RECOVERY DAY

Bent over my work with movies playing in the background, my body found calm, but it took all day. During meditation it almost became a nap. The walk was put off for another day, though the ever present bully was saying, GO WALK, GO WALK, GO WALK throughout the entire day.

A softer, wiser voice was saying, stay. Stay, let your body rest.

One hundred and fifty photos of garden flowers and meadow surprises were glued onto stationary, some for my uses, others made into packets, wrapped with clear cellophane, and ribboned for gifts.

The work was satisfying, both for my bully and my wise self. It took a day to recover from the day prior where others came so close to my body I could smell their breath. When the great need to advocate for myself, a task so hard it has taken a life-time to succeed at, was faced and conquered.

When something so big, so fearful, so needed growing more dire as the months passed, was taken on and decided. These things take my body to the stratosphere without my permission.

It just happens and is out of my control. More tests next Wednesday, more close-ups of my eyes, making the decision not to go to Cory’s the next day all the more a much healthier route, but also deeply saddens me.

I cannot do what I want. I cannot do what others do. The truth is, that I can, but the cost to my body and psyche is too much right now. Conquering this needed operation is a great feat, one that has been pondered the last few years with enormous trepidation, terror really.

And then there is fall. The fall into sadness, despair, and depression. It is already happening. Each day pick up the beast of despair. Brush her off, make her ready for the day. Make the best of it. Do your best. See the beauty.

The job gets harder, as the days grow shorter.

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Long Term Effects of Unprocessed PTSD

10 pm, sleep should have taken me. But inside things were rolling and the knowledge that it wouldn’t come was irrevocable. By 2 AM, after a double sleep dose, my body was out till 9 AM. But with waking came tears and lots of them. Why oh why? (do I have to be me)

Samuel had to hear it all, and for once acted kindly. To a point.

“I can’t manage going to Cory’s with eye thing coming up,” I cried.

“You can do it,” he said referring to the 6 hour drive to Cory’s, adding, “I’ll go.”

“Go ahead”, I blurted, thinking that idea sounded lovely but also knowing he was full of shit.

Adding again, “No I can’t. Not with the eye surgeries ahead in the coming weeks. You don’t know how much courage it takes just to go to the appointment this week to meet him,” I retorted.

Then actually doing it. Tears began pouring out that have been held in day after day when thinking about someone cutting on my eye, and all the other strangers getting near my body.

“You can do it. Sleep in the back seat,” he said in a droning monotone.

“You’re being callous,” I said, “You don’t know me.”

“You can do it,” he repeated.

“You don’t know me,” my sadness and frustration at being me, and being with someone who will never understand my challenges, took me further into feelings of despair.

The phone rang. Relief from my fall into self-pity.

It seems to be occurring that once a week medication is required to keep my being calm. My thoughts, or just everyday living, rattles my already over-worked and over-tired systems to a point where help is needed.

Perhaps someday I will accept this without blaming myself. Exercise, eat right, meditate, all of that isn’t enough to cure a body that lived with the ravages of imprisoned trauma trapped in her being. All what I try to do is helpful, but the damage done from the early years is real, and permanent. Management not cure is the reality.

The only cure would be for it all to have never happened.

 

Home Sweet Home

Cory’s photos

“Would you rather come home instead of meeting at the lake house?” I asked Cory.

“Oh no, we have to have a lake,” Cory said.

And that was that. My cloak was to make it sound as if it might be a better choice for him. But I fear the real ploy was because I don’t do well in traffic or staying elsewhere.

But we made the best of it, enjoying our two year grand-daughter and son for three nights, four days. Long kayak rides, long talks, and constant playtime made it all worthwhile. During the visit his wife was at home directing the movers into their new home. Oh young people. My younger years were more energetic and adventurous too.

Now? Home is where my soul rests free. Home is where the adventures take place into my own self, connected to the world yet safely ensconced where all things are familiar. 

The call of certain birds living here, not there, so comforting. An early morning walk in the meadow with dewy grape leaves sparkled with jewels at every tip. Mist rising over the creek as the sun’s warmth begins to lift them away. 

A body jarred throughout life with adrenaline rushing through the veins becomes depleted. Taking care of my needs looks different from others. My illness isn’t seen except in the tears making rivers down my face expressing the stress of living.

Yet Cory’s challenges with the move, coming home to boxes up to his ears, and their commute today, three times as long as before, outweigh my challenges ten to one. Or so it seems.

In another place my body shuts down, all of it to some degree, the five senses, even internal organs. Nothing works as it is meant to because the warning bells have clanged. When danger is sensed all energy goes into survival.

My medication should be used more not less. But I laid awake hoping for sleep. When it doesn’t (of course) then I take it, waiting another hour in the dead silent darkness till sleep comes.

When away from home, why not take it an hour before sleep like I did in the forest when camping? Because my denial system keeps hoping for something that will never come, to become a person other than myself. One that hasn’t been traumatized, then living with it unprocessed. That has fractured my being in many unseen ways

The need now is constant loving care. I’m working on that, both the care and the love. Throw acceptance in the mix too.  

When apologizing for asking about how to meet my needs when we visit his new home in a month, Cory says offhandedly, “Any illness needs care and planning, just as much as someone in a wheelchair.” 

My son possesses unusual depth. Though I’m not one to use labels, sometimes it is just easier; PTSD, Anxiety NOS, Depression. The depression isn’t debilitating at the moment. There have been bouts that needed a support person, and may need one again in the future. But for now I limp along doing OK on my own. 

Accepting what is… Many tears come from not wanting it to be so. But Cory understood. And Samuel, as much as he is capable.

Home. Home Sweet Home. In spite of the challenges, I wouldn’t trade a moment of the very special, sweet memories. One of the best parts of going away is coming home.

 

Kindness to Self

After trying to help a friend who struggles with very similar self-esteem issues rising from the sexual attacks by beloved family members in childhood, after emailing the supportive letter, I wondered at my own words later. Each and every day I must fight the phantoms of my own beginnings, and the cruelness of psychological patterns that are incurred due to the traumas suffered. 

Expressing anger? Nope. A natural defense coming out of a nurturing childhood. Not mine.  Blaming oneself for any and every negative occurrence, even those that have nothing to do with me? Yes, yes, yes. Raymond, a psychiatrist once seen regularly, called it ‘personalization.’  At least there’s a name for it. 

These conditioning’s were learned early. A child must blame themselves. If we didn’t where we would be? With no family, and a child needs their family no matter who there are or what they’ve done. As once stated in a book read early in my confrontation of the true facts of my family and childhood, “It’s the only game in town.” 

So as a child, she takes it in as if the sexual attacks were her fault because there’s no other way. The insanity of it has shortened lives, either by one’s own hand, or by so many other medical issues that plague a body due to all that trauma trapped inside.

When anger isn’t expressed in the moment, this wonderful thing others are capable of with such immediacy, tears come. Pent up feelings need to unload somehow. Yes hurt is present, but more so, feelings that are unexpressed. 

I was taught to be silent, even about the theft of my body. Healing afterwards, as crucial as a setting a broken arm, surgery, or stitches, did not occur, causing all the implosion of rage and hatred for what was being done to turn inward. Attacking oneself has become a way of life. 

Why fault that little girl who had to keep it all in? She is in there, getting hurt all over again.

I wish my adult self had the tools to protect my little one. But how could I learn those? I chastise myself for that, and for not shouting back anger in the moment now as deserved.Of course I couldn’t as a child, but it is still a difficult struggle even now. Criticizing myself for these losses isn’t kindness. Yet it’s my first reaction after another’s cruelty, stupidity, insensitivity, and that list goes on and on.

There’s as many ways to be hurtful as there are people. And each time it is all about the other person. There are some who pick up on who would be a good victim for their ‘oh so subtle’, and not so subtle attacks. Learning never to express anger makes a person vulnerable to those who lack character, are weak, and take advantage of others.

Like Tom, my sibling. Like another close family member who repeats what Tom did, though he has moved away and is also losing his memory. There are many ways to take advantage of a person who never had a say in her own life.

One, like me, who wants to treat others fairly, with kindness, not vindictiveness even if hurt badly can be easily mistreated on an on-going basis. When another wants his or her own way and can get it, they manipulatively keep taking.

Removing myself from such toxicity has been successful, but not always possible. Taking the hit keeps me up nights, but improvements are being made there too. Kindness. Forgiveness of self, which can then extend to others for their quirks, hurtful ways, and selfishness. 

It is enough to break a person, which is why kindness to self is something to nurture like a baby plant or helpless kitten. The job each day is working on kindness to self.

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.  

 

Captive of the Negative Brain

It’s the PTSD. Remember that? The thing that you spent most of your life not acknowledging because nobody else ever did. (which would have made it real, and more importantly would have brought intervention with the possibility of recovery) Laying my head down the thought comes, will I get to sleep tonight? Never a good sign. It is as if I’ve already made up my ever restless mind. 

PTSD made living so unbearable, wearing my body down over the years as I tried to keep up with others, so much that the effects became life-long. It literally broke something in the brain, and all the pathways to it. Negative thoughts  take hold choking me. There is science behind it, but don’t ask me to explain, or do a research paper. (I have enough to worry about) The neural pathways are funky, even the slightest disturbance fires them up.

That’s what happens when trauma goes unprocessed. My family, and most family’s, sure as hell won’t give credence to sexual abuse occurring within their midst. Intervention is crucial at the time of the trauma(s). Will it ever be? Will sexual abuse to a child by a family member, or friend of the family, or even the camp counselor ever be talked about openly? So that the child can process the trauma?

I know I would have needed to talk about it, all of it, over and over again. Just like my grand-son after the terrific car crash where his baby sister and mother were beside him as the  lights swirled, and the ambulance paramedics  loaded them all onto stretchers. 

He spent many visits with me in the garage and on the driveway putting up bright orange emergency cones, and turning on the red flashing lights Samuel had installed on his battery operated jeep. The story started with Mommy holding up her hurt arm, and his sister crying. But over time he became the paramedic saving everyone. The hero mastering the situation that threatened his psych now healed. He went on to other things, the crash no longer holding his mind, memory or nervous system hostage to the terror. . 

That is the intervention needed but never comes, a safe accepting environment where the trauma, like any other trauma, can be worked through with care, love and patience.  

That must change for our little girls (boys) to survive. The dirty details others are uncomfortable listening to need to be spoken. Only in hearing the evil things done to little ones will change occur. It is happening in your family, behind the closed door bedroom where the children are ‘exploring’ but it goes too far because one of them already knows more that they should, or in the tent out in the backyard, the tree-house at the neighbor’s, at Auntie Peg’s when Uncle George is home, at Scouts, camp, or anyplace when you are not watching, noticing, and intervening.

It could be as simple as saying, ‘OK you two, find another game to play,’ with a smile, not a look of horror on your face. Or keep the door open,  don’t allow long periods of time out in the cute little playhouse where nobody’s watching. Watch. Kids explore. And too often older kids, even young children, have learned too early what feels good ‘down there’ and act out for more on other children who don’t yet know.

Having sexual feelings awakened at too young an age causes it to expand to other children quickly. It isn’t always an adult, adolescent, or teen. It can be a child of the same age as your own child who had it done to them, and now knows about the powerful feelings that feel so good more is naturally wanted. 

Waking in the night, or unable to fall asleep without a sleep aid isn’t always about something wrong, something that needs changing, or something that needs paying attention to. Often everything is in its place, and my life is being lived in alignment with my beliefs and principles.

Nothing is wrong; everything is wrong. It is unprocessed trauma that damaged my systems permanently. It is PTSD, my little beast that won’t be tamed. My mind turns on the negatives which become louder in the darkness, rolling through like thunder, activating the system that has been on the edge since age 8.

The courage for family’s to intervene when Uncle Joe, Daddy, or even sometimes Mommy   sexually abuses a child at the time it occurs, saves her, and offers a road to complete healing. That is yet to come for most families who allow their shame to cause destruction to their daughters(sons). It just doesn’t happen, not yet. Not until we are brave enough to stand up and say this happens, and at a rate you don’t want to know about, which is why it happens. 

Recently I woke up dreaming of Tom. We were close by each other and seemingly alright, but I clearly remember thinking, He doesn’t know how badly he hurt me. He never asked, nor ever asked to be forgiven. No one did. The other three are dead. I don’t know about Chet’s two friends who also attacked me, having such fun while I suffered silently. 

I am 66. I still need to speak of what was done. I never had a chance to. And I may not live long enough to process it all and be done with it because the damage still causes suffering. I will do what I need to do until it is done. I want it to be done now, but wanting is not reality,  and denying what is doesn’t work. The damage is irreversible. Due to diligence, courage, strength and miracles, periods of graceful joy occur, then inevitably tumble into times that are not. 

BREATHE

Waking. Sit with it. Breathe. Just sit, as the little fountain gurgles, and the hummingbird’s wings make a flutter close-by at the feeder. Birds in the trees sing melodies while the damp earth emits fragrant scents of life.

Just sit. Let the shoulders relax, and breathe allowing consciousness and relaxation at the same time. Coming that far after a lifetime of anxiety is progress, a miracle really. So give room for it. Luxuriate in it.