PLEASURE

Photo by Patricia

What can you do today to bring pleasure into your life? That’s a concept left behind. The daily business is about caring for a sagging mood, and an aging body. But pleasure? Yes, you can have pleasure. You deserve pleasure too, as if to need validation and permission.Winter depression pulls me to down to a place where just getting through the day getting things done is all there is. 

Samuel asks, “Want to take a canoe ride?”

“Sure,” I respond while resting in the Adirondack chair by the creek after a few laps.

Coming in later from an unusually sunny day, the idea of pleasure drives me to chocolate. Swirling the syrup into my coffee, topped off with whipped cream left over from the holidays, then red sugar sprinkles, also left over from the pancake Christmas breakfast, a satisfied smile erupts. Forgotten was the special use of chocolate for its curative effects on mood and endorphins. Chocolate, a necessary medicine.

What other simple pleasures await? It is up to you to provide them. Take the time to implement pleasurable activities to help the winter months pass more agreeably.

A hot bubble bath, working on a puzzle, a brisk walk in the meadow, a delightful canoe ride on a 50 degree January day, a special meal made with care, being present with the cat warmly nestled in my lap instead of dissociating—be there, be present.   

That cold pit in my stomach that comes during the winter craves relief. In it worms a restlessness unrelieved, an anxiousness lacking till the green leaves grow. What can be done to help bring me back to my core, feel good being there, and stay?

What brings you pleasure? I’d like to know.

 

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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…

 

SUNSHINE & DRAGONFLY’S

There is in each of us a wealth to discover of untapped resources. But how to dig through the layers of injury to find the treasures? It wasn’t until middle-age when the filth left behind by others began to break away. Feeling clean arose from deep within. My life had stopped at the age of eight. Who I was went underground. Who you knew was not me.

There were periods of success and finishing what was started, but more often any hopes, dreams, goals or even a small simple project was left unfinished. Darkness and pain mired my body and mind in turmoil and self-hate. 

Working with mosaics brings satisfaction on many levels. Sometimes the jagged pieces cut my fingers and reminds me how like the shards I am; warm and beautiful sometimes, prickly, cold and sharp other times. And the broken pieces, not usually cut carefully but pounded with a hammer, come together in wholeness with a unique presence not found when scattered. 

It gives me hope. It feels good to finish what was started, from rolling out the clay, glazing it, firing the tiles, and then hammering the tile into pieces. The design phase allows a conduit from the soul outward, a route heavily blocked since childhood- the iron doors too thick to penetrate either in or out.

As the sun splays through the window upon my shoulder, reminding myself to breathe as muscles relax on the exhale, incense burning and music softly playing in the background,  the process of coming together is happening with broken tiles, but also, most satisfying, with me.

This is my life, putting back the pieces…

What lies beneath?

Nothing is Everything

A bluesy feeling remained most of day after Cory and his family left. I knew even before my son and little family came to visit for Christmas that their leaving would have to be dealt with. There was a time not long ago when his leaving brought such devastation that running from the pain felt like the only option; except there was nowhere to run. That pain went deep, perhaps because family consists of my sons, their children and wives, my husband and a friend or two. The origin family connections are shallow and unreal.

In part it may also have to due with a better connection within myself. When a loved one leaves the love of self sustains. The only person who never leaves is oneself. For most of my life that has not occurred, parts scattered kept me from groundedness.

That parts are gathered and moments of wholeness and inner connections mount, the comings and goings of others hurts less. My being, once invisible even to myself, is becoming recognizable. The core feels more accessible, real and solid when not overwhelmed.

This feeling of blues seems more in-line of what other mothers might feel. Samuel seems unaffected and I’m envious. Sitting down around 4 pm to play games on the tablet there were Snapchats sent by my daughter-in-law from Boston; short videos of my grand-daughter putting laundry all over her head as she toddled around. It brought joy and chased the blues away.

This morning by the fire with little kitten Christy on my lap, the thought of returning to routines felt relaxing. What expectations are there? None, other than those put forth by myself. There is nothing, upon nothing, upon nothing, a typical mantra that puts me at ease , unwinds all body parts, and slows the busy mind… 

 

AMAZING GRACE

photos by Patricia

The grace of peace envelopes my being. A life of battles make this miracle sweet, battles within myself that were never won for long because another quickly took its place.

Living on the edge with a nervous system smashed by early childhood sexual abuse made life an anxiety ridden existence. There is no wish to do it again. Contemplation over the hurdles it took to find these moments of fulfillment takes me back to my mother’s death eight years ago.

It was only then that the truth came up in explicit detail, every nuance, every trauma. It was only then that instinct allowed for release of all that been hidden in order to protect her need for a view of ‘family’ that eased her conscious.

As each chapter arose it came with sorrows but also joy because locked down trauma locks down joy too. Blackness carried from the crimes of others vanished from my core.  

Finally the enormous load of feeling dirty and bad lifted. There is space to explore what really is there without clouds of filth from the hands of others. The journey continues…