ANXIETY

photos by patricia

Anxiety spills from my pores quicker than blood. I mop it up with food and push it down, food that becomes tasteless and only quantity matters, enough of it until the quickened pulse and throbbing nerves are still.

It is a constant work feeding this body as it needs rather than feeding the tormented psyche that expects dread and doom at any moment. Each step, even in the quiet meadow, there can be danger lurking… A lion, goblin, or hooded monster? Just who do you think is behind that bush or around the corner?

The brothers of my childhood lie waiting.

A hole was torn into my bedrock of being, one that cannot be fused with strong bone. Up through the crack gurgles demons and terror. It cannot be stopped, it is always there waiting…

STORMS

photo by patricia; mourning dove fledgling

The day is spectacularly bright, sparkly and sunny but a stormy tornado twists my insides. The weight of PTSD is oppressive. Sometimes I wonder why we have children. Why put them through this thing called life? I don’t want to face this day. It takes courage. One day is all lovely and nice and the next has me asking why do I have to live it?

Others do not bear the burden of this heavy sadness that sends me to the couch to rest, closing my eyes to the world and its overwhelming challenges. My husband and sons don’t just seem calm, they are calm, at least calmer than me in the midst of a storm. I can barely hold on.

“Are there stitches?” I ask the eye doctor fearfully.

“Just once this past year, that is rare,” he answers.

Though I like him, he doesn’t get it. Trying to explain to another who hasn’t lived with fear that shoots one to the outer limits of the stratosphere is not possible. Though compassion for the obvious struggles may exist, one does not know what another feels unless they have been there.

But a medical person should know the ramifications of adults traumatized as children and how to handle treatment accordingly. Some do. He doesn’t.

“It’s more common than people realize. One out of four are sexually attacked as children, some statistics state one out of three,” I explain, adding “My adrenaline eats up anesthesia and sedatives. Others sleep but I am wide awake. I need more than the average person”

I call back and ask more questions about the needed cataract surgery for the left eye. He reassures me that wanting my procedure done in the hospital rather than his surgical center is a good idea. He thought about me after I left which is heartening.

He intends to talk to one of his colleagues about my issues, a cataract surgeon at the hospital I use. So when I’m ready there is a referral and a safe place to go. They took very good care of me before in the out-patient department. 

The follow-up with a phone call to have more questions answered and being more thorough about my needs and care is new to me and a long time coming. I’ve lived through some bad procedures and callous doctors by going through the system like everybody else.

Others seem to go through with things with little or no problem. It is not that way for me whether colonoscopy’s, endoscopy’s, dental procedures and certainly not for cataract surgery. Taking the time to feel assured I’ll be taken care of properly and feeling confident in who will be doing it are prudent measures.

In the past intense fear kept me numb. No questions were asked because I couldn’t ask them nor had the ability to advocate for myself. I am learning.

VOICELESS

So much is taken when a child is sexually abuse by a loved one, family friend, or anyone the child knows well and trusts. Of course the same is true if it’s a stranger but that is not usually the case.

Her world as she knew it stops. Trust- stops. Innocence? Gone. Of the many damaging aspects that follows me throughout life, some have lessened others increase. The constant feeling that anything going on is somehow my fault has mostly lessened.

That is called personalization. Google’s definition of the term in psychology: Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.

It feels like living in a bad, dark box of wrongness. This feeling can descend at any time but I have learned to look at how the other person adds to the situation and often is more the cause of the problem than I am. I have learned to be on my side. I try to chase that thinking off quickly but sometimes get stuck and need help to like myself again and feel OK. 

This is hard. I still feel locked in and remind myself often, You are free. You are free to feel, think and respond as you really do feel and think. Living within the confines of the silence that ‘family’ required is a box I still find myself punching my way out of.  Just who am I? And how do I really feel? And what do I really think, even if it doesn’t please another?

PSTD responses continue, adrenaline rushes only a moment away. Anxiety an ongoing issue. Tiredness from living a life filled with too much cortisol being expelled on a daily basis due to the startle response, often several times daily, has depleted my body’s reserves.

There is a limited amount of energy available each day. This is a chronic permanent issue very hard to accept which means there’s a tendency to overdo because of a craving to keep up with others.

One of most disturbing aspects is the loss of my voice, taken at age 8 never to be found again…not really. Bits and pieces pop back when that voice surprises me when I firmly say, NO, or speak up naturally from my gut. But too often I am mute. I can speak up later on the phone, email or in a letter. Safer.

And why not? I was taught to love those who attacked me and to say nothing. I learned I didn’t matter, didn’t count and was less than. That is when the feeling of always being wrong took root…and grew as I grew.  Roots have a way of never fully coming out. If I spoke up the risk is abandonment and loss of family, the only people a child has.

So I try to accept the frustrating fact that even at age 64 my voice for myself is often mute when I need to be very vocal in advocating for myself. I can be ferocious for others, like my children when growing up, but not for myself.

The work of being gentle with myself towards this very real loss that didn’t occur by my doing and other grievous losses continues. A gentle approach opens up an internal richness that offers softness, warmth and acceptance. 

SHATTERED

“Are you sure you want the title to be SHATTERED?” my younger son Cory asks before he begins the design for the cover of my memoir

Without hesitation I answer, “YES!” No doubts there.

“And the cover. Do you really want drops of blood?” he asks with great skepticism, even sounding critical. 

Immediately my answer spills forth, “Yes!” I say with surety, for once without timidness, feeling wrong, or any doubts. Thinking it through a moment my firmness remained.

Although he took every step along the way with me, the first one strong enough to do so, when my feelings were firm about something I stuck to it; a freeing feeling.

Yes, blood drops. What was extracted from me was virgin blood and also a child’s virginity in every way- spiritual, emotional, physical, my innocence and a change in who I was and who I would become. Those drops depict what was taken.

Though Shattered, I am not broken. I may feel broken at times, but the pieces keep coming back into place. They may not make a whole that would have been, but one that is richer. The bumpy surface indicates character and depth, a more beautiful whole in every way.  

 

PEACE

687caef64482752e3b8fccda983cd1b4

Waking, remembering the work of easing anxiety, my breathing slows evenly and deeper. It is almost 5 am, time to rise. My work is calming anxiety that comes each spring. The wiry brain which had plummeted to a lower mood over winter, now sprints into more daylight and an awakening. Anxiety is also an issue dealt with throughout the year as my equilibrium is easily upset.

Spring tends to bring noise in the brain and eccentric behavior, inviting situations that greatly increase the anxiety beast, not tame it. This year the journey is different because I’m feeling more aware of the dilemma, and more aware that this body and mind is not like those around me. I need special care, care I do not know how to provide or feel worthy of.

That feeling is more that a feeling. It is part of my personality that’s staying, formed deep in my core during childhood due to my brothers’ ongoing abuses, other brothers looking away, and my mother’s collusion in the conspiracy of silence; we are a happy, normal family, you will love your brothers, as they continued to creep in my room and attack me.

I don’t like the fact that at my core is a feeling that I am bad, and unworthy, or that whatever is happening is my fault. I run from this fact of what I believe, embedded permanently like a crack in rock. In accepting this flaw, and accepting where it came from, compassion, self-love and a more lenient judge takes the helm. 

I try so hard to function at the fast speed others seem to function at so easily. Then fail, compounding issues of poor self-esteem. My tired body and mind can’t do it. This whirlwind called life has always moved too fast for me. 

There is no one else to provide proper care for myself but myself, as it is for each of us. We can lean on others, help others, but we are each responsible for handling the inner workings of ourselves. And for those like me with chronic, pervasive, and permanent Complex PTSD, it is a daily endeavor that often leads to despair.

What comes as second nature to others and is taken for granted, is elusive for those who have suffered traumas that extended over time. I have to work at it, sometimes every minute of every day, and even then without success. Hence the despair.  

Breathe deep. Keep breathing. The tight chest, is it medical or emotional? Later as the conscious deeper breathing continues, the tightness abates. Anxiety can harm all facets of the body, mind and spirit. And it can cause one to seek out more without being conscious of the urge, adding to the internal chaos.

Be quiet, be still. Bored? That’s not boring, that is called peace…
download (6)

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. 

 

The Courage to Live

3ae1c4926828975b5dfdbf3291924239

FEAR

I have lived a life-time of fear since age 8 invading every moment in one way or another. Forced to grow up within a male population called brothers who attacked in the night, or even during the broad light of day, made fear a constant companion. Even though Chet, Dan, and Pete are dead, and the most evil, Tom, still lives spreading his poison, I live in fear at the easiest upset. 

It is hard not to resent what they did. Living with low esteem added to continual fear of people, and the inability to speak up for myself, eroded my natural abilities and has been debilitating.

Yet I persevere. I can get over what they did to my body. But what they did to my trust, shattered beyond repair, what they took from ever feeling safe with touch and loving sex with my husband, the betrayals of each attack, and this list goes on… these I can heal from or after time have learned to live and accept as the damage done.

But fear? Anxiety? Jumping at every loud sound, or medical people working on my body in any way sending me in panic for days, even months after? These are just some of the life-long effects I resent living with that were caused by these tormentors.

These challenges erode my courage, weakening me, and in the wee hours of the morning tend to make me wonder how I can continue to cope; especially since an aging body needs many more medical interventions to keep functioning.

It pisses me off. I’d like to put my real name on my blog and use real names for who did what when. Not to get even, but to stand up and say NO. No this is not alright. NO, it is not alright to silence me out of your own shame and fear of how it will make you look.

Yet the anonymity of the freedom to talk openly without hurting anyone offers a resource I cherish, as if this outlet is a replacement for therapy. Expression of honest feelings, which aren’t right or wrong but just there, is a freeing experience. Dumping it all and feeling heard and acknowledged is a human need as crucial as air.

I do not want to give that up. So even though I could put my name on my blog, I chose not to. Not out of fear, (I don’t think so) but out of my own need to talk freely when and how I like; and for the first time ever in my life.

Taught to be pleasing, to live with and love the criminals who attacked me masked as ‘brothers,’ makes it a challenge to discover who I really am even now. I continue to search for ‘her’ going below the surface of the ‘nice’ girl my mother manipulated and trained me to be.

Mom’s need reined, that of ensuring the fallacy of an upstanding family was on show, but at the expense of her daughter. I acquiesced because I craved her love to the very end unable to provide a moments warmth for myself and needing what little she had to give.

The book erupted out of me after her death 8 years ago. It was finally safe to speak of her sons. All that had been suppressed arose; the joys, the traumas, the black tarry secrets of others, and the wonders that sustained me. 

Yet I am left with challenges I resent. It makes me turn resentment into fortitude, grasping courage like an old tree rooting it deeper, transforming the bitter truths into beauty. This I will do, or try to day after day. 

images (6)