BEE GRATEFUL

Waking after another rough night up too late, having to take something, my first thought? Why not be grateful? Instead of sitting a good part of the day in grogginess, snapping at Samuel so much he stays far away from me, why not turn it around?

Out walking early helped to metabolize the drug, also adding the benefit of uplift once the happy chemicals kick in. Instead of it being penance for eating off anxiety in the night walking rigidly just to get it done, the walk was paced slowly enough to suck in the heavenly scent of wet earth and decaying leaves.

Round and round noticing the aroma which goes straight to my core, a squirrel surprised jumping to the next tree, the crunch of nuts under my feet. And Samuel? We sat, laughed, and chatted over morning coffee, a miracle, because usually after a bad night which of late is too often, no company is wanted…just leave me alone.

But be grateful, the mantra while walking. Why not? There is an ability to waver one’s attitude to a more upbeat tilt. It includes acceptance that my body will do this no matter how many healthy habits are incorporated into my day.

A life of daily terror to my body because fear was around every corner took its toll. Not fighting it or blaming myself for not controlling it is a start. Gentleness swept in.

While walking on a crisp damp day the thought of rewards for this effort included a lavender Epson salt soak in the tub and a pot of ginger vanilla chamomile tea. The day went much better, from a blob on the couch to living it fully.

PEACEFUL GRATITUDE

A gentle, peaceful way to start the day, sipping fresh brewed rich dark coffee on the screened porch, centering in on feelings hoping to reach my core without slants, twists or turns. But often that is a no go, hyped up on something else besides calm and peace, disconnected from myself.

One day to the next can be so different. Yesterday’s realization that fall’s downward mood is already invading, but then the surprise of a subsequent ability to find solace inside, because the granite yielded to kindness. Today? Different feelings.

As the mother and white spotted baby deer nibbled grass in the early morning misted meadow, feelings come that rise above self, encompassing more than just that. An expansion. Opening to it, peace fills me, comforting my often chaotic interior, and with those gracious feelings…gratitude.

Bury the Living

Though hard, it is good to get back to the work of inhabiting my body as one. The more time that passes after being with the chaos and drama of origin family members, the better I feel and the less my mind goes in loops over it.

Moving on to the usual, facing a day with its fears, and challenges with the diligence needed to be present. That is enough without the quagmire of the past, pulled back into old grooves where no growth occurs. It has. No going back, my core will not allow stagnation once tasting the fruits of expansion.

The time spent as a robot to please while with them, dimming as each days goes by. The wonders of each sunrise begins to settle in while worries, and mental games that sicken fade. Because the mind can make me sick if around others that are stuck in loops of their own.

My internal wisdom won’t let me stay in swamps of death-like goo, memories of what was that still are in that group. Who cloyingly begin drowning me with repeated attempts at collaboration in dysfunction. No, free me, let me loose. Tentacles of what seems like family luring me down into the tar that sucks a soul dead.

My issues are many without adding to them, all spelled out in the psychiatric textbooks of diagnoses. Though terms are not my thing, it is helpful to acknowledge my own reality so that gentleness towards self can grow; DISORDERS- Depressive, Anxiety, Trauma and Stressor related disorder, Dissociative Disorder…

It takes great care to manage my life without adding more stress to it. Perhaps these doors that have been left ajar with hopes of meaningful contact need to be closed, maybe locked. To come back to the basics each day, contemplation of my own mortality which spurs my desire to enjoy the simples pleasures amidst the pain.

Ah, to be free of it. As each day passes, more freedom lightens my being. Joy replaces depression. Tears dry, without knowing why they are there, wiping them away almost daily. Maybe it is a mourning all over again. Each failed attempt at connection comes with the price of mourning.

Bury the dead while they are alive? In a sense, yes. Or more succinctly, Live and let live

MARILYN

And so death gets in the way of the idyllic life just as expected. A friend all the way back to childhood has died. Though she moved from the area almost 30 years ago, you do not forgot someone so dearly loved.

She owned a small horse ranch up the country road from me as a young girl, horse lover age, about 12 or 13. All summer long I’d bike up to help her train young horses, leading them in their bosal bit-less bridle behind me and the sturdy older horse she had me saddle up.

Eventually she gave me the older horse with the condition of never selling it. That when the horse could no longer stay with me I give him back. What a miracle for a young girl. Miracle upon miracle Marilyn gave me.

Sweating in the summer sun, as hoof falls clopped on the dirt roads, we went around the countryside on horseback. Waking her with scrambled eggs and toast, as she slept late after her night job, we went out to feed the horses and muck out the stalls. Candy, another friend from down the road often was with us.

The scent of straw and horses thrilled me, the work all pleasure as Marilyn’s presence was witty, trustworthy, and loving.  We kept in touch, once she came back to visit which was when the above photo was taken, now hanging in my hallway. Though I’ve been overweight since age 8, she never was. But in the photo she towers above me…my strong tree.

Of all my friends, I was the chosen to help her train. For a young girl so severely damaged by what was happening in my home, Marilyn instilled a sense of dignity in my soul, purpose to my life… and hope. Though numb the first 24 hours after hearing of her death, some tears do fall in my quiet moments. My dear friend, my tall tree. I love you Marilyn and you are missed.

Last Night’s Super Moon

Photos by Patricia

Coming home after seeing loved ones not seen in so long instilled a new sense of vigor and rejuvenation. The sights outside evoke an overwhelmingly beauty impossible to absorb all at once. Take a breath.

Wanting to ‘do it all,’ impatient for the new day to start at bedtime, the calm voice interjects, take your time, things will get done. Enjoy each one. The only one pushing you… is you.

So take it easy. Do stuff. But do it at a pace where all parts stay together. Even here in this peaceful plot of land the topsy-turvy symptoms of PTSD can take over, and does take over without permission. But there are methods that sometimes stave it off.

Breathe. Go slowly. Enjoy. The gifts are free. Blossoms over my head in the wild pear tree while sitting creek-side. Gobs of flowers erupting in my gardens, but also chives and asparagus in the vegetable garden.

Never have the forsythia’s been so bountiful, almost glowing in their yellow bursting splendor. The quince, which has given babies now full-grown, are dark peach and gloriously adorning several areas.

Everywhere there is so much beauty, overwhelmingly so. It came on slow, but seems to suddenly want to explode.

TOUCH

8 o’clock Easter morning my son calls, “Are you ready for the hunt?” he asks.

“Oh yes,” I answer sitting by the fire with Samuel.

And off we go, my son holding the phone as they traipse around the yard looking for eggs. It is almost as much fun as being there.

Later my other son calls, and we do the same as his little daughter excitedly finds her eggs hidden in grass, rock walls, and along the walkway.

Then we go into their homes (virtually) while they open the eggs and discover the goodies, chocolate bunnies losing their ears immediately.

Still, it is a strange and lonely Easter. The feelings of not touching my grand-children despite the ache of wanting to hug them lingers as the day passes. That closeness is so necessary, with thoughts of the months to come without it adding to the sadness.

Even with a lifestyle that is more reclusive than many, this rift between virtual and real touch takes its toll. Then a news clip of a woman and her husband in Texas.

Tears escape her eyes as she tells the story of the areas poverty with food banks shutting down because volunteers need to stay safe. She eats one day, he doesn’t, and then they switch the next day to make what little food they have last.

I don’t have the right to feel sad.  

BRAVERY

Bravery. It took bravery to decline my son’s offer to visit, and to explain why. It is more usual to put my husband’s, and son’s needs or wants before my own. It is unusual to pay respect to my own. It brings me great pleasure and satisfaction for my family to be happy.

Cory really wanted me to come see his new home, which is why I said yes, while my insides were screaming NO! And to decline only a week prior seems very discourteous. He has been aware of my extreme ambivalence.

Last week I gave another firm yes. But I also mentioned at the tail end of my ‘yes’ about tomorrow’s appointment meeting the new eye surgeon, and the trepidation that involves.  

There are limits to what I can do. Facing the upcoming eye surgeries is taking a great deal of courage, even if the actual procedures are a month or more away. Every day a thrumming undercurrent of terror vibrates in my belly. Someone cutting on my eye? Strangers at my body? 

To drive 6 hours on busy freeways to visit Cory, then stay away from home for several nights, would cause a huge disturbance in my well-being. No matter that it is with loved ones. Being away, dealing with traffic, and an unfamiliar environment, will cause dire stress inside me. Yes, I can do it, but at what cost? Too much right now.

That decision plunges me into the abyss of sadness for having these limitations. But no, I choose not to go there either. I am so lucky to have all I have. To have a loving husband, and two amazing sons who are happy in their lives, and are thriving. This lovely home, and the meadow which brings so much peace. No, I won’t go into sadness. Why should I?

But, just as everything else in my life seems as if in opposition, if a day brings tears mourning once again for what was lost during childhood, that is OK too. Feeling what I feel is a better road than denial. Acceptance is necessary for the feelings to flow through. Much was lost, or taken. Grieving isn’t over in a day, and may take years to mourn. Making a decision not to feel something might not work.

Yet gratitude fills me, and that is my focus. Much of my life has been scorched with anxiety buzzing through my veins like acid. That has changed dramatically over the last ten years… after my mother died, when the freedom for authenticity blossomed. When there was no longer a need to pretend for her happiness that we were a ‘happy family.’

The hate for myself is evolving into self-love and respect. The shame once making me wanting to die daily, dissolved when writing the book; black-tarry snakes wired inside my gut slithering up and out each week, scraping the tender internal issue on its way out. Every nasty evil thing my little child body endured was released with the telling.

Also popping up and out like carbonated, sparkling bubbles were joyful times. Those too had been imprisoned inside with the traumas. Suppression took it all. Healing began to be more than just a word.

The shame is not mine.

I admire the woman I’ve become, the endurance, strength, persistence, and courage it has taken to get here. I look at my husband and begin to feel sorry for him, that he has a wife who keeps him from doing what he wants, who won’t fly, take big trips, blah, blah, blah. Really? What about all the positives? Fortitude, compassion, creativity, devotion to family, ;;; 

I will continue to work at honoring the things about myself others have seen but I’ve been blind to, and to honor my real needs.

I will love who I am, and all I have…