THE PRESENT

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.

The Thrill of FREEDOM

Photo by Patricia

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.

COVID 15

Like a duck out of water, early trauma made me feel different from everyone, a searing differentness that was real. Trauma unprocessed is broken glass. No amount of glue makes it like it once was.

When others ate out of hunger, my hunger was of the soul, searching for love never finding any… especially inside myself. Eating blotted out unspeakable pain. By replacing anguish with food, numbness and self-hate increased.

Every bite since the age of 8 came with a dose of guilt. Blaming myself for using it as a survival tool wasn’t the answer, though it took till just recently to realize just that. Even by adolescence diet groups became part of my life. Being overweight was never the problem. It was a symptom of unhealed wounds covered up by enforced silence. The only outlet provided was eating. It was what my mother wanted, that is until she didn’t.

When others gained weight, like during basic training after joining the Army, my jeans began to droop down my hips after weeks of meager meals in the mess hall. Other girls filled their trays with gravy topped potatoes, meat, breads, and cake with ice cream. Mine had plain meat and vegetables with lots of hot crappy coffee to wash it down and fill me up.

Then scurrying out early, leaving the laughing young women behind. Back in the paint peeling barracks no snacks were available to ease the voracious soul hunger. The necessary discipline needed was only at brief intervals three times a day. Weight melted away.

It is not dropping off quickly now, but it is dropping after meticulous talks with myself about who I really am, what I have desperately wanted since childhood, and what I truly deserve to be happy inside myself where it counts. When even in the worst of times, a place internally welcomes with kind, loving, acceptance.  

The Covid 15 talked about, similar to the freshman 15 for those first semesters at college, are the opposite for me once again. 15 pounds are gone! This time the way forward is much different that the millions of other attempts at weight loss. Success comes not by white knuckling it, but by loving myself even with failures, which are many. Loving myself back onto the path by judging that all of me is OK even in the midst of failure.

When thin, because there were times at a healthy weight, feeling shitty prevailed. The gastric stapling butchering my stomach and intestines years ago after my mother’s urging to have it done did not cure the emptiness in my soul, or heal the ragged wounds. In hopes of becoming normal, because in my mind slim=normal, feelings of not being normal kept wearily on.

Decades later, dangerous, and extremely painful internal bleeding occurred over the course of many months. Finally an ambulance was called because I couldn’t stand up. Hospitalization was required for several days.

Reasons why were not known till after discharge when a surgeon specializing in gastric stapling identified the cause of the bleed. The surgeon of long ago is responsible. The on-going risk of bleeding at the surgical site is managed with a daily dose of a high potent antacid taken permanently.

It’s not about weight and never was. It is about liking, then loving myself, a daily struggle, and my most important work. The messages of being different, bad, unlovable, incapable, and not normal, like dark swirls cemented in a piece of granite, are here to stay. Chipping away at these harsh voices is not always easy or successful. But chip away I do, with small, wondrous achievements along the way.

Happiness, or failure, all lies within. No matter what happened way back when, it is in my grasp to decide what messages to give myself. Easier when rested, about impossible when not. But over time, when the source of my being is tapped, comforted, and accepted, great things happen. Maybe not ‘great’ in that I’m saving the world, but in saving myself.

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PEACE

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Waking, remembering the work of easing anxiety, my breathing slows evenly and deeper. It is almost 5 am, time to rise. My work is calming anxiety that comes each spring. The wiry brain which had plummeted to a lower mood over winter, now sprints into more daylight and an awakening. Anxiety is also an issue dealt with throughout the year as my equilibrium is easily upset.

Spring tends to bring noise in the brain and eccentric behavior, inviting situations that greatly increase the anxiety beast, not tame it. This year the journey is different because I’m feeling more aware of the dilemma, and more aware that this body and mind is not like those around me. I need special care, care I do not know how to provide or feel worthy of.

That feeling is more that a feeling. It is part of my personality that’s staying, formed deep in my core during childhood due to my brothers’ ongoing abuses, other brothers looking away, and my mother’s collusion in the conspiracy of silence; we are a happy, normal family, you will love your brothers, as they continued to creep in my room and attack me.

I don’t like the fact that at my core is a feeling that I am bad, and unworthy, or that whatever is happening is my fault. I run from this fact of what I believe, embedded permanently like a crack in rock. In accepting this flaw, and accepting where it came from, compassion, self-love and a more lenient judge takes the helm. 

I try so hard to function at the fast speed others seem to function at so easily. Then fail, compounding issues of poor self-esteem. My tired body and mind can’t do it. This whirlwind called life has always moved too fast for me. 

There is no one else to provide proper care for myself but myself, as it is for each of us. We can lean on others, help others, but we are each responsible for handling the inner workings of ourselves. And for those like me with chronic, pervasive, and permanent Complex PTSD, it is a daily endeavor that often leads to despair.

What comes as second nature to others and is taken for granted, is elusive for those who have suffered traumas that extended over time. I have to work at it, sometimes every minute of every day, and even then without success. Hence the despair.  

Breathe deep. Keep breathing. The tight chest, is it medical or emotional? Later as the conscious deeper breathing continues, the tightness abates. Anxiety can harm all facets of the body, mind and spirit. And it can cause one to seek out more without being conscious of the urge, adding to the internal chaos.

Be quiet, be still. Bored? That’s not boring, that is called peace…
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Complex Trauma

This is very much worth listening to, all 51 minutes. Thank you Broken Blue Sky and GettingRealwithPTSD for sharing this. Although reblogged this morning, I updated it twice making it hard to access. So I’m posting it again to ensure its availability to readers. 

There are portions where her faith is referred to but all spiritual beliefs could be put in place of her beliefs for the short duration she speaks of it. For instance in referring to he for god, I interject she, and envision my mother earth angel who feels much safer and trustworthy.

Diane Langberg is amazingly compassionate and knowledgeable. It is the first time I’ve heard Complex PTSD explained so succinctly. 

The second part of the lecture is available at the you tube site where this takes you. 

 

GROUNDING

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Each morning I awake and try hard to calm the anxiety. No, I don’t want to get up at 4:30 so lay in bed half sleeping till after 6. Sometimes I just have to get up, but I was still so tired from the egg dying get together yesterday I lay quietly. 

A few times these past weeks I’ve had to take Xanax in the AM, a very unusual occurrence for me unless I have a medical appointment. Just a half and it helps. But more times I use meditation to get below the buzz. Most of it is irrational like believing my breathing was a problem, but it was only congestion in the back of my throat.

I ponder why this spring I’m affected with fear and anxiety when other years it just felt like big highs then some lows till leveling out by May. I think it is because for the most part I’m not using food to quell it. That’s hard.

I need other ways. Going below it works, by staying with it, in it, and working to go beneath into other rooms. Deciding not to allow fear to run my day helps. Deeper breathing helps. This too shall pass, helps.

Take things easy, try not to get excited over flights of thoughts. Samuel helps to ground me. Try to remember just what base you have. I think of Chet and the damage. I think of him more now that I ever did while he was alive. And Mom sitting across from me telling me if it ever happens again to tell her.

I took it as blame, as if I had some control of it. She could have saved a life-time of feeling ‘bad’ and crippling self- blame had she handled it with love; holding me, telling me she was sorry, stroking my head. But I sat across from her, tears of shame burning my cheeks as they fell.

And it did keep happening, Chet kept attacking. It took the bugs on my body and that terror making me go to her. It stopped only then because she finally hired a babysitter instead of expecting me to keep him off me.

So much damage. But think of it. Think of who I am really am. To have that much zip to keep going, trying and living. There is a strong base in me. Go there. That is where I can be held, and loved, and calmed.

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The Courage to Live

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FEAR

I have lived a life-time of fear since age 8 invading every moment in one way or another. Forced to grow up within a male population called brothers who attacked in the night, or even during the broad light of day, made fear a constant companion. Even though Chet, Dan, and Pete are dead, and the most evil, Tom, still lives spreading his poison, I live in fear at the easiest upset. 

It is hard not to resent what they did. Living with low esteem added to continual fear of people, and the inability to speak up for myself, eroded my natural abilities and has been debilitating.

Yet I persevere. I can get over what they did to my body. But what they did to my trust, shattered beyond repair, what they took from ever feeling safe with touch and loving sex with my husband, the betrayals of each attack, and this list goes on… these I can heal from or after time have learned to live and accept as the damage done.

But fear? Anxiety? Jumping at every loud sound, or medical people working on my body in any way sending me in panic for days, even months after? These are just some of the life-long effects I resent living with that were caused by these tormentors.

These challenges erode my courage, weakening me, and in the wee hours of the morning tend to make me wonder how I can continue to cope; especially since an aging body needs many more medical interventions to keep functioning.

It pisses me off. I’d like to put my real name on my blog and use real names for who did what when. Not to get even, but to stand up and say NO. No this is not alright. NO, it is not alright to silence me out of your own shame and fear of how it will make you look.

Yet the anonymity of the freedom to talk openly without hurting anyone offers a resource I cherish, as if this outlet is a replacement for therapy. Expression of honest feelings, which aren’t right or wrong but just there, is a freeing experience. Dumping it all and feeling heard and acknowledged is a human need as crucial as air.

I do not want to give that up. So even though I could put my name on my blog, I chose not to. Not out of fear, (I don’t think so) but out of my own need to talk freely when and how I like; and for the first time ever in my life.

Taught to be pleasing, to live with and love the criminals who attacked me masked as ‘brothers,’ makes it a challenge to discover who I really am even now. I continue to search for ‘her’ going below the surface of the ‘nice’ girl my mother manipulated and trained me to be.

Mom’s need reined, that of ensuring the fallacy of an upstanding family was on show, but at the expense of her daughter. I acquiesced because I craved her love to the very end unable to provide a moments warmth for myself and needing what little she had to give.

The book erupted out of me after her death 8 years ago. It was finally safe to speak of her sons. All that had been suppressed arose; the joys, the traumas, the black tarry secrets of others, and the wonders that sustained me. 

Yet I am left with challenges I resent. It makes me turn resentment into fortitude, grasping courage like an old tree rooting it deeper, transforming the bitter truths into beauty. This I will do, or try to day after day. 

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WORRYING

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photo by patricia

March madness indeed. A beautiful sunshiny spring day called as the sun burned off the thick fog. While meditating my breath didn’t feel like enough air came through and the emergency system kicked in. Is this the day to die? What a nutter the other part of the brain mocked. The heart began beating in fear as the adrenaline kicked in. 

Going out to the new deck Samuel is building I cry, “I can’t breathe through my nose. Am I having a heart attack?” 

“I can’t either,” he stated, “We probably caught a low grade virus from the grand-kids. I’ve been sniffling for two or three weeks. You’re OK.” 

I needed that reassurance and calmed down yet later in the day felt the same violent fear as if superseding all else, mainly common sense. After a few years with scary visits to the hospital my body and psyche are experiencing a delayed response.

Though calm through most of it at the time, now that things are healing my delayed emotional responses are kicking in. Every little thing sets me off compounded by my relentless harassing of myself over my own silliness.

What about kindness? At age 8 the lesson learned was that I was on my own and not worthy of it. No one came to my aid to soothe or protect me from relentless marauding brothers.

The message learned? Unworthy, less than others, sub-human or not even human. Self-hate became embedded into my personality. It is daily adventure to explore kindness. Some days are more successful than others.

When I remember the ongoing work of granting permission for loving kindness towards myself, warmth seeps in like a soothing soft blanket, hot bath, or cup of cocoa; even moments of mother’s love, like a cool hand on a fevered forehead, rare as those times were.  

It is like a door opening wide to the sunshine. Softness melts my icy interior, tenderness replacing cold harshness. Of course you tend to become anxious easily. It is part of the ptsd. Not your fault. Remember?

Trained to keep horrors to myself meant I was the horror. It filled and consumed me having no escape or place to go. A child takes it all in blaming herself. Others encourage it to help keep the family shame quiet.. forever.

Even last spring now in my 60’s, brother Seth said after learning I wrote a book about my life, “Why would you publicize the family’s dysfunction?”

It was all about him. That interaction came only after months of no answers to my emails, rejecting me with his silence until I confronted him.  My need to belong puts self-respect on trial. 

Ousted at age 8, I am ousted again. Who is this brother I thought I loved? The panic of being ejected once again from the ‘family’ sent me to the ER with an overnight stay to rule-out a heart problem. Anxiety took hold and I couldn’t calm ‘her’ down.

Unable to be in my body easily or comfortably makes it difficult to discern true medical issues from those of the heart. The heart can be affected in many ways. 

His response last spring is the same response from the so called ‘family’ at age 8. Be quiet, hence be nothing. It is as if I await their permission for self compassion, waiting for one word of acknowledgment that never comes.

Where were you Seth after I told you Danny fucked me as a little girl? Did you stay around to keep me safe? Did you do anything? Did Don stay around to protect me from abuse after he came running into the bathroom due to my screaming because “it stung down there,” after the rape?

No one intervened in any way. My pain became compounded embedding into my psyche permanently with chronic PTSD because of the enforced rule; be silent or be abandoned. 

Caught up in this concept of unworthiness that the family encouraged in order to keep their secrets safe is a hard concept to erode then rebuild. 

Leaning to open the doors to my soul with kindness, acceptance, and love is a continuous journey towards peace, warmth and freedom… It is long and hard won, re-claiming my right to be here. 

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STUDIO FRIEND

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Whenever I pick up a camera, Molly appears. Sit on my work why don’t you? So I shoot her as if she is a model, which she seems to think she is. The repeated click of the camera is so satisfying after using an ancient one that had to re-charge after every shot. (even though I have to do it one-handed…)

I have always loved hands; babies, old ones, my mother’s, all hands. It is the one body part of my own that I love… Hands tell a story.

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MOTHER NATURE

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Winter hits hard, not so much snow and cold, but short days with dreary grass, trees, bushes and sky. I trudge the meadow path feeling bleak, no warmth inside my soul or nurturing presence…not for me, but I need it. I imagine my Mother Nature with flowing long hair in a beautiful wispy dress, hovering above showering love. Her gentleness, kindness and care guides me as I circle the muddy path. My imagery begins to offer solace and warmth. Though the grey day doesn’t change a shift inside does as arms wrap around me melting the icy insides.

If you feel you need an angel, imagine one. If you need a teddy bear or Raggedy Anne, have one. Hold it, hug it, do whatever it is that you need to feel warm and good. What would that be? I may be 63 but I am not too old to hug a teddy bear. I never will be.

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