Injured Being

mosaic by Patricia

My path includes remembering that self-esteem and anxiety are issues that need working on, and are here to stay.  When experiencing some success at either, the thought is that the work is done. The work continues, some days more than others. Who I was at age eight is a shadow arising time to time with a memory of what was, who ‘she’ was, and could be.

All that changed with the first attack, and severed almost completely as each brother came and went, my true self going further and further away until she hardly exists. She because I could never become her, she because she is there, a misty ghost of who I could have been. And I mourn her.

Who I am now is not her, though wisps remain. What I have instead is anxiety in every day because of the trauma’s, but more so, because family and society insists not to hear. These traumas still going on at a deadly rate need airing. And it seems to be coming to the light, though more sensational ones; coaches, priests, teachers… but what about the brother, father, uncle?

The anxiety is here to stay. It must be faced every day. The damage internally broke my being. It takes my life to put back the pieces, shards that sometimes cut, smoothing them together anyway to make a whole— bumpy, solid and beautiful.

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Warmth and Well-Being

Temps drop, snowplows awaken me at 5 AM, but that is often when my night is over anyway. Gratitude seeps in for this span of nights when sleep has come. The cold snow covering flower bulbs daring to erupt stops them, and stops me. The burgeoning joyful surge of energy is met with withdrawal back into the den with slower activities.

The first thoughts when waking jar me, and remind me of recent regrets and failures to act maturely. Then the work, confront the harsh judgements. Why not think of the times you acted lovingly with depth and generosity, with selflessness? Because you have done that much more than the other.

And so the work goes on, that of learning to love myself. To show myself kindness. To speak to me as I would speak to a friend. It is mostly work without truly feeling love, but there are moments, and sometimes longer periods of time when well-being and a sense of self-worth seep in warming my bones and spirit.

Ravages of Thoughts

The need to write each morning sometimes brings forth a post without depth, without full truth. Not because there’s fear of honesty, there’s fear of self. The thoughts going through led me to overeat in old ways so that later my head hung over the toilet.

How could a frilly little post be written in the morning, and later in the day food was consumed in a way that was sword-like? Cut off the thoughts, don’t feel anything but this pain, not those other pains.

Writing about being in my body, then not being in it. How else would one consume such junk? Others don’t do this. Others have flat stomachs. At times they use discipline, but aren’t white knuckling it. They don’t use eating to blot out thoughts and feelings.

A cascade of bad feelings rain down. A walk with a friend at the mall brought two days of achy legs. It was more than usual, the standing around while she shopped. She’s fine, and would have walked the mall again.

My abilities are much more limited. I so want to re-join chorale on Tuesday nights, and a friend offered to pick me up. But coming home at almost 9:30 pm would rev up the usual wind down period upsetting the delicate routine. Others there don’t suffer this. Why me, why me, why me?

Thoughts of brothers dying and how young the offenders were, one at 28 by intentional overdose, one at 52, the other 67. My fault in my own special way of thinking. If I hadn’t been there they wouldn’t have abused me, and then have to life with it for the rest of their lives.

A fucked up family. It makes me sad that they didn’t have a chance. Each one could have felt better about themselves, and done better. But the care a child needs, which goes far past the basics of food and shelter, were never provided. 

The other one, now 76, is still living. Far away. Why now do these thoughts come? Is it the rinsing of winter? All the bad thoughts come crashing down. Looking at my puffy body, there’s not trust of my tuning in to its real caloric needs while the psychological needs pull so searingly. Escape. 

Since the age of 8, eating became a way to escape. There is a way. Bending over a toilet due to ravages by my own hand is no escape. It is not about eating. It is about thoughts, memories, and feelings. Being in a being who I don’t want to be.

 

PEACE

Snow frosted trees, big flakes falling. Later in the day warm March sun melted it all except patches of white in the shade of the pines. My boots sucked into the mud on the path, ducks flying off at my approach. An otter swam busily to the creek side lighting upon the log then slipping back into the cold black water. The current runs strong with the overflow from the melt.

It is a period of grace, without my squirrel brain a ’worrying, and sleep coming night after night. A time of rest, with enough energy to enjoy various outings, gatherings, and get-together’s.

My son and grand-kids came for brunch. The monthly women group of friends met Sunday for hours of cards, laughter and fun. A shopping trip to the mall and lunch with a friend satisfied a need for exercise and socialization. .

Sleep brings energy to do these things.Gratitude blossoms as this lull in anxiety yields to quiet peaceful joy. 

 

The Things We Learn

And so it goes, recovery. Shane forgives, why can’t I? We spent time together watching his son play in his basketball tournament winning by a landslide. But more sweetly was time with Shane after my regretful expression of long standing anger which had built up over time. 

Shane’s voice sounded dry and some ground needs making up. The call this morning started with the same coolness, but ended with ‘love you,’ something he had left out of the last few calls. We will resume our monthly lunch dates, though his office is on the other side of the city.

There hasn’t been lunch dates the last few years because after three hospital stays in one year, fear had grown in my belly. Even shopping at the grocery store brought uneasiness, anxiety, and ungroundedness.

As health restored, and internal bleeding became better controlled by the daily high potent antacid, my bravery at doing more increases. That long ago stomach stapling caused severe complications due to the newness of the procedure putting my life at risk over the loss of so much blood.

Though one ER doctor pressed for blood transfusions, another suggested recovery was possible without it, Over the 4 day stay a few years back, I managed to improve without the transfusions. But at home full recovery took many months to heal the internal opening made by the surgeon in ’85.

Eating often caused debilitating pain for hours afterwards. Now that things are more stable, lunch dates might be a very good way to again spend some time with my busy son. He sounded happy to hear of resuming our lunches. So mending occurs on all levels. 

So often my own sufferings are kept to a minimum when it comes to relaying them to my sons. Why burden them? Yet being factual is also necessary, which means being upfront about challenges. 

Things we learn along the way…

Sweet Daughter-in-Law?

A daughter-in-law should not feel like an arch-enemy. Yet the campaign undertaken, even if unconsciously vindictive, or a story concocted and believed, shook my world and undermined my confidence severely. It has always been this way. Her lagging self-esteem built up by trampling mine. To stand on another to feel righteous. 

For the peace of family, to not make waves, to not add to my son’s pain, hardship, or haranguing by her, for all reasons other than my integrity and right to a place in this world, my voice continues in silence. Until it can hold no more.  

It feels just like Tom’s silencing of me. Her attacks come with smiles, hugs and false syrup, just like his. Maliciousness on any level cuts ones legs off. Divide and conquer. Make a case to others while killing the one hated. But do so invisibly. Look at a person and her defenses, attack from there.

No family other than Cory, Shane, and Samuel. And none of them go against her, why should they? She hadn’t crept in expertly shaking their credibility, digging their roots. And no one wants to confront a nicely wrapped package with such repressed anger lurking within. Her ways may seem innocent, but not to me. I used to be that way… with rage locked in. 

Someone acting so nice, but isn’t. Someone who hasn’t learned how to speak up, so strikes down subtly so no one sees. Taking advantage of me who has had my own voice stolen so viciously. Her ways have come out of a pampered existence, one I never had.

How do two paths co-exist when such malevolence from one drums so expertly in the background ready to grab its prey by the neck and yank back and forth? It’s never going to stop until I say enough. . 

 

When I Die

photo by Patricia

If writing helps just one other person, that is enough. If it helps only me, that is also enough. Even now, in this age, childhood sexual abuse isn’t talked about much except that much more has been exposed in the news. Still, that person, once a child, holds it in because others don’t want to hear, and certainly families don’t.

So she is there alone in her pain. Pain so great she often wants to die. To hear another speak the unspoken gives hope. Just as the little books only found in the city’s tiny women’s bookstore helped me thirty years ago when I dared to begin to look at what was done. In those books women spoke the truth of what was done, every word, every vicious transgression that a little child suffered, and held in.

I wasn’t alone with that tar inside me that threatened taking my life. What my brothers had done. But it wouldn’t be until thirty years later, after my mother died, when I didn’t have to protect her delusions of a happy of family, that I too spoke my truth, and the tar slowly regurgitated out; the details of what had been done. One chapter roiled up after another, what happened as a child held in. Interspersed with the treacherous pain was joy. Joy, that had been imprisoned in the thick, black tar. 

Until the day my mother died ten years ago, we had a happy family. One where I spun in circles with anxiety like a whirling dervish, or fell into depressions so bottomless that climbing out wasn’t possible without therapy. Dark days, one after the other, and a wish for death every day. Oh, I had spoken some of what happened, but everyone ignored it and went on as if I had never spoken of the traumas within.

And factions broke off here and there. Yet we all continued to pretend. But after her death, after my swooning over her grave time and again mourning her loss, the words began to come. The words of truth over what had been done. The words no one still wants to hear. 

Some days even now death doesn’t sound so bad. It is that hard, and when the time comes I hope I’m in that frame of mind. Not really wishing for it, though maybe I might, but realizing I’ve done all I can to overcome the abysmal obstacles put in my path. Die at peace. When it’s time, I want that feeling of satisfaction when I let go.

I want to live every day ready. Ready is wholeness, a connectedness to my being. And liking being there. For much of my life I did not have this, what many others take for granted. For me it is a miracle and a blessing.