The Skin Horse

The cataract in one eye is becoming hazy causing a slight dizziness while walking. My ears ring as hearing dims. Joints ache, and age spots appear on my hands, just like my mother’s.

You are old, but you are loved. The thought rose while my boots crunched the frosty ground while an emptiness so wild in my stomach made me stop, bend, look up and finally cry.  Cory’s leaving left me displaced from my life, the dimming of it hard to accept. Depending on children so much to fill one up can’t be the healthiest way to go about one’s life.

What is wrong with me? Where is that settled, steady voice guiding me through my days? Where is that sweet groove experienced before his visit? Three days past his leaving the void begins to dissipate, and the familiarity once felt for the presence of my own being begins to own my internal space once again.

All my decisions to make the pain leave really didn’t magically work like a wand on my head saying there, all better. It took time. Time and attending to self and my needs. The voids in my life are many. Like a sealed bottle with a tight cork, not many people are allowed in.

Those I’d like to have in are held at bay without the ability to trust, like the three siblings who didn’t touch me sexually as a child. Though I blame myself for not allowing closeness, niggling beneath the usual self-blame is a rational voice declaring, ‘Maybe they don’t want to be to close to you fearing what each might hear. Maybe each of the brothers have their own ways of controlling the relationship and keeping you at bay.’ That feels more accurate and less harsh, yet the void remains.

And there have been many friends along the way lost due to my inability to speak up, have boundaries, and accept warmth. The turmoil inside swirling would ignite and blow them away— along with the friendship. I have learned to keep some these past few decades late in life, and maybe these are the ones worth keeping. But the very closest has been lost due to her death. I’m not out and about among others enough to find another one like that so close where we’d talk, email, and visit regularly. That void is great. How to remedy that?

My spirit felt bleak while walking under steely grey skies. Sunshine in this area rarely peeks out during winter. Negative thoughts need once again to be strictly challenged, like that harsh voice saying, ‘Your life is boring.’

Is it? No, I love my life, it suits me. The outdoors helped revive me. Then an outing in the car. By day’s end that void, still lingering, caused more food in than a body needs, but the old emotional needs are met. Feel stuffed, and no other feeling can be felt.

Adequate sleep in the night makes me wake this morning to try again to stay in my body, which includes waiting for real physical hunger. Emotional hunger will never be filled that way.

You are older now, but you are loved.

 

 

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You Are Alright

photo by Patricia

Feeling lost and alone is not uncommon, you’re not alone. And especially during this holiday so jammed packed with memories, melancholy and feeling as if something is missing because it always has been missing. That is punctuated particularly sharply as all the supposed good cheer is spread around.

And there is cheer in my soul where there once resided only a void, a chasm so split no reckoning took place. Over time some of the writhing pain was allowed expression; writing out all the deep dark secrets my family didn’t want told, the hurling of journals full of anguish and rage into the ceremonial fire, years and years of meditation where moments of being present while feeling safe were experienced while the constant anxiety ebbed even for just those few moments, a mother dying whose hold on me locked in all those secrets to protect her other children…the abusers, one event after another opened the channels from head to heart, from a robotic life to one more fulfilling because wholeness and self-acceptance had begun.

Yet there it still lives, the disbelief that others could truly like me, even love me. Wanting it, yet pushing it away due to the danger of it. Wanting it yet unable to accept because love of self is still only just blossoming.

Stringing days together where being in the moment is doable for longer periods, along with success at healthy pursuits of good nutrition, exercise, appropriate sleep, and the constant challenge of negative thoughts replacing them with positive ones based in reality…then?

Something, too often the something is unknown, disrupts sleep, eating, exercise, and thoughts. Anxiety rules. Where did all the calm wisdom and self-acceptance go?

Start again. There are countless ‘start agains.’ Even my little life where I’ve cultivated a safe place is invaded by others I care about, and who care for me. The ones I love become the enemy, digging up wounds that never seem to heal. One moment warmth, the next, you are up to something and dangerous.

Easy, easy, my mantra in the night waking up with my heart beating against the pillow. You are alright, you are alright, you are alright.

Every one of us must face this aloneness. You are not alone. Many wake in the night with the same. Many face their days with the same. Pull in the threads of the universe and connect. You are not alone.

FRIENDS

 

Mary, Ruthie, Patricia (me), Chris

Rosalie at the camera

The warm glow of friendship settles in softening the ragged places. It wasn’t easy, reaching out, trying, and then trying again. Over 15 years ago, joining the chorale frightened me thoroughly. As a person traumatized, my little home was my sanctuary, the TV my only real friends.

TV people can’t hurt you. Yet a part of me yearned for more, and that part drove me to take enormous risks. My knees shook at concerts so badly the kind person next to me almost had to prop me up. The world was a terrifying place, yet others moved through it with ease. Why couldn’t I?

Over time the fear lessened, the ice melted. Reaching out, I asked others to join a group to meet each month for crafts or cards. No, no, and no thank you. It was best that they said no as they weren’t a good fit anyway. Persistent in nature, my asking led to friends who are loyal, kind, and have enjoyed each other’s company month after month, year after year.

WHOLENESS

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.

COCOONING

photo by Patricia

Cocooning myself against the threats in the world was crucial to survival. Every living being posed a threat. This type of cocooning lead to decay, not growth, but I knew no other way.

Reaching out for help from the black hole took great courage and persistence. One starts where one can. The local Mental Health Clinic took on clients based on income so my fee was very low. With only Samuel working at minimum wage we scraped by each week. My babysitting, crafts and frugal spending habits kept us afloat.

Those steps outward were so terrifying. What will they think about me? The urge to blurt forth what brothers had done had become too much to contain, yet along with it was great fear of how badly I’d look. The dirt by others dirtied me and in my mind must be my fault.

Yet there remained one glittering speck of instinct knowing all that was not true. And that speck grew and grew with the help of therapists throughout the years, even ones that behaved badly. Perhaps those spurred me on even more.

Reaching out for friends and outside activities brought anxiety and was scary yet the need for connection grew greater. Always a part of school chorale my love of singing drew me to the local chorale. That became a healthy opportunity for growth in many ways for years. With shaking knees at concerts, friends held me up with their kind support. Each concert became easier and rehearsals less scary and fun.

Friends have remained and due to taking risks and asking others, a group was formed that has met monthly for over 15 years. We rotate at each other’s houses for crafts, cards,  snacks then a dessert. The comfort and camaraderie of other women became a base like earth to grow from.

The need to cocoon myself from too much stimulation remains. Many should’s arise in my mind, yet one rational voice whispers my truth, It’ OK, do what you need to for you…

 

The Blizzard

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.   

The Harvest

photo by Patricia

The journey within is often dark and scary. Issues of low self-esteem grew since the first wrong touch as a child of eight. Low self-worth became as solid and strong as bones that grew with them.

To move beneath those shadows can be frightening. Voices bellow a cadence of grim put-downs that put a being in a grave while still living. But with work fallacies dissolve and the real humanness inside can be explored. Treasures found have been there all along.

With realistic eyes see where you add to dysfunction or unhappy interactions. What is in your power to change, and what is not? What can you do to provide yourself with what you need so that there are no regrets? It is up to you and no one else.

The road is fraught with pits of self-recriminations because that is what I know. To furrow new rows where love  germinates takes attention and work. Newly spaded soft warm earth needs tending and care. Too often robotic me drives on and no softness sprouts up.

When feelings of cold self-rejection overtake trying to harvest a soft place to fall where before only ice existed is new territory that doesn’t come easily. Bringing softness to places where harshness tends to live is an ongoing journey into the depths of my being.