Family of Origin

It was this time last year when a brother, Seth, reacted very negatively to my writing a memoir. He ignored my emails for months after sending a link to the Amazon site selling it. I confronted his withdrawal and was met head-on with his rage at my writing it. 

That sent me by ambulance for a one night stay in the hospital due to a fast heart-beat.

Since then I have accepted the pretense of being ‘Sis,’ the little sister he pretends I am, not the woman who struggles still with the early childhood traumas of sexual attacks by his brothers.

He writes the other day, “I love you too, sis. I’m reading Paul Theroux’s new book “Mother Land” and don’t know where it’s going, but it does have many parallels, seven kids with the oldest an attorney and the mom … I’m not sure yet, so I can’t recommend it. Might be a good read for you, but, like I said, I don’t know where it’s going.”

That stymied me and it went with no reply until today. 

Where once he was on a pedestal, I see now I am stronger, wiser and a better person in every way. I pity him and his relationship with Tom who he is closest to. I do not care to bicker again but did write back .

Depending on his reply I will keep the surface emails we have about critters on our property and other light things. I need that much. But I do not look to him anymore for much else though am grateful for what came before when I was so in need. Sometimes people just move on.

My reply to Seth:

Been there, done that. I wrote one, remember, the one you won’t read.

That we both kept ‘love’ in the equation is a good thing. It may a love of the time when we were young and has nothing to do with who we really are now. And the love then? You did not know me then either as the traumas were kept tight inside just as mom expected and trained me to keep them.

Did you know that last spring when you reacted so incensed at my sharing a link to my book at Amazon that I went by ambulance and stayed a night at the hospital due to a fast heart beat? A heart can be broken by others and your reaction affected me and body greatly.

By the way, though my book does detail all the trauma I suffered…finally, it also contains great joy. True healing began when the traumas were processed as each chapter came up.

No child should have to keep trauma within herself. Trauma needs to be processed to pass through, and repeatedly until it is completely processed. Since mine was not, I live with chronic issues because of the silence I was expected to keep. The same silence you require of me.

For every chapter of terror and pain, there is a chapter of great joy. Because when a child, or any person, has to suppress trauma, joys are suppressed too. When it comes up, it all comes up.

You go ahead and read stories about those you don’t know, but I’m not interested.

And I want to add, I have always respected your connection with Tom. Respect mine. He is not safe for me.

Love,

Patricia

Complex Trauma

This is very much worth listening to, all 51 minutes. Thank you Broken Blue Sky and GettingRealwithPTSD for sharing this. Although reblogged this morning, I updated it twice making it hard to access. So I’m posting it again to ensure its availability to readers. 

There are portions where her faith is referred to but all spiritual beliefs could be put in place of her beliefs for the short duration she speaks of it. For instance in referring to he for god, I interject she, and envision my mother earth angel who feels much safer and trustworthy.

Diane Langberg is amazingly compassionate and knowledgeable. It is the first time I’ve heard Complex PTSD explained so succinctly. 

The second part of the lecture is available at the you tube site where this takes you. 

 

COMPASSION

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I am doing so much better. I had entered a period where my body revolted against the bad care. Though blood tests didn’t show it, my body knew. I was developing diabetes and was handling a metabolic storm. Will you fight your way out or continue on with dis-ease, both in body and mind?

I fight. I fight to be healthy and to care for myself. It does not come naturally. Or…extra weight is my way of protecting myself and has been since age 8. I could lose it without even trying when I felt safe (infrequent), but when threatened gained it quickly. It happened automatically, instinctually. It happened at 16 when a boyfriend did more than kiss. It worked, as the pounds came he found another.

Walking till I felt ill reminded me to go easy. Resting in-between ten laps is usually a better option. But I am walking every day and eating far less, plus eating in a way that is good for body organs to work properly; high fiber, no sugar or very little of it, not eating after 4 PM at the latest except yogurt, and choosing to experiment with meatless meals except white chicken or fish. It is fun to search recipes, experiment and implement a healthy eating plan, and it takes time, thought and care.

But akin to Edgar Allen Poe, winter takes my mood down. I don’t wake excited about the day, more like with a bit of dread. Not a good feeling, but I chalk it up to shorter days but envision the pool, sunshine and green grass to counteract the dreary outlook along with continual pep talks. We are on the other side of winter as the sun comes in the windows more and kisses me good-bye later in the day before setting

Sleep comes in a regular pattern, getting 7 ½ hours most nights, sometimes more. That seems to have a good deal to do with not eating past 4pm. Ding! Reminders toll repeatedly … self-care.

I work on it…a lot. What do I need, what do I want, what is best for my spirit and body? Gentler thoughts. Meditation is something I need. The simplest of solutions to everyday problems rise up quietly. The flurry that exists within me quiets, solidifies and centers as the half-hour ends. And exercise, the body needs to move.

But do not overdo. The one at the helm tends to whip at my psych mercilessly. Tamping the excessive harshness is an ongoing process. No, pushing oneself to march round after round in the thick snow is not helpful if after coming inside I feel unwell for the next hour or two. Be kinder. Though possible and doable it does not come naturally.

And why would it? Taught to be silent, pleasing and nice while growing up in a house with my nighttime monsters taught me I was unworthy and it taught me terror. Terror with no mouth. Learning this about myself has helped me take away the whips, chains and clubs, or subdue them somewhat when I work at it.

Stop beating up on the child now adult who cannot speak up, or to do so must blow the other up with her venom held back till she explodes. That was the rage I lived; holding it all in, until I didn’t, then look out. My solution now seems to come from a quiet, solitary life where I can feel at peace most days, not because I’ve learned to deal people better but because I deal with them less.

So I plod along the path of snow, my boots making a crunching muffled sound, with no need to hurry or push because doing so will only cause injury. Stopping, looking up as the sun bursts through the clouds, breathing in the crisp icy air, my lungs expand fully.

Pausing after the incline, feeling the heart pump a satisfying pace, I picture the blood circulating oxygen to all the right places and continue on. When coming out of deep thought to the present I observe bunny hops, deer tracks as one must have run across the meadow, see that along the hedgerow places where squirrels burrowed in the snow for nuts, and near the feeder many delicate imprints of bird’s feet. Try to be present, yet my mind drifts off as the laps go on.

I am leaning to understand and accept how and why my voice was taken and not beat myself up for the invisible threads still sewn in my lips. An internal world rich with depth, kindness and wisdom exists, burgeoning with pulsing life despite the silencing, and most likely because of it, a world below that is all mine.

A gentler, kinder life unfolds. I feel compassion for her- the little girl, and for myself now, the grown women with graying hair.

 

The Beauty of You

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The aloneness of abuse may be one of the hardest. It is not a ‘lonely’ like others, it is a scratching and clawing on internal walls aching for relief, making one’s spirit wanting to split from the body and it’s feelings.

Run. Get away from the feeling but where do I go? I lean on others and thankfully that got me through for many years until it was time to stop. With nowhere else to go but into the pain I ventured with curiosity and patience as it all came up, the sadness, pain and joy.

It was all there locked below. And I couldn’t know me or find me because I had been locked down as a child, surrendered to the will of the ‘family’ who was ashamed of their own who would do such things. So silence the child because no one should know of our shame. So she shall be ashamed. It is what will keep her silent.

It is also what will keep her from herself with no real friend because she is not her own. She is alone. It looks like she is in a family, but she is alone adrift from even herself.

And will she ever find ‘her’? Will she ever stop the harsh judging her family cast upon her that she then took upon herself? Will she ever love? Will she ever feel warmth, kindness, openness and safety? Will peace enter within where she is jailed and set her free?

snowflak

Dedicated to Alice

 

HEAL?

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This post resonated with me, and so much that I’m thinking of it days later. It seems the crux of why a child cannot and does not heal at the time of the trauma. Families are ashamed and shame the child into silence. How can one heal when traumatized as brutally as being hit by a car with no one to come to her rescue with aid, love, intervention and support?

The family essentially shuns her unless she stays quiet. So she does. She internalizes the ‘attacks’ as her being bad, dirty, and unfit to live. She is grateful her family wants to have her be a part of it and grovels for even a scrap of attention or semblance of what seems like love.

But how can love be real love if it comes with conditions, that of keeping her deep wounds within where they don’t and cannot heal, they fester and grow. The PTSD that often occurs becomes a permanent after effect because no intervention was provided for it to be processed. All the many negative thoughts about herself become part of her forming personality for the same reason.

She attacks herself in countless ways from childhood throughout adulthood because she believes in her ‘badness.’ The so called family encourages this knowing it will shackle her from exposing them, both the ones who committed such horrors but also the ones who knew and didn’t help and kept silent.

When anyone is injured by an accident, surviving a death, or a physical disease, others come with sympathy, condolences, casseroles, gifts, support and many other ways of helping. When a child suffers these horrendous injuries, as bad or in many ways far worse, no one comes. She is re-victimized over and over again; pain, on pain, on pain. It is done to keep her quiet. Better that she internalizes it rather than expose them.

These days veterans are finally receiving some respect for surviving the very horrific aspects of war. The diagnosis of PTSD is not a label that spews negativity. It is one that brings compassion and help; as it should and always should have.

It is time for those attacked sexually as children who suffer the effects of PTSD and the many other devastating after-effects, even decades later, to receive the same support, acknowledgment, and respect, and the freedom to speak openly about it in all forums.

(I use the term ‘attack’ because even though no force is needed with a child who loves and trust her attacker, it is an attack all the same. And it is an attack on so many deep levels of the child’s psyche that the injuries sustained can be life-long)

ENEMIES and LOVERS

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The mind takes me to places I don’t have to go. When all is well I create pain and chaos…but I don’t have to. It’s OK to at peace. It’s OK to be happy because peace to me is happiness. Then I create pain. Because I am used to it.

FOOD. Something for all others to have and enjoy, but since age 8, not me. So much is associated it. Love, hate, fatty Patty. My brothers friends whispering in the kitchen and I’m sure it was about me, never about the attacker, me. And that is how my personality was made, out of fear, shame, being bad, and being the beast, not the attackers.

Every time I ate I felt wrong, fat and bad. People in the environment reinforced the bad feelings because how one looks can be dealt with, how one feels goes underground. No one helps. No one listens. But if another can ‘help’ by telling you how fat you are they think they are doing a good thing. My aunt, the school nurse did that. Making me feel an outcast. A place I’ve always been, outcast.

In high-school when my breasts were beginning to grow, though I didn’t think much about it, I was bridesmaid for Danny and Donny, both marrying about the same time. During the reception Tom and I danced and an innocent moment made me feel dirty, bad and horrid.

He lured at me saying, “What are those things poking into me?”

I froze and stayed numb moving away in a trance, my body once again not mine and under lustful scrutiny by a brother I once dearly loved and trusted, never to make peace with him, never to feel safe with him ever again. I tried over and over but he could not forgive my being alive.

My very existence reminded him of what he had done and that was enough for him to hate me. Not outright. His plan to erode any scrap of esteem I achieved was slow, insidious, and very much made him out the victim…not me. Others backed him

My body and food? Enemies and lovers.

During all the formative years I felt an embarrassment due to my weight. No feelings against my attackers, it wasn’t allowed or expected. I wondered how any of them managed to be in public with me due to my weight.

That is what a little girl does when she is attacked by loved ones and everyone ignores, denies and does not come to her defense and protects her. She takes it in as hers. For me it took all my mother’s love at the end of a spoon to keep existing. She could not and did not love. But she cooked and I ate looking for the love that never came. I’m still eating and looking.

lovethys