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.

 

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E-mail to Non-Abusive Brother

photo by Patricia

The fact that I have to describe a sibling as abusive or non-abusive is what causes perpetual sadness and low grade depression in my life as a continual way of being. This brother, Don, was once like a father, as ours died when at age 8. We have become estranged since my mother’s passing ten years ago, but I have done my best to overcome the distance without much success.

Those in the family origin do not talk about important issues, so this email will be a shocker. Yet for me, it is imperative to be real.  

Dear Don,

As much as it would be nice to visit for coffee, the drive is difficult. So often you welcome me, yet you are the one who drove around the country for fun, and drives as a part-time job. Driving doesn’t affect you like it does me especially when it includes city traffic. I often wonder why you don’t make the drive here just to have a cup of coffee, or walk to the water to sit awhile. Though you came once with the boys, and another to take me to lunch in Williamsburg, and a few picnics including Samuel’s retirement party, just stopping by to chat is not a time I ever remember happening.

I have lost count of the times I’ve been up your way just for that reason. I have missed some picnics where Tom was also included. I reached a point where that became untenable. I also prefer getting together with others one to one rather than groups, but it isn’t reciprocated.

The road goes two ways. I’m sorry you can’t find your way here. I would love that but it seems it just won’t be. Shane has been too busy to have us for lunch which would be close to you, so I thought I’d just come anyway. Yet it is a challenge, and not easy for me though I can do it if necessary. I just wonder why you can’t or won’t.

I think of you often. I took the fall basket that I didn’t get around to delivering, and repackaged it into a birthday gift which probably won’t find its way to you house either. Day to day life is a challenge. Sleep is a challenge. Adding other challenges is hard. Even appointments are hard upsetting the routine of day to day, and the comfort and safety of home.

The traumas in childhood left lasting damage. I know you don’t want me to talk about it. A long while back you were upset with me relaying how much Penny went through, so why don’t I just get over it. So I won’t say more. And I won’t complain for that very reason either. I don’t need you to solve my problems like I once did.

I stopped after you  said that just once you’d like me to call without it being a problem. I get it. You have your own stuff, and going to you was inappropriate. I just wish you would have said so, not dismissed my challenges by comparing them to Penny’s and how well she does despite them. What is worse than repressed memories of rape?  I remember everything else done by three other siblings which is bad enough, including your buddy Tom. But what Danny did still remains repressed, though I know it was violent, and was rape. That is what causes so much terror in my life even now.

The other daily challenge is the intense feelings of badness that grew in me from age 8 becoming part of my personality. I work on self-esteem issues daily because I grew up feeling bad, that I don’t have a right to even be here or have a life.

This was meant to simply be a note to let you know I’d love to visit with you, but come here on occasion too?

Patricia

FAMILY

Tenderly, like rocking a child, cuddle the little girl left alone terrorized by those she loved. You forgot how it was, how it is now, because others groomed you to. Be like it never happened because the shame of those that did those things to you, and the others doing nothing to stop it, or help in any way, is too uncomfortable for so called family— then, and now.

So alone I am. But do not abandon myself. The loneliness comes because no one stands witness to what happened. The story goes that others have so many other hurts, so how can I just think of myself? More honestly, they want family, even if those remaining are holey, not holy, but full of holes like a tattered old shirt blowing in the wind.

My gut pulls for family too. It always will. But just get on with life which is one I created of great beauty. I do so much better being apart from it, yet like a moth to flame still try.

JOY

People have always been fearsome. How could they not be when childhood was fraught with brothers who held me down, manipulated, lied, and broke trust so completely it never comes again? The snakes, bees, and killer bird are much more easily dealt with on this little plot of land called home.

And it is more home than ever was, because in it an internal home has also been found. Luckily the feeling of wholeness that others take for granted has occurred in me. First, writing the book, where the child in me let loose like a steam pot exploding.

Each week a chapter arose, one week joy, the next, severe pain. And most weeks included tears sliding down my cheeks sometimes in rivers. Sometimes needing a choking rain, but always healing in ways the word was meant to be.

Others in the origin family will interact with me, but only if the game of secrets is played, and only on their turf or in groups. The insanity of this brings upheavals of anguish, the mental confusion bringing only pain.

No one wants to know me as me. And I get it. We each have our own hell and cannot hear the other’s or let it in. Yet the façade of invisibility won’t wear on me anymore. It’s not that I want to talk about the past, just not be chained from it as it relates to my life now.

But you don’t want to know me, just own me, control me, and have me be a puppet. No. The craziness of this tips me over and I can’t have it. No.

People scare me, even those that call themselves family. There is a piece missing in me that has been lost forever. And these souls needy of their own take advantage of the hole. That is how it is.

So take joy in the life created, and know it is OK. You don’t have to fix what is not fixable. It is OK. You are OK, in fact beautiful.

 

Pain and Pleasure

The joy of life sprinkles its way from my toes on up. Though the meadow now holds many dangers after the killer bird attack, and its constant stand on the rooftop or garden arch, my footfalls feel more peaceful further on down the path.

Each entry into the war zone makes me alert, but my fight with water ammo has kept him respectful. My water bottle is carried in my arm like a rifle. Laps resume happily. New shoots on the pines are brighter green as a whiff of pine sends shivers of pleasure within.

Confetti drops from the trees that leaf out after blossoms fall making it feel like a party of celebration on this simple joyful walk. A sheen of sweat erupts even though the day is cool, which makes the respite of sitting by the creek after the last lap even more a pleasure as it’s earned.

When my interior is able to make room for all that life presents, including grief, loss, terror, and beauty, acceptance makes the joy of being come alive. The earth vibrates with energy filling me with hope and peace.

 

WORTH

Thoughts swirling about this and that, all about others and how they feel, what they might think. The old ways grab at me pecking away. Then the voice of reason which abandoned me all those years of suffering over others that came with feelings of wrongness and badness in every encounter and situation.

You have a right to feel your feelings, but first you must find them. After a childhood where my body was not mine, and certainly not my feelings or anything else, at this late stage of my life the search goes on. Centering into my core by meditation is not just helpful, it is necessity. Otherwise I go blithering off the stratosphere, thinking I’m grounded but being anything but.

You have a right to feel your own unique feelings and own them. Be brave and live your life. It is easy to sink into another’s perceptions because I had none— no center, no core, no me. There is a me, and there is beauty there. Go there, find her, be her.

SEVERED

The fog began to clear, that of denial which descends, hovers and stays. The disconnect from body as the spirit wafted away leaving only a shell becomes more severed than when it began as a child sexually attacked over and over again. My psyche learned to split in fractured pieces that will never fit like meant to again.

The idea of meditating became distasteful, so after almost 20 years of daily meditation I stopped for about a month. The scales didn’t make sense. The doctor’s scales must be off! A feeling close to panic strikes each night at 3:30 with fear pulling me out of bed.

Waking overly alert, anxiety purred like an undercurrent. Not sure what is stealing my sleep only that something surely is. By the second night awareness comes. The awful reality of the number on the scale, and with it absolute fright. Wanting to lose weight, but gaining so much so fast instead, brought alarm for my survival accompanied by even greater distaste for myself and my body than already existed.

I do not fill hunger needs like others. Without close supervision the voracious hole inside craves sustenance in whatever way it can to feel full. The tendency to use food this way is many layered; hereditary components in the genes, and my childhood environment crafted by my mother’s use of food for her own needs when alcohol wasn’t sufficient.

The drug of food was pushed on me as a child to quiet the horrors of what her son’s had done. My body threw up at night ridding the excess food my mother loved me with. Numbing with a sickly overfed stomach was the only option because there would be no talking. This pattern is scarily too easy to fall into. It eases the immediate need but the ill effects of an overweight body is dangerous.

Meditation brings me into my body, centering my being like no other experience. Not doing it means leaving myself, existing in parts, but I didn’t know it. I didn’t know I left my body at age eight either, not until that first time meditating in the Zen Center  2 decades ago. Something magical occurred, even though knees bent in the position required eventually needed surgery… another disconnect. But other parts began coming home like errant specks of iron to a magnet…this is wholeness. Having seconds of it caused a desire for more. 

There are things to do each day if nothing else gets done, exercise and meditate. If nothing else gets done that is enough, caring for body, spirit and mind. The mind also takes effort, often every minute of every day. You are OK. You are OK. You are OK.

Ten pounds more on a body already 50 pounds overweight is not a good thing. Hating myself doesn’t help either. It is lack of love not weight. The severing inside needs connection even if the path is jagged and treacherous. Compassion, understanding and gentleness are gifts so necessary to health.