Preparations for an upcoming gathering of women friends includes the offering of grapevine wreaths to decorate that were made earlier when cutting down the vines so that they are trimmed for next year’s growth. Pinecones from trees we planted were gathered, dried, then sparkled as if snowy.
Unable to stop myself, mine is decorated which frees me up to help others if needed. This gathering of women friends over the years has sustained me in so many ways.
Without the taboo of talking about my real life, and without the stigma that seals my lips and makes me phony so that you will be comfortable, I can be myself. I can also accept real love and caring from those whose own self-worth isn’t caught up with the secrets of the past.
I can be who I am, and who I could ever be with their loving encouragement, daring to test my wings then fly.
They know what happened to me and don’t keep me silent about it. Which means no push to want to. It’s only when you silence me that I want and need to speak. It’s only when you deny my truth that truth needs to be told.
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…
Almost 7 PM, and the tablet dung once, no loud beeping because the volume is down later in the day while playing games. Checking to see what the ding was finding it to be another attempt at a group video chat set up by Stevie with Don and Seth.
Closing the tablet quickly immediately relieved not to have heard the usual chirping which normally signals a happy video chat with our grand-daughter. No way could joining work. Stevie’s first attempt a few days ago jinxed sleep that night requiring a sleep aid. It set off internal alarm bells that no amount of self-talk calmed…danger, danger, danger.
There is yearning for family coupled with the inability to feel part of it even when invited. Musings as to why this sets off internal alarms are cloudy, but the soul’s need for safety won out even if my brain can’t reason why. Some clarity came. When others stand by silently while another hurts you, they are as culpable as the villain doing the damage.
All stood silently by while Tom degraded me in any way he felt like it, whenever he wanted throughout my life. Even in my fifties while everyone gathered at my table in an attempt to let bygones be gone, eating my food and drinking my coffee, slurs against me were made. Tom, looking up from his nose stuck in the paper, castigated my ineptness at buying this house with a realtor who was cutting corners in illegal ways.
Sneering, Tom commented on my stupidity snidely to Stevie openly in front of everyone, as if I were not there. Once again degrading me, and as usual, no one said a thing to support me. Stevie had stepped in to take over the mess and coordinate another realtor with the company to handle the rest of the sale.
Tom’s continual efforts to devalue me seemed to be a fun pastime for him. He is unashamed to exhibit his contempt. Instead of feeling badly for what he did to me as a child, he choose to cut me down. He’s an expert at it. Hacking at my character through the years broke me as much or more than than anything else.
There is nothing wrong with not knowing the intricacies of buying and selling a home since we did it only once forty years ago. Feelings of badness, wrongness, and being cast out, the feelings Tom continually injected into my days since the age of 8, were coupled this time with simmering rage. This would be the last effort at reconciliation.
This wasteland has been my life since Tom sexually abused me as a child until cutting off contact. The snide remarks, the sneering, the dirtiness of him spreading malevolence everywhere, in every family member who never spoke up yet continued their loyalty to him. It parallels the maliciousness in politics today, the two characters of Tom and the Donald so similar in vileness.
It’s not OK. I don’t need the rest of you now. Being in a group setting is toxic for me. One on one, OK. And loving from afar, because there is still love for all three, and great love stems from below when I feel safe to feel it, from afar, not in person or facetime. They feel as dangerous to me as the abusers.
So yearning continues for what won’t be. Instead I gather my friends who always feel safe and support me in ways family never could. Walking the meadow some grape vines are picked up from the pile Samuel left after trimming them.
While enjoying the outdoors even though drab, muddy, and bitterly cold, light brightens my footsteps while thinking of friends, twisting the grape vines into a wreath with each lap. Going out again later, another wreath was made as if walking with each friend holding her hand. The nicely made circle was held tightly after being formed imagining my friend right next to me as we laughed, shared, and enjoyed each other’s company.
A wreath, the circle of friendship, made for all four to be delivered with their craft kits for Sunday’s video chat, our monthly tradition for over 15 years. Safe family in friendship.
I can understand young people feeling less vulnerable, therefore taking chances we wouldn’t. Our son from down the road has entered his toddler into pre-school where masks are not worn. He entertained his daughter’s friends for a birthday party, 5 other young girls at his home, no masks, no social distancing.
His daughter is also returning to dance class, while his older son is joining several sports activities. Life goes on. But my ideas of hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas indoors, even while burning heat but with windows open, may have to wait.
Even with New York numbers of infections down, it still seems too risky. We have enjoyed several patio parties where we sit above the patio on the screen porch safely. Even walking together to the creek together but keeping our distance.
My prayers go to Shane and his wife, that they both keep healthy. They all caught colds once school started. If they can catch colds, they can be infected with Covid. A mother worries, and there truly is something to worry about.
Still, even without celebrating holidays with them if that’s the decision we come to, it’s OK. We are so lucky to have this land, and that is easily forgotten or taken for granted. Many are moving to the country from the cities because of the cravings for space and safety that cannot be found in high-rise apartments with no yards.
Lucky, lucky, lucky. That is the refrain, my mantra as we move into our home more while the days grow colder.
What to do when everything is alright with the world? OK, not the universal world suffering the blight of the pandemic, but my own internal world which is found on this little plot of land I call heaven. No more being a renegade living as a rebel outcast because even the three brothers who never touched me seemed to cling together against me.
What if there is real caring and some of my resentments need the gift of tolerance just as they do in any human interaction? And what of the trust issues? Well they are there on a permanent basis. When the inner voice cries out ‘beware’…listen to it.
But the soul’s yearning for family never requited has been filled by an impromptu outdoor socially distant gathering. Picking up my pot oil supply in the city, a quick stop at Seth’s was made only a block away. He called the other brother also living in the city. Soon he and his wife popped in with their cups of coffee.
The ten minute visit turned into three hours, and the thirst for ‘family’ was quenched. It was fun, felt safe, and for the first time was OK. Because I am OK. Traveling miles in the meadow, footfall after happy footfall among the bobbing heads of buttercups and drifting butterflies, my strength blossomed with the love growing internally.
Strong enough to love me, or learn about how that feels as it blooms, the doors to family that had closed but left unlocked cracked open, widening enough to enjoy their company and feel safe. The safe part is paramount occurring only after my ability to say what I need to say when I need to say it crystalized.
Not by force, but by walks in the meadow where I’ve learned that the opinion of myself that matters most is my own.
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.
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.
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.
Having a plan for the day brings goals. Sometimes the goals need to be cut back in order to go at a pace without rush or anxiety. Anxiety bubbles below like constant running water during the pandemic scare.
How to find calm? The usual ways, puttering in the kitchen making home-made whole wheat pizza. White, of course, for Samuel. That is an all-day project, making the dough, letting it rise on the stove, baking, toppings, then baking again.
In between kitchen prepping, a call to a friend who isn’t able to zoom into her church services or our planned zoom group gathering today. And between the two of us, success! So a lovely visit with a friend where I could see her face and her smile.
And the most precious times are walking the meadow with meditative time at the creek. Samuel eventually joins me. We sit quietly listening to the orchestra of birds. .
There is peace to be found during this pandemic, a marathon rather than a sprint.