Honor Thy Spirit

photo by Patricia

Even though unsure of this lull in agitation, and the long hours of peaceful sleep, both are absorbed gratefully. Could it have to do partly with learning to allow authentic expression to rise rather than the knee jerk reaction of closing someone off when they don’t do, say, or email in a way that is desired?

No answer, or a one word reply from someone cared about, makes me throw up my hands in disgust wanting to terminate the relationship. Tit for tat. You don’t care about me, I won’t care about you. But it never works, because I do care, and eventually I choose to initiate an interaction.

How to say what I need with grace? How to speak up to someone who knows me as a doormat, a pleaser, a person seemingly without needs, or who doesn’t require respect because she hasn’t demanded it?

After trashing my younger brother’s one word response, the next morning after sifting it back out, my response included my dismay at his one word response along with softness which balanced the critique. It felt so foreign. Speaking up, along with loving words? Can it be possible this was achieved? After a life of stitched lips this really is a miracle. 

During meditation it was evident that my little brother is not someone to throw away. We spent a lot of time together on our own as children while my mother worked. We were free to roam the neighborhood unsupervised. There is a bond to cherish even if we don’t share much else, and even if he seems to want the attention of two older siblings instead of me. I still have feelings for him.

My response, after some thought, honored my feelings even in the face of another not responding as I’d like. Staying true to my deepest core feelings, not reacting thoughtlessly with the old story so ingrained in my perceptions, that no one cares, keeps me aligned with my true self. This authenticity must add to the long nights of peaceful slumber, instead of waking feeling something urgent needs to keep me awake.

Traveling that wire from brain, to heart, then to my core, keeps the peace. It has taken a life-time to get here, and the linking is tenuous. Meditative thought brings up the true soul’s needs.  A being comes together as a whole when soft whispers are listened to, giving myself the key to unlock their mysteries, and then to express them.  That is freedom. 

I may not hear from him for months, or longer, or at all, but I can keep the love for him in my heart. And if there’s a time he needs me, I am here. But he won’t. We both wrap our pain around us a like an iron curtain. You learn to do that when young and no one’s there to help. You learn to do it on your own.

 

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The Price of Abuse

photo by Patricia

Price tag? One life.

Thinking back on my life, and looking at it now,  the wonder is how this place was achieved with so much trauma and anxiety ruling each day.  The power of one individual makes me take stock, but with a sense of sadness at what was stolen.

My life is worth admiration. Yet I’m not in it enough to appreciate that fact. There it is beside me as if I’m living that life apart from the real body and being. Retreating to my safe place is where I still go.

Though work occurs now to be present in the moment, it is work. At least now there is awareness that I go elsewhere.

A therapist once said, “Just show up.”

What did that mean? Years later, after the book, and delving into the community of women survivors of childhood sexual abuse blogging on-line, I learned there was a real clinical word to describe being apart from the body during trauma, and for some, long after. What I refer to as ‘zoning out’ is called dissociation.

It happened without my conscious knowledge. No therapist ever told me, or mentioned the word. This unconscious survival tool buffered me from any more taken from me because precious little was left; an ember burning for life, one spec of fire buried under rubble, a kernel of hope almost extinguished by the hands of brothers.

They didn’t mean it. They were messed up. I was an easy target. It was never about me. It was all about me. Rage and dissociation took my life. Yet the work was diligent to have a life, forging on to fight for one, pushing through no matter what. That takes lives too, draining the already over-taxed adrenals so much it could kill you.

At the least it has gobbled up energy stores, unlike most others around me who go, go, go. The body takes many hits for psychological pain, pointedly traumatic pain where the family requires silence. Unprocessed traumatic pain inflames all body systems damaging them permanently, alone with the psyche, and spirit. Emotional growth becomes stalled requiring much work and many years to catch up.

There are many outlets to this unconscionable  pain running deep in the bones of little girls growing to womanhood…  those take lives too.

You did not mean to take my life. Yet you did. And the guilt ate you dead. Though I envisioned ways to chop you up, I did not really wish you dead. I wanted to love you. I wanted you to love me. I wanted a loving family, with loving brothers. I wanted warmth. Connection. A body to be in. You took that. You didn’t mean to, but you did.

 

The Skin Horse

The cataract in one eye is becoming hazy causing a slight dizziness while walking. My ears ring as hearing dims. Joints ache, and age spots appear on my hands, just like my mother’s.

You are old, but you are loved. The thought rose while my boots crunched the frosty ground while an emptiness so wild in my stomach made me stop, bend, look up and finally cry.  Cory’s leaving left me displaced from my life, the dimming of it hard to accept. Depending on children so much to fill one up can’t be the healthiest way to go about one’s life.

What is wrong with me? Where is that settled, steady voice guiding me through my days? Where is that sweet groove experienced before his visit? Three days past his leaving the void begins to dissipate, and the familiarity once felt for the presence of my own being begins to own my internal space once again.

All my decisions to make the pain leave really didn’t magically work like a wand on my head saying there, all better. It took time. Time and attending to self and my needs. The voids in my life are many. Like a sealed bottle with a tight cork, not many people are allowed in.

Those I’d like to have in are held at bay without the ability to trust, like the three siblings who didn’t touch me sexually as a child. Though I blame myself for not allowing closeness, niggling beneath the usual self-blame is a rational voice declaring, ‘Maybe they don’t want to be to close to you fearing what each might hear. Maybe each of the brothers have their own ways of controlling the relationship and keeping you at bay.’ That feels more accurate and less harsh, yet the void remains.

And there have been many friends along the way lost due to my inability to speak up, have boundaries, and accept warmth. The turmoil inside swirling would ignite and blow them away— along with the friendship. I have learned to keep some these past few decades late in life, and maybe these are the ones worth keeping. But the very closest has been lost due to her death. I’m not out and about among others enough to find another one like that so close where we’d talk, email, and visit regularly. That void is great. How to remedy that?

My spirit felt bleak while walking under steely grey skies. Sunshine in this area rarely peeks out during winter. Negative thoughts need once again to be strictly challenged, like that harsh voice saying, ‘Your life is boring.’

Is it? No, I love my life, it suits me. The outdoors helped revive me. Then an outing in the car. By day’s end that void, still lingering, caused more food in than a body needs, but the old emotional needs are met. Feel stuffed, and no other feeling can be felt.

Adequate sleep in the night makes me wake this morning to try again to stay in my body, which includes waiting for real physical hunger. Emotional hunger will never be filled that way.

You are older now, but you are loved.

 

 

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.

 

ANGUISH

At times the feeling that the holidays would be over are present. The nostalgia and old wounds bubble up simmering like a slow cooker that never was turned off. If there is an up-side, it is in looking deeper into the anguish that has caused tears leaking out even after a few days of longer cries.

Hurts now open them up. Feeling left out because in a family of ten, an attorney working hard under great stress because babies keep popping out, and a mother who loves babies but can’t really handle so many, the emotional needs of each child was neglected. Feelings of being left out and uncared for becomes a theme for each child.

And if you look at that feeling of being left out, it really is a feeling of being unwanted. No wonder the anguish. No wonder the wounds.

They drank and loved to party. He died at 45 from the stress and the drinking. Then she drank. I was only eight. I already had loneliness issues… then…the sexual attacks began. The family’s turmoil tore us apart and never did there be a family again.

 

You Are Alright

photo by Patricia

Feeling lost and alone is not uncommon, you’re not alone. And especially during this holiday so jammed packed with memories, melancholy and feeling as if something is missing because it always has been missing. That is punctuated particularly sharply as all the supposed good cheer is spread around.

And there is cheer in my soul where there once resided only a void, a chasm so split no reckoning took place. Over time some of the writhing pain was allowed expression; writing out all the deep dark secrets my family didn’t want told, the hurling of journals full of anguish and rage into the ceremonial fire, years and years of meditation where moments of being present while feeling safe were experienced while the constant anxiety ebbed even for just those few moments, a mother dying whose hold on me locked in all those secrets to protect her other children…the abusers, one event after another opened the channels from head to heart, from a robotic life to one more fulfilling because wholeness and self-acceptance had begun.

Yet there it still lives, the disbelief that others could truly like me, even love me. Wanting it, yet pushing it away due to the danger of it. Wanting it yet unable to accept because love of self is still only just blossoming.

Stringing days together where being in the moment is doable for longer periods, along with success at healthy pursuits of good nutrition, exercise, appropriate sleep, and the constant challenge of negative thoughts replacing them with positive ones based in reality…then?

Something, too often the something is unknown, disrupts sleep, eating, exercise, and thoughts. Anxiety rules. Where did all the calm wisdom and self-acceptance go?

Start again. There are countless ‘start agains.’ Even my little life where I’ve cultivated a safe place is invaded by others I care about, and who care for me. The ones I love become the enemy, digging up wounds that never seem to heal. One moment warmth, the next, you are up to something and dangerous.

Easy, easy, my mantra in the night waking up with my heart beating against the pillow. You are alright, you are alright, you are alright.

Every one of us must face this aloneness. You are not alone. Many wake in the night with the same. Many face their days with the same. Pull in the threads of the universe and connect. You are not alone.

FRIENDS

 

Mary, Ruthie, Patricia (me), Chris

Rosalie at the camera

The warm glow of friendship settles in softening the ragged places. It wasn’t easy, reaching out, trying, and then trying again. Over 15 years ago, joining the chorale frightened me thoroughly. As a person traumatized, my little home was my sanctuary, the TV my only real friends.

TV people can’t hurt you. Yet a part of me yearned for more, and that part drove me to take enormous risks. My knees shook at concerts so badly the kind person next to me almost had to prop me up. The world was a terrifying place, yet others moved through it with ease. Why couldn’t I?

Over time the fear lessened, the ice melted. Reaching out, I asked others to join a group to meet each month for crafts or cards. No, no, and no thank you. It was best that they said no as they weren’t a good fit anyway. Persistent in nature, my asking led to friends who are loyal, kind, and have enjoyed each other’s company month after month, year after year.