Love of Self

“Spend,” she said. Imagine having a financial adviser after our careful life of spending, and one who says SPEND!

“You have too much cash on hand.” she added, “Statistics say one of you will live to ninety.”

“I’m not connecting the dots.” I said, “If we live that long then we need all the money we can save.”

Legally she is not supposed to let on what we already know. Existing cash can be siphoned into a nursing home if one of us had to go there. So she and our attorney suggested spending some of it, doing things, or giving some to our sons.

Don’t wait and let the state take it, was the inference raised. This goes totally against our life-time of being exceedingly careful about expenditures. I doubt their advice will change our ways.

How did this happen? Spend? Please, I feel guilty adding to my DVD collection, or buying specialty coffee. I reuse plastic baggies until they don’t hold water, and some of them last years.

When Shane was a baby, cloth diapers were hung around the wood stove to dry. Our house had no walls, no real floor, no good water, septic, electric, or a sound roof which needed a complete tear-down. And none of that mattered. I was just glad to out of my mother’s basement, and extraordinarily excited to own our first home, even if it was more like a shell of one.

Most items, from kitchen supplies, to clothes, to toys, were bought at garage sales, even Christmas presents when Shane and Cory were too young to know the difference. And that’s OK. We were, and are, happy.

Our sons know the value of a dollar and how to spend wisely, and do not allow manufacturer’s to take advantage of them. They speak up about poor quality, asking for the manager when necessary.

What is needed, and craved for, can’t be bought— living in the moment without fear. Not fearing death, the future, or now. What I want doesn’t grow on trees like money does, so the old adage says. It isn’t found in stores. It exists in the fields of nature, the mountains of the Adirondacks, in the glens nearby where we camp, in our back yard, and mostly inside myself.

Calm, peace, acceptance, and triumphing over the battle always lost in decades prior, that of loving myself. The childhood attacks inflicted upon me meant a life of self-loathing. But that is changing, if ever so slowly it is.

There lies inside a generous, loving soul with great courage, fortitude and strength. I am learning to love what is found beneath the filth of my brother’s hands, coming up out of 60 years of shame that is not mine and never was.

 

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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.

Captive of the Negative Brain

It’s the PTSD. Remember that? The thing that you spent most of your life not acknowledging because nobody else ever did. (which would have made it real, and more importantly would have brought intervention with the possibility of recovery) Laying my head down the thought comes, will I get to sleep tonight? Never a good sign. It is as if I’ve already made up my ever restless mind. 

PTSD made living so unbearable, wearing my body down over the years as I tried to keep up with others, so much that the effects became life-long. It literally broke something in the brain, and all the pathways to it. Negative thoughts  take hold choking me. There is science behind it, but don’t ask me to explain, or do a research paper. (I have enough to worry about) The neural pathways are funky, even the slightest disturbance fires them up.

That’s what happens when trauma goes unprocessed. My family, and most family’s, sure as hell won’t give credence to sexual abuse occurring within their midst. Intervention is crucial at the time of the trauma(s). Will it ever be? Will sexual abuse to a child by a family member, or friend of the family, or even the camp counselor ever be talked about openly? So that the child can process the trauma?

I know I would have needed to talk about it, all of it, over and over again. Just like my grand-son after the terrific car crash where his baby sister and mother were beside him as the  lights swirled, and the ambulance paramedics  loaded them all onto stretchers. 

He spent many visits with me in the garage and on the driveway putting up bright orange emergency cones, and turning on the red flashing lights Samuel had installed on his battery operated jeep. The story started with Mommy holding up her hurt arm, and his sister crying. But over time he became the paramedic saving everyone. The hero mastering the situation that threatened his psych now healed. He went on to other things, the crash no longer holding his mind, memory or nervous system hostage to the terror. . 

That is the intervention needed but never comes, a safe accepting environment where the trauma, like any other trauma, can be worked through with care, love and patience.  

That must change for our little girls (boys) to survive. The dirty details others are uncomfortable listening to need to be spoken. Only in hearing the evil things done to little ones will change occur. It is happening in your family, behind the closed door bedroom where the children are ‘exploring’ but it goes too far because one of them already knows more that they should, or in the tent out in the backyard, the tree-house at the neighbor’s, at Auntie Peg’s when Uncle George is home, at Scouts, camp, or anyplace when you are not watching, noticing, and intervening.

It could be as simple as saying, ‘OK you two, find another game to play,’ with a smile, not a look of horror on your face. Or keep the door open,  don’t allow long periods of time out in the cute little playhouse where nobody’s watching. Watch. Kids explore. And too often older kids, even young children, have learned too early what feels good ‘down there’ and act out for more on other children who don’t yet know.

Having sexual feelings awakened at too young an age causes it to expand to other children quickly. It isn’t always an adult, adolescent, or teen. It can be a child of the same age as your own child who had it done to them, and now knows about the powerful feelings that feel so good more is naturally wanted. 

Waking in the night, or unable to fall asleep without a sleep aid isn’t always about something wrong, something that needs changing, or something that needs paying attention to. Often everything is in its place, and my life is being lived in alignment with my beliefs and principles.

Nothing is wrong; everything is wrong. It is unprocessed trauma that damaged my systems permanently. It is PTSD, my little beast that won’t be tamed. My mind turns on the negatives which become louder in the darkness, rolling through like thunder, activating the system that has been on the edge since age 8.

The courage for family’s to intervene when Uncle Joe, Daddy, or even sometimes Mommy   sexually abuses a child at the time it occurs, saves her, and offers a road to complete healing. That is yet to come for most families who allow their shame to cause destruction to their daughters(sons). It just doesn’t happen, not yet. Not until we are brave enough to stand up and say this happens, and at a rate you don’t want to know about, which is why it happens. 

Recently I woke up dreaming of Tom. We were close by each other and seemingly alright, but I clearly remember thinking, He doesn’t know how badly he hurt me. He never asked, nor ever asked to be forgiven. No one did. The other three are dead. I don’t know about Chet’s two friends who also attacked me, having such fun while I suffered silently. 

I am 66. I still need to speak of what was done. I never had a chance to. And I may not live long enough to process it all and be done with it because the damage still causes suffering. I will do what I need to do until it is done. I want it to be done now, but wanting is not reality,  and denying what is doesn’t work. The damage is irreversible. Due to diligence, courage, strength and miracles, periods of graceful joy occur, then inevitably tumble into times that are not. 

E-mail to Non-Abusive Brother

photo by Patricia

The fact that I have to describe a sibling as abusive or non-abusive is what causes perpetual sadness and low grade depression in my life as a continual way of being. This brother, Don, was once like a father, as ours died when at age 8. We have become estranged since my mother’s passing ten years ago, but I have done my best to overcome the distance without much success.

Those in the family origin do not talk about important issues, so this email will be a shocker. Yet for me, it is imperative to be real.  

Dear Don,

As much as it would be nice to visit for coffee, the drive is difficult. So often you welcome me, yet you are the one who drove around the country for fun, and drives as a part-time job. Driving doesn’t affect you like it does me especially when it includes city traffic. I often wonder why you don’t make the drive here just to have a cup of coffee, or walk to the water to sit awhile. Though you came once with the boys, and another to take me to lunch in Williamsburg, and a few picnics including Samuel’s retirement party, just stopping by to chat is not a time I ever remember happening.

I have lost count of the times I’ve been up your way just for that reason. I have missed some picnics where Tom was also included. I reached a point where that became untenable. I also prefer getting together with others one to one rather than groups, but it isn’t reciprocated.

The road goes two ways. I’m sorry you can’t find your way here. I would love that but it seems it just won’t be. Shane has been too busy to have us for lunch which would be close to you, so I thought I’d just come anyway. Yet it is a challenge, and not easy for me though I can do it if necessary. I just wonder why you can’t or won’t.

I think of you often. I took the fall basket that I didn’t get around to delivering, and repackaged it into a birthday gift which probably won’t find its way to you house either. Day to day life is a challenge. Sleep is a challenge. Adding other challenges is hard. Even appointments are hard upsetting the routine of day to day, and the comfort and safety of home.

The traumas in childhood left lasting damage. I know you don’t want me to talk about it. A long while back you were upset with me relaying how much Penny went through, so why don’t I just get over it. So I won’t say more. And I won’t complain for that very reason either. I don’t need you to solve my problems like I once did.

I stopped after you  said that just once you’d like me to call without it being a problem. I get it. You have your own stuff, and going to you was inappropriate. I just wish you would have said so, not dismissed my challenges by comparing them to Penny’s and how well she does despite them. What is worse than repressed memories of rape?  I remember everything else done by three other siblings which is bad enough, including your buddy Tom. But what Danny did still remains repressed, though I know it was violent, and was rape. That is what causes so much terror in my life even now.

The other daily challenge is the intense feelings of badness that grew in me from age 8 becoming part of my personality. I work on self-esteem issues daily because I grew up feeling bad, that I don’t have a right to even be here or have a life.

This was meant to simply be a note to let you know I’d love to visit with you, but come here on occasion too?

Patricia

FAMILY

Tenderly, like rocking a child, cuddle the little girl left alone terrorized by those she loved. You forgot how it was, how it is now, because others groomed you to. Be like it never happened because the shame of those that did those things to you, and the others doing nothing to stop it, or help in any way, is too uncomfortable for so called family— then, and now.

So alone I am. But do not abandon myself. The loneliness comes because no one stands witness to what happened. The story goes that others have so many other hurts, so how can I just think of myself? More honestly, they want family, even if those remaining are holey, not holy, but full of holes like a tattered old shirt blowing in the wind.

My gut pulls for family too. It always will. But just get on with life which is one I created of great beauty. I do so much better being apart from it, yet like a moth to flame still try.

Worthy to Heal

 

Rattling the cages of childhood, truths keep falling out. Tidbits of wisdom about what really occurred. Forced by shame to go on as if nothing happened made life oppressive in just about every way. Loneliness honed itself into a sharp, cloying, empty, bottomless pit devouring me for decades to come.

 Terror and trauma held into my little girl’s body changed me in ways I will never have as my own again. But I have me now. I am learning so much that my mother never wanted me to. Her ways were to just go on, the opposite of what was needed to heal.

Expecting me to be how she wanted me to be, how other little girls and young women were, caused a desperate need to fulfill her dreams. That yearning for acceptance and love broke down what was left inside even further. Who I was became lost beneath the façade of normalcy.

It is easier for family to go on without the shame of sexual abuse known, so the child abused takes it on. This damage follows a person for life. The toll to my body, mind, emotional well-being, and nervous system is severe.

The ‘tortured colon’ describe by my gastroenterologist? Which meant a tortuously painful colonoscopy until the anatomy of my colon became known. The constrictions and curvatures may have developed as a child by holding muscles in the pelvic area tight as a defense against further onslaught. It certainly was the reason for my skinny kid frame to become bloated and overweight, though that didn’t keep them off either.

And now, with peaceful lulls in my days and sleep filled nights… why are they suddenly disturbed by negative thoughts and insomnia? Because a brain broken by trauma held in unprocessed is incapable of sustaining happiness for long periods.

Knowing that gives me hope, because I can self-talk myself into believing that like every other woman sexually abused as a child, I do deserve happiness and peace. Happiness is peace; peace from negative thoughts, buzzing anxiety, a too fast paced life, and most of all blessed sleep.

These are basics that every child coming out of childhood deserves, human rights for all but that many don’t receive or develop. Beliefs forced onto a child form the personality. Shame, badness, and feelings of abnormality become cemented into the personality of a child suffering sexual attacks by those she loves.

Left to fend for myself caused irreparable damage. Self attacking traits carved in to me are a challenge to shift requiring a belief that I’m worthy along with the fortitude and persistence to take it on. 

 

 

 

 

TERROR

A queasiness comes and goes. Covering one eye with my hand, like a pirate with a patch, my vision improves. The left cataract has progressed a great deal this year, making the idea of going through with the removal procedure more imminent.

The self- advocacy and extra considerations needed exhaust me. The level of sedation my body requires in order not to fight off anyone getting near me, is a deeper sedation than what most need, and deeper than what my eye doctor uses at his clinic where the surgeries are performed.

I would need to be at a hospital, which means meeting another doctor who does them there. My doctor has agreed to this, but it still means going to the city several times, first to meet with the new doctor, then the anesthesiologist, and on and on.

But to see clearly afterwards might make this worthwhile. It is the same reflexive reaction as with killer bird. While Samuel drifts around the yard unaware, or unperturbed about an animal droning down on him, my body goes into fight or flight. All sensors take off before my mind fully grasps the concept of what is happening.

And so it is with medical interventions. My body prepares for a fight for its life. And this will not go away as long as the memory of what Danny did stays repressed, which it probably will. If it hasn’t become safe for it to surface at age 66, then it won’t.  Every time anyone comes close, the shadow of the memory also does, and with it terror.

It takes a great amount of courage to seek care, dental or medical. If taken step by step carefully, by treating myself as gentle and compassionately as if it were another going through this, then I can do this…