Holding my Own Key to Happiness

Forever at the root of my core resided the belief of being bad, wrong, and always the one at fault. That is the feeling turned fact at age eight, growing every year becoming rock solid.

And that belief did solidify. How could it not with no one to tell me differently? No one to hold me, rock me, tell me that what they did was wrong, that they would be punished, that it wouldn’t happen again.

Because it did keep happening, and happening, and happening.

This is a time of peace, a time when that belief has been chipped at, questioned, and challenged. A crack has evolved where warmth seeps in, or oozes outward. Ever so slowly, bits of comfort float up where once only animosity to self had been. It is a change that could have occurred fifty years ago.

If only someone had the courage to hold my hand and take a stand. No one did. But I do now… tentatively, fearfully as if I’m doing something wrong in liking myself, for showing acceptance towards my own being, like the axe will fall for doing so.

No axe falls. Taking that step towards kindness and self-love after so long is freeing. The origin family collectively used subtle tactics to sustain low esteem to keep me silent. But my true nature includes persistence.

Baby- steps, tiny fissures are pried open wider using words of encouragement and uplift rather than harsh criticism. Treasures are found never enjoyed before: peace, openness, self-acceptance, joy.

Freedom is savored, the freedom to choose to (learn) to love myself. And each day a reminder to embrace gratefulness for making it through the hazards and treachery of all the years past. Where self-hate ruled in a mixing bowl of adrenaline pumped anxiety, confusion, self-doubt, and a total inability to connect with my own soul. 

To come to a place others never lost, is now found for me. A delectable experience not to be contaminated by bitterness towards what was. My choice is to enjoy the miraculous now.   

 

PEACE

The morning brought an odd sensation of aloneness though Samuel was around. Record temperatures of warmth were reached pulling me out to slop through the wet fields for a restful, peaceful walk. The pines whispered while passing by, like welcoming statuesque friends in a row branches extending for a handshake.

Choosing the elliptical in the basement over the coldness outside, made it  quite awhile since walking the meadow. It was sorely missed; the soothing quiet, interrupted by a few chirps, the whistle of the train brought closer with the wet air, and sounds of silence enhancing the respite making me linger a long time.

Yet a feeling unnamed there in the background wavered with a hesitancy to force it away. But conversation internally tried wedging it from its roots touting gratitude over loss, aplenty over scarcity. The little bit of blues scattered with the breeze while walking back to the house.

Inside a message on the answering machine bleeped red, my son asking for a callback.

“Um, just wondering if you’d like to take the kids this afternoon? We are thinking of doing errands then eating out afterwards. We’ll pick up the boys in the evening, but Cindy would like to stay the night,” Shane asked.

That was what was missing. Kid care, my devotion to my children, now their children.

“Oh yes, of course!” I responded delighted with anticipation and excitement for the fun day ahead.

Samuel drove me to the store to pick up pizza and ice cream after William’s basketball game. All was happily scarfed down later after a raucous afternoon of joyful activity with the three of them. Sometimes just what is needed comes along. No pushing, trying or scraping for more. Instead, patience, time, and living the best life that I know how, and learning to be the best person I can be.  

 

Come On Spring!

It is hard to describe, this vaporous hole inside searching for a mooring, finding none, so it whirls ungrounded craving connection without landing.

It spins in the night, waking me.

Thoughts keep the comet sparking sending me to the cabinet for antacids, then TV, then bed again till 5 AM rolls around. How to hold all that goes on outside of myself inside, and still remain balanced.

In winter it is struggle. So when the blues of Cory’s leaving passes, there is still the depression less daylight brings. As days grow longer by seconds, then minutes, the wait for spring begins.

GIFTS

How do you learn to live with others, love them, even like them, when hurts are sure to come, along with disappointments, failure to meet expectations, foibles of character, misunderstandings, just human flaws in general?

Ripped apart in childhood, this task is almost insurmountable, but with enough work, attachments can be made that see one through life, albeit at times just barely.

Trust does not swim back in along with warm feelings full of love, security, and affection for others. No, just about never. The cat is where my love flows. Without the cat there would be none. I ‘think’ others love me, but it is too risky to feel it. 

But some interactions are needed, even if acting is needed to simulate what it should be like. Get by with the act to survive. Maybe the real thing will come, feeling love. What is left of all that was stolen lies buried where it is kept safe. This is not intentional, it happened automatically to survive. 

Complete annihilation of embers left burning that are able to love would remove any reason to live, because love is life. Learning to forgive others for their thoughtless slights and insensitivity happens more readily as the ability to forgive my own shortcomings blossoms.

Give the gift of gentleness to self. Wrap it in kindness.  

 

The Crack

The flu-like cold making me miserable with thoughts of having no right to misery. The newscast aired stories of those with no arms making a living with their art showing how they paint with the brush in their mouth. I have no right for complaint.

So I close up like a clam with no feelings because the feelings there shouldn’t be. Yet there they are. Depression, anxiety, stress. Stress? How could you be stressed? You’re not working.

So don’t feel what’s there, and that adds more stress. And no tears. I’m a crier. If I’m not crying in a somewhat regular fashion, something’s not right.

Going to our monthly get-together’s with four other friends, one takes me to her shoulder and the tears come. The very same friend whose husband is handling a cancer scare right now. How dare I? Yet she is comforting me.

“Don’t cry,” she says gently.

Once the tears come, so does the laughter and smiles, real smiles, not the fake ones I’ve been plastering my face with knowing something should be making me smile but not feeling it.

You cannot suppress one feeling without suppressing the other. Chipping away at my heart to keep opening it makes me whole, also opening me up to what matters, what’s real, and what is most important— how you are with yourself and others.

 

SILENCE

The silence. It kills, destroys, implodes, shatters. What was done to the body can be processed. Painfully, yes, and still some parts of a child destroyed irrevocably. But it is the silence imposed upon a child that will most likely cause a life-time of struggles unfounded. And no one knows.

What is seen may seem odd, or normal-like. Tornadoes whirling inside are invisible to onlookers. Even now grown, it feels impossible to tell, to break the silence once imposed, the taboo of childhood sexual abuse.

Is it the abuse that is taboo, or the telling? Or perhaps we are too ashamed as a society to pull our heads out of the sand to save our children. The prevalence is as it always was. Isn’t it time to break the silence? Forget your shame that one of your own has done this, save the child. 

To reach out for help takes so much courage. Yet to survive, one must. I needed to. It took decades to reach where I am now. If I were to be out among others, I would say what was needed.

Now it is mostly said in a medical intervention where I plainly state why a special kind of anesthesia is needed. I’m not around others too much anymore, and that is one loss taken permanently, the ability to go fast, move fast, and do a lot. Friends do, my sons, my husband. Others aren’t a threat to them.

For a child grown to woman, the skill of setting boundaries doesn’t happen without great will. It takes copious amounts of practice beforehand, often delivered via letter or on the phone. When as a child, a brother forced himself upon me, the memories of what others are capable never leaves. PEOPLE ARE DANGEROUS. My body never forgets. and lives with muscles taught even here in the safety of my home. 

When no intervention was provided to heal my torn body and mind, the message learned was silence. My mother reinforced it with skill time after time. “That’s not nice,” or, “You should be ashamed of yourself,” a few of her favorites. 

PTSD erupts even now without invite, though periods of peace make it livable. That wasn’t always true. Anxiety was ever present. But now, even during a lull when thinking things are going smoothly, the body is tense without knowing it. And with no reason why, it just is. Being awake means being on alert.

Had my mother sought the things needed when her little girl was raped, medical examination, therapy, the things provided for any physical catastrophe, healing could occur. But it is more common for silence, distance, and nothing to occur for the child sexually abused by a loved one. She becomes a piranha within the family, the memory of what was done. Shun her. Silence her, dig her grave.

I will not be silenced. I will have my life, and because of these determinations have the best life I ever imagined.

Buried Alive

Each time the old messages screech hauntingly, slay them down. After a while they tend to not bother, staying in their graves where they belong. Who we are may be a stirring in the cauldron of just that plus who we choose to be.

Make a choice. Slay the dragons, or let them take me under. I slay them each day, some days with more success and energy than others. Other days they thrive like the walking dead, burying me as they walk upon my grave.

But my hands claw up through the dirt, my spirit rises, flourishes, and wins. Those messages from childhood will remain. Whether to listen to them, or choose not to, that is the work.

I am bad because I didn’t fight them off. Brothers who weighed twice as much as me. I am bad because as vile as it all felt, sometimes my body responded. I hate my body. I am bad, bad, bad.

And ‘family’ allowed those message to stick because then they were protected. Those that did it, those that knew but did nothing.

Choose. The truth, which is something new to me that I am still learning about. Or choose old messages that often threaten to bury me. The magic is loving myself how I am, and loving my body too, just how it is right now.

It is hard to learn the truth of who I am over the booming loudness of badness… to find my way to my core buried beneath cold, hard, vaulted steel, arriving at the place where love resides.

Dig. Dig until you find it, that soft, warm, puffy cloud place where love and comfort swirl like warm waterfalls… for self and for others. Unearth the sweetness where bliss and heaven dwell within.