LOVE ME?

Witchy pumpkin by Patricia

It’s in the moments between activities that self-talk is so important. Time to just be is so hard, as doing replaces being. But being with oneself and being OK in stillness… that is the key and the path to joy.

With a life spent running this solitude is much like pre-Covid solitude. The difference? Happiness which equates to peace. Anxiety once making staying in my skin impossible, now calmed internally invites. With trepidation, then without reservation I go deeper.

Opening arms a little to oneself after a life of self-rejection is quite a miracle. Working through child-hood issues after being gagged from expelling them, took time. Time and repeated retelling of the very worst that as a child was forced to stay inside me, just as I was forced.

It took time, and it took brave courage unfettered because no one, especially the family I came from, wanted to hear—and still don’t hear. And I don’t care. (I do, but have learned to manage with what never will come) I don’t need them.

I need me, and those around me who truly support without fear. Not using silencing tactics, rejection, or suppressing my light in any way. I am the one that lives with me and will die with me. I am the one who needs to like me, and am learning to love all that I am.

SWEETNESS

Our new bird house up for only a week before being occupied.

There is beauty all around me, some of my own making, much from Mother, the same Mother who takes my breath away with her beauty and casts scourges upon us in the form of a virus.

But inside me there still lives darkness, gloom, and disaster, a surety of blackness that believes I don’t deserve life.

It lands on me like vulture claws in the quiet loneliness of night when sleep won’t come. This time due to simply sending an email to a brother, a non-abusive brother, but one who buddied up with an abusive brother for life choosing his company over mine. That makes him a co-conspirator of the worst kind, and very dangerous for me.

Yet, like a moth to flame… but who doesn’t want family? Picnics, holidays, to be part of a group? My groups call for safety. And those ‘people’ are not safe. To initiate contact ALWAYS means no sleep that night.

Taking a sleep aid finally at midnight, watching TV for almost an hour, resisting food as a way to numb, back to bed and my dooming thoughts. Because this is when everything looks bad, and feels bad. Every bright thing in the daytime becomes foreboding and all my fault.

The rock hard boulders push me further into the pillow with the weight. Then a gentle voice, as if an apparition of an angel spoke above me, what if you filled yourself with loving words, kind thoughts, sweet truths…

And the turn-around began, countering the badness into reality. The outcome? A feeling, a belief, the knowledge deep inside that began to open with love… you are a good and special person. Like everyone around you that you admire, you too are admirable. And with that sweet sleep came.

Our resident toad living on the patio making a home in a potted plant burying himself in the dirt every night. He has live there for weeks!

Go Away PTSD

photo by Patricia

It was bedtime. Routine in that area has become very important, extremely so. Yet forgotten, or the hope that maybe this one time I could do something excitingly spontaneous and it would be alright.

It wasn’t. The next two days didn’t go so well.

So on the way back to the bedroom after putting the crazy cat in the studio for the night, I took a peek at the night from the back porch. Fireflies appeared, one by one, watching, mesmerized, feeling childhood awakening in the bones of my memory.

Dashing around the yard at dusk with the kids from the neighborhood playing Kick the Can, or Ghosts in the Graveyard. Being called in late once dark settled in, all dirty and tired, falling asleep easily after a day of hard play. But that is not Patricia-world now. Now routines must be adhered to.

But only this once? Since things are going so well, can’t this once be added on to what has been a stretch of wonderful summer days? Days when miles upon miles of bike rides along the path by the water are also combined with laps and laps of walking, because energy expended seemed to compound into more energy.

Can’t a quick dip in the pool be enjoyed? The quiet water luring as the last pink faded from the sky casting a rosy glow. Donning my swimsuit, an irresistible dip was risked. Fireflies grew brighter as the waves cuddled me. But my senses began to ratchet up rather than calm down as they should have been doing.  

The impromptu fun delighted, the water warm, the twinkling solar string lights making it a magical wonderland of joy. Too much joy, exciting me beyond any possibility of sleep. The haranguing voice began its pounding, ‘YOU KNOW BETTER! YOU YOU YOU.’ 

Routine. Remember that? You must pay attention to your unique body needs. Stimulating your senses when they should be winding down won’t work. Lying awake long after Samuel came to bed, medication had to be taken. Not only did my body go off the deep end, so did my mind.

The negative thoughts chewed like snarly, dripping fangs, taking bite after bite, pounding my being with fearful stabs. After staring at the television for over an hour, another dose had to be taken.

Finally drowsiness, and back to bed. Sleep came as if encased in a tomb like a mummy with no movement until waking. There goes a day of waste. No walking, no chores, no nothing except for the escape into watching beloved movies. Because a body that jumps into the dangerous pool of PTSD needs calm. No motion, nothing except feeling sorry for myself. That equates to food used to numb it all out adding to the load of crippling self-hate.

It takes a second day to recover and feel as if back into myself. Depression, disconnect, and displacement from my very being all needed time, quiet, and seclusion before re-connection to body, thoughts, and spirit. Go away Samuel, leave me alone. Everything had spiraled about like a mini universe out of control, all from a simple quick dip in the pool. 

This morning wholeness. The fresh picked lavender scent is noticed as the gurgling fountain settles my soul. The morning feels cherished, not feared. Because once the PTSD breaker is tripped, fear, panic, and the surety that a terrifying thing is about to happen exposes every nerve as it readies for danger. Terror from childhood when the peril was real crashes in putting my alert system on edge with red-light vigilance. THAT is tiring, and once happening, out of my control. 

A special day is one when my being feels whole and is whole. When the tiniest event floods me with pleasure; the toad living in the potted plant on the patio blanketing himself under the wet dirt as if it is a home with a bed, the birds sipping at the birdbath, the abundant lavender in bloom along with the heady scent calming my very pores with their aroma.

The morning is sweet again with wonder as we celebrate 42 years together. On this day, at this moment, I feel whole. 

Freedom and Safety

Waking in the night a breeze of fear passes through me. All the people called ‘family’ were put in the block sender list yesterday to feel safe. But what of the love felt for each of them? The love is from an immature girl, remaining a girl all through my 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, only beginning to mature in the last decade… a slow and painful process. 

And with maturity comes the realization that lies are not OK. Interacting with each of them, always on their terms, is not OK. Pretending is not OK. Being buddies with an abuser, aligning with him against me, is not OK. Pretending he didn’t slink up in the night to abuse me… is not OK.

By not talking about the crimes committed against me make the crimes loom larger. Lying awake in the night remembering. The confused mixture of pleasure and confusion as a little girl, still sleepy laying there at the end of couch with my little brother asleep at the other end.

Tommy’s head between my legs— waking to the soft pleasure but not understanding. The next morning, and all the years after, the brother I loved so much with admiration and trust, turned his hate upon me. I was a reminder of his crime. His fear of exposure compounding the punishment that would defeat me for decades. That leaves me fighting for a life even now. 

On little shoulders that would take even more trauma, some so violent that remembering isn’t safe to this day. My psyche protects me from it still.

I am blocking emails that never come unless someone dies or wants something. No one dares to get close, reality might set in. But what of my reality?

Attachments cause deep pain. My preference is to attach to the land and mother nature who soothes, bringing smiles of joy as the chipmunks play, or a flower blooms .

Attach to my children, and their children. To Samuel, who I’m learning to trust for the very first time in over 40 years of marriage. Trust for a friend whom I’ve finally learned to erect boundaries with, a miraculous feat… trust that will reach out only so far because she will slam me down if I let her. 

That is enough to be challenged with. The origin family carries baggage with heavy requirements I have no energy to meet. (Yet agree to anyway when pressured.) So take away the temptation. 

After trying repeatedly to develop relationships individually with no takers, it became apparent that groups were only what was wanted— herd immunity. My need for safety equates to detaching. Craving freedom that was lost when feeling forced by pressured guilt to do something I did not want to do paralleling my formative years. Freedom and safety come home. 

PANDEMIC PARALYSIS

Though retired, living off hard earned funds, there is work to do. Remember being in the moment, not carried away like a schizoid in the stratosphere of worry and concern? Oh yes, that. Being here now isn’t my preference. Being here before Covid is.

Facing reality and being in the moment. One day on, one day off, one day both, those are the best days. This period is historic, not a history desiring to be a part of. How did others endure what they did in generations past?

We live in our little bubble on this plot of land, then like a bomb– reality hits paralyzing my body parts. Get up, do something, yet I can’t. Samuel looks over into the living room where I haven’t moved all day. (adding to feelings of low self-esteem)

But my limbs won’t move, my mind on hold.

Pushing myself the next day, the path of being present is the answer. Joints ache upon rising. Work to move, to do something, any little thing, and be in the body while doing it. Small things matter especially during this time. Be gentle and patient with yourself and others. Gentleness and presence is the way.

Rage and Dissociation

Making brittle knowing an overweight body should not be consuming a cup of sugar, I made it anyway. This morning the rest was thrown out. The day begins with a super moon setting in the west, unable to capture it on the camera without electric lines through the shot. What a beautiful orb to wake to.

Going to sleep with the birds, means waking with them too. Sleep wondrously came despite consuming the toxic sugar. These blips off the path of health are not positive ones, but one must keep trying, and today is a new day.

Keeping connected is another anomaly searched for, tried for, and not at all 100%, but much more than years ago when coming to the present was a goal to have. It began with a therapist saying, “Just show up!”

My take on his words were that pulling myself out of the dissociative mist was enough. I was enough. At the time dissociation wasn’t a familiar word, but I spent a lot of time there, off in Patricia la la land.

It wasn’t until blogging when other survivors talked about it that I learned my disconnection from the present had a name. When learning how to meditate 20 years ago, staying present and feeling safe began to occur. From there it began.

It is in the present that Mother Nature heals me, daily walks in the meadow topped off with meditative time spent creek-side. The respite brightens my mood which on some days of late falls into a depressive state where anger flares into rage over political persons who have become something else besides human. Tamping down feelings adds to the sadness. Expressing feelings brings equanimity back once again.

“Samuel, for decades I lived with rage. It fizzled out during the years lived here. But I feel it again punching at the television with rage,” I said as he bent over the gardens pulling weeds.

“Mike said that too,” Samuel said, adding, “He wishes Trump would get the virus.”

“I do too,” I answered emphatically. “I wish he would get it and drop dead this minute!” Samuel nods his head accepting how his wife and friend feels, but a man too gentle to wish that.

There, it was said. Wishing a person dead doesn’t cause them to die. It is a place for rage to go. Not a real wish, but a fire to burn it in, the smoke trailing up taking my rage with it. I may need more of these fires…

 

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…

FAITH

photos by Patricia

This period in our lives is stunning, an event unimagined. These things happen to other eras, not mine. Then the start in of why now, why us?

Which does nothing to help with the fortitude necessary going forward, remembering the extreme, difficult periods of ancestors; polio, World Wars, the Spanish Flu, and if going farther back, plagues and other maladies wiping out populations en masse.

Each day the situation needs acceptance all over again. Waking, the first thought is the pandemic with imposed isolation which may need a new normal once a vaccine is found. My own situation ought not to depress me.

We aren’t in a city where the streets are off limits with parks closed or exposing one to danger if too busy. But the knowledge that there’s no escape is confining. There is nowhere to run. That is another life lesson accepted daily even before this began.

Nowhere to run. It is a time of continued introspection. While many find comfort in their religious faith by gathering on-line, my quest is an inner one, into my body opening my heart. We are together in spirit no matter what religion, faith, or belief- separate as one.

 

 

 

CONNECT

Some day’s anxiety rolls deep like thunder strumming beneath the current of my everyday life. A walk with meditative time by creek dispels it temporarily, soothing mother holding me in her loving arms. Some days pulling up the blanket of depression is so temping but the lure is resisted— move, do something healing; cook a nice meal, bake a bunny cake, exercise, cuddle with my purring kitty, or pick a spring bouquet.

Each day new feelings, a different feeling. It’s OK, telling myself that whatever is there, feel it. It may be scary, but there’s other things. A connection with all the parts is living wholly. Separating, my tendency, means ratcheting up anxiety, or deepening into depression, or worse. Many things develop when disconnected from my body.

Yes, I am scared. Sometimes more than others. I am fearful, and at times it overwhelms. If this, if that, on and on. Before trotting off to insanity, remember… courage. It is the time for courage. I have what it takes to stay connected within myself. And I need not be afraid to go there.

These are the talks by the creek that I have with myself, and it helps. It helps greatly.

photo (and cake) by Patricia