HAPPY DAY

Spending a good part of the day puttering in the kitchen readying for today’s brunch with Shane and the kids felt so satisfying. Zucchini from the garden made for wonderful muffins with cinnamon and raisins. My famous quiche awaits digging into, along with ‘Pig’s in a Blanket’ easily made with dough from the bread machine.

Quiche is a term loosely used as it’s eggs, milk, cheese, rice and whatever else is thrown in with it but usually kept simple so that the kids will eat it. The kitchen was a’whirling! My happy putter place. 

Bushels of apples were given away, with the top third of the tree still full because Samuel’s ladder doesn’t go up that far.. I whittled away at the last bushel using only half for buckets of applesauce, most of it to go to Shane’s house. Apples unused sit sadly in the hallway waiting for compost or nibbling rabbits. 

Fond memories floated up of son’s coming home from school gobbling up huge bowls of home-made applesauce. The added bonus was knowing no sugar had been added, just plenty of fresh cinnamon.

Samuel was sent out later after the rains to grill garden veggies for dinner. His skills are superb!

 

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Alone not Lonely

It is a rare family that discloses sexual abuse upon one of their own by one of their own. Instead the child is silenced due to the family’s shame. And she is left to hold the trauma’s within her and bear the load on tiny shoulders.

So much stolen. Family stolen. Family that grounds us, terrifies. Family that grounds, betrays. Family that grounds a person through life, gone.

Because a child grows, and she learns that it was not her fault, and she opens the wounds to heal. But family betrays her again. To remain she must be silent.

For many, taking a life all over again is too much, and she goes it alone. She has always been alone anyway. The ones who did it, the ones who knew and did nothing. And if they didn’t know then, they know now. 

And still betray. Still abandon. Still stay silent, as silent as she was forced to be. There is no one to stand testament to her pain. Not family. But others who become more family than blood. There is trust in the world if you persist in finding it. 

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.

 

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. 

RELAX

photo by Patricia

Upon waking the first feeling is a flash of fear. How to mold the day with discipline, another one to face in a way to feel good about at day’s end. The sun sunk behind the horizon will shine, and the dark thoughts will be chased away by its beams.

That is it, how to live each day so that the brilliance within shines. So that the best comes out, and the rest is worked with patiently, and with loving acceptance.

Beyond the years accumulated where the childhood beliefs ruled, there is a being who partook in life with the wild abandon of joy. Moments of it erupted while doing things dearly loved; running the horse through the fields on a summer’s day, digging in dirt to plant, the soil tying me to mother earth as one while bird melodies make sweet music to work by.

Just sitting, paying attention to the body, allowing each muscle to relax, the cool cement of the patio on my feet while the sun warms the rest of my body. Relaxed enough to feel the sun, hear the birds, and ingest the intoxicating aromas around me.

It is news to me that the many milkweeds Samuel so carefully harvested in the meadow for the monarch’s to multiply on, emit a fragrance so luscious it made me wonder where it was coming from. The wild roses had come and gone while we were away, but the blissful hint of another blossom made me walk over to a milkweed that had flowered. There was the answer to the mystery as I breathed in deeply.

Directing myself to just be takes deliberate intent, but worth the effort as all the senses come alive if relaxed enough to let them in.

The Call of the Loon

As the canoe paddle dipped into the lake, the loon called hauntingly. There was trepidation about going for our annual camping trip in the Adirondacks, though our trips are only three nights as opposed to 7 during all those years raising our boys. And aren’t you supposed to listen to those internal whispering’s?

And we seem to draw the worst camping neighbors from hell having to call the camp office to get them to shush after quiet hours. Or the lone drunken man who the camp office called the police for. Then the campers who decided to leave at 1 AM shining their truck lights  directly into our little pop-up while packing up noisily.

But this year peace, if you don’t count the car doors slamming at 11 PM, or the mosquito population which hampered sitting outside greatly. Except one night. For whatever reason, mother of the earth gave us a break. We peered at the campfire well into the evening unperturbed by the atrocious monsters after the sun set with its glorious array of colors, salmon, rose, and aqua.

It was a successful trip despite the ride home where an over-sized Mac truck got pissed off at us when we merged back onto the highway after gassing up. He should have gotten over but must have braked instead. To retaliate he used his 10 ton vehicle to take revenge pulling  close in front of us just long enough to scare the socks off me, then out again on his merry way.

That is why highways don’t impress me. People. Hotheads driving murderous weapons. He could have killed us, and all the drivers around us. 

It is good to come home. Summer finally has arrived and floating in the pool has begun. Round and round looking at the clouds, one like a cat ready to pounce. Round and round go my thoughts well into the night unable to sleep. Finally my thoughts died down and sleep came.

The grooves in the record of me began their taunting so very young. The constant replay hears a new voice, the she who is really me, not the thoughts of a child alone, traumatized, and left to herself, blaming herself for the rest of her life for what others had done. Carrying the secret shameful burden of everyone. Those that did it, and those that did nothing to help. 

The burden has been heavy, and the boulders are still being lifted. Others in the origin family do not speak of it as it’s embarrassing. That means I’m embarrassing. The two do not connect inside me. It is embarrassing to talk about so don’t, but to heal that is what was needed.

People say they care in speech only. Hide, and you are loved and accepted. Be yourself and be alone. I want to  live  long enough to feel free of the origin family’s grip on me. To speak clearly and loudly to what was done. This is what happened. This is who I am. This is how I survived. I want to lift the shroud that is so suffocating and just be me. And in the process say, Fuck you. You didn’t help then, and you don’t help now. 

No one possesses the courage and depth to stand beside me. Not one.

 

The Punisher

Life became an all-out war against myself. I made it that way when turning each day into a pass or fail day depending on the scale, just as my family had done. Lose weight, you are normal. The punisher took over, always ready to take on the job with glee; chastising, criticizing, stealing the joy out of life.

Take back the moment, which means dwelling on now, not the size of my body, and what a failure I am. Days became dark. The usual depression combated by working at positive self-talk deepened without knowing why.

Eating patterns developed in childhood to survive came on stronger manifesting into all that mattered. Life is so much more than about that.

None of the usual summertime pleasures were enjoyable, but robotically completed instead. All of my psyche turned on me, like it had much of my life. The only way these past few years that life became joyful was remembering that it is not the size of my body that matters, but the being inside it.

Yes, the body matters, but so does treating myself lovingly, which includes understanding why my food habits are such, not hating myself for them. Softness simply destroyed, gone, lost, and out the window.

I want the life back that says I am good inside my soul, no matter the outside trappings. To feel good about who I am, what I do, and what I say. Confront the beast that tells me otherwise, because that loud echoing from my past— the family I came from who taught me to be silent, meant eating to stuff it.  

How quickly I became lost. Interactions lately with each of them has poked the ‘beast.’ She arrived frothing with self-hatred stealing my joy.

I don’t know the answers, only that it is my life to love and I will.