Though on edge in the dark of morn,
Of something that might scare me,
The moonlit path is magical,
And I walk on anyway.
Though on edge in the dark of morn,
Of something that might scare me,
The moonlit path is magical,
And I walk on anyway.
Winter can kick me down the stairs of negative and repetitive thinking. It is so hard to stay afloat wondering how those around me tolerate it, like Samuel for starters, but my sons too.
They do. Love is like that. And with learning to love, staying open, a fullness towards myself offers the same for others.
The process of learning to love myself, that I am worthy of love, is life-long, as my insides clammed up tightly at 8 years old. There was no one to love or trust except my cat or other non-human animals.
Time alone in nature offers the safety needed to feel love. Even around those loved it is difficult, either in person, via email, or by video. But alone, out in the meadow, without other’s inconsistencies or my raging self-doubt over interactions I blame myself for, love abounds filling me up satisfyingly.
This insulated life is not of my choosing. Shattered at age 8 and continually broken from then on, caused fractures so deep they remain life-long. Quiet and solitude heal. Acceptance means picking up the pieces and making a life of my own choosing, even if seemingly different or odd to others.
It is my life, and can be made magical by working to stop the negative yammering constantly in my head. (and hanging up more fairy lights to welcome me on dark morning walks) Easy, no, possible? Yes. Each time that voice starts berating me, blaming me, think of it as a challenge. With persistence, gentleness, and patience, healing and growth occur.
When a soul is upset, scattered, unloving, it isn’t a happy or peaceful life. Waking to a new day, the first thought; another day of work and self-discipline, that even though retired, there is a job to do.
Clearing a head full of self-negatives is no easy task as the clamoring can be constant and habitual. Rising from the ashes again and again, only to be burned by my own inner enemy, happening day to day every day.
With determination and perseverance peace is found, fleeting, yet here for more than a string of moments, for days tied together like sweet grapes on a vine.
An email to Seth that he didn’t answer. Get worried or upset? You have a choice. To change a habit, you replace it. The replacement for worrying about doing something wrong is to see myself with gentleness, love, and acceptance.
Despair curdled my efforts so many times, but giving up? No, just keep at it, pull myself up as many times as needed, and keep trying.
Shifting internal dialogue has taken decades, many, many years of therapy, but of late the resolution to a life of forever feeling bad has taken a turn towards lightness by being with myself in nature- the woods, the land, and me.
And it’s fleeting, as tomorrow my writing may be pain filled and down. But there are moments that have stretched into days where my internal world is gentle, loving, encouraging, and accepting of ME.
And it is more than a kinder voice, it is feeling wholly accepting of myself, more than OK, but that I too am a good person.
Raymond asks one day, “Good? That you are a good person?”, a psychiatrist who knew what he was doing, though pushing me into a career because I had the intelligence to do it might have been more about his being successful than me.
Though glad to have succeeded at such a feat because it paid for both sons education at a prestigious college and set them both on a burgeoning career in the technology field where they still work, the years it took me to accomplish it stressed my already overloaded nervous system.
Daily cortisol bursts from each challenge and the ever present fear of people caused my body to develop a syndrome of fatigue that cannot be repaired. It was worth it to see them thrive now, even if I don’t, not in that way, but in my own quiet way; learning to be with me and be OK, a place always run from before that I now inhabit fully.
Fractured, now whole, perhaps a bit bumpy, but whole.
It has always been about goodness, that I wasn’t, I was bad, abnormal, bad, bad, bad. The revelation that I am of good heart, as human as any with mistakes, flaws, and quirks? That it is more than just words? All new.
Every minute alive is one minute gone. Getting older one begins to realize that, that this moment is precious and living it feeling bad because I’ve been habituated to feel that way doesn’t have to be. I am learning otherwise, I am learning the truth.
The rabbits, soggy ground, icy earth, birds, and running water of the creek have taught me that. That being with me is the best place to be.
PHOTOS BY PATRICIA
Though winter takes a substantial chunk out of my already serious minded self, causing a mild depression to color my world more darkly, there is still fun and magic to be had. One only has to make it.
A walk by moonlight, then a fire, all while darkness slowly turns to dawn. The warmth of the fire soothing, sparks flying as an air current oxygenates it brightly.
Then a call from our son after he drops off his eldest at Middle School, a daily pleasure looked forward to with the phone by my side, making sure I’m back inside to catch it by 7AM.
The other son usually video chats at the same time, bringing us both to the island at their house in a neighboring state while the grand-kids, one 6, one 2, and one 1, all eat breakfast. The eldest granddaughter usually is in charge of us through the tablet.
A wonderful start to our days!
What can you do in the New Year, or just today, to make yourself happy? Work to banish those voices of doom so loudly dampening my spirit during the dark months of winter.
Too easily the toll of my childhood is forgotten, comparing myself to others who go along happily, seemingly without the weight of such heavy burdens.
Though we all carry burdens, hardships, and loss, it is a singularly difficult load to carry the traumas of childhood, and it is too easily forgotten in my tortuous self-inflicting mind wanting to pull myself down at every second of every day.
Begin again the work of liking myself to stand equal, happy, and at peace. The burden of being me will sink me if I let it. The old feelings embedded in me since childhood, will cause me to drown.
Awake to the new day. Let the other night go and accept it because in a week or two it will happen again; waking at 1am to use the bathroom as usual, but feeling the C-PTSD rockets take off causing a need to take medication.
There was no reason, though I dug for one, because that’s how I grow and learn about myself. But there was no reason except my old nemesis, C-PTSD. Acceptance comes hard fighting it, but it’s here to stay permanently.
C-PTSD comes uninvited. Every few weeks medication is needed because sleep is needed. Trauma hard-wires into a person if not processed, and was hard-wired into me in childhood. No one helped, protected, or talked to me, ever, not about that. So much terror and trauma kept internally throughout life until my mother’s death 14 years ago when the book flowed out of my soul, both my traumas and my joys.
Feelings of failure because I needed to take medication make me weep the next day. Yesterday, to interrupt the crush of sadness, a trip out in the cool air to the craft store picking up discounted craft supplies to work on yet another photo book for my little grandchildren. That helped counteract my funk, pasting pieces of myself back together again.
Moving on to the new year, a new start, a beginning? I’m still me, with all the thoughts, memories, and regrets, blackening my interior much more darkly in wintertime.
How to manage the tendency to go back over every mistake in my entire life feeling it scratch like sharpened talons in the deepest recesses of my soul? I’ve made grievous errors in judgement that must be lived with. How do people do it, because I’m not the only one.
Didn’t we go through this already, just about every winter, you the critic, and you the wiser gentler side? Jekyll and Hyde. Light and dark. Breathe fresh air or drown?
Laying in the dark, ready to get up, anxiety erupts reliving mistakes from 40 years ago. The blackness of winter devouring me at the start of a day.
Yet there also is light if choosing to come out of that dark cave of regrets. Forgive yourself yet again, as many times as it takes. While walking yesterday I thought, ‘Haven’t you done this already? Forgiven myself for this?”
Yes. But do it again, and again and again, however many times you need to. Good practice for someone with a tendency to be so harsh on herself. And when remembering all your own mistakes, and forgiving them, it makes it so much easier to forgive others.
Henry David Thoreau
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”
Sitting on the frond porch late in the day with a sleeveless dress warm in the sun. Is it spring? A gaggle of geese fly by squawking loudly in unison.
Peacefulness fills me up. This luscious break is ever so precious amid the winter depression that dampens my spirit.
But this year a discovery to uplift me, venturing outside in the pre-dawn. That pleasure is usually missed in winter due to dark days which now have turned the corner and each day is longer and brighter- out in the meadow before the birds wake, walking as I do in summertime but without the sun.
Our joys often need founding by ourselves. What brings joy? Scrapbooking is another way to fill my heart with warmth, gathering both sons photos filling books for the grandkids with captions as some are just learning to read.
Bright colored cardstock with fancily trimmed pictures done so easily with scissors that cut them that way, glued onto paper embellished with stickers and other eye-captivating, meaningful additions.
The kids cherish my gifts, one grand-son only 2 having a shelf special for Nana’s books. This pleasures my heart as much as his, and gives the kid in me childish things to do with a grown-up twist satisfying both parts of me.
In winter especially, it is a time to seek out the things I love to do and do them. Quiet past-times, uneventful for some, fill me up contentedly.
The fifty-degree morning felt balmy and unusual for December, patches of icy areas, the rest soggy grass. So quiet, not barely a sound making it eerie yet satisfying.
While resting creek side, an owl, with an odd bird response each time it hooted. The new addition of solar fairy lights put up yesterday in the happy sunshine twinkled a welcome on the walk down away from the house’s floodlights.
Much thought is put on new growth and discoveries. Others in my life have been put on pedestals. You are normal, not shattered unable to trust, love, feel warmth, or let others in.
You are better in all ways. Close to 70 years old it is a new revelation that we all are just people with flaws, faults, and oddities added with mistake making, all of us.
The best plan is learning to forgive, others yes, but also myself, for all the blunders or other more serious errors. Take it all in and love it anyway.
This is my path to peace.
Quote by Socrates: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”
The lantern swaying back and forth, ice glittering with its sparkly glow even in the black before dawn. My ice trekkers keep me from falling and work like a charm, a wonderful Christmas gift for those days when all the path ices over.
Sitting by the water, barely a crack of light beginning to show, the quiet, dark shadows are unnerving, yet also relaxing. A distant train clatters satisfyingly.
More rounds to go before the breeze begins to chill me, round and round, the twinkling lights in the house a beacon one way, with glimmering solar stars glowingly wrapped around a few trees the other way.
While resting again, mother nature does her work on my body, mind, and spirit, curing the restlessness of winter cabin fever, rushing pink health to my cheeks, and the warmth of movement to my body.
But the best cure is calming my rat brain, much worse in the winter, which takes any tiny hardship and magnifies it into disaster. Calm, peace, and sleep-filled nights are blessed to me of late, so when those negative thoughts creep in, chase them far away.
Use a big corn broom and swoosh! That feeling of nostalgia niggling in the background, of loss, memories of old with others long gone, or others still here that closeness is difficult for me to nurture or sustain?
Those are to be felt, because my premise about feelings is, feel them. Trying to squash feelings makes them harden and stay.
So, tears have come each day and I let them, squeezing out not knowing why, nostalgia, loneliness? Then the why comes, (yes to both of those), and with it understanding, acknowledgment, and feeling real and accepted, even if it’s only by me. Because who better to know than me?