Cherish the Moment

photo by Patricia

We are all struggling. Looking at another one might think they have it all. I wish, if only, comparing one’s life to another. Then you find out that person suffers problems so severe you take your wish back of being like them.

Limping along trying to make sense of this thing called life is often hard, and wondering what the purpose is can be just as difficult with the question going unanswered. No one can tell you what that purpose is, you have to find it yourself.

And maybe there is none other than to survive. In this age survival isn’t about killing the beast to make it through the winter, or keeping the fires burning so one won’t freeze. It has become an age of technical devices, wires humming with communication, also bringing heat, refrigeration, and entertainment. No more stories around the campfire that entertained our ancestors of primitive times while firelight flickered on the cave walls.

Imagine one of them looking down to check their messages on their phone. No, we whirl in the pace of modern living. Who looks within to see what’s there, and to discover what you are really made of?

Enough is needed to keep our ‘campfires’ burning, the furnace of modern times. And enough is needed to buy the food rather than kill it. But how much fame and fortune is needed to feed our egos? How many vacations to compare on-line, how many friends, parties, or hobbies?

What if one friend is enough. What if a walk in the back meadow sustains as well as a trip to Italy, Iceland or the Caribbean? Because for me it has to. Leaving home for too long brings upset moving to panic. Being home is hard enough.

And that’s OK. Trips into my own interior can be magical, miraculous, and deeply satifying. What is really there? What needs tweaking, what is worth keeping, what won’t go away no matter how much work is done?

It is too easy, and usually necessary, to become wrapped up into the daily grind; driving to work, the stress of work, coming home to kids who need more work. Where is the time to contemplate the whys of life, or the vastness within?

I am lucky to have this time, and it is important to remember and to cherish every moment… tension and release, pain and joy. Take it all in, this thing called ‘life.’

 

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PTSD-THE LIGHTENING STRIKES

Little did I understand my ‘illness.’ Calling it that is a first for me. All these years I loaded blame onto my shoulders and into my being for not keeping up, for intense reactions, even screaming if someone came up from behind or around a corner. Usually that was my kids, and most times not purposely because they learned early on that’s not funny with Mom because it caused a very serious scare.

But there is so much more, and it hasn’t been given gentleness or compassion, only self-hatred for being so different, for not being able to do what others do so easily, for being so tired, scared, and forever mistrusting. Even when someone truly cared, in my mind it is, ‘What are you up to? What do you want?’

It is not a life anyone else would want. In the night it strikes. I hadn’t thought of my sleep problems being connected with PTSD. Waking, it is as if a bomb went off. I must get out of bed to be safe and ready.

When anything small or large concerns me, it is during night waking’s that it feels life threatening. My entire body goes on alert without my permission. There is no sleeping when all the bells toll. What if, why didn’t I, oh, the hammerings at myself are deadening.

Last night something new occurred. A voice of calm began asking, ‘where is the compassion? Why aren’t you treating this body that has been through so much with kindness,  care and understanding? It is time you did.’

PTSD strikes many days causing my body to snap with electricity on alert.  It is my norm. To have moments of true relaxation is a state others live in most of the time but not for me. Finally speaking up to my son requiring respect has intensified my usual PTSD symptoms;  sleep problems, a buzzing during daytime accompanied by bouts of tears, restlessness without relief, rat in a wheel repetitive negative thoughts, and despair.

The rift is deeply painful yet necessary. I am the only one who believes that. Others would prefer what they are accustomed to. To act in loving ways towards oneself when others disapprove, or don’t like it, takes great resolve and is oh so needed. 

More meditation, rest after a bad night, diligent work at positive, validating thoughts, and an intense fortitude to work through this differently in a way that finally allows my voice to be heard and respected are all issues being worked on. I won’t apologize for being alive.

When all others are against you, sometimes you must be strong. Making changes in the status quo meets with resistance, even, or most, from those we love. It is as necessary as air, or why exist?

No one else understands the deep currents of how PTSD interferes with one’s life, how much is taken, and I won’t get back. No amount of work will change it. I can learn to understand and care about myself though. That miracle can happen. Laying down every last atom of self-respect so others can trample all over it is my norm.

It is only this year at age 65 that I put out my arm like a cop and said no to Samuel’s brother when he kept coming towards me to hug me as I kept backing away. I said, “That OK, I’m not much of a hugger.’

I have suffered his embrace just as I have suffered Tom’s embrace all these years because I couldn’t say NO. Samuel’s brother also raped his sister way back before I knew him. It is no accident I chose a family with the same dysfunctions and crimes, though not consciously. 

Others don’t understand PTSD symptoms because they have healthy boundaries in place and always have. They weren’t trained to take and expect abhorrent abuses to their bodies, mind, and psyche. And it doesn’t happen to others because since the day of meeting a new person each feels the other out and learns about where boundaries are.

That is how it’s done, but for me, so much time is spent dissociating I’ve missed all the cues, and have no boundaries anyway. If you mistreat me, I act nicer, placate more, bowing at your feet even shining your shoes while down there. Whatever it takes to feel accepted especially after any iota of disapproval, but never knowing, accepting, or respecting myself. 

One must grasp onto what’s left before it is gone. A long standing dysfunction is hard to change. A relationship can either sustain the shift or not. One must stay strong to protect their right in this world, on this planet, and in this little plot of land I call home.

Honor Thy Spirit

photo by Patricia

Even though unsure of this lull in agitation, and the long hours of peaceful sleep, both are absorbed gratefully. Could it have to do partly with learning to allow authentic expression to rise rather than the knee jerk reaction of closing someone off when they don’t do, say, or email in a way that is desired?

No answer, or a one word reply from someone cared about, makes me throw up my hands in disgust wanting to terminate the relationship. Tit for tat. You don’t care about me, I won’t care about you. But it never works, because I do care, and eventually I choose to initiate an interaction.

How to say what I need with grace? How to speak up to someone who knows me as a doormat, a pleaser, a person seemingly without needs, or who doesn’t require respect because she hasn’t demanded it?

After trashing my younger brother’s one word response, the next morning after sifting it back out, my response included my dismay at his one word response along with softness which balanced the critique. It felt so foreign. Speaking up, along with loving words? Can it be possible this was achieved? After a life of stitched lips this really is a miracle. 

During meditation it was evident that my little brother is not someone to throw away. We spent a lot of time together on our own as children while my mother worked. We were free to roam the neighborhood unsupervised. There is a bond to cherish even if we don’t share much else, and even if he seems to want the attention of two older siblings instead of me. I still have feelings for him.

My response, after some thought, honored my feelings even in the face of another not responding as I’d like. Staying true to my deepest core feelings, not reacting thoughtlessly with the old story so ingrained in my perceptions, that no one cares, keeps me aligned with my true self. This authenticity must add to the long nights of peaceful slumber, instead of waking feeling something urgent needs to keep me awake.

Traveling that wire from brain, to heart, then to my core, keeps the peace. It has taken a life-time to get here, and the linking is tenuous. Meditative thought brings up the true soul’s needs.  A being comes together as a whole when soft whispers are listened to, giving myself the key to unlock their mysteries, and then to express them.  That is freedom. 

I may not hear from him for months, or longer, or at all, but I can keep the love for him in my heart. And if there’s a time he needs me, I am here. But he won’t. We both wrap our pain around us a like an iron curtain. You learn to do that when young and no one’s there to help. You learn to do it on your own.

 

GENTLENESS

photo by Patricia

The feeling of differentness so acute as a child suffering sexual attacks by my siblings arises sharply at times. Many feelings from then still linger, stabbing into my present life. Unprocessed traumas and all the feelings with them didn’t dissipate but grew with me.

Yet no gentleness exists. It is a habit to beat myself up when today’s issues erupt emotion from childhood wounds. There is no conscious link to them. That is changing. There are reasons sleep is interrupted. Wounds untended in childhood along with a stolen voice caused an inseparable rift within; deep wounds and no way to them. I am mute to the world and mute to my soul.

Wounds fester and when touched with present hurts the pain expands exponentially. It is like placing an already burnt arm on a hot stove. The present slides away as the psyche escapes elsewhere. If a person is talking, what is said is not heard.

Self-loathing because the feeling of differentness is so acute is not what the wounded child needs. And she exists within me and will always be there. She needs what you did not receive then. Since there was only one urgent unspoken rule to not speak of it, there is no one to emulate a pattern of how to be gentle with myself.

It is a new road with little to go on except the times my mother extended gentleness in adulthood. There were moments when she tried, maybe to make up for the past. 

 

WHOLENESS

photo by Patricia

The path to the core becomes tangled, blocked by memories, though the soul goes there to hide. So one resides in a place that can’t be found. No way in, no way out.

She peeks out at times. Maybe there is someone to trust, who takes her hand and guides her. Even so, the world is tough and into hiding she goes.

It may never be safe to come fully out. Maybe only in solitude does she find her soul, a safe haven to breathe, connect and become who she was meant to be.

It is these roots that save her. The very place she runs from, the memories which are a part of her history locked deep below. The same place where she hides.

Coming out she looks below and runs. Yet that is where the strength comes from and has kept her here all along. It is in what she suffered that makes her strong and who she is. It is her history that makes her beautiful.

ALONE

photos by Patricia

The road is long, hard and lonely. All that one knows needs discarding, most painful those loved, the people making up the herd one is born into. Playing a part as if one of them, once touched in evil ways a child is alone.

Even those that were innocent of wrong touch became complicit in the silence adding to the restrictions placed on the child. The embarrassment of anyone knowing becomes paramount to the child’s survival.

This does not change with time but rather locks down securely. Freedom it is not found within family, not mine. Stepping out into the world asking for help is terrifying and there are “lions, tigers, and bears” along the way. It takes courage unparalleled. How does she keep going?

The crimes of childhood sexual abuse are many layered, the depth of fractures reaching one’s core. And the core closes in defense. No more can be risked because what is left needs preservation. So how to negotiate the outside world if one cannot navigate one’s own soul?

ONE VOICE

photo by Patricia

My mother died almost 9 years ago. After her death the book erupted from deep within. Protecting her vision of a happy family was no longer needed. Freedom to grow and become complete occurred. It took that long. I was 56.

As the words gurgled up about what they had done it was committed to paper then strewn to the universe where it belonged. It did not belong deep down in me, or kept on that little girl’s shoulders anymore. I felt lighter.

Along with the details no child should live with, came events that brought joy. The tears falling down my cheeks each week were capsules of joy with the pain. I looked forward to mornings writing while sipping coffee, and the hours ticked by satisfyingly.

A book emerged without much planning. Each chapter fell into place as if written before writing and just waiting. Once committed to book form and available to the world a need existed for further voice. A blog, start a blog. The voice blotted for decades began to sing.

The one rule is, be honest. Be who you are, or who you know yourself to be at the time of writing. Going deep beneath the layers of who should I be, the pleaser, the sweet person, and all the other personas worn and learned over time to ride the waves without hitting a rock, dissolved. What was left?…the journey inside, no longer fearful to learn about who was there, discovering her, and speaking for her for the very first time.