THAWING

The room we chose to sleep in while vacationing in the the Adirondacks was tiny, dark, almost windowless and airless. The other two for my sons and families were large, airy and new. We felt that wing would give us space from the babies waking at night and our sons could attend to them without interfering with our sleep. 

I shut down, didn’t sleep, and felt far from home, the real structure and the one I worked hard to find inside of my own being. Three days after coming home I am still searching for the internal one.

Hung out from a place to reside brought coldness and disconnect like a ghost with nowhere to go. The cat struggled and the trip took a toll on her that she may not recover from. Feelings froze and acting like I had any took its place.

Feelings. Safety to have them. Basics like enough sleep and manageable stress. Those gifts return the moment we enter the driveway to our home. It is so good to be home. Each day brings me back into me as the frozen shell melts.

Photos from my garden and meadow

Go to the Light

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There is a part of me craving for family of origin. I dream of them, including Tom. Night after night ‘family’ enters my dreams, the wanting, the craving, the good parts of the past. Stories are concocted in the dreamworld that mimic my needs, stories that bring love and closeness. The yearning goes beyond my control into sub-consciousness. 

They interact with Tom, the abuser, more than with me in the real world. Two sister’s-in-law have acknowledged my pain, but none of ‘them.’

And they won’t. I am kept at arm’s length for a purpose, to shut me down and out. Niceties are shown to prove tolerance, a show of kindness, but no realness, no talking.

It is hitting a wall repeatedly because the wanting of family will exist till death. But my head hurts from the bruising. Go to the light. Live your life with those who want to live it with you.

The positive energy is not found from those who shut you down but those that bring light. Flagging self-esteem inside drives me to those who negate me. If you accept me, then I am alright and have finally made it. Step away from the black hole of a dark endless pit,

go to the light…

let go

AGAINST THE WIND

The little girl sexually abused. She knows loneliness far before any other child, a loneliness that scrapes and claws from the inside out. A loneliness she runs from in countless ways, as many ways as there are children abused.

A little girl sexually abused now woman. She remains alone in a way no other knows and she is unable to describe it because others wouldn’t understand. Her ways of running have become more destructive because the pain and horror of what she endured was kept inside her. Her family bade it that way.

Her family bids it that way in her womanhood too, her middle age, her retirement years, and to her deathbed no one steps up to wrap her tight and say, “I am sorry.”

The ones that knew and kept silent shun her. She is shunned in subtle ways, not outright, but seedy and cowardly, like the attacker. Acting supportive like cake icing, others in the so called family really exert an undertow of control instead of true love and support. Each looks after themselves. Each interact with the attacker(s) as if nothing happened. No one wants to hear or know different.

She cries alone abandoned. It has been made to look as if she has not been abandoned. She has been… all along she has been.

It was easier to control her in childhood, to keep the secrets of what her attacker(s) had done. If out in the open it would shame them. They knew and did nothing. Or they didn’t know, but know now but nothing changes because the shame still causes them to re-victimize the woman still terrorized into silence. If I speak I will be abandoned.

That truth remains and it feels terrifying. No one will admit that this control is being exerted and no proof can be provided because each is as manipulative, hurtful, and subversive as the attacker(s) they interact with.

The one who suffered the horrors in silence knows. She knows, and she also knows she cannot talk, not now, not ever. She can never be herself around the ‘family of origin.’ She never could, could she? Once attacked, once silenced, the child she was, the woman she became, hid so far away she will never show herself to those she once called family unless it’s safe.

It never becomes safe because the shackles and chains of silence still restrain her. Her beauty goes unnoticed, worse put down. Whatever tactics it takes to silence her are tightened down until the blood of defeat flows. Your dignity or your silence?

Her only relief is to stay present in the life she has built with those not threatened by her past. Those who truly love wholly with no reserve or feelings of selfishness of what her truths might do their fallacies.   

No one came to her then. No one comes to her now. The sadness like an undertow in everyday life threatens to steal all that she has built, all that she loves. The rage of injustice can drown her. She must chart her course and not lose sight of her soul. Against the winds she will find all that she needs because she already has it anyway.

Sail steady…

Food of Life

photos by patricia

Get to the root causes of why you overeat. Yes. Feed this body so it works properly.

What about the psyche, emotions, and the soul that searches for something never found? These crucial parts still crave satisfaction and wholeness.

I eat anxiety. I eat to feel better about the little girl lost, unloved and unprotected who to this day struggles with self-esteem and so much more. It is a desire and basic need that will forever go wanting because no one can go back and make it right…or safe.

At 64 I am only just learning to be kind to myself. That is key. Yet the constant challenges of confronting that harsh voice inside remains and needs work daily questioning its validity.

Food soothes. Food quiets the voice. But then another voice booms even louder, “You are fat, you are bad!” but it is one I’m used to from the age of 8 when food numbed the horrors. I go in circles and circles.

Keep at it, keep trying.

Waking to the birds, the humidity is thick. Taking coffee to the patio, bare feet against the cool cement, the nesting mourning dove calls hauntingly and sweetly back to her mate sipping water at the birdbath. They are on nest two. At this rate they will have three families by summer’s end. A tranquility descends into my being.

Each day a mystery. Will you feel fear, or be OK? Tame the beast of impermanence. Each day a challenge wrestling with thoughts, turning them around, finding the peace restlessly craved; a quietness in the soul that when found allows textures to be felt, scents to be absorbed, and moments to be full…

FATHER’S DAY

photos by patricia

The thick heavy warm night causes restlessness. Sticking to the sheets from the oppressive heat rather than pulling up the quilt to snuggle beneath it from a cooler night wakes me. The dark and quiet is unnerving. Even the errant baby mocking bird has learned to keep its night-time chirps silent.

I roll this way then that way finding no comfort. Still that mind, do it. Stop thinking of each thing you’ve ever done wrong or seems wrong. It’s OK to have made mistakes. Who loves you? Do you? The answer comes back, “No.”

You will find your solace in loving yourself with all your mistakes and past misdeeds. You are the one who needs to do this, and you can. That is where solace lies, within. Go there and love her. Why in the night do these things loom so large?

Waking early in my gown I take my snippers and camera to the meadow. The sun is still red as it climbs over the hedgerow, the day’s heat at bay for only a half-hour more. I lie in the dewy grasses to take just the right shot of the daisy smiling at me, “Good morning. How are you?”

A bird flies from the birdhouse startled at my presence. A few circles of meadow grasses have been trampled in a neat circle suggesting deer have spent the night. Clipping wildflowers for a bouquet then heading back to the house, the sun heats the land quickly. House windows need to be shut at once to keep the heat out.

Shaking the blue-checkered tablecloth onto the table I ready for the day’s festivities. It is Father’s Day and we host my son and family for a swim and picnic. The bouquet is a perfect centerpiece. Strawberries from the garden are added to the rhubarb from a friend. It has already made seven jars of jam but enough is left for hand-held pies, the star of today’s cook-out.

The rhubarb mixture is never ending. I keep rolling out pie crusts and crimping edges getting weary. After three batches going into the oven separately they are finally done, perfectly browned at the edges, oozing a trail of juice at the slits, and glistening with sparkly sugar.

The day is complete with swimming in-between thunderstorms, cooking out, then opening some Father’s Day gifts for both Samuel and son Shane. And though I love our time together feeling that our hosting was a success, I also love time alone with nature needing it like sun and air. This morning a gentle rainy day lay before me, the quiet a peaceful respite after yesterday’s activities…

STORMS

photo by patricia; mourning dove fledgling

The day is spectacularly bright, sparkly and sunny but a stormy tornado twists my insides. The weight of PTSD is oppressive. Sometimes I wonder why we have children. Why put them through this thing called life? I don’t want to face this day. It takes courage. One day is all lovely and nice and the next has me asking why do I have to live it?

Others do not bear the burden of this heavy sadness that sends me to the couch to rest, closing my eyes to the world and its overwhelming challenges. My husband and sons don’t just seem calm, they are calm, at least calmer than me in the midst of a storm. I can barely hold on.

“Are there stitches?” I ask the eye doctor fearfully.

“Just once this past year, that is rare,” he answers.

Though I like him, he doesn’t get it. Trying to explain to another who hasn’t lived with fear that shoots one to the outer limits of the stratosphere is not possible. Though compassion for the obvious struggles may exist, one does not know what another feels unless they have been there.

But a medical person should know the ramifications of adults traumatized as children and how to handle treatment accordingly. Some do. He doesn’t.

“It’s more common than people realize. One out of four are sexually attacked as children, some statistics state one out of three,” I explain, adding “My adrenaline eats up anesthesia and sedatives. Others sleep but I am wide awake. I need more than the average person”

I call back and ask more questions about the needed cataract surgery for the left eye. He reassures me that wanting my procedure done in the hospital rather than his surgical center is a good idea. He thought about me after I left which is heartening.

He intends to talk to one of his colleagues about my issues, a cataract surgeon at the hospital I use. So when I’m ready there is a referral and a safe place to go. They took very good care of me before in the out-patient department. 

The follow-up with a phone call to have more questions answered and being more thorough about my needs and care is new to me and a long time coming. I’ve lived through some bad procedures and callous doctors by going through the system like everybody else.

Others seem to go through with things with little or no problem. It is not that way for me whether colonoscopy’s, endoscopy’s, dental procedures and certainly not for cataract surgery. Taking the time to feel assured I’ll be taken care of properly and feeling confident in who will be doing it are prudent measures.

In the past intense fear kept me numb. No questions were asked because I couldn’t ask them nor had the ability to advocate for myself. I am learning.

VOICELESS

So much is taken when a child is sexually abuse by a loved one, family friend, or anyone the child knows well and trusts. Of course the same is true if it’s a stranger but that is not usually the case.

Her world as she knew it stops. Trust- stops. Innocence? Gone. Of the many damaging aspects that follows me throughout life, some have lessened others increase. The constant feeling that anything going on is somehow my fault has mostly lessened.

That is called personalization. Google’s definition of the term in psychology: Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.

It feels like living in a bad, dark box of wrongness. This feeling can descend at any time but I have learned to look at how the other person adds to the situation and often is more the cause of the problem than I am. I have learned to be on my side. I try to chase that thinking off quickly but sometimes get stuck and need help to like myself again and feel OK. 

This is hard. I still feel locked in and remind myself often, You are free. You are free to feel, think and respond as you really do feel and think. Living within the confines of the silence that ‘family’ required is a box I still find myself punching my way out of.  Just who am I? And how do I really feel? And what do I really think, even if it doesn’t please another?

PSTD responses continue, adrenaline rushes only a moment away. Anxiety an ongoing issue. Tiredness from living a life filled with too much cortisol being expelled on a daily basis due to the startle response, often several times daily, has depleted my body’s reserves.

There is a limited amount of energy available each day. This is a chronic permanent issue very hard to accept which means there’s a tendency to overdo because of a craving to keep up with others.

One of most disturbing aspects is the loss of my voice, taken at age 8 never to be found again…not really. Bits and pieces pop back when that voice surprises me when I firmly say, NO, or speak up naturally from my gut. But too often I am mute. I can speak up later on the phone, email or in a letter. Safer.

And why not? I was taught to love those who attacked me and to say nothing. I learned I didn’t matter, didn’t count and was less than. That is when the feeling of always being wrong took root…and grew as I grew.  Roots have a way of never fully coming out. If I spoke up the risk is abandonment and loss of family, the only people a child has.

So I try to accept the frustrating fact that even at age 64 my voice for myself is often mute when I need to be very vocal in advocating for myself. I can be ferocious for others, like my children when growing up, but not for myself.

The work of being gentle with myself towards this very real loss that didn’t occur by my doing and other grievous losses continues. A gentle approach opens up an internal richness that offers softness, warmth and acceptance.