Falling into fall. The energetic hopeful feelings bringing pep in my step has withered into a steady plodding along. But one thing learned, exercise is the tonic to winter depression, which starts about this time every year, getting deeper as sunlight dwindles and shorter days darken my mood.
By lap three that lift in my being wakes up. It once again feels good to be alive as senses become alert looking around as if seeing it for the first time.
All the work becomes harder, especially chasing away negative thoughts, always jumping on reasons why others may not seem caring. Could it be that’s their way with everyone? That it isn’t because I’m unworthy?
There is at my core dis-ease of self-doubt. A feeling of badness or unworthiness which became part of my personality. A rock solid belief that forever needs chipping away. Like granite it is hard, but work continues.
The whisperings coming from my soul confuse me. Having trouble deciding something because a quiet voice rises up to be heard is difficult to listen to… more of a sense or feeling than the loud voice usually directing traffic in my head.
Yet there lies the true voice, the one so often denied, so often going unheeded, so necessary on the path to health and wholeness.
It is in the quiet meditative walks in the glorious meadow when this voice, this quiet feeling wafts up to be acknowledged- when all other distractions are replaced by beauty, solitude, and grace.
The slow change of white Queen’s Ann’s Lace giving way to yellow as the mustard plants begin to open. Almost stepping on a Praying Mantis as it hops out of my way. Looking like a leaf, it wouldn’t have been seen if it hadn’t moved. Each lap in the meadow brings me closer to myself. Nature offers surprises as the heron drifts off from the creek shore to find another fishing spot.
Though not wanting to encapsulate the summer as a hard one, there have been challenges internally with the guilt over a little brother (who towers over me now) needing me yet I couldn’t be there for him. It feels like going backwards a leap, after baby steps forward.
But is it? The thought forms that the well of pain early on, the repeated traumas, were put on hold. And that dipping into that chasm has to be done in spurts, not all at once. Go back, feel what was silenced, what was always silenced, even now with these people professing to be ‘family’ — feel it, let it in, lets the tears come even now 60 years later.
Because there is pain to unravel and understand. A great need for compassion towards myself and the little girl that I was continues. That part of me still hurts, is willful, and often raging. She does things impulsively that cause harm. Go there, be there for her, acknowledge the pain and let it flow up. But it’s not up to her to run things. Take the reins, guide her to health in all realms… spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.
The path to wholeness starts with care for myself, even if overriding another’s needs. That is authenticity, to be true to self. But first I have to find who that is. A life of asking others to guide me because I had no way to my core is slowly changing as connections occur.
Pieces scatter like a bucket of wash water thrown out with a splash. Saying no to Stevie caused weeks of worry, sleepless nights, and guilt tinged with grief. All these feelings to sort out; guilt for saying no to my younger brother, grief that our relationship is so poor along with reminders of an origin family where insurmountable pain existed which wreaked lives shortening them.
Trust the wisdom that caused me to say no, though it has been hard to like myself ever since. The wonder of exciting days awaiting dissolved, my ability to stay on track nutritionally went too. All the feelings about myself went sour, positive feelings that took persistent, long-term work to develop.
Why can’t you help your little brother? (the critic ever-present) Though it wasn’t my help, it was Samuel’s he desired. Just bate my sister as if really wanting to see me, a TV in my room, put there just for me…NOT. Repeated video chats, once calling back SEVEN times when I wasn’t up to answering him, then the rarity of actually answering an email, also telling me how much fun it will be on the lake, etc., but what he really wanted was collusion in his chaos.
The man could have another house that did not need so much work. But he wanted to do the work. (I don’t) He is 65. Really, buy a house that has 30 outdoor stone steps required each time to just get inside it? No indoors stairs to the basement. You carry groceries and all else up those steps?
Flat surfaces for us. Also, with my limited abilities, focus is finally being honed onto the closest and most important relationships- my husband, then children, their children, and friends who feel much safer than brothers and more enjoyable to be with. Not so with Stevie.
He can be very demanding, even telling me what I can say and what I can’t. Like hating Trump. Maybe that is a sweetness within him, not wanting others to say they hate someone, yet in less than a year he was saying the same thing.
I surely don’t want to be around his energy, the chaos within him of both retiring and being in a new home, huge life changes that seem to be bringing out a excessive restlessness in him. That is an energy hard to around since my own insides are often in turmoil. What I crave is the ability to be still and be OK with that. To feel it to my core and have this newly found peace spread throughout me.
Long, long ago, when we were both living at Mom’s in our twenties. My rooms were in the basement. Mom was beginning Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. Stevie had begun a job as a bartender. He excitedly talked me into turning my little living room in the basement into a bar. Uh, OK. It doesn’t matter that’s where I live, or that Mom is drying out. Will you then love me?
The aftereffects of saying no have been grim. Yet in its wake there is an enormous leap of growth into self-preservation, respect of self, and yes, a continued path towards love of self.
“Maybe you are taking too much,” Samuel said while we sit on the patio with morning coffee.
The night before, for no apparent reason, sleep evaded me. Instead, every situation not working out how I’d like going back to almost birth invaded my consciousness. My head swam with negativity about everything I did being WRONG!
After such a fine day, Samuel’s answer makes sense.
“Maybe it’s the weight loss,” I said, adding, “I’ve lost quite a bit so maybe I need much less.”
“Yeah, maybe, take half, or take it earlier,” Samuel responded.
A quiet man, it was surprising during the silence interrupted only by birdsongs while sipping coffee that he piped up with his thoughts.
“So which?” I asked, “Earlier, or less?”
“I don’t know,” he said, and of course, how could he know what I should do?
But like much of my life, scattered insides makes me look for answers elsewhere, in people who seemed to have a wholeness that was not shattered. That has become less of a need, but lately has cropped up while hounding Samuel for decisions for every simple thing. God, Samuel?
He rides the fence on all things, maybe his favorite answer. Getting an opinion from him is like milking blood from a stone. So, what is going on? The dosage, or maybe I’m at a crossroads where a leap to growth awaits, or both.
Permission to reach a healthy weight is in question. As if I haven’t a right to feel good, but must carry the burdens of an unhappy family. To let go means chucking all that was learned about myself, that perhaps I really am a worthwhile person? The critic says otherwise.
The critic is overbearingly powerful, a conglomeration of all those in the origin group I was born into. And others who knew of the abuse and did nothing, like my Aunt down the road who was also the school nurse.
Back then there wasn’t a law requiring that those who care for children report abuse. But I sometimes wonder if it would have helped or made things worse. Would I have been removed from the home, or would the offenders have gone to a detention center? But either way, a different message would have been relayed, that I mattered. Or perhaps the family would then blame me for it all. I feel like that anyway.
I’ll try half the dose and stick with it till my body adjusts, which might mean more late nights and the dreaded sleep aid which leaves me groggy the next day. Perhaps the need to question that critic who loudly bangs in my head needs more aggressive work.
When you’re hit by a Mack truck and no one comes to help, no medical attention given, and no therapy to address the symptoms of so much trauma as a child, it makes PTSD and all its challenges a permanent fixture in my life. The message learned— I don’t matter.
That’s how a child perceives it which never changed through the years, because the message of keeping silent stayed. The most horrible, tragic, splintering, shattering traumas sustained as a child… forbidden to be let out of me. It does take a lot of food to lock it down.
Anyone in that group of people I had the misfortune to be born unto would tell you different. You’d be told of their kindnesses, their care, but it came with the price of silence. With the death sentence of pretending I wasn’t who I was, but a mere puppet or shell of a human being…. not me.
We wake each day anew. Not what was yesterday, or this time last year, sometimes wondering where she is, only remembering the very best days when peace filled me. Because not every day is like that.
You must go with what is now. Though growth occurs that does not mean it comes easily or without pain. It does mean without backsliding. Yet once hurdles are successfully mounted, the ropes of growth pull me back to the hilltop more quickly.
There is an insistence to go my core, yet barriers stop me. Unseen curtains shielding the way. It takes work to go slow enough to enter the sacred space of internal wisdom and clarity.
That is where solace is found, wanting to go there again, working toward that goal. The barriers are resistance to my truths, not wanting to face my humanness, foibles, character flaws, or maybe hardest, my talents, achievements, generosity, sweetness, or anything else on plus side.
Pull back the curtains and see what’s there. Accept all there is, work on what’s needed, try not to judge, and just be.
Ten days later my footing is still shaky wondering what happened to the person growing into love for herself. Attempting to be part of the origin family group took me back hundreds of paces… or so it seems.
I don’t want to hear about the third person not there, my younger brother Stevie who lives upstate. If he wanted to tell me these things about himself he would have. Don’t you two tell me how worried you are about him. You’re worried about him? What about the cocktails you consume every night Seth? Your alcoholism is raging.
What about your need to have a group of people together Don, working at it diligently- a group of people who can’t help each other grow? And where you discuss another who is not even there? Being around those stuck in loops, pretending they are not, impedes growth exponentially.
I don’t want to worry, especially about those where any relationship is not grounded in safety, loyalty, or true care. I still feel like a puppet attached to their strings easily manipulated by fear, rejection, or guilt. Guilt at blocking all from emails, but if I were to look in that folder, my bet is that nothing is there anyway.
For my own safety and well-being that distance is needed, but guilt consumes me. Who I used to be becomes me now. Where is the Patricia who likes herself? Who allows freedoms, happiness, and growth? Who looks beneath the surface and knows wisdom?
My mind goes in circles, round and round, thinking about each of them, and I don’t want to. I want to be here now, with the land, with people I love and trust; Samuel, sons, grand-kids, and most especially my cat. A cat won’t hurt you. A cat is loyal.
Where is the wise voice that answers softly with the truths you need? It will come, it will come. You’re OK, you’re OK.
Hearing the ding of emails coming in, taking a breath, a sigh of relief calms me knowing that any emails coming from the culprits of those in the so called origin family will be diverted to junk mail.
I’ll never see them or know emails are there unless I look. And mostly there won’t be any. No one interacts much unless wanting something, which is rare. But it’s a necessary step right now to feel safe, find my freedom again, and be at peace.
The emails come from friends, those few that are real family, trusted and supportive in a honest way, not in ways that serve only them. And in they come, reliable, loving, and filling the ragged holes that the origin family ravaged with their fake interest and hollow words.
Friends, the family made after years of work, commenting on the video and photos of my 8 year old grand-daughter in a huge dance competition where she recently took first place among all the area dance studio’s participants.
Oh to see her whole, loving, and complete, the age when I was first attacked. An age where the longing for ballet classes was not to be because food used to survive the traumas put too many pounds on to my little kid frame.
She’s a winner to us regardless of any wins, her grace and beauty overflowing. Tears fill my eyes while watching, and joy sent sparklers of shivers down my legs to my toes….
Why has it taken so long to love life, being alive, and to feel freedom possibly for the first time in 68 years? Wounds that don’t air fester. They develop pus, gangrene, and worsen, sometimes a body part needs hacking off, or death occurs.
Pretend you care, but you insist, ‘don’t tell.’ One cannot heal from trauma when the trauma is vaulted in tightly. When air, light and the hope of healing is withheld. Wound after wound, does it matter after a while, or does each wound compound upon the other?
And that’s what families do, pretend… victimizing the victim. So much healing yet to do. To go deep to find the black rot still there, evident in the way others still are allowed to take advantage of me. Because feeling poorly about one self does that.
And though some light of self-love is beginning to grow in my core, there are more doors to open and windows to rise. Corners well-hidden where parts still hide, cowering in fear of what others would think if they knew… more importantly what my thoughts are of myself.
The forgiving of self for past perceived crimes, even if only a child, still fester. Because what’s done in childhood came along like a fungus affecting all relationships negatively, like pus oozing out.
The only thing that would bring me back to the hell my life was, would be to become a better mother. To have my sons forgive my mistakes which were many and sorrowful. When asking forgiveness for my transgressions they say they have none to forgive.
They do even if they don’t know it. And isn’t that true of most childhoods, that we must heal some of the damage well meaning parents inflict? But most importantly it is powerful and relevant to be better now, and for me to forgive me. Bring light to the dark pockets still existing. Dig deep, see the truth with acceptance, tolerance, kindness and love. Let the newly found love for self grow.
Meditative moments in the early morning include readings from a new book given to me by Cory while visiting at his home. My younger son is very aware of my internal workings as he helped with all the computer related details of book publishing and erecting this blog site.
His thoughtfulness warms me. Though easily readable in one sitting, it is being savored a little bit at a time.
Pondering the use of the word hate yesterday while walking, it occurred to me that the hate was for the situation. That families gather together against the victim to keep her quiet using any psychological tool available; criticism, rejection, whatever it takes to silence the voice of truth.
That’s the hate. Mother’s admonitions early on taught me to NEVER say hate, never speak up, never advocate for my own needs, especially quelling my nature to speak up about wrongs.
That’s my nature, but forever damaged due to her teachings so that her little daughter would never tell anyone what her sons were doing and what they had done. Because even after telling me to tell her if it ever happened again, it kept happening.
Of course. How could I stop what was never wanted to begin with? Although I’d spend most of my life blaming myself for just that.
Even on her death bed she directed me to take out a pen and write it down, a verse from a poem she once read. Still the dutiful daughter in my fifties, I did as she asked.
“Talk faith. The world is better off without Your uttered ignorance and morbid doubt. If you have faith in God, or man, or self, Say so. If not, push back upon the shelf Of silence all your thoughts, till faith shall come; No one will grieve because your lips are dumb.” Ella Wheeler
I still have that scrap that of paper. It seared into me the words of silence I was never to break. At first perplexing, then it dawned on me that even after her death she would manage me and try to keep me silent about her sons. A mother loves all her children.
To cause such damage to a child’s personality and nature so early on makes it very hard to reclaim. And of course I cannot to the extent I’d like. There are precious losses unrecoverable. But dwelling on what’s lost is a choice after it has been fully grieved, and that took years.
Now the key to happiness is mine. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, it always has been but I didn’t know it.