HOME

And so we are home from the 5 hour journey to Cory’s in the neighboring state. My eyes mist wishing to live closer, but Cory always had his own path and it seemed to take him away from home starting with his college years. He really never came back.

But oh, how satisfying to see him fathering his two little ones. (With one more to come in December) Oh how my two sons make such devoted fathers! They are better parents than me, also better people.

But it’s good to be home, home where kitty nestles in my lap, the wild look in her eyes from being alone slowly dissolving as the afternoon wore on. Though someone comes daily to feed and play with her, she really misses us, and I miss her too.

There is something so satisfying to have a cat curl up happy with my touch and closeness. At least one live being is allowed closeness with me. But also, the touch on my son’s shoulder, the warm embrace upon arriving, and again while leaving which made me weep… it will be months before that happens again.

We live a strange life in this go, go, go world. Where once families spread out on the same road for their entire lives, it is rare for children to stay in their growing up town once reaching adulthood. Jobs, college, etc.- these things make moving necessary.

Now home with warm memories and a congratulatory pat on my own back for taking on the challenge of traveling. And at Cory’s it feels like home away from home, so I’m able to sleep and advocate for my needs.

And my needs are particular. If sleep came through the night, than in the mornings my energy is at its best. By the afternoon I tend to retreat to our apartment for silence and rest. I wish it didn’t have to be so, but I’m learning to respect what a lifetime of adrenaline bursts daily and repeatedly have done to my body, so tired out from the feelings of crisis at any moment.

He knows me better than anybody, and is loyal, loving, and kind. No Mom could ask for more. Though he’d like a more energetic Mom to help with the kids, and would prefer I didn’t have such struggles, he is glad Samuel is there to tag along holding the one-year old while he does tasks he cannot do with that duty. And Samuel likes it too!

TERROR

Samuel comes in quietly as usual around 11:30 PM with me asleep but that little sound woke me. After using the bathroom the routine is going back to sleep, sometimes easily, sometimes not. This time memories began to cave in like bolts of terror, each one worse than the one before.

Memories of brothers, what they did to me as a child, and after. Once taken down and repeatedly used for their lust, especially Chet’s, my tendency to be easily manipulated increased one-hundred fold.

And he took advantage of that in many ways after the sexual attacks ended. They all did. And many more out in society. Learning that my own body was not mine, going out in the world was so very dangerous. And that certainty won’t change. It was experienced by those trusted, loved, and looked up too.

The knowledge learned as a child of what humans are capable of, coupled with a lack of boundaries, makes living around people frightening. Encountering others who take advantage of people, manipulate, lie, cheat, and do evil, makes me vulnerable. It is home on our land where safety is felt most.

But lately? While walking the meadow there is a feeling of ever present danger, as if Chet will suddenly jump out of the bushes from his grave to terrify me. On edge, this feeling has developed all summer, making it a summer of ups and downs interfering with my sleep. Is it due to weight loss?

On nights when sleep is interrupted, the deal is that food is allowed to quell that anxiety. Food, food, and more food, the eating orgy along with medication making a stupor that allows for sleep. The next day grogginess and guilt. This is no way to live.

My intensity and focus on diet and exercise… gone in the middle of the night. Is it due to moving so close to my core that the memory of Dan’s attack is about to rise? The one attack repressed only remembering the before and after. Is the loss of weight bringing me closer to my psyche allowing for that memory? Has the excess weight been there to keep me safe from it?

Because as weight comes off, horrifying fear creeps in.

SUFFER

As tiny an event as the cat escaping under the bed instead of being able to close the door with her out, kept me from falling asleep. Lying there thinking about this noise, that noise, or that Samuel found her coming out and shutting the door (which he didn’t but that little sound made me look up from my pillow) kept me awake way past the ‘fall asleep’ time.

Then? Up past midnight, the next day groggy feeling so sorry for myself because of what must be effects of long-term PTSD. But today is a new day, and isn’t life like that? Pain with pleasure, yet it is not something easy to accept fighting the bad days with bitterness, sadness, and hopeful illusions of growing up in a safe family.

The wishes don’t all go away. On hard days they crop up like bubbles popping once hitting my consciousness. This is your reality and it’s unlikely to completely change. The addition of marijuana oil has certainly helped greatly but the hard nights, and other difficulties are here to stay.

Though not my fault, not my doing, suffer it I must.

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.

+

SIMPLE THRILLS

Though mother-nature threw a hot sticky week in at the tail end of summer, my skinny dipping days are numbered. After becoming sweaty during meadow walks, it isn’t easy pulling up a bathing suit over my body- so why bother? Neighbors can’t see through all the foliage and trees we planted, so go for it!

And it is heaven, bobbing up and under, feeling the cool water over my skin washing off the stinky mosquito spray needed to fight off those needle nosed poison pokers as big as crocodiles. Glorious.

It is new to almost wish for the first frost weeks, or months away, just to kill those suckers off. After the rains mid-summer, they began hatching thriving more and more after every rain of which there’s been many.

But isn’t that the way of life? Taking the good with the bad, and finding common ground for both. Be steady. Find your peace. And keep your boat afloat.

PEACEFUL GRATITUDE

A gentle, peaceful way to start the day, sipping fresh brewed rich dark coffee on the screened porch, centering in on feelings hoping to reach my core without slants, twists or turns. But often that is a no go, hyped up on something else besides calm and peace, disconnected from myself.

One day to the next can be so different. Yesterday’s realization that fall’s downward mood is already invading, but then the surprise of a subsequent ability to find solace inside, because the granite yielded to kindness. Today? Different feelings.

As the mother and white spotted baby deer nibbled grass in the early morning misted meadow, feelings come that rise above self, encompassing more than just that. An expansion. Opening to it, peace fills me, comforting my often chaotic interior, and with those gracious feelings…gratitude.

GRANITE is not a Soft Place to Fall

Falling into fall. The energetic hopeful feelings bringing pep in my step has withered into a steady plodding along. But one thing learned, exercise is the tonic to winter depression, which starts about this time every year, getting deeper as sunlight dwindles and shorter days darken my mood.

By lap three that lift in my being wakes up. It once again feels good to be alive as senses become alert looking around as if seeing it for the first time.

All the work becomes harder, especially chasing away negative thoughts, always jumping on reasons why others may not seem caring. Could it be that’s their way with everyone? That it isn’t because I’m unworthy?

There is at my core dis-ease of self-doubt. A feeling of badness or unworthiness which became part of my personality. A rock solid belief that forever needs chipping away. Like granite it is hard, but work continues.

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.

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.

SNAIL’S PACE

There are changes. The drop in mood, the drop of reddish leaves along with hickory nuts in the path walking by, the earlier darkness, a cooler feeling to the day despite it reaching high temps, and moister air in the mornings causing the train whistle to sound closer.

Hermie, the young buck in the back woods and meadow I’ve come to know, is growing antlers as they curl forward with more prominence day by day. Always changes. It is hard to keep up with change, my being usually feeling behind trying to catch up. Being able to be in my body will do as nature takes me for wild rides.

The meadow, like a color-changing magical flag, has flown several colors, from yellow buttercups to white daisies, now white again with Queen Ann’s Lace dotted with lovely purply flowered plants… what a sight. And soon it will all turn over to deep yellow as mustard blooms.

Butterflies flit in groups among the butterfly bushes as my float swirls round and round in the pool late in the day. Their antics are more inviting than a drive-in movie. Bees love the sweet blossoms too. Staring at the puff clouds a turtle appears like a mirage in the white fluffs slowly morphing into a dog or goat drifting by overhead.

The floating relaxes as if still in the womb, cooling me off for the evening, hair still wet by morning. It is a quiet life, but suits me. Longing sometimes to have the ability to travel more easily, the quest is to come to terms with my real life and stop chasing what wasn’t meant to be, not for me.

There is still so much beauty. Just still myself to let it in, and let the newly found respect for my real needs satisfy my soul.