Samuel on the lake….
Odd to look ahead to a vacation with sons and their families with ambivalent trepidation. Accepting the way things are due to the long term effects of PTSD from the severe repeated traumas of childhood sexual abuse, replaces any sadness by choice. Things are how they are and my body has its own ideas of what is safe. Being around others besides my cat, Samuel, and the array of birds that love my little secret garden puts my system on alert.
The warning bells clang and sleep wouldn’t come without medication. On the fourth night it had to be doubled up. Last night at home, in my own little oasis, sleep came at the usual time because my entire body unwound.
Vacation was a success. I did not step on any toes, and let things flow. My tendency to be critical, a life-long tool at keeping others at bay, was stashed away. Warmth extended outward, and warmth from grand-babies and sons flowed in.
But it did take a toll on my body which will not fully relax around others, even family. Like Dorothy in Oz, “There’s no place like home.”
photo by Patricia
It is stressful to speak up, stressful for me but also the person who read my feelings via email where they could be outlined thoroughly. Perhaps a simple conversation would have been better.
Samuel says, “Grow a thicker skin.”
But Samuel never has been one to speak up about anything which is why some things continue that should not. There are some who take advantage of a person especially when they have no one to back them up. And since there is no extended family that supports me, and Samuel is the way Samuel is, it is easy to be at the receiving end of another’s hurtful vindictiveness throughout the years.
My heart feels as if it is being squeezed. Taking note, effort goes to relaxing it by doing the things that bring peace. Puzzles help my anxiety to calm. While walking the meadow the memory of Samuel’s words come back. A thicker skin? It is not the first time hearing that from another.
It’s like a badly burned body. The healed skin is paper thin. Samuel, what do you know, as the thought of how much strength it has taken to get this far rises up. Would you have managed so well?
“You’re weak,” I say.
“I’m wise,” he responds.
Maybe it is a bit of both.
The perpetual dance of being hurt and deciding when to speak up and when not to will continue. But there are times to speak. It saddens me to hear a loved one’s voice sounding sad because of what was written.
Voicing my feelings still seems wrong and foreign because I was taught not to. Though done with gentleness, the hurt to another because of my words is what clenches my heart and makes me wonder, was it worth it?
photo by Patricia
Some relationships spin the same old way no matter how much effort is put into change. Haunts from the past infect today. Little hurts inflame old unprocessed trauma. Sleep will not come, or upon waking in the night will not return.
A small infraction causing hurt by a loved one sets off the alarms yet it is ringing unaware until nighttime when tiredness setting in meets adrenaline.
You loser, you weirdo, you bad mother, wife, friend, and the bashing goes on. Feelings have overridden behaving in a way to feel proud of. Or shadows of them because the behavior has improved but no credit is given for the strides made. The mind goes off far down the painful road of self-loathing, and I feel lost. Help me, in the night the prayer is murmured.
This has been a usual occurrence for years but the last months a healthy sleep pattern has developed. My belief is that has much to do maturing hence feeling more at peace with myself. To lose it and not know why upsets all routines and body systems, but also most painful, must somehow be my fault. Is it? Or is it unprocessed trauma which goes beyond my conscious choice or control?
Wake and start again. May your first thought be, “Forgive. Be gentle. How gentle, loving and accepting can you be toward yourself today after the sins you think you committed yesterday?” And are they such sins? Or is your humanness still not allowed in your own mind.
photo by Patricia
The path to the core becomes tangled, blocked by memories, though the soul goes there to hide. So one resides in a place that can’t be found. No way in, no way out.
She peeks out at times. Maybe there is someone to trust, who takes her hand and guides her. Even so, the world is tough and into hiding she goes.
It may never be safe to come fully out. Maybe only in solitude does she find her soul, a safe haven to breathe, connect and become who she was meant to be.
It is these roots that save her. The very place she runs from, the memories which are a part of her history locked deep below. The same place where she hides.
Coming out she looks below and runs. Yet that is where the strength comes from and has kept her here all along. It is in what she suffered that makes her strong and who she is. It is her history that makes her beautiful.
photos by Patricia
The road is long, hard and lonely. All that one knows needs discarding, most painful those loved, the people making up the herd one is born into. Playing a part as if one of them, once touched in evil ways a child is alone.
Even those that were innocent of wrong touch became complicit in the silence adding to the restrictions placed on the child. The embarrassment of anyone knowing becomes paramount to the child’s survival.
This does not change with time but rather locks down securely. Freedom it is not found within family, not mine. Stepping out into the world asking for help is terrifying and there are “lions, tigers, and bears” along the way. It takes courage unparalleled. How does she keep going?
The crimes of childhood sexual abuse are many layered, the depth of fractures reaching one’s core. And the core closes in defense. No more can be risked because what is left needs preservation. So how to negotiate the outside world if one cannot navigate one’s own soul?
photo by Patricia
Reproaching constantly when failing to meeting goals, expectations or plans fortifies the harsh force living inside that leaps to the forefront more quickly than the warm, soft one. The latter is newly cultivated and without nurturance wilts quickly needing continual moistening with tender attention.
You know winters are hard. Yet you expect to perform as if it is not. Reminders of its challenges and how difficult they are will soften expectations, heighten your ability to see successes over failures, and make the path more enjoyable.
It is work to repair so many years of engrained self-flogging that started at age eight and only flourished as decades passed. As a child touched in such criminal ways, and silenced to meet others needs of normalcy, it is common to take the crimes on as if they were your own.
Hating oneself solidifies. Self-love, what is that? That is the work, softness, warmness, and acceptance towards oneself. Is there a part of the brain that never softens from the blizzard of self-reproach?
The windows yesterday were closed when temperatures began to drop from 60. Rain melted the snow filling the creek into a pond. Wind raged through the night. Upon waking it is 16 degrees and snow swirls to over a foot.
Kitten curls up on my lap as the word gratitude wraps around me like snow.
photo by Patricia
Waking to the last tolling of the siren, the fire departments must be responding to calls about flooded basements. The unusual weather almost tipping 60 with constant rains have melted the snow. My breathing eases and hopes rise from the crumbly dark pit where winter has tamped me.
As if an ancestor to Poe, winter beats a drum of hollow desolation. Each day is faced with resignation but valiantly focusing on the up side to down. Every nuance of discord within the body is frightening. My connection is overly sensitive to its working or numbly cut off.
Longing for birds, sun, flowers and Spring, at least this lapse provides hope of getting there. Rain beats down and a window is opened to let in the sweet air and the delectable steady music of pattering drops. My spirit awakens by the break in frigid air and my body feels more pliable and willing to move.
Grateful for a taste of Spring it fortifies the courage needed to live each day fully.