Injured Being

mosaic by Patricia

My path includes remembering that self-esteem and anxiety are issues that need working on, and are here to stay.  When experiencing some success at either, the thought is that the work is done. The work continues, some days more than others. Who I was at age eight is a shadow arising time to time with a memory of what was, who ‘she’ was, and could be.

All that changed with the first attack, and severed almost completely as each brother came and went, my true self going further and further away until she hardly exists. She because I could never become her, she because she is there, a misty ghost of who I could have been. And I mourn her.

Who I am now is not her, though wisps remain. What I have instead is anxiety in every day because of the trauma’s, but more so, because family and society insists not to hear. These traumas still going on at a deadly rate need airing. And it seems to be coming to the light, though more sensational ones; coaches, priests, teachers… but what about the brother, father, uncle?

The anxiety is here to stay. It must be faced every day. The damage internally broke my being. It takes my life to put back the pieces, shards that sometimes cut, smoothing them together anyway to make a whole— bumpy, solid and beautiful.

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Labile/Anxiety

“Here is an article about sleep,” Samuel said, moving the AARP magazine closer.

A few days passed before picking it up. Most of the suggestions, like not drinking coffee later in the day, and keeping a regular bed-time, are things already in motion, but one suggestion caught my eye; CBT-I Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Sleep disturbances over the last month have become severe. So is the search for confidence, well-being, fullness, or any other feeling offering succor. The coldness outside froze my insides. Regret frosted growth spiraling me backwards. Coming off the ‘path,’ I became lost in the forest of doubt, anxiety, and depression.

I’m doing my homework. Many sites seemed like scams, wanting money for completing this therapy on-line, which can be done without a therapist if the depression is mild. But one has offered guidance, already easing my mind and body during the night so that sleep came even after two separate trips to the bathroom.

You know the work. Someone wrote on my blog that maybe you won’t have to constantly keep telling yourself you are OK throughout the day. And my squirrel mind felt criticized, though the remark was a caring and compassionate one. I do need to tell myself that day and night. Living is fearful for me.

Danger lurks around every corner, and in every relationship. My job is to allay unfounded fears, challenge them, offer other plausible scenarios, and so much more pinpointed clearly in these articles. Looking at things less rigidly offers more solutions. Maybe there aren’t aren’t any, so stop worrying over what you can’t change or influence positively.

I took notes. It was so helpful, and the notes will be kept handy as this transition from winter to spring takes place. Even if not read again, they are my security blanket; you’re not alone, and there is a way. 

Labile emotions, joyful to the moon one day, the next a waterfall of tears. The tears come like this each spring, a washing off of winter depression, cleaning out the dull, brain chemicals opening windows for happy endorphins that bring balance. I will get there, and do the work.

http://cogbtherapy.com/cognitive-behavioral-therapy-exercises/

Time Change/Spring

photo by Patricia

“Oh, this time change is easy,” huffing to my son over the phone.

After more than an hour trying to sleep, it’s out of the dark bedroom and Jimmy Kimmel to make me chuckle despite irritation over continued sleep disturbances. Then Italy’s problems with olive trees dying. That was fascinating, so there is an upside.

Spring’s mixing bowl of weather affects me. No time change, or seasonal change is easy. Each comes with disturbances in sleep, and an array of other challenges, mostly with my volatile emotions which can become irrational.

Why one brain continues stable and another such as mine goes awry is for scientists to determine. My challenge is to accept it.  My guess is unprocessed trauma and its long term effects. That includes memories of violence so acute that 60 years later my body has decided it’s still not safe to allow up, and maybe never will be. That’s OK with me. I know Danny committed rape, but that memory stays repressed. 

That does something to the brain, and the body’s systems that keep one on high alert at all times. Because if the danger isn’t ‘out there,’ there’s plenty still swimming around inside me.  NO place is safe, No place to run. What are small shifts to others are huge upheavals to those who experienced traumas that were not processed. Damage is hard-wired in… corrupt. 

Some days Hercules conquers the world, the increase of light making me loopy; 5 laps around the meadow become ten, or an hour of exercise at the Community Center feels easy. The next day little to nothing, or more truthfully enough but the critic bangs in my head saying, ‘look what wasn’t accomplished.’

Tame the critic. The most valuable work is that,  and gentleness. . 

By 3 AM medication was taken. When a regular sleep pattern is achieved, it feels like a miracle. And it will come. Just buckle in for the ride. You don’t have to live up to the pace of others, or what that pace looks like. Go gently my friend…. 

 

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.

PTSD-THE LIGHTENING STRIKES

Little did I understand my ‘illness.’ Calling it that is a first for me. All these years I loaded blame onto my shoulders and into my being for not keeping up, for intense reactions, even screaming if someone came up from behind or around a corner. Usually that was my kids, and most times not purposely because they learned early on that’s not funny with Mom because it caused a very serious scare.

But there is so much more, and it hasn’t been given gentleness or compassion, only self-hatred for being so different, for not being able to do what others do so easily, for being so tired, scared, and forever mistrusting. Even when someone truly cared, in my mind it is, ‘What are you up to? What do you want?’

It is not a life anyone else would want. In the night it strikes. I hadn’t thought of my sleep problems being connected with PTSD. Waking, it is as if a bomb went off. I must get out of bed to be safe and ready.

When anything small or large concerns me, it is during night waking’s that it feels life threatening. My entire body goes on alert without my permission. There is no sleeping when all the bells toll. What if, why didn’t I, oh, the hammerings at myself are deadening.

Last night something new occurred. A voice of calm began asking, ‘where is the compassion? Why aren’t you treating this body that has been through so much with kindness,  care and understanding? It is time you did.’

PTSD strikes many days causing my body to snap with electricity on alert.  It is my norm. To have moments of true relaxation is a state others live in most of the time but not for me. Finally speaking up to my son requiring respect has intensified my usual PTSD symptoms;  sleep problems, a buzzing during daytime accompanied by bouts of tears, restlessness without relief, rat in a wheel repetitive negative thoughts, and despair.

The rift is deeply painful yet necessary. I am the only one who believes that. Others would prefer what they are accustomed to. To act in loving ways towards oneself when others disapprove, or don’t like it, takes great resolve and is oh so needed. 

More meditation, rest after a bad night, diligent work at positive, validating thoughts, and an intense fortitude to work through this differently in a way that finally allows my voice to be heard and respected are all issues being worked on. I won’t apologize for being alive.

When all others are against you, sometimes you must be strong. Making changes in the status quo meets with resistance, even, or most, from those we love. It is as necessary as air, or why exist?

No one else understands the deep currents of how PTSD interferes with one’s life, how much is taken, and I won’t get back. No amount of work will change it. I can learn to understand and care about myself though. That miracle can happen. Laying down every last atom of self-respect so others can trample all over it is my norm.

It is only this year at age 65 that I put out my arm like a cop and said no to Samuel’s brother when he kept coming towards me to hug me as I kept backing away. I said, “That OK, I’m not much of a hugger.’

I have suffered his embrace just as I have suffered Tom’s embrace all these years because I couldn’t say NO. Samuel’s brother also raped his sister way back before I knew him. It is no accident I chose a family with the same dysfunctions and crimes, though not consciously. 

Others don’t understand PTSD symptoms because they have healthy boundaries in place and always have. They weren’t trained to take and expect abhorrent abuses to their bodies, mind, and psyche. And it doesn’t happen to others because since the day of meeting a new person each feels the other out and learns about where boundaries are.

That is how it’s done, but for me, so much time is spent dissociating I’ve missed all the cues, and have no boundaries anyway. If you mistreat me, I act nicer, placate more, bowing at your feet even shining your shoes while down there. Whatever it takes to feel accepted especially after any iota of disapproval, but never knowing, accepting, or respecting myself. 

One must grasp onto what’s left before it is gone. A long standing dysfunction is hard to change. A relationship can either sustain the shift or not. One must stay strong to protect their right in this world, on this planet, and in this little plot of land I call home.

PRISON

The patterns of abuse run through me like lines in my palm, my arteries, my veins. These won’t change. I have fought, struggled, and tried to escape the bindings of the abuse, but there is no escape. The locked prison is my soul. I flounder around bumping my head, and when realizing there is no way out, I sit in peace and acceptance. I am so tired of fighting.

Tom’s ways became the ways of my daughter-in-law. Demean, pick away at, take down, but always do so in a way that others won’t notice, only me, and what’s left of my tattered soul. I stuff it by eating, saying nothing, or lamenting constantly to Samuel who will not hear, and never acts. I am alone.

 

When I Die

photo by Patricia

If writing helps just one other person, that is enough. If it helps only me, that is also enough. Even now, in this age, childhood sexual abuse isn’t talked about much except that much more has been exposed in the news. Still, that person, once a child, holds it in because others don’t want to hear, and certainly families don’t.

So she is there alone in her pain. Pain so great she often wants to die. To hear another speak the unspoken gives hope. Just as the little books only found in the city’s tiny women’s bookstore helped me thirty years ago when I dared to begin to look at what was done. In those books women spoke the truth of what was done, every word, every vicious transgression that a little child suffered, and held in.

I wasn’t alone with that tar inside me that threatened taking my life. What my brothers had done. But it wouldn’t be until thirty years later, after my mother died, when I didn’t have to protect her delusions of a happy of family, that I too spoke my truth, and the tar slowly regurgitated out; the details of what had been done. One chapter roiled up after another, what happened as a child held in. Interspersed with the treacherous pain was joy. Joy, that had been imprisoned in the thick, black tar. 

Until the day my mother died ten years ago, we had a happy family. One where I spun in circles with anxiety like a whirling dervish, or fell into depressions so bottomless that climbing out wasn’t possible without therapy. Dark days, one after the other, and a wish for death every day. Oh, I had spoken some of what happened, but everyone ignored it and went on as if I had never spoken of the traumas within.

And factions broke off here and there. Yet we all continued to pretend. But after her death, after my swooning over her grave time and again mourning her loss, the words began to come. The words of truth over what had been done. The words no one still wants to hear. 

Some days even now death doesn’t sound so bad. It is that hard, and when the time comes I hope I’m in that frame of mind. Not really wishing for it, though maybe I might, but realizing I’ve done all I can to overcome the abysmal obstacles put in my path. Die at peace. When it’s time, I want that feeling of satisfaction when I let go.

I want to live every day ready. Ready is wholeness, a connectedness to my being. And liking being there. For much of my life I did not have this, what many others take for granted. For me it is a miracle and a blessing.