PEACEFUL GRATITUDE

A gentle, peaceful way to start the day, sipping fresh brewed rich dark coffee on the screened porch, centering in on feelings hoping to reach my core without slants, twists or turns. But often that is a no go, hyped up on something else besides calm and peace, disconnected from myself.

One day to the next can be so different. Yesterday’s realization that fall’s downward mood is already invading, but then the surprise of a subsequent ability to find solace inside, because the granite yielded to kindness. Today? Different feelings.

As the mother and white spotted baby deer nibbled grass in the early morning misted meadow, feelings come that rise above self, encompassing more than just that. An expansion. Opening to it, peace fills me, comforting my often chaotic interior, and with those gracious feelings…gratitude.

GRANITE is not a Soft Place to Fall

Falling into fall. The energetic hopeful feelings bringing pep in my step has withered into a steady plodding along. But one thing learned, exercise is the tonic to winter depression, which starts about this time every year, getting deeper as sunlight dwindles and shorter days darken my mood.

By lap three that lift in my being wakes up. It once again feels good to be alive as senses become alert looking around as if seeing it for the first time.

All the work becomes harder, especially chasing away negative thoughts, always jumping on reasons why others may not seem caring. Could it be that’s their way with everyone? That it isn’t because I’m unworthy?

There is at my core dis-ease of self-doubt. A feeling of badness or unworthiness which became part of my personality. A rock solid belief that forever needs chipping away. Like granite it is hard, but work continues.

A RETURN TO FREEDOM

The sweet taste of freedom rises once again after losing it for weeks to guilt, duty, and being attached to thoughts of failing, not only with moving closer to Stevie, but also Don and Seth. Some lessons are learned slowly and only after much pain. Just because they all formed what seems like a group of family, then pressured me to join in, doesn’t mean forcing myself to become a part of it… though attempt after attempt was made.

Freedom. Freedom to make choices based on the truth of my existence which confines my ability to do what others do so easily; travel, enjoy parties or groups of people, go to doctors without effort or fear, the list is long. Yet the limits mostly don’t feel like limits unless it interferes with helping someone deeply cared about like Stevie.

But who has been there for me? Certainly not even myself. It is time to take care of my many needs instead of pretending they don’t exist. If you can’t handle that, you are not meant to be close to me. And just how many relationships can be handled, or even are needed?

Concentrating on the ones most close, my husband, kids, grand-kids, and a few friends, takes enough energy and is worth the work bringing joy ten-fold.

That cannot be said for those professing to be ‘family.’ As much work as was put forward to be a part of what they have formed, it is full of holes spinning me into freefall with no one to catch me.

Choices. The soft voice rising up says, ‘You can do this. You have the answers, and can figure things out.’ Better to continue on the path to freedom, wholeness and health, even if that means a continued barrier between me and dysfunction.

FORWARD or BACKWARD?

The whisperings coming from my soul confuse me. Having trouble deciding something because a quiet voice rises up to be heard is difficult to listen to… more of a sense or feeling than the loud voice usually directing traffic in my head.  

Yet there lies the true voice, the one so often denied, so often going unheeded, so necessary on the path to health and wholeness.

It is in the quiet meditative walks in the glorious meadow when this voice, this quiet feeling wafts up to be acknowledged- when all other distractions are replaced by beauty, solitude, and grace.

The slow change of white Queen’s Ann’s Lace giving way to yellow as the mustard plants begin to open. Almost stepping on a Praying Mantis as it hops out of my way. Looking like a leaf, it wouldn’t have been seen if it hadn’t moved. Each lap in the meadow brings me closer to myself. Nature offers surprises as the heron drifts off from the creek shore to find another fishing spot.

Though not wanting to encapsulate the summer as a hard one, there have been challenges internally with the guilt over a little brother (who towers over me now) needing me yet I couldn’t be there for him. It feels like going backwards a leap, after baby steps forward.

But is it? The thought forms that the well of pain early on, the repeated traumas, were put on hold. And that dipping into that chasm has to be done in spurts, not all at once. Go back, feel what was silenced, what was always silenced, even now with these people professing to be ‘family’ — feel it, let it in, lets the tears come even now 60 years later.

Because there is pain to unravel and understand. A great need for compassion towards myself and the little girl that I was continues. That part of me still hurts, is willful, and often raging. She does things impulsively that cause harm. Go there, be there for her, acknowledge the pain and let it flow up. But it’s not up to her to run things. Take the reins, guide her to health in all realms… spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental.

The path to wholeness starts with care for myself, even if overriding another’s needs. That is authenticity, to be true to self. But first I have to find who that is. A life of asking others to guide me because I had no way to my core is slowly changing as connections occur.

Learn to LOVE Thy Self

Even a solitary life such as mine brings pain. The world comes in, how could it not with the amount of news we watch? But other things, such as saying no to a younger brother who over the years learned to expect things from me that are out of bounds. Yet with my poor self-esteem, and feelings of duty to care for my younger brother, I hop at his requests, just like I tend to hop at Samuel’s requests.

Stevie was trained early on by Tom to treat me cruelly with no consequences. That I deserved it. Because Tom had a secret- what he did to me, so with it came making me look bad and unworthy. That helped create a scenario with all 6 other brothers. Since the outlook towards me is that I’m more worthless than others, it’s OK to treat me with scorn, and as if I’m invisible. I easily went along with it so you will just love me.

This summer the angst of saying no to little brother Stevie has caused a great deal of pain. Saying yes to my needs overriding his took great strength. It has been a long time coming. At eight years old after Dad died, Mom and I sang Silent Night each night to Stevie, along with the ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ prayer.

 Stevie would ask me, “Is Daddy gone?”

Even at my young age taking care of Stevie came naturally. Mom became absorbed in going out into the work force despite her grief, and also started drinking more.

“He’s not gone, he’s up in heaven looking over us,” I said.

As we grew the older boys were out of the house a lot. It was Stevie and me wandering the neighborhood on our bikes while Mom was at work. Keeping an eye on him became my job.

But also through the years his tendency to treat me differently than others, less than, not worthy of respect, went unnoticed by him, but hurt me sharply. It has only been recently that in my own quiet way I say NO.

Not without angst. Finally having a talk with him yesterday, I did relay that after saying no about visiting so Samuel could do electrical work for him he completely stopped emailing, calling, or videoing.

I repeated it because he didn’t seem to hear me.

“After I said no, I didn’t hear from you,” I said, adding, “I thought you must have been really hurt. It’s not that I don’t want to see you, I cannot sleep elsewhere and must take something every night. It’s a huge challenge. After going to Cory’s, then camping with Shane, I felt I met my two biggest challenges and goals. Adding one more was just too much, plus I’ve been sick for a month with diverticulitis.”

“Oh, well, you think too much, you overthink it,” he said, obviously wanting to move on, unconnected to his own inner workings.

Later while walking the meadow my thoughts bent on what he said that in the past might have hurt me. It was a criticism saying I think too much. Talking aloud to myself I said to him, “You don’t think enough!” Not something I could do in person, not just yet. He is way to sensitive to criticism himself of any kind.

My tears began while trying to explain to him about how hard it is to travel, especially after his slight show of compassion about it.

“Sorry you have such a hard time traveling, but it’s OK,” he said. More tears.

“No, it’s not. I can’t do what I want to do. My body is just tired out after a stress filled life,” I said, not going into childhood issues which I’ve always kept from him, protecting him. Don has recently told both of them the broad issues of my being a survivor, as that’s what dysfunctional families do, tell personal things about someone who is not there.

Not going up to help my little brother bothered me that much, enough to cause tears. My needs came first, and though taking that step was incredibly hard it also came with more understanding, love, and care for myself… and more self-respect.

That is growth, healing and growth, which can often be painful.

TOM vs CUOMO

Summer came with struggles that didn’t have to happen, but, there’s always a but, BUT, maybe growth that occurs because of it is needed.

Seeing those who profess being ‘family’ has caused a great deal of pain, confusion, and what feels like going backwards… not just a step, but back to childhood. The 68 year old turned right back into the pleasing doormat.

How can a person handle cravings for the poisonous family she was brought into, trying to be part of it after feeling pressured to do so, then be caused even more damage than what occurred coming out of it? So much put into growth… gone in an instant. First saying NO to Stevie, and the ensuing guilt for not being there for my little brother, my needs taking precedence. (miracles can happen!)

Seth- inviting him to camp at my favorite place, but catering to him, making all the food, becoming the slave of my youth at $2 an hour, jumping up to do whatever he asked back then; iron a shirt, get something for him to eat, etc. But it added to my stash being saved up for my pony so I didn’t care. But I care now. I care not to become his maid nor anyone’s. I care to have the freedom to be the woman I’ve grown into, not the pleasing doormat he requires.

Cuomo. As a resident of New York, (up in the boonies, not New York City) his handling of the virus and ability to come along and calm down my wild anxiety as the deadly invading virus crept closer and closer to our area, will never be forgotten. My gratitude extends to him always. My sadness at losing his outstanding, extraordinary capable work ethics and ability profound.

But I always wondered why he didn’t seem to date, divorced a beautiful, accomplished wife, (or she him), and didn’t have a steady committed relationship. So many women (more his age) chirped in tweets during his daily briefings that they’d love to date this late middle-aged attractive man.

But he didn’t have time. He threw all he had into his work excelling at it. From reports it seems he copped a feel along the way with very young women who were his daughters’ age. The ones that worked for him, looked up him as a father figure and mentor. Creepy. Like Tom, my eldest sibling. There’s power in that too.

I always felt uncomfortable about how much he reminded me of Tom, even looking similar. Both accomplished, though Tom is now retired, and was a lawyer at a prestigious firm. Yet in the dark corners lurked a lack of character, a dark character that neither are aware of? Not possible. You can’t be that smart and not know. It’s no longer possible to love either one of them.

They both lack the ability to be fully honest with themselves. I wouldn’t want to live with holes in my soul like that. I have holes. I flutter in the breeze like a tattered kite, but their rips of blemish are not mine. My rips come from not seeing my good, but I’m working on that.

You can have character, and not. Each has character with their work, but sadly, and criminally, fail elsewhere. Would I take advantage of my little sister, creeping in at night to suck at her vagina while she sleeps, then spend the rest of her life making her feel like the worst outcast that ever existed?

Would I become a world class state leader then take advantage of my adoring employees, copping a feel, kissing, or making off color jokes? I not only hope not, I wouldn’t.

LOST and FOUND

In trying to be

What others want

I

Lose

Me

Pieces scatter like a bucket of wash water thrown out with a splash. Saying no to Stevie caused weeks of worry, sleepless nights, and guilt tinged with grief. All these feelings to sort out; guilt for saying no to my younger brother, grief that our relationship is so poor along with reminders of an origin family where insurmountable pain existed which wreaked lives shortening them.

Trust the wisdom that caused me to say no, though it has been hard to like myself ever since. The wonder of exciting days awaiting dissolved, my ability to stay on track nutritionally went too. All the feelings about myself went sour, positive feelings that took persistent, long-term work to develop.

Why can’t you help your little brother? (the critic ever-present) Though it wasn’t my help, it was Samuel’s he desired. Just bate my sister as if really wanting to see me, a TV in my room, put there just for me…NOT. Repeated video chats, once calling back SEVEN times when I wasn’t up to answering him, then the rarity of actually answering an email, also telling me how much fun it will be on the lake, etc., but what he really wanted was collusion in his chaos.

The man could have another house that did not need so much work. But he wanted to do the work. (I don’t) He is 65. Really, buy a house that has 30 outdoor stone steps required each time to just get inside it? No indoors stairs to the basement. You carry groceries and all else up those steps?

Flat surfaces for us. Also, with my limited abilities, focus is finally being honed onto the closest and most important relationships- my husband, then children, their children, and friends who feel much safer than brothers and more enjoyable to be with. Not so with Stevie.

He can be very demanding, even telling me what I can say and what I can’t. Like hating Trump. Maybe that is a sweetness within him, not wanting others to say they hate someone, yet in less than a year he was saying the same thing.

I surely don’t want to be around his energy, the chaos within him of both retiring and being in a new home, huge life changes that seem to be bringing out a excessive restlessness in him. That is an energy hard to around since my own insides are often in turmoil. What I crave is the ability to be still and be OK with that. To feel it to my core and have this newly found peace spread throughout me.

Long, long ago, when we were both living at Mom’s in our twenties. My rooms were in the basement. Mom was beginning Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. Stevie had begun a job as a bartender. He excitedly talked me into turning my little living room in the basement into a bar. Uh, OK. It doesn’t matter that’s where I live, or that Mom is drying out. Will you then love me?

The aftereffects of saying no have been grim. Yet in its wake there is an enormous leap of growth into self-preservation, respect of self, and yes, a continued path towards love of self.

it is the things

you say no to

that really show

your commitment

to your growth

yung pueblo

A RECKONING

MORNING SUNBEAMS AT THE CREEK

It’s a little early for melancholy, the drop in mood that occurs each fall. Yet some birds are grouping in trees and practicing flight plans, and others may have already left for warmer climates. The sun sets earlier, rises later, and that feeling of sadness creeps in. The core work of turning a belief of unworthiness into worthiness seems much harder to confront, but there it is smacking me in the face.

Day after day of reversing that loud critic that screams badness, wrongness, and that I’m unfit to live. Hasn’t any progress been made? It seems that the excess weight is proof of my unworthiness. That carrying it is all I have to prove my worth. If I hate myself, will I then be loved by those brothers who feel so unsafe?

That it has always been my job to carry the burden of what was done to me so that the others won’t have to? Yet three out of four attackers have died, and died too early for the normal life span of most. I believe they did carry a very heavy burden which lead to a shorter life. The fourth, not a bit, but at least he moved out west and I have no contact.

Even as little as a month ago Seth sent a group email including that fourth attacker with no awareness that I DON’T WANT TO BE IN AN EMAIL WITH HIM! It took up till this year to request that Stevie and Don not do it, then Seth does it. I did not ask Seth thinking he must know.

But they continue to remain clueless to the wreckage Tom left behind after attacking me. All the years of put-downs, which broke me as much or more than the attacks.

And oh how I want family. Yet cannot. How can I? When those three interact with Tom frequently by email as if nothing ever happened? When I know if he had done to their daughters what he did to me, no way would he be their good buddy.

So the craving continues, both for core feelings of worthiness because that is still elusive, and for family. Having my woman friends over for our monthly get-together brought to light again just how safe I feel with them which is in such opposition to the three brothers who didn’t abuse me.

Making arrangements to spend time with these three brothers brought on sleeplessness with danger sirens so strong they drown me in self-doubt with feelings of failure for not being able to connect. But who really is at fault for that?

When others who profess to love you don’t stand up with you and your testimony of past torture, how can they be trusted? How can I know of my worth if you don’t see me, hear me, or believe me? If you won’t even listen, then put me down for telling my story (which Seth did)?

Reaching an impasse at weight loss isn’t about weight, but about loving myself; honestly respecting my authentic self, my factual story, even when others won’t. Especially then. A reckoning of self. A true face to face. Do you have the courage to truly love yourself? To keep going to places where peace and love grow?

PATIO FLOWER

PRESENCE

The body heals, but why must the mind stay broken? Broken in that it wields the power to destroy with thoughts that are negative, and lately going backwards to what one therapist used to label as ‘catastrophic thinking;’ a highly honed talent that needs to be extracted from my tool box, yet seems here to stay no matter how much work is pitted against it.

Summer, usually the most joyful because more daylight fights off winter depression which drops like a cloud in fall pressing down till spring, has brought up issues in both body and mind. But perhaps all summers have had their challenges and when we remember we forget the hardships and think of the best times?

As my body heals from the harsh divertriculitis attack, other mental challenges present themselves, but perhaps those are needed on the path to healing too. The healing of my spirit does not heal as efficiently as my body.

But isn’t that how it is for everybody? Growth is ongoing, ever-changing, and if you are aware continues till one’s last breath. That doesn’t have to be a life-sentence, but instead a life opportunity. It is just that lately the struggles seem to about sink me.

Yet up again for air. Go slow. Stay in the moment, and most of all pick up the meditation practice slipped from daily must do’s after over 20 years of diligent habit. That brings comfort but one must do it!

It brings my being to my core. Settling into it like a warm caress placing all the pieces where they belong… Pain doesn’t go away, but room is made for it. Acceptance with patience, attributes not possessed in abundance – expand- helping me to be and stay present.

Isn’t that what life is about? To be in each moment, to treasure them, live them, painful or not?