Comfort and Joy

As my body recovers from the terror of the cataract removal procedure, my hands need busying. Projects on hold are finished; an old jewelry box found recently at a garage sale, painted golden like the sun to match our bedroom walls, gently gluing felt into the tiny drawers– a string of ornaments hung which will be left up all year, and mason jars with a cloth flounce top to be filled for Christmas goodies for both sons and their families.

It is almost a week later and has taken that long for my body to calm down. Waking in the night causes my body to become vigilant, arousing excessively as if on alert. Going through the procedure gave the message to my body it was in mortal danger, and that message has taken time to dissipate—to feel safe again. 

But each night with discipline, efforts are employed to stay in bed with words mentally said to myself; it’s OK, stay, you are tired, you will sleep. It is very hard to keep an agitated body down, but each night improved. It feels almost as if things are back to what they were.

Temps drop, and while sipping coffee fat, white flakes fall against the black morning. Everything is brighter, clearer, and in focus. So is dirt. While mopping, the floor showed layers of it my eyes hadn’t seen. Using a powder not recommended for floors, but worthy of removing just about any dirt, my mop whirled while a sheen of sweat dampened my shirt. .

Down the drain went bucket after bucket of brown water. The floor whitened dramatically. It took three days to come back to the living and stop laying around like a dead fish. Shane and Samuel encouraged me to venture outside before the winter storm hit.

Year-end gardening of emptying clay pots of their dirt saving the bulbs to replant next year was done robotically. Then as movement warmed the muscles, feelings came back with a joyfulness too.

After that laps in the meadow felt doable, but with the dark glasses provided from the surgery. The brightness even then was a lot. Lap after lap with a rest by the swollen, inky creek. The ability to be productive once again brings comfort and joy. .

SURGERY

The rattling that occurred in every bodily system took such a jarring that even days later after cataract removal exhaustion still overcomes me. Each day brings more strength and clearer vision. Due to the traumas of childhood my doctor agreed to remove both cataracts at once, unheard of in modern day American medical procedures.

Others have one done, then go back two weeks later for the other one. And not under general anesthesia where a breathing pipe is put down the throat. That left a sore throat for a few days, but with it a gratefulness to be fully out with no awareness of anything.

Though my heart began pounding when the mask was put on concerning the anesthesiologist because the mask brought in gas to put me out not wind me up. She underestimated the effects of long term PTSD that was not processed at the time the trauma(s) took place.

But then out, and done. Others surely recover quicker, but each day is a slow process of recovery from the anesthesia, even more so, the terror. Tears down my cheeks told the story to others, and each one provided compassion in their own way, wiping the tears, offering words of comfort.

That was good, but no words calmed the terror of the body which believed itself to be in mortal danger. It’s done. I awoke. I’m not blind, both things worried about beforehand.

There is an adjustment to the new lens and the extensive brightness which the cloudy lens had blocked out. And that will take time for the brain to adjust to. Reminder to self; this was done to improve my quality of life. That when walking the meadow the nausea of not seeing well will lift, and that things wouldn’t continue to become more and more blurry.

I know others recoup faster, with so much more zest. But others also don’t come with frightful memories still locked inside making these events so strenuous and exhausting. Allowing myself to take each day as it is at whatever pace is needed with gentleness is the way through this healing process.

 

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. 

Buried Alive

Each time the old messages screech hauntingly, slay them down. After a while they tend to not bother, staying in their graves where they belong. Who we are may be a stirring in the cauldron of just that plus who we choose to be.

Make a choice. Slay the dragons, or let them take me under. I slay them each day, some days with more success and energy than others. Other days they thrive like the walking dead, burying me as they walk upon my grave.

But my hands claw up through the dirt, my spirit rises, flourishes, and wins. Those messages from childhood will remain. Whether to listen to them, or choose not to, that is the work.

I am bad because I didn’t fight them off. Brothers who weighed twice as much as me. I am bad because as vile as it all felt, sometimes my body responded. I hate my body. I am bad, bad, bad.

And ‘family’ allowed those message to stick because then they were protected. Those that did it, those that knew but did nothing.

Choose. The truth, which is something new to me that I am still learning about. Or choose old messages that often threaten to bury me. The magic is loving myself how I am, and loving my body too, just how it is right now.

It is hard to learn the truth of who I am over the booming loudness of badness… to find my way to my core buried beneath cold, hard, vaulted steel, arriving at the place where love resides.

Dig. Dig until you find it, that soft, warm, puffy cloud place where love and comfort swirl like warm waterfalls… for self and for others. Unearth the sweetness where bliss and heaven dwell within. 

GHOSTS

photos by Patricia

Ghosts tamed, the usual onslaught of shorter day’s remains. Low mood, a critical attitude, eating behaviors from childhood when brothers attacked and no one was there to help. Holding it all in took a lot of food.

Feeding the depression is more depressing. Yet the life-time habit of moving out of feelings to food has beckoned its relief from those very feelings run from. Numbness. Blessed numbness. Habits. Disdain towards myself for my humanness.

It is only in self-acceptance that food becomes less an issue. Where kindness feeds my soul, not engorgement. Feeling too full fills me. Feeling too full means not hurting over other things; the lack of friends, especially an intimate woman friend like Sue, lost over 6 years ago… longer than I knew her.

Feeling too full means not hurting over the brothers left who keep aloof because closeness would mean reality, the reality of what the so called family really is. It means not falling into despair due to what was, and what could have been.

Will that mourning ever end? Determined not to tumble into a winter depression that consumes, choices are made not to. Saying I should be happy, doesn’t make it so, adding to the self-contempt. But it does remind me that all around me is worth living for, striving for, and hoping for.

Find that fullness in other ways… Ghosts faced by airing what happened and who did it brought light into darkness. Shame lifted. Continued meditation helps to move from ego to soul. Caring for self means preparing healthy meals, exercising, and all the other time consuming activities that keep an aging body going.

But tackling the tendency to overeat for the soothing numbness is still a challenge, especially during the months where light lessons and mood plummets. It can be done.

INNER ACCEPTANCE

When struggling, in pain, anguish, confusion, fear, anxiety, or any of the other countless forms of hurt, words pour forth easily. But what then when the tremors inside are calm, and feelings of well-being flow?

Will boredom replace chaos, or shall I take the peace and enjoy it? How this occurs is not really a mystery, or parts of it are. It was a war, a war with the world. But decades of fight are over.

There are things about me that have not changed. I am not easy to be close to. I like my solitude, and prefer to interact with others infrequently. Nature is my truest friend. (and my cat) Time does not heal all wounds, but hard work, perseverance, and courage do.

Wounds remain still, because what was taken in childhood when hands lay upon me unbidden, stole all that is sweet, innocent, and natural. Those hands took my life. The one left to live was run from.

Coming ‘home’ to what is after the rage burned out sustains. Warmth softens not burns. Once inner acceptance is felt it grows.    

 

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.