Only Child, a Child of Eight

Waking from a dream, more like a nightmare, it colored my whole day. A loneliness descended like a shroud, not an uncommon one, one lived with since age eight, since the first wrong touch. Yet in finding the core of myself, that devouring loneliness dissipated as a feeling of wholeness and connectedness to self miraculously occurred.

Loneliness again, but only a shell of the old pain which felt like a severed body part. Busyness drove it away, walking the meadow, being with others working out at the Community Center, then working in my studio.

A longing for brother Tom, felt shockingly present, the abuser who mocked me for life, now too old to know how he hurt me as his memory fades. The time for talking with hope for reconciliation came years ago, but my request was not to talk about it. Why is there longing for it now?

Yet the need to hear  words of sorrow remain. The hope that he would sincerely ask forgiveness never waned, and never happened. The hope for a brother back never came, nor any brother, as the three others who are innocent of wrong touch make a group I don’t feel part of. There is in me a need for someone to speak of the horrors, but no one will. So I remain as if an only child.

And that child is so needy sometimes. She wants to play, to be free, to have fun. What can you do to give this to her? Figure it out and provide it.

 

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Spring to Come

photo by Patricia

The Cold wet ground, sodden with melted snow.

Geese squawking, red-wingers trilling melodically,

The repose so sought, brought by digging into the earth.

The spade into soil recently unfrozen.

Bulbs already sprouted covered,

And when the snow returns will slow them down,

Until,

Until, like me, they blossom under the warm sun.

The Butchering of a Soul

a memoir by Patricia  Grace 

My stomach is still sore from what I did to it. The old ways come back and won’t go away. It is a daily issue to temper them, the eating till sick ways. To punish myself I eat. I knew eating what I did would cause problems, so ate more.

Then spent the rest of the afternoon until bedtime in pain wondering if it would stay down. It was the kind of pain that occurred after the stomach stapling in ’85 when more than a few tablespoons of food would put me down on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor in agony waiting to throw it up. I spent a lot time there because butchering my stomach did not take away the real need to eat like I ate. 

Hating myself. My mind twisted into the past where the only feeling was self-hate and punishment. All the work in decades gone by dissolved, and back there I went, where eating and throwing up were the only ways out of terror.

How can one go so easily backwards? Yet self-hate for causing my son pain of any kind comes easily. Which is why there are also too many times when things don’t get said that need to be said. I don’t know how. I don’t see that changing. Opposites. Where is the middle, that place of rest where such extremes co-exist?

A person permanently present in my life does things I’d never even think of doing to another person. She targets me with a precision that destroys. Sabotage. The confusion of why continues. Perhaps it is my need for space, or that I see her as she is.

I accept her as she is, just be honest and upfront.  How do you confront someone so wily? You don’t, which is why such exhaustive underhanded efforts are plotted then carried out. The slipperiness of her self-esteem is as desperate as mine.

How we choose to recover our sense of worth is the chasm that won’t be bridged, and most likely won’t be brought to the light. That kind of slyness through the years by Tom is what had the power to kill. Not the sexual attacks, but the invalidation afterwards eroding my self worth to less than nothing. I had no right to be here. 

It is not self-loving to put into your body something you KNOW will cause pain. Blocked into a box, no way out. So suffer, then figure it out. Time to say no. You are punished, now move on. Is this a cycle to suffer till death?

Fuck me. Fuck life. Why is it so hard for some, yet others go on their tra la la ways without these mixed up dark thoughts in their heads of who does what and why, and I am always the target? Targeted because I lack a voice, able to speak up for others, but not for myself. . 

Maybe this is the craziness of spring that causes slight madness as the depression of winter mixes with the warm sun, twirling my emotions at will. Something that makes so much sense one day, mortifying me the next, wishing so fervently to take it back but can’t.

So I ask forgiveness, and go on. But it is me who needs to forgive me the most.

 

Cherish the Moment

photo by Patricia

We are all struggling. Looking at another one might think they have it all. I wish, if only, comparing one’s life to another. Then you find out that person suffers problems so severe you take your wish back of being like them.

Limping along trying to make sense of this thing called life is often hard, and wondering what the purpose is can be just as difficult with the question going unanswered. No one can tell you what that purpose is, you have to find it yourself.

And maybe there is none other than to survive. In this age survival isn’t about killing the beast to make it through the winter, or keeping the fires burning so one won’t freeze. It has become an age of technical devices, wires humming with communication, also bringing heat, refrigeration, and entertainment. No more stories around the campfire that entertained our ancestors of primitive times while firelight flickered on the cave walls.

Imagine one of them looking down to check their messages on their phone. No, we whirl in the pace of modern living. Who looks within to see what’s there, and to discover what you are really made of?

Enough is needed to keep our ‘campfires’ burning, the furnace of modern times. And enough is needed to buy the food rather than kill it. But how much fame and fortune is needed to feed our egos? How many vacations to compare on-line, how many friends, parties, or hobbies?

What if one friend is enough. What if a walk in the back meadow sustains as well as a trip to Italy, Iceland or the Caribbean? Because for me it has to. Leaving home for too long brings upset moving to panic. Being home is hard enough.

And that’s OK. Trips into my own interior can be magical, miraculous, and deeply satifying. What is really there? What needs tweaking, what is worth keeping, what won’t go away no matter how much work is done?

It is too easy, and usually necessary, to become wrapped up into the daily grind; driving to work, the stress of work, coming home to kids who need more work. Where is the time to contemplate the whys of life, or the vastness within?

I am lucky to have this time, and it is important to remember and to cherish every moment… tension and release, pain and joy. Take it all in, this thing called ‘life.’

 

PTSD-THE LIGHTENING STRIKES

Little did I understand my ‘illness.’ Calling it that is a first for me. All these years I loaded blame onto my shoulders and into my being for not keeping up, for intense reactions, even screaming if someone came up from behind or around a corner. Usually that was my kids, and most times not purposely because they learned early on that’s not funny with Mom because it caused a very serious scare.

But there is so much more, and it hasn’t been given gentleness or compassion, only self-hatred for being so different, for not being able to do what others do so easily, for being so tired, scared, and forever mistrusting. Even when someone truly cared, in my mind it is, ‘What are you up to? What do you want?’

It is not a life anyone else would want. In the night it strikes. I hadn’t thought of my sleep problems being connected with PTSD. Waking, it is as if a bomb went off. I must get out of bed to be safe and ready.

When anything small or large concerns me, it is during night waking’s that it feels life threatening. My entire body goes on alert without my permission. There is no sleeping when all the bells toll. What if, why didn’t I, oh, the hammerings at myself are deadening.

Last night something new occurred. A voice of calm began asking, ‘where is the compassion? Why aren’t you treating this body that has been through so much with kindness,  care and understanding? It is time you did.’

PTSD strikes many days causing my body to snap with electricity on alert.  It is my norm. To have moments of true relaxation is a state others live in most of the time but not for me. Finally speaking up to my son requiring respect has intensified my usual PTSD symptoms;  sleep problems, a buzzing during daytime accompanied by bouts of tears, restlessness without relief, rat in a wheel repetitive negative thoughts, and despair.

The rift is deeply painful yet necessary. I am the only one who believes that. Others would prefer what they are accustomed to. To act in loving ways towards oneself when others disapprove, or don’t like it, takes great resolve and is oh so needed. 

More meditation, rest after a bad night, diligent work at positive, validating thoughts, and an intense fortitude to work through this differently in a way that finally allows my voice to be heard and respected are all issues being worked on. I won’t apologize for being alive.

When all others are against you, sometimes you must be strong. Making changes in the status quo meets with resistance, even, or most, from those we love. It is as necessary as air, or why exist?

No one else understands the deep currents of how PTSD interferes with one’s life, how much is taken, and I won’t get back. No amount of work will change it. I can learn to understand and care about myself though. That miracle can happen. Laying down every last atom of self-respect so others can trample all over it is my norm.

It is only this year at age 65 that I put out my arm like a cop and said no to Samuel’s brother when he kept coming towards me to hug me as I kept backing away. I said, “That OK, I’m not much of a hugger.’

I have suffered his embrace just as I have suffered Tom’s embrace all these years because I couldn’t say NO. Samuel’s brother also raped his sister way back before I knew him. It is no accident I chose a family with the same dysfunctions and crimes, though not consciously. 

Others don’t understand PTSD symptoms because they have healthy boundaries in place and always have. They weren’t trained to take and expect abhorrent abuses to their bodies, mind, and psyche. And it doesn’t happen to others because since the day of meeting a new person each feels the other out and learns about where boundaries are.

That is how it’s done, but for me, so much time is spent dissociating I’ve missed all the cues, and have no boundaries anyway. If you mistreat me, I act nicer, placate more, bowing at your feet even shining your shoes while down there. Whatever it takes to feel accepted especially after any iota of disapproval, but never knowing, accepting, or respecting myself. 

One must grasp onto what’s left before it is gone. A long standing dysfunction is hard to change. A relationship can either sustain the shift or not. One must stay strong to protect their right in this world, on this planet, and in this little plot of land I call home.

Sleep?

The 2 AM dance in my head occurs. If only the use of the bathroom wasn’t needed, because returning to sleep afterwards is often hard work. No, you will not get up. Stay. And a long time later sleep did come, but not till my brain calmed down and went over every painful experience it ever had.

I don’t think of this shit in the daytime, why does it feast on my brain at night? Hushing the harsh voice that blames me for not disciplining my mind, the knowledge that parts of my brain are broken from the unprocessed repeated traumas of my youth, brings some balm to at least that aspect of my nightly troubles, but the thoughts continue to swirl. 

That included thinking about abusive siblings who feel as close now as they ever did. In the thick of darkness these thoughts invade, even though for a good portion of my adult life another ‘family’ was built from ground up that had nothing to do with blood.

To love those that hurt me so much? To hate those that hurt me so much? But the hate is gone. The rage is gone. In its place is sadness. Sadness that each of them lived with what they did, and grew in a family that drove them to it.

The love and closeness of blood family does not dissipate like a poof of air at the end of a wand. Family is family. This was mine… sadly. And yet while these rabid thoughts played out, a hint of something else flickered… the awareness of the light of my own soul. In the dark, while trying to sleep, a spark of truth.

My tired brain, awake like an hot wire frantically whipping wildly in the road during a storm, won’t stop and move onto other mundane matters until it had its ride. Eventually fitful sleep comes.  But this new awakening of what lies beneath holds promise of growth, light, and ever-lasting life.  

No Fake News

Waking in the night the immediate PTSD strikes. Get up, save the world, or least your tiny corner of it. Every lost relationship comes to mind, with a regret of being a person unable to keep one due to trust issues…not having any.

Boundaries are disrespected because growing up meant even my own body was not mine. Assertiveness for my own needs are too often disturbingly unvoiced. The craving for closeness continues, yet I live with with a severe lack of it due to it feeling savagely dangerous. These constants in my life roar at 2 AM. 

The virus all week has begun to abate. The liquid clogging my head which made breathing labored especially in the night, isn’t pouring out as much. The issues left to contend with are the usual, the ever occurring PTSD striking most hazardously in the middle of the night. Just that. The stark nakedness of my being is lite full force, the aloneness, fear of it, even terror.

Then the voice of reason and wisdom. You cannot find what need from others.What you need most is in you. It is you who walks the earth as a single being right to the end… and beyond. The spiraling lusting for acceptance from other relationships faded as this truth and realization surfaced. It is you who needs to accept you, and be with you. Others already have.

So on-wards with the work of bringing the softer, kinder voice to the forefront. The one that allows closeness, caring and love. The one that encourages rather than rips down. The one that needs constant attention, and reality checks. No fake news. You are OK, and you are a ‘good’ person.