“We’re going to play house. You’re the Mommy, I’m the Daddy,” he whispers softly in the child’s ear. His breath is warm, and she loves him, trusting her brother.

Blank time, then while bathing the water hitting the tender labia sears with pain. No one intervenes. No one stops more of it. Somehow the child grows and now entering the winter stages of her life those memories are as if yesterday.

How does she take the beauty of today and balance those with the memories of yesterday?



photo by Patricia

Waking in the night the tendency is to think of the most negative or uncomfortable thought then blaming myself immediately and without forethought. It is my natural tendency to blame myself for everything going wrong. This solidified at the age of 8 when this sibling attacked me. His attack was so violent and severe my psyche won’t allow memory of so it festers below the surface like a shark about to attack. My 65th birthday comes in a few months, and it is likely this repressed memory will vibrate in my depths for life.  

It is the first attack that started a lengthy period of continuing traumas that cemented permanent and chronic PTSD. The challenges due to no intervention, hence no processing of the repeated assaults to my body and psyche, remain very much alive today confining my life in a multitude of ways that limit what I can do.

Talking myself down from these thoughts coming unbidden in the dark, trying to take the self-blame out of it which always becomes a component in the middle of night when feeling so vulnerable, helps sleep to return. Sometimes it takes a long while but with persistence and turning over re-trying each position repeatedly, sleep might finally come. But not tonight.

He died at 28, seven years older than me. Lagging like a ghostly shadow are thoughts that my question had something to do with his last suicide attempt being successful.

“What did you do to me?” I asked of my older brother Danny, one of twins. It was the next time he attempted to end his life that did end it.

Why forty years later does it seem so recent, the memory of asking so fresh along with the guilt? Lying there in the queerly soundless night the self- talk starts. If that didn’t make his last attempt reliably earnest, something else would have.

It took an entire family of dysfunction to cause this sibling to fail in life and everything he tried. It was his mother and father, not you. You were just a little girl grown into a confused, lost, and violently injured young woman also unable to find her way. You were looking for answers and instinct guided you to ask. It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK.

There are things that can only be put to rest by forgiving myself, even now over forty years later, things that block the road to self-love and acceptance, things only I can do and that only I can give myself. There is always work to do…


photo by Patricia

My mother died almost 9 years ago. After her death the book erupted from deep within. Protecting her vision of a happy family was no longer needed. Freedom to grow and become complete occurred. It took that long. I was 56.

As the words gurgled up about what they had done it was committed to paper then strewn to the universe where it belonged. It did not belong deep down in me, or kept on that little girl’s shoulders anymore. I felt lighter.

Along with the details no child should live with, came events that brought joy. The tears falling down my cheeks each week were capsules of joy with the pain. I looked forward to mornings writing while sipping coffee, and the hours ticked by satisfyingly.

A book emerged without much planning. Each chapter fell into place as if written before writing and just waiting. Once committed to book form and available to the world a need existed for further voice. A blog, start a blog. The voice blotted for decades began to sing.

The one rule is, be honest. Be who you are, or who you know yourself to be at the time of writing. Going deep beneath the layers of who should I be, the pleaser, the sweet person, and all the other personas worn and learned over time to ride the waves without hitting a rock, dissolved. What was left?…the journey inside, no longer fearful to learn about who was there, discovering her, and speaking for her for the very first time.  

The Core

Two fears faced daily, death and that of being unlovable. Despite much evidence to the contrary, the fear of not being loved, or worthy of it, are what rattle around in my belly causing an anxiety that needs calming each morning upon arising. Usually it is not a conscious need, but there like a low growling monster needing feeding.

The monster hasn’t changed much since childhood. Drowning it with whatever would silence it only works temporarily; food, shopping, alcohol, super busyness, excess caffeine, sugar… What would it take to quiet the beast and reduce her roars to a manageable way of being?

That is the work and the goal… What do you need to love yourself? Others love you. Why can’t you feel it, why can’t you love you? The core so hidden to preserve what’s left is heavily vaulted. You can’t access it either. Go there. Be brave. Only then will you discover the treasures awaiting.



photos by Patricia

The grace of peace envelopes my being. A life of battles make this miracle sweet, battles within myself that were never won for long because another quickly took its place.

Living on the edge with a nervous system smashed by early childhood sexual abuse made life an anxiety ridden existence. There is no wish to do it again. Contemplation over the hurdles it took to find these moments of fulfillment takes me back to my mother’s death eight years ago.

It was only then that the truth came up in explicit detail, every nuance, every trauma. It was only then that instinct allowed for release of all that been hidden in order to protect her need for a view of ‘family’ that eased her conscious.

As each chapter arose it came with sorrows but also joy because locked down trauma locks down joy too. Blackness carried from the crimes of others vanished from my core.  

Finally the enormous load of feeling dirty and bad lifted. There is space to explore what really is there without clouds of filth from the hands of others. The journey continues…

The Empty Places

photo by Patricia

Feeling lost I wander the house. Out on the path the usual interest in the day is overridden by feelings hard to name. Calling to her, the only god that can be trusted, the request is, “Help me find my way?”

She is ethereal and always loving especially when the love for self is absent. She is in the friends that love me even when I don’t, and my sons and husband too. She is the warmth, joy and goodness that brings light where there is darkness and brings hope.

Just do the things that help your body and mind and groundedness will eventually return. Meditation after walking helps to bring the scattered pieces home. And answers may not come.

Perhaps the lost feeling is the yearning for the family of origin pulling deeper at Christmas time. Knowing those interactions hurt rather than help does not ease the wish that there was one.

Hold on to what you have, it so much and is enough. The other crevasse can be filled by continuing to learn about loving yourself. Only you can fill yourself in the empty places. 


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.”