GHOSTS

photos by Patricia

Ghosts tamed, the usual onslaught of shorter day’s remains. Low mood, a critical attitude, eating behaviors from childhood when brothers attacked and no one was there to help. Holding it all in took a lot of food.

Feeding the depression is more depressing. Yet the life-time habit of moving out of feelings to food has beckoned its relief from those very feelings run from. Numbness. Blessed numbness. Habits. Disdain towards myself for my humanness.

It is only in self-acceptance that food becomes less an issue. Where kindness feeds my soul, not engorgement. Feeling too full fills me. Feeling too full means not hurting over other things; the lack of friends, especially an intimate woman friend like Sue, lost over 6 years ago… longer than I knew her.

Feeling too full means not hurting over the brothers left who keep aloof because closeness would mean reality, the reality of what the so called family really is. It means not falling into despair due to what was, and what could have been.

Will that mourning ever end? Determined not to tumble into a winter depression that consumes, choices are made not to. Saying I should be happy, doesn’t make it so, adding to the self-contempt. But it does remind me that all around me is worth living for, striving for, and hoping for.

Find that fullness in other ways… Ghosts faced by airing what happened and who did it brought light into darkness. Shame lifted. Continued meditation helps to move from ego to soul. Caring for self means preparing healthy meals, exercising, and all the other time consuming activities that keep an aging body going.

But tackling the tendency to overeat for the soothing numbness is still a challenge, especially during the months where light lessons and mood plummets. It can be done.

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I am Enough

A rosy glow casts pink hazy fog, the scene surreal in its splendor. A simple sunrise gifted freely, though enjoyment is behind the window pane as the cold is frosting the pumpkins. Only the cat wants to sit out hunched atop the wicker settee waiting for prey.

A night blessed with sleep and a soft voice assuring me it is OK when waking in the night, it’s OK, go back to sleep. And since no daily occurrences are disturbing me, sleep did return. Such seemingly little things disrupt my being, and that has to do with a body that lived a life on the edge due to PTSD. It just is.

All that can be done to help soften the effects are deserved, and OK. Attuning to my needs is OK. Providing care for myself in a nurturing way is a path untrodden tentatively taken. So many wonders along the way; feelings of stability, calm, and OK-ness. That I am OK just how I am, and what I do is enough.

 

How to Brighten a Rainy Day

Though tedious for some, for arthritic hands needing movement to maintain agility, this simple project has brought hours of fun. Some will be gifts, and others are strung from the double window for year round sparkle when the light hits them just right. 

That they are Christmas themed does not matter as the rules of the house are mine. Well, Samuel’s too, but he doesn’t care.

After a day of doubling down on the usual negative messages that pop into my head unbidden, last night sleep came. When feeling powerless without voice, memories of all that I’d hoped to have dragged myself out of come flooding back.

It happens like a switch turned on, suddenly right back in that lonely, tarry hole. A seemingly innocuous experience becomes poignantly piercing leaving a residue. Support hastens recovery.  

It isn’t a lack of character or strength. It was the damage done.

A new day, full of happiness after speaking with both sons on their way to work. First one, then after hanging up, magically the other calls. I am the luckiest Mom filled with pride and joy.  

Say NO

“Thought I’d come for tea. Would you like a visit?” Chris asked.

“Oh sure,” I replied, then remembering our outing planned for the gorge the next day I added, “Oh, I forgot, we are going to the Falls tomorrow.”

“Maybe we can come. Jerry might have to work, but I’ll ask him,” she said excitedly, while my mind was immediately yelling what my mouth would not— I didn’t ask you!

Caught off guard without defenses to ease myself out of the situation, the day to come already felt ruined. Enjoying the freedom to do what I want, when I want, was stolen.

Then the reproach begins, adding to the disappointment of having others go to my special place that weren’t asked to come: At your age, you can’t speak up? That thread bangs down heavily making the dissatisfaction of a friend’s overstepping her boundaries particularly jarringly, also making me aware of how easily others take advantage of me. 

I’m a mouse. But another voice breaks in, you were put in a tough position without time to think of way to say no gracefully. How about, FUCK NO! Instead it was a meek, mild, fake enthusiastic OK.

“I’ll ask Jerry, and get back to you,” she says.

“OK,” I respond, my being somewhat fractured, perhaps dissociating. Part of me with her on the phone, another part elsewhere in the magical world where I had a voice.

The usual self-hate crept in for not speaking up, for allowing it, then feeling victimized. For her yet again taking something from me. We’ve had serious friction before. My dignity stolen with the constant swipes, like daggers to my belly being hurled whenever she needed a cleansing.

After years of not speaking up, I finally did. The crack in the friendship since then remained deep. She did not like me calling her out about the snotty remarks.

She phones after more than a year of not calling. We still meet monthly with our little group that travels to each other’s homes for cards, snacks, laughter, and fun. But we stopped doing too much together like we once used too. And we definitely stopped doing things as a foursome.

It was OK. We got through the day without major catastrophes, but I would have rather been on my own. There were specifications about what time they had to be back. A quick peek at another falls on the way home was scraped. On our own we would have.

Going along with something unwanted disturbed my peace. Waking at 4 AM, I was very awake. That has not occurred in over a month, and it’s probably not coincidental. Only this morning have words bubbled up that could have been said; no, we planned this outing just for the two of us. Simple, direct, and oh so easy.   

When my inner life is disturbed it causes this upset in sleep. A voice stolen such as mine was, doesn’t come back, not really. A life where my own needs were ignored while attacks to my body occurred over and over, takes the voice and a life.

I live with punches, whirling around like a dervish just to please others. Giving up what little I have, then nothing’s left. That is not OK. It wasn’t OK to say OK. Rationally it is such a little thing, but looms large because it feels like a repeat of the past. 

The solitude I crave and flourish within has much to do with this flaw in my character. I cannot speak up about my own preferences and needs. Resentment, even hate follows, for myself, and the offenders.

It is easier to navigate life on my own where freedom is sometimes found, luscious freedom oh so sweet. Even in solitude I am captive to my own negativity, but am finding my way out of the bondage. 

It becomes much harder around others, especially those that are so needy and controlling. 

 

INNER ACCEPTANCE

When struggling, in pain, anguish, confusion, fear, anxiety, or any of the other countless forms of hurt, words pour forth easily. But what then when the tremors inside are calm, and feelings of well-being flow?

Will boredom replace chaos, or shall I take the peace and enjoy it? How this occurs is not really a mystery, or parts of it are. It was a war, a war with the world. But decades of fight are over.

There are things about me that have not changed. I am not easy to be close to. I like my solitude, and prefer to interact with others infrequently. Nature is my truest friend. (and my cat) Time does not heal all wounds, but hard work, perseverance, and courage do.

Wounds remain still, because what was taken in childhood when hands lay upon me unbidden, stole all that is sweet, innocent, and natural. Those hands took my life. The one left to live was run from.

Coming ‘home’ to what is after the rage burned out sustains. Warmth softens not burns. Once inner acceptance is felt it grows.    

 

EACH MOMENT

The balmy morning, though darkly silent, draws me out on the porch with the cat without shivering from the cold. The flux in temperatures is interesting, nights dropping cold, the sun warming the land causing thick clouds of low lying fog drifting off with the warmth.

Some days slowing my mind to absorb the beauty around me does not come. Walking the meadow, the tall grasses once lush green have dried causing a swoosh walking by as the breeze makes them sway.

Leaves fall in swatches while sitting creek-side making a crunch underfoot grounding me to the earth. Wake and notice. But my mind drifts off elsewhere, and it is hard to stay present. Thoughts turn to the miracle of long periods of sleep, and what has changed since the trip to Cory’s.

Because that is when the miracle of night after night of sleep started. Perhaps the knowledge that the seemingly impossible is possible if enough effort and determination is put forth. That my mind is more powerful than given credit for.

That feelings are welcome, yet some can be turned from gently closing the door on them. Fear? Anxiety? Come to the moment to chase those away. An upcoming call concerning when the eye surgery will be? Dismiss it. There will time to face that fear when it happens. No need to dwell on it now.

Instead offer myself encouragement that it will be handled. And with aplomb. You can do it, and do it with a sense of peace, prayer, and hope when the time arrives.

But other feelings? Those need to run through me, not be avoided, because stuffing them only causes the pain to linger coming out in other ways often by disturbing the body’s physical health..

How to know which ones to keep and which ones to maneuver? That is not a ‘head’ decision, but one of soul. That place is now open, not clogged with hate, bitterness, and oily, tarry hands of what brothers did. Rage like layers of volcanic earth far below the surface needed out.

All that had to be expunged. And what work to excavate. Decades. The work done, joy and peace spread up through over the red raw healing interior like balm.

Enjoy the day. Enjoy the moment, it is finally OK to be in my body; ligaments, muscles, arteries, bones and flesh, moving into the doors of my soul to explore.

A New Day

photo by Patricia

Winter yawns before me, even though the leaves have only begun to fall. The cat hunches on the screened porch in the cold darkness, too cold for me to join her which was the usual all summer long. Dark, cold and quiet, too quiet, disturbingly quiet.

No morning birds to greet me, no tree frogs, no nothing. Crickets still hum when the sun appears, but the sun is long in coming because my usual waking is about 5:30 AM…. Grateful for another full night of sleep.

But how to conquer this new time of year, when darkness creeps into the light of day, and the corners of my mind. The tendency to do down in mood, inevitable, yet something feels different. An internal current prevails which gently rushes the shores of my being, not tidal waves of panic, anxiety and fear.

A time of peace unfounded. A life of terror quelled. Anxiety petted until purring with contentment. It is new territory, unused to, but take it. It is OK to take, live it, and savor what never was but now is.

The years of pretending-over. The truth told against all that wished me to stay mum. Most of the monsters from the house of my child-hood, dead. Though the memory of their terror remains, my synapses hard-wired with it, anticipating the quiet to suddenly explode. That edginess smoothed out but close-by at all times. 

Walking the path as the sun warms my body and hickory nuts crunch underfoot, my words try to comfort the scared child within. It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK. Even now, or especially now, she needs comforting. They are dead, they are dead, they are dead. Only one remains. And he is far away.

Monsters are real. I lived with them. And the memory lies inside me ready to wake. But now the calm goes on day after day, and I dare breath, take in the day, take in the now, and feel peace.