A FRIEND?

My friend’s remark last week (with friends like that, who needs enemies?) erased a lifetime of work in her one-liner, you are back to square one. Six little words set me off my rails doubting everything about myself.

It wouldn’t help to tell her what an airhead she is. But it does call for my internal depths to deepen and grow. There’s no making someone understand who cannot.

To ease the pain lingering from her shallowness, and to understand myself better, a letter that won’t be sent, or maybe will be. The risk of letting myself be known is losing this ‘friend,’ because it already came close this time once again. Let it go, or work on tolerance, acceptance, and forgiveness? To not speak up when someone puts a boot in my face is not healthy.

Though I’m able to forgive your blithe remark, I won’t forget it. To look down on me without knowing the ramifications of my childhood and erase a lifetime of working at keeping myself alive?

Because yes, it has been that hard. In one short sentence you delete lifelong work. It tore me up, not because I believe it, but because you believe it. That after all these years you don’t know me or want to. And that’s OK, how could you? But to take a quick peek and dictate such a thing?

And interestingly, the answer I sought wasn’t forthcoming. You had said out of the blue recently that you were glad I was learning to love myself. My curiosity was in response to your blunt sentiments, entering a space you hadn’t been asked to join.

I regret asking. Boom, what seemed like a positive observance from you replaced with unsolicited advice that had nothing to do with my question.

You don’t know what a destroyed nervous system is like. Adrenaline pumping through my veins daily, cortisol bursts draining precious resources. My body, psyche, emotional being, and mind, all tired from a life of it. Daily occurrences that don’t make others jump with terror, terrorized me. Because all people became dangerous from what was learned in childhood.

We have sold the camper, giving up something loved. The possibility of going to Cory’s again is probably too much for me take on again. I cannot fly around the country like you do or drive anywhere long distances without my body being upset for days.

I need to stay home, and accept it, because I love the land, and being here. I am happy. I am mostly at peace, though little changes in routine upset my tired-out body. No, you cannot see my scars, but they are there, and they are life-long growing more challenging as I age.

Even Christmas with Shane made for a fitful night of sleep waking at 1:30AM and staying awake all day yesterday feeling teary and tired. I have a lot of days like that due to my sleep issues from Chronic PTSD, spilling over from what happened at age 8, terror so deep my body 60 years later still protects me from remembering, though I do know a rape occurred. I remember everything else which is bad enough.  

I believe a hidden agenda in such a grievous remark compounded with a lack of knowing your own motives was behind it. But it came out anyway sword-like. I never became accustomed to your barbs couched in syrup drawing blood over the years, but this one so trite in black and white I won’t forget.   

I write in the hopes you might see a miniscule fraction of what my life is like and stop quick judgments. The respect I deserve is sadly lacking. It is enough that I know.  

Patricia

Is this a friend to keep or not? That question has occurred many times, once almost ending it, but she stuck by loyally and loyalty is most valuable to me. To end it would also mean ending the monthly group of 5. What would remain is Samuel and my forest friends. It is as Samuel said once, “You don’t stop picking berries because of the thorns.” Well, actually I have.

TRUST

How many relationships have been blocked or lost through the years due to my inability to trust? More than what was kept. Yet slowly trust built enough to begin to sustain some, friends held close for twenty years now, maybe more.

But if feeling crossed, or more succinctly manipulated, and treated dishonestly, you are gone. And recently that could easily have happened yet again if not researched more by a touch of assertiveness in asking a question.

Her response made me sigh in relief and was believable. She just didn’t think about answering my email with her husband’s account even after asking her if we could converse privately as I do with all other women friends.

Strikes me odd that women do that, yet one friend sustained for decades had once done that too until asking if she’d open her own email account. She did and it seems as if she has enjoyed it ever since.

My friend could easily have been gone. By defying my request to have interchanges privately, my thought was she was upset with me for asking and was stubbornly going to email back with her husband’s account anyway.

But I asked why, and she apologized, saying she just grabbed a device and put in Patricia. I believe her- miracle upon miracle that some faith is restored, not an easy feat for me.

My childhood gave me no reason to believe anybody ever again. But there are some I am able to open up to, and yes, eventually trust.

THANKGIVING

Very often a comment of support from a stranger means more to me than anyone I know. Closeness can occur without meeting someone face to face. It occurs on-line where the world opens, and connections are made that help lift me and help me do more than just survive day to day.

Thank you Q, and to all the women on-line who have supported me through my blogging years.

TEA PARTY

Tomorrow is my turn to host our monthly gathering and the planning is complete. Sometimes we do a craft, and this time before our card-playing we will make peppermint candy wreaths. Glue guns at the ready!

This group of friends was created over 15 years ago while still in Chorale. With effort I kept asking others in chorale if they’d like to join a group. These ladies said yes and have become close friends ever since then.

My family chosen by me. The tea party is ready. Getting ready for events of friends or family gathering here is enjoyed as much, or more than the actual event.

Preparing beforehand lessons my anxiety beast, always at the ready to take my joy away. But with pre-thoughtful planning it becomes a joy that stays.   

I am second from the right…

GIRLFRIEND TIME

Trying not to feel? Or trying to turn feelings around instead of feeling the scratchy rawness of loss or memories.

As leaves begin to drift down there is both magnificence in their colors and the vibrant sunsets along with a feeling of wanting to go back and recapture a life now over as the next phase moves forward.

A rare gift of a friend stopping by while we gaily drank tea and chatted, then walked the meadow in the sunshine after a week of rain. What relationships built up, not dozens, just a few, drifted away during and after the pandemic.

Those close to me fell away, no phone calls, no visits, and missing girlfriend time became sharp with need. So, with my invite she came, and we made a shopping date also with lunch.

As fall sets in closing around me, breaking free is necessary and doing so with fun times that bring me out to do things. So, what else can be arranged? There are willing partners, but my willingness is also needed. Time to step out a bit.

CANDYBAR DAY

Sometimes a girl just needs chocolate. If the candy is made with fat free condensed milk, graham crust with just a little margarine, and unsweetened organic coconut, is that considered healthy? Magic bars magically feel good, the molten chocolate swirling my brain chemicals with happy vibes.

After the orgy, just sitting, all day sitting, my body hardly moving, I began to feel better. But it’s so off the mark of should dos, and the critic had to be shut up- yammering away at ‘should and should nots.’

Sometimes it’s not laps around the meadow that cures, but stillness. As summer collapses around me, kissing the pool good-by after Samuel covers it for the season, and all the windows are shut to the cold shutting out the sounds of crickets, birds, and other wildlife, the silence plummets me down to depths I’d forgotten.

Just hardly months ago my being was used to dullness and the down mood of winter. And a friend reminded me of its coziness. It is good to have friends. But it is in me that the will must be found to face every day, because some days it isn’t there as if, not another?

Weak, vulnerable, fallen off the precipice of sunlight and joy into darkness so suddenly, the will of finding that light in other ways almost completely escapes me.

Stillness, not moving, enjoying the rapture of chocolate, all things social norms encourage one NOT to do, as busyness, productiveness, and ‘eating your greens,’ are the goals… quietness ensconcing my most inner being brings me back in to myself- back home.

FRIEND?

For the first time going to our monthly get-togethers with 4 other women friends felt like an inconvenience.

“I don’t want to be bothered,” I said to Samuel on the way out of the door to my car.

And though pleasantly OK, it still was a stretch to pay attention for four hours to their stories and input while playing cards. That night the shades were pulled even earlier than usual and bear-like sleep came.

And the ripples from one friends’ remark stuck like a feather in my throat, or more succinctly, a knife in the gut. She does tend to say stupid things. Once after reading my book, Shattered, she gave a critique. At that time, she was confronted.

“I laid out so many feelings and you give me a book report?”, I exclaimed.

She came back with a bit better response, “I heard your grief,” she replied sounding as if sorry.

This time after mentioning the 40-pound weight loss, while giving a hug bye, she said, “Lose more weight!”

Now I know she meant well, which is why no message has been emailed to her, like; my body seems content where it is, and I’m OK with that. She heard my explanation of the loss of weight but feeling stuck. So, that was her way of encouraging me. Yet the way it was put forward… well, it could use some refinement.

The others have more gracious abilities, only saying briefly how great I looked, and only after sharing my success. They were sensitive to my feelings. And in her own dysfunctional way, she is too, but it felt like nails across a chalkboard.

Through the years this one has used me as her own personal pin cushion. I knew no better than to take it. Until I didn’t- and began speaking up. Saying something nasty in a soft singsong voice, which is her way, doesn’t remove its bite.

With her I learned that picking friends sometimes parallels the tactics of my negative critical mother.

Three days later her remark still stings.  

FRIENDS

 And then a friend replies, not one ever known in person, but one you might call a pen pal. Yet when two souls share from the core, do you need to meet?

How are you? She asks via email, as she really cares to know. It’s not the customary social question when you reply by fine though dying inside. So, I tell her.

I say I may be addicted to Xanax, considering how much use it’s been getting lately with sleep issues escalating this past year. Sleep issues began about the time my mother declined before her death, waking in the night eating bread gobbed with butter, never a daytime food choice. Often four or six slices, white soft bread with tons of butter.

Butter? I rarely use the butter dish watching Samuel eat his daily toast slapping on butter, or a blob on his vegetables which I rarely do. And white bread? Never. Samuel requires white, I eat high fiber wheat. My night-time sleep/eating issues began then, about ten years ago.

But this past year the use of nighttime medication has increased to a worrisome amount, each time feeling I failed somehow. That being unable to sleep is my own fault; faulty thinking, not calming myself, somehow, it’s me.

But is it? Couldn’t it have to do with becoming calmer, more peaceful, more connected to my inner core, wiser, and more self-loving? Or self-loving at all, even the tiny tidbits felt for the very first time?

Perhaps it is my doing, but not my fault. Because as my being becomes more whole, less scattered, the part repressed that keeps the memory of Danny’s rape from consciousness might now find a path up. That would make anyone anxious, and since anxiety tends to be my constant companion, anxiety rachets itself up another notch.

Energy comes in small doses, mornings are best. And the energy my body must need to repress such a trauma could be well used for happier endeavors. But that’s up to my internal workings.

I can’t just say, OK memory come up. And who would want to? Weight loss must be connected. Food was used at age 8 right after his coming into my room, and has been used ever since. My body was just as slim as other kids before, then blew up.

When often feeling alone, I am not. While sipping coffee on the screened porch before the sun rises, birds begin their cacophony of wake-up songs, one close by singing loud yet lovely, clear and true.

Wrapping the blanket closer around me, quietly walking towards the screen, there it is atop the shepherd’s hook, one little body singing such a great song!

Finally it’s time to go back inside to open emails, one from the friend I’ve never met. Her response to my lamenting the use of a night-time medication was (as usual) soft and gentle, along with this poem.

So, I am not alone, I have birds, friends… and me.

PHOTO BY PATRICIA

LEARNING TO LOVE MYSELF

The answers are in the very place you are running from, inside yourself. But who wants to be inside a place where a haranguing voice is beating you up so constantly that when it doesn’t it feels uncomfortable? Because I am a child of incest, a survivor. And it’s called that for a reason.

So many times thoughts of death to take me away from myself. A child run over by a truck laying there bleeding, your family walks by hardly noticing or looking at you. What kind of message do you receive placing cloth over the bleeding wounds all on your own?

This morning my eyes mist thinking about just how this has affected me, not in words, because so many times throughout life others have said to me, ‘you’re too hard on yourself,’ but more so in feeling it for what might be the very first time.

Think of the child I was. All alone. Devastated. Tortured by the constant comings in the night. No one to help. No one to make it stop. Just blame.

And the compassion? No. A bleak, loveless life, where love is pretended enough for children to grow, perhaps feeling real love for the very time since touched wrong at age eight. Love for my little human sons, because animals always were safe to love. My sons knew love, but no others were safe to love. No, not even Samuel.

So at almost age 70, barriers are being smashed, taboo’s shattered just as I was, talking about what happened, and after years of doing that openly on my blog, another glass ceiling annihilated, learning to love myself.

Daddy would soon drop dead by my feet, and his sons would begin their attacks.

NEW WAYS- SOUL WAYS

It isn’t earth shattering, what I do. Waking after a restful sleep with deep gratitude for that simple bodily need fulfilled, there it is. What do I do?

A puzzle, a craft readying for the kids to visit over the weekend, or what? Movies play almost non-stop, as if that is my safe way to interact with people. While listening to the voices known by heart because they play so much, household chores are accomplished, or the next meal is prepared- which means a lot of time over the sink.

That is such a pleasure when the morning sun splashes on my face warming my upper body. So, it isn’t earth shattering, what I do.

Yet being in my body, and in my life, following that inner voice that often is ignored or detached from, can cause a reversal of negativity in my closest relationships opening them to growth and better lives for all.

Not just in my life but also in those I touch. Since childhood that voice was ignored. How could it not be when divided from it at age eight? That voice calls in the night preventing sleep till listened to. That or the PTSD devil, haven’t decided which.

It is an upheaval of deep angst and unhealth, but when re-connecting and following through…that IS earth shattering! Asking for what I need takes an extraordinary amount of energy and is exhausting. Others have become accustomed to my placidity and apologetic tendencies. When persevering for what feels right repeatedly and doggedly until the desired outcome, well, that must be surprising and difficult to ignore.

It is the little things that shatter the old ways creating new and wonderous ones…