Breathe Into It

The time change is just too much. For a miraculous period sleep came each night at 10 pm then waking by 6 am. That same sleepiness arrives but it’s now 9 pm due to the time change, too early so I stay awake till ten. Then my body kicks into overdrive. There’s no use staying in bed because sleep won’t come without a sleep aid.

Fall brings extra challenges, all the issues usually faced times ten; repeated negative thinking, lowering in mood which tends to be low already, getting stuck on a thought and rethinking it over and over again, self-esteem bottoming out when my self-esteem already needs daily pushing to stay afloat, and on and on it goes. Any illness, even a minor cold, lowers my mood even more. 

My brain is challenged, mixed up from being wired with beliefs of badness. Edginess occurs with the least little disruption causing my nervous system to spiral out of my control. Once that happens, especially in the nighttime, only medication brings it down. I detest taking anything. But that is what it’s for, so I do so with the hopes that a better pattern will soon take hold, and I won’t need it so often.

Tiredness wears me down. Positivity eludes me. Rocking by the fire looking out the bay window a tear forms, bulges, then falls down my cheek as another slides down after it. The sun not yet risen casts enough light over the opposing horizon that the clouds illuminate like pink puffs. Orange-brown leaves blow in the foreground framing the postcard view.  

The yin and the yang. No one promised you a rose garden. Life is not all sweetness. The news of late doesn’t help. Thoughts of the recent victims murdered while out with friends in a bar caused another tear to fall. I have not become immune to the violence. 

Restlessness drives a desire to escape from this prison of my body and mind… to be elsewhere, to be someone else whose body stays regulated, not this body that ramps up out of my control taking my thoughts with it.

I need to talk to somebody, somebody to tell me it’s alright, that I’m alright; to remind me of the good things I do, the struggles I still face, and many with equanimity. The memory of those that have counseled me arises along with a soft voice whispering, You are the wise one. You know the way.

Stay with you, in you, your body, and your beating heart, which often scares me in its lurching behavior that mirrors my anxious thoughts when they take flight. I don’t know the answer, but escaping is not one of them. Breathe into the moment, and into my body. Do not be afraid. It is all there, everything that you need is already there. 

Maybe instead of an outside source dictating my bedtime, I take control and keep the same schedule. That means going to sleep at 9 pm in the wintertime. And so what if I do? My body can’t seem to handle switching twice year just because an outside source says to change the clocks. Maybe that is worth a try. 

 

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Please to Survive

Life hones down to myself and Samuel. Yet even just one person pushes my ‘please you’ buttons. My tendency is to move around his needs neglecting my own at great consequence. He  seems unaware of me, and exists as if we are in two houses. At other times he hovers so closely, and is so in my stuff I can’t breathe. How can the gap be so great?

Rushing to go visit my son and grand-kids down the road for coffee because Samuel said he was ready, meant forgoing lunch. And that means returning very hungry finding it hard to feel satiated because care hadn’t been extended to my needs. It is up to me to do that, no one else.

This pleasing aspect so seemingly permanently embedded? It arose from pure survival. Stuffing tragedy after tragedy with the food Mother pushed my way pleased her, but not me. There was no me. Me didn’t exist except when and if it pleased others.

Becoming mindful of my body and its needs takes great and constant focus. The natural instinct of hunger and satiety along with all other body related functions was driven out at age eight when survival became desperate. Survival meant please others always. And eat. Eat to drown out the pain of non-existence, and the terrifying agony of living.

To take a stand for my needs feels so foreign, selfish, and even aggressive. As if I am doing something so very wrong and must stop. Yet in doing so, being demure, submissive, and pleasing, my body takes the hit.

Eating last night too close to bedtime hurt my stomach causing it to be sore this morning. Skipping lunch ignited the eating hunger machine. What was eaten was only a bowl of high fiber cereal, larger than usual, and after the 3 to 4 pm shut off time. But eating past then, except for cheese or an apple, causes digestive problems when lying down. It wasn’t eaten out of hunger, but out of the ongoing ever-present need to feel loved.

My mind believes that Samuel loves me but doesn’t see me, though that sounds contradicting. Maybe it’s because I don’t take a stand and stay stood. I give in to very little pressure. When he said, “I’ll go drop off the present,” my reply?

I wanted to go too? Didn’t you just hear me talking to Shane about us going over for coffee?

“I heard coffee and thought that you asked if he’d give me a cup,” Samuel replied.

My head shook in disbelief. Samuel was sitting not five feet away, his nose in the newspaper during my conversation with Shane on the phone. And yet when Samuel said he thought he’d go over now to deliver our grand-daughter’s get well gift my response was ‘I’m ready?’

My hair was soaking wet from the bath and I hadn’t eaten, but if Samuel was ready I had better be too. That pressure comes from within, not him, though it would be a great comfort to feel heard, seen, and known.

How does one lose sight of her own needs so quickly, and why? Fear of abandonment or rejection? What of abandoning oneself?.

 

Come Home

You get to have your feelings, space, body and mind. You get to inhabit all of that, still a reminder because for too much of the time my mind is squirreling away in its trenches of self-doubt and self-recriminations. Or buzzing off in some way due to anxiety that ebbs and flows, but is always there below baseline no matter how hard the work has been to soothe it.

You own it, it’s yours. Yet it has never seemed that way. My body was used, taken by those I loved and trusted most. Then when I fought or said ‘No,’ more force was used, either physically or psychologically. I was shut off and shut down. The box of my body was intolerable, and I escaped leaving my body and all else behind.

I have never come back and been able to stay. Moments stretch into minutes, and sometimes hours; when focused on my work in the studio, riding my horse of long ago, or hosing the foamy sweat off her after a summer ride, the stillness by the creek when parts dare to come in- join hands, and become one. There are periods of time feeling whole and content.

Waking in the morning is not one of them. Fears press down; being alone without Samuel, relationships that need improvement because of all my faults, and, and, and… then the voice of calm, reason and compassion, “It’s OK, you’re OK. You get to be in your body because you are OK, and as equal to others as anyone else. You get to have your space with boundaries.”

The soothing voice relaxes the ever present take off flight that signals leaving… going somewhere else to escape the pain of being me, and all that was learned in childhood that said I was bad. Come home. Come home again and again. You are OK, at home, and safe.

SPEAK UP?

photo by Patricia

It is stressful to speak up, stressful for me but also the person who read my feelings via email where they could be outlined thoroughly. Perhaps a simple conversation would have been better.

Samuel says, “Grow a thicker skin.”

But Samuel never has been one to speak up about anything which is why some things continue that should not. There are some who take advantage of a person especially when they have no one to back them up. And since there is no extended family that supports me, and Samuel is the way Samuel is, it is easy to be at the receiving end of another’s hurtful vindictiveness throughout the years. 

My heart feels as if it is being squeezed. Taking note, effort goes to relaxing it by doing the things that bring peace. Puzzles help my anxiety to calm. While walking the meadow the memory of Samuel’s words come back. A thicker skin? It is not the first time hearing that from another.

It’s like a badly burned body. The healed skin is paper thin. Samuel, what do you know, as the thought of how much strength it has taken to get this far rises up. Would you have managed so well?

“You’re weak,” I say.

“I’m wise,” he responds.

Maybe it is a bit of both.

The perpetual dance of being hurt and deciding when to speak up and when not to will continue. But there are times to speak. It saddens me to hear a loved one’s voice sounding sad because of what was written.  

Voicing my feelings still seems wrong and foreign because I was taught not to. Though done with gentleness, the hurt to another because of my words is what clenches my heart and makes me wonder, was it worth it?

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. 

 

FORGIVE, FORGIVE, FORGIVE

photo by Patricia

Some relationships spin the same old way no matter how much effort is put into change. Haunts from the past infect today. Little hurts inflame old unprocessed trauma. Sleep will not come, or upon waking in the night will not return.

A small infraction causing hurt by a loved one sets off the alarms yet it is ringing unaware until nighttime when tiredness setting in meets adrenaline.

You loser, you weirdo, you bad mother, wife, friend, and the bashing goes on. Feelings have overridden behaving in a way to feel proud of. Or shadows of them because the behavior has improved but no credit is given for the strides made. The mind goes off far down the painful road of self-loathing, and I feel lost. Help me, in the night the prayer is murmured.

This has been a usual occurrence for years but the last months a healthy sleep pattern has developed. My belief is that has much to do maturing hence feeling more at peace with myself. To lose it and not know why upsets all routines and body systems, but also most painful, must somehow be my fault. Is it? Or is it unprocessed trauma which goes beyond my conscious choice or control?  

Wake and start again. May your first thought be, “Forgive. Be gentle. How gentle, loving and accepting can you be toward yourself today after the sins you think you committed yesterday?”  And are they such sins? Or is your humanness still not allowed in your own mind.

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.