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. 

Care and Love

photo by Patricia

So easily the ‘self’ is lost in the fray. Going robotic happens quickly. Then the letdown, the loss of sleep, anxiety consuming like a hungry bear.

Moment to moment, be there. Slow down. Slow way down, catching the inner workings as they happens, not going on as if all is wonderful, but as it is. Not so wonderful. Not when the world suffers, and fear gurgles in the quiet moments.

Only in being there can it be soothed. And it is OK, more so, necessary to be there deep inside where my being hides and resides, even from myself.

Playing old roles when interacting with the origin group, the pull of the role that makes others comfortable. Losing all growth in an instant, becoming clay molded unrecognizable.

Come back home inside, moment to moment. Take care of the precious soul finally found; spiritually, physically, emotionally, and wholly.

Soft Voices

Photos by Patricia

Walking the meadow relief was felt that my birthday was over. No worries about who remembered or cared. Those feelings still haunt despite my age and eons of growth. The formative years surely shape a person, and mine was warped by rejection, abandonment and trauma.

And that is why my psyche is not hammering down about my lack of faith, or inability to trust. There are softer voices in play that hold compassion and understanding about why some feelings are strong. And feelings are natural. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t have them.

Rising above feelings doesn’t mean not having them. It is feeling them curious as to why they are unwanted. Look for the source, understanding often follows. The day is balmy, full of life springing everywhere.

Samuel arrives creek side. “Want to take a paddle?” he asks.

“Sure,” I said.

And off we go, surprised at how fast the grass grows from one day to the next, the water calm as there is no wind, the current gentle. On the way back to the house after a meditative rest by the creek— the first dandelion…

Que Sera, Sera

As the start of spring unfolds, so too the impending virus, marching across the country like a plague. My mind says, go ahead eat. Because eating numbs anxiety replacing it with an anxiety accustomed to— self-hate. And that doesn’t feel good either.

Face the terror. Yes, death might come to either myself or Samuel. My mind takes off; sick, out of respirators, death, alone, unloved, cold. Or vice versa, Samuel hospitalized without the ability to sit with him due to his quarantine, and death, leaving me alone.

And there is the more real probability of neither of those. Yet the low thrumming terror has been blotted by eating leaving me deadened to fullness or satiety eating things in a way that began at age 8. Eat to numb the pain, terror, and abandonment.

Stop. Face it. Feel it. If the worse happened is living paralyzed until it might come any way to live? Stuck in a chair eating because I’m too scared to move? Or walking the meadow taking in every moment with openness loving what is there.

The sun broke out in the late afternoon calling me. Grabbing hiking shoes that are waterproof to the muddy path, donning coat and hat, the walk, despite so much dull drab browns and greys, was stunning in its earthy splendor. Birds singing, sunshine burst through the puffy clouds.

Movement of my body brought sweat. Off went the coat, lap after lap. My body loved it. Work begins on facing the crisis internally where numbness was achieved by old patterns of eating that make me feel sick not well.

Face the anxiety, sit with it, feel it. Seriousness has been a state of being since age 8. Because survival is a serious business. But other feelings have emerged over time, especially a connection with my central core, or soul, no matter what is happening externally.

That is lost when any form of numbing is initiated. Connection to self. Numbing is rejection of self, even if for decades it saved me. My path now craves wholeness, connection, and peace.

BLOOM

photo by Patricia

Waking, the same dead dragging feelings wake too always present in my core needing work to banish and confront. Sipping coffee rocking by the fire, watching the cat pretend hunt on the porch through the sliding glass doors, the question presents itself— why?

Why always awaking with pessimism framed with rocks of depression? Why goes back to Chet, not the first attacker, but one who held me captive long after the attacks stopped. Captive in badness. Knowing it wasn’t my fault wasn’t known then.

Like weeds overtaking gardens with deeper, tenacious, stronger roots than flowers, thoughts and beliefs that developed in childhood grew thick and heavy, solidly intertwined, and muscled. Hack away at it, they grow back while sleeping waking as if all that happened was yesterday.

The feelings, the heaviness of blackness believing myself bad, abnormal, abhorrent really, not fit to be born, surely not fit to live, craving relief from the pain even if it meant thoughts of death for decades to come.

Why? Isn’t laughter, light and joy part of being alive too? Can’t these feelings dance? Why must the feelings upon waking be so forlorn? What else is there? As the delicious black brew is enjoyed, more of what’s hidden wakes too.

Wind blows through the tree limbs with a song as geese fly overhead, nature melodies comforting. Spring, a time to dance, play and laugh, as in any season if one tries, but spring is especially exciting. 

 

ESSENCE

Remember why you do this. It is not to garner ‘likes.’ But to go inside myself, a place often run from.  A time all mine, delectable. See what’s there, feel what’s there, stretch around into all the dark corners and own them.  Each morning, a new day, new ideas, new feelings, as if all the cells died overnight growing new ones. 

A day to hold in my hand like a wilting blossom. Use it wisely, fully, and become all that is. That doesn’t mean saving the world, it means saving myself.

A person almost gone, often still drowning in past habits of pacifying, pleasing, and twisting myself into a person who hardly resembles who really resides inside me.

Authenticity isn’t going along. It is touching my core where truth rings clear, which can mean disagreement with another. Not a nod of the head accompanied by a fake smile to keep things smooth.

It is finding me, being me. Not an easy job after 60 years of fakeness to fit into a world where I don’t want to be anyway.

My world. The trees, wind, and mother, who guides me with her seasons.

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, then it is the family I love and trust, and most importantly needed 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 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.