Finding the Light

The repeated traumas as a child of 8, 9, 10, 11, caused a severe ripping inside me, though one sexual attack by an older sibling was enough to cause the life-long rift. And by attack, physical force was not always necessary. There are many ways to ‘attack’ a child that are just as destructive as force.

All that was precious was shattered, and there was no going back to the whole that was. A life has been spent trying to find it from others, a connection to my insides, and a belief in myself. The dependence on others was like hand candy, once dissolving more is needed.

It is only by finding myself in myself that long-lasting comfort becomes permanent, fleeting but a place to return to with self-talk because the ever present bully is there berating, beating down, and smack talking loudly.  

That happens to a child sexually abused by loved ones. Who is bad? I am. Because if it isn’t me, than it is the family I love and trust, and most importantly need to survive.

So life goes on, dimmed, feeling hunted, and hiding inside. The outer shell lives life, the inner self muzzled and contained, so much so, that touching the place where I was really was became inaccessible.

Buzzing through life on the carpet of anxiety, fear, and will, feeding off the light of others, was hardly enough at all. It is only in this later stage of years gone by, only after facing, and telling my real story, that appreciation of just how hard it has been begins to let up my own light, and to feel it warm me.

 

HOSTAGE

There is love within a group of people a child is born unto, it has to be in order to survive. Yet that same group attacked me over and over. Still there was love, now twisted with devotion, loyalty and fear. Fear of more, fear of abandonment, terror living life because now all people spell danger.

As the decades passed, it became imperative to my survival to speak out against the horrors survived as a little girl. Yet that was going against the one person who loved me- my mother. Her love was contingent on my silence, because she loved all her children no matter what they did. Silenced, but bursting with rage holding it in. It didn’t make the relationship easy.

With no love for myself, flickers of it from her was all there was. Love for myself did not begin to grow until after her death ten years ago. That is when the chapters came, week after week, rising out of me. Tears, coffee, and words. Those mornings are cherished as for the very first time authenticity was experienced.

Anguish certainly, but also joy. When one is repressed so is the other. It all flowed out in its time. After the well emptied a book appeared, it was that easy, though time, money, and effort went in to it. To hone the craft of my writing, classes were taken in the city, a small group reading our work, and I didn’t hold back. On-line classes also helped. 

Childhood sexual abuse is still a taboo topic, yet I ventured forth… afraid, yet doing it anyway, almost hearing gasps as I read aloud. With shaky hands and a quiet voice, my writing improved. Hiring an editor to tweak it here and there, it was ready for print. Cory, my son, did the on-line work of navigating through the technical know-how of self-publishing, and designed the cover.

“Are you sure you want blood-drops dripping off the title?” he asked quizzically.

Without hesitation, I answered, “Yes,” remembering just what was taken.

This was the first time the word ‘healing’ became more than a word. The facts, the details, scoured out from the tender flesh inside my belly. What they did blackened my soul, my life, my every move and word.

It was only then that all the other parts besides my physical body began to grow.  The  three left who attempt to make ‘family,’ finally including me, are like flies to flick off.

Paradoxically, Tom, who made it impossible to feel part of the group, has moved to the other side of the country, making it seem easy to interact these three, the only three who didn’t touch me. Yet I cannot. It feels dangerous, as if I might lose whatever has been gained through extremely hard work, perseverance, and courage. 

Getting too close only wounds me further. I have tried, it  hurts more. And it doesn’t matter. I can love them from afar, and bestow love on those that are here with me, my sons, grand-children, Samuel, and friends.

The doors to that ‘family’ are closed, not locked, but better left closed. I am open to meeting half-way, but no longer care to travel the whole way on my own. You have to give too.

Breaking free from old patterns can be done, but not when others stuff me back into the box of compliancy, back under their control, captors called ‘family’ who require the same silence that my mother did.  

COMING HOME

A secure feeling internally is so elusive, but once anchored even if momentarily, it is returned to more and more. Upheavals uproot, then the coming ‘home’ so pleasant; fullness, wholeness, confidence in oneself, and the ability to make decisions that add to well-being.

Be sad for what was, a life ridden with anxiety, rage, buzzing like a bee ready to sting, twirling like a dervish gone mad, no home inside to seek comfort and solace in? Or taking this phase of my life for what it is after a life-time of work…. peace.

Walking in the meadow brings joy, even excitement, enough excitement for me. My home made beautiful by my hands took years to cultivate, not just the external home, but the one in my center. As that flourished so did the ability to adorn the environment around me.

When my insides were a tornado, it wasn’t possible to decorate what was around me. Survival mode does that. Surviving by clawing to stay just above the surface, feeling life waters choking my throat with panic, confusion, and crippling self-doubt.

Clearing out the debris, the blackened tarry scourge lining my internal walls, took decades. Finding what my own feelings were took as long. Expressing those feelings once they are truly found is still a process unfolding that takes gentleness and patience. It was one of many things stolen, a voice.

The elusive voice finds expression on paper, and after the fact. Though my heads nods yes as my internal voice screams NO in many interactions with others even now as a well past grown woman, giving myself permission to say my truth later works better than the kick often bestowed upon myself by myself.

It is OK to speak up even if unpleasing to another. That still takes work. Some things broken remain broken. Maybe the best thing that can be done is learn how to be gentle about this lack that still plagues me.

When someone presses me to do something their way it seems I am all too easily swayed, causing a rift inside of self-hatred for going along. Samuel helps by saying it is OK, that others get caught in this trap too. His words of wisdom comfort. 

 

PUSHING

Push, push, push. Even at home where my time is my own, I push myself too fast splitting like my body is here, while my spirit flies past it like a ghost. Coming together as one means taking a breath, and returning into my body.

There… I can see and feel my hand wash the soap suds off the pan, noticing how they have grown thicker with age and arthritis— much like my mother’s. I love hands, all hands, they tell a story. 

Slowing down so that I can become one means accomplishing less, but being in the moment fully —not split. It means feeling centered and whole, accepting all that is, including aches and pains both physical and emotional.

Often fearing my feelings, this escape happens without thought. Coming back into the moment, and into my body, means feeling, that dreaded word. And with it comes a deep sadness, a longing that is always present, but lived with. A yearning for more closeness with the brothers remaining, but knowing that won’t happen.

Or can happen but on another’s terms, as in be a puppet. Not tenable.

So feeling those feelings, cavernous, yawning open threatening to engulf me, and insatiable, they pass through. Not so scary, just there. It’s OK, and life goes on. I putter around the kitchen for a good part of the day making home-made treats for the little goblins tomorrow night.

Shane always brings the kids for cider, snacks, and a visit before going on their way for more trick or treating in the neighborhood. The preparation is as much fun as their visit. 

WHOLESOMENESS

There is an ever present belief of ‘not as good as,’ lying deep in my core as if part of my personality like bedrock. Sometimes it lies dormant, only a whisper, and this only after years of internal strife, anxiety, and tearing myself apart with struggles over any interaction with another.

Whatever I did, said, or looked like was wrong, a mistake. That is what sexual abuse within a family does. When a child is forced to stay silent to protect the family’s shame, trauma swims within her like sharks eating her flesh from the insides out. Shame rots all that would blossom.  

I believed I was ‘bad.’ That grew as I grew. Every person who looks at me must be thinking something bad about me. That was a surety in my belief system making any attempt at just about anything supremely difficult and almost impossible.

Those feelings paralyze stunting growth. The body grows, the rest stagnates causing a quagmire of pain rolling like a tumble weed as years passed. As days grow shorter old ghosts rise consuming all rationality threatening to pull me under.

You are as good as others. How absurd to believe otherwise? A voice, soft and gentle is heard. A voice once gagged for the sake of the family. Even now freedom is squelched out of habit, but beliefs and feelings are opening to the stars and the heavens.

You have a right to be here. I suffered despite the so called ‘family’ acting as if I didn’t. The call to them has diminished. The need for it about gone. That need only makes the pain go deeper, but like a moth to flame I kept coming back.

A change has evolved, a quietness, and acceptance of how things are, where I stand, and how to provide for my needs for the very first time, untainted by another looking out for their own interests.

It is freeing. The internal quiet and acceptance so longed for, fought for, and coming into all parts of my being after the weapons are put down. The moments of now are savored instead of avoided.

It comes when least expected, this surprise of wholesomeness.

 

EACH MOMENT

The balmy morning, though darkly silent, draws me out on the porch with the cat without shivering from the cold. The flux in temperatures is interesting, nights dropping cold, the sun warming the land causing thick clouds of low lying fog drifting off with the warmth.

Some days slowing my mind to absorb the beauty around me does not come. Walking the meadow, the tall grasses once lush green have dried causing a swoosh walking by as the breeze makes them sway.

Leaves fall in swatches while sitting creek-side making a crunch underfoot grounding me to the earth. Wake and notice. But my mind drifts off elsewhere, and it is hard to stay present. Thoughts turn to the miracle of long periods of sleep, and what has changed since the trip to Cory’s.

Because that is when the miracle of night after night of sleep started. Perhaps the knowledge that the seemingly impossible is possible if enough effort and determination is put forth. That my mind is more powerful than given credit for.

That feelings are welcome, yet some can be turned from gently closing the door on them. Fear? Anxiety? Come to the moment to chase those away. An upcoming call concerning when the eye surgery will be? Dismiss it. There will time to face that fear when it happens. No need to dwell on it now.

Instead offer myself encouragement that it will be handled. And with aplomb. You can do it, and do it with a sense of peace, prayer, and hope when the time arrives.

But other feelings? Those need to run through me, not be avoided, because stuffing them only causes the pain to linger coming out in other ways often by disturbing the body’s physical health..

How to know which ones to keep and which ones to maneuver? That is not a ‘head’ decision, but one of soul. That place is now open, not clogged with hate, bitterness, and oily, tarry hands of what brothers did. Rage like layers of volcanic earth far below the surface needed out.

All that had to be expunged. And what work to excavate. Decades. The work done, joy and peace spread up through over the red raw healing interior like balm.

Enjoy the day. Enjoy the moment, it is finally OK to be in my body; ligaments, muscles, arteries, bones and flesh, moving into the doors of my soul to explore.

A New Day

photo by Patricia

Winter yawns before me, even though the leaves have only begun to fall. The cat hunches on the screened porch in the cold darkness, too cold for me to join her which was the usual all summer long. Dark, cold and quiet, too quiet, disturbingly quiet.

No morning birds to greet me, no tree frogs, no nothing. Crickets still hum when the sun appears, but the sun is long in coming because my usual waking is about 5:30 AM…. Grateful for another full night of sleep.

But how to conquer this new time of year, when darkness creeps into the light of day, and the corners of my mind. The tendency to do down in mood, inevitable, yet something feels different. An internal current prevails which gently rushes the shores of my being, not tidal waves of panic, anxiety and fear.

A time of peace unfounded. A life of terror quelled. Anxiety petted until purring with contentment. It is new territory, unused to, but take it. It is OK to take, live it, and savor what never was but now is.

The years of pretending-over. The truth told against all that wished me to stay mum. Most of the monsters from the house of my child-hood, dead. Though the memory of their terror remains, my synapses hard-wired with it, anticipating the quiet to suddenly explode. That edginess smoothed out but close-by at all times. 

Walking the path as the sun warms my body and hickory nuts crunch underfoot, my words try to comfort the scared child within. It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK. Even now, or especially now, she needs comforting. They are dead, they are dead, they are dead. Only one remains. And he is far away.

Monsters are real. I lived with them. And the memory lies inside me ready to wake. But now the calm goes on day after day, and I dare breath, take in the day, take in the now, and feel peace.