PIE PARTY

And so right down to my core comes breath… clear, free, and pure. Hashed over all summer and before? The origin family, or what’s left of them, and being a part of it. It is (finally) OK.

But first things needed to be said, or written, as that is how my words come, through written form. Don took it well and with a loving response. Seth, quite the opposite. It came to a standstill almost ending altogether. But he came back with a response that lent credence and my armor was put down.

We had a grape pie party from our own grapes on what might have been the last sunny day in the 70’s. Seth, Don, and his wife, along with both dogs, loving the meadow running free. Huge cups of dark rich coffee sipped happily creek side with laughter and ease, coming up to a decadent pie lunch topped with large scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Hours passed on this sunny day, my soul set free, with a heart safe to open.

Hole in the Floor

Negative thoughts about myself cave in devouring me as much as I devour whatever foods I can find in the middle of night. The next day a tear falls in pity for the ever present ghosts from the past interfering with a peaceful sleep filled life.

The ravages of chronic PTSD are here to stay no matter how hard the effort is to sway them from their path, rooted within without a cure.  That could have been cured had shame not made the family embarrassed to seek help for me, the victim injured so critically had it been a physical injury someone would have had to sop up the torrents of blood. Someone would have HAD to help!

Once the tsunami of sleeplessness passes, it is back to basics; persuade my negative tendencies about blaming myself for just about every little thing that doesn’t seem right, and when in that mode, every little thing seems wrong, and work on countering those beliefs.

Really? Are you as bad as that devil on your shoulder says you are? This badness, kicked to the curb over and over, comes seeping back in because it became part of my being at age 8. And it is fall after all, the time when mood plummets no matter how hard you don’t want it to. So acceptance is also a work in progress.

No one came to tell me otherwise, I was left alone except the attacks. My childhood beliefs about being bad cemented into my self-view as an adult. It is daily work, constant work sometimes. Back to happier moments of being OK to be me…

Wise Moves

It was a wise move to delete Seth’s response without reading it. Then I’m able to proceed with what I need to say unencumbered by negative, hurtful, angry, defensive responses which were what came from him after sending a link to my book. I wrote the following to him this morning:

I wish good things for you. There is a sweetness about you I have always loved. We share the same passion for nature and animals which touched me and made me smile so many times via emails. And you uplifted me when I was down, which was a lot.

Yet in spring an email was sent to Tom with our photo at the Mill after camping. It was only this past year that I finally asked both Don and Stevie not to add me to emails he was on. I didn’t think I had to ask you.

But after the criticism about writing the book detailing horrific abuse, the realization hit that your shame about what others in the family had done outweighed my need to finally have a life I wanted to live.

That you didn’t answer my email for a very long time? I was the victim, not you. For much of my life I’d lament to Samuel that I didn’t want to live. He finally told me how hard it was to hear that. So I changed it to, I wish I had never been born.

It wasn’t until after Mom died that I finally faced the truth and let it up. Before then I couldn’t destroy her fantasy family with the truth we both knew to be true. With it came the joys of childhood too. One chapter horror, the next one joyful. Because when one is suppressed so is the other.

I am not ashamed of writing the book. And you should applaud me for the courage in doing so. But it seems you want a fantasy sister. One who didn’t go through such horrors.

But in seeing only what you can handle, you deny the existence of who I really am, and the strength it took to get here.

I don’t want to give up the sweetness we shared, but I also cannot pretend to be this fake ‘Sis’ you seem to see me as.

You were there for me as much as you could be throughout life, uplifting me with humor and positivity. I am thankful for that. I don’t need anything from you anymore except to see me as I really am which includes the horrors you seem to need to pretend didn’t happen. As if hearing about it is harder than my going through it.

I’ve grown to see just what exceptional qualities lie inside of me. Something I’ve never seen or experienced before.   

The INNOCENT or PERPETRAOR?

A child victimized sexually by a family member often becomes both the innocent and the criminal. No wonder it is hard to silence my critic’s hammering, brow-beating voice, bending my back over daily as if being hit repeatedly with a stick.

It is commonplace to do harm on myself even now over 60 years later. Coming out of such dysfunction the learning is that it’s not OK to feel good, happy, or at peace. Not allowed. Someone must take the hit for the family shame, especially to keep her quiet so no one else has to feel bad or ashamed.  

“Please do not add me to emails where Tom is included. What he did to me as a child was horrible,” I said at age 68, finally speaking up.

“What?” Don asked, not sure he heard me, or maybe incredulous that for once a truth had been spoken.

The innocent and criminal. Because speaking the truth about crimes in the family about a family member is betrayal. And though now fully grown, that gag order still exists. That shame still causes me to hurt myself.

A girl, now woman, expressing the horrors of my childhood casts me out once again unless abiding by their rules. They may be as subtle with their tactics as they were then, but there are in place even now, and honed to perfection.  

My mother was especially good at it, extinguishing the fire in my natural personality as if throwing a bucket of water on my soul darkening my spirit as if never having one… and it’s still elusive, I am still searching for my true nature. And the others followed, a gang against a small girl just trying to grow.

And they ganged up again over the last few years. A rare visit to one or the other meant a phone call behind my back in the other room calling the other one who shows up quickly. Is that because you’re so eager to see me, or is it the same old story? Two against one means that two can keep things as they have always been. Me silent and/or pleasing. Keep me down, the little puppet we can control.

The ramifications of growing up treated this way caused badness to grow inside me like a steel skyscraper blocking the light. And as an adult this shatters me again and again. Each attempt to build a relationship with any of the three causes harm. They collude in crimes against me by their continued interaction with the fourth who ravaged my spirit the most.  The rule of silence cannot remain. The only way out is not to be in.

+

REPRESSION

No matter how much is put in having body, mind and spirit mesh, the brokenness occurring at age eight might be permanent. That is impossible to accept.

Would work on repression help to mend this divide? The divide between body and mind go on as if no work was done. One positive that can be said, hard work is taken on daily.

With a working mother, my job was clean the kitchen and get dinner ready. No mother awaited us coming home from school no matter how much longing there was for it. That began at age eight when dad died, right there on the floor in front of us. Trauma enough, but every detail is burned into memory- no repression there..

There is at least one severe and traumatic attack that is repressed. Dan’s attack. Would that coming up help at all? Would it help these nights when nothing is much different but my body is on high. Seeing 2 AM while all others sleep SUCKS.

These males, not brothers- once you touch that way you are no brother, or family. I had 7 seven of them. the other three stood by, did nothing once hearing the truth, said nothing, but most injurious are buddies with the remaining attacker, but also were friendly with the ones now gone. It is not OK.

Night after night of uninterrupted zzz’s, then a night when after almost two hours of trying to sleep everything looms as a grave disaster causing a double dose of medication to sleep. What is the cure?

Walks in the meadow lately bring fear; bees, snakes, someone popping out of the forest to scare me, just as the attackers disguised as brothers would do each finding it funny. They must have hated me. Would reading about the repression of Danny’s attack help? Would finding out what repression does to the body help? Would remembering the violence of his rape help?

It must take enormous energy to repress diverting limited resources needed elsewhere. That repressing a memory every minute of every day must depletes precious energy even if it is unconscious.

The search for answers, truth, authenticity, and knowing my real self continues… along with the need to speak up to the origin family about my true anger with each of them. There is certainly a bucket of it, but the cork stuffing it is slow to open.

A RETURN TO FREEDOM

The sweet taste of freedom rises once again after losing it for weeks to guilt, duty, and being attached to thoughts of failing, not only with moving closer to Stevie, but also Don and Seth. Some lessons are learned slowly and only after much pain. Just because they all formed what seems like a group of family, then pressured me to join in, doesn’t mean forcing myself to become a part of it… though attempt after attempt was made.

Freedom. Freedom to make choices based on the truth of my existence which confines my ability to do what others do so easily; travel, enjoy parties or groups of people, go to doctors without effort or fear, the list is long. Yet the limits mostly don’t feel like limits unless it interferes with helping someone deeply cared about like Stevie.

But who has been there for me? Certainly not even myself. It is time to take care of my many needs instead of pretending they don’t exist. If you can’t handle that, you are not meant to be close to me. And just how many relationships can be handled, or even are needed?

Concentrating on the ones most close, my husband, kids, grand-kids, and a few friends, takes enough energy and is worth the work bringing joy ten-fold.

That cannot be said for those professing to be ‘family.’ As much work as was put forward to be a part of what they have formed, it is full of holes spinning me into freefall with no one to catch me.

Choices. The soft voice rising up says, ‘You can do this. You have the answers, and can figure things out.’ Better to continue on the path to freedom, wholeness and health, even if that means a continued barrier between me and dysfunction.

FORWARD or BACKWARD?

The whisperings coming from my soul confuse me. Having trouble deciding something because a quiet voice rises up to be heard is difficult to listen to… more of a sense or feeling than the loud voice usually directing traffic in my head.  

Yet there lies the true voice, the one so often denied, so often going unheeded, so necessary on the path to health and wholeness.

It is in the quiet meditative walks in the glorious meadow when this voice, this quiet feeling wafts up to be acknowledged- when all other distractions are replaced by beauty, solitude, and grace.

The slow change of white Queen’s Ann’s Lace giving way to yellow as the mustard plants begin to open. Almost stepping on a Praying Mantis as it hops out of my way. Looking like a leaf, it wouldn’t have been seen if it hadn’t moved. Each lap in the meadow brings me closer to myself. Nature offers surprises as the heron drifts off from the creek shore to find another fishing spot.

Though not wanting to encapsulate the summer as a hard one, there have been challenges internally with the guilt over a little brother (who towers over me now) needing me yet I couldn’t be there for him. It feels like going backwards a leap, after baby steps forward.

But is it? The thought forms that the well of pain early on, the repeated traumas, were put on hold. And that dipping into that chasm has to be done in spurts, not all at once. Go back, feel what was silenced, what was always silenced, even now with these people professing to be ‘family’ — feel it, let it in, lets the tears come even now 60 years later.

Because there is pain to unravel and understand. A great need for compassion towards myself and the little girl that I was continues. That part of me still hurts, is willful, and often raging. She does things impulsively that cause harm. Go there, be there for her, acknowledge the pain and let it flow up. But it’s not up to her to run things. Take the reins, guide her to health in all realms… spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.

The path to wholeness starts with care for myself, even if overriding another’s needs. That is authenticity, to be true to self. But first I have to find who that is. A life of asking others to guide me because I had no way to my core is slowly changing as connections occur.

Learn to LOVE Thy Self

Even a solitary life such as mine brings pain. The world comes in, how could it not with the amount of news we watch? But other things, such as saying no to a younger brother who over the years learned to expect things from me that are out of bounds. Yet with my poor self-esteem, and feelings of duty to care for my younger brother, I hop at his requests, just like I tend to hop at Samuel’s requests.

Stevie was trained early on by Tom to treat me cruelly with no consequences. That I deserved it. Because Tom had a secret- what he did to me, so with it came making me look bad and unworthy. That helped create a scenario with all 6 other brothers. Since the outlook towards me is that I’m more worthless than others, it’s OK to treat me with scorn, and as if I’m invisible. I easily went along with it so you will just love me.

This summer the angst of saying no to little brother Stevie has caused a great deal of pain. Saying yes to my needs overriding his took great strength. It has been a long time coming. At eight years old after Dad died, Mom and I sang Silent Night each night to Stevie, along with the ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ prayer.

 Stevie would ask me, “Is Daddy gone?”

Even at my young age taking care of Stevie came naturally. Mom became absorbed in going out into the work force despite her grief, and also started drinking more.

“He’s not gone, he’s up in heaven looking over us,” I said.

As we grew the older boys were out of the house a lot. It was Stevie and me wandering the neighborhood on our bikes while Mom was at work. Keeping an eye on him became my job.

But also through the years his tendency to treat me differently than others, less than, not worthy of respect, went unnoticed by him, but hurt me sharply. It has only been recently that in my own quiet way I say NO.

Not without angst. Finally having a talk with him yesterday, I did relay that after saying no about visiting so Samuel could do electrical work for him he completely stopped emailing, calling, or videoing.

I repeated it because he didn’t seem to hear me.

“After I said no, I didn’t hear from you,” I said, adding, “I thought you must have been really hurt. It’s not that I don’t want to see you, I cannot sleep elsewhere and must take something every night. It’s a huge challenge. After going to Cory’s, then camping with Shane, I felt I met my two biggest challenges and goals. Adding one more was just too much, plus I’ve been sick for a month with diverticulitis.”

“Oh, well, you think too much, you overthink it,” he said, obviously wanting to move on, unconnected to his own inner workings.

Later while walking the meadow my thoughts bent on what he said that in the past might have hurt me. It was a criticism saying I think too much. Talking aloud to myself I said to him, “You don’t think enough!” Not something I could do in person, not just yet. He is way to sensitive to criticism himself of any kind.

My tears began while trying to explain to him about how hard it is to travel, especially after his slight show of compassion about it.

“Sorry you have such a hard time traveling, but it’s OK,” he said. More tears.

“No, it’s not. I can’t do what I want to do. My body is just tired out after a stress filled life,” I said, not going into childhood issues which I’ve always kept from him, protecting him. Don has recently told both of them the broad issues of my being a survivor, as that’s what dysfunctional families do, tell personal things about someone who is not there.

Not going up to help my little brother bothered me that much, enough to cause tears. My needs came first, and though taking that step was incredibly hard it also came with more understanding, love, and care for myself… and more self-respect.

That is growth, healing and growth, which can often be painful.

LOST and FOUND

In trying to be

What others want

I

Lose

Me

Pieces scatter like a bucket of wash water thrown out with a splash. Saying no to Stevie caused weeks of worry, sleepless nights, and guilt tinged with grief. All these feelings to sort out; guilt for saying no to my younger brother, grief that our relationship is so poor along with reminders of an origin family where insurmountable pain existed which wreaked lives shortening them.

Trust the wisdom that caused me to say no, though it has been hard to like myself ever since. The wonder of exciting days awaiting dissolved, my ability to stay on track nutritionally went too. All the feelings about myself went sour, positive feelings that took persistent, long-term work to develop.

Why can’t you help your little brother? (the critic ever-present) Though it wasn’t my help, it was Samuel’s he desired. Just bate my sister as if really wanting to see me, a TV in my room, put there just for me…NOT. Repeated video chats, once calling back SEVEN times when I wasn’t up to answering him, then the rarity of actually answering an email, also telling me how much fun it will be on the lake, etc., but what he really wanted was collusion in his chaos.

The man could have another house that did not need so much work. But he wanted to do the work. (I don’t) He is 65. Really, buy a house that has 30 outdoor stone steps required each time to just get inside it? No indoors stairs to the basement. You carry groceries and all else up those steps?

Flat surfaces for us. Also, with my limited abilities, focus is finally being honed onto the closest and most important relationships- my husband, then children, their children, and friends who feel much safer than brothers and more enjoyable to be with. Not so with Stevie.

He can be very demanding, even telling me what I can say and what I can’t. Like hating Trump. Maybe that is a sweetness within him, not wanting others to say they hate someone, yet in less than a year he was saying the same thing.

I surely don’t want to be around his energy, the chaos within him of both retiring and being in a new home, huge life changes that seem to be bringing out a excessive restlessness in him. That is an energy hard to around since my own insides are often in turmoil. What I crave is the ability to be still and be OK with that. To feel it to my core and have this newly found peace spread throughout me.

Long, long ago, when we were both living at Mom’s in our twenties. My rooms were in the basement. Mom was beginning Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. Stevie had begun a job as a bartender. He excitedly talked me into turning my little living room in the basement into a bar. Uh, OK. It doesn’t matter that’s where I live, or that Mom is drying out. Will you then love me?

The aftereffects of saying no have been grim. Yet in its wake there is an enormous leap of growth into self-preservation, respect of self, and yes, a continued path towards love of self.

it is the things

you say no to

that really show

your commitment

to your growth

yung pueblo

A RECKONING

MORNING SUNBEAMS AT THE CREEK

It’s a little early for melancholy, the drop in mood that occurs each fall. Yet some birds are grouping in trees and practicing flight plans, and others may have already left for warmer climates. The sun sets earlier, rises later, and that feeling of sadness creeps in. The core work of turning a belief of unworthiness into worthiness seems much harder to confront, but there it is smacking me in the face.

Day after day of reversing that loud critic that screams badness, wrongness, and that I’m unfit to live. Hasn’t any progress been made? It seems that the excess weight is proof of my unworthiness. That carrying it is all I have to prove my worth. If I hate myself, will I then be loved by those brothers who feel so unsafe?

That it has always been my job to carry the burden of what was done to me so that the others won’t have to? Yet three out of four attackers have died, and died too early for the normal life span of most. I believe they did carry a very heavy burden which lead to a shorter life. The fourth, not a bit, but at least he moved out west and I have no contact.

Even as little as a month ago Seth sent a group email including that fourth attacker with no awareness that I DON’T WANT TO BE IN AN EMAIL WITH HIM! It took up till this year to request that Stevie and Don not do it, then Seth does it. I did not ask Seth thinking he must know.

But they continue to remain clueless to the wreckage Tom left behind after attacking me. All the years of put-downs, which broke me as much or more than the attacks.

And oh how I want family. Yet cannot. How can I? When those three interact with Tom frequently by email as if nothing ever happened? When I know if he had done to their daughters what he did to me, no way would he be their good buddy.

So the craving continues, both for core feelings of worthiness because that is still elusive, and for family. Having my woman friends over for our monthly get-together brought to light again just how safe I feel with them which is in such opposition to the three brothers who didn’t abuse me.

Making arrangements to spend time with these three brothers brought on sleeplessness with danger sirens so strong they drown me in self-doubt with feelings of failure for not being able to connect. But who really is at fault for that?

When others who profess to love you don’t stand up with you and your testimony of past torture, how can they be trusted? How can I know of my worth if you don’t see me, hear me, or believe me? If you won’t even listen, then put me down for telling my story (which Seth did)?

Reaching an impasse at weight loss isn’t about weight, but about loving myself; honestly respecting my authentic self, my factual story, even when others won’t. Especially then. A reckoning of self. A true face to face. Do you have the courage to truly love yourself? To keep going to places where peace and love grow?

PATIO FLOWER