OVERNIGHT VISIT

My granddaughter, Cindy 9, spent the night and we had such fun together! We made tiny Easter baskets from cut up egg cartons, painting them one night so they dry by the fire, decorating them the next morning hardly one second after she rolls out of bed.

We made Easter bunnies out of toilet paper rolls, and colored huge eggs with markers that I previously had printed off on colored paper, then added sparkly stick-on adornments.

The morning flies by and she has so many goodies to take home and decorate with.

HEALTH

When my body changes and unwellness sets in, fear come with it. Even a slight change causes concern making me fearful. So that voice of comfort was needed. It’s ok, it’s ok. Probably just one day of side effects, a feeling of a 24-hour bug after the fourth Covid shot; slight headache through the night and the next day body aches, even a loss of appetite, not a common occurrence for someone who eats their feelings.

Why not after the first three vaccines? It could be that in facing all that lies inside with equanimity and compassion, my parts, spirit, mind, emotions, and psyche, have come together as one. There’s more awareness of bodily workings. In touch, like most others around me whose connections come naturally not having trauma tear them away from it.

The rip came at age 8. The repeated smashing shatterings making it about impossible to ever reclaim what is mine. The incessant craving haranguing ever since to come back inside me, yet the flurry of me remained suspended above and about spinning, always spinning.

A relief this morning waking to the feeling that my body is back to status quo. Good health is the number one of riches. But when health faulters, the other comparable wealth is the voice of reason, comfort, and compassion.

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…

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.

Fall Reverie

PHOTO BY PATRICIA

Shadows appear longer, with mornings dark, cool and wet with dew. The usual fall into fall with a lower mood seems less severe probably circumvented by the incorporation of exercise and a long path to healing which has taken decades– yet continues. The meadow dances with yellow mustard dotted at the edges with sunflowers opening happy faces as if nodding when walking by.

Pumpkins gathered in Samuel’s patch decorate the house and some are fun to paint. Others await painting by grand-children at the next birthday party in October when my son reaches the ripe old age of 40.

How did that happen, as the memory of him in a little powder blue sun-suit carrying his sand pail out to the sandbox is still so vivid? Memories of over 50 years ago are also in sharp focus, my first apartment in college, cooking hamburger helper in the evening, but also the feelings of loneliness that never quite left since childhood.

And that slowly melts once getting to know and make friends with myself. The loneliness of childhood sexual abuse is unlike any other, sharper, emptier, so painful one runs from it until learning to stop, be still, and let it up with all the gunk that my origin family would not hear and barely acknowledged.

Healing is a life’s work…

SNAIL’S PACE

There are changes. The drop in mood, the drop of reddish leaves along with hickory nuts in the path walking by, the earlier darkness, a cooler feeling to the day despite it reaching high temps, and moister air in the mornings causing the train whistle to sound closer.

Hermie, the young buck in the back woods and meadow I’ve come to know, is growing antlers as they curl forward with more prominence day by day. Always changes. It is hard to keep up with change, my being usually feeling behind trying to catch up. Being able to be in my body will do as nature takes me for wild rides.

The meadow, like a color-changing magical flag, has flown several colors, from yellow buttercups to white daisies, now white again with Queen Ann’s Lace dotted with lovely purply flowered plants… what a sight. And soon it will all turn over to deep yellow as mustard blooms.

Butterflies flit in groups among the butterfly bushes as my float swirls round and round in the pool late in the day. Their antics are more inviting than a drive-in movie. Bees love the sweet blossoms too. Staring at the puff clouds a turtle appears like a mirage in the white fluffs slowly morphing into a dog or goat drifting by overhead.

The floating relaxes as if still in the womb, cooling me off for the evening, hair still wet by morning. It is a quiet life, but suits me. Longing sometimes to have the ability to travel more easily, the quest is to come to terms with my real life and stop chasing what wasn’t meant to be, not for me.

There is still so much beauty. Just still myself to let it in, and let the newly found respect for my real needs satisfy my soul.  

Friends Are Family

My beautiful grand-daughter Cindy….

Hearing the ding of emails coming in, taking a breath, a sigh of relief calms me knowing that any emails coming from the culprits of those in the so called origin family will be diverted to junk mail.

I’ll never see them or know emails are there unless I look. And mostly there won’t be any. No one interacts much unless wanting something, which is rare. But it’s a necessary step right now to feel safe, find my freedom again, and be at peace.

The emails come from friends, those few that are real family, trusted and supportive in a honest way, not in ways that serve only them. And in they come, reliable, loving, and filling the ragged holes that the origin family ravaged with their fake interest and hollow words.

Friends, the family made after years of work, commenting on the video and photos of my 8 year old grand-daughter in a huge dance competition where she recently took first place among all the area dance studio’s participants.

Oh to see her whole, loving, and complete, the age when I was first attacked. An age where the longing for ballet classes was not to be because food used to survive the traumas put too many pounds on to my little kid frame.

She’s a winner to us regardless of any wins, her grace and beauty overflowing. Tears fill my eyes while watching, and joy sent sparklers of shivers down my legs to my toes….

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BEATING CABIN FEVER

When Covid boxed me in, the outdoors revived, refreshed, and enlivened me. When the temps dipped uninvitingly low, the boxed in feeling quadrupled. Brrr… staying in with hot coffee and laziness won out. The elliptical trainer in the dark basement was used, but didn’t replace the curative effects of fresh air.

Trekking out finally to beat noxious cabin fever, plodding through knee deep snow, fluffy, brilliantly white, and oh so much like moving through water, my heart pounded needing several breaks to calm it down.

My boots sunk to the bottom of the heavy white stuff making each step difficult. Perhaps it is time for snow shoes. After the first sweaty lap, they were donned. The next lap went smoother, my feet going only half-way down, my heart still loudly pumping with the effort.

Though the sun shone down happily, two laps did me in. The unexpected pleasure of sunshine soaked in thoroughly, the Vitamin D nourishing every pore and tired brain cell.

The sluggish feeling dissipated— hope, vitality, and freshness taking its place. Exercise beats depression, but one has to do it for the release to occur. Oh, how I love it, just someone please, push me out the door?

HUNGER

Photos by Patricia (bluebird baby)

Having to pretend since age 8 that the horrors suffered weren’t real, it became customary for me to stuff them away. That took a lot of food, food that mother loved to cook then see others eat. Weight gain, up and down since age 8.

Even mangling my inner organs to be normal. That pleased my mother who told me about the magical operation.

She left out the part that meant intense pain for hours, and countless episodes on the bathroom floor hoping to upchuck the extra teaspoon of food swallowed. What was left of my stomach was  a tiny pouch with only enough room for a tablespoon or so of food.

That is a problem for a person accustomed to using food as an escape from the body, and had since age 8 when my mother’s cure for the first terrifying attack was to stuff with me food. And if my mother’s love was at the end of a spoon it was better than nothing.

To be in my body now is a revelation. Not realizing that my entire life has been an escape, the exploration into this brings up empathy unfounded in my own inner workings. Because usually there is harshness, blame, and self-castigation. Compassion has begun to blossom.

To go through all that all alone. To suffer like that all alone, except for a mother on the side-lines always making it worse because she didn’t want a fat daughter. So she put me in fashion shows, and beauty contests, and then as an adult excitedly telling me about this operation which years later put me in the hospital due to internal bleeding where the inexperienced surgeon make his cuts to rearrange my internal organs.

It was never about weight, but about pain suppressed. About a little girl alone whose only resource was eating because you readily pushed food, loved to cook, and loved even more to see it eaten.

Mom, normal is to feel. Normal is to go to your daughter’s aid and keep any son from attacking me again. It doesn’t matter if you’re left a widow with 8 kids, you’re story over and over again whenever trying to tell you how angry I was at you and why.

You could have 20 kids, just stop and do the right thing. No more attacks, and don’t tell your little daughter who is crying hot tears down her cheeks, that if it ever happens again to tell you. Of course I wouldn’t, too ashamed to do so. As if I had the power to stop it by telling you. YOU STOP IT.

So food became an escape from the body as other sons took what they wanted. And I became more and more invisible as my body got larger. And that was 60 years ago but the same methods of not feeling are still being used.

Yet beauty occurs, that of feeling deep down inside with peace not tsunamis. I can go there and be OK, better than OK. Still tentatively trying it out, but more and more comfortable being there. It is a beautiful thing, one others live daily without question. But for a trauma survivor it is a new place to be that brings wholeness, peace, and love for self.

Instead of self-repugnance for a too big body since childhood, there is the beginnings of understanding and compassion. Food is used to numb, to not be in the body. I have not understood just how terrifying my childhood was. That leaving the body became the norm when my body was attacked, not the other way around which is really the norm when living childhood without trauma.

Without intervention or release of the agony inside me, I ate for the next sixty years. Even when the stomach was butchered into a tiny pouch- I ate. I had to, even though it meant long periods wrapped about the toilet on the cold tile floor. There was still interaction with ‘family’ acting like I loved them because that’s what was required. Of course I ate.

It is a new beginning where food is eaten out of hunger, not all the other hungers, but true physical hunger. And that only begins to happen when love and compassion are heard inside of me filling the ragged holes that food once filled. That is not the head or brain… that is the soul hungry for love.

BOUNDARIES

“Do you want to go canoeing?” Samuel asks.

No answer from me, he adds, “Do you want to go biking?”

Non-committal and quiet, he gets it and goes off biking down the road by himself. Rest and rejuvenation was needed after a day of many accomplishments. A day to enjoy the fruits of my labors, listening to crickets while the sun soaked in.

Once adjusting to changes in nature as fall approaches, accepting the inevitability of summer’s waning, the craving arises for relishing every moment. But Samuel seems more in need of me than I am used to. And in trying to comply with his wants, mine are shoved aside. And I shoved them there.

“What about tomorrow,” he asks.

Feeling the pressure once again, I caved.

“OK, which one,” I asked.

“Well, the canoe is still loaded. We can canoe one more time then I’ll take it off,” he said.

Uninspired I agreed. But when we went enjoyment was lacking. The waterway close by is not the prettiest and has stinky spots where the fishermen left their catch to rot. Aren’t you supposed to take out the hook then throw them back?

Returning home it seemed as if the day had been stolen. There is something precious about the approach to fall. The stillness, the crickets, the hum settling me to my bones right to my heart. After a life of agonizing loneliness, thirsting for closeness with others, but thwarted by an inability to trust, the person I want to know more fully and be content with… is me. 

But Samuel seems so needy. Get a hobby, go DO something. Don’t rely on me so much. Our paradise keeps me excited. Each lap brings wonders. Two baby spotted deer love our creek area eating up the fallen pears. They freeze at my approach wondering what to do.

Staring at me one finally hops away. The other was there after lap two still staring which made me chuckle- silly baby. The King Fisher swoops into the water searching for something. Though what is a mystery in that little creek where the only fish are gigantic carp ten times their size. 

A fat ground-hog wobbles away. Little bunnies as inexperienced as the fawns grow each time one is spotted, but are becoming sharper at detecting my arrival. Butterflies are stupendous, orange, black, yellow and white.

Keeping our home brings pleasure and occupies much of my time puttering about making it pleasant. Walking laps throughout the day keeps me well physically but also emotionally and spiritually offering deep peace and a body that thrives on movement.

Trying to please another is OK, but not when it steals peace and joy. It’s no earth shattering problem, just interesting how much my tendency is to give in to what another wants. We must each find our way. Mine might include saying no.

MEADOW WALK