Freedom and Joy

A favorite photo, though the wings are tattered, it still flies. 

Something once stolen gently coming back. A life. My life. So often the director in my head that drives so diligently can take me places not meant to be at. That voice took over where ‘they’ left off, the family of origin that hushed me because silencing me was more important than my having a life. For them.

Even now, almost 60 years later, those chains hold me hostage. Sifting through the brainwashed thoughts and feelings to find my authentic ones takes love, care and attention. Each day uncover the person, still a child, held down suffocating.  You don’t unwrap the claws of brothers by harassing her, directing her onward in a fugue unconnected to her and all other bodily systems.

You guide her out of the black abyss by gently pulling her up from the mire.

Samuel is hacking and coughing. More sick than I’ve seen him. And my throat is scratchy accompanied by a slight cough and drippyness. Do you drive yourself to do the usual? Or allow rest with extra vitamin C to hopefully ward off what he has.

Once accomplishing the goal of quieting that harsh, mean, and unconnected voice that always hovers demanding super human goals, a feeling of freedom washes up from the deep crevasses of my soul. The freedom of prying those hands off me, and the subsequent family requirement of holding it all in for their own selfish needs. A freedom of uncovering the authentic me coming to the present with all senses noticing the full feeling of being.

You have suffered. You as much as anyone deserve happiness and peace. When awake in the middle having to take the despised medicine to help relieve the ever present anxiety that exists in my life, though often groggy the next day, something else occurs.

This calm given by medication slows everything down. A realization occurs that this must be what it feels like for most others. A calm that doesn’t exist for me. My mind and body live beyond the moment racing ahead. It takes a gentler, caring voice to remind myself to slow down and be in the moment. Feel the dish in your hand as you rinse the soap off the silky smooth coolness of the silver metal. Why race ahead, where are you going?

Right now is what matters. As more daylight returns hope like a soft breeze wafting up from my heart, brings a feeling of freedom along with an ability to be in the moment and feel joy.

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Peace and Panic

photo by Patricia

Are these the templates I’m built from? Is there no release from it other than dreaming of being someone else?

Like layers of phyllo dough compressed within my personality, they are there for life. You must accept it, deal with it, and have some compassion.

Some changes have softened the edges, but the core is solid unwilling to be undone. Those hands on me when so young, those eyes of others when trying to tell what was done, being so alone since age 8 with an aloneness indescribable, cements into a life constantly challenging.

1:30 AM, up, no sleep. During the following day, what is that at the periphery of my consciousness? A sliver of panic. But why? Another night, awake at 3 AM. Unsure of the why of this, day three sleep returns to normal.

Maybe I have to describe myself as having a disease. Is PTSD a disease? I think of it as an after-effect of trauma, not a disease. Whatever it’s called, I have it. And panic can find me even at home in the safety of my nest. Even if the trauma is over 50 years past. Even if no longer having to be a part of the work force where daily stress ground me down because others felt so dangerous to be around. Even when I cannot figure out why.

Panic and sleeplessness come. A few days of peace, a few days of panic. 

 

A New Year

photo by Patricia

Do better, be better. And, or, allow for my humanness which provides softening in one’s soul, a soothing that all is OK even when it’s not. Because it never is all alright. There is a pull of tension then the relief of satisfying peace. This ebb and flow is a part of life. Acceptance rather than fighting offers the peace you seek.

Why does one relationship drill me to the bone causing pain that keeps me awake in the night, even nightmares that ring in my brain days later? Is it the other person, or is it my reaction to them? It is only my reaction under my control, yet the same old reactions occur year after year causing the inevitable feeling of failure that I am not in control of at least myself.

If it’s me and only me that I control, then why can’t I do better? Why can’t I go with the flow and let the silliness of what’s going on fall off me like shedding water?  This dilemma doesn’t seem to soften or improve. Or if there are improvements, I’m not noticing them. Maybe this tension filled relationship is just here to stay. Lighten up. You’re not alone. We all have those who we learn the most about ourselves from.

It is not easy. It is often painful. But the work needing to be done is the same work everyone works on, to grow oneself. To expand, dig deep, and do better.

 

Alone yet Connected

You are alone, and you are connected to the universe and all living things. It doesn’t feel that way sometimes. During darkness the aloneness is all there is. Sometimes, day, after day, after day. The thought that feelings come and go does not comfort nor help to brush away the hellish hole.

Then glimmer, by glimmer, hope returns as the body heals the latest health or emotional upheaval. Like coming out of battle, weary, mud-stained, and weak, strength slowly returns rejuvenating the spirit to its proper norm.

The stars were aligned. Sleep slowly was restored and the coughing cleared. I took up my sister-in-law’s offer to attend the little gathering yesterday which had bloomed to a few more family members from long ago; one who I embraced warmly, the other with a cool hello.

Brothers were barely embraced, it was enough to attend.

“What is wrong?” one asked after a brief, lackluster hug of hello walking on after.

I ignored him.

“That was hardly a hug!” another one said, pulling me close for another one that I barely responded to.

I kept connected to my insides without parts flying from me, which would be my usual course. Instead of giving everything away to others, I kept myself.  

What do you expect, I thought, and walked on toward the door without acknowledging his comment. You- who cannot email, call, or visit? You- who I don’t hear a word from for over a year, but you interact frequently with the others?

I owe nothing. I did not look at them directly. You will not invade my interior and hurt me more than you already have. I was there, that was enough. You don’t want to know me, you don’t see me, nor want to. You can’t have the fake me you seem to want.

You want the pretend me who nods, smiles and says nothing. I stayed aloof, yet connected within. Nothing would change anyway. Each would still clique together and talk about how queerly I acted, or something else other than anything real, and I’d still be alone.

A good deed was accomplished, maybe not to your liking, but to mine. 

Growth doesn’t occur in chaos, it comes in the quiet places. I am alone, yet connected to every living thing.

 

Yes, I Can!

My denial of winter’s annual take down will not chase the low mood away. The tendency to seclude myself even further, along with the inability to sleep as well, accompanied with the temptation to stuff in food to fill the holes, are challenges that increase without invite.

The lure of the once sun-warmed patio with soothing sunshine upon me is craved, remembered, and thirsted for. The full spectrum lights will have to do, and the morning ritual is adhered to with more regularity.

Winter depression is real, and though your harsh voice tells you that you are being a weak baby, you are not alone, and you are not weak and whiny. Wouldn’t you be sympathetic towards another who suffers it? And accepting that it is real?

Health has returned and with it gratitude for a body strong with mind and emotions stronger too. The ‘yes, I can’ button is on, though it may take a while to find it.

 

DEPRESSION

Low mood, sleeping issues, lack of pleasure in the usual activities, and the dwindling of that surge of hope that invigorates each day. Remember these? This is what occurs every winter, and the days approaching it. And it has occurred every year of my adult life.

Insisting it not be so will not make it so. Denial only makes it harder. The full spectrum lights started weeks ago was given up after a day or two. You need them. My brain runs amok without proper nutrition, sunlight or a facsimile of it.

“Why can’t I be normal,” I cry to Samuel. “I want to be someone else. I want to be you, or anybody else. Everyone else is normal!” I burst forth as tears fell. 

“Other people aren’t ‘normal,’ he responds with a huff in his voice because the thought is preposterous.

Of course it is, yet lying next to him at 1 AM while he snores makes me feel like a crazy weirdo.

The problem interfering with sleep isn’t the senate vote as I’d pondered, though another person will be on the judicial bench who also makes my stomach wretch. The problem is the same one every year, shorter days affecting the chemicals in my brain sucking up serotonin like an evil vacuum. 

Not wanting to take an antidepressant means caring for myself in other ways. Though I am a very good candidate for anti-depressants year-round, it feels like my brain is being controlled by an intruder and panic sets in. 

Depression is no joke and must be taken seriously. Using the lights every morning is necessary. Working hard every day to care for my body in other ways is also crucial, including proper nutrition, and exercise in the form of walking or the elliptical trainer. 

The times when movement feels like just too much are the times when it’s most needed. During the course of movement a lighter feeling replaces the low one, or at least brings my mood up. Happy chemicals are activated or increased.

Taking care of all aspects of my being takes work, focus, and sticking to goals which includes confronting the negative voices so loud sometimes it’s all I hear. The work of living continues…

front porch shrubbery 

GENTLENESS

photo by Patricia

The feeling of differentness so acute as a child suffering sexual attacks by my siblings arises sharply at times. Many feelings from then still linger, stabbing into my present life. Unprocessed traumas and all the feelings with them didn’t dissipate but grew with me.

Yet no gentleness exists. It is a habit to beat myself up when today’s issues erupt emotion from childhood wounds. There is no conscious link to them. That is changing. There are reasons sleep is interrupted. Wounds untended in childhood along with a stolen voice caused an inseparable rift within; deep wounds and no way to them. I am mute to the world and mute to my soul.

Wounds fester and when touched with present hurts the pain expands exponentially. It is like placing an already burnt arm on a hot stove. The present slides away as the psyche escapes elsewhere. If a person is talking, what is said is not heard.

Self-loathing because the feeling of differentness is so acute is not what the wounded child needs. And she exists within me and will always be there. She needs what you did not receive then. Since there was only one urgent unspoken rule to not speak of it, there is no one to emulate a pattern of how to be gentle with myself.

It is a new road with little to go on except the times my mother extended gentleness in adulthood. There were moments when she tried, maybe to make up for the past.