LOVE THE MESS

Sorting out the mess inside me, a soft quiet voice is heard.  This time the ability to listen and heed its wisdom is realized. What if the goal of becoming whole, or connecting to my core, isn’t about becoming something different? Something better? Becoming anything else at all?

The insecurities, the negative critic, all the haphazard ways of doing things due to anxiety and the brokenness that comes with repressed trauma over decades… what if that is loved?

What if love is turned inward to the mess which includes beauty too even amidst the mess? That the messiness is beauty because it is the real me? What if I loved myself anyway?

PRESENCE

The body heals, but why must the mind stay broken? Broken in that it wields the power to destroy with thoughts that are negative, and lately going backwards to what one therapist used to label as ‘catastrophic thinking;’ a highly honed talent that needs to be extracted from my tool box, yet seems here to stay no matter how much work is pitted against it.

Summer, usually the most joyful because more daylight fights off winter depression which drops like a cloud in fall pressing down till spring, has brought up issues in both body and mind. But perhaps all summers have had their challenges and when we remember we forget the hardships and think of the best times?

As my body heals from the harsh divertriculitis attack, other mental challenges present themselves, but perhaps those are needed on the path to healing too. The healing of my spirit does not heal as efficiently as my body.

But isn’t that how it is for everybody? Growth is ongoing, ever-changing, and if you are aware continues till one’s last breath. That doesn’t have to be a life-sentence, but instead a life opportunity. It is just that lately the struggles seem to about sink me.

Yet up again for air. Go slow. Stay in the moment, and most of all pick up the meditation practice slipped from daily must do’s after over 20 years of diligent habit. That brings comfort but one must do it!

It brings my being to my core. Settling into it like a warm caress placing all the pieces where they belong… Pain doesn’t go away, but room is made for it. Acceptance with patience, attributes not possessed in abundance – expand- helping me to be and stay present.

Isn’t that what life is about? To be in each moment, to treasure them, live them, painful or not?

LIMITATIONS due to a Fractured Brain

Delete all the posts about Stevie which are so negative? Never, in spite of all that writing getting to the real issue. These thoughts invade while trying to sleep. Is this going to be another bad night? And that worry or fear makes it happen, my mind leaping off into drowning waters.

As the weight disappears anxiety consumes me. Sarah, a women on the View, a television show where the women are compassionate, bright, and very up on the latest events, says anxiety sneaks up on you. Oddly, athletes competing in the Olympics have boldly announced the very same thing.

Anxiety. Yes, of course. It has bitten me hard, feeling like a failure in every way. Wanting to be wise, grounded, just a font of peace and wisdom… I am not. Feeling so lost yet again. All the past revisiting in waves, slapping me in the face; the losses, fears, shortcomings, mistakes, oh so many mistakes.

Nothing about achievements, remember those? Remember the work of loving yourself? All those reasons of not visiting Stevie, of how he is manipulating me, asking for work out of my husband when he surely has plenty of money to hire it out. Yet it has nothing to do with that. Saying ‘no’ to him out of my own needs of safety, for traveling is such a challenge, and I’ve had my short fill of it this summer already, has brought on a tremendous amount of guilt.

Laying there long after Samuel’s regular breathing began, the hours ticked by and by 1 or 2 sleep came without a sleep aid. No way can dependence on that occur. And this morning in slippers and bathrobe with a long raincoat over it, padding out to mailbox, a note to Stevie was put in the box.

Please forgive my shortcomings, all the cancellations, and inability to visit you at both your homes. I love you more than might know and feel I failed you. Anxiety is a daily visitor and though I want to be there for you, I can hardly be there for myself.

The truth finally revealed, not just to him, but mostly to myself. I am not going because I can’t. I want to but can’t. I cannot even settle myself here in my own home where I feel the safest.

These limitations are mostly accepted except when others need me and I cannot be there for them. That is when it hurts the most.

SLEEP!

“Maybe you are taking too much,” Samuel said while we sit on the patio with morning coffee.

The night before, for no apparent reason, sleep evaded me. Instead, every situation not working out how I’d like going back to almost birth invaded my consciousness. My head swam with negativity about everything I did being WRONG!

After such a fine day, Samuel’s answer makes sense.

“Maybe it’s the weight loss,” I said, adding, “I’ve lost quite a bit so maybe I need much less.”

“Yeah, maybe, take half, or take it earlier,” Samuel responded.

A quiet man, it was surprising during the silence interrupted only by birdsongs while sipping coffee that he piped up with his thoughts.

“So which?” I asked, “Earlier, or less?”

“I don’t know,” he said, and of course, how could he know what I should do?

But like much of my life, scattered insides makes me look for answers elsewhere, in people who seemed to have a wholeness that was not shattered. That has become less of a need, but lately has cropped up while hounding Samuel for decisions for every simple thing. God, Samuel?

He rides the fence on all things, maybe his favorite answer. Getting an opinion from him is like milking blood from a stone. So, what is going on? The dosage, or maybe I’m at a crossroads where a leap to growth awaits, or both.

Permission to reach a healthy weight is in question. As if I haven’t a right to feel good, but must carry the burdens of an unhappy family. To let go means chucking all that was learned about myself, that perhaps I really am a worthwhile person? The critic says otherwise.

The critic is overbearingly powerful, a conglomeration of all those in the origin group I was born into. And others who knew of the abuse and did nothing, like my Aunt down the road who was also the school nurse.

Back then there wasn’t a law requiring that those who care for children report abuse. But I sometimes wonder if it would have helped or made things worse. Would I have been removed from the home, or would the offenders have gone to a detention center? But either way, a different message would have been relayed, that I mattered. Or perhaps the family would then blame me for it all. I feel like that anyway.

I’ll try half the dose and stick with it till my body adjusts, which might mean more late nights and the dreaded sleep aid which leaves me groggy the next day. Perhaps the need to question that critic who loudly bangs in my head needs more aggressive work.

When you’re hit by a Mack truck and no one comes to help, no medical attention given, and no therapy to address the symptoms of so much trauma as a child, it makes PTSD and all its challenges a permanent fixture in my life. The message learned— I don’t matter.

That’s how a child perceives it which never changed through the years, because the message of keeping silent stayed. The most horrible, tragic, splintering, shattering traumas sustained as a child… forbidden to be let out of me. It does take a lot of food to lock it down.

Anyone in that group of people I had the misfortune to be born unto would tell you different. You’d be told of their kindnesses, their care, but it came with the price of silence. With the death sentence of pretending I wasn’t who I was, but a mere puppet or shell of a human being…. not me.

Fill Up on the Simple Things

Back to basics, remembering what is so easily forgotten, the very simple plan of working on self-care and self-love. My job, as what occurred in the developing of my personality was just the opposite; self-hate, self-destruction, and the loud critic a constantly nagging companion.

It is not easy to change the trajectory of one’s upbringing. And had death taken me already, which at 68 is quite possible, the peace created now wouldn’t have materialized. It has taken decades. It has taken a strength of fortitude that only now can be appreciated.

Some people might like a do-over, but not me. No way could going through the depressions, and robot-like living be done again. The magic of meadow walks, solitude, and each moment of life treasured… a new miracle some have had the good pleasure to have never lost. It has taken a great deal of work to have arrived here, where living feels good more than ever before.

My center, my core, any basic trust in others was lost at age eight. Shattered, only now able to pick up a few fragments, but never knowing really what life would have been like growing up under the roof of a loving, functional family.

My sons are together for a week at Cape Cod. My usual feelings before now would include a searing loneliness wanting to be with them even though knowing it would be impossible. The drive, the traffic, and having to take something to sleep every night over the course of 7 nights— too much! The loneliness for it crept in anyway. But not now. Now? Gratitude.

Now I feel only joy that they can be together, and I can be at peace doing what I do. The sun, the birds, the critters, Samuel, a few friends, snaps and photos from Shane and Cory daily (enjoying their trip vicariously without the hassle), and summer. My days are full and happy.

TRIGGERED

On the patio sipping coffee with Samuel, our usual morning pleasure as the sun rises over the meadow and flowers abounding in our gardens, my head bends over as a sob erupted.

“It brings up my entire life, the feelings of shame and blame. Thinking that Cindy or Bennett MUST have said something about mean Nana. Because he clung to her and didn’t want to be here,” I cried to Samuel, adding, “he won’t want to come here anymore.”

“So what,” Samuel said, adding, “but he will come, of course he will. But so what if he doesn’t?”

These feelings kept me awake that night after the kids left, making it necessary after a two week hiatus of not needing night meds to sleep necessary. I was pulled right back to the life lead; one filled with feelings of shame, blame, and badness. Something Tom’s treatment instilled in me after his attack. His innuendo’s about my unworthiness, being less than others, a dullard, anything but what I really was so that what he did didn’t look like any big deal.

It worked.

Samuel said, “I don’t know why you let it bother you. You know you are right in correcting Bennett.”

Incensed, I howl, “You don’t know? You know me. You know my self-esteem is in the toilet, and why. I will have to work on it till the day I die. You know how Tom treated me after he attacked me, and continued with his nasty remarks and putdowns all through life!”

The sobs came then just as abruptly left. So used to taking all the crap handed to me. In every relationship when there is any kind of friction, problems, or negativity, (which there is in every one of them) I take the hit. The booming critic insures it.

This new life, only just beginning, has created a space inside me where a softer place welcomes. But it dissipated like a mirage up in smoke when something goes on behind the scenes. When the feeling that there’s things going on behind my back that I must make conjectures about. And my conclusions always cast me in a very bad light.

After another day passes with time from the bruising of a grand-child not wanting to see me, the more truthful reality sets in. It is not me, it is Bennett. It is his parents that need to feel a bit a shame at how they are raising him. That if asked if he can come again, some ground rules need to be set. That what needs to be said is not how BAD I am, but how bad Bennett’s behavior is, and what he needs to be told before coming.

That we are the bosses of this house… not him. And when we tell him he cannot do something, he is not to put up his fists at us, or make horrible faces. He is to mind us. And when he doesn’t, he will be sitting in the hallway until he can act respectful.

That has been a theme of my entire life, feeling BAD for the bad behavior of others. And it will happen again, this triggering of my past causing sleepless nights, bringing me right back to it all; feelings of badness, unworthiness, shame, desiring death over life because of it.

The work continues, and perhaps over time it will happen less and less as my own truth is revealed internally….

DARE TO GROW

Once again back into my core, my own mortality is grasped. Though sounding morose, it is a daily confrontation when my mind is not going in circles and peace extends herself throughout my being. It is when facing my own death each day that worries piling up dissipate because suddenly they lose importance up against the reality of the time limits of life.

My home comes back into full view, feeling the prettiness and safety. The meadow comes alive swaying in the breeze or its stillness when there isn’t any. Scents zone into my center that were always there but not noted due to fractures in my thoughts and centeredness.

My path becomes confident, the questions of how dare I do what I need to instead of what others want me to slipping away like so much waste. It is waste when putting my life in how I perceive others want me to live it.

It is my life. Choose your path and have the courage to the follow it.  Let go of Mother’s teachings: You should be ashamed of yourself. DUMMY. That’s not nice. All the requirements she had in order to feel loved or at least not abandoned.

And Give Me Peace…

Once again the ease of life presents her gifts before me, as she always does, but often my ability to be present, calm, and centered is so off I cannot let them penetrate. The lavender’s scent in baskets can be noted, though it’s been there all along the past week. The scented candle in the warmer seems especially fragrant. And a slight feeling of boredom sets in.

That’s when I know I am there at my center feeling peace. Because after a life of cortisol bursting days where my jumpiness is at the ready along with screams of terror at any little surprise, peace can sometimes be confused with boredom. It’s not boredom, the calm gives me with peace equating to happiness, even bliss.

Days home after camping, walks daily in the meadow with ‘mother’ nurturing me with her bounty of caresses… Hermie the young buck in the field lifting his head wondering what I’m doing in his territory, the graceful heron floating by over the water, the natural bouquet of blossoming milkweeds emitting a luscious scent amidst a spray of look-a-like wild baby breath, all these gifts are finally able to reach my center after a week of quiet, beauty, and plenty of sleep unaided by drugs.

HOME SWEET HOME

Growing older has its compensations and tribulations. No stress of making ends meet and raising children. But keeping an aging body going takes work, time, dedication, and fortitude. It also scares me, all the things that could go wrong, and all the things in the future that might go wrong.

And my body is so tired out from a life of PTSD that didn’t begin to be voiced until middle age. That’s the crime of childhood sexual abuse, the silence and no one coming to the child’s aide.

Children are resilient and can come back to health with help. Without any intervention for trauma upon trauma, I’m left with some damaging effects for life, taking to my grave (or ashes in a can) issues of trust- making sustaining relationships hard, issues with my body and staying in it, self-esteem issues, mostly in the toilet needing draining out daily, and the list goes on.

After a trip to the Adirondack Mountains to camp with Samuel and my eldest son, Shane, and family, adjusting back to home is a relief. Some life-time issues include entire body systems going out of whack even in happy times needing a sleep aid every night in the woods.

So three nights camping is my limit, though all through prior years when the boys were little sleep came easily. Other issues tormented me more back then like extreme fear of people which has lessened somewhat. I still prefer home, the meadow, animals and children VS people.

“Take you pot oil,” Samuel said.

“I have it,” I reply.

“Don’t forget you pot oil,” Cory said.

“I have it,” I reply. I didn’t.

And my supposition is that is why my head is so squirrely now, jumping from thought to thought magnifying little problems into disasters. That little plant does more than regulate sleep and help with my arthritis, it seems to calm my rat in a wheel brain too.

My friend drives to Tennessee this week, then flies to Utah, along with daily outings which are way too much for me. And once feeling envious of her ability to do so much, at least this time I realize where I’m most comfortable and why. It’s OK, and so much better to know my place without trying to be something different than what I am.

So home, home sweet home…

Camp photos by Shane

LIVING

It’s OK, you’re OK, the message needed often and daily. During the pandemic when all were essentially shut down from socializing, my feelings of oddness went away and good feelings replaced them. Others were forced into solitude… like me.

Forced solitude out of the knowledge that others cause harm. That was learned during childhood. It does not change. Also, there is a need for seclusion because too much stimulation sets me off into the stratosphere.

Now others have taken up their social activities, singing in choir, doing band performances in parades such as the couple we know, church gatherings and dinners, get-togethers… and the list goes on.

But it is just as OK now for me to live the life chosen for me even if it differs from the majority of others. A life with quietness, peace (hopefully), and with ease. With retirement there is a drifting of purpose.

Raising sons gave me purpose. Then my nursing degree when the kids were older. Then the job, haranguing as it was to my psyche and emotions. Ugh. Now what?

We saved like little squirrels, so now we know we can pay our bills even though no longer working. So, now what? What is the purpose? No answers here except life. Live it. Live it the best that you can by being in each moment, squeezing the goodness out of each one, even the pain that comes with them. Yes, even that.

Live, grow, oh, try to grow. Work at growing and becoming a better person, and there is much room to grow. And enjoy the simple bounty around you.

There is Herman, the young buck in the field, coming each day, even as I walk by. His head lifts up from the tall grass and we have a moment staring at each other.

“Hi Hermie,” I say greeting him, his big ears atop the brown body unmoving, then he decides to hop away, the white fluff of tail bobbing behind him.

Just enjoy all you have, temper the willful brain that likes to take detours into unhappiness, steer it back to the moment. Not all moments are happy, often there is sadness without knowing why. Feel them, release them by feeling, and let them go.

There is happiness amidst pain. Let it all come and flow through. That is living.