The Price of Abuse

photo by Patricia

Price tag? One life.

Thinking back on my life, and looking at it now,  the wonder is how this place was achieved with so much trauma and anxiety ruling each day.  The power of one individual makes me take stock, but with a sense of sadness at what was stolen.

My life is worth admiration. Yet I’m not in it enough to appreciate that fact. There it is beside me as if I’m living that life apart from the real body and being. Retreating to my safe place is where I still go.

Though work occurs now to be present in the moment, it is work. At least now there is awareness that I go elsewhere.

A therapist once said, “Just show up.”

What did that mean? Years later, after the book, and delving into the community of women survivors of childhood sexual abuse blogging on-line, I learned there was a real clinical word to describe being apart from the body during trauma, and for some, long after. What I refer to as ‘zoning out’ is called dissociation.

It happened without my conscious knowledge. No therapist ever told me, or mentioned the word. This unconscious survival tool buffered me from any more taken from me because precious little was left; an ember burning for life, one spec of fire buried under rubble, a kernel of hope almost extinguished by the hands of brothers.

They didn’t mean it. They were messed up. I was an easy target. It was never about me. It was all about me. Rage and dissociation took my life. Yet the work was diligent to have a life, forging on to fight for one, pushing through no matter what. That takes lives too, draining the already over-taxed adrenals so much it could kill you.

At the least it has gobbled up energy stores, unlike most others around me who go, go, go. The body takes many hits for psychological pain, pointedly traumatic pain where the family requires silence. Unprocessed traumatic pain inflames all body systems damaging them permanently, alone with the psyche, and spirit. Emotional growth becomes stalled requiring much work and many years to catch up.

There are many outlets to this unconscionable  pain running deep in the bones of little girls growing to womanhood…  those take lives too.

You did not mean to take my life. Yet you did. And the guilt ate you dead. Though I envisioned ways to chop you up, I did not really wish you dead. I wanted to love you. I wanted you to love me. I wanted a loving family, with loving brothers. I wanted warmth. Connection. A body to be in. You took that. You didn’t mean to, but you did.

 

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A New Year

photo by Patricia

Do better, be better. And, or, allow for my humanness which provides softening in one’s soul, a soothing that all is OK even when it’s not. Because it never is all alright. There is a pull of tension then the relief of satisfying peace. This ebb and flow is a part of life. Acceptance rather than fighting offers the peace you seek.

Why does one relationship drill me to the bone causing pain that keeps me awake in the night, even nightmares that ring in my brain days later? Is it the other person, or is it my reaction to them? It is only my reaction under my control, yet the same old reactions occur year after year causing the inevitable feeling of failure that I am not in control of at least myself.

If it’s me and only me that I control, then why can’t I do better? Why can’t I go with the flow and let the silliness of what’s going on fall off me like shedding water?  This dilemma doesn’t seem to soften or improve. Or if there are improvements, I’m not noticing them. Maybe this tension filled relationship is just here to stay. Lighten up. You’re not alone. We all have those who we learn the most about ourselves from.

It is not easy. It is often painful. But the work needing to be done is the same work everyone works on, to grow oneself. To expand, dig deep, and do better.

 

GROWTH

Living a reclusive life doesn’t mean no opportunity for growth. No matter how I hide it comes knocking, and knocking me down. Those closest offer the greatest opportunity at overcoming long standing behaviors that keep me from my best self.

Instead of pouting, turning off and away with coldness from loved ones who hurt me, the pain and tears come. And come some more. Old wounds not healed, (can they ever be?) are easily made to open causing today’s hurt to compound into pain that doubles me over.

So this is healing. Tears, pain, then more of both. The damage done was that much.

And after the tears, though more leak out over time, there is a lightness and forgiveness for those whose insensitivities caused so much pain. Pain that did not match the circumstances. Pain that went much deeper.

Why does this affect me so? Going there, opening the wounds, allowing the tears even if I don’t at first understand them, frees pain to surface. Bitterness and vengefulness dissipate as each tear falls. 

The path is excruciating. There is a girl still hurting… a girl abandoned, a part of me locked up reacting today to anything similar.  It is only in going back to take her hand that all of me is present today, deepening the rooms where I dwell, offering a place within that feels good to be in. 

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.

FEAR

photo by Patricia

What is the fear erupting each day crackling just below the surface- ruminating, festering, and growing instead of abating? Talk yourself out of it. Calm the anxiety even if it can’t be named.

Carrying it with me, because there is no ridding myself of it, the sharp buzz lessons with familiarity. The fear sometimes rises, sometimes diminishes, but is always there.  

If only it could be named. When standing at the cusp of change, a shift in growth can cause unease. Dare to put one foot forward. But what if I fall? Perhaps, just perhaps, let deep whispers flow, and quiet the mind. The directives rising from the source defy logic authenticating my being.  Listen. Pay attention. And trust it.

Alone yet Connected

You are alone, and you are connected to the universe and all living things. It doesn’t feel that way sometimes. During darkness the aloneness is all there is. Sometimes, day, after day, after day. The thought that feelings come and go does not comfort nor help to brush away the hellish hole.

Then glimmer, by glimmer, hope returns as the body heals the latest health or emotional upheaval. Like coming out of battle, weary, mud-stained, and weak, strength slowly returns rejuvenating the spirit to its proper norm.

The stars were aligned. Sleep slowly was restored and the coughing cleared. I took up my sister-in-law’s offer to attend the little gathering yesterday which had bloomed to a few more family members from long ago; one who I embraced warmly, the other with a cool hello.

Brothers were barely embraced, it was enough to attend.

“What is wrong?” one asked after a brief, lackluster hug of hello walking on after.

I ignored him.

“That was hardly a hug!” another one said, pulling me close for another one that I barely responded to.

I kept connected to my insides without parts flying from me, which would be my usual course. Instead of giving everything away to others, I kept myself.  

What do you expect, I thought, and walked on toward the door without acknowledging his comment. You- who cannot email, call, or visit? You- who I don’t hear a word from for over a year, but you interact frequently with the others?

I owe nothing. I did not look at them directly. You will not invade my interior and hurt me more than you already have. I was there, that was enough. You don’t want to know me, you don’t see me, nor want to. You can’t have the fake me you seem to want.

You want the pretend me who nods, smiles and says nothing. I stayed aloof, yet connected within. Nothing would change anyway. Each would still clique together and talk about how queerly I acted, or something else other than anything real, and I’d still be alone.

A good deed was accomplished, maybe not to your liking, but to mine. 

Growth doesn’t occur in chaos, it comes in the quiet places. I am alone, yet connected to every living thing.