EACH MOMENT

It couldn’t be true that fear lay in my belly. Cocooned in our little home, my belief is I’m above becoming terrified of an arriving virus. Yet why suddenly had eating without hunger become all consuming? There is usually a reason, especially after all was going so well.

The robotic state of constant numbness from overeating returns instantly when fear seeps in. You’re making excuses, the harsh voice whips. Am I? Could it be terror? Yes, terror. Never far away especially when feelings of victim-hood, helplessness, or powerlessness visit.

Eating it away doesn’t make it go away, only boxes it in wrapped with self-hate. I can do without the hate. Only with compassion can the terror be unearthed, real terror that feels shameful as if it is something to hide.

But on the news the influx of others seeking therapeutic assistance has increased greatly, even if virtually on-line for safety reasons. Those with anxiety or depression issues are hit especially hard. Duh.

It is with compassion that acceptance of real feelings and my whole self occurs. That’s missing when the eating machine emerges. Food was, and is, the bank vault locking in terror tightly so that daytime life can go on. Not good sustenance at all, just a habit since age 8, a survival tool that hinders my health and well-being.

As a child that was what mother insisted. Go on as if nothing happened Love your brothers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, monsters who look human. Nighttime terror locked in daily with food, the one thing she gave freely.

Identifying the terror is the first step. Then do all that you can to protect yourself, especially while out in public which is very little except picking up groceries and other items. Even that is being curbed as much as possible. My friends continue church services, and attendance in chorale and other groups. Which is why I am not going to attend our upcoming monthly gathering, or the next month’s.

As one not involved in group things, seeing them exposes me to their perspective groups of people. Each of their families, kids, and grand-kids, and all the separate churches because each belongs to a different church. So our little gathering of 5 exposes me to a much greater population.

At the risk of anyone saying I’m overdoing it, feeling safe needs focus and respect. I’m worthy of listening to my own rationale as an intelligent person, not going along with others because they know best, or because getting together doesn’t worry them.

It worries me. They don’t know what’s best for me, only I do. The hammerings of  negatives in my head are not coming from others, only me. Just say no, and know you are doing the right thing. 

Do what can be done to protect myself. Accept that terror is there which helps lessen it. Come back into myself, into each moment, feeling the new thick carpet under my bare feet in the bedroom. The sparkle from hanging gems sending prisms dancing on the wall as the sun sets, an orange orb that dazzles my eyes with brilliance

Come back to this precious moment. Each one comes never to come again. Be here now.  

BLOOM

photo by Patricia

Waking, the same dead dragging feelings wake too always present in my core needing work to banish and confront. Sipping coffee rocking by the fire, watching the cat pretend hunt on the porch through the sliding glass doors, the question presents itself— why?

Why always awaking with pessimism framed with rocks of depression? Why goes back to Chet, not the first attacker, but one who held me captive long after the attacks stopped. Captive in badness. Knowing it wasn’t my fault wasn’t known then.

Like weeds overtaking gardens with deeper, tenacious, stronger roots than flowers, thoughts and beliefs that developed in childhood grew thick and heavy, solidly intertwined, and muscled. Hack away at it, they grow back while sleeping waking as if all that happened was yesterday.

The feelings, the heaviness of blackness believing myself bad, abnormal, abhorrent really, not fit to be born, surely not fit to live, craving relief from the pain even if it meant thoughts of death for decades to come.

Why? Isn’t laughter, light and joy part of being alive too? Can’t these feelings dance? Why must the feelings upon waking be so forlorn? What else is there? As the delicious black brew is enjoyed, more of what’s hidden wakes too.

Wind blows through the tree limbs with a song as geese fly overhead, nature melodies comforting. Spring, a time to dance, play and laugh, as in any season if one tries, but spring is especially exciting. 

 

Younger Brother

One week later, a call to my brother as promised, but this time earlier in the day. Surprisingly he pulled over while driving in order to talk to me. In the past calls became unheard of, chatting non-existent, time on the phone or on-line? Nix. 

Exposing myself to his pain is so difficult. Falling asleep took two hours longer even though our conversation was way before bedtime. Coincidence? Not wanting a sleep aid, nor wanting to get up to watch the TV, my inner voice commanded gently, stay.

And sleep did come after my rat brain took a twirl into the past, merging with the present; thoughts painful, memories sad. His son, my nephew, put himself into the psych hospital for a 72 hour commitment.

That is the most he will do for himself. My sister-in-law flew out to release him sooner, give him another credit card because he lost the one they gave him, and will fly back after he is walking the streets where he lives again… until the next episode. The streets are his home, all news to me after my brother shared it just last week .

My brother did not talk about his daughter either, not knowing about her serious drug problem until the day she died 7 years ago. Too late to do anything, to listen at least, to do something to have possibly saved her not that I could have. She was thirty years old, he is 35.

My head whirls into the past when Danny was so spaced out near the end when his last attempt at suicide succeeded. If the person afflicted will take no help is there hope?

Medication, counseling, and a case manager to oversee his mental state week to week once stabilized is crucial. All these necessary interventions won’t occur if he won’t cooperate.

And he won’t, or just enough to keep himself barely going. They bought him a new phone after losing one, and track what he’s doing by the credit card. What else can they do?

Sleep took two hours to come . Checking in with my younger brother is a choice I cannot abandon even if painful and worrisome. 

FALL

Though feeling greatly improved by day two, it takes the body longer to fully heal after an intestinal bout. Walking one day was work without pleasure. Just do it because joints need oiling, and other systems like fresh oxygenated blood.

But yesterday, the sky azure like a robin’s egg, sun warming my shoulders, walking brought so much pleasure laps were doubled from 5 to ten, each one savored. Some days are like that, you just have to be out in them.

The yellow meadow has dried to softer hues, less interesting. But more hickory nuts crunch under my shoes as squirrels are busy eating and storing. It brings a chuckle in the winter to see them dive into snow looking for their treasures.

The quiet mornings with the loss of migrating songbirds brings a loneliness for what’s passed. My friend who died several years ago is missed more sharply, and my mother which was ten years ago.

Wistful for what was, enough time has passed that neither loss is still fresh with pain. Just a slight ache to once again interact with the rare few whose presence brought comfort and joy.

The beauty of fall seems to come with that longing, of things dying wishing they wouldn’t, wanting to hold on, learning to let go, and accepting what is.

 

Love of Self

“Spend,” she said. Imagine having a financial adviser after our careful life of spending, and one who says SPEND!

“You have too much cash on hand.” she added, “Statistics say one of you will live to ninety.”

“I’m not connecting the dots.” I said, “If we live that long then we need all the money we can save.”

Legally she is not supposed to let on what we already know. Existing cash can be siphoned into a nursing home if one of us had to go there. So she and our attorney suggested spending some of it, doing things, or giving some to our sons.

Don’t wait and let the state take it, was the inference raised. This goes totally against our life-time of being exceedingly careful about expenditures. I doubt their advice will change our ways.

How did this happen? Spend? Please, I feel guilty adding to my DVD collection, or buying specialty coffee. I reuse plastic baggies until they don’t hold water, and some of them last years.

When Shane was a baby, cloth diapers were hung around the wood stove to dry. Our house had no walls, no real floor, no good water, septic, electric, or a sound roof which needed a complete tear-down. And none of that mattered. I was just glad to out of my mother’s basement, and extraordinarily excited to own our first home, even if it was more like a shell of one.

Most items, from kitchen supplies, to clothes, to toys, were bought at garage sales, even Christmas presents when Shane and Cory were too young to know the difference. And that’s OK. We were, and are, happy.

Our sons know the value of a dollar and how to spend wisely, and do not allow manufacturer’s to take advantage of them. They speak up about poor quality, asking for the manager when necessary.

What is needed, and craved for, can’t be bought— living in the moment without fear. Not fearing death, the future, or now. What I want doesn’t grow on trees like money does, so the old adage says. It isn’t found in stores. It exists in the fields of nature, the mountains of the Adirondacks, in the glens nearby where we camp, in our back yard, and mostly inside myself.

Calm, peace, acceptance, and triumphing over the battle always lost in decades prior, that of loving myself. The childhood attacks inflicted upon me meant a life of self-loathing. But that is changing, if ever so slowly it is.

There lies inside a generous, loving soul with great courage, fortitude and strength. I am learning to love what is found beneath the filth of my brother’s hands, coming up out of 60 years of shame that is not mine and never was.

 

Permanent PTSD

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/

When understanding what is happening, more gentleness and compassion can be bestowed upon what first feels like my weaknesses. Preparing for the trip to the cottage tomorrow to meet with my son and two year old grand-daughter had gotten me in a flurry. A 4 AM waking meant staying awake with a head full of a ‘to do’ list.

But the night after, even with being so tired, sleep did not come. Coming out to the couch I said to Samuel, who always stays up later, “I’m wide awake. But it makes no sense, I know I’m tired.”

He nods, then goes off to bed. Samuel is not much of a talker.

Feeling sorry for myself for having to take a sleep aid, adding to the ‘I hate myself list’ comes eating. The bag of pretzels found its way onto my lap, not usually a snack that’s around just for that reason, my tendency to numb out with non-nutritious snack food. Who overeats on baby carrots?

Self-hatred completely full as the Xanax took effect, sleep came solid for 7 hours. The day of reckoning came upon waking. There are many days like that. Feelings of disgust; with myself, with life, with me being haunted with being me. Why do I have to be me?

Why can’t I be like everyone else around me? Picking themselves up and going wherever they please, all over the world. Even a trip to a lake gets me in a frenzy. It was more than that though.

It took all day to figure it out and begin to be gentle with myself; accepting that I can’t snap a finger and be someone else. I can’t snap a finger and be a different girl than the one born to a family who would abuse me over and over again, then spend the rest of their lives, and my life, never talking about it, never validating the traumas sustained, never apologizing. .

The bird. It was the bird again. Abashed to admit it, the bird traumatized me once again. The first nest was in the pine tree by the house. Bad enough. But this was right on top of us. Samuel wanted to hose it out of wisteria when she began to build but I wouldn’t allow it.

If only I had. It was at the back door over the patio where sitting every morning in my sanctuary brings peace, joy, and a contentment of well-being not felt for most of my life.

When sipping coffee, the sun rises while hummingbirds zip by my face towards the feeder close-by. Chipmunks scoot by near my feet playfully making me laugh aloud with their antics. The flowers open still dewy, as the warmth of the first rays massage my legs and feet with their heat. A train often echoes in the distance magnified by the cool, moist air.

Gone. Taken. Unsafe. 

She built her nest peaceably enough. It wasn’t until the eggs hatched that the terrorizing began, ramping up the very last week before they left it. I stayed housebound only using the screened porch. 

My safety was stolen, my haven, my paradise. It is embarrassing to admit it was a bird. Samuel added to my chagrin, and self-contempt by saying, “It’s just a bird. It really can’t hurt you, but it is annoying. Next time I’m going to shoot it.”

At this point killing it sounded good to me too, perhaps even drowning the chicks so that the killer birds would back off. Maybe they could die too. My love of mockingbirds has shifted dramatically.

But Samuel’s usual lack of depth about my body’s reaction, and my inability to have any control over my hyper-arousal, made the pain feel heavier and deeper. No validation does that. 

Once again he doesn’t get it. And I believed him, feeling ashamed at my overreaction even as I try to explain how my broken system works. Even while I think of children in war-torn countries where their everyday life really is threatened without relief. That doesn’t seem to lesson my own body’s reactions, or my feelings of futility about the on-going challenges. 

Once the siren goes off, that’s it, my system’s on alert and stayed that way the entire day, though I was unaware of it. Like two people inhabit my body, a calm one, and one who is frightened for her life all the time. That system is inaccessible. 

Refusing to be a prisoner in my own home, I dared walk to the garden. That set it off. Juggling an armload of squash with a water bottle to squirt my attacker, the attacker won. He chased me to the door, swooping down at my head as I fumbled with the door knob, frightening the hell out of me.

This had happened another day at the back door after a walk in the meadow, staying away from the house on each lap so that the ‘killer bird’ would not get agitated. My escape inside was so frantic my shoe got caught in the door. He was right at me all the way to the door. I had to duck out quickly for an instant in order to retrieve the shoe, afraid to be poked in the head or face with it’s sharp beak. 

My heart was pumping, adrenaline shooting through my veins. Even by nighttime my system couldn’t calm down. It was out of my hands, even though Samuel blamed me, and I agreed as my ever-ready harsh critic battered me black and blue. But by nightfall understanding came, and it all made sense.

Not that I want to accept it. The permanent effects of the early abuse has to be accepted over, and over again. I so want to be like others, but in that intense yearning do not accept myself, taking me farther away from myself, making the chasm wider, colder and so much lonelier. 

It wasn’t my doing. My poor body has done this since childhood, a place where terror reined, especially in my own bed, and what usually is a safe place for a child… her own bedroom. 

Things go along peaceably. Then they don’t. We leave tomorrow, and all is ready. Today can be peaceful. The baby birds have left the nest. Last night’s walk to the meadow was without incident. Feelings of safety are being tested, but it will take a while before full security returns. (and my love of birds) 

To not feel safe at home was a big thing, even if caused by a little one pound pecker. 

 

SHE RISES

And then stillness. The waves subside and calm prevails. But for how long? Is it my mind observing how peaceful things have been stirring it up causing havoc just for variety? Or is it years of suppressing trauma, unprocessed at the time of the events due to the type of trauma; childhood sexual abuse.

Because no family will , (rarely) take that child and hold her in their arms lovingly. Or give her the medical and psychological intervention necessary to heal and have a life. Want a life.

How many times has the wish come for it all to be over? How many more times will I wish it? 

A child sexually abused is cast out. Not out in the middle of the road, naked, alone and cold. But inside, naked alone and cold…still with the monsters, and now the collusive family who wants her kept quiet.

There she shivers, from cold. From terror. From aloneness.

From there she must grow. Her body does even if she wishes not to. She must traverse all the steps of life that others climb, but her journey is always naked, alone and cold. No one to help, because she was trained not to ask, not to talk.

She is mute. Alone. Naked but no one sees. Reactive to every stimulus, because PTSD does that, makes every nerve on edge for what’s to come.

There are too many challenges making one wish not to be here. For it all to be over.

But she is a warrior. Each one a warrior, the ones that don’t make it too. No one knows this, not even her. But someday she does. One day she rises yet again, knocked down over and over, she rises, tries again, and begins to see, feel, and know that inside her resides courage, beauty, and strength.

She blooms into a powerful woman, a beautiful soul that shines from within radiating outward onto a aged face that sparkles with peace, knowledge, and depth.