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….

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is acb6eb2981eaf87e984ac302416d7628.gif

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

 

SAFETY

My Secret Garden

Six years ago my blogging began around this time, and the feelings of approaching fall are similar. The down in mood, sadness over just about every loss that ever was and ever will be. But hopes continue that it will be handled and nothing occurs that makes a whopping depression. Because I’ve had some of those.

The morning is cold, 49 degrees, and fall feels so close. After yesterday’s list of house chores were checked off, including weeding the flower garden a bit, today feels like staying still.

Dew sparkles like glittering diamonds. When the sun finally comes above the trees, soaking it in though my thick bathrobe soothes every bone and sinew, also soothing my internal worries always at the ready to take a jab.

It’s OK, my refrain when worries take hold. It’s OK, you’re OK, everything’s OK. Well, of course it’s not as the news states. But it is OK as far as anything I’m able to do to fix it. My feelings are that kids should learn from home right now. And colleges? Are they daft? Sports? Are you kidding?

It still amazes me how others aren’t being serious about this deadly virus. But in my little slice of paradise there’s nothing I can do but keep myself safe, and hope my children and grand-children stay safe.

They move about much more than we do. Shane’s family leaves tomorrow to stay with his brother in a neighboring state for a week. My prayers are for their safety. Wistfulness descends for not being able to see my son who lives so far away.

We’ve not been together other than virtually since last Christmas. And we’ve already decided that his coming this Christmas isn’t a good idea. Though sadness can sweep me away doubting that decision repeatedly, it is the right decision for us. My efforts focus on the positives of which there are many.

 

The Cure

Eerily quiet and unusually dark at my accustomed waking time, the silence is unnerving. Where have the birds gone? My guess is many have left for warmer climates already. They surely arrive here earlier in the spring than most people realize, as early as February’s end.

The feelings of loneliness this usually brings is not as deep or as painful. There is an energy occurring that wasn’t present during all the years of restless sleep when waking at all kinds of hours, staying awake watching TV.

Good sleep means more energy. It also means a brighter outlook on things with a happier mood, happy which equates to more peaceful. The magic cure seems to lie in the pot oil begun after visiting Cory last fall in a state where the oil is legal.

After choking on  smoking the pot also purchased, then hallucinating afterwards freaking out, needing my grown son to talk me down, it was the oil that was more fitting for me. The pot these days is nothing like my college days because it is way more powerful.

The oil seems to have cured much of what ails me. Not a total cure, but toning it all down and still there to manage. What a blessing, and all in this innocuous little plant. It probably wouldn’t have done all it can do earlier in my life because there was just too much to overcome. 

But after years of therapy and living through the worst, it was the little bit needed to send me over to the side of peace. Still the work goes on. It does not offer immediate self-esteem. Nor does it remove anxiety, an issue worked on daily.

But it does help with sleep a great deal along with the tendency for repetitive negative thinking. But discipline is needed to keep countering those voices which sometimes thrash me down unequivocally.

All the tools that help are needed, and this is one of many. But this addition after all these years is an amazing balm to my overworked systems. Though it works for me, it is not a recipe for everyone. We each find our own ways through our own hell’s. 

 

At Peace In The Moment

The day is quiet, laying before me like an open book. Rather than do, do, do, my quest resides deeper staying in one place a very long time. With sneakers on, uncharacteristically ready for action, Samuel asks, “Do you want to go biking?”

Wanting stillness and peace, not action, I respond, “I’m not ready. I have to eat, get dressed, then meditate.”

“Well, I don’t like it when it gets too hot,” he says, adding, “I’m going.”

Good. Time alone today is a good thing, opening the windows after he leaves because he said keep them shut so it stays cool. There’s cool, then then there’s cool when feeling so chilly a sweater is needed.

It is summer, and after the stickiness that made me happy to have air conditioning, today is just a nice summer day to be enjoyed fully… windows open.

Sometimes in my efforts to please even just one other person, my self is lost in the shuffle. Sometimes compromise means giving up too much, so much the internal forces are not at peace which equates to unhappy.

Sometimes the business of placing so much effort each day in moving my body more, the pleasure is lost in the doing instead of being.

So today come back home and experience the satisfaction of each moment without pressure.

Go Away PTSD

photo by Patricia

It was bedtime. Routine in that area has become very important, extremely so. Yet forgotten, or the hope that maybe this one time I could do something excitingly spontaneous and it would be alright.

It wasn’t. The next two days didn’t go so well.

So on the way back to the bedroom after putting the crazy cat in the studio for the night, I took a peek at the night from the back porch. Fireflies appeared, one by one, watching, mesmerized, feeling childhood awakening in the bones of my memory.

Dashing around the yard at dusk with the kids from the neighborhood playing Kick the Can, or Ghosts in the Graveyard. Being called in late once dark settled in, all dirty and tired, falling asleep easily after a day of hard play. But that is not Patricia-world now. Now routines must be adhered to.

But only this once? Since things are going so well, can’t this once be added on to what has been a stretch of wonderful summer days? Days when miles upon miles of bike rides along the path by the water are also combined with laps and laps of walking, because energy expended seemed to compound into more energy.

Can’t a quick dip in the pool be enjoyed? The quiet water luring as the last pink faded from the sky casting a rosy glow. Donning my swimsuit, an irresistible dip was risked. Fireflies grew brighter as the waves cuddled me. But my senses began to ratchet up rather than calm down as they should have been doing.  

The impromptu fun delighted, the water warm, the twinkling solar string lights making it a magical wonderland of joy. Too much joy, exciting me beyond any possibility of sleep. The haranguing voice began its pounding, ‘YOU KNOW BETTER! YOU YOU YOU.’ 

Routine. Remember that? You must pay attention to your unique body needs. Stimulating your senses when they should be winding down won’t work. Lying awake long after Samuel came to bed, medication had to be taken. Not only did my body go off the deep end, so did my mind.

The negative thoughts chewed like snarly, dripping fangs, taking bite after bite, pounding my being with fearful stabs. After staring at the television for over an hour, another dose had to be taken.

Finally drowsiness, and back to bed. Sleep came as if encased in a tomb like a mummy with no movement until waking. There goes a day of waste. No walking, no chores, no nothing except for the escape into watching beloved movies. Because a body that jumps into the dangerous pool of PTSD needs calm. No motion, nothing except feeling sorry for myself. That equates to food used to numb it all out adding to the load of crippling self-hate.

It takes a second day to recover and feel as if back into myself. Depression, disconnect, and displacement from my very being all needed time, quiet, and seclusion before re-connection to body, thoughts, and spirit. Go away Samuel, leave me alone. Everything had spiraled about like a mini universe out of control, all from a simple quick dip in the pool. 

This morning wholeness. The fresh picked lavender scent is noticed as the gurgling fountain settles my soul. The morning feels cherished, not feared. Because once the PTSD breaker is tripped, fear, panic, and the surety that a terrifying thing is about to happen exposes every nerve as it readies for danger. Terror from childhood when the peril was real crashes in putting my alert system on edge with red-light vigilance. THAT is tiring, and once happening, out of my control. 

A special day is one when my being feels whole and is whole. When the tiniest event floods me with pleasure; the toad living in the potted plant on the patio blanketing himself under the wet dirt as if it is a home with a bed, the birds sipping at the birdbath, the abundant lavender in bloom along with the heady scent calming my very pores with their aroma.

The morning is sweet again with wonder as we celebrate 42 years together. On this day, at this moment, I feel whole. 

Quarter Back or Openness?

Waking, shoulders tense against the day. While sipping coffee on the porch, squelching the tendency to move, the message to self—stay. Go deeper. Go into the body.

Go from the shoulders, which hold a defensive position from habit, as fighting my way through life has been, or seemed necessary, and instead relax into my body.

With a sigh, the rest of my body is felt, wholeness occurs which isn’t all in my head and shoulders. It is in every pore and sinew, it is in that space with no name that dwells between the muscle, bone or blood.

The songbirds sing sweet melodies as the rock fountain gently gurgles brook-like waterfalls, and I am complete.

Dig for Joy Beneath the Terror

Sleeplessness occurs on the night after picking up groceries. Going out in the world in any way terrorizes in unconscious ways, yet my body knows and reacts. Mostly OK, there are moments when it hits piercing like dark rays of fear almost bringing tears.

Dying is scary enough, faced each day as part of living, and on good days causing me to squeeze every sweet moment from every day that is possible. But dying this way? Thinking of others in the hospital all alone, gasping for breath, or comatose under assisted breathing never to come out of it. How horrific.

That is no way to die. No way is a good way to die except in ones’ sleep, but who chooses? And only humans know there is an end to life. Animals blissfully nap life away, at least domesticated ones. The others are out surviving never sitting around wondering about death and how they will die.

I do. Sometimes I do very much, especially now with air a possible killer. Driving to pick up the order the thought occurred, if the driver going past has the window down, and my window is down, what if they cough and I breathe it in?

Quickly closing the window and opening up the passenger window, some relief creeps in. But what of this terror filled world? Always a fearful place for me anyway since age 8, it is uncommonly stressful now. Blogging out posts of our incapable, bloated, selfish president deters me from the fear, rage an easier and more familiar feeling to me.

But the stress of anger on a heart is no good. Mercy, and compassion for humanity softens my heart. That doesn’t make his crimes less or OK. But my heart. Save my heart.

Go back to the basics of love and care. Do the things that bring joy. Walks in the meadow. Planting the flowers that were chosen by others in this curbside pick-up world. They did a good job, scarlet bright geraniums, and deep magenta impatiens now dot the patio and front porch.

Hands in dirt on a spring day is joy. It didn’t allow for sleep, but that will come again with the knowledge that I’m safe at home, or as safe as possible. Samuel has started to go again for coffee hour with his friends. They sit outside and he assures me they are far enough away from each other, but are they?