FEEDING THE SOUL

photo by Patricia

What is needed to make it a day that satisfies? Exercise, meditation, and feeding the soul nurturing messages. Not an easy feat for a person used to feeling that the joys of life do not apply to me. But over time progress is made.

Activity improved to the point where chances were taken that should not have been taken. Yet again trying to be like others, but these others aren’t living with the effects of early trauma. Going without treatment, having to keep all of it inside my little being caused lasting damage.

Learning to accept limitations is ongoing work along with sending messages that encourage instead of destroy. Habits can evolve over time, not by stopping it cold, but by replacing the old habit with a new improved one.  

Feed the soul with positive messages, messages that are true. You have value. Dive deep and look, you will see, feel, and live it.

Back to Basics

It was a terrible mistake that took days to recover from, both from the loud banging critic inside me as to why do such a thing, and a body that lived life with too many cortisol bursts over and over every day for decades.

Draining, life before the scourge was exhausting. Going out among people threatening. So why, when the threat of life or death is real, go out among others?

Thinking it would be different, that the trails would offer space. That the natural swimming area would be safe. No, that was my first mistake. Others walked by without masks. Kids came onto the little bridge only a few feet wide going right by us with no adult making them wait until we got off.

The sirens inside me took off and only now, days later, has the world felt safe again. All those people at the swimming glen area, where the beauty usually relaxes to my core, this time heightened my already taxed system into extreme alert.

The campground itself lied, that sets my body off too. Lying and manipulation causes great fear and rage even now, though the traumas of youth were 60 years ago. In trying to keep the population down, they weren’t letting campers onto sites until the end of the day. Never in 30 years has that happened. Just be honest.

But no, they lie saying no one had left the sites yet. Since Samuel didn’t want to leave, and my fear of angering him made me stay, he suggested we go look at our site. It was all cleaned and ready. We set up feeling like rebels but all the while my internal cravings were wishing for home.

Most of my retaliation has been against myself. Why can’t my life be like others who seem to breeze through this more easily? My voices need taming. While walking, energy is given to allow more compassion for myself. You didn’t know. Of course it’s hard. People on a good day threaten my safety. You didn’t realize that being so close to others would set you off. 

The next breath- that hateful voice, You should have known.

Meditation, which seemed last on my ‘to do list’ needs center-stage. That brings me back ‘home.’ All the daily work that usually is done needs to be returned to; paying attention to each moment without running from it, going slow at my own pace, just be present. Notice the minute happenings that excite. Yet they become lost in the shuffle of doing, then soaring PTSD symptoms that resist being calmed.

Home is more than a place of safety. It is also a place inside oneself that welcomes with as much safety as the exterior home accepting my being with love, compassion, and open arms… my daily work. 

 

PEACE and GRATITUDE

photos by Patricia-Hollyhocks

Boom, boom, boom, the night skies lit up all around us, though trees blocked most of the sparkling neighborhood fireworks. Giving up sleep at the usual time, I padded out to the front porch to see. Not much could be seen except bits of the exploding colors over the tree tops, but fireflies delighted close-by in the front yard. The moon rose full, golden yet crimson, another jaw dropping sight as it opened huge in full splendor.  

After a while it quieted and so did I. It was an uneventful fourth as far as doing or going, yet still a nice, but HOT day. After the sunbeam walk, sheltering in the house kept me cool. The bread-maker was used for dough to make pigs-in-a blanket for Samuel.

The last patch of lavender was cut, as sweat dripped down, and my back hurt from bending. The bees competed for the last blossoms. Maybe the heat affected my head— I began talking aloud to the bees.

“This is my garden. I planted these, they are mine, you can’t have them,” I said to them buzzing near my shears as they snipped, snipped, snipped.

I am determined even though highly allergic to bee stings. As a child it was necessary to have a series of injections over the course of months to build up resistance. A serious reaction made me swell up with hives and become quite sick after picking grapes, squeezing a wasp in my hand accidentally.

Injections didn’t help much. I still become sick wondering when the next sting might send me to the hospital. But I will have my lavender making three beautiful baskets around the house decorated with purple ribbon adorned with white polka dots. When my senses are paying attention, the scent is luscious and soothing. 

And more walks, one at a time throughout the day, the walk back up to the house causing me to huff with the slight slope and heat. But a wonderful way to enjoy the day and get out of the air conditioned house. One enjoyable lap at a time reaching ten laps by day’s end.

Flip-flops are risky but easier than putting on socks with sneakers or hiking shoes. Though the meadow path is worn down, clover still grows attracting lots of bees. I may regret the risks I take padding through it practically barefoot. Even on this little plot of land there is danger. 

Our days are quiet but pleasurable most of the time, except when PTSD kicks in reminding me of what I can and cannot do, or just to say hello. 

Peace and gratitude reign.

Go Away PTSD

photo by Patricia

It was bedtime. Routine in that area has become very important, extremely so. Yet forgotten, or the hope that maybe this one time I could do something excitingly spontaneous and it would be alright.

It wasn’t. The next two days didn’t go so well.

So on the way back to the bedroom after putting the crazy cat in the studio for the night, I took a peek at the night from the back porch. Fireflies appeared, one by one, watching, mesmerized, feeling childhood awakening in the bones of my memory.

Dashing around the yard at dusk with the kids from the neighborhood playing Kick the Can, or Ghosts in the Graveyard. Being called in late once dark settled in, all dirty and tired, falling asleep easily after a day of hard play. But that is not Patricia-world now. Now routines must be adhered to.

But only this once? Since things are going so well, can’t this once be added on to what has been a stretch of wonderful summer days? Days when miles upon miles of bike rides along the path by the water are also combined with laps and laps of walking, because energy expended seemed to compound into more energy.

Can’t a quick dip in the pool be enjoyed? The quiet water luring as the last pink faded from the sky casting a rosy glow. Donning my swimsuit, an irresistible dip was risked. Fireflies grew brighter as the waves cuddled me. But my senses began to ratchet up rather than calm down as they should have been doing.  

The impromptu fun delighted, the water warm, the twinkling solar string lights making it a magical wonderland of joy. Too much joy, exciting me beyond any possibility of sleep. The haranguing voice began its pounding, ‘YOU KNOW BETTER! YOU YOU YOU.’ 

Routine. Remember that? You must pay attention to your unique body needs. Stimulating your senses when they should be winding down won’t work. Lying awake long after Samuel came to bed, medication had to be taken. Not only did my body go off the deep end, so did my mind.

The negative thoughts chewed like snarly, dripping fangs, taking bite after bite, pounding my being with fearful stabs. After staring at the television for over an hour, another dose had to be taken.

Finally drowsiness, and back to bed. Sleep came as if encased in a tomb like a mummy with no movement until waking. There goes a day of waste. No walking, no chores, no nothing except for the escape into watching beloved movies. Because a body that jumps into the dangerous pool of PTSD needs calm. No motion, nothing except feeling sorry for myself. That equates to food used to numb it all out adding to the load of crippling self-hate.

It takes a second day to recover and feel as if back into myself. Depression, disconnect, and displacement from my very being all needed time, quiet, and seclusion before re-connection to body, thoughts, and spirit. Go away Samuel, leave me alone. Everything had spiraled about like a mini universe out of control, all from a simple quick dip in the pool. 

This morning wholeness. The fresh picked lavender scent is noticed as the gurgling fountain settles my soul. The morning feels cherished, not feared. Because once the PTSD breaker is tripped, fear, panic, and the surety that a terrifying thing is about to happen exposes every nerve as it readies for danger. Terror from childhood when the peril was real crashes in putting my alert system on edge with red-light vigilance. THAT is tiring, and once happening, out of my control. 

A special day is one when my being feels whole and is whole. When the tiniest event floods me with pleasure; the toad living in the potted plant on the patio blanketing himself under the wet dirt as if it is a home with a bed, the birds sipping at the birdbath, the abundant lavender in bloom along with the heady scent calming my very pores with their aroma.

The morning is sweet again with wonder as we celebrate 42 years together. On this day, at this moment, I feel whole. 

POWER

Turning on heat at the start of June is a first, the register next to me soothing as the warmth spills out. The temperature has uncharacteristically plummeted breaking records at one extreme then the other. Frost and snowflakes in May, catapulting to record highs, then needing heat from the furnace a few days later. 

Though the pool is open, and for a few days the temperature was 90 or close to it, my idea of going in was floating in circles as the force of the filter splashed a current to ride on. Samuel went all the way in a few times, but it isn’t quite warm enough for me yet. Now in the 40’s the water will take awhile to warm again. 

The summer looks different, is different. Cancelling an upcoming camping trip with Shane and his family at our favorite place in the Adirondacks, along with a trip to see Cory’s family and new baby… both a loss, but curiously a relief too.

Traveling is hard for me. The less it’s done, the better. My system hypes up and once that happens it is hard to calm down. And that is during what is the best years of my life.

Looking back would I want to live it again? No way. The anxiety running me was wild, reverberating like live wires through my system. The daily fear of living, and people, caused even simple decisions to go awry.

Even now I must tell myself, slow down, breathe, where exactly are you going so fast? Living in over-drive separated from my body is the norm. But not now. Now is the time to go slow, protect myself, and for the first time take care of myself in all the ways previously neglected.

It is not an easy job, or one that comes naturally. Taught to deny all needs, this takes conscious effort. Taking action to block all those called ‘family,’ even if only for a day or two, brought back a feeling of power and control that being pressured into doing something not right for me took away. Freedom was lost, victim-hood floundered, priceless freedom gone— poof, like a puff of smoke. 

Strength flowed back. Seeming a silly move, it was not. Then the thought of those I cared about possibly contacting me without my response caused me to unblock all but the sister-in-law who pressured me. The others can access me if needed.

That action reminded me where my power lies, within me. It is not something to give away again, but I will. The craving for family always there, always pulling, always in need of. A cauldron calling me into her dark brew where wishes come true. 

MOTHER’S DAY

On Mother’s Day my gift is that my son’s and their family’s are people that they are. Each one offers the world so much of what’s needed right now; warmth, compassion, and love. My gratefulness spills over

The morning starts cool, crisp, and sunny drawing me out to walk much earlier than usual. Stunning, just stunning. My heart feels full with thankfulness as the leaf of grass sparkled with morning dew.

Later, both sons call, and with one we enjoy breakfast together during a video chat while our grand-daughter eats her oatmeal. The baby sleeps in front her on the island in a contraption that looks like a stuffed doughnut, but is generally used to support an arm while breastfeeding. 

The other son calls at the same time, so we drop one call to talk to the other. He also surprises me later by setting a balloon and fruit bouquet on the porch, ringing the door bell, then running to the middle of the yard with the rest of his family. (wife and three children) 

We chat, and laugh while the kids tell the latest stories while running around doing cartwheels and splits. 

It was one of those days being cognizant of what is going on in the world while remaining in my body…. a good day, a productive day, a day filled with love. Even my cat benefited from my being present. There is a difference between acting loving and really feeling it. Barriers and dissociation took a day off. 

PANDEMIC PARALYSIS

Though retired, living off hard earned funds, there is work to do. Remember being in the moment, not carried away like a schizoid in the stratosphere of worry and concern? Oh yes, that. Being here now isn’t my preference. Being here before Covid is.

Facing reality and being in the moment. One day on, one day off, one day both, those are the best days. This period is historic, not a history desiring to be a part of. How did others endure what they did in generations past?

We live in our little bubble on this plot of land, then like a bomb– reality hits paralyzing my body parts. Get up, do something, yet I can’t. Samuel looks over into the living room where I haven’t moved all day. (adding to feelings of low self-esteem)

But my limbs won’t move, my mind on hold.

Pushing myself the next day, the path of being present is the answer. Joints ache upon rising. Work to move, to do something, any little thing, and be in the body while doing it. Small things matter especially during this time. Be gentle and patient with yourself and others. Gentleness and presence is the way.

Rage and Dissociation

Making brittle knowing an overweight body should not be consuming a cup of sugar, I made it anyway. This morning the rest was thrown out. The day begins with a super moon setting in the west, unable to capture it on the camera without electric lines through the shot. What a beautiful orb to wake to.

Going to sleep with the birds, means waking with them too. Sleep wondrously came despite consuming the toxic sugar. These blips off the path of health are not positive ones, but one must keep trying, and today is a new day.

Keeping connected is another anomaly searched for, tried for, and not at all 100%, but much more than years ago when coming to the present was a goal to have. It began with a therapist saying, “Just show up!”

My take on his words were that pulling myself out of the dissociative mist was enough. I was enough. At the time dissociation wasn’t a familiar word, but I spent a lot of time there, off in Patricia la la land.

It wasn’t until blogging when other survivors talked about it that I learned my disconnection from the present had a name. When learning how to meditate 20 years ago, staying present and feeling safe began to occur. From there it began.

It is in the present that Mother Nature heals me, daily walks in the meadow topped off with meditative time spent creek-side. The respite brightens my mood which on some days of late falls into a depressive state where anger flares into rage over political persons who have become something else besides human. Tamping down feelings adds to the sadness. Expressing feelings brings equanimity back once again.

“Samuel, for decades I lived with rage. It fizzled out during the years lived here. But I feel it again punching at the television with rage,” I said as he bent over the gardens pulling weeds.

“Mike said that too,” Samuel said, adding, “He wishes Trump would get the virus.”

“I do too,” I answered emphatically. “I wish he would get it and drop dead this minute!” Samuel nods his head accepting how his wife and friend feels, but a man too gentle to wish that.

There, it was said. Wishing a person dead doesn’t cause them to die. It is a place for rage to go. Not a real wish, but a fire to burn it in, the smoke trailing up taking my rage with it. I may need more of these fires…

 

SADNESS

It is hard to come to grips with the present when the past often pulls me back. Think of those suffering so much more than me right now, as tears fall watching the funeral of a family as they say farewell to yet another victim of the corona virus.

Yet denying my own place in the world which encompasses reality, not the origin family’s narrative of the truth which obliterates the trauma’s endured as a child, is not living wholly or authentically.

There is sadness, there always has been since the first attack, but the reality of what happened was denied. So I denied it too, there wasn’t an alternative. But then, like now, denying something doesn’t make it go away.

Opening up the country as if the virus suddenly has disappeared is causing great grief inside me, rupturing a well of sadness and loss that is preventable if we had a leader who would lead. He instead sits on his ass pontificating how wonderful he is but admits, yes people will die. Does he give a fuck? No. 

And opening myself to the reality of my life causes sadness, often choosing to try to act like others instead of with my own truths. Living split. The body moves but the rest of me works to catch up, or fast forwards ahead of it.

Prostrate over my mother’s grave 11 years ago, cut in two with grief, it took years for the pain to ebb. But during that time was when healing was more than a word. Instead of going to a dry well for love, my mother who really did love me but with exceptions, I learned (and am still learning) how to love myself.

That little girl hurts. She’s sad. She may always feel sad. A family left, abandoning me as they had their own grief to attend to. Living in the same house, still they left in all the ways that matter.

And I left her too. Coming back as a whole means owning it all.  Wrapping my arms around myself, just as Mother Nature does when sitting on the patio in the warm sun.

Mother Sun caresses me while in my thick bathrobe wrapped in a blanket on a sunny spring morning. The heat warming through as if she is rocking me. There must be ways to soothe a tender heart as the nation fractures in chaos due to the evil one. I know that the majority of hearts are pure. That they will conquer and endure, but hell is still to come.

Trying not to think of what is really happening is the same as not being who I am. How to stay in the boat as it sways sharply in the swells.