GIFTS

Inside the vault there shines a light spilling out like a stripe of white when daring to allow love, or when love finds a way in. It doesn’t happen most of the time. Any little doubt or grievance causes the door to shut tight.

Preservation. The vault is securely clamped down to survive, not a choice, an instinct rising from childhood’s ravages. Brothers taking what they wanted, a little girl with no place to go but deep inside herself.

And I have trouble finding my own self. Bit by bit the light peeps out, more and more the truth worth of being is discovered, marveled over. Could this really be? These gifts are mine?  

OPEN UP

It is interesting, though tragic, how much the insidious comments from the eldest abuser brother throughout my life has made me into this older woman who still believes such rotten things about myself.  

That every choice and decision made must be selfish, stingy, unkind, and base. When really what lies inside my being is great generosity of spirit and sensitivity to others. So much so that living who I am became quite impossible because the pleasing instilled made me plastic.

It is only in tearing away the façade of what my family built in me that the true person shines through. But in that reality there are choices. Go to where the real feelings are even though they might cause others pain, or keep pretending?

Giving myself away so that a loved one won’t be hurt, means continuing with a robotic life. Eyes looking back in the mirror look strained, unreal, cold and soulless.

But in digging deep internally and letting old wounds open, flow, and heal, even hurting another in the process because these wounds bleed on others, also brings the joy of knowing who I really am and getting out of prison. The prison holding me captive for so many years.

In knowing myself you will truly know me.

CHRISTMAS FUN

After glittering my own grapevine wreath, it seemed only fair to offer the same prep work to my women friends coming Sunday. Oh, what a project, with glittery floors tramped around leaving sparkles all over the house!

Wiping a few off my eyelids, it is with satisfactory pleasure because crafting of any kind brings peace and warmth. And each wreath is glittered with loving thoughts about the friend it is for and how much delight she will have decorating it.

And hopefully she will know just how much she means to me, the making of the wreath after collecting the vines, twirling the vines in the light rain because moisture is needed to manipulate them. Then, more pleasure than work, walking among the pines we planted to collect pinecones, the branches softly brushing my arm as if to say, ‘hello friend.’

And the extensive time and mess! Glue dripping all over the table in globs after painting it on thick so the glitter will stick, then a clear overcoat so that they won’t have glitter all over their own houses. The area around the stove where they dried still sparkling from glitter remnants.

Such fun readying for Christmas, maybe more fun than the event itself.

Friends Are Family

Preparations for an upcoming gathering of women friends includes the offering of grapevine wreaths to decorate that were made earlier when cutting down the vines so that they are trimmed for next year’s growth. Pinecones from trees we planted were gathered, dried, then sparkled as if snowy.

Unable to stop myself, mine is decorated which frees me up to help others if needed. This gathering of women friends over the years has sustained me in so many ways.

Without the taboo of talking about my real life, and without the stigma that seals my lips and makes me phony so that you will be comfortable, I can be myself. I can also accept real love and caring from those whose own self-worth isn’t caught up with the secrets of the past.

I can be who I am, and who I could ever be with their loving encouragement, daring to test my wings then fly.

They know what happened to me and don’t keep me silent about it. Which means no push to want to. It’s only when you silence me that I want and need to speak. It’s only when you deny my truth that truth needs to be told.

Family are friends, friends became family.

TREASURED MOMENTS

Sweat a cold, starve a fever? Not sure how it goes, but walking brings on a good sweat, more than usual especially on this cooler day…but it feels good. We all caught the little one’s cold, Samuel, Cory, and me. Minor, yet not.

Each day brings me closer to full health, along with feelings of peaceful joy. Meeting the challenges of traveling paid off greatly. Being with my son and family instills warm, loving memories that fill me up.

The summer was spent with too much focus on food and exercise— getting NO WHERE. At one point feeling so encouraged and proud of myself, but then at that exact point it all just stopped. My weight stayed the same, forgetting all about the part where weight is not to be the focus. My body could be super slim yet feelings of self-hate could easily take precedence.

This is about learning to love and offer kindness to myself, not easy for me. When the focus is off food, and instead put on working towards self-kindness, miracles happen. Staying in my body, also not easy for me, helps with awareness of fullness and physical hunger… much like it’s supposed to be.

The normal feelings hunger and fullness, along with my skinny kid body frame, changed at the age of eight. Eating, or over-eating, kept me alive and going along like others, numbing the horror of what lay beneath. It takes a good deal of food to stuff down excruciating trauma buried beneath. No one helped or offered loving support. Food became support, and love from the end of mother’s spoon who loved to cook and pushed food like a drug dealer. Food numbed it all, but also continued the cycle of self-hate that child sexual abuse brings into a child’s psyche. A child feels to blame.

This journey is on-going, the path taking me to places of wonder, joy, and contentment amidst all other painful aspects of living which are many and most suffer day to day. It is easier digested if there’s also joy. And joy has returned with warm memories of our visit opening my heart. The knowledge of grand-children growing up even if we are not here to see it helps me accept the cycle of my own life. Life goes on… and each moment counts.

Learn to LOVE Thy Self

Even a solitary life such as mine brings pain. The world comes in, how could it not with the amount of news we watch? But other things, such as saying no to a younger brother who over the years learned to expect things from me that are out of bounds. Yet with my poor self-esteem, and feelings of duty to care for my younger brother, I hop at his requests, just like I tend to hop at Samuel’s requests.

Stevie was trained early on by Tom to treat me cruelly with no consequences. That I deserved it. Because Tom had a secret- what he did to me, so with it came making me look bad and unworthy. That helped create a scenario with all 6 other brothers. Since the outlook towards me is that I’m more worthless than others, it’s OK to treat me with scorn, and as if I’m invisible. I easily went along with it so you will just love me.

This summer the angst of saying no to little brother Stevie has caused a great deal of pain. Saying yes to my needs overriding his took great strength. It has been a long time coming. At eight years old after Dad died, Mom and I sang Silent Night each night to Stevie, along with the ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ prayer.

 Stevie would ask me, “Is Daddy gone?”

Even at my young age taking care of Stevie came naturally. Mom became absorbed in going out into the work force despite her grief, and also started drinking more.

“He’s not gone, he’s up in heaven looking over us,” I said.

As we grew the older boys were out of the house a lot. It was Stevie and me wandering the neighborhood on our bikes while Mom was at work. Keeping an eye on him became my job.

But also through the years his tendency to treat me differently than others, less than, not worthy of respect, went unnoticed by him, but hurt me sharply. It has only been recently that in my own quiet way I say NO.

Not without angst. Finally having a talk with him yesterday, I did relay that after saying no about visiting so Samuel could do electrical work for him he completely stopped emailing, calling, or videoing.

I repeated it because he didn’t seem to hear me.

“After I said no, I didn’t hear from you,” I said, adding, “I thought you must have been really hurt. It’s not that I don’t want to see you, I cannot sleep elsewhere and must take something every night. It’s a huge challenge. After going to Cory’s, then camping with Shane, I felt I met my two biggest challenges and goals. Adding one more was just too much, plus I’ve been sick for a month with diverticulitis.”

“Oh, well, you think too much, you overthink it,” he said, obviously wanting to move on, unconnected to his own inner workings.

Later while walking the meadow my thoughts bent on what he said that in the past might have hurt me. It was a criticism saying I think too much. Talking aloud to myself I said to him, “You don’t think enough!” Not something I could do in person, not just yet. He is way to sensitive to criticism himself of any kind.

My tears began while trying to explain to him about how hard it is to travel, especially after his slight show of compassion about it.

“Sorry you have such a hard time traveling, but it’s OK,” he said. More tears.

“No, it’s not. I can’t do what I want to do. My body is just tired out after a stress filled life,” I said, not going into childhood issues which I’ve always kept from him, protecting him. Don has recently told both of them the broad issues of my being a survivor, as that’s what dysfunctional families do, tell personal things about someone who is not there.

Not going up to help my little brother bothered me that much, enough to cause tears. My needs came first, and though taking that step was incredibly hard it also came with more understanding, love, and care for myself… and more self-respect.

That is growth, healing and growth, which can often be painful.

Fill Up on the Simple Things

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.

STONED

Good night red sun, the wildfires out west causing haze making it into a red ball…

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.  

SCATTERED

Yesterday after the rains finally cleared…

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.

Yesterday after the rains…