PRESENCE

The body heals, but why must the mind stay broken? Broken in that it wields the power to destroy with thoughts that are negative, and lately going backwards to what one therapist used to label as ‘catastrophic thinking;’ a highly honed talent that needs to be extracted from my tool box, yet seems here to stay no matter how much work is pitted against it.

Summer, usually the most joyful because more daylight fights off winter depression which drops like a cloud in fall pressing down till spring, has brought up issues in both body and mind. But perhaps all summers have had their challenges and when we remember we forget the hardships and think of the best times?

As my body heals from the harsh divertriculitis attack, other mental challenges present themselves, but perhaps those are needed on the path to healing too. The healing of my spirit does not heal as efficiently as my body.

But isn’t that how it is for everybody? Growth is ongoing, ever-changing, and if you are aware continues till one’s last breath. That doesn’t have to be a life-sentence, but instead a life opportunity. It is just that lately the struggles seem to about sink me.

Yet up again for air. Go slow. Stay in the moment, and most of all pick up the meditation practice slipped from daily must do’s after over 20 years of diligent habit. That brings comfort but one must do it!

It brings my being to my core. Settling into it like a warm caress placing all the pieces where they belong… Pain doesn’t go away, but room is made for it. Acceptance with patience, attributes not possessed in abundance – expand- helping me to be and stay present.

Isn’t that what life is about? To be in each moment, to treasure them, live them, painful or not?

Fill Up on the Simple Things

Back to basics, remembering what is so easily forgotten, the very simple plan of working on self-care and self-love. My job, as what occurred in the developing of my personality was just the opposite; self-hate, self-destruction, and the loud critic a constantly nagging companion.

It is not easy to change the trajectory of one’s upbringing. And had death taken me already, which at 68 is quite possible, the peace created now wouldn’t have materialized. It has taken decades. It has taken a strength of fortitude that only now can be appreciated.

Some people might like a do-over, but not me. No way could going through the depressions, and robot-like living be done again. The magic of meadow walks, solitude, and each moment of life treasured… a new miracle some have had the good pleasure to have never lost. It has taken a great deal of work to have arrived here, where living feels good more than ever before.

My center, my core, any basic trust in others was lost at age eight. Shattered, only now able to pick up a few fragments, but never knowing really what life would have been like growing up under the roof of a loving, functional family.

My sons are together for a week at Cape Cod. My usual feelings before now would include a searing loneliness wanting to be with them even though knowing it would be impossible. The drive, the traffic, and having to take something to sleep every night over the course of 7 nights— too much! The loneliness for it crept in anyway. But not now. Now? Gratitude.

Now I feel only joy that they can be together, and I can be at peace doing what I do. The sun, the birds, the critters, Samuel, a few friends, snaps and photos from Shane and Cory daily (enjoying their trip vicariously without the hassle), and summer. My days are full and happy.

STONED

Good night red sun, the wildfires out west causing haze making it into a red ball…

In the real world realm of problems, friction with a willful grand-child is probably not high on anyone’s list, or not those with real challenges to tackle; paying bills, illness, hunger, and the list goes on. Yet when my head hits the pillow I pray for guidance because I know I must doing something wrong.

Give me the guidance to set boundaries, yet in a firm but loving way. In his eyes I don’t love him, or that’s my guess, because he is wrapped up in his parent’s arms for every little thing. Too much in my view. Yet I’m not the parent. I can’t parent someone else’s child nor change the trajectory of his path, not really.

Those worries are like a fly flitting from worry to worry when trying to sleep. Brothers who don’t feel like brothers, a constant nagging concern, surely I could do better to mend the gap- yet my gut resists after trying so hard with no common ground, or no feelings inside of me except warning bells.

God, I feel stoned, a memory way back from college days. In the dark, trying to sleep, my thoughts whirled and my body felt stoned. I may be stoned. The pot oil at the bottom of the bottle is most likely more concentrated that the rest. Best mix it up with a fresh batch next time, the real stuff with CBD oil.

After that explanation I calmed down not feeling as if I’m going crazy, just high. And blessed sleep came.  

SCATTERED

Yesterday after the rains finally cleared…

A willful, spoiled, tyrant of a four year old stripped me of centeredness, confidence, or any belief in myself.

“Should I order chicken?” I asked Samuel, one of a barrage of questions about what to do about very simple mundane things that he wouldn’t know the answer to anyway.

Feeling scattered, I dump a puzzle out but don’t have the where with all to really sit and do it. Puzzles help to center me, forgetting that this feeling of scatteredness has been a way of life and even still can visit daily. There are ways to get back in there… to my core where wise answers come.

Losing weight makes it scary. How to keep losing it, feeling bones that had been hidden, feeling good, all ripped away by the rejection of a toddler making a war out of his way vs my way. Perhaps going along and letting him be king of my house like it seems he is at his own, is the best way to be happy?

Dr. Phil’s quote, ‘Do you want to be happy, or be right?’

I want to be happy, but something in me won’t allow disrespect from a child at any age. It is untenable to me, but my belief is that it is also harmful to a child. A child fights to have his or her way, but really does not want that kind of power. They need to know that the adult is in charge no matter what kind of fit is dramatized.

Yet doubts creep in, fear, and indecisiveness, not just about Bennett but about even little decisions. This wave of ungroundedness creates more questions about what’s going on and how it provokes memories of the past which really aren’t so past. The feelings of rejection for doing no wrong, but rather being ganged up on.

The feelings of being talked about, as in way back as a child hearing Seth in the kitchen with his teenage friends thinking I heard them say something about me. Seth, though not one of the attackers, chose to be closest with Tom through the years, the eldest attacker and the only one still living.

But what was happening was I was being attacked, I was not the one who was wrong, but felt that way ever since no matter how much work is put into uncovering the real truth. This has become the bedrock of my personality, my way of responding to just about everything; being wrong, bad, or even fit to live. The courage and work it takes to counteract this is enormous and ongoing.

These issues thought to be healed from are even present, and little bratty Bennett has poked a pin in them. Tom comes to mind while meditating. As the pounds dissolve there are thoughts of letting him know exactly how badly he hurt me.

Because he never got it. His one attempt to talk via phone wasn’t about ‘I’m so sorry, can you ever forgive me,’ it was excuses.

“I was so young,” he said.

After the call my fury sent me out to the forest to bang on trees. YOUNG? You were in college, home on Christmas break! You were old enough to be prosecuted.

During meditation when thoughts are to still, my mind whirled as usual. It is only the last moments when the buzzer goes off that my mind quiets. But this time my busy brain imagined sending an email with a link to my book. Maybe send a book. But really, do you want to share so much of yourself with a creep? Perhaps just the chapter about him? Now that’s an idea.

But then, why bother? Leave them all behind to be whatever they want to be as a group, and go on as I am, plodding along, but discovering on my own path that there’s beauty and peace both around and inside me. The deep wounds will not likely go away completely but need to be lived with. Those sorrowful feelings need space with the joy.

And that is the trick, acceptance of it all, opening up all the doors internally, letting the air flow between each one. Escape is not an option on the path to health, love, joy, and peace.

Yesterday after the rains…

CARPE DIEM

Floundering, lost, getting my footing on solid ground- a wish with memories of feeling so confident not long ago. So easily the apple cart is upset, the pieces strewn haphazardly, unable to find them all as many remain hidden.

Sometimes one needs to just accept the moment and its messiness. Remember? Even when it’s going well, that internal need for self-talk must be ever present and is always needed. You’re OK, a refrain which calms me all day long because moment to moment feels so uncertain.

The sureness will come, confidence will rise, and the days will become brighter. But rain comes to us all, a day can have both sunshine and dreariness. So take it all and just keep going…

DARE TO GROW

Once again back into my core, my own mortality is grasped. Though sounding morose, it is a daily confrontation when my mind is not going in circles and peace extends herself throughout my being. It is when facing my own death each day that worries piling up dissipate because suddenly they lose importance up against the reality of the time limits of life.

My home comes back into full view, feeling the prettiness and safety. The meadow comes alive swaying in the breeze or its stillness when there isn’t any. Scents zone into my center that were always there but not noted due to fractures in my thoughts and centeredness.

My path becomes confident, the questions of how dare I do what I need to instead of what others want me to slipping away like so much waste. It is waste when putting my life in how I perceive others want me to live it.

It is my life. Choose your path and have the courage to the follow it.  Let go of Mother’s teachings: You should be ashamed of yourself. DUMMY. That’s not nice. All the requirements she had in order to feel loved or at least not abandoned.

And Give Me Peace…

Once again the ease of life presents her gifts before me, as she always does, but often my ability to be present, calm, and centered is so off I cannot let them penetrate. The lavender’s scent in baskets can be noted, though it’s been there all along the past week. The scented candle in the warmer seems especially fragrant. And a slight feeling of boredom sets in.

That’s when I know I am there at my center feeling peace. Because after a life of cortisol bursting days where my jumpiness is at the ready along with screams of terror at any little surprise, peace can sometimes be confused with boredom. It’s not boredom, the calm gives me with peace equating to happiness, even bliss.

Days home after camping, walks daily in the meadow with ‘mother’ nurturing me with her bounty of caresses… Hermie the young buck in the field lifting his head wondering what I’m doing in his territory, the graceful heron floating by over the water, the natural bouquet of blossoming milkweeds emitting a luscious scent amidst a spray of look-a-like wild baby breath, all these gifts are finally able to reach my center after a week of quiet, beauty, and plenty of sleep unaided by drugs.

HOME SWEET HOME

Growing older has its compensations and tribulations. No stress of making ends meet and raising children. But keeping an aging body going takes work, time, dedication, and fortitude. It also scares me, all the things that could go wrong, and all the things in the future that might go wrong.

And my body is so tired out from a life of PTSD that didn’t begin to be voiced until middle age. That’s the crime of childhood sexual abuse, the silence and no one coming to the child’s aide.

Children are resilient and can come back to health with help. Without any intervention for trauma upon trauma, I’m left with some damaging effects for life, taking to my grave (or ashes in a can) issues of trust- making sustaining relationships hard, issues with my body and staying in it, self-esteem issues, mostly in the toilet needing draining out daily, and the list goes on.

After a trip to the Adirondack Mountains to camp with Samuel and my eldest son, Shane, and family, adjusting back to home is a relief. Some life-time issues include entire body systems going out of whack even in happy times needing a sleep aid every night in the woods.

So three nights camping is my limit, though all through prior years when the boys were little sleep came easily. Other issues tormented me more back then like extreme fear of people which has lessened somewhat. I still prefer home, the meadow, animals and children VS people.

“Take you pot oil,” Samuel said.

“I have it,” I reply.

“Don’t forget you pot oil,” Cory said.

“I have it,” I reply. I didn’t.

And my supposition is that is why my head is so squirrely now, jumping from thought to thought magnifying little problems into disasters. That little plant does more than regulate sleep and help with my arthritis, it seems to calm my rat in a wheel brain too.

My friend drives to Tennessee this week, then flies to Utah, along with daily outings which are way too much for me. And once feeling envious of her ability to do so much, at least this time I realize where I’m most comfortable and why. It’s OK, and so much better to know my place without trying to be something different than what I am.

So home, home sweet home…

Camp photos by Shane

LIVING

It’s OK, you’re OK, the message needed often and daily. During the pandemic when all were essentially shut down from socializing, my feelings of oddness went away and good feelings replaced them. Others were forced into solitude… like me.

Forced solitude out of the knowledge that others cause harm. That was learned during childhood. It does not change. Also, there is a need for seclusion because too much stimulation sets me off into the stratosphere.

Now others have taken up their social activities, singing in choir, doing band performances in parades such as the couple we know, church gatherings and dinners, get-togethers… and the list goes on.

But it is just as OK now for me to live the life chosen for me even if it differs from the majority of others. A life with quietness, peace (hopefully), and with ease. With retirement there is a drifting of purpose.

Raising sons gave me purpose. Then my nursing degree when the kids were older. Then the job, haranguing as it was to my psyche and emotions. Ugh. Now what?

We saved like little squirrels, so now we know we can pay our bills even though no longer working. So, now what? What is the purpose? No answers here except life. Live it. Live it the best that you can by being in each moment, squeezing the goodness out of each one, even the pain that comes with them. Yes, even that.

Live, grow, oh, try to grow. Work at growing and becoming a better person, and there is much room to grow. And enjoy the simple bounty around you.

There is Herman, the young buck in the field, coming each day, even as I walk by. His head lifts up from the tall grass and we have a moment staring at each other.

“Hi Hermie,” I say greeting him, his big ears atop the brown body unmoving, then he decides to hop away, the white fluff of tail bobbing behind him.

Just enjoy all you have, temper the willful brain that likes to take detours into unhappiness, steer it back to the moment. Not all moments are happy, often there is sadness without knowing why. Feel them, release them by feeling, and let them go.

There is happiness amidst pain. Let it all come and flow through. That is living.

PAIN with PLEASURE

MAGICAL FAIRY POOL, where rose petals give you mystical powers…

Too much stimulation, even happy times, inhibits my ability to sleep. Lying there hour after hour, by hour three after Samuel came to bed and began lightly snoring, a pill was taken while waiting for the ‘wise voice’ to interject her thoughts.

And it came later the next day, still groggy from the night-time medication. Why- oh why- can’t my body keep up with others? Simple things like a day with the grand-children, happy in the little pool, with imaginations that take off, laughter abounding. The rest of the family joining us later for dinner. Knowing the answer should be no to an overnight request by Cindy my excited answer was YES!

How can that be turned down after a year of solitary confinement? But of course it was too much for a body worn out after daily adrenaline rushes coursing through my veins due to early repressed traumas. Tiny occurrences my body took as deadly danger released chemicals into the bloodstream that should have been reserved for real danger. My body can only go about a half day before quiet, alone time, and stillness is required.

Determined NOT to have a sluggish day after a night-time medication was used, I walked laps through the grogginess anyway. Not even 90 plus heat swayed me from my path making me feel good about me. Round and round, the sweat proof of work being done offering a sense of achievement.

Choosing to live well through it all, forging through, doing what brings satisfaction and success. And maybe hardest to swallow, acceptance of what is, my body, mind, and soul need attention and care because all facets have taken great hits. There is joy amidst struggles.