Back to basics, remembering what is so easily forgotten, the very simple plan of working on self-care and self-love. My job, as what occurred in the developing of my personality was just the opposite; self-hate, self-destruction, and the loud critic a constantly nagging companion.
It is not easy to change the trajectory of one’s upbringing. And had death taken me already, which at 68 is quite possible, the peace created now wouldn’t have materialized. It has taken decades. It has taken a strength of fortitude that only now can be appreciated.
Some people might like a do-over, but not me. No way could going through the depressions, and robot-like living be done again. The magic of meadow walks, solitude, and each moment of life treasured… a new miracle some have had the good pleasure to have never lost. It has taken a great deal of work to have arrived here, where living feels good more than ever before.
My center, my core, any basic trust in others was lost at age eight. Shattered, only now able to pick up a few fragments, but never knowing really what life would have been like growing up under the roof of a loving, functional family.
My sons are together for a week at Cape Cod. My usual feelings before now would include a searing loneliness wanting to be with them even though knowing it would be impossible. The drive, the traffic, and having to take something to sleep every night over the course of 7 nights— too much! The loneliness for it crept in anyway. But not now. Now? Gratitude.
Now I feel only joy that they can be together, and I can be at peace doing what I do. The sun, the birds, the critters, Samuel, a few friends, snaps and photos from Shane and Cory daily (enjoying their trip vicariously without the hassle), and summer. My days are full and happy.
A willful, spoiled, tyrant of a four year old stripped me of centeredness, confidence, or any belief in myself.
“Should I order chicken?” I asked Samuel, one of a barrage of questions about what to do about very simple mundane things that he wouldn’t know the answer to anyway.
Feeling scattered, I dump a puzzle out but don’t have the where with all to really sit and do it. Puzzles help to center me, forgetting that this feeling of scatteredness has been a way of life and even still can visit daily. There are ways to get back in there… to my core where wise answers come.
Losing weight makes it scary. How to keep losing it, feeling bones that had been hidden, feeling good, all ripped away by the rejection of a toddler making a war out of his way vs my way. Perhaps going along and letting him be king of my house like it seems he is at his own, is the best way to be happy?
Dr. Phil’s quote, ‘Do you want to be happy, or be right?’
I want to be happy, but something in me won’t allow disrespect from a child at any age. It is untenable to me, but my belief is that it is also harmful to a child. A child fights to have his or her way, but really does not want that kind of power. They need to know that the adult is in charge no matter what kind of fit is dramatized.
Yet doubts creep in, fear, and indecisiveness, not just about Bennett but about even little decisions. This wave of ungroundedness creates more questions about what’s going on and how it provokes memories of the past which really aren’t so past. The feelings of rejection for doing no wrong, but rather being ganged up on.
The feelings of being talked about, as in way back as a child hearing Seth in the kitchen with his teenage friends thinking I heard them say something about me. Seth, though not one of the attackers, chose to be closest with Tom through the years, the eldest attacker and the only one still living.
But what was happening was I was being attacked, I was not the one who was wrong, but felt that way ever since no matter how much work is put into uncovering the real truth. This has become the bedrock of my personality, my way of responding to just about everything; being wrong, bad, or even fit to live. The courage and work it takes to counteract this is enormous and ongoing.
These issues thought to be healed from are even present, and little bratty Bennett has poked a pin in them. Tom comes to mind while meditating. As the pounds dissolve there are thoughts of letting him know exactly how badly he hurt me.
Because he never got it. His one attempt to talk via phone wasn’t about ‘I’m so sorry, can you ever forgive me,’ it was excuses.
“I was so young,” he said.
After the call my fury sent me out to the forest to bang on trees. YOUNG? You were in college, home on Christmas break! You were old enough to be prosecuted.
During meditation when thoughts are to still, my mind whirled as usual. It is only the last moments when the buzzer goes off that my mind quiets. But this time my busy brain imagined sending an email with a link to my book. Maybe send a book. But really, do you want to share so much of yourself with a creep? Perhaps just the chapter about him? Now that’s an idea.
But then, why bother? Leave them all behind to be whatever they want to be as a group, and go on as I am, plodding along, but discovering on my own path that there’s beauty and peace both around and inside me. The deep wounds will not likely go away completely but need to be lived with. Those sorrowful feelings need space with the joy.
And that is the trick, acceptance of it all, opening up all the doors internally, letting the air flow between each one. Escape is not an option on the path to health, love, joy, and peace.
Floundering, lost, getting my footing on solid ground- a wish with memories of feeling so confident not long ago. So easily the apple cart is upset, the pieces strewn haphazardly, unable to find them all as many remain hidden.
Sometimes one needs to just accept the moment and its messiness. Remember? Even when it’s going well, that internal need for self-talk must be ever present and is always needed. You’re OK, a refrain which calms me all day long because moment to moment feels so uncertain.
The sureness will come, confidence will rise, and the days will become brighter. But rain comes to us all, a day can have both sunshine and dreariness. So take it all and just keep going…
Once again back into my core, my own mortality is grasped. Though sounding morose, it is a daily confrontation when my mind is not going in circles and peace extends herself throughout my being. It is when facing my own death each day that worries piling up dissipate because suddenly they lose importance up against the reality of the time limits of life.
My home comes back into full view, feeling the prettiness and safety. The meadow comes alive swaying in the breeze or its stillness when there isn’t any. Scents zone into my center that were always there but not noted due to fractures in my thoughts and centeredness.
My path becomes confident, the questions of how dare I do what I need to instead of what others want me to slipping away like so much waste. It is waste when putting my life in how I perceive others want me to live it.
It is my life. Choose your path and have the courage to the follow it. Let go of Mother’s teachings: You should be ashamed of yourself. DUMMY. That’s not nice. All the requirements she had in order to feel loved or at least not abandoned.
It’s OK, you’re OK, the message needed often and daily. During the pandemic when all were essentially shut down from socializing, my feelings of oddness went away and good feelings replaced them. Others were forced into solitude… like me.
Forced solitude out of the knowledge that others cause harm. That was learned during childhood. It does not change. Also, there is a need for seclusion because too much stimulation sets me off into the stratosphere.
Now others have taken up their social activities, singing in choir, doing band performances in parades such as the couple we know, church gatherings and dinners, get-togethers… and the list goes on.
But it is just as OK now for me to live the life chosen for me even if it differs from the majority of others. A life with quietness, peace (hopefully), and with ease. With retirement there is a drifting of purpose.
Raising sons gave me purpose. Then my nursing degree when the kids were older. Then the job, haranguing as it was to my psyche and emotions. Ugh. Now what?
We saved like little squirrels, so now we know we can pay our bills even though no longer working. So, now what? What is the purpose? No answers here except life. Live it. Live it the best that you can by being in each moment, squeezing the goodness out of each one, even the pain that comes with them. Yes, even that.
Live, grow, oh, try to grow. Work at growing and becoming a better person, and there is much room to grow. And enjoy the simple bounty around you.
There is Herman, the young buck in the field, coming each day, even as I walk by. His head lifts up from the tall grass and we have a moment staring at each other.
“Hi Hermie,” I say greeting him, his big ears atop the brown body unmoving, then he decides to hop away, the white fluff of tail bobbing behind him.
Just enjoy all you have, temper the willful brain that likes to take detours into unhappiness, steer it back to the moment. Not all moments are happy, often there is sadness without knowing why. Feel them, release them by feeling, and let them go.
There is happiness amidst pain. Let it all come and flow through. That is living.
Lost, all week lost. Pain does that, making a break between body and mind. Survival called for that early on. It isn’t as helpful now. Only when connected can things be figured out, or at least be able to come up with a reasonable answer for the gut pain.
My thoughts scared me thinking of every disaster possible, and every sickness cropping up in the world along with dread about what the news broadcasted each night, but the issue wasn’t outside of me, it was inside of me.
Strawberries. The beautiful, bountiful crop, filling our freezer with jams, sauces, and whole berries…. Eating a huge bowl each day joyfully. Well, isn’t that always life’s way? The good with the bad. My old gut cannot handle that many seeds.
At least the pain has eased when connecting to my body, using thoughtful gentleness to tend to it. Not something done in past years. But people can grow. It may take decades, but it can happen. Life’s difficulties are better handled when one is connected to their spirit, body, and mind.
Kindness like a warm soothing balm felt loving. Remember that? And how much work it takes each day? That is my work.
Samuel’s berries are ready, though the eating is much more fun than picking. And other summer surprises visit, the splendor of nature overwhelmingly beautiful.
So many bird nests filled with hatched babies all around the property, one on the front porch, another atop the wisteria, one on the eaves, and so many more. Daddy robin keeps guard on the tripod when he isn’t feeding the mother sitting on the nest. The tiny bird on the porch sounds like a raptor when going out there, so my visits are limited to watering the hanging baskets quickly.
All varieties converged one night staring up into the hedgerow from the garden arch into the trees where there was so much racket!
“Samuel, come out, something’s wrong with birds!” I exclaimed, the noise bringing me outdoors.
He clapped his hands then a hawk flies away, hopefully without his meal. So many duties before me, picking bouquets from Samuel’s roses that have gone off the charts with blossoms this year. Everything that blooms seems to have increased in volume ten-fold.
Too much stimulation, even happy times, inhibits my ability to sleep. Lying there hour after hour, by hour three after Samuel came to bed and began lightly snoring, a pill was taken while waiting for the ‘wise voice’ to interject her thoughts.
And it came later the next day, still groggy from the night-time medication. Why- oh why- can’t my body keep up with others? Simple things like a day with the grand-children, happy in the little pool, with imaginations that take off, laughter abounding. The rest of the family joining us later for dinner. Knowing the answer should be no to an overnight request by Cindy my excited answer was YES!
How can that be turned down after a year of solitary confinement? But of course it was too much for a body worn out after daily adrenaline rushes coursing through my veins due to early repressed traumas. Tiny occurrences my body took as deadly danger released chemicals into the bloodstream that should have been reserved for real danger. My body can only go about a half day before quiet, alone time, and stillness is required.
Determined NOT to have a sluggish day after a night-time medication was used, I walked laps through the grogginess anyway. Not even 90 plus heat swayed me from my path making me feel good about me. Round and round, the sweat proof of work being done offering a sense of achievement.
Choosing to live well through it all, forging through, doing what brings satisfaction and success. And maybe hardest to swallow, acceptance of what is, my body, mind, and soul need attention and care because all facets have taken great hits. There is joy amidst struggles.
Though hard, it is good to get back to the work of inhabiting my body as one. The more time that passes after being with the chaos and drama of origin family members, the better I feel and the less my mind goes in loops over it.
Moving on to the usual, facing a day with its fears, and challenges with the diligence needed to be present. That is enough without the quagmire of the past, pulled back into old grooves where no growth occurs. It has. No going back, my core will not allow stagnation once tasting the fruits of expansion.
The time spent as a robot to please while with them, dimming as each days goes by. The wonders of each sunrise begins to settle in while worries, and mental games that sicken fade. Because the mind can make me sick if around others that are stuck in loops of their own.
My internal wisdom won’t let me stay in swamps of death-like goo, memories of what was that still are in that group. Who cloyingly begin drowning me with repeated attempts at collaboration in dysfunction. No, free me, let me loose. Tentacles of what seems like family luring me down into the tar that sucks a soul dead.
My issues are many without adding to them, all spelled out in the psychiatric textbooks of diagnoses. Though terms are not my thing, it is helpful to acknowledge my own reality so that gentleness towards self can grow; DISORDERS- Depressive, Anxiety, Trauma and Stressor related disorder, Dissociative Disorder…
It takes great care to manage my life without adding more stress to it. Perhaps these doors that have been left ajar with hopes of meaningful contact need to be closed, maybe locked. To come back to the basics each day, contemplation of my own mortality which spurs my desire to enjoy the simples pleasures amidst the pain.
Ah, to be free of it. As each day passes, more freedom lightens my being. Joy replaces depression. Tears dry, without knowing why they are there, wiping them away almost daily. Maybe it is a mourning all over again. Each failed attempt at connection comes with the price of mourning.
Bury the dead while they are alive? In a sense, yes. Or more succinctly, Live and let live…