BLISS

As if a light switch turned me on from depression to joy, my mornings (and outlook) suddenly contain bliss. Part of it due to spring, the other part, blessed sleep, though negative thoughts like monsters still need taming in the night as they grow exponentially after dark.

This upheaval for the better is partly due to the coming of more light filled days, but also my own ability to persevere and be more disciplined.

No more sleep medication or going out to the other room. Stay in bed till the cows come home, or the rooster crows. There will still hard nights, count on it, but this past week has been the best of all winter.

The grass is greening. Even though the trees look bland, closer inspection reveals buds making a reddish hue on some, and a slight orange to others. My boots are sucked into the mud, the spatters wetting my pants cuffs as birds sing all around carrying their melodies right to my core.

After walking rounds in the meadow, resting by the creek brings such fulfillment as the sun finally rose to warm my cheeks with a kiss.

Oh spring!

HOPE

 Waiting for spring when this funk dissipates, and the wonders of the season renew, refresh, and rejuvenate. February- looking for robins begins as they return much earlier than most notice. Even with bitter cold, fresh air and movement invigorate. Though taking a herculean effort to go out there, it is well worth it for healthy body, mind, and spirit.

Making an effort to connect with friends whose busy lives takes them out daily in the social arena assures me they are there and care much more than those who say they are ‘family.’ There in ways brothers never will be, trusted, safe, and REAL.

Now that winter has turned a corner, days become longer, sun shining down her happy glow upon my face. Hope springs up like sprays of beams from my core.

SAD- Seasonal Affective Disorder

Whether PTSD issues stemming from childhood, or just old age, my sleep abilities continue to depress me. If sleep is blessed upon me, all is well. When not, my thinking goes sour and being connected within dissipates.

“Samuel, if you’d been given a choice before birth whether to be born or not, would you?” I asked sitting by him on the couch during the evening news, the sleep medication needed the night before finally wearing off.

He considers it briefly and as his yes leaves his mouth my retort already burst out, “I wouldn’t. If it had to be just how it has been, NO WAY!”

Instead of taking the opposing side as usual, or talking me out of it, he said, “I understand for you that you would choose that. There are others that feel that way too if they think about their lives.”

“I don’t think about it, or dwell on it, I live it!” I exclaimed feeling a bit of a burn, that I am a negative Nancy which he did call me a few days ago.

That’s the rub, a medication that helps sleep but then leaves me in a funk the entire next day, not feeling like myself or in my core or body. Not wanting to. Not being able to take each moment, be in the moment or in my body- wanting instead to run, run, run… or just not be here.

Looking at others on the TV, all smiles and vibrant. How do they do it? What is their secret? That same old feeling haunting me throughout much of my life slamming back down, even after so much work to move past it… wishing to be someone else, any one of the friends who go about their lives with zest. (and good sleep) Or Samuel, who has love for himself without having to work on it every moment of every day… or at all. And such sleep! Never, or rarely a problem.

SAD has been hitting hard this winter.

MOMENTS

Winter’s oppression bears her weight down drooling with icy fangs into the flesh of my spirit. It seems impossible to pick myself up, yet each morning- a fresh start, a new day- what are you going to make of it?

Not much. With a retired life, the buzz of work, kids, and getting anywhere at a required time do not demand my energies. So? Breathe, sit and breathe, and remember the mantra of ‘you’re OK’ from one moment to the next.

Because a fear filled life due to PTSD unresolved since such a young age causes a fright reaction to every little noise startling my being into an adrenaline overload. Decades of that tires and burns out all bodily systems.

So…? Who is criticizing you if you ease your spirit (and anxiety) by completing a puzzle in day? Only me. Resting, and/or sending compassionate messages to self while moving slowly to stay present and in the moment are worthy of doing.

Anxiety ruling much of my life caused me to buzz past the present moment, rushing to be done. But now, with reminders to self, peeling apples for the overnight crockpot of steel cut oats becomes restful not rushed. The sound of the knife splicing through, the cool fresh apple in my hand with its light aroma from the juice…

Each task slows so that my being stays in my body. All that occurs in that moment is better absorbed when attention is paid to it. And when that occurs, one can’t mourn the past or worry about the future, and that is living fully with grace and gratitude.

NEW YEAR

A tiny change of habit upsets my status quo. Staying up cutting apples for overnight steel cut oatmeal in the crock-pot was not the best choice. Even twenty minutes less of quiet time in the bedroom before turning off the lights interferes with the delicate balance of an overwrought system. Using the newly formed night guard that was overly chunky and didn’t fit well added to the sleep challenges.

Up till the Times Square ball dropped with a heavy heart full of depressing thoughts about that and everything else. Why must thoughts that are handled alright in the daytime turn into dooming disasters at night?

The ball drops, the crowd having to have proved vaccinations, and having to wear a mask through the check point… but many aren’t wearing them. Social distancing? None.

This gloomy reminder of stupid people didn’t help my outlook. We are asked to double up mask wearing and move towards N95 masks covered by cloth. Is that for the stupid selfish people wanting their rights to not get vaccinated or wear masks? Then killing others with their contaminated breath before dying themselves wishing they’d been vaccinated?

But my will to live is as ferocious as anyone’s despite my despair of all this combined with what kind of earth we are leaving our grandchildren and their children. That our poor depleted earth will no longer be habitable because no way do I believe the people in it will make the drastic changes needed right now to save it.

Look for the Sun

Sometimes my body does better without hyping up the bloodstream by exercising as if that replicates the hypervigilance always occurring; the feeling of imminent danger at every moment even though my life is as peaceful as it’s going to get.

Some damage won’t be repaired. It would make sense that on nights after an active day, even one when laps were doubled while trying to find my peace after insides became embroiled with memories, that sleep would come deep and long.

Not so, especially in winter months when shorter days that are mostly cloudy keep my spirit just as dimmed and excessively full of worries and negativity.

Winter is tougher no matter what. Keeping my head above water with as much joy and happiness that can be is a good job to have. So, look for the sun, and there you will find warmth and peace…

PRESENTS

And so, the holiday season officially sets in. Snow falls prettily icing the branches like royal frosting, as kitty curls up beside me at the fire. My thoughts jumble negatively much more so than in summer days when light fills me with more feelings of worth and joy.

But joy is to be had if looking and working towards it. When the adult takes the reins to protect the willful, hurt, always hurt child. There is an adult in me that can guide with wisdom, but the child no one saw, protected, or helped is so in need and I must be there for her.

When the cat jumps on my lap don’t dissociate, pet her, feel the purr way down deep inside. So often my erratic brain takes me elsewhere and simple pleasure are not taken in fully. It takes presence.

FOOD or FEELINGS?

So eerily quiet this morning even the birds aren’t talking and a queasy feeling surfs my stomach. Crickets hardly peep, not a sound, barely a movement of leaves at first until a soft breeze moves in. Perhaps the animals instinctively feel what the news last night warned of, the possibility of tornadoes.

At least the day was not faced with dread. The full spectrum lights, a return to a diligent mediation practice, the push off the couch to walk, and a drastic reduction in marijuana oil for sleep issues are all helping.

In order to treat myself with respect, which mean not gagging down feelings with food, my doctors have gotten a mouthful out of me after not speaking a peep for years. My primary responded by finally paying attention to me and my needs.

We discussed my use of pot oil and for the first time heard from her that just a few drops are needed. My dose kept going up and up thinking that helped, but it backfired causing more sleep issues, and an exorbitant increase in anxiety rather than decreasing it.

The cardio Doc has yet to respond to my personal letter to him after his nurse wouldn’t answer a simple medical question because my choice was to cancel an appointment due to the pandemic. ‘You haven’t been here, make an appointment,’ her note coldly read in the on-line chart after my question was posed.

Really? I have to come in and spend 50 bucks to know whether to continue taking a baby aspirin each day? Reports are saying there’s a bleeding risk as we age.

After going there for many years you can’t answer a benign generic question? The only reason for several decades of cardio appointments was not due to need or directed by my primary care doctor. It was out of fear that I’d fall dead just like my father who lay there at my feet at age 8.

Oh, the years of unneeded EKG’s, STRESS TESTS, EHCHO’s and yearly visits out of terror I might succumb to what my father fell victim to. And doctors, even the best ones, will gladly do it to keep their revenue going. This one too because he did say in my father’s case it had more to do with his smoking.

Yet he continued to oblige my need to ease my mind each year. That could be looked at as a positive then, but no longer, the pandemic making me reassess just how many appointments are needed each year. Unless a heart event actually occurs, NOT HIM! To hold back medical advice is cause to go elsewhere if a heart event ever occurs. Unconscionable. I’m sure they have their own spin on it, but so do I.

In me lies the need to finally advocate for my needs though with many stops and pitfalls along the way because my training was to stay disturbingly quiet about my needs. Traumas, too many to count, were forced to stay within me causing my skinny kid frame to burgeon dramatically into an obese one shortly after the first sexual attack by a loved one, also at age 8.

To keep family secrets throughout my life took a LOT of food. I want a healthy life. That means NO MORE SECRETS. That means speaking up for my needs even if different from your expectations or beliefs, and doing so even when terrified of the outcome. Who is this new me? Or maybe it’s discovering the me always there waiting for one special person to be on my side… me.

Fall Reverie

PHOTO BY PATRICIA

Shadows appear longer, with mornings dark, cool and wet with dew. The usual fall into fall with a lower mood seems less severe probably circumvented by the incorporation of exercise and a long path to healing which has taken decades– yet continues. The meadow dances with yellow mustard dotted at the edges with sunflowers opening happy faces as if nodding when walking by.

Pumpkins gathered in Samuel’s patch decorate the house and some are fun to paint. Others await painting by grand-children at the next birthday party in October when my son reaches the ripe old age of 40.

How did that happen, as the memory of him in a little powder blue sun-suit carrying his sand pail out to the sandbox is still so vivid? Memories of over 50 years ago are also in sharp focus, my first apartment in college, cooking hamburger helper in the evening, but also the feelings of loneliness that never quite left since childhood.

And that slowly melts once getting to know and make friends with myself. The loneliness of childhood sexual abuse is unlike any other, sharper, emptier, so painful one runs from it until learning to stop, be still, and let it up with all the gunk that my origin family would not hear and barely acknowledged.

Healing is a life’s work…