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. 

PERFECTION

photos by Patricia

And so we take the way less traveled, or so we thought. Dogs off leashes, one coming up to the truck to bark at me before even exiting the vehicle. Others on leashes, but not one person, walker, or biker, wore a mask, not one!

As if proud of their independence from wearing one, each turn their head to puff out GOOD MORNING, possibly spreading germs our way… infuriating me. Even if the passing goes quickly, the space between us is only a foot or two. So don’t turn towards me with your big mouth opened wide spewing out a greeting that could also spew contamination. Dumb as rocks, dumb or in denial.

How hard is it to wear a mask? We keep ours on, but pulled down on our chins, making it easy even on bikes to pull up when seeing passersby’s. Doesn’t anyone remember there’s a pandemic?

“Shut you pie hole,” I want to scream, but I don’t open my mouth even if it is covered showing others respect they don’t show us.

Just wave if you have to, or nod your head. But if you’re not wearing a mask don’t expect me to reciprocate. That would be like thanking you for trying to kill me.

Still, we love the trail along the water, miles and miles it. Abundant wild roses last week wafting a heaven of sweetness through the air. This week, daisies, buttercups, chicory, and many other wild flowers dotting the path to the bridge in the next town.

Though the ride is an hour and half, after returning home, the glorious day drew me out to more azure skies warm with sun, and breezes causing the meadow to dance dappling the ground with lacy patterns. The humidity had been swept away leaving one of those days to capture in its splendor of perfection. 

 

 

Make a Nice Day

photos by Patricia

With a temperature dip of 20 degrees, my bathrobe feels snuggly and warm socks are pulled on again. Yet the sun rises in its glory as an array of bugs, birds, and breeze fill my ears with pleasurable sound.

The ridiculous bird is at the mirrored mosaic, wondering during meditation what that pecking was. He will make himself in need of therapy if he doesn’t stop attacking his own reflection trying to ward off competitors that are really just a ghost of himself.

But that is also my own problem, the person living within always harping on my faults, mistakes and shortcomings, like two people residing inside myself. During a walk, huffing up the hill, the conversation goes on.

One side plummeting my self-esteem with jabs, the other answering, ease up, be gentle, be kinder. That takes work with conscious effort. The wild roses are out, pausing a moment during my walk coming close to a blossom, its light scent sweet.

The comfort of sitting creek-side after laps is exquisitely restful, and one of the best parts of each day, losing myself in peaceful reverie. Go easier, be easier. That is the way, though that ‘other’ person takes me on detours from habit, places that hurt, cause needless pain, and slam me down.

Make a nice day, make the effort.

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.

Home

photo by Patricia (milkweed bud in the meadow)

Home, once a haven, sometimes seems like a prison. Sadness from having to cancel summer trips melted while walking this morning. The azure sky beckoning me out under full sun, my flip-flops dripping with dew. Each lap brings me home as the splendor of a perfect morning is gifted.

New growth on the pines emitting a deep scent just as precious as pines in the mountains. The tickle of moist grass on my toes while inspecting the half dozen Sycamore trees newly planted by my own hands, and the three tulip trees given by a friend… all leafing out splendidly. There is something so precious and satisfying planting and watching a thing grow.

Sitting by the creek in the warm sunshine before the heat becomes oppressive, dawdling on the way back looking to the upcoming months that include picking black raspberries which are budding abundantly…the pleasures of summer await.

No matter that my body soaks wet with perspiration from needing long pants, socks, shoes, and a long sleeved shirt to pick these particular berries. They are vicious with killer thorns.

But the mixture of painful determination with joyful pleasure is well worth the work. My daydreams includes their aroma, warmed by the sun they remind me of cotton candy. Both sweet pleasures erupt in August, though the fair has already been cancelled.

All that I need is here in my own backyard. Yet the longing to be with a friend or hug a grand-child continues. Strange times for us call require uncommon strength to endure. 

Freedom and Safety

Waking in the night a breeze of fear passes through me. All the people called ‘family’ were put in the block sender list yesterday to feel safe. But what of the love felt for each of them? The love is from an immature girl, remaining a girl all through my 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, only beginning to mature in the last decade… a slow and painful process. 

And with maturity comes the realization that lies are not OK. Interacting with each of them, always on their terms, is not OK. Pretending is not OK. Being buddies with an abuser, aligning with him against me, is not OK. Pretending he didn’t slink up in the night to abuse me… is not OK.

By not talking about the crimes committed against me make the crimes loom larger. Lying awake in the night remembering. The confused mixture of pleasure and confusion as a little girl, still sleepy laying there at the end of couch with my little brother asleep at the other end.

Tommy’s head between my legs— waking to the soft pleasure but not understanding. The next morning, and all the years after, the brother I loved so much with admiration and trust, turned his hate upon me. I was a reminder of his crime. His fear of exposure compounding the punishment that would defeat me for decades. That leaves me fighting for a life even now. 

On little shoulders that would take even more trauma, some so violent that remembering isn’t safe to this day. My psyche protects me from it still.

I am blocking emails that never come unless someone dies or wants something. No one dares to get close, reality might set in. But what of my reality?

Attachments cause deep pain. My preference is to attach to the land and mother nature who soothes, bringing smiles of joy as the chipmunks play, or a flower blooms .

Attach to my children, and their children. To Samuel, who I’m learning to trust for the very first time in over 40 years of marriage. Trust for a friend whom I’ve finally learned to erect boundaries with, a miraculous feat… trust that will reach out only so far because she will slam me down if I let her. 

That is enough to be challenged with. The origin family carries baggage with heavy requirements I have no energy to meet. (Yet agree to anyway when pressured.) So take away the temptation. 

After trying repeatedly to develop relationships individually with no takers, it became apparent that groups were only what was wanted— herd immunity. My need for safety equates to detaching. Craving freedom that was lost when feeling forced by pressured guilt to do something I did not want to do paralleling my formative years. Freedom and safety come home. 

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? 

MOTHER’S DAY

On Mother’s Day my gift is that my son’s and their family’s are people that they are. Each one offers the world so much of what’s needed right now; warmth, compassion, and love. My gratefulness spills over

The morning starts cool, crisp, and sunny drawing me out to walk much earlier than usual. Stunning, just stunning. My heart feels full with thankfulness as the leaf of grass sparkled with morning dew.

Later, both sons call, and with one we enjoy breakfast together during a video chat while our grand-daughter eats her oatmeal. The baby sleeps in front her on the island in a contraption that looks like a stuffed doughnut, but is generally used to support an arm while breastfeeding. 

The other son calls at the same time, so we drop one call to talk to the other. He also surprises me later by setting a balloon and fruit bouquet on the porch, ringing the door bell, then running to the middle of the yard with the rest of his family. (wife and three children) 

We chat, and laugh while the kids tell the latest stories while running around doing cartwheels and splits. 

It was one of those days being cognizant of what is going on in the world while remaining in my body…. a good day, a productive day, a day filled with love. Even my cat benefited from my being present. There is a difference between acting loving and really feeling it. Barriers and dissociation took a day off. 

What Broke

photo by Patricia

Re-entering my body has taken days. To notice and absorb the scent of the candle in the warmer, to check internally understanding the depth of tiredness that descends each day, acknowledge it, and attend to it. Then do things accordingly at the pace that meets my energy without splitting.

My being feels like a walking injury that must be cared for, and who else but me? Yet for much of life that me was buzzing around my body disconnected not wanting connection. Living that way causes dis-ease. People take time to care for themselves.

I was taught not to. To ignore traumatic injuries, to stuff them down because no one comes to help. The ever-lasting loud message is STAY SILENT.  That equates to a life of disrepair spent chaotically and desperately craving healthiness. It isn’t possible to make healthy what was severely broken. Some pieces cemented back together became stronger. Others break over and over again cracking at the joints. There is no fix. 

What is possible is to tend to my needs, which also requires staying present, another affliction caused by leaving my body at age eight and thereafter. The energy required for the task can be draining calling for great care and attention. Slow is the pace, long is the way, wonder and joy are found in the ‘moment.’ 

As the lines on my hands are noticed. As the birds sing across the meadow to each other. As the sun rises full and bright with rosy wisps of clouds in the purply turquoise sky.

There are pressures adding to the already pendulous weight of living that make caring for oneself harder but more necessary. Pleasure awaits in this moment of time, simple pleasure that money can’t buy.