Photo and verse by Patricia
Reign in the compulsions, ride the waves when moment to moment unease wedges its way in, and during all, be gentle.
At the age of eight balance became just a word and only a restful place for others. From that day when rape occurred two separate people were born. The one family expected and the other, the real me. But she went so far underground the search for her is ongoing. Speaking my truth was not allowed.
Truth. That from such a young age opposites of great proportion had to be held and dealt with deep inside. Not yin and yang where balance meets but a chasm so erupted there is no bridge, split in half. Hate/love, terror/calm, extreme anxiety/semi-quietness, whatever can be felt is in extremes.
To slow things down where feelings can merge allowing a place that feels possible to live in comes only after challenges are faced; speaking one’s truth despite the family’s horrible obstacles as they insist on faking pretense for their own selfishness, acknowledging that the horrors one suffered were suffered and that the little girl who suffered them is in you…stop leaving her, continuing to touch home, that place inside that others stay connected to and take for granted, a place you’ve been searching for all your life, a life of rage, will the flames ever fan out?
So many challenges faced each day, over and over again. Had she been allowed to suffer her pain openly she would not be mute today. She would not have a life wishing not to have it. She would know wholeness not just moments of it.
If you go to her where she hurts and help her, you save a life.
photo by Patricia
The feeling of differentness so acute as a child suffering sexual attacks by my siblings arises sharply at times. Many feelings from then still linger, stabbing into my present life. Unprocessed traumas and all the feelings with them didn’t dissipate but grew with me.
Yet no gentleness exists. It is a habit to beat myself up when today’s issues erupt emotion from childhood wounds. There is no conscious link to them. That is changing. There are reasons sleep is interrupted. Wounds untended in childhood along with a stolen voice caused an inseparable rift within; deep wounds and no way to them. I am mute to the world and mute to my soul.
Wounds fester and when touched with present hurts the pain expands exponentially. It is like placing an already burnt arm on a hot stove. The present slides away as the psyche escapes elsewhere. If a person is talking, what is said is not heard.
Self-loathing because the feeling of differentness is so acute is not what the wounded child needs. And she exists within me and will always be there. She needs what you did not receive then. Since there was only one urgent unspoken rule to not speak of it, there is no one to emulate a pattern of how to be gentle with myself.
It is a new road with little to go on except the times my mother extended gentleness in adulthood. There were moments when she tried, maybe to make up for the past.
photo by Patricia
Some relationships spin the same old way no matter how much effort is put into change. Haunts from the past infect today. Little hurts inflame old unprocessed trauma. Sleep will not come, or upon waking in the night will not return.
A small infraction causing hurt by a loved one sets off the alarms yet it is ringing unaware until nighttime when tiredness setting in meets adrenaline.
You loser, you weirdo, you bad mother, wife, friend, and the bashing goes on. Feelings have overridden behaving in a way to feel proud of. Or shadows of them because the behavior has improved but no credit is given for the strides made. The mind goes off far down the painful road of self-loathing, and I feel lost. Help me, in the night the prayer is murmured.
This has been a usual occurrence for years but the last months a healthy sleep pattern has developed. My belief is that has much to do maturing hence feeling more at peace with myself. To lose it and not know why upsets all routines and body systems, but also most painful, must somehow be my fault. Is it? Or is it unprocessed trauma which goes beyond my conscious choice or control?
Wake and start again. May your first thought be, “Forgive. Be gentle. How gentle, loving and accepting can you be toward yourself today after the sins you think you committed yesterday?” And are they such sins? Or is your humanness still not allowed in your own mind.
photo by Patricia
The path to the core becomes tangled, blocked by memories, though the soul goes there to hide. So one resides in a place that can’t be found. No way in, no way out.
She peeks out at times. Maybe there is someone to trust, who takes her hand and guides her. Even so, the world is tough and into hiding she goes.
It may never be safe to come fully out. Maybe only in solitude does she find her soul, a safe haven to breathe, connect and become who she was meant to be.
It is these roots that save her. The very place she runs from, the memories which are a part of her history locked deep below. The same place where she hides.
Coming out she looks below and runs. Yet that is where the strength comes from and has kept her here all along. It is in what she suffered that makes her strong and who she is. It is her history that makes her beautiful.
“We’re going to play house. You’re the Mommy, I’m the Daddy,” he whispers softly in the child’s ear. His breath is warm, and she loves him, trusting her brother.
Blank time, then while bathing the water hitting the tender labia sears with pain. No one intervenes. No one stops more of it. Somehow the child grows and now entering the winter stages of her life those memories are as if yesterday.
photo by Patricia
Waking in the night the tendency is to think of the most negative or uncomfortable thought then blaming myself immediately and without forethought. It is my natural tendency to blame myself for everything going wrong. This solidified at the age of 8 when this sibling attacked me. His attack was so violent and severe my psyche won’t allow memory of so it festers below the surface like a shark about to attack. My 65th birthday comes in a few months, and it is likely this repressed memory will vibrate in my depths for life.
It is the first attack that started a lengthy period of continuing traumas that cemented permanent and chronic PTSD. The challenges due to no intervention, hence no processing of the repeated assaults to my body and psyche, remain very much alive today confining my life in a multitude of ways that limit what I can do.
Talking myself down from these thoughts coming unbidden in the dark, trying to take the self-blame out of it which always becomes a component in the middle of night when feeling so vulnerable, helps sleep to return. Sometimes it takes a long while but with persistence and turning over re-trying each position repeatedly, sleep might finally come. But not tonight.
He died at 28, seven years older than me. Lagging like a ghostly shadow are thoughts that my question had something to do with his last suicide attempt being successful.
“What did you do to me?” I asked of my older brother Danny, one of twins. It was the next time he attempted to end his life that did end it.
Why forty years later does it seem so recent, the memory of asking so fresh along with the guilt? Lying there in the queerly soundless night the self- talk starts. If that didn’t make his last attempt reliably earnest, something else would have.
It took an entire family of dysfunction to cause this sibling to fail in life and everything he tried. It was his mother and father, not you. You were just a little girl grown into a confused, lost, and violently injured young woman also unable to find her way. You were looking for answers and instinct guided you to ask. It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK.
There are things that can only be put to rest by forgiving myself, even now over forty years later, things that block the road to self-love and acceptance, things only I can do and that only I can give myself. There is always work to do…
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