Ye of Little Faith

photo by Patricia

Faith, like trust, is lacking. I have faith in mother nature and her wild ways. But not faith in people, nor trust, trusting only my cat, and very young children. Kicking at the ground during laps around the meadow, head down, thoughts about the post just written swam in my head.  It does matter that Samuel forgot, yet chastising myself for such shallowness during a time of crisis and upheaval on our earth. 

Samuel has gotten somewhat forgetful of late, but that wasn’t enough of an excuse. Despite my vows not to pout, his forgetfulness caused one of those silent days towards him warming only when other events unfolded.  

Happy Birthday, running through my mind. Is it something to celebrate? Had a choice been given at the moment of conception, knowing what’s to come, my choice might have been NO. But dying now is not wanted because peace is found after a fretful, buzzing, anxious life apart from myself.

Walking up towards the house on the last lap, a van very much like my son’s pulled halfway down the driveway. Getting my coat off, going to the front window, there was his family, three grand-children atop the van, two lively parents beside them, and a huge hand-crafted metal sculpture of a soaring butterfly stuck in the ground with bows.

Going to the porch they sang Happy Birthday. The grandchildren hopped down to run around the front yard doing cartwheels. Chagrined at my earlier feelings of ‘poor me,’ smiles and laughter took its place.

A card from a friend, a call from another, others do remember and care. Then the florist arrives setting a huge arrangement on the porch…. from my other son and wife. After spraying it down with disinfectant, careful not to put my nose down to the roses for a whiff, I dared bring it in. Also the balloon bouquet left by Shane’s family and their beautiful cards, scrupulously washing my hands afterwards, then spraying everything again.

Washing my hands didn’t seem enough as the cards and balloons had touched my clothing. So off went everything into the wash with hot water, and into the shower for my body and hair.

My faith does not lie in people unfortunately, nor does my trust. Yet the day restored both.

VIRTUAL BABYSITTING

Who knew we could babysit virtually. My son and daughter-in-law work from home during this pandemic. My grand-daughter is usually watched by her other grand-mother during non-school days, but is self-isolating to keep everyone safe. 

So they work with a toddler hopping around like so many others across the country. Even before this, our grand-daughter often took her Daddy’s phone while we Skyped, taking us around the house as she played; into the tent, her ‘house’ where we have tea parties, into the playroom for various other imaginative activities, and many many mornings at the island as she ate her oatmeal, often being the one requesting to see Nana and Poppy while having breakfast. 

But not we are of help entertaining her just by our presence on a screen as if she is playing by our feet on our couch— though miles away. It is as if we are together as she chatters happily cooking in her play kitchen, planning deliveries, and making food items.

Parents working nearby on their perspective computers check in, “Are Nana and Poppy still there?” because the screen has gone dark on her end automatically saving battery life.

“Oh yes, we are playing and having fun!” I exclaim. 

A few hours later her battery ebbs and we must go. The sad look on her face fills my heart. She loves to ‘play’ with us even miles apart….

CONNECT

Some day’s anxiety rolls deep like thunder strumming beneath the current of my everyday life. A walk with meditative time by creek dispels it temporarily, soothing mother holding me in her loving arms. Some days pulling up the blanket of depression is so temping but the lure is resisted— move, do something healing; cook a nice meal, bake a bunny cake, exercise, cuddle with my purring kitty, or pick a spring bouquet.

Each day new feelings, a different feeling. It’s OK, telling myself that whatever is there, feel it. It may be scary, but there’s other things. A connection with all the parts is living wholly. Separating, my tendency, means ratcheting up anxiety, or deepening into depression, or worse. Many things develop when disconnected from my body.

Yes, I am scared. Sometimes more than others. I am fearful, and at times it overwhelms. If this, if that, on and on. Before trotting off to insanity, remember… courage. It is the time for courage. I have what it takes to stay connected within myself. And I need not be afraid to go there.

These are the talks by the creek that I have with myself, and it helps. It helps greatly.

photo (and cake) by Patricia

SPRING

This morning’s moon- photo by Patricia

And he came again. This time we were prepared bringing out rubber boots, a coat saved for getting dirty, and old pants meant for little boys, mud, and water.

Samuel still made ‘tsk tsk’ noises when he jumped in muddy puddles covered with a slick of ice. But my hands came together applauding our little grandson for breaking the ‘glass.’ Soaking his mittens, he picked up the ‘glass’ to throw it down smashing it.

“Don’t you remember being three years old?” I ask Samuel.

“No, I guess I don’t,” he replied, still trying to hurry the puddle jumper back to the driveway to ride the three wheeler.  

“Go ahead if you’re in a hurry. There are still a few more ice puddles to break,” I add in exasperation.

He shakes his head and stays, as my delight soared watching the action. The spring day continued to unfold its pleasures heightened by an exploring grand-son, everything new and wonderful.

Later after he left, as the sun drifted low in the sky, we sat on the porch. The warmth heated relaxing to my core. An hour went by easily with birds singing good-night as the orange orb dipped behind trees with a kiss of ease filling and complete. 

This morning the huge, full, yellow moon descended where last night’s sun went down while the sun dawned in the east. Excitement barely containable explodes within as spring explodes. Wanting to run marathons, a walk will have to do.

Tiny green buds almost indiscernible begin to grow on the wild honeysuckle along the hedgerow. Innumerable pleasures await. My being grows in this plot of land as the landscape wakes and grows.    

Happy Grandson

A three year old surely helps to bring out the child in a person as we both trot happily down to the creek. He jumped in every puddle after telling him it was OK to do so. Mud splashed up on his boots, pants, and even the bottom of his coat as Samuel made ‘tsk tsk’ noises. But my laughter was forthright with joyful abandon.

A brisk day to bundle up for, yet flower bulbs are popping up out of thawed soil with patches of blossoming snowdrops scattered everywhere. He delights in throwing sticks into the creek.

“Watch Nana,” he says looking back expectantly.

“Oh, what a splash!” I answer, pulling my scarf down so he could see my smile.

Giggling he gathers more, over and over again. Our creek-side landscape received a nice clean-up as he exuberantly picks up twigs and fallen branches running back and forth to the water’s edge throwing them in.

Eventually we end up back in the driveway where he rides the plastic car holding his feet above the peddles while coasting down to me excitedly. We draw chalk pictures on the blacktop, blow bubbles, and toss a ball until his head begins to droop. 

By then lunchtime comes just when his Daddy picks him up all muddy, wet, tired and hungry. We send him home in clean clothes with a peanut butter sandwich on his lap.

Contentedly wrapping myself up in an afghan as a chill settles in, memories warm me. The morning outdoors didn’t feel cold at all, just packed full of fun, excitement, and laughter.

BLOOM

photo by Patricia

Waking, the same dead dragging feelings wake too always present in my core needing work to banish and confront. Sipping coffee rocking by the fire, watching the cat pretend hunt on the porch through the sliding glass doors, the question presents itself— why?

Why always awaking with pessimism framed with rocks of depression? Why goes back to Chet, not the first attacker, but one who held me captive long after the attacks stopped. Captive in badness. Knowing it wasn’t my fault wasn’t known then.

Like weeds overtaking gardens with deeper, tenacious, stronger roots than flowers, thoughts and beliefs that developed in childhood grew thick and heavy, solidly intertwined, and muscled. Hack away at it, they grow back while sleeping waking as if all that happened was yesterday.

The feelings, the heaviness of blackness believing myself bad, abnormal, abhorrent really, not fit to be born, surely not fit to live, craving relief from the pain even if it meant thoughts of death for decades to come.

Why? Isn’t laughter, light and joy part of being alive too? Can’t these feelings dance? Why must the feelings upon waking be so forlorn? What else is there? As the delicious black brew is enjoyed, more of what’s hidden wakes too.

Wind blows through the tree limbs with a song as geese fly overhead, nature melodies comforting. Spring, a time to dance, play and laugh, as in any season if one tries, but spring is especially exciting. 

 

The Loneliness of Shame

Temperatures dip into the teens and still dropping as snow swirls in mini-tornados off the roof. The fire emits a burst of heat after the fan is tuned on. Even the house temperature dropped overnight.

After the cat ‘hunt’s on the screen porch during my first sips of hot black brew, she comes in to curl up next to me on Samuel’s stuffed rocker complacently watching me write.

The comfort of home cannot be overstated. Home where my depleted nervous system can be pampered, protected, and cared for. Home where creativity can blossom, and working on freeing myself from the internal too harsh critic can be accomplished over time and with much dedication.

There is no freedom being locked in with critical voices of the past yammering in my head ever since age 8 and the first violent attack. When no one comes to help, a child feels to blame. The family unconsciously understands how well this silenced me, and willingly added to it along the way.

Their shame of doing such deeds, or standing by doing nothing, caused an even bigger shame, the shame of silence, dumped on tiny shoulders willing to take it on. Taking the blame was far better than feeling powerless, not a conscious decision, but self-preservation. I’ll take the blame because otherwise the people I depend on are not dependable, then where would I be?

Guilt and blame are easier boulders to carry than powerlessness. So the family’s shame became my shame. I didn’t just do bad, I am bad. 

It took a life to unburden, rock by rock, right down to the empty wheelbarrow where loneliness clawed like finger-nails on a chalk-board, scraping my insides scratching outwards on tender, raw flesh. Only in going there could I be saved, facing the self-hate, staying, exploring, challenging the voices…

Go to my center, be there, hold me, love me, settle in for the ride, because all others will come and go. I am the only one who will stay. My mother once said, “Be your own best friend,” giving me a book with that title. It has taken a life-time to begin that process. Thank you mother, but it would have been better had you kept them off me. 

 

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.