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.

ONE KIND WORD

And so, the self-pity leaks out splashing down my face when allowed, though often as in the past, tears are suppressed causing a life robotically lived.

So let them flow, even if not knowing why. Stress causes tears, even happy stress. The way my body ejects parts of itself leaving the rest behind while rocketing off to Never-neverland? What’s left is wasteland, a vulnerable, weakened, self-doubting desert where I’m parched for warmth, love, and wholeness.

That happens too often and is the cause of great angst and self-pity. Yet there is magic, a friend far away consoling me. Knowing about my lack of self-esteem, and how self-blame batters me ragged over things having not a thing to do with me, eating me alive from the inside out.

A few words from her soothed, and supported my own quiet, wise, voice that couldn’t be heard over the critic’s which was banging away till the bruising caused me to curl insanely up into a fetal ball.

One kind word. One kind word. Thank you.

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…

GROWTH?

 So, another day, another after a day of feeling sorry for myself for sleep issues cropping up again over seemingly innocuous events after a nice lull from them. Having fun with friends?

Our monthly gathering has been going on for years so how could that be? It may be deeper than that, as one friend is causing some doubts after years of feeling secure in her friendship.

She no longer resides on the pedestal I put her on, but is surely as human as me. Though she outlines her life as a do-gooder, it isn’t always good that she does. And at times of late has taken a piece of me with her sharp words of warning.

Is that because she feels that my adoration of her has lessened? That is enough to keep me awake. Feeling more secure in myself improves my ability to see people as they are, not the saints they may once have been thought to be.

Friendship changes over time. We have moved apart, and maybe there’s no chance of recovery other than meeting monthly as a group. We haven’t done anything together in a very long time, other than stopping in at her house a few times. But she has not come here. The pandemic is partly to blame, but there’s more to it than that. She’s just busier, and unless I ask for more, more isn’t coming. So ask.

It’s hard to accept that her time is used elsewhere. That we’ve drifted apart. It feels that way with one brother too. Indebtedness for their kindnesses in the past can’t make for connections now. Could it be that more effort needs to be put in the asking, because both have been invited to visit but don’t. More encouragement, a phone call?

Change, growth, leaps from one chasm to another if dared. But who will catch me if I fall? And who will give the answers about what to do?

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.  

MENTAL ILLNESS

Mental illness? Who wants that? No one. It still has a bad rap, yet mine needs tending to. Not with chains, cells, straight- jackets, or hypodermics, but with care, love, and attention.

Anxiety, depression, and PTSD are in the medical textbook of psychiatric diagnoses. Sounds shitty. It is shitty. Worse though is feeling ashamed of being different, one more nail in the coffin from childhood after sexually abused, but feeling to blame because no one intervened to tell me otherwise.

The feelings that grew and solidified out of that are a challenge every day. My head may know all the words; not to blame, be your own best friend, blah, blah, blah. Feelings of badness, dirtiness, abnormality, (that list is extensive) grew cementing in my core as each year passed.

Reversing core beliefs, silencing the haranguing critic, learning to show myself kindness or beginning to even like myself? Challenging. Being burdened even more by feeling ashamed for what wasn’t my doing which has created needs different from many around me calls for special care and attention… not self scorn or denial of the facts. Or even glossing over them for another’s comfort. Learning how to love myself transforms each day into a more joyful one, but only with will, empathy, patience, acceptance, and perseverance.

I’ll get there, I’m getting there, trying to hear that softer voice that says it’s OK to take medication that helps. It’s not only OK, but imperative to slow down earlier in the day than most need to because (like last night) cleaning the house at 8PM activates an exhausted adrenal network tired from decades of overstimulation due to reacting as if every tiny thing was life threatening. So? Wide awake at the usual bedtime.

It’s OK you had to cancel out of camping with my son and family this upcoming week due to sleep issues worsening each year, yet longing to be there instead of their friends who kindly took our site when I had to face the fact of being unable to handle it. My younger brother dearly wants us to visit his new house on the lake and stay as long as we like. The prospect of following through, though we keep saying we will, are non-existent. We won’t, I can’t.

Or maybe needing medication once again last night was over some other tiny thing, something as simple as fretting over a comment on a fellow blogger’s site fearing I upset them– or horrors— make them not like me. Struggling with liking myself, it is about unbearable when others don’t, at least those I care about. I am learning not to be hurt by those I don’t. That’s a huge accomplishment.

It doesn’t take much to set off a system tripped onto high power since the age of eight after the first attack. My body is so drained any little thing sets it off.

Kindness, love, and acceptance. I’ll work on that…