IT’S OK

A mantra throughout the day, you’re OK, you’re OK, you’re OK. Someone once said, ‘maybe someday you won’t have to do that,’ me taking it as another bad thing needing to be changed. But what’s wrong with supportive self-talk, especially when my being is so supercharged with anxiety?

Those are needed words to calm myself. That is one of the problems with people, often giving more credence to a complete stranger than to myself.

Getting to know myself is a full-time job. It is a good thing to finally have the time to do so. Waking when Samuel came to bed in the quiet of a dark night, he was soon lightly snoring while my senses came sharply alert, every sound magnified.

No way is getting up an option, it is happening too much, so not this time. Thoughts of growing up flashed through my mind of years after the horror of abuse; dumpy houses with dangerous heating systems barely containing all the people living there.

Yet more dangerous than even that fire hazard was living with abusers but not being able to voice the terror or even recognize it. Sexual abuse within families is often forced back down the throat of victims and she lives with it contained…. akin to keeping lethal snakes in a box squirming inside her.

So an imaginary person was believed to be living in the attic. I was in tenth grade, yet couldn’t understand the real terrors were brothers living in that little box house half underground, the house as buried as my feelings and memories.

Life has always been hard, and these memories are not going away needing airing. So lying there they ran through my mind, but then came happy times during the terror; my motorcycle, bright red and new, bought with savings from the restaurant working as a salad girl. After school firing it up ripping through the meadow across the road. And the two fluffy chickens kept as pets in the shed. Somehow through it all sanity remained amidst the horrific anxiety.

Not sure why these memories run through my mind in the stillness of night, but gratefulness fills me that Samuel lies by my side. Taming anxiety in the daytime through breathe and paying attention to each moment helps me stay in bed until calmness and sleep returns.

It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK…

HUMPTY DUMPTY

Sometimes you have to fall apart to come together. For much of my life it has been the falling apart, but now when peace can be sustained for more than two moments at a time… still, there is a monster on my back.

It is sleeplessness. The why? Round and round laps count up to 20 trying to make up for a night of senseless eating- AGAIN. The only trigger that might be attributed to this inability to sleep after 6 nights of improved sleep probably due to drastically decreasing the pot oil, yet on night 6 lying there 2 ½ hours before giving in to a sleep aid, and an hour in front of the TV at midnight- then FOOD, because food has been used to quell anxiety since the age of 8— the only reason that might make sense was a 3 pound weight loss noted that morning.

That ought to be good, right? Celebrated, congratulated, especially after a summer of being stuck? Yet it triggered anxiety. Unless something on the news or a movie set me off, what else could it be?

Weight loss scaring me. Therapists suggest overweight women who have survived childhood sexual abuse become overweight to feel safe. That is an improvement over many who look at an overweight person and think lazy, glutinous, and disgusting.

The thinner my body becomes, the closer to an unwanted memory. What is remembered is horrific enough, but the one repressed memory must have been really bad. Danny said in his twenties when asked what he did to me, “It’s better you don’t know.”

But I do know a rape occurred, there just is no memory of it except before and after. As the weight comes off there is movement toward what was unconsciously repressed.

Lap after lap, talking to myself… I will not be deterred. I will do this, I will do this, I will. And if the memory comes I will be alright. It already happened. I already lived through it. And there are hospitals to stay in if needed. The self talk doesn’t seem to help alleviate the anxious terror.

FALL INTO FALL

Amends were made to the three brothers pressing me to join in explaining why it’s not possible for me do so. Now they are placed beyond daily thoughts so much because the ones who really are interested in me and my life are my real family, Samuel, sons, grand-children, a sister-in-law, and friends.

These brothers act as if they are caring, but aren’t interested enough to answer emails or interact in a way other than what serves their own needs. OK. My situation has been put forth plainly without their decades of gagging me. That took enormous effort. Maybe once again going forward can occur without so much angst.

The ups and downs of being drawn to the fire of origin family… all it’s memories, the secrets forced on me to keep, the ravages of expecting me to be someone I’m not (pleasing doormat), getting burned, cooling off, then doing it all over again, over and over… well, maybe sufficient mental beatings have occurred to stop doing that. It is challenging enough to keep my sanity.

My mood dropped like a rock, forgetting how severely the change of season affects me. The warmer mornings called me onto the porch to watch the sun rise, rather than hunkering down under the full spectrum lights to improve mood. So that has begun again.

The usual meditation routine went by the wayside for months after years of hardly missing it, but that too is needed and room must be made for it once again. And the pot oil, no wonder sleep wouldn’t come.

When sleep issues arose the dose kept going up and up, doubling over time. No wonder my head felt manic with thoughts. Too much causes problems instead of curing them. Backing down to a modest does has helped a great deal.

And the simple work of being with me begins again. How hard it is to be in my body and be OK. To not run. To breathe, and be OK.

HONOR THY TRUTH

To boldly go where no man has gone before… (thank you Star Trek) yes, breathe, go inward, don’t be afraid, traveling through layers and layers built up over decades. Move through walls guarding my interior like fortresses built out of fear ignorant of my own truth. It is only when you relax the herculean sinews straining to keep you out of yourself that suddenly you arrive at your core.

Galaxies of resistance can be battled by a single breath. And then? The miracle of knowing who you are, what you want, what you need to do, and who you need to address.

Armor is melted by the breath.

Resistance is too.

And so you find love and all the things you’ve been searching for…. Knowledge of the why’s for your actions which confuse you, tending to ask others why you do what you do.

How would they know? You know, but you have to be brave enough to look. It isn’t all bad in there. There are things to do to make amends.

There is also beauty in my truth. You must honor that too, perhaps the hardest things to do… to honor one’s own beauty.

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…

FOCUS

SLOW, slow down. For life it’s been fast, moving ahead of my body- like two separate entities. Staying as one, after a lifetime of division, takes focus. My body cradled my spirit, yet my spirit has been flying off somewhere, often not knowing where.

There is that safe dreamland where much of me spent. You talk to me? I’m not there. I could pretend to be, yet most time was spent in that safe place others call disassociation. I call it zoning out.

With the very first meditative session presence began. Wanting more of being in this body that has carried me all these years, meant more meditation, years of it. But with the addition of marijuana oil came a whole new definition of presence. Not fleeting but with staying power.

That gift, suggested by my younger loving son, has offered a world where sleep is possible. My arthritic knees and other joints don’t ache. Anxiety is kept at a minimum as long as my days are unfettered with worry or too much stimulation out there in the fast paced ruckus.

The gliding, graceful heron takes me with her as she swoops for fish in the creek. The orange of the butterfly shines in the sunlight as she flutters by as if following me while crunching over hickory nuts in the hedge-row. The squirrels have been busy because most are just shells, the meat already having been buried.

Days can move from one to the next with grace and beauty, but it does take focus on slowing my ever busy mind down, and focusing on being in my body. My mantra still works, it’s OK, it’s OK. You’re OK, you’re OK, you’re OK…

A gift from a friend.

SAFE

Safe, feeling safer from those who do damage, the silent ones imposing silence on me. There is no way to have family of origin be part of my life. And though knowing this there continues to be a craving for it. But peace has been restored along with healthy sleep habits. Peace and freedom, something lost when interacting with those that muzzle me. Or consort with Tom.

The people who love me, who truly love me, don’t do that, and have nothing to do with the devil. Tom’s face, something about it. I see it in those that lie like Bill Cosby. Deceit on faces look similar.

The morning comes with peace filling me from the inside out as the golden globe rises above the hill. All is quiet. Oh how these mornings are cherished. A bird here or there tweets a hello as crickets in abundance still dance creating a happy drone.

Peace, hope, and love fill me once again…chasing away the terror of telling my truth which origin families do anything not to hear. And freedom. Freedom to feel my hand, notice the whiff of apple scent from the warmer, to be in my body as a whole person for more moments than not when focusing on it.

To remember, don’t go fast, slow down so all parts stay together. And know you are OK, not the problem origin family makes you out to be. You are OK, you are strong, beautiful and loving. And you have a right to be here.

(Seth’s email was permanently deleted before reading it as his defensiveness would hurt me drastically, and he has hurt me enough- I am safe from it.)

PEACE and CHAOS

Feelings of joy burst forth from me. Sleep came like a baby night after night. Feeling so good an email was sent to Don, his wife, Seth and his wife, inviting them all for pie. What?

And that night no sleep. A double dose of sleep medication was needed. The next morning, believing this is the only way for my soul to speak (sleeplessness), an email was sent to both brothers about the feelings being wrestled with all summer and before.

Don’s response was warm, kind and thoughtful, though no comment about his continued interactions with Tom. Seth’s in in my mailbox with fear of reading it. When he criticized me for writing the book and wouldn’t answer me, it sent me to the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. That is how vulnerable telling the truth makes me.

Why do you consort with the devil who did so much damage to me? That is what runs though my mind. I am a fractured person, shying away from them as they make an unlikely friendship between themselves, along with Stevie and Tom, then suddenly a happy email with an invite?

Because, that’s what happens when you grow with horror but are forced to pretend calm and love towards attackers appearing as brothers. It does make a broken person, or a split one. Half of me wanting a family that gets together for a pie party, the other half who lives in reality.

Instead of beating myself up for the email invite, which has brought much pain during a wonderful week of sunshine and peace, maybe it is just one more leap of growth- growth, truth and authenticity. It is exhausting and one of the hardest hurdles accomplished taking 6 decades for words to come that no one wants to hear.

My soul feels ragged, like the pieces that fit so smoothly just a few days ago, now don’t. With time, and loving kindness towards self, wholeness and peace will be restored.

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.