FULLY BEING

Awake, even the birds are still sleeping. Yet it’s been a restful night, so padding out to the kitchen, hitting the coffee grinder switch, the twinkle lights turn on just in time. After the loud pulse of fresh beans being ground, errant bird chirpings are heard.

Must be the newborns that wake earlier than their parents. A frog deeply croaks in the distance signaling time for them to finally come out of the mud from winter’s hibernation. The moon, though waning, brightly lights up the back porch, and outdoor fairy garden solar lighting is still aglow.

The cat stretches out beside me, her head popping up occasionally when she hears a rustle nearby. Restless just sitting still, it takes focus to breathe and just be present and in my body.

Much of my days are like that, slowing down to be present in the moment and in my body. Fractured pieces pull me away or try to. Living, now that the kids are raised, the jobs are done, and there’s nowhere to go because my body can’t take it anyway, is living in the moment and being OK with just that.

TAKE HOLD

Control the beast. The beast takes many forms; doubt, fear, insecurity, ungroundedness, an inability to trust or love, and the roots of self-criticism grown in childhood tangled so deeply it cannot be cut out only confronted daily.

Is it that simple, that all this time the adult just needed to take the reins not allowing the troubled willful child to have her will? But no, each path has many signs leading to the wrong places, maybe because fully feeling how wrong something is one learns what is right.

I won’t live long enough to get it all right. But the biggest secret hidden from myself all this time is that when others have said through the years, ‘you’re too hard on yourself,’ that it is a truth unrevealed to me. My head heard it, thought about it, but the critic kept on banging.

But when taking hold of the beasts causing worry, disruption, and chaos- choking them not by asphyxiation but with love, gentleness, kindness, and warmth… a soft place inside, an oasis opens inviting me in. The gnarly roots of self-criticism disintegrate making room for new growth of another kind.

NEW WAYS- SOUL WAYS

It isn’t earth shattering, what I do. Waking after a restful sleep with deep gratitude for that simple bodily need fulfilled, there it is. What do I do?

A puzzle, a craft readying for the kids to visit over the weekend, or what? Movies play almost non-stop, as if that is my safe way to interact with people. While listening to the voices known by heart because they play so much, household chores are accomplished, or the next meal is prepared- which means a lot of time over the sink.

That is such a pleasure when the morning sun splashes on my face warming my upper body. So, it isn’t earth shattering, what I do.

Yet being in my body, and in my life, following that inner voice that often is ignored or detached from, can cause a reversal of negativity in my closest relationships opening them to growth and better lives for all.

Not just in my life but also in those I touch. Since childhood that voice was ignored. How could it not be when divided from it at age eight? That voice calls in the night preventing sleep till listened to. That or the PTSD devil, haven’t decided which.

It is an upheaval of deep angst and unhealth, but when re-connecting and following through…that IS earth shattering! Asking for what I need takes an extraordinary amount of energy and is exhausting. Others have become accustomed to my placidity and apologetic tendencies. When persevering for what feels right repeatedly and doggedly until the desired outcome, well, that must be surprising and difficult to ignore.

It is the little things that shatter the old ways creating new and wonderous ones…

GRACE

PHOTOS BY PATRICIA, over the meadow

During an illness nothing seems right, not my relationships nor my ability to interact with people with grace and tolerance. An old shrew, or so it seems.

Under that is a broken person unable to trust. How that has interfered with a warm, loving life is inconceivable. Yet there it is.

While so ill, wondering if the severe pain might lead to death because it was that serious, the negatives plagued me unable to retain any good thought.

On my death bed (sorry to sound morbid), I don’t want to lie there thinking of all the bad that I could have done better at. So, things that get in the way of the life preferred, and more importantly of the person I’d be proud to be, need work now.

Though I’ve worked daily, is it enough? Can I do more? Can I take the leap of trusting a bit more, and garnering a little more faith in people? To let the petty stuff slide off, and accept people where are- looking underneath their seeming hurtfulness to understand what may be hurting them?

Grape leaf in early morn…

Love It All

Photos by Patricia (over the meadow)

In dreams they are there, this family that isn’t safe and who have insisted on my presence with my caving to it. As each day passes from inviting others to dinner without a response, safety is felt deeply allowing sleep, deep peaceful sleep.

It feels like sticking to a healthy eating program which during times of equilibrium, or even shakily so, happens with grace, persistence, and determination. But when PTSD strikes stealing my sleep, all bets are off. Eating away anxiety crops up like a volcano erupting. So too the never-ending craving for family and love.

Eating trauma since age 8 is my anchor, the time of the first attack still repressed due to it’s horrific violence. Going to my core, staying there despite whatever scary feelings are there is a new, magical adventure, feeling wholeness for the first time.

Parts cannot be cut off even though wanting to, the whole shebang needs acceptance as that’s my history, my life, my reality… like it or not. It isn’t easy digging in, inspecting these feelings of jealousy, resentment, and the whys of viscerally not liking somebody.

Taught that is wrong, the badness needs shoving away to really look at it. Pay attention to the feeling of unsafety with certain individuals. It is a warning bell to listen to. My empath abilities need respect, rise from the core, and are there to preserve and protect me.

Feelings of being left out crop up since before my dad died at age eight. With 8 kids and two parents who liked to party hard, there was not love and attention for everyone. Food and shelter, and those types of essentials, but a child needs so much more, and not one of 8 received it.

Be tender with what you find inside. Now is the time to provide what wasn’t provided, not scorn it. Bring it into your arms, love it, rock it with warmth, acceptance and attention, petting the hurt places tenderly. Let soft grasses make your bed, blue skies brighten your day, and rainbows make you smile. That is what to glue the broken places with…

OPEN UP

It is interesting, though tragic, how much the insidious comments from the eldest abuser brother throughout my life has made me into this older woman who still believes such rotten things about myself.  

That every choice and decision made must be selfish, stingy, unkind, and base. When really what lies inside my being is great generosity of spirit and sensitivity to others. So much so that living who I am became quite impossible because the pleasing instilled made me plastic.

It is only in tearing away the façade of what my family built in me that the true person shines through. But in that reality there are choices. Go to where the real feelings are even though they might cause others pain, or keep pretending?

Giving myself away so that a loved one won’t be hurt, means continuing with a robotic life. Eyes looking back in the mirror look strained, unreal, cold and soulless.

But in digging deep internally and letting old wounds open, flow, and heal, even hurting another in the process because these wounds bleed on others, also brings the joy of knowing who I really am and getting out of prison. The prison holding me captive for so many years.

In knowing myself you will truly know me.

GRANITE is not a Soft Place to Fall

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.

FORWARD or BACKWARD?

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.

LOST and FOUND

In trying to be

What others want

I

Lose

Me

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.

it is the things

you say no to

that really show

your commitment

to your growth

yung pueblo

SLEEP!

“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.