Injured Being

mosaic by Patricia

My path includes remembering that self-esteem and anxiety are issues that need working on, and are here to stay.  When experiencing some success at either, the thought is that the work is done. The work continues, some days more than others. Who I was at age eight is a shadow arising time to time with a memory of what was, who ‘she’ was, and could be.

All that changed with the first attack, and severed almost completely as each brother came and went, my true self going further and further away until she hardly exists. She because I could never become her, she because she is there, a misty ghost of who I could have been. And I mourn her.

Who I am now is not her, though wisps remain. What I have instead is anxiety in every day because of the trauma’s, but more so, because family and society insists not to hear. These traumas still going on at a deadly rate need airing. And it seems to be coming to the light, though more sensational ones; coaches, priests, teachers… but what about the brother, father, uncle?

The anxiety is here to stay. It must be faced every day. The damage internally broke my being. It takes my life to put back the pieces, shards that sometimes cut, smoothing them together anyway to make a whole— bumpy, solid and beautiful.

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Ravages of Thoughts

The need to write each morning sometimes brings forth a post without depth, without full truth. Not because there’s fear of honesty, there’s fear of self. The thoughts going through led me to overeat in old ways so that later my head hung over the toilet.

How could a frilly little post be written in the morning, and later in the day food was consumed in a way that was sword-like? Cut off the thoughts, don’t feel anything but this pain, not those other pains.

Writing about being in my body, then not being in it. How else would one consume such junk? Others don’t do this. Others have flat stomachs. At times they use discipline, but aren’t white knuckling it. They don’t use eating to blot out thoughts and feelings.

A cascade of bad feelings rain down. A walk with a friend at the mall brought two days of achy legs. It was more than usual, the standing around while she shopped. She’s fine, and would have walked the mall again.

My abilities are much more limited. I so want to re-join chorale on Tuesday nights, and a friend offered to pick me up. But coming home at almost 9:30 pm would rev up the usual wind down period upsetting the delicate routine. Others there don’t suffer this. Why me, why me, why me?

Thoughts of brothers dying and how young the offenders were, one at 28 by intentional overdose, one at 52, the other 67. My fault in my own special way of thinking. If I hadn’t been there they wouldn’t have abused me, and then have to life with it for the rest of their lives.

A fucked up family. It makes me sad that they didn’t have a chance. Each one could have felt better about themselves, and done better. But the care a child needs, which goes far past the basics of food and shelter, were never provided. 

The other one, now 76, is still living. Far away. Why now do these thoughts come? Is it the rinsing of winter? All the bad thoughts come crashing down. Looking at my puffy body, there’s not trust of my tuning in to its real caloric needs while the psychological needs pull so searingly. Escape. 

Since the age of 8, eating became a way to escape. There is a way. Bending over a toilet due to ravages by my own hand is no escape. It is not about eating. It is about thoughts, memories, and feelings. Being in a being who I don’t want to be.

 

Labile/Anxiety

“Here is an article about sleep,” Samuel said, moving the AARP magazine closer.

A few days passed before picking it up. Most of the suggestions, like not drinking coffee later in the day, and keeping a regular bed-time, are things already in motion, but one suggestion caught my eye; CBT-I Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Sleep disturbances over the last month have become severe. So is the search for confidence, well-being, fullness, or any other feeling offering succor. The coldness outside froze my insides. Regret frosted growth spiraling me backwards. Coming off the ‘path,’ I became lost in the forest of doubt, anxiety, and depression.

I’m doing my homework. Many sites seemed like scams, wanting money for completing this therapy on-line, which can be done without a therapist if the depression is mild. But one has offered guidance, already easing my mind and body during the night so that sleep came even after two separate trips to the bathroom.

You know the work. Someone wrote on my blog that maybe you won’t have to constantly keep telling yourself you are OK throughout the day. And my squirrel mind felt criticized, though the remark was a caring and compassionate one. I do need to tell myself that day and night. Living is fearful for me.

Danger lurks around every corner, and in every relationship. My job is to allay unfounded fears, challenge them, offer other plausible scenarios, and so much more pinpointed clearly in these articles. Looking at things less rigidly offers more solutions. Maybe there aren’t aren’t any, so stop worrying over what you can’t change or influence positively.

I took notes. It was so helpful, and the notes will be kept handy as this transition from winter to spring takes place. Even if not read again, they are my security blanket; you’re not alone, and there is a way. 

Labile emotions, joyful to the moon one day, the next a waterfall of tears. The tears come like this each spring, a washing off of winter depression, cleaning out the dull, brain chemicals opening windows for happy endorphins that bring balance. I will get there, and do the work.

http://cogbtherapy.com/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-exercises/

Time Change/Spring

photo by Patricia

“Oh, this time change is easy,” huffing to my son over the phone.

After more than an hour trying to sleep, it’s out of the dark bedroom and Jimmy Kimmel to make me chuckle despite irritation over continued sleep disturbances. Then Italy’s problems with olive trees dying. That was fascinating, so there is an upside.

Spring’s mixing bowl of weather affects me. No time change, or seasonal change is easy. Each comes with disturbances in sleep, and an array of other challenges, mostly with my volatile emotions which can become irrational.

Why one brain continues stable and another such as mine goes awry is for scientists to determine. My challenge is to accept it.  My guess is unprocessed trauma and its long term effects. That includes memories of violence so acute that 60 years later my body has decided it’s still not safe to allow up, and maybe never will be. That’s OK with me. I know Danny committed rape, but that memory stays repressed. 

That does something to the brain, and the body’s systems that keep one on high alert at all times. Because if the danger isn’t ‘out there,’ there’s plenty still swimming around inside me.  NO place is safe, No place to run. What are small shifts to others are huge upheavals to those who experienced traumas that were not processed. Damage is hard-wired in… corrupt. 

Some days Hercules conquers the world, the increase of light making me loopy; 5 laps around the meadow become ten, or an hour of exercise at the Community Center feels easy. The next day little to nothing, or more truthfully enough but the critic bangs in my head saying, ‘look what wasn’t accomplished.’

Tame the critic. The most valuable work is that,  and gentleness. . 

By 3 AM medication was taken. When a regular sleep pattern is achieved, it feels like a miracle. And it will come. Just buckle in for the ride. You don’t have to live up to the pace of others, or what that pace looks like. Go gently my friend…. 

 

SEXUAL CHILDHOOD VIOLENCE

Childhood sexual abuse? That term makes the crime seem mild. Sexual assault gives more truth to the violence. And it is violent even though using a child for one’s sexual gratification is easy because there is love and trust. An attacker fucks with the body and the mind.

What’s broken can’t be mended, ever. Trust. Gone. The ability to love? My cat, yes. My kids when little, yes. Other little kids, yes. No one else really, or a moment at times when the guard walls come down.

It is always a violent act, though no discernible violence is used. As a child I felt ashamed, and bad. My brother used that to his advantage. I pretended sleep after the first attack which suffocated due to lack of air and breath. 

I had no one. I was alone. And have felt on my own ever since.

SPRING, Yes, Spring

photo by Patricia

The angst over dumping email after email upon my son with my hurt regarding his wife keeping me from the baby these past two years, has caused me great guilt. Nothing he might say could kick my ass as much I am.

The sleep disturbances have been severe. As time passes without communication, healing slowly takes place. The ‘why’ couldn’t you just move on as he suggested, and instead dig into him like that repeatedly, have slowly come down from monstrous size to a size more rational. 

Forgiving myself takes time. Others would certainly have handled it better. Can’t think of anyone except an old shrew who would have done what I did. And I have to live with me, still beating myself up.

Get out of the house into nature, something lacking this winter. Usually even sub-zero temperature brings me out to photograph ice, sparkling snow, and anything else of interest. Looking out to the drab chill, only sunshine pulls me out. But this day, without sun, and without the other son, even the drabness called me.

Opening the door, creatures are heard, coming back as the earth slowly thaws, knowing before most of us know, that spring has begun to claim her right. The path feels crunchy where my last footprints fell. Lap after lap, and the only thoughts are about this latest friction caused by my big mouth, and refusal to stay quiet. My refusal to ‘move on.’ My choice not to forgive but slam the one hurting me.

After the fifth lap, for the first time in a long time, time spent by the creek in the Adirondack chair felt luxurious. A few geese squawked at my intrusion as they gathered round their chosen nesting place, even though atop the snow. Other birds chirped, a welcome sound after a too quiet winter where not one sound erupted.

After a much needed and lengthy repose, why not do five more laps? Around and around, and while coming up the side of the hedgerow a feeling forgotten, a feeling of wholeness and well-being, a feeling of it OK being alive. Lightness. This is what I’ve been searching for, so unconnected with myself all this winter.

The feel of the outdoors awakens a primal spark that felt almost extinguished. The earth softens beneath the snow. The animals know it coming back from warmer places. There is aliveness readying for metamorphosis hidden by the frozen white. Change is occurring before we notice, but it can be felt, even smelt, and seen if you look close enough.  

 

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.’