TRAUMATIC

photo by Patricia

There will come a time when looking back, what is happening now will be less traumatic. Living through it is traumatic. My escape is eating, eating so much nothing else can be thought of except that. Eating fear works but with a toll, self-loathing. 

It eats me up with no room for escape making everything worse and harder, even sleep. Waking, or not falling asleep, with an urgency close at hand, the emergency is internal adding to the external chaos.

What I do matters. If actions are used that are self-destructive such as over-eating, dread increases, even if unconsciously. My body knows it isn’t able to remain stable if fed incorrectly or too much. No wonder sleep evaded me. The threat to life was me.

Living through this is traumatic. While walking the meadow on a sunny morning, spring renewing herself with green adornments growing daily, my thoughts uncovered a truth. Even without the virus’s taunts of death and sickness looming every moment, my life has been much like that anyway.

Threats to life were everywhere, in every person, around every corner, my hyper-vigilance since the eight only compounding as each year passed. This additional threat topples me over the edge even while trying to act nonchalant about it.

Whether alcohol, shopping, food, or drugs, SOMETHING needs to take me away from the truth of so much suffering. Yet that isn’t the answer. Taking a stand does. Stand up in the middle of it. Do what can be done to be healthy.

A friend calls, the first in the last many weeks, and we spend time together on the phone as if we were together. My friendships are precarious due my issues of trust, or lack of it, compounded with the inability to speak up for myself causing great anger when taken advantage of.

Yet some friendships have endured and are so needed right now. They are fresh air compared to any interaction with the origin family whose own baggage interferes with any chance of closeness.

A failed zoom meeting will be tried again with our little group of five who have met consistently each month for many years. We are all less capable with these digital things than our grown children who are adept at computers and their workings.

Time was again spent in my studio after being absent from it for many months. Rolling out clay to be baked in the kiln, music playing gently in the background while the cat hunched on the shelf curiously looking down at me as incense burned… my hands worked with satisfaction.

All things nurturing are so precious right now…

PRAYERS

The living room in disarray while Samuel continues painting doesn’t help calm the disquiet revolving inside. Even the cat raced around throughout the day like a mini-Road Runner from the cartoon, her antics matching my feelings.

After emailing friends about bowing out of our gatherings the next two months, a feeling of abandonment coupled with loneliness lay bare like a dry field; even though it was my choice, and being at home is where most of my time is spent anyway.

The thought of imposed isolation felt suffocating as if jailed. Then prayers, thoughts of others, feelings for those world-wide also experiencing fear and uncertainty. Families in our area scramble for day-care because all schools were closed over the weekend until further notice. These same families must work which means continued risk of exposure out in public.

My friends, and many others, continue socializing including church services today. That is foolhardy. Services can be conducted safely on-line. Why wait for someone to test positive in our direct area to shut down? By then it is too late.

Prayers. Prayers to the health care workers, keep them safe. Prayers for our officials making decisions… may they be guided with wisdom. Prayers to those with compromised immune systems, and the elderly (which includes me), but especially those with other health problems. Prayers for those hospitalized because loved ones cannot visit. May they find comfort. Prayers for us all world-wide.

Prepare the Soil

Turning, wondering where to go, feeling confused as to my purpose… this room, that chore, back to the first one. With Cory’s presence my meditation practice stopped, and most of my exercise regime. Keeping present, and preparing food for each party exhausted me enough with little energy left for anything else.

Getting back to my usual routines feels odd. The out of sync, disjointed fracture left in his wake fades with each day. Work was done to tame the beast of anxiety while they were here and beforehand, but no attention was focused on how to handle his leaving.

So the ragged hole of emptiness visited, less intense than the days after his departure for college, then the move to another state, then marriage. With his marriage came more settled feelings of satisfaction in place of need.

The feeling of loss coupled with anxiety re-visits from time to time, the nostalgia of boys at home to care for, of family life. But times were hard then too, scorched with PTSD issues, entwinements with the family of origin, and my mother not allowing the truth be told which blocked true healing from what her sons had done.

Family now is Samuel and me. My close friend who chatted with me via email, phone, and by visiting on a frequent and regular basis died several years ago; a friendship later in life that was the closest ever experienced.

Other friends are not inclined to call or email perhaps because we don’t share a history of childhood trauma as Sue and I did. Though we didn’t talk much about it, we felt it, and how it touched our lives in the present. This bonded us in ways lacking with others. Ours was a once in a lifetime friendship, a friend so close, words were not needed.

Cory is close like that. Maybe that isn’t healthy between mother and son, but it is so. Samuel is a kind and sweet man, and the thought of living without him is terrifying. He is also lonely to be with at times. When Cory leaves it is hard to return to my quiet life. Acceptance is not my forte. I am a cat on a hot tin roof landing with the burn of anxiousness.

The separation separates me from myself. Feeling lost. Gather the parts. Bring them home. Paste them on, yet away they flutter to be harnessed again, stuck back on; waiting for wholeness, to be heard, understood, to feel close to one other human.

Meditation grounds me to my center with relief. Walks in the meadow on a sunny day almost 50 degrees helps blood flow. A fresh approach to the studio where work has gone stale is in process wondering what’s to come as its cleaned down to the bones to begin again new.

 

New Normal

My new normal, that feeling of a lock down, a frozen robotic existence with repetitive thinking and other thoughts askew. My new normal from summer-time when well-being soothed my ragged spirit with some kind of normalcy, and was luxuriated in.

My new normal is my old normal, that of fall sinking into winter, realizing that without anti-depressants I just have to cope. The concoctions brewing in my head over these months can be scary. Being on those medications in the past made me want to escape my brain because another force was in control.

Being controlled by others or anything outrages me, like hot coal on ice. So I plod along the best I can. And now it means taking even more time to provide care and gentleness.

The warm October day was brilliantly robin’s egg blue. Seeking warmth on the patio had stopped due to my restlessness compounded with loneliness after the birds migrated south deserting me.

No hummingbird whizzing by my head to the feeder just a few feet away. No morning chorus upon waking. But a finch was at the feeder. Though his bright yellow coat has faded, he stayed. Along with woodpeckers, blue-jays, and others. People stay too.

Take notice, you are not alone. The hot sun sank into me. The coldness began to melt. Feelings of wellness replaced the hard stony core. There are ways to deal with this. 

It will take more effort to search for the warmth of love as the cold gets colder. Cold that matches my interior where love is hard to find even on a good day. Hard thick layers of vaulted steel protect that vulnerable tender place. 

It takes work to melt it away, that and a reliance on chemicals. My chemical of choice is chocolate, not really a chemical but an inducer of endorphins lacking in a brain such as mine.

Lots of chocolate in the form of fat free milk, sugar free sweeteners, and my new best friend- Hershey’s chocolate milk mix strengthened with more baking chocolate powder to intensify the flavor—a happy healing brew. Chocolate drags my spirits from the basin on up. Or I think it does which brings the same relief. 

That and a friend I’ve never met, but is an intimate friend even if she is far away. I share with you two sayings she sent to brighten my day…

GHOSTS

photos by Patricia

Ghosts tamed, the usual onslaught of shorter day’s remains. Low mood, a critical attitude, eating behaviors from childhood when brothers attacked and no one was there to help. Holding it all in took a lot of food.

Feeding the depression is more depressing. Yet the life-time habit of moving out of feelings to food has beckoned its relief from those very feelings run from. Numbness. Blessed numbness. Habits. Disdain towards myself for my humanness.

It is only in self-acceptance that food becomes less an issue. Where kindness feeds my soul, not engorgement. Feeling too full fills me. Feeling too full means not hurting over other things; the lack of friends, especially an intimate woman friend like Sue, lost over 6 years ago… longer than I knew her.

Feeling too full means not hurting over the brothers left who keep aloof because closeness would mean reality, the reality of what the so called family really is. It means not falling into despair due to what was, and what could have been.

Will that mourning ever end? Determined not to tumble into a winter depression that consumes, choices are made not to. Saying I should be happy, doesn’t make it so, adding to the self-contempt. But it does remind me that all around me is worth living for, striving for, and hoping for.

Find that fullness in other ways… Ghosts faced by airing what happened and who did it brought light into darkness. Shame lifted. Continued meditation helps to move from ego to soul. Caring for self means preparing healthy meals, exercising, and all the other time consuming activities that keep an aging body going.

But tackling the tendency to overeat for the soothing numbness is still a challenge, especially during the months where light lessons and mood plummets. It can be done.

SAFE LOVE

Two friends of late, on separate occasions, said, “I love you.”

Stymied, the best I could offer was, “I have a hard time expressing my feelings, but I’m feeling it!”

I am loved. Why can’t I feel it? I can feel it with my animals, the present one, my cat. I can feel it with my grand-children, and my sons when they were children.

Grown? I know the love is there, very deep love, but. well, they are adults with lives of their own, boundaries, and the ability to deal with me on a different level, one I must find threatening at times.

So that love though there, doesn’t flow as freely as with grand-children. Even there things change as the child grows, and that must also feel more threatening.

It is only with my cat where love flows freely— always. (except when her meowing starts up without end)

A therapist once implied I was incapable of love. He wasn’t such an oaf that he came out and said it, just rearranged a saying replacing the word love with compassion.

Or maybe it was my negative over-thinking mind which decided he meant that. I should have asked him. I’ve been trying to prove him wrong ever since, but whether he implied it or not, I don’t believe love flows easily for me. .

I can love my cat. I can love on-line. I can love from afar. But even on a phone call when a friend says she loves me, I freeze and am caught off guard.

It is understandable considering a past where family members took almost all I had except one tiny kernel of hope kept alive by the army of guards around it. Adding to it is that the girl attacked, attacked herself, and grew into a woman who is still learning to love herself. That lonely ‘bad’ little girl inside needs so much love yet is abandoned over and over again. 

It is in coming ‘home’ to my core, really going deeply, accepting what is there. Not running away, but running to. It is wrapping my arms around what is there, like my child running to me enfolding her with love. It is there that love blooms and grows. 

RELAX

photo by Patricia

Upon waking the first feeling is a flash of fear. How to mold the day with discipline, another one to face in a way to feel good about at day’s end. The sun sunk behind the horizon will shine, and the dark thoughts will be chased away by its beams.

That is it, how to live each day so that the brilliance within shines. So that the best comes out, and the rest is worked with patiently, and with loving acceptance.

Beyond the years accumulated where the childhood beliefs ruled, there is a being who partook in life with the wild abandon of joy. Moments of it erupted while doing things dearly loved; running the horse through the fields on a summer’s day, digging in dirt to plant, the soil tying me to mother earth as one while bird melodies make sweet music to work by.

Just sitting, paying attention to the body, allowing each muscle to relax, the cool cement of the patio on my feet while the sun warms the rest of my body. Relaxed enough to feel the sun, hear the birds, and ingest the intoxicating aromas around me.

It is news to me that the many milkweeds Samuel so carefully harvested in the meadow for the monarch’s to multiply on, emit a fragrance so luscious it made me wonder where it was coming from. The wild roses had come and gone while we were away, but the blissful hint of another blossom made me walk over to a milkweed that had flowered. There was the answer to the mystery as I breathed in deeply.

Directing myself to just be takes deliberate intent, but worth the effort as all the senses come alive if relaxed enough to let them in.

SUMMER SPLENDOR

Take all your insecurities, tie them with a bow, put them away… banished. This is summer. June, the time for harvesting rose petals, lavender, and making strawberry jam.

The table fills with summer’s splendor from my little gardens. Gifts for friends at our monthly gathering today. A rose cutting from a friend grew into a giant tree bush that explodes with red roses in June.

On lap one in the meadow, basket in hand, each day blossoms are plucked filling my basket with petals. The scent intoxicates. The stash is added to daily, and one chore is reaching in, scooping the petals, moving them around to dry thoroughly. Now there is enough for five large stuffed sachets to add to friend’s gift bags, and one for me!

Next, lavender. That scent too fills the dining room, the oil left on my fingers as each swatch is bowed with a purple ribbon, goes to my core satisfyingly. Remember? These are the things you love. Somehow I’d gotten away from just living, just being, sucking the sap out of each day.

And the jam. Samuel’s strawberries are prolific, giving us basket after basket each day. What to do with all these strawberries, the freezer already filled with them? Jam. Jars and jars never ending as the bubbling berries also fill the house with the sweet scent of summer. One jar each to a friend, their gift bags complete.

   

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.

 

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.