Back to basics, remembering what is so easily forgotten, the very simple plan of working on self-care and self-love. My job, as what occurred in the developing of my personality was just the opposite; self-hate, self-destruction, and the loud critic a constantly nagging companion.
It is not easy to change the trajectory of one’s upbringing. And had death taken me already, which at 68 is quite possible, the peace created now wouldn’t have materialized. It has taken decades. It has taken a strength of fortitude that only now can be appreciated.
Some people might like a do-over, but not me. No way could going through the depressions, and robot-like living be done again. The magic of meadow walks, solitude, and each moment of life treasured… a new miracle some have had the good pleasure to have never lost. It has taken a great deal of work to have arrived here, where living feels good more than ever before.
My center, my core, any basic trust in others was lost at age eight. Shattered, only now able to pick up a few fragments, but never knowing really what life would have been like growing up under the roof of a loving, functional family.
My sons are together for a week at Cape Cod. My usual feelings before now would include a searing loneliness wanting to be with them even though knowing it would be impossible. The drive, the traffic, and having to take something to sleep every night over the course of 7 nights— too much! The loneliness for it crept in anyway. But not now. Now? Gratitude.
Now I feel only joy that they can be together, and I can be at peace doing what I do. The sun, the birds, the critters, Samuel, a few friends, snaps and photos from Shane and Cory daily (enjoying their trip vicariously without the hassle), and summer. My days are full and happy.
In the real world realm of problems, friction with a willful grand-child is probably not high on anyone’s list, or not those with real challenges to tackle; paying bills, illness, hunger, and the list goes on. Yet when my head hits the pillow I pray for guidance because I know I must doing something wrong.
Give me the guidance to set boundaries, yet in a firm but loving way. In his eyes I don’t love him, or that’s my guess, because he is wrapped up in his parent’s arms for every little thing. Too much in my view. Yet I’m not the parent. I can’t parent someone else’s child nor change the trajectory of his path, not really.
Those worries are like a fly flitting from worry to worry when trying to sleep. Brothers who don’t feel like brothers, a constant nagging concern, surely I could do better to mend the gap- yet my gut resists after trying so hard with no common ground, or no feelings inside of me except warning bells.
God, I feel stoned, a memory way back from college days. In the dark, trying to sleep, my thoughts whirled and my body felt stoned. I may be stoned. The pot oil at the bottom of the bottle is most likely more concentrated that the rest. Best mix it up with a fresh batch next time, the real stuff with CBD oil.
After that explanation I calmed down not feeling as if I’m going crazy, just high. And blessed sleep came.
A willful, spoiled, tyrant of a four year old stripped me of centeredness, confidence, or any belief in myself.
“Should I order chicken?” I asked Samuel, one of a barrage of questions about what to do about very simple mundane things that he wouldn’t know the answer to anyway.
Feeling scattered, I dump a puzzle out but don’t have the where with all to really sit and do it. Puzzles help to center me, forgetting that this feeling of scatteredness has been a way of life and even still can visit daily. There are ways to get back in there… to my core where wise answers come.
Losing weight makes it scary. How to keep losing it, feeling bones that had been hidden, feeling good, all ripped away by the rejection of a toddler making a war out of his way vs my way. Perhaps going along and letting him be king of my house like it seems he is at his own, is the best way to be happy?
Dr. Phil’s quote, ‘Do you want to be happy, or be right?’
I want to be happy, but something in me won’t allow disrespect from a child at any age. It is untenable to me, but my belief is that it is also harmful to a child. A child fights to have his or her way, but really does not want that kind of power. They need to know that the adult is in charge no matter what kind of fit is dramatized.
Yet doubts creep in, fear, and indecisiveness, not just about Bennett but about even little decisions. This wave of ungroundedness creates more questions about what’s going on and how it provokes memories of the past which really aren’t so past. The feelings of rejection for doing no wrong, but rather being ganged up on.
The feelings of being talked about, as in way back as a child hearing Seth in the kitchen with his teenage friends thinking I heard them say something about me. Seth, though not one of the attackers, chose to be closest with Tom through the years, the eldest attacker and the only one still living.
But what was happening was I was being attacked, I was not the one who was wrong, but felt that way ever since no matter how much work is put into uncovering the real truth. This has become the bedrock of my personality, my way of responding to just about everything; being wrong, bad, or even fit to live. The courage and work it takes to counteract this is enormous and ongoing.
These issues thought to be healed from are even present, and little bratty Bennett has poked a pin in them. Tom comes to mind while meditating. As the pounds dissolve there are thoughts of letting him know exactly how badly he hurt me.
Because he never got it. His one attempt to talk via phone wasn’t about ‘I’m so sorry, can you ever forgive me,’ it was excuses.
“I was so young,” he said.
After the call my fury sent me out to the forest to bang on trees. YOUNG? You were in college, home on Christmas break! You were old enough to be prosecuted.
During meditation when thoughts are to still, my mind whirled as usual. It is only the last moments when the buzzer goes off that my mind quiets. But this time my busy brain imagined sending an email with a link to my book. Maybe send a book. But really, do you want to share so much of yourself with a creep? Perhaps just the chapter about him? Now that’s an idea.
But then, why bother? Leave them all behind to be whatever they want to be as a group, and go on as I am, plodding along, but discovering on my own path that there’s beauty and peace both around and inside me. The deep wounds will not likely go away completely but need to be lived with. Those sorrowful feelings need space with the joy.
And that is the trick, acceptance of it all, opening up all the doors internally, letting the air flow between each one. Escape is not an option on the path to health, love, joy, and peace.
On the patio sipping coffee with Samuel, our usual morning pleasure as the sun rises over the meadow and flowers abounding in our gardens, my head bends over as a sob erupted.
“It brings up my entire life, the feelings of shame and blame. Thinking that Cindy or Bennett MUST have said something about mean Nana. Because he clung to her and didn’t want to be here,” I cried to Samuel, adding, “he won’t want to come here anymore.”
“So what,” Samuel said, adding, “but he will come, of course he will. But so what if he doesn’t?”
These feelings kept me awake that night after the kids left, making it necessary after a two week hiatus of not needing night meds to sleep necessary. I was pulled right back to the life lead; one filled with feelings of shame, blame, and badness. Something Tom’s treatment instilled in me after his attack. His innuendo’s about my unworthiness, being less than others, a dullard, anything but what I really was so that what he did didn’t look like any big deal.
Samuel said, “I don’t know why you let it bother you. You know you are right in correcting Bennett.”
Incensed, I howl, “You don’t know? You know me. You know my self-esteem is in the toilet, and why. I will have to work on it till the day I die. You know how Tom treated me after he attacked me, and continued with his nasty remarks and putdowns all through life!”
The sobs came then just as abruptly left. So used to taking all the crap handed to me. In every relationship when there is any kind of friction, problems, or negativity, (which there is in every one of them) I take the hit. The booming critic insures it.
This new life, only just beginning, has created a space inside me where a softer place welcomes. But it dissipated like a mirage up in smoke when something goes on behind the scenes. When the feeling that there’s things going on behind my back that I must make conjectures about. And my conclusions always cast me in a very bad light.
After another day passes with time from the bruising of a grand-child not wanting to see me, the more truthful reality sets in. It is not me, it is Bennett. It is his parents that need to feel a bit a shame at how they are raising him. That if asked if he can come again, some ground rules need to be set. That what needs to be said is not how BAD I am, but how bad Bennett’s behavior is, and what he needs to be told before coming.
That we are the bosses of this house… not him. And when we tell him he cannot do something, he is not to put up his fists at us, or make horrible faces. He is to mind us. And when he doesn’t, he will be sitting in the hallway until he can act respectful.
That has been a theme of my entire life, feeling BAD for the bad behavior of others. And it will happen again, this triggering of my past causing sleepless nights, bringing me right back to it all; feelings of badness, unworthiness, shame, desiring death over life because of it.
The work continues, and perhaps over time it will happen less and less as my own truth is revealed internally….
Ten days later my footing is still shaky wondering what happened to the person growing into love for herself. Attempting to be part of the origin family group took me back hundreds of paces… or so it seems.
I don’t want to hear about the third person not there, my younger brother Stevie who lives upstate. If he wanted to tell me these things about himself he would have. Don’t you two tell me how worried you are about him. You’re worried about him? What about the cocktails you consume every night Seth? Your alcoholism is raging.
What about your need to have a group of people together Don, working at it diligently- a group of people who can’t help each other grow? And where you discuss another who is not even there? Being around those stuck in loops, pretending they are not, impedes growth exponentially.
I don’t want to worry, especially about those where any relationship is not grounded in safety, loyalty, or true care. I still feel like a puppet attached to their strings easily manipulated by fear, rejection, or guilt. Guilt at blocking all from emails, but if I were to look in that folder, my bet is that nothing is there anyway.
For my own safety and well-being that distance is needed, but guilt consumes me. Who I used to be becomes me now. Where is the Patricia who likes herself? Who allows freedoms, happiness, and growth? Who looks beneath the surface and knows wisdom?
My mind goes in circles, round and round, thinking about each of them, and I don’t want to. I want to be here now, with the land, with people I love and trust; Samuel, sons, grand-kids, and most especially my cat. A cat won’t hurt you. A cat is loyal.
Where is the wise voice that answers softly with the truths you need? It will come, it will come. You’re OK, you’re OK.
It was quite a feat to travel and stay elsewhere for a week. But wild horses couldn’t keep me away from my grand-children once full immunity kicked in. It has been a year and a half since seeing Cory, his wife, our grand-daughter, and new baby boy, now a year old.
Cory and Guinevere came out of the house after spotting our car arriving early, Guinevere running into my arms squealing while sobs of joy erupted from my chest. Then Cory, my sobs increased in intensity.
But now back home, sweet home, my cat up on my lap immediately then following me the rest of the day while orienting into regular life. But not without more tears upon leaving, taking Cory close, already feeling the pain of missing him.
He has done a stellar job keeping us close with his children, the baby knowing his grandparents from almost daily contact through the tablet’s video. Just amazing!
So no crying from little Dexter when Papa and Nana watched them. The busy parents worked or did chores while we had the splendor of playtime soaking in every millisecond. No longer one to hold back feelings, tears came again when we had to leave, holding them close not wanting to let go, wishing they lived closer than 5 hours away.
My challenges, though not anywhere near ‘shut-in’ status, include being home, enjoying the meadow, and going places nearby. Camping trips, once a week long, have shortened to three nights tops due to sleep issues erupting in my fifties. But after a few days and settling down, it felt like a home away from home. The best second home from anywhere else because love is like that, love is home.
Bend me like an origami paper project. That is how others have been allowed to treat me. Growing up hostage to a brother’s sexual needs caused me to learn my needs don’t matter, in fact don’t make it on the table.
Just plow through and take what you want, when you want it. No boundaries were learned, so though burning with rage inside at the maltreatment, both then, but later all through life, my voice remained gagged and stifled way below.
My body cannot take being struck by waves as if a buoy on open ocean waters. It causes me to take action for my own self-preservation. Where once, not so long ago, like two days ago, I’d chat with a friend on-line because it fit her schedule at that time (not mine), then suffer the repercussions of taking on too much in a day causing my body to go into overdrive and not be able to sleep, my decision to not answer a brother’s insistent and repeated attempts to have an on-line video chat came next.
He is not one to ignore. He attempted 7 times at least, my tablet practically vibrating off the table. But equilibrium from being up in the night had not fully returned, tiredness still remained. After no answer, he called on the phone which I still let ring. I have called and emailed him in the past when he doesn’t bother answering with no explanation or apology.
And since it’s me it doesn’t seem to matter. But if it’s his itch needing scratching that isn’t scratched, wow. Really? Stop stalking me. But sitting down at the computer, I finally responded by sending a kind note explaining the rough month with sleep issues. That when in a sleep deprived stupor, I am unable to chat or talk to him. That nothing is wrong, and he is very dear to me. (Now leave me alone until I gather my parts all disconnected and discombobulated)
Much of my life has been spent in a disassociated state. Talk to me and no one’s here. I’m off in my ‘safe’ place. But with the start of learning to meditate over 15 years ago, moments of being present and feeling safe began to occur.
But it takes energy to be present with another. After a morning of a lot of exercise and busyness not enough energy is left to chatter happily with another. Yet if that’s what you want, I do it anyway, other’s needs coming first. Until now.
In learning to like myself that all begins to change. That taking care of me, even if my needs seem weird or made up to others, makes me more able to be there for others. But when I choose to, not as the doormat I was raised to be.
Time alone is necessary, crucial to my well-being. How can you explain to others what your footsteps are like unless they have been there? That energy resources can be depleted so easily because of a life of stress and feelings of always being in danger?
That takes a toll on the body that often others just don’t understand. I do, but still haven’t learned to say NO. But I am learning to.
Soon we take a trip to see our grand-son who will be one year old later in April. We’ve only known him via the on-line camera, though that has brought much joy, warmth, and laughter. He is almost ready to walk his first steps. We have spent many happy hours with his older sister, now 4. She excitedly counts the days until we come warming my heart with golden love.
Running out of wrapping makes for creativity. Slapping some poster paint on the box of stuffed unicorns for them both looked really chintzy, more was needed. Sparkles! Yes… after that why not painted words in pink and purple with a little more added glitz?
The project took way more time than planned, but it was fun as most crafts are. And now she’ll have a box to treasure and keep. Though it’s the baby’s birthday, she likes hers surprises from Nana too. And I don’t disappoint.
The morning starts thoughtfully wondering at the shear disappearance from myself. Where have the good thoughts gone, the gentleness inside, the warm place to fall? Abandoned, cold, empty. And why?
Because when sleep issues arrive over a too long period of time, the blame falls all on me. I’m too tired to fight the bully who shows up full force. One day good sleep leading to good eating, exercise, and maybe not enough enough beneficial emotional work. Because the next night not falling asleep. Somehow my body and mind split over the day without being aware of why.
Or is it just seasonal due to no fault of my own? Of course it is, the change of seasons messes with brain chemicals making them whacko. Whatever the reason, the kind gentleness learned, albeit a tiny taste of what might be even more possible, is GONE.
That is what will sustain, an interior to depend on. That is where the healing becomes more than just a word. My belief continues that if sleep is not blessed upon me, I must not deserve it or have done something bad or not right.
That makes no sense. It is habit not reality. March into April has been volatile, ups, downs, and moments of calm. As the sun rises pouring onto my face through the blowing wind and paned glass, breathe into the moment, and into my body even if the feelings scare me. Go there, be there, observe, listen, learn, and accept. Once the season settles down so will I. In the meantime, gentle kindness…
What have I done as they started the engine and it purred? My grandson happily moved forward on the new mini-bike, though at 200 cc’s it can carry an adult.
“Don’t open it all the way up,” Samuel tells him, “It’s very touchy.”
My fears increase. Buying something to entertain my eldest grand-son when he comes to visit after a very long year of not having the kids over at all is about to end. We go for our second dose of the vaccine today, so soon we can safely be with family without masks or distancing.
On a chilly sunny day our grand-son came over, and with masks on they assembled the new mini-bike inside the shed.
“I’m going to buy it,” I said to Samuel after he emitted negativity, “I’m using my money.”
But second thoughts invade as William went around the meadow, the worse scenarios popping into my mind like falling breaking an arm, leg, or whatever. My stomach churned with fear finally leaving the patio for the safety of indoors and not having to watch. When it got quiet peeking out to see if everything was alright.
“It’s OK,” Samuel said after expressing my fears and doubts, “You take risks to have fun.”
You sure do, as we both commiserated about our own youthful days of riding motorcycles through the fields. In those days we didn’t even wear helmets. Several times he comforted me and my fears seemingly enjoying this whole process of assembly and riding, even taking a few laps himself. When my son came to pick William up, he rode too. It looks like a good toy to have around for the ‘boys.’ My son gave me the thumbs up all smiles.
My younger grand-daughter and grand-son will soon be able to come and stay. They enjoy the indoor toys, and other outside activities that don’t include motorized vehicles. But my older grand-son found us less and less interesting. We are interesting again, and I love that.
“This was the best day all year,” I said to Samuel, feeling complete and fully joyful after spending a day with William. It has been such a long, long year. This last leg as we near the finish line seems the hardest.
The deadliest time of our lives, how does one survive? Physically, mentally, emotionally. The only way for us is total seclusion, but not from the outdoors and all the other creatures in it. Even going into any store right now is more risky than it was now that the deadlier strains are here.
Do you feel for the people seen on the television suffering all alone in ICU’s, melting into a crying mess every time? Or shut the door on emotion becoming stone so that it doesn’t touch you?
Waking in the night a flood of emotion hits unbidden, not about the present hell, but one I came from. Sadness seeps into my core like a tsunami opening the doors wide to my soul. Sadness thought to have been left behind because so many decades had been tasked to heal from it.
But there it is, and it won’t be changed. The choice whether to go there or not is easier taken in daylight when activities keep me focused. The knowledge that a family of 8 kids were left stranded by a father who had the audacity to die, and a mother devastated by trying to cope with the loss of her husband. (and his income)
That sadness goes back far before his death, but the painful recognition of parental choices wasn’t fathomed until well into adulthood. Peeling back layers of trauma to heal from what my siblings (my attackers) had done took most of my adult life. Thus enlightened more understanding arose to what they also endured.
And that might make some sense of why they acted out their rage on me by sexually attacking their young sister. But not much as no reason makes sense. Yet there it is. They too did not receive what was desperately needed besides shelter and food… love, security, and feeling cherished.
A father who drank, a mother overwhelmed by so many babies conceived in the night after an evening of partying too drunk to put on a prophylactic. Funny and fun at the time, not so funny when the babies came then grew, one by one, piling up like lists to do that never get done.
There are some families that might handle a large amount children with love and the special attention needed while also encouraging sibling love and interaction. That wasn’t the case with mine.
We grew together alone, estranged, licking our wounds as they continued to bleed throughout life. Most unable to engage closely with each other because so much energy was needed to attend to separate shocks of their own.
A family divided in every way. Some are now making efforts at family, but getting close must be scary, especially getting close to me. Wanting to include me, but not enough for comfort because I hold truths not wanting to be heard.
That shield can hurt. Daytime logic looked for desperately in the dead of night whispers to me after a prayer into my pillow—stick with now, look forward, don’t go back. Quite impossible in the quiet darkness. So the whirling painful thoughts take time to spin out before sleep returns.
My mother was noted for saying, “Look back, but don’t stare.”
I stared for a long time, I had to in order to barf up the black of what was survived, but was still stuck inside me like viscous tar. After years of cleansing work it became possible to be here now, smile, and move forward. But in the dark of night the cave collapses, and the empty well of sadness sucks me in. Sadness for all those born into that family, if you can call it that.
Be open? Or close the door… to the past, but now too because the present holds horrors unimaginable. Prayers to those suffering, as I lock away emotions to save my sanity.