FRIENDS

Tinted, like looking at the world with dark glasses. When the growth of a personality is embedded with feelings of ‘badness,’ feeling abnormal, even dirty, it separates a being from others in so many ways… emotionally, spiritually, and intimately. Closeness is feared.

Anxiety arises. Any interaction with another human makes it pop like hot mercury. Though much of that has lessened, anxiety and the customary feeling of wrongness, or badness, are still issues dealt with daily. 

Living in a bubble is not my desire, but my needs require an environment that includes a great deal of solitude that is steadily familiar. Upsets in equilibrium interfere with my health setting off a reaction that is out of my control. But outings are still pleasurable.

A friendly gathering offered a place to really talk. Later at home the harsh voice began banging, “You monopolized the conversation. Can’t you see what they have been going through?”

Then a softer voice quietly budged in, “Give yourself a break. It’s OK to share. It doesn’t mean you aren’t aware of their struggles or pain, or that you don’t care. Let yourself off the hook. Think of the supportive things that were said, like, you are a good friend. Remember that?”

Remember that.

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GROWTH

photo by Patricia

My head knows what my heart does not. When a child is sexually abused by loved ones, her world turns and does not recover. My head knows the blame is not mine, but the soul, my core, became damaged in ways that won’t be undone.

People my age die. It is not uncommon. The growth so far may have to be. That is the way for everyone. We keep growing until we die. And mine is enough. I cannot have what I would have, but I can have now with hope.

 

SPOILED

“My mother used loved to say, “My only daughter of eight kids!”

The usual response from her friends, acquaintances, and other strangers looking at me, “You must be so spoiled.” 

My usual training was to force a smile, but my head lowered as my interior felt spoiled in a dirty, dark and piercing lonely unloved way. 

There is at the core a rotten place, a place where that’s what I believe I am. No matter the frills on the outside, the house made beautiful by my decorating, the gardens, mosaics, even the purple tint of color in my hair for fun that inspires cashiers and other strangers to often comment while out shopping how much they love my hair… at my core there is disease. . .

There lay the belief of badness, rottenness, and total unworthiness. It smolders moldy, and sour like lettuce gone bad at its core. 

The days go by uneventful. Sleep comes. My restless repetitive negative thinking is seemingly kept to a minimum. But bubbling below a stinking brew recoils. It keeps me up at night to remind me of the intense work and overhaul still needing to be done. 

Chet’s hold on me strangles me even now after he is dead and gone. Poor Chet, was how I felt about him. Poor Chet? He held me down. He then masterminded my mind, like a hostage still chained even now. My hating myself came from him. He hated himself too. But not enough. Not enough to come to me in person, or by mail to say the simple words “I’m sorry.”

And that’s my fault too. Because I’m hard, cold, bitter, and angry. How could anyone try? That is bull. No matter how the other person is, you must try. Yet my core doesn’t know that, only that the disease of him still takes hold and keeps me up nights. The disease of each of them rots my core.  

Last night it was the memory of being called bitch while still in the hospital after the stomach stapling. A procedure done so I could be whole, normal, and slim like others. Done because of them. Because after the first attack by Danny, I ate and ate till throwing up in the middle of the night. I still do that.

Chet calls while I lay there weak in pain. He said, “You bitch.”

I believed him. A part of me still does, the part that rots, won’t heal, and keeps me up nights.  

 

SHATTERED PIECES

photo by Patricia- sunrise on the creek

Denial even 60 years later of the harm done to my psyche after brothers, 4 of 7 attacked me sexually. Denial, or maybe more true peeling yet another layer, or looking more closely at just how severe my injuries were and still are.

Trust? Closeness? No, not even with Samuel. A tear or two falls with each footstep in the dewy path. Even with Samuel there is fear of being too close, not just physically close, but close as in letting you in my interior space. That is safe only here in written word, spread to the universe where nobody knows me in the physical realm, but all those who read know me most.

Safe. That is safe. That is my community. And that makes me sad. Grief is not something moved through and done with. It re-visits as the real damage is looked at deeper, the losses, the brokenness, the who I could have been but will never be.

This is it. This is my life. Acceptance of it never comes to stay. I’m always running, never staying. Always looking, wishing, and longing, but it will not come, the life I wish I had. The life I want now. It doesn’t come and won’t.

Pick up the scattered pieces and put them gently in the basket. There is enough.

 

BINGING

Things go along so smoothly which mostly means sleep, night after night with respect for the time pattern and adhering reverently to it. Then sleep won’t come, and won’t come. A sleep aid is needed, an hour by the TV, and then a binge delving into foods not hungry for by the body, but by emotions not understood, wondering why.

The ‘binge’ eaten out of feeling sorry for myself for not sleeping like others, was not really even worthy of an honorable mention. But foods ingested at midnight are not good for a digestive system that has sustained some very serious problems. 

Waking this morning defeat weighed heavily, but then my thoughts diverted to more kindness. It is not something you did or didn’t do. Though it is unknown what set me off. So is the original and first attack, so horrific and violent my mind won’t allow it up even today almost 60 years later.

Don’t blame yourself for a body and mind that moves in ways you don’t understand or connect to. Perhaps it’s the eating that keeps the memories down. 

If these memories came it is quite possible in-patient care might be necessary. When working as a psychiatric nurse the thought that someday I might need the same type of treatment brought a deep sense of care and compassion to my work with patients. A depth of understanding others who worked there lacked to that extent. 

My ways were quiet, patient, and totally present, not an easy feat since most times a good portion of my life was spent dissociating from it. In-coming patients assessed in the ER under duress were comforted by my radiating empathy. I know how you feel. The doctor on-call awakened during the night shift, still groggy with sleep, grew to rely on my dependable extensive assessments over the phone.

When bringing someone to the unit after admitting them, most were more relaxed than when they arrived.  That was a satisfying fact even noted by the other staff and commented on.

So if after a lull in insomnia an upset occurs, accept it without blame or criticism. Though the goal is to understand myself better, it is not always possible. Much lies within that is mysterious, and it may always stay safe there. I may never know what happened at age eight, only the knowledge that rape did occur because the facts substantiate it. I remember all else than tragically occurred for years after, but not that one terror filled night. 

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. In other words, remember that most days I’m more aware of my body, feeling its hunger,  and providing the best care possible. I’m able to connect in ways that I haven’t before. Seeking that connection is a journey worth working at and, what to concentrate on. It is not about food, but love of self. 

The Child Within

It isn’t often that the little girl is thought of. That part of me might be forever stuck there. Or maybe everyone has a child within them, but one battered might not want to come out. Perhaps that is where my seriousness stems from, going from 8 to 80 in childhood when my body no longer belonged to me.

But she wants to play, to laugh, to be silly, to feel joy. And with the coming of spring it is time to let her because the grips of winter depression are loosening. I’m more able to even if it still does sound odd— letting the child within out.

While walking the meadow path, lap after lap, the sun warming my shoulder despite the chill, I wondered, if I had a daughter so abused as I was, would I talk to her like I talk to myself? Or my grand-daughter, or any child? 

 

SEXUAL CHILDHOOD VIOLENCE

Childhood sexual abuse? That term makes the crime seem mild. Sexual assault gives more truth to the violence. And it is violent even though using a child for one’s sexual gratification is easy because there is love and trust. An attacker fucks with the body and the mind.

What’s broken can’t be mended, ever. Trust. Gone. The ability to love? My cat, yes. My kids when little, yes. Other little kids, yes. No one else really, or a moment at times when the guard walls come down.

It is always a violent act, though no discernible violence is used. As a child I felt ashamed, and bad. My brother used that to his advantage. I pretended sleep after the first attack which suffocated due to lack of air and breath. 

I had no one. I was alone. And have felt on my own ever since.