Buried Alive

Each time the old messages screech hauntingly, slay them down. After a while they tend to not bother, staying in their graves where they belong. Who we are may be a stirring in the cauldron of just that plus who we choose to be.

Make a choice. Slay the dragons, or let them take me under. I slay them each day, some days with more success and energy than others. Other days they thrive like the walking dead, burying me as they walk upon my grave.

But my hands claw up through the dirt, my spirit rises, flourishes, and wins. Those messages from childhood will remain. Whether to listen to them, or choose not to, that is the work.

I am bad because I didn’t fight them off. Brothers who weighed twice as much as me. I am bad because as vile as it all felt, sometimes my body responded. I hate my body. I am bad, bad, bad.

And ‘family’ allowed those message to stick because then they were protected. Those that did it, those that knew but did nothing.

Choose. The truth, which is something new to me that I am still learning about. Or choose old messages that often threaten to bury me. The magic is loving myself how I am, and loving my body too, just how it is right now.

It is hard to learn the truth of who I am over the booming loudness of badness… to find my way to my core buried beneath cold, hard, vaulted steel, arriving at the place where love resides.

Dig. Dig until you find it, that soft, warm, puffy cloud place where love and comfort swirl like warm waterfalls… for self and for others. Unearth the sweetness where bliss and heaven dwell within. 

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WHOLESOMENESS

There is an ever present belief of ‘not as good as,’ lying deep in my core as if part of my personality like bedrock. Sometimes it lies dormant, only a whisper, and this only after years of internal strife, anxiety, and tearing myself apart with struggles over any interaction with another.

Whatever I did, said, or looked like was wrong, a mistake. That is what sexual abuse within a family does. When a child is forced to stay silent to protect the family’s shame, trauma swims within her like sharks eating her flesh from the insides out. Shame rots all that would blossom.  

I believed I was ‘bad.’ That grew as I grew. Every person who looks at me must be thinking something bad about me. That was a surety in my belief system making any attempt at just about anything supremely difficult and almost impossible.

Those feelings paralyze stunting growth. The body grows, the rest stagnates causing a quagmire of pain rolling like a tumble weed as years passed. As days grow shorter old ghosts rise consuming all rationality threatening to pull me under.

You are as good as others. How absurd to believe otherwise? A voice, soft and gentle is heard. A voice once gagged for the sake of the family. Even now freedom is squelched out of habit, but beliefs and feelings are opening to the stars and the heavens.

You have a right to be here. I suffered despite the so called ‘family’ acting as if I didn’t. The call to them has diminished. The need for it about gone. That need only makes the pain go deeper, but like a moth to flame I kept coming back.

A change has evolved, a quietness, and acceptance of how things are, where I stand, and how to provide for my needs for the very first time, untainted by another looking out for their own interests.

It is freeing. The internal quiet and acceptance so longed for, fought for, and coming into all parts of my being after the weapons are put down. The moments of now are savored instead of avoided.

It comes when least expected, this surprise of wholesomeness.

 

New Normal

My new normal, that feeling of a lock down, a frozen robotic existence with repetitive thinking and other thoughts askew. My new normal from summer-time when well-being soothed my ragged spirit with some kind of normalcy, and was luxuriated in.

My new normal is my old normal, that of fall sinking into winter, realizing that without anti-depressants I just have to cope. The concoctions brewing in my head over these months can be scary. Being on those medications in the past made me want to escape my brain because another force was in control.

Being controlled by others or anything outrages me, like hot coal on ice. So I plod along the best I can. And now it means taking even more time to provide care and gentleness.

The warm October day was brilliantly robin’s egg blue. Seeking warmth on the patio had stopped due to my restlessness compounded with loneliness after the birds migrated south deserting me.

No hummingbird whizzing by my head to the feeder just a few feet away. No morning chorus upon waking. But a finch was at the feeder. Though his bright yellow coat has faded, he stayed. Along with woodpeckers, blue-jays, and others. People stay too.

Take notice, you are not alone. The hot sun sank into me. The coldness began to melt. Feelings of wellness replaced the hard stony core. There are ways to deal with this. 

It will take more effort to search for the warmth of love as the cold gets colder. Cold that matches my interior where love is hard to find even on a good day. Hard thick layers of vaulted steel protect that vulnerable tender place. 

It takes work to melt it away, that and a reliance on chemicals. My chemical of choice is chocolate, not really a chemical but an inducer of endorphins lacking in a brain such as mine.

Lots of chocolate in the form of fat free milk, sugar free sweeteners, and my new best friend- Hershey’s chocolate milk mix strengthened with more baking chocolate powder to intensify the flavor—a happy healing brew. Chocolate drags my spirits from the basin on up. Or I think it does which brings the same relief. 

That and a friend I’ve never met, but is an intimate friend even if she is far away. I share with you two sayings she sent to brighten my day…

GHOSTS

photos by Patricia

Ghosts tamed, the usual onslaught of shorter day’s remains. Low mood, a critical attitude, eating behaviors from childhood when brothers attacked and no one was there to help. Holding it all in took a lot of food.

Feeding the depression is more depressing. Yet the life-time habit of moving out of feelings to food has beckoned its relief from those very feelings run from. Numbness. Blessed numbness. Habits. Disdain towards myself for my humanness.

It is only in self-acceptance that food becomes less an issue. Where kindness feeds my soul, not engorgement. Feeling too full fills me. Feeling too full means not hurting over other things; the lack of friends, especially an intimate woman friend like Sue, lost over 6 years ago… longer than I knew her.

Feeling too full means not hurting over the brothers left who keep aloof because closeness would mean reality, the reality of what the so called family really is. It means not falling into despair due to what was, and what could have been.

Will that mourning ever end? Determined not to tumble into a winter depression that consumes, choices are made not to. Saying I should be happy, doesn’t make it so, adding to the self-contempt. But it does remind me that all around me is worth living for, striving for, and hoping for.

Find that fullness in other ways… Ghosts faced by airing what happened and who did it brought light into darkness. Shame lifted. Continued meditation helps to move from ego to soul. Caring for self means preparing healthy meals, exercising, and all the other time consuming activities that keep an aging body going.

But tackling the tendency to overeat for the soothing numbness is still a challenge, especially during the months where light lessons and mood plummets. It can be done.

Say NO

“Thought I’d come for tea. Would you like a visit?” Chris asked.

“Oh sure,” I replied, then remembering our outing planned for the gorge the next day I added, “Oh, I forgot, we are going to the Falls tomorrow.”

“Maybe we can come. Jerry might have to work, but I’ll ask him,” she said excitedly, while my mind was immediately yelling what my mouth would not— I didn’t ask you!

Caught off guard without defenses to ease myself out of the situation, the day to come already felt ruined. Enjoying the freedom to do what I want, when I want, was stolen.

Then the reproach begins, adding to the disappointment of having others go to my special place that weren’t asked to come: At your age, you can’t speak up? That thread bangs down heavily making the dissatisfaction of a friend’s overstepping her boundaries particularly jarringly, also making me aware of how easily others take advantage of me. 

I’m a mouse. But another voice breaks in, you were put in a tough position without time to think of way to say no gracefully. How about, FUCK NO! Instead it was a meek, mild, fake enthusiastic OK.

“I’ll ask Jerry, and get back to you,” she says.

“OK,” I respond, my being somewhat fractured, perhaps dissociating. Part of me with her on the phone, another part elsewhere in the magical world where I had a voice.

The usual self-hate crept in for not speaking up, for allowing it, then feeling victimized. For her yet again taking something from me. We’ve had serious friction before. My dignity stolen with the constant swipes, like daggers to my belly being hurled whenever she needed a cleansing.

After years of not speaking up, I finally did. The crack in the friendship since then remained deep. She did not like me calling her out about the snotty remarks.

She phones after more than a year of not calling. We still meet monthly with our little group that travels to each other’s homes for cards, snacks, laughter, and fun. But we stopped doing too much together like we once used too. And we definitely stopped doing things as a foursome.

It was OK. We got through the day without major catastrophes, but I would have rather been on my own. There were specifications about what time they had to be back. A quick peek at another falls on the way home was scraped. On our own we would have.

Going along with something unwanted disturbed my peace. Waking at 4 AM, I was very awake. That has not occurred in over a month, and it’s probably not coincidental. Only this morning have words bubbled up that could have been said; no, we planned this outing just for the two of us. Simple, direct, and oh so easy.   

When my inner life is disturbed it causes this upset in sleep. A voice stolen such as mine was, doesn’t come back, not really. A life where my own needs were ignored while attacks to my body occurred over and over, takes the voice and a life.

I live with punches, whirling around like a dervish just to please others. Giving up what little I have, then nothing’s left. That is not OK. It wasn’t OK to say OK. Rationally it is such a little thing, but looms large because it feels like a repeat of the past. 

The solitude I crave and flourish within has much to do with this flaw in my character. I cannot speak up about my own preferences and needs. Resentment, even hate follows, for myself, and the offenders.

It is easier to navigate life on my own where freedom is sometimes found, luscious freedom oh so sweet. Even in solitude I am captive to my own negativity, but am finding my way out of the bondage. 

It becomes much harder around others, especially those that are so needy and controlling. 

 

Alive and Liking It

 

What can you do to nurture yourself today? The barrage of negative feelings that tend to speak first with volume is ongoing challenging work to confront. Snippets of success here, a backwards landslide next, leaving me discouraged.

But over time a miracle. A voice first heard that encourages, supports and booms louder than the old one once scourging my interior with brash, insidious, destruction… just like Tom.

Assuming the role of the attackers became my way. A life of attacking myself takes time to reverse. And over time, the new me that reflects more truly the original me, flourishes. Being in my own body, mind, and heart feels at home, the welcome mat out.

Doing simple tasks or pastimes is OK. I don’t have to change the world, just my thoughts about myself. Liking myself, being a part of the world with this new liking of myself, feeling just as equal to others instead of less than, so less than I’d think of death, or feel I deserved to be dead, is a gift—to the world, but most especially to myself. 

Maybe for some it is a rite of passage from childhood to maturity. For many, it is not. The work to achieve  a connection to my core when daring to touch it, feeling a bit of awe and admiration for what is there, and has been all along, took time. It took a life, and that work continues. 

INNER ACCEPTANCE

When struggling, in pain, anguish, confusion, fear, anxiety, or any of the other countless forms of hurt, words pour forth easily. But what then when the tremors inside are calm, and feelings of well-being flow?

Will boredom replace chaos, or shall I take the peace and enjoy it? How this occurs is not really a mystery, or parts of it are. It was a war, a war with the world. But decades of fight are over.

There are things about me that have not changed. I am not easy to be close to. I like my solitude, and prefer to interact with others infrequently. Nature is my truest friend. (and my cat) Time does not heal all wounds, but hard work, perseverance, and courage do.

Wounds remain still, because what was taken in childhood when hands lay upon me unbidden, stole all that is sweet, innocent, and natural. Those hands took my life. The one left to live was run from.

Coming ‘home’ to what is after the rage burned out sustains. Warmth softens not burns. Once inner acceptance is felt it grows.