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…

SUFFER

As tiny an event as the cat escaping under the bed instead of being able to close the door with her out, kept me from falling asleep. Lying there thinking about this noise, that noise, or that Samuel found her coming out and shutting the door (which he didn’t but that little sound made me look up from my pillow) kept me awake way past the ‘fall asleep’ time.

Then? Up past midnight, the next day groggy feeling so sorry for myself because of what must be effects of long-term PTSD. But today is a new day, and isn’t life like that? Pain with pleasure, yet it is not something easy to accept fighting the bad days with bitterness, sadness, and hopeful illusions of growing up in a safe family.

The wishes don’t all go away. On hard days they crop up like bubbles popping once hitting my consciousness. This is your reality and it’s unlikely to completely change. The addition of marijuana oil has certainly helped greatly but the hard nights, and other difficulties are here to stay.

Though not my fault, not my doing, suffer it I must.

THERAPY?

Book cover by son, Cory

Sometimes the thought of seeking therapy occurs, but doesn’t last too long. My ventures into that a few years back soured when she left me during a session to walk down the hall to the kitchen to get some treats for her dog that was caged in her office where I waited. Yup, really.

Any warm body that offered up some positive reflections about me would help because the mire blackening my soul comes within, from so many years of carrying the burden of feeling unloved, not cared about, or safe. Not feeling safe, a big one.

But then there is the question of ethics, or lack of ethics, and I’ve run into more than my share. Jack, who wanted to know if I was attracted to him. God no, he wasn’t Mr. America, also adding to the outrage of his statement that I was sexually abused due to my precociousness as a child. You go to school for that?

He was the first I would disclose the real reason for seeking therapy. His response was the very worst a person could say, uneducated and moronic.

At least my gut knew him to be very wrong. My search continued finding a very competent caring woman after that. But it’s tricky business, finding a therapist who isn’t stuck in their own idiosyncrasies or ego, in addition lacking morals/character.

It is that kind of job, where no one monitors you. Character is what you do when no one’s looking. And with a client it is like that–no one really is there of any importance or to worry about. Many, like me, lack self-worth and need to learn to have it which is why we go. So therapists can and will take advantage of that.

But without help survival might not have occurred. There was Raymond, now 30 years ago since seeing him. He did help. Maybe he pushed too hard, but successes occurred that went beyond imagination. Back to college to finish off another degree, then nursing school, but then he left, moving to Arkansas.

Isn’t that just great? But I finished nursing school and worked as a nurse for several years. After Mom died, I saw another woman who actually worked ethically with intelligence. But she retired not long after. She did see me through the worst of it so a long deep depression was spared.

It is a comfort to know therapists are out there if needed. It would have to get pretty bad to seek it out again. Muddling through things, learning on my own is OK for now.

Samuel’s photo…

And Give Me Peace…

Once again the ease of life presents her gifts before me, as she always does, but often my ability to be present, calm, and centered is so off I cannot let them penetrate. The lavender’s scent in baskets can be noted, though it’s been there all along the past week. The scented candle in the warmer seems especially fragrant. And a slight feeling of boredom sets in.

That’s when I know I am there at my center feeling peace. Because after a life of cortisol bursting days where my jumpiness is at the ready along with screams of terror at any little surprise, peace can sometimes be confused with boredom. It’s not boredom, the calm gives me with peace equating to happiness, even bliss.

Days home after camping, walks daily in the meadow with ‘mother’ nurturing me with her bounty of caresses… Hermie the young buck in the field lifting his head wondering what I’m doing in his territory, the graceful heron floating by over the water, the natural bouquet of blossoming milkweeds emitting a luscious scent amidst a spray of look-a-like wild baby breath, all these gifts are finally able to reach my center after a week of quiet, beauty, and plenty of sleep unaided by drugs.

Bury the Living

Though hard, it is good to get back to the work of inhabiting my body as one. The more time that passes after being with the chaos and drama of origin family members, the better I feel and the less my mind goes in loops over it.

Moving on to the usual, facing a day with its fears, and challenges with the diligence needed to be present. That is enough without the quagmire of the past, pulled back into old grooves where no growth occurs. It has. No going back, my core will not allow stagnation once tasting the fruits of expansion.

The time spent as a robot to please while with them, dimming as each days goes by. The wonders of each sunrise begins to settle in while worries, and mental games that sicken fade. Because the mind can make me sick if around others that are stuck in loops of their own.

My internal wisdom won’t let me stay in swamps of death-like goo, memories of what was that still are in that group. Who cloyingly begin drowning me with repeated attempts at collaboration in dysfunction. No, free me, let me loose. Tentacles of what seems like family luring me down into the tar that sucks a soul dead.

My issues are many without adding to them, all spelled out in the psychiatric textbooks of diagnoses. Though terms are not my thing, it is helpful to acknowledge my own reality so that gentleness towards self can grow; DISORDERS- Depressive, Anxiety, Trauma and Stressor related disorder, Dissociative Disorder…

It takes great care to manage my life without adding more stress to it. Perhaps these doors that have been left ajar with hopes of meaningful contact need to be closed, maybe locked. To come back to the basics each day, contemplation of my own mortality which spurs my desire to enjoy the simples pleasures amidst the pain.

Ah, to be free of it. As each day passes, more freedom lightens my being. Joy replaces depression. Tears dry, without knowing why they are there, wiping them away almost daily. Maybe it is a mourning all over again. Each failed attempt at connection comes with the price of mourning.

Bury the dead while they are alive? In a sense, yes. Or more succinctly, Live and let live

Glacial Shifts

The week looks bright with full sunny days. As the crispy earth gave way to my footsteps, the crunch satisfying against my boots, the sun burst forth over the hill splashing on my face. Round and round, breathing in the cool air while busy birds sang as they worked.

A feeling long yearned for over recent weeks settled in, a feeling of groundedness frosted with calm. Upon entering the house I announced to Samuel, “I feel better. I can feel a difference.”

“That’s good,” Samuel responded, not much of a talker.

It is different, a pulling in of pieces that had scattered like a whirlwind matching the March breezes whipping at the trees. It has been the hardest spring. Past springs were not as hard, this one upsetting sleep drastically over a longer period. But change is like that sometimes.

There are internal changes, shifts in perspective about myself that work towards wholeness. Renewal, growth, hope, and change? Yes, one thing to count on is change, and humans don’t usually like that. I don’t. But fighting it is like trying to catch water as it seeps through your hands.

SANITY

Sometimes the darkest hour is right before the dawn. Perhaps this month, so hard to take due to upset and sleeplessness, is a path to change, renewal, and growth? Perhaps it takes a whirlwind inside oneself before the particles find new homes, new ways of being.

That’s a thought to hang on to. Refusing to allow the needed nightly dose of medication to ruin the next day because of drowsiness, the meadow path was walked right after the sun came over the hill. The effect was stunning, my boots hitting crunchy frozen earth as frost sparkled like the iridescent glitter used to outline the framed craft project.

Taking a break by the creek revealed yet more secret pleasures as a duck flew into the duck box obviously starting her nest. Two little birds tried to enter but saw it occupied so there must be a question as to who is the rightful owner. Big bird won!

After a long walk, deciding to beat the insomnia by tiring myself out completely, a nice fire was built on the patio. Flames licked up high thawing me as the sun carrassed like a warm hug. The pleasant surrounding offered stereo bird melodies as they went about their busyness, some close-by at the feeder, some hopping about on the ground under it pecking at remains.

Waking this morning after a normal night’s sleep refreshed as the sun rose and a new day began.  Sanity restored by sleep at least for today.  

SPRINGTIME MANIA

That feeling of being different digs in oppressing my ability to enjoy the coming of spring. Spring itself is causing this upheaval, interfering with sleep as a manic brain swirls when hitting the pillow causing leaps of ecstasy but landing hard going under without resurfacing well.

Working daily to keep my hat on, bringing it down a notch, doesn’t always work towards good sleep. Thoughts still sometimes race making me wonder what kind of mental ailment might yet overtake me in this life-time.

The physical deterioration of my body due to age is enough to handle, but PTSD always lived with since age 8 worsened as years went by. An older body cannot take the hits of adrenaline and cortisol that daily occurrences cause- simple surprises like Samuel appearing in the hallway or a leaf blowing by while walking. My body reacts as if in danger though none is there.

It is hard, that feeling of ‘differentness.’ During the pandemic, though scared until the Governor talked daily about what he’d do, then doing it, bringing a new sense of security, the days became the best ever. Now the rest of the world knows what my life has always been like; solitary, lonely, and alone.

Yes, I have a partner, but it doesn’t matter. You can be with people and still be lonely. Because others don’t know unless they have been through something similar.

Waking after a bad night where yet again a sleep aid was needed, my head drops down while explaining to Samuel, or trying to, “You don’t know how hard it is.”

Tears fall. “If something happened to you, I couldn’t stay in this house one night,” I said.

The night before it occurred to me that I could not, nor didn’t have to do what Samuel always said was the wise choice if one of us were to die first. Stay in the house at least a year before deciding what to do with it.

When parents die, in this case both of our mother’s years ago, (our fathers have been out of the picture- mine through death when I was a child- his out of divorce and ambivalence), then you begin to think about dying because you are next in line.

But I’m not Samuel. He does not deal with PTSD, nor does he understand its challenges. Of course he could easily live here alone because he’s not scared. What he said made sense, don’t make any rash decisions. So I believed that’s what I had to do in the case of his dying first. But in the middle of the night when awake every little noise scares me even with him right there next to me. No way could staying here occur without him. Tears fall yet again when explaining this to him.

“I couldn’t stay. The thought of staying terrifies me. And that doesn’t make me weak. Comparing myself to my friends makes me feel weak because several have no problem being alone. But I am not weak. In many ways I’m stronger,” I said.

Bringing these real fears out made me cry, made my feelings real and valid. Making the decision to honor who I really am, what I really deal with, and do what is the safest and most loving for myself is a huge leap of growth quite miraculous. And it helps in those dark scary moments to remember that somewhere deep inside myself is a rock, a strong secure rock to hold on to and guide me.