WHOLESOMENESS

There is an ever present belief of ‘not as good as,’ lying deep in my core as if part of my personality like bedrock. Sometimes it lies dormant, only a whisper, and this only after years of internal strife, anxiety, and tearing myself apart with struggles over any interaction with another.

Whatever I did, said, or looked like was wrong, a mistake. That is what sexual abuse within a family does. When a child is forced to stay silent to protect the family’s shame, trauma swims within her like sharks eating her flesh from the insides out. Shame rots all that would blossom.  

I believed I was ‘bad.’ That grew as I grew. Every person who looks at me must be thinking something bad about me. That was a surety in my belief system making any attempt at just about anything supremely difficult and almost impossible.

Those feelings paralyze stunting growth. The body grows, the rest stagnates causing a quagmire of pain rolling like a tumble weed as years passed. As days grow shorter old ghosts rise consuming all rationality threatening to pull me under.

You are as good as others. How absurd to believe otherwise? A voice, soft and gentle is heard. A voice once gagged for the sake of the family. Even now freedom is squelched out of habit, but beliefs and feelings are opening to the stars and the heavens.

You have a right to be here. I suffered despite the so called ‘family’ acting as if I didn’t. The call to them has diminished. The need for it about gone. That need only makes the pain go deeper, but like a moth to flame I kept coming back.

A change has evolved, a quietness, and acceptance of how things are, where I stand, and how to provide for my needs for the very first time, untainted by another looking out for their own interests.

It is freeing. The internal quiet and acceptance so longed for, fought for, and coming into all parts of my being after the weapons are put down. The moments of now are savored instead of avoided.

It comes when least expected, this surprise of wholesomeness.

 

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AUTHENTICITY

We met a few towns over for brunch. I told Cory it was OK, that coming from Massachusetts for such a quick trip to be best man at his friend’s wedding, and staying at the venue instead of with us, was OK, OK, OK. I’m sure I said it four times at least, but never that I’d rather not drive to meet for breakfast before they went on their way back home. Oh course, never that!

He seemed stuck on it so that we would have a little time together, but it didn’t feel like him. Something wasn’t right or real. My urge was to say Nah, I’d rather not, just go ahead and get on the road. It was couched in another way much less direct, as if it would be for his benefit, which it would be, but also mine.  Driving to meet for an hour in a little cafe was not appealing..

And once there, it did come out that his sweet wife had encouraged him to make time to see us. Had I known that for sure, my insistence that they just get going would have been more authentic. It is a 6 hour trip.

Weaving the threads of what benefits my spirit, balancing those with the needs and wants of others, all while the darkness of shorter days also darkens my internal world, becomes much harder. Summertime breezed by happily, but the long months to come will take new initiatives to conquer it. When is pushing myself beneficial, and when does it backfire?

But once again inauthenticity strikes. It was an ongoing struggle deciding the week beforehand; my instincts vs what he was suggesting. Not going seemed so outrageously unmotherly. It would have been fine. Cory and I tend to be honest like that. His wife has softened him in ways that work for them.

But not this time. The world I try to control to keep my internal workings calm is disrupted by inauthenticity. Doing for those I love comes first, including the cat. It also includes just about anyone else. Inauthentic choices are becoming harder and harder to swallow, keeping me awake when I should be asleep.

Can you be honest, say no, and still like yourself? I will have to try it sometime. Courage is not always slaying dragons. Sometimes it is just showing up. 

How to Brighten a Rainy Day

Though tedious for some, for arthritic hands needing movement to maintain agility, this simple project has brought hours of fun. Some will be gifts, and others are strung from the double window for year round sparkle when the light hits them just right. 

That they are Christmas themed does not matter as the rules of the house are mine. Well, Samuel’s too, but he doesn’t care.

After a day of doubling down on the usual negative messages that pop into my head unbidden, last night sleep came. When feeling powerless without voice, memories of all that I’d hoped to have dragged myself out of come flooding back.

It happens like a switch turned on, suddenly right back in that lonely, tarry hole. A seemingly innocuous experience becomes poignantly piercing leaving a residue. Support hastens recovery.  

It isn’t a lack of character or strength. It was the damage done.

A new day, full of happiness after speaking with both sons on their way to work. First one, then after hanging up, magically the other calls. I am the luckiest Mom filled with pride and joy.  

Alive and Liking It

 

What can you do to nurture yourself today? The barrage of negative feelings that tend to speak first with volume is ongoing challenging work to confront. Snippets of success here, a backwards landslide next, leaving me discouraged.

But over time a miracle. A voice first heard that encourages, supports and booms louder than the old one once scourging my interior with brash, insidious, destruction… just like Tom.

Assuming the role of the attackers became my way. A life of attacking myself takes time to reverse. And over time, the new me that reflects more truly the original me, flourishes. Being in my own body, mind, and heart feels at home, the welcome mat out.

Doing simple tasks or pastimes is OK. I don’t have to change the world, just my thoughts about myself. Liking myself, being a part of the world with this new liking of myself, feeling just as equal to others instead of less than, so less than I’d think of death, or feel I deserved to be dead, is a gift—to the world, but most especially to myself. 

Maybe for some it is a rite of passage from childhood to maturity. For many, it is not. The work to achieve  a connection to my core when daring to touch it, feeling a bit of awe and admiration for what is there, and has been all along, took time. It took a life, and that work continues. 

INNER ACCEPTANCE

When struggling, in pain, anguish, confusion, fear, anxiety, or any of the other countless forms of hurt, words pour forth easily. But what then when the tremors inside are calm, and feelings of well-being flow?

Will boredom replace chaos, or shall I take the peace and enjoy it? How this occurs is not really a mystery, or parts of it are. It was a war, a war with the world. But decades of fight are over.

There are things about me that have not changed. I am not easy to be close to. I like my solitude, and prefer to interact with others infrequently. Nature is my truest friend. (and my cat) Time does not heal all wounds, but hard work, perseverance, and courage do.

Wounds remain still, because what was taken in childhood when hands lay upon me unbidden, stole all that is sweet, innocent, and natural. Those hands took my life. The one left to live was run from.

Coming ‘home’ to what is after the rage burned out sustains. Warmth softens not burns. Once inner acceptance is felt it grows.    

 

EACH MOMENT

The balmy morning, though darkly silent, draws me out on the porch with the cat without shivering from the cold. The flux in temperatures is interesting, nights dropping cold, the sun warming the land causing thick clouds of low lying fog drifting off with the warmth.

Some days slowing my mind to absorb the beauty around me does not come. Walking the meadow, the tall grasses once lush green have dried causing a swoosh walking by as the breeze makes them sway.

Leaves fall in swatches while sitting creek-side making a crunch underfoot grounding me to the earth. Wake and notice. But my mind drifts off elsewhere, and it is hard to stay present. Thoughts turn to the miracle of long periods of sleep, and what has changed since the trip to Cory’s.

Because that is when the miracle of night after night of sleep started. Perhaps the knowledge that the seemingly impossible is possible if enough effort and determination is put forth. That my mind is more powerful than given credit for.

That feelings are welcome, yet some can be turned from gently closing the door on them. Fear? Anxiety? Come to the moment to chase those away. An upcoming call concerning when the eye surgery will be? Dismiss it. There will time to face that fear when it happens. No need to dwell on it now.

Instead offer myself encouragement that it will be handled. And with aplomb. You can do it, and do it with a sense of peace, prayer, and hope when the time arrives.

But other feelings? Those need to run through me, not be avoided, because stuffing them only causes the pain to linger coming out in other ways often by disturbing the body’s physical health..

How to know which ones to keep and which ones to maneuver? That is not a ‘head’ decision, but one of soul. That place is now open, not clogged with hate, bitterness, and oily, tarry hands of what brothers did. Rage like layers of volcanic earth far below the surface needed out.

All that had to be expunged. And what work to excavate. Decades. The work done, joy and peace spread up through over the red raw healing interior like balm.

Enjoy the day. Enjoy the moment, it is finally OK to be in my body; ligaments, muscles, arteries, bones and flesh, moving into the doors of my soul to explore.

A New Day

photo by Patricia

Winter yawns before me, even though the leaves have only begun to fall. The cat hunches on the screened porch in the cold darkness, too cold for me to join her which was the usual all summer long. Dark, cold and quiet, too quiet, disturbingly quiet.

No morning birds to greet me, no tree frogs, no nothing. Crickets still hum when the sun appears, but the sun is long in coming because my usual waking is about 5:30 AM…. Grateful for another full night of sleep.

But how to conquer this new time of year, when darkness creeps into the light of day, and the corners of my mind. The tendency to do down in mood, inevitable, yet something feels different. An internal current prevails which gently rushes the shores of my being, not tidal waves of panic, anxiety and fear.

A time of peace unfounded. A life of terror quelled. Anxiety petted until purring with contentment. It is new territory, unused to, but take it. It is OK to take, live it, and savor what never was but now is.

The years of pretending-over. The truth told against all that wished me to stay mum. Most of the monsters from the house of my child-hood, dead. Though the memory of their terror remains, my synapses hard-wired with it, anticipating the quiet to suddenly explode. That edginess smoothed out but close-by at all times. 

Walking the path as the sun warms my body and hickory nuts crunch underfoot, my words try to comfort the scared child within. It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK. Even now, or especially now, she needs comforting. They are dead, they are dead, they are dead. Only one remains. And he is far away.

Monsters are real. I lived with them. And the memory lies inside me ready to wake. But now the calm goes on day after day, and I dare breath, take in the day, take in the now, and feel peace.