In the teens with a fine mist of snow sprinkling down like glitter through the rising sun. The fire warms me as birds peck at the suet cakes in the feeder outside while the cat curls up next to me in the rocker. The wave of peacefulness envelopes me disturbed only by my thoughts which wonder when the next crash of chaos consumes me. Because it will.
Take the brass ring when it’s offered. Winter in its slowness allows respite. Periods of grace in-between the other, when even with no reason my insides simmer with over-activity. But not this morn. Turning in bed sleep found me again, then again.
The long snooze lasted almost ten hours. Oh how I love that! Not having a thing makes me love it all the more with gratitude and great appreciation. Sleep, oh blessed sleep!
Yesterday was quiet but enjoyable, the warm weather pulling me outside to walk the meadow then meeting Samuel creek-side for a gentle canoe ride, even sighting the beaver a few times. Oh, a sigh of relief while Mother soothed me with her loving arms, the warm sun and centering stillness.
Our Christmas is yet to come. We gather together Saturday, a once in a year tradition when both sons and families are with us. Cory, wife, and little daughter arrive tonight from a near-by state.
“Promise not to get over-excited,” Cory says on a phone call, and my gut knows the directive is coming from his spouse.
“I promise,” my response comes with a bitter feeling towards her.
My young daughters-in-law are without the blemish of childhood trauma, so how could they understand? It’s true, my anxiety makes it hard to be around, though sons are very used to me. Anxiety overwhelms even when erupting from pleasurable activities like family gatherings.
Any heightened experience makes my nervous system go haywire. But my intention is keep my promise, and not let resentments towards young women who have never been splintered by trauma to tarnish a special event.
Forgive, forgive, forgive, let love up.
As the wind blows at sub-zero temps, it is cozy inside. The collection of gifts all wrapped. The food fairly figured out for ten people, including breakfast, snacks and dinner, and my hands need to be occupied until the day of that special party when both sons and their families are all together (a once a year occurrence)
Our monthly women’s gathering was spent doing a craft along with card playing. But one friend was kind enough to prepare cloth strips for each of us to make an ornament. Once home my hands ached to keep making them but the material store is a bit of a drive.
An alternative? Gold wrapping paper. So a Scandinavian Star was made of paper and attached to a poinsettia for the very same friend who taught me to make it. She called to visit tomorrow and will be surprised.
The grand-kids are also enjoying crafts with me. They spent time in my studio last weekend working on projects I had prepared for them, even the little one who is just about three years old. So I am creating more projects for them, one a popsicle snowflake they can paint, glitter, or fill with sequins. I couldn’t resist trying one.
The cold in my body is almost done with me, and the cold outside is about to rise. Soon walks in the meadow will resume relieving aches both physical and emotional. Mother nature has a way of doing that…
The flu-like cold making me miserable with thoughts of having no right to misery. The newscast aired stories of those with no arms making a living with their art showing how they paint with the brush in their mouth. I have no right for complaint.
So I close up like a clam with no feelings because the feelings there shouldn’t be. Yet there they are. Depression, anxiety, stress. Stress? How could you be stressed? You’re not working.
So don’t feel what’s there, and that adds more stress. And no tears. I’m a crier. If I’m not crying in a somewhat regular fashion, something’s not right.
Going to our monthly get-together’s with four other friends, one takes me to her shoulder and the tears come. The very same friend whose husband is handling a cancer scare right now. How dare I? Yet she is comforting me.
“Don’t cry,” she says gently.
Once the tears come, so does the laughter and smiles, real smiles, not the fake ones I’ve been plastering my face with knowing something should be making me smile but not feeling it.
You cannot suppress one feeling without suppressing the other. Chipping away at my heart to keep opening it makes me whole, also opening me up to what matters, what’s real, and what is most important— how you are with yourself and others.
Though in the low 40’s, the brisk day was sunny teasing me out. Samuel joined me for a paddle in the creek after my laps were completed. Bare trees make a stark environment, though the dam is still high causing a gentle cascade over the waterfall.
We sat a few moments at the edge of it in wondering at how hard the beaver had worked in the last few years. We had once enjoyed going down that part of the creek unencumbered by any hindrance at all. The dam began as a slight pile to 5 feet high, and growing, tightly packed with mud, twigs, sticks and large branches.
The beaver has added more mud to his hut along with piles of wood stuffs around the lodge for food, or to fill in holes in his house where wind might shear off walls in the winter to come.
So much is lost when the green goes away. No sigh of relief is felt like on a summer day when all the muscles relax. Instead my body remains rigid to resist the cold. A red coat was adorned with a bright orange cap so that hunters looking for deer don’t mistake me for one.
The beaver has made canoeing possible year-round because his dam has caused the creek to rise, and stay high. Most people find beavers a nuisance either shooting them (illegally) or trapping them to move elsewhere. We like them, finding their habitat and work habits fascinatingly admirable.
Since writing Seth via email, expressing what bubbled up needing to be said, thoughts of him encumbered with a vague feeling of wrongness drift about and inside me. Should a friendlier note be sent, or perhaps a Happy Thanksgiving card by snail mail?
Not wanting to focus on him as he has little to do with my life today, thoughts continue to come back to him clouded with feelings of wrongness. Of course feelings would sway that way as that has been the taboo. Families are adept at keeping a survivor shut down.
This time around it isn’t as severe, nowhere as severe, because the last go-around caused me to believe a heart attack was occurring which included an ambulance to a one night hospital stay in the observation wing.
It is shadows of the past when my voice was locked down tight along with my feelings that were as much as mystery to me as they were to anyone else. A relationship with anyone from that group where my needs are respected and heard is not going to occur. Accepting that fact must be faced once again.
Reading this from another blog this morning reminded me of the seriousness of remaining firm in my needs. My memories may not be denied outright, but there are countless other ways just as debilitating.
One of the worst pains suffered by survivors who remember their abuse is exclusion by their family, who deny the truth of their memories.”
~John Backus, Sc.D., and Barbara Una Stannard, Ph.D.
And so the day goes on. Today Shane and his family come to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. A turkey is ready to go in the oven, along with all the fixings including a cold cider punch, and pecan pie.
It is OK, and a part of life, to make room for both joy and pain.
A lover of ballet since childhood, it is heartening to see my grand-daughters use their bodies in beautiful ways. One, only 2, is learning gymnastics. The other, 7, has been taking a variety of dance classes since the age of 3. The one she excels at is ballet, my passion.
Dance class wasn’t for a child who put on weight, which happened abruptly at age 8 after the first sexual attack by a sibling. And my mother, with 8 children, wouldn’t have the time to take me anyway.
That didn’t stop my love of ballet. It enthralls me. Once Samuel was dragged to a ballet when the well- known Baryshnikov starred, a memory still vivid.