CARE

There is almost always the good with the challenging. Yes, peace, but then… well what then. Then are nights when sleep won’t come, and at 2:30 in the morning a double dose of medication is needed.

That is followed by a morning where tears fall due to the pitiful fact of being me.

And yes, there is embarrassment at saying that. With all the beauty that surrounds me? But it is what is inside that haunts, and what is evaded. A girl crying for love, protection, and all things different than what she endured.

And that will never come. But what is coming, albeit excruciatingly slowly, is an adult to be trusted who will finally love ‘her.’ — me.

But I abandon her over and over again, feeling bereft, cold, lonely, and empty as a shell. It is in remembering that strength is gained, clarity comes as to why each day is so hard, and why I feel so different than everybody else.

Because I am.

No one around me that I know suffered similar traumas. I’m sure they are there, I just don’t know them. The friends that did know because they too suffered sexual crimes against them as children, and were so close, are gone. One died, one moved away. 

No one around me has the same challenges. Mine are unique, except with the community on-line with other women survivors of child sexual abuse. Only these sisters know. Men too, but I’m not able to relate to men on that level, and that’s OK.

Everyone has loss, and change, and grief. But it is important to address mine which go deep, are real, and need care.

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A New Day

photos by Patricia

Too easily this haven is taken for granted. One day upon returning from another’s home restless feelings waken. While yesterday’s morning was overflowing with gratitude to feel safe, this morning a reminder was needed.

Remember? It can all be gone in an instant. Soak it up. Luxuriate in it. Be still, breathe. Even the dreaded mockingbirds have become friends, though building a nest nearby is not going to happen if there’s a way to avoid it.

The windows are flung open from the air being on all night. Coolness seeps in. Pink hues rise over the eastern horizon as fog lifts from the meadow. What wonders await on this new day…?

Home Sweet Home

Cory’s photos

“Would you rather come home instead of meeting at the lake house?” I asked Cory.

“Oh no, we have to have a lake,” Cory said.

And that was that. My cloak was to make it sound as if it might be a better choice for him. But I fear the real ploy was because I don’t do well in traffic or staying elsewhere.

But we made the best of it, enjoying our two year grand-daughter and son for three nights, four days. Long kayak rides, long talks, and constant playtime made it all worthwhile. During the visit his wife was at home directing the movers into their new home. Oh young people. My younger years were more energetic and adventurous too.

Now? Home is where my soul rests free. Home is where the adventures take place into my own self, connected to the world yet safely ensconced where all things are familiar. 

The call of certain birds living here, not there, so comforting. An early morning walk in the meadow with dewy grape leaves sparkled with jewels at every tip. Mist rising over the creek as the sun’s warmth begins to lift them away. 

A body jarred throughout life with adrenaline rushing through the veins becomes depleted. Taking care of my needs looks different from others. My illness isn’t seen except in the tears making rivers down my face expressing the stress of living.

Yet Cory’s challenges with the move, coming home to boxes up to his ears, and their commute today, three times as long as before, outweigh my challenges ten to one. Or so it seems.

In another place my body shuts down, all of it to some degree, the five senses, even internal organs. Nothing works as it is meant to because the warning bells have clanged. When danger is sensed all energy goes into survival.

My medication should be used more not less. But I laid awake hoping for sleep. When it doesn’t (of course) then I take it, waiting another hour in the dead silent darkness till sleep comes.

When away from home, why not take it an hour before sleep like I did in the forest when camping? Because my denial system keeps hoping for something that will never come, to become a person other than myself. One that hasn’t been traumatized, then living with it unprocessed. That has fractured my being in many unseen ways

The need now is constant loving care. I’m working on that, both the care and the love. Throw acceptance in the mix too.  

When apologizing for asking about how to meet my needs when we visit his new home in a month, Cory says offhandedly, “Any illness needs care and planning, just as much as someone in a wheelchair.” 

My son possesses unusual depth. Though I’m not one to use labels, sometimes it is just easier; PTSD, Anxiety NOS, Depression. The depression isn’t debilitating at the moment. There have been bouts that needed a support person, and may need one again in the future. But for now I limp along doing OK on my own. 

Accepting what is… Many tears come from not wanting it to be so. But Cory understood. And Samuel, as much as he is capable.

Home. Home Sweet Home. In spite of the challenges, I wouldn’t trade a moment of the very special, sweet memories. One of the best parts of going away is coming home.

 

Permanent PTSD

https://healingfromcomplextraumaandptsd.wordpress.com/

When understanding what is happening, more gentleness and compassion can be bestowed upon what first feels like my weaknesses. Preparing for the trip to the cottage tomorrow to meet with my son and two year old grand-daughter had gotten me in a flurry. A 4 AM waking meant staying awake with a head full of a ‘to do’ list.

But the night after, even with being so tired, sleep did not come. Coming out to the couch I said to Samuel, who always stays up later, “I’m wide awake. But it makes no sense, I know I’m tired.”

He nods, then goes off to bed. Samuel is not much of a talker.

Feeling sorry for myself for having to take a sleep aid, adding to the ‘I hate myself list’ comes eating. The bag of pretzels found its way onto my lap, not usually a snack that’s around just for that reason, my tendency to numb out with non-nutritious snack food. Who overeats on baby carrots?

Self-hatred completely full as the Xanax took effect, sleep came solid for 7 hours. The day of reckoning came upon waking. There are many days like that. Feelings of disgust; with myself, with life, with me being haunted with being me. Why do I have to be me?

Why can’t I be like everyone else around me? Picking themselves up and going wherever they please, all over the world. Even a trip to a lake gets me in a frenzy. It was more than that though.

It took all day to figure it out and begin to be gentle with myself; accepting that I can’t snap a finger and be someone else. I can’t snap a finger and be a different girl than the one born to a family who would abuse me over and over again, then spend the rest of their lives, and my life, never talking about it, never validating the traumas sustained, never apologizing. .

The bird. It was the bird again. Abashed to admit it, the bird traumatized me once again. The first nest was in the pine tree by the house. Bad enough. But this was right on top of us. Samuel wanted to hose it out of wisteria when she began to build but I wouldn’t allow it.

If only I had. It was at the back door over the patio where sitting every morning in my sanctuary brings peace, joy, and a contentment of well-being not felt for most of my life.

When sipping coffee, the sun rises while hummingbirds zip by my face towards the feeder close-by. Chipmunks scoot by near my feet playfully making me laugh aloud with their antics. The flowers open still dewy, as the warmth of the first rays massage my legs and feet with their heat. A train often echoes in the distance magnified by the cool, moist air.

Gone. Taken. Unsafe. 

She built her nest peaceably enough. It wasn’t until the eggs hatched that the terrorizing began, ramping up the very last week before they left it. I stayed housebound only using the screened porch. 

My safety was stolen, my haven, my paradise. It is embarrassing to admit it was a bird. Samuel added to my chagrin, and self-contempt by saying, “It’s just a bird. It really can’t hurt you, but it is annoying. Next time I’m going to shoot it.”

At this point killing it sounded good to me too, perhaps even drowning the chicks so that the killer birds would back off. Maybe they could die too. My love of mockingbirds has shifted dramatically.

But Samuel’s usual lack of depth about my body’s reaction, and my inability to have any control over my hyper-arousal, made the pain feel heavier and deeper. No validation does that. 

Once again he doesn’t get it. And I believed him, feeling ashamed at my overreaction even as I try to explain how my broken system works. Even while I think of children in war-torn countries where their everyday life really is threatened without relief. That doesn’t seem to lesson my own body’s reactions, or my feelings of futility about the on-going challenges. 

Once the siren goes off, that’s it, my system’s on alert and stayed that way the entire day, though I was unaware of it. Like two people inhabit my body, a calm one, and one who is frightened for her life all the time. That system is inaccessible. 

Refusing to be a prisoner in my own home, I dared walk to the garden. That set it off. Juggling an armload of squash with a water bottle to squirt my attacker, the attacker won. He chased me to the door, swooping down at my head as I fumbled with the door knob, frightening the hell out of me.

This had happened another day at the back door after a walk in the meadow, staying away from the house on each lap so that the ‘killer bird’ would not get agitated. My escape inside was so frantic my shoe got caught in the door. He was right at me all the way to the door. I had to duck out quickly for an instant in order to retrieve the shoe, afraid to be poked in the head or face with it’s sharp beak. 

My heart was pumping, adrenaline shooting through my veins. Even by nighttime my system couldn’t calm down. It was out of my hands, even though Samuel blamed me, and I agreed as my ever-ready harsh critic battered me black and blue. But by nightfall understanding came, and it all made sense.

Not that I want to accept it. The permanent effects of the early abuse has to be accepted over, and over again. I so want to be like others, but in that intense yearning do not accept myself, taking me farther away from myself, making the chasm wider, colder and so much lonelier. 

It wasn’t my doing. My poor body has done this since childhood, a place where terror reined, especially in my own bed, and what usually is a safe place for a child… her own bedroom. 

Things go along peaceably. Then they don’t. We leave tomorrow, and all is ready. Today can be peaceful. The baby birds have left the nest. Last night’s walk to the meadow was without incident. Feelings of safety are being tested, but it will take a while before full security returns. (and my love of birds) 

To not feel safe at home was a big thing, even if caused by a little one pound pecker. 

 

SHE RISES

And then stillness. The waves subside and calm prevails. But for how long? Is it my mind observing how peaceful things have been stirring it up causing havoc just for variety? Or is it years of suppressing trauma, unprocessed at the time of the events due to the type of trauma; childhood sexual abuse.

Because no family will , (rarely) take that child and hold her in their arms lovingly. Or give her the medical and psychological intervention necessary to heal and have a life. Want a life.

How many times has the wish come for it all to be over? How many more times will I wish it? 

A child sexually abused is cast out. Not out in the middle of the road, naked, alone and cold. But inside, naked alone and cold…still with the monsters, and now the collusive family who wants her kept quiet.

There she shivers, from cold. From terror. From aloneness.

From there she must grow. Her body does even if she wishes not to. She must traverse all the steps of life that others climb, but her journey is always naked, alone and cold. No one to help, because she was trained not to ask, not to talk.

She is mute. Alone. Naked but no one sees. Reactive to every stimulus, because PTSD does that, makes every nerve on edge for what’s to come.

There are too many challenges making one wish not to be here. For it all to be over.

But she is a warrior. Each one a warrior, the ones that don’t make it too. No one knows this, not even her. But someday she does. One day she rises yet again, knocked down over and over, she rises, tries again, and begins to see, feel, and know that inside her resides courage, beauty, and strength.

She blooms into a powerful woman, a beautiful soul that shines from within radiating outward onto a aged face that sparkles with peace, knowledge, and depth.  

 

RAGE

Something trivial, seemingly innocuous occurs of Samuel’s doing and my entire body is in upheaval. Walking the meadow, can the neighbors hear the string of vile curses, the hatred, spewing out of me? A walk to unwind, untangle the rage woken from long past. Praying to heal what lie beneath the rage. What is it?

It can’t be a simple occurrence that set me off. It makes no sense. It must be something deeper. What he did is reminiscent of Chet and Tom, both at separate times stealing my pony, the other my horse, without my permission. Both laughing about it, even my mother laughing when Tom was bucked off. My sweet horse bucking? Lobo, not once ever, bucked with me, which made me realize how cruel he must have been with her.

Disrespect, not being heard, not mattering, invisible, requests, needs, desires, basic rights going unnoticed, not listened to…. freedom, taking what little bit of joy there was, or is. Theft out of selfishness. 

Old feelings rise up choking me with rage. Meditation, and walking didn’t ease the violence construed inside me. I wanted to hurt back, choke to death the ones who took everything I had, my body, my life, my dearly beloved horse, and my mother who thought it was funny. They took her too.

Alone.

Alone with old rage able to fume out of seemingly nowhere and choke me dead. Dead but so alive; it took a whopping dose of xanax to fall asleep finally at 3 am.

The ghosts of the past will forever haunt me.

STAY

There is another place, a place of comfort, rest, a place called home. That place run from daily, wanting only escape from it, from feelings awash with anxiety, fear, and abandonment. Yet running is abandonment, and is the fear so great it can’t be handled?

Only with staying will peace come. Only with helping the one running will she ‘stay’ and learn that there is way to be in the body, and be whole. That whatever is rising, like roaring waves on the ocean, can be rode out till the emotional seas calm, a calm more endless than the storm.

Sit. Don’t grab at, do, move or talk, just sit. There is comfort below the chaos. Currents of doubt, insecurities, and terror ride through. In the core lies peace. Look, stay, what lies beneath is deeper, richer, wiser.