARALYSIS

Though retired, living off hard earned funds, there is work to do. Remember being in the moment, not carried away like a schizoid in the stratosphere of worry and concern? Oh yes, that. Being here now isn’t my preference. Being here before Covid is.

Facing reality and being in the moment. One day on, one day off, one day both, those are the best days. This period is historic, not a history desiring to be a part of. How did others endure what they did in generations past?

We live in our little bubble on this plot of land, then like a bomb– reality hits paralyzing my body parts. Get up, do something, yet I can’t. Samuel looks over into the living room where I haven’t moved all day. (adding to feelings of low self-esteem)

But my limbs won’t move, my mind on hold.

Pushing myself the next day, the path of being present is the answer. Joints ache upon rising. Work to move, to do something, any little thing, and be in the body while doing it. Small things matter especially during this time. Be gentle and patient with yourself and others. Gentleness and presence is the way.

SADNESS

It is hard to come to grips with the present when the past often pulls me back. Think of those suffering so much more than me right now, as tears fall watching the funeral of a family as they say farewell to yet another victim of the corona virus.

Yet denying my own place in the world which encompasses reality, not the origin family’s narrative of the truth which obliterates the trauma’s endured as a child, is not living wholly or authentically.

There is sadness, there always has been since the first attack, but the reality of what happened was denied. So I denied it too, there wasn’t an alternative. But then, like now, denying something doesn’t make it go away.

Opening up the country as if the virus suddenly has disappeared is causing great grief inside me, rupturing a well of sadness and loss that is preventable if we had a leader who would lead. He instead sits on his ass pontificating how wonderful he is but admits, yes people will die. Does he give a fuck? No. 

And opening myself to the reality of my life causes sadness, often choosing to try to act like others instead of with my own truths. Living split. The body moves but the rest of me works to catch up, or fast forwards ahead of it.

Prostrate over my mother’s grave 11 years ago, cut in two with grief, it took years for the pain to ebb. But during that time was when healing was more than a word. Instead of going to a dry well for love, my mother who really did love me but with exceptions, I learned (and am still learning) how to love myself.

That little girl hurts. She’s sad. She may always feel sad. A family left, abandoning me as they had their own grief to attend to. Living in the same house, still they left in all the ways that matter.

And I left her too. Coming back as a whole means owning it all.  Wrapping my arms around myself, just as Mother Nature does when sitting on the patio in the warm sun.

Mother Sun caresses me while in my thick bathrobe wrapped in a blanket on a sunny spring morning. The heat warming through as if she is rocking me. There must be ways to soothe a tender heart as the nation fractures in chaos due to the evil one. I know that the majority of hearts are pure. That they will conquer and endure, but hell is still to come.

Trying not to think of what is really happening is the same as not being who I am. How to stay in the boat as it sways sharply in the swells.