AUTUMN

photos by Patricia

And so the windows and doors are shut to protect from fall’s first frost. Heat wafts up from the registers gently warming the rooms and my body like a cozy blanket. The unwelcome shuttered feeling needs counteracting.

Samuel brings in the purple grapes giving my hands an afternoon of slipping off skins, cooking the insides then sieving the seeds out, joining the hot mixture back with the skins and other ingredients to make pie filling.

Miniature sunflowers make a spectacular autumnal bouquet, and walks add pleasure to my day. With the crisp air and vibrant sun the pull is to walk more then a long repose by the creek. A baby blue-bird kept me company along with many other varieties, surprising me with activity and songs. So many have already left for the season to warmer climates so it’s usually quiet as a tomb! 

The sister-in-law Ginny, and brother Don came for the morning staying vigilant about social distancing on the patio then a walk to the creek with more relaxation.

They didn’t mind drinking freshly perked coffee from the tray perched on a pretty cotton tablecloth, and enjoying homemade apple hand pies. There used to be a taboo about food sharing at the beginning of the pandemic, but they heard it’s no longer cause for concern. 

The visit was OK, but left me wanting more that probably won’t come. The closeness craved needs loyalty. It felt like being kept at arm’s length, but perhaps that is coming from me. My truth expects loyalty, but you are not loyal (or safe) if you interact with friendliness towards anyone who abused me so horribly.

I am at peace with how things are, proceeding with baby steps, and that’s OK. Being cordial and open is my choice. Surface interaction will have to do on the rare times we meet. My life goes on bringing joy unfounded, joyful for the first time in over 60 years.

That joy comes from being at peace with my past, and the present. And by being in the present, not something a person used to disassociation could do automatically. What has been automatic was spending most of my time in Neverland; a safe place made for me in another dimension still visited sometimes…zoning out.

When meditation became a daily practice over 15 years ago, the process of learning that one can be present and be safe began. That was not something learnt as a child, leaving my body… and taking a life-time to reclaim it. 

Peace has been found, a peace that as a survivor has been an ongoing struggle. It can last for days until a bout of sleeplessness makes for the need of a sleep aid. That injects a tumultuous barrel of self-pity filling the day after with sluggishness. But luckily that too occurs less and less mostly during the change in seasons.

After spending time with so called ‘family’ it becomes harder to close the door and go on as usual because the pull for clan is timeless. Real closeness remains most safe with Samuel, sons, and friends, the chosen family.

LIGHT

Railing at the changing seasons equates to less joy. Adjustments are required as the days grow shorter wondering- is it imagined? There was hope to avoid it for once, but that’s not happening. It is real, waking in the night more often with dark thoughts about the past, or trying to fall asleep with warning bells going off fearing my entire soul is fraught with maliciousness.

Stop. Breathe, you’re OK. It is just the onset of autumn, and you know what that does to your thinking. Self talk is crucial for my thoughts as dark as the shorter days.Time to double up on the usual work as my mind is as heavy as my leaden feet in the path, dragging them step by step, each lap a struggle through the heaviness. 

Welcome fall. Out come pumpkin, cinnamon, and apple scented candles for the warmer, along with creams and essential oils to enjoy which also embrace fall. Apples in the hallway Samuel picked off the tree a week ago are finally dragged into the kitchen to make applesauce.

The bubbly pink sauce is sprinkled with cinnamon, but my blunted senses hardly notice. It is difficult to stay in my body and go deep afraid of the negativity welling up. But go there, then stay, that’s the answer. Do what brings pleasure, just look at the meadow once dancing with buttercups and daisies now yellow with mustard. The changing hues swap color as the seasons change. 

Birds chatter en masse in the hickory trees, then a swell suddenly forms in a cloud flying in group formation, dipping like an out of control roller coaster, then gone leaving silence behind. Just be… absorb what’s there, find the light. Pick a bouquet of sunflowers and zinnias. There is beauty, let it in. Breathe deep, relax.

 

Know Thyself

What was known all along still is interesting to me, that others who have never been met in person are closer to me than my own family. It is my sense that those called ‘family’ not only commit to silence about the traumas I suffered, collude in the silence and protection of those that chose to commit crimes on their little sister, but also find ways to keep distance from me even if chatting in person face to face.

And even those that are close, like friends, Samuel, and sons, don’t know, really know, how wounding the silence is. But on-line with those who have suffered the same silence, collusion, and conspiracy… respite, understanding, and acceptance is found.

Not just acceptance from others, but learning to accept myself. Growing up with the traumas suppressed as is typical in families where sexual abuse occurs by one of their own to one of their own, compassion for myself was and still is too often non-existent.

Non-existent too when around family who brings up a name of an abuser, whether accidentally, or thoughtlessly, or as a way to say to me that you will say whatever you want even if it hurts me. It rams like a punch to the gut causing instant dissociation needing force to choose between leaving now to that place of another dimension or stay in the present. 

It has taken over a week to find my way back to my core where compassion, self-understanding and confidence flows. That is the favored place, not zoned out to that ether place of safety used to shield myself from unwelcome hands as a little girl, then becoming a habit well into later life. 

Sons are not supposed to be one’s personal therapist, but my sons have been, especially Cory. Each grew centered, connections complete without fracture. Wanting that desperately, it drew me close as if they were the adults and I the child. Perhaps their wholeness would drift into me. 

It isn’t supposed to be that way. Yet they both grew whole, something I sought but instead was lost in a life of fog, confusion, and anxiety. Cory has forgiven my needy ways, assuring me it helped make him a more compassionate adult. But he was put in the adult role too often in my need for assistance to stay afloat.

Gratefulness has begun to flow back melting the numbness of a careless remark. Sons so special despite growing up with a fractured mother. On-line friends, and blogging are magical; getting feelings out, sorting through them, which greatly helps to understand myself and the world around me. A way to finally speak what never could be spoken.

 

SAFETY

My Secret Garden

Six years ago my blogging began around this time, and the feelings of approaching fall are similar. The down in mood, sadness over just about every loss that ever was and ever will be. But hopes continue that it will be handled and nothing occurs that makes a whopping depression. Because I’ve had some of those.

The morning is cold, 49 degrees, and fall feels so close. After yesterday’s list of house chores were checked off, including weeding the flower garden a bit, today feels like staying still.

Dew sparkles like glittering diamonds. When the sun finally comes above the trees, soaking it in though my thick bathrobe soothes every bone and sinew, also soothing my internal worries always at the ready to take a jab.

It’s OK, my refrain when worries take hold. It’s OK, you’re OK, everything’s OK. Well, of course it’s not as the news states. But it is OK as far as anything I’m able to do to fix it. My feelings are that kids should learn from home right now. And colleges? Are they daft? Sports? Are you kidding?

It still amazes me how others aren’t being serious about this deadly virus. But in my little slice of paradise there’s nothing I can do but keep myself safe, and hope my children and grand-children stay safe.

They move about much more than we do. Shane’s family leaves tomorrow to stay with his brother in a neighboring state for a week. My prayers are for their safety. Wistfulness descends for not being able to see my son who lives so far away.

We’ve not been together other than virtually since last Christmas. And we’ve already decided that his coming this Christmas isn’t a good idea. Though sadness can sweep me away doubting that decision repeatedly, it is the right decision for us. My efforts focus on the positives of which there are many.

 

At Peace In The Moment

The day is quiet, laying before me like an open book. Rather than do, do, do, my quest resides deeper staying in one place a very long time. With sneakers on, uncharacteristically ready for action, Samuel asks, “Do you want to go biking?”

Wanting stillness and peace, not action, I respond, “I’m not ready. I have to eat, get dressed, then meditate.”

“Well, I don’t like it when it gets too hot,” he says, adding, “I’m going.”

Good. Time alone today is a good thing, opening the windows after he leaves because he said keep them shut so it stays cool. There’s cool, then then there’s cool when feeling so chilly a sweater is needed.

It is summer, and after the stickiness that made me happy to have air conditioning, today is just a nice summer day to be enjoyed fully… windows open.

Sometimes in my efforts to please even just one other person, my self is lost in the shuffle. Sometimes compromise means giving up too much, so much the internal forces are not at peace which equates to unhappy.

Sometimes the business of placing so much effort each day in moving my body more, the pleasure is lost in the doing instead of being.

So today come back home and experience the satisfaction of each moment without pressure.

Boredom or Peace

Photo by Cory (younger son)

That feeling you might call boredom, is peace. With a life of anxiety, always on the edge, always ready for the next explosion of emotion or happening, peace might feel boring. It is peace. 

Overcast, cooler, and oh so still, calling me out for early morning laps before breakfast. My being relaxes into the stillness, going deep into my center where swirling has quieted.

Each day a new day. Though the path is the same, trodden down from so many times around, if you look closely it is not the same as yesterday.. Different if time is taken to absorb every nuance. Stopping at the blackberries, some are ripe. Plucking a handful they dissolve over my tongue with sweetness.

Birds fly off as if perplexed at my intrusion at their early morning feast. Stopping at lap five by the creek to rest in the comfortable chair, a King Fisher flies off. Then a heron’s deep throttled quack is heard as it gracefully swoops off into another fishing perch.

Sitting a long while by the water, the beauty that is often taken for granted sinks into my soul like warm waves. Though it sometimes seems overly familiar, it is not. It keeps changing renewing itself each day.  But you have to notice, drink it in, and enjoy the countless gifts mother gives.

Back to Basics

It was a terrible mistake that took days to recover from, both from the loud banging critic inside me as to why do such a thing, and a body that lived life with too many cortisol bursts over and over every day for decades.

Draining, life before the scourge was exhausting. Going out among people threatening. So why, when the threat of life or death is real, go out among others?

Thinking it would be different, that the trails would offer space. That the natural swimming area would be safe. No, that was my first mistake. Others walked by without masks. Kids came onto the little bridge only a few feet wide going right by us with no adult making them wait until we got off.

The sirens inside me took off and only now, days later, has the world felt safe again. All those people at the swimming glen area, where the beauty usually relaxes to my core, this time heightened my already taxed system into extreme alert.

The campground itself lied, that sets my body off too. Lying and manipulation causes great fear and rage even now, though the traumas of youth were 60 years ago. In trying to keep the population down, they weren’t letting campers onto sites until the end of the day. Never in 30 years has that happened. Just be honest.

But no, they lie saying no one had left the sites yet. Since Samuel didn’t want to leave, and my fear of angering him made me stay, he suggested we go look at our site. It was all cleaned and ready. We set up feeling like rebels but all the while my internal cravings were wishing for home.

Most of my retaliation has been against myself. Why can’t my life be like others who seem to breeze through this more easily? My voices need taming. While walking, energy is given to allow more compassion for myself. You didn’t know. Of course it’s hard. People on a good day threaten my safety. You didn’t realize that being so close to others would set you off. 

The next breath- that hateful voice, You should have known.

Meditation, which seemed last on my ‘to do list’ needs center-stage. That brings me back ‘home.’ All the daily work that usually is done needs to be returned to; paying attention to each moment without running from it, going slow at my own pace, just be present. Notice the minute happenings that excite. Yet they become lost in the shuffle of doing, then soaring PTSD symptoms that resist being calmed.

Home is more than a place of safety. It is also a place inside oneself that welcomes with as much safety as the exterior home accepting my being with love, compassion, and open arms… my daily work. 

 

PEACE and GRATITUDE

photos by Patricia-Hollyhocks

Boom, boom, boom, the night skies lit up all around us, though trees blocked most of the sparkling neighborhood fireworks. Giving up sleep at the usual time, I padded out to the front porch to see. Not much could be seen except bits of the exploding colors over the tree tops, but fireflies delighted close-by in the front yard. The moon rose full, golden yet crimson, another jaw dropping sight as it opened huge in full splendor.  

After a while it quieted and so did I. It was an uneventful fourth as far as doing or going, yet still a nice, but HOT day. After the sunbeam walk, sheltering in the house kept me cool. The bread-maker was used for dough to make pigs-in-a blanket for Samuel.

The last patch of lavender was cut, as sweat dripped down, and my back hurt from bending. The bees competed for the last blossoms. Maybe the heat affected my head— I began talking aloud to the bees.

“This is my garden. I planted these, they are mine, you can’t have them,” I said to them buzzing near my shears as they snipped, snipped, snipped.

I am determined even though highly allergic to bee stings. As a child it was necessary to have a series of injections over the course of months to build up resistance. A serious reaction made me swell up with hives and become quite sick after picking grapes, squeezing a wasp in my hand accidentally.

Injections didn’t help much. I still become sick wondering when the next sting might send me to the hospital. But I will have my lavender making three beautiful baskets around the house decorated with purple ribbon adorned with white polka dots. When my senses are paying attention, the scent is luscious and soothing. 

And more walks, one at a time throughout the day, the walk back up to the house causing me to huff with the slight slope and heat. But a wonderful way to enjoy the day and get out of the air conditioned house. One enjoyable lap at a time reaching ten laps by day’s end.

Flip-flops are risky but easier than putting on socks with sneakers or hiking shoes. Though the meadow path is worn down, clover still grows attracting lots of bees. I may regret the risks I take padding through it practically barefoot. Even on this little plot of land there is danger. 

Our days are quiet but pleasurable most of the time, except when PTSD kicks in reminding me of what I can and cannot do, or just to say hello. 

Peace and gratitude reign.

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.

Quarter Back or Openness?

Waking, shoulders tense against the day. While sipping coffee on the porch, squelching the tendency to move, the message to self—stay. Go deeper. Go into the body.

Go from the shoulders, which hold a defensive position from habit, as fighting my way through life has been, or seemed necessary, and instead relax into my body.

With a sigh, the rest of my body is felt, wholeness occurs which isn’t all in my head and shoulders. It is in every pore and sinew, it is in that space with no name that dwells between the muscle, bone or blood.

The songbirds sing sweet melodies as the rock fountain gently gurgles brook-like waterfalls, and I am complete.