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…
So easily a soul becomes lost though nothing seemed to have changed externally to cause it. The mind can be a terrible place, full of things to sway one back to the past, not a good place for my mind to be or stay.
And the critic? The critic is so used to being the boss, she also hogs the stage beating at me until nothing is left of the person created who is liked and feels full with self-esteem.
Coming back to center takes a bit of work, but mostly time. Grass by the creek moves gently with the breeze relaxing me with birdsongs pacifying my spirit while remembrances of all the times Mother Nature held me when my real mother didn’t have the time or willingness.
Thinking of her, my real mother, gone now for 12 years. And why now? Perhaps it is that a friend from childhood has died, one of two friends who loved me so thoroughly that my own mother’s love paled in comparison.
To know a dear loved one is gone from this world leaves a hole. To look at origin family members to fill it is like drinking poison. Only because they are no longer on pedestals, but are real humans with as many foibles as me or more.
At least so many years of therapy helped with my sanity. Thinking that duty calls for me to help if possible, it is much more feasible that each of them seek their own therapy. It is not my responsibility, nor is it healthy. Keeping my own sanity when falling into the pit of depression is enough of a job.
And it does call, and too often. A movie, a dream, anything brings back the past and sometimes with a boom, whacking me down, a machete of memories that takes much will to pull out of. A thicket of the past too easily tangling me to become mired in.
Mucking out of that quicksand to the present, to the moment, to the beauty around me that yesterday looked so bleak. All in one’s mind, a tricky place that takes will to direct and adjust the direction as to how I want to live— in the present with gratitude, peace, and love.
Find ‘her’, the person you’ve worked so hard to build, give ‘her’ all the love, care, and gentleness you never were able to give ‘her’ before. It is OK to love you. Only then can you truly love others.
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…
Why has it taken so long to love life, being alive, and to feel freedom possibly for the first time in 68 years? Wounds that don’t air fester. They develop pus, gangrene, and worsen, sometimes a body part needs hacking off, or death occurs.
Pretend you care, but you insist, ‘don’t tell.’ One cannot heal from trauma when the trauma is vaulted in tightly. When air, light and the hope of healing is withheld. Wound after wound, does it matter after a while, or does each wound compound upon the other?
And that’s what families do, pretend… victimizing the victim. So much healing yet to do. To go deep to find the black rot still there, evident in the way others still are allowed to take advantage of me. Because feeling poorly about one self does that.
And though some light of self-love is beginning to grow in my core, there are more doors to open and windows to rise. Corners well-hidden where parts still hide, cowering in fear of what others would think if they knew… more importantly what my thoughts are of myself.
The forgiving of self for past perceived crimes, even if only a child, still fester. Because what’s done in childhood came along like a fungus affecting all relationships negatively, like pus oozing out.
The only thing that would bring me back to the hell my life was, would be to become a better mother. To have my sons forgive my mistakes which were many and sorrowful. When asking forgiveness for my transgressions they say they have none to forgive.
They do even if they don’t know it. And isn’t that true of most childhoods, that we must heal some of the damage well meaning parents inflict? But most importantly it is powerful and relevant to be better now, and for me to forgive me. Bring light to the dark pockets still existing. Dig deep, see the truth with acceptance, tolerance, kindness and love. Let the newly found love for self grow.
As others congregate more, those feelings of differentness creep in. Feelings that began long ago in childhood when the blame of being attacked fell squarely on me. Or so my child’s mind believed as my mother sat across from me in my bedroom.
“Tell me anything that happens again,” she said, hot tears falling like a river down my cheeks.
No hugs of reassurance that it would never happen again. That responsibility was now on me, a child not wanting such horrors but now told it’s on you to stop it from further happening. Not possible in that prison where Chet took what he wanted when he wanted it.
From that moment the casket closed. Whoever I had been, would be, could be, was forever changed and damaged, living alone no matter how many people were around me.
But freedom. Freedom at last. The chains removed, the ball cast away. And not by their choices, the choices of the origin family that I keep the burden and secrets. But by regurgitating the truth by which I had been forced to live even into my fifties.
What’s left of origin family are three brothers who did not touch me that way. Three out of seven. And where once I thought I could love them because they had not sacrificed my well-being for their own lust, they are part of the conspiracy of silence.
Those that stand by and do nothing, no matter what the crime, are as guilty as those that commit it. Maybe more so.
I hate them. Pondering this thought while out walking the realization stuck that the hate was for the situation, prisoning the one hurt so I will not talk about it even if that means using rejection, criticism, or any psychological method possible to control me. That’s what’s hated. Love and hate, much like the relationship with my mother, now 12 years gone. More growth occurred after her death than in all the years of my life.
With her gone, so too what little love I’d ever known. But with conditions— silence. Love those that attacked you. Or pretend to, make it look like you do. Never said aloud, but very much implied even as a little girl.
Not until her death did the truth erupt. Week by week, healing chapters of my life unfolded, tears washing my grief as words like swords found their way up and out. Tar gone from inside me.
The tarry horror or what they’d done kept in all those years for the comfort of others. I began to matter. But it still took longer to begin to love myself for the first time; little sparkles of softness never felt before. A warm place internally when the going gets rough. A soft place to fall. A place that welcomes offering solace, not just for everyone else, but finally, also, for me.
Where I’m looked upon kindly, with open arms, seeing the little girl, young women, and adult honestly, with new appreciation and truth. Not the lies told by every member of the origin family, pretending to care, but really finding ways to keep me down. A toxic paradox impossible to dissect unless connected to one’s soul.
A place unknown to me until recent years. That place speaks from other than the head or mind. It is a gut feeling without words, and it says, STAY AWAY. You call the shots. They do NOT. No longer a buoy toppling in wild waves that you can shove about whenever you feel like it or need something. I get a to say if, when, where, or NO. What I need. What I want. Shocking the shit out of any one of them.
Their strands of cobwebby material do not break. Become entwined and you’re dead figuratively. It is freedom that thrills me. My own thinking, being here now, giving up worrying as much as possible, and allowing it to be OK to be alive and be happy.
Shane asks, “Can you take the kids while William plays Lacrosse?”
Tear fall while answering, “Of course.”
One long year of having Shane over at a distance masked up. The barrier of a screen between us and his family. Watching them below on the patio while we sat on the screened porch safely.
So two come this morning, mask-less and close-up. Then Cindy comes again later to spend the night. Oh how her overnights have been missed; playing with dolls, combing their hair, the child in me displayed proudly as Cindy’s magical imagination takes me away too.
“We get to be grand-parents again,” I say to Shane.
Listening to him chuckle, I can almost see him smile over the phone.
Who will comfort you when you are sad… you will. Who will rock you when you are upset… you will. Who will love you when you feel unloved …you will.
For most of my life the leaning for needs to be met was to others having no center of my own, but the help was short-lived and unfulfilling. The hunt for love was the pot at the end of the rainbow, not really there because it did not exist outside myself. It had to be found internally.
And how could that happen when raised to hate myself? Where no compassion could be found, only cruelty and wishes raining down upon a little girl that she would just dispose of herself. Then everyone else could be happy.
Happy because if I didn’t exist, you don’t need to feel bad about what you did. And the rest who stood by and suffered me to silence could feel less guilty too. So many knew of my incestual jail and did nothing out of their own shame; brothers, aunts, my mom. Nothing. The message though- SILENCE.
In learning about the true person inside myself, and giving me my own permission to live free, happy, and whole, riches abound free to absorb lightening my soul from darkness, making life genuine, full, and exquisite even with the painful times which we all bear.