PEACE

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In that place that is not now, distracted from the present, and not knowing why, tears fall. Then fall more.

Sometimes an instinctual urge has no name or explanation. Get out. Walk. Doing will help you feel productive, not paralyzed as this new wave of unspoken needs and change take hold.  

Eventually the mind will meet the emotions and the unnamed feelings will make sense; or they won’t. Until then ride the waves and do the work needed to maintain health in all realms; emotional, mental, spiritual and physical. 

Walk, confront the negative voices, bring that dissociated mind back to what is around you now. A scent lifts me, the aroma of lilacs or lily of the valley. The cat splays out on the floor in the sun stretching her expansive furry body able to look adorable even in her sickness. Life goes on…

The feelings move through. Another day arrives, each one a new flavor. 

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FEELINGS

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photos by patricia

Tears fell on the puzzle as my head bowed. Samuel said, “Go outside and enjoy the day!”

The tears stop. Thinking of a reply to help him understand seems futile, and instead I fervently wish for him to go so that I can have my feelings and release them. So much sadness is yet to come up, sadness’s I learned to squelch. New sadness’s need airing. Feeling feelings is a good thing Samuel.

Upon return from the vet’s I learned Molly has lost a good deal of weight. The tumor behind the eye may have progressed to the lung, or she may have hyperthyroidism. Whichever it is, she is twelve and not feeling well.

My buddy. I have not had a cat I was this close to before and I’ve had lots of cats since childhood, relating to them more closely than any other living being. Molly is more like a puppy-cat following me everywhere. And lately more so. The thought of losing her hurts.

Other sadness’s crop up especially walking the meadow. The first lap brings tears, almost sobs. I look around assuaging my fears that anyone can hear. Both neighbors are working, have your cry.

Now that Chet is dead it seems I think more about what he had done, how much damage. While alive the most I thought about him was what a pathetic life he had; I felt sorry for him and not much more. The tears come for the little girl who feels like someone else…not me.

By lap three my excitement for spring, the green grass and bursting flowers takes over and I go in for my camera. Laying in the dewy grass I snap shot after shot. It feels good to allow tears and sadness, to allow it with no one around to tell me different. It feels good and I feel good, more whole.

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PEACE

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Waking, remembering the work of easing anxiety, my breathing slows evenly and deeper. It is almost 5 am, time to rise. My work is calming anxiety that comes each spring. The wiry brain which had plummeted to a lower mood over winter, now sprints into more daylight and an awakening. Anxiety is also an issue dealt with throughout the year as my equilibrium is easily upset.

Spring tends to bring noise in the brain and eccentric behavior, inviting situations that greatly increase the anxiety beast, not tame it. This year the journey is different because I’m feeling more aware of the dilemma, and more aware that this body and mind is not like those around me. I need special care, care I do not know how to provide or feel worthy of.

That feeling is more that a feeling. It is part of my personality that’s staying, formed deep in my core during childhood due to my brothers’ ongoing abuses, other brothers looking away, and my mother’s collusion in the conspiracy of silence; we are a happy, normal family, you will love your brothers, as they continued to creep in my room and attack me.

I don’t like the fact that at my core is a feeling that I am bad, and unworthy, or that whatever is happening is my fault. I run from this fact of what I believe, embedded permanently like a crack in rock. In accepting this flaw, and accepting where it came from, compassion, self-love and a more lenient judge takes the helm. 

I try so hard to function at the fast speed others seem to function at so easily. Then fail, compounding issues of poor self-esteem. My tired body and mind can’t do it. This whirlwind called life has always moved too fast for me. 

There is no one else to provide proper care for myself but myself, as it is for each of us. We can lean on others, help others, but we are each responsible for handling the inner workings of ourselves. And for those like me with chronic, pervasive, and permanent Complex PTSD, it is a daily endeavor that often leads to despair.

What comes as second nature to others and is taken for granted, is elusive for those who have suffered traumas that extended over time. I have to work at it, sometimes every minute of every day, and even then without success. Hence the despair.  

Breathe deep. Keep breathing. The tight chest, is it medical or emotional? Later as the conscious deeper breathing continues, the tightness abates. Anxiety can harm all facets of the body, mind and spirit. And it can cause one to seek out more without being conscious of the urge, adding to the internal chaos.

Be quiet, be still. Bored? That’s not boring, that is called peace…
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GROUNDING

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Each morning I awake and try hard to calm the anxiety. No, I don’t want to get up at 4:30 so lay in bed half sleeping till after 6. Sometimes I just have to get up, but I was still so tired from the egg dying get together yesterday I lay quietly. 

A few times these past weeks I’ve had to take Xanax in the AM, a very unusual occurrence for me unless I have a medical appointment. Just a half and it helps. But more times I use meditation to get below the buzz. Most of it is irrational like believing my breathing was a problem, but it was only congestion in the back of my throat.

I ponder why this spring I’m affected with fear and anxiety when other years it just felt like big highs then some lows till leveling out by May. I think it is because for the most part I’m not using food to quell it. That’s hard.

I need other ways. Going below it works, by staying with it, in it, and working to go beneath into other rooms. Deciding not to allow fear to run my day helps. Deeper breathing helps. This too shall pass, helps.

Take things easy, try not to get excited over flights of thoughts. Samuel helps to ground me. Try to remember just what base you have. I think of Chet and the damage. I think of him more now that I ever did while he was alive. And Mom sitting across from me telling me if it ever happens again to tell her.

I took it as blame, as if I had some control of it. She could have saved a life-time of feeling ‘bad’ and crippling self- blame had she handled it with love; holding me, telling me she was sorry, stroking my head. But I sat across from her, tears of shame burning my cheeks as they fell.

And it did keep happening, Chet kept attacking. It took the bugs on my body and that terror making me go to her. It stopped only then because she finally hired a babysitter instead of expecting me to keep him off me.

So much damage. But think of it. Think of who I am really am. To have that much zip to keep going, trying and living. There is a strong base in me. Go there. That is where I can be held, and loved, and calmed.

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WORRYING

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photo by patricia

March madness indeed. A beautiful sunshiny spring day called as the sun burned off the thick fog. While meditating my breath didn’t feel like enough air came through and the emergency system kicked in. Is this the day to die? What a nutter the other part of the brain mocked. The heart began beating in fear as the adrenaline kicked in. 

Going out to the new deck Samuel is building I cry, “I can’t breathe through my nose. Am I having a heart attack?” 

“I can’t either,” he stated, “We probably caught a low grade virus from the grand-kids. I’ve been sniffling for two or three weeks. You’re OK.” 

I needed that reassurance and calmed down yet later in the day felt the same violent fear as if superseding all else, mainly common sense. After a few years with scary visits to the hospital my body and psyche are experiencing a delayed response.

Though calm through most of it at the time, now that things are healing my delayed emotional responses are kicking in. Every little thing sets me off compounded by my relentless harassing of myself over my own silliness.

What about kindness? At age 8 the lesson learned was that I was on my own and not worthy of it. No one came to my aid to soothe or protect me from relentless marauding brothers.

The message learned? Unworthy, less than others, sub-human or not even human. Self-hate became embedded into my personality. It is daily adventure to explore kindness. Some days are more successful than others.

When I remember the ongoing work of granting permission for loving kindness towards myself, warmth seeps in like a soothing soft blanket, hot bath, or cup of cocoa; even moments of mother’s love, like a cool hand on a fevered forehead, rare as those times were.  

It is like a door opening wide to the sunshine. Softness melts my icy interior, tenderness replacing cold harshness. Of course you tend to become anxious easily. It is part of the ptsd. Not your fault. Remember?

Trained to keep horrors to myself meant I was the horror. It filled and consumed me having no escape or place to go. A child takes it all in blaming herself. Others encourage it to help keep the family shame quiet.. forever.

Even last spring now in my 60’s, brother Seth said after learning I wrote a book about my life, “Why would you publicize the family’s dysfunction?”

It was all about him. That interaction came only after months of no answers to my emails, rejecting me with his silence until I confronted him.  My need to belong puts self-respect on trial. 

Ousted at age 8, I am ousted again. Who is this brother I thought I loved? The panic of being ejected once again from the ‘family’ sent me to the ER with an overnight stay to rule-out a heart problem. Anxiety took hold and I couldn’t calm ‘her’ down.

Unable to be in my body easily or comfortably makes it difficult to discern true medical issues from those of the heart. The heart can be affected in many ways. 

His response last spring is the same response from the so called ‘family’ at age 8. Be quiet, hence be nothing. It is as if I await their permission for self compassion, waiting for one word of acknowledgment that never comes.

Where were you Seth after I told you Danny fucked me as a little girl? Did you stay around to keep me safe? Did you do anything? Did Don stay around to protect me from abuse after he came running into the bathroom due to my screaming because “it stung down there,” after the rape?

No one intervened in any way. My pain became compounded embedding into my psyche permanently with chronic PTSD because of the enforced rule; be silent or be abandoned. 

Caught up in this concept of unworthiness that the family encouraged in order to keep their secrets safe is a hard concept to erode then rebuild. 

Leaning to open the doors to my soul with kindness, acceptance, and love is a continuous journey towards peace, warmth and freedom… It is long and hard won, re-claiming my right to be here. 

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A NEW DAY

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So many emotions swirl during the holidays, reminiscing, thinking of those gone, those here that I’ve lost closeness with, those here that relationships have improved greatly…so much to be thankful for.

Yet it is easy to allow nostalgia to take me down… if I let it. It’s a choice. I found myself feeling down seeing how Samuel’s brothers called him and they chatted happily. And two of Samuel’s friends dropped by.

I said out loud to Samuel, “No one called me!” already regretting it as it made it feel more real.

He responded, “Well, you did what made you feel right about things. The ball is in their court,” referring to cards I sent.

“Yes, the ball stays there,” adding, “Not one of my brothers wished me Merry Christmas.”

But did I really want to go there? On Christmas day the old clock in the living room began tolling. It hasn’t in years. And it has rung ever since. I feel like Scrooge waking on Christmas day renewed. I can choose.

Of course I want family. I want at least to have it be alright and amiable even if not close. I feel that has been achieved. Being part of a Clan goes back to Cavemen days. To survive you have to be in a group. Those needs don’t seem to change but one can be a part of a group of their choosing to support and be supported by.

No amount of wishing will go back and give to each of eight children the love, care and attention desperately needed. Not one had it easy and it makes me sad. It wasn’t my doing, it just was. I can choose to live for now knowing now is limited and to make each day the best I can. And not so much about what you failed to give me but what might I offer you.

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CHRISTMAS

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I don’t celebrate Christmas from a religious sense but for Santa, decorations, gifts and the feeling of cheer and good will that it brings. It illuminates the time of year that tends to be dark, dreary and dull. I am more like the ancient peoples who celebrated the solstices.

The gifts are bought and wrapped, the lights are up, but winter’s short days make me drag feeling tired, blue and slow. Yet I am happy. I am at peace most of the time which is ‘happy’ to me. It is how winters go  because shorter days lower my mood dramatically.

I miss Mom and my friend Sue. Loved ones gone seem especially missed during this time of year. But I also realize how precious now is. Samuel and I have quietness and time together. Our health is stable. I have much to be grateful for.

I have concentrated on making family interactions with my sons and daughters-in-law the best they can be and with progress. That is uppermost in my goals to achieve and maintain. I also concentrate on being the best Nana I can be. That takes concentrating on being present…as simple as that. They notice that I notice and it always beings smiles—smiles of feeling loved, noticed and cared for.

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