PAPER DOLL

Though summer brings oppressive heat, walks bring peace to a mind working on over-drive. Before breakfast the heat and humidity is tolerable, even pleasant until the sun comes full up. So many thoughts bombarding into each other on a day when feeling scattered too.

How to come together? Time alone by the water— birds, raccoons, turtles, frogs, carps as big as sharks, and the water weasel, all keeping me company. It is OK to stay where safety is found, the decision to cancel so many plans repeatedly questioned.

No, we are not being too extreme. Others seem to be taking risks we’d rather not take. We are being cautious. Camping next week with Shane… no, nor any camping. A trip to Cory’s in Massachusetts’s…no. We don’t care to deal with public restrooms, or any other possible source of contamination.

And finally peace over these things. It is the right and safest decision for us. Whatever is needed is right here, it always has been. There is also relief at not having to travel. It always took its toll on my fragile nervous system, depleted after a life of excess cortisol coursing through my body unnecessarily. My startle response raced into fight or flight many times daily. My body still does it, though years of meditation have helped calm it down.  

There are wounds still needing attending to. Trust is not something regained, but maybe in increments. Samuel and others aren’t out to get me, a belief cemented into my views since childhood when learning just what human beings are capable of. That belief won’t completely change, but some cracks open up letting in light during rare moments of peace and safety.

Chet spent a good deal of time figuring when he could get at me, and that expectation, that others are trying to do evil, will last. It made an indelible imprint, a deep wound to attend to… a crumpled paper doll needing gentle care.

Make a Nice Day

photos by Patricia

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.

Make a nice day, make the effort.

POWER

Turning on heat at the start of June is a first, the register next to me soothing as the warmth spills out. The temperature has uncharacteristically plummeted breaking records at one extreme then the other. Frost and snowflakes in May, catapulting to record highs, then needing heat from the furnace a few days later. 

Though the pool is open, and for a few days the temperature was 90 or close to it, my idea of going in was floating in circles as the force of the filter splashed a current to ride on. Samuel went all the way in a few times, but it isn’t quite warm enough for me yet. Now in the 40’s the water will take awhile to warm again. 

The summer looks different, is different. Cancelling an upcoming camping trip with Shane and his family at our favorite place in the Adirondacks, along with a trip to see Cory’s family and new baby… both a loss, but curiously a relief too.

Traveling is hard for me. The less it’s done, the better. My system hypes up and once that happens it is hard to calm down. And that is during what is the best years of my life.

Looking back would I want to live it again? No way. The anxiety running me was wild, reverberating like live wires through my system. The daily fear of living, and people, caused even simple decisions to go awry.

Even now I must tell myself, slow down, breathe, where exactly are you going so fast? Living in over-drive separated from my body is the norm. But not now. Now is the time to go slow, protect myself, and for the first time take care of myself in all the ways previously neglected.

It is not an easy job, or one that comes naturally. Taught to deny all needs, this takes conscious effort. Taking action to block all those called ‘family,’ even if only for a day or two, brought back a feeling of power and control that being pressured into doing something not right for me took away. Freedom was lost, victim-hood floundered, priceless freedom gone— poof, like a puff of smoke. 

Strength flowed back. Seeming a silly move, it was not. Then the thought of those I cared about possibly contacting me without my response caused me to unblock all but the sister-in-law who pressured me. The others can access me if needed.

That action reminded me where my power lies, within me. It is not something to give away again, but I will. The craving for family always there, always pulling, always in need of. A cauldron calling me into her dark brew where wishes come true. 

Rage and Dissociation

Making brittle knowing an overweight body should not be consuming a cup of sugar, I made it anyway. This morning the rest was thrown out. The day begins with a super moon setting in the west, unable to capture it on the camera without electric lines through the shot. What a beautiful orb to wake to.

Going to sleep with the birds, means waking with them too. Sleep wondrously came despite consuming the toxic sugar. These blips off the path of health are not positive ones, but one must keep trying, and today is a new day.

Keeping connected is another anomaly searched for, tried for, and not at all 100%, but much more than years ago when coming to the present was a goal to have. It began with a therapist saying, “Just show up!”

My take on his words were that pulling myself out of the dissociative mist was enough. I was enough. At the time dissociation wasn’t a familiar word, but I spent a lot of time there, off in Patricia la la land.

It wasn’t until blogging when other survivors talked about it that I learned my disconnection from the present had a name. When learning how to meditate 20 years ago, staying present and feeling safe began to occur. From there it began.

It is in the present that Mother Nature heals me, daily walks in the meadow topped off with meditative time spent creek-side. The respite brightens my mood which on some days of late falls into a depressive state where anger flares into rage over political persons who have become something else besides human. Tamping down feelings adds to the sadness. Expressing feelings brings equanimity back once again.

“Samuel, for decades I lived with rage. It fizzled out during the years lived here. But I feel it again punching at the television with rage,” I said as he bent over the gardens pulling weeds.

“Mike said that too,” Samuel said, adding, “He wishes Trump would get the virus.”

“I do too,” I answered emphatically. “I wish he would get it and drop dead this minute!” Samuel nods his head accepting how his wife and friend feels, but a man too gentle to wish that.

There, it was said. Wishing a person dead doesn’t cause them to die. It is a place for rage to go. Not a real wish, but a fire to burn it in, the smoke trailing up taking my rage with it. I may need more of these fires…

 

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

FULLNESS

Ups and downs, but overall an underlying contentment unfounded in my life-time. The years since moving from our other home where our two boys grew up has been a time of great growth and movement towards a peaceful interior.

Rocky, chaotic, and injected with withering anxiety at times, peace comes coupled with joyous gratitude. The cat cries for her food while grinding coffee beans. Placing the plate down she nibbles gratified.

Settling down by the fire with a cup of the dark brew, a feeling of well-being permeates while gently rocking. So much to be joyful about, a home, a partner, two sons bringing a special worth to those around them, and my cat now curled up next to me playing with the string tied to the arm of the chair. 

This is life. There is no waiting for more, or the next thing. This is it, and is savored, each moment, every day as if birthed anew. The snow gently falls through the rising sun and I am complete.

 

Signs of Spring

During past winters the love of outdoors never wavered no matter how low the thermometer went nor how deep the snow. Walking in all weather prevailed. But this year the thought of the cold kept me inside choosing the basement’s elliptical over fresh air… until yesterday.

The crisp snow temped me outside knowing there are signs of spring to expolore.  Geese honking overhead as they return from warmer climates, two pairs taking up residence creek-side in the same area as other years. Their squawking heightening at my approach.

Resting after lap five, the refreshing walk invigorating, time by the water was savored. It had been several weeks since the last walk probably on a rare sunny day. The surge of spring is in my bones as days grow longer, the sun moving back closer, and my core feeling her coming with excitement and an eternal joy ignited.

 

Where Life Flows

Decisions are hard to impossible if one lives life separated from their being. That also makes life barely worth living. And how can a being make a decision if disconnected from oneself?

Decisions made were often catastrophic. Made without knowing, because the knowing needed is touching one’s center because the soul knows. But that also is the place that felt the hurt so overwhelmingly I left it, only returning in late life with gratitude for living long enough to discover the oasis called home inside of me.

Decisions don’t need to be made in haste, or exclusively in the mind. Much better is letting go to the other world, the soul, the vaporous, seemingly non-existent place you cannot put your hand on, only trust that it is there.

From there, the center of my being, answers flow. But often they take time. Time to calm the excited, ever busy mind. Time to breathe into it, for every muscle, sinew, and joint to relax. For the heart to ease, the blood to calm like sunset waters…the answers come; small ones, big ones, they do come.

Where once life was lived in angst for questions without answers, for answers that elevated the angst because they were the wrong ones, the soft place to fall welcomes me, my center where love flows.

Calming the Chaos

Grape leaf in the early dew- photo by Patricia

Amidst the harshness there has to be comfort, warmth, and joy. But how to create that with an internal world that lives anxiously in fear? Who wants to go into the eye of the storm? Breathe. Embellish my internal world with beauty so that it’s a soft place to fall, then fall into it with arms open.

No easy endeavor for a being where chaos felt normal and monsters lurked near-by. But it can be done a little at a time, moment to moment, day to day, year after year, by trying. By working at it each time the voice roars BAD.

Because at my core the belief is BADNESS. With a life-time of chipping away at that rock of belief, eventually a softness occurs. There are moments expanding into minutes, then longer, when being inside my own self feels good, at home, finally.

The urge to escape is as strong as the wish to stay. It is in wrapping my own arms around myself that staying feels welcoming, and that continues to be a work in progress.