THE PHEONIX

When a soul is upset, scattered, unloving, it isn’t a happy or peaceful life. Waking to a new day, the first thought; another day of work and self-discipline, that even though retired, there is a job to do.

Clearing a head full of self-negatives is no easy task as the clamoring can be constant and habitual. Rising from the ashes again and again, only to be burned by my own inner enemy, happening day to day every day.

With determination and perseverance peace is found, fleeting, yet here for more than a string of moments, for days tied together like sweet grapes on a vine.

An email to Seth that he didn’t answer. Get worried or upset? You have a choice. To change a habit, you replace it. The replacement for worrying about doing something wrong is to see myself with gentleness, love, and acceptance.

Despair curdled my efforts so many times, but giving up? No, just keep at it, pull myself up as many times as needed, and keep trying.

BEING WITH ME

Shifting internal dialogue has taken decades, many, many years of therapy, but of late the resolution to a life of forever feeling bad has taken a turn towards lightness by being with myself in nature- the woods, the land, and me.

And it’s fleeting, as tomorrow my writing may be pain filled and down. But there are moments that have stretched into days where my internal world is gentle, loving, encouraging, and accepting of ME.

And it is more than a kinder voice, it is feeling wholly accepting of myself, more than OK, but that I too am a good person.

Raymond asks one day, “Good? That you are a good person?”, a psychiatrist who knew what he was doing, though pushing me into a career because I had the intelligence to do it might have been more about his being successful than me.

Though glad to have succeeded at such a feat because it paid for both sons education at a prestigious college and set them both on a burgeoning career in the technology field where they still work, the years it took me to accomplish it stressed my already overloaded nervous system.

Daily cortisol bursts from each challenge and the ever present fear of people caused my body to develop a syndrome of fatigue that cannot be repaired. It was worth it to see them thrive now, even if I don’t, not in that way, but in my own quiet way; learning to be with me and be OK, a place always run from before that I now inhabit fully.

Fractured, now whole, perhaps a bit bumpy, but whole.

It has always been about goodness, that I wasn’t, I was bad, abnormal, bad, bad, bad. The revelation that I am of good heart, as human as any with mistakes, flaws, and quirks? That it is more than just words? All new.

Every minute alive is one minute gone. Getting older one begins to realize that, that this moment is precious and living it feeling bad because I’ve been habituated to feel that way doesn’t have to be. I am learning otherwise, I am learning the truth.

The rabbits, soggy ground, icy earth, birds, and running water of the creek have taught me that. That being with me is the best place to be.  

THE PATH TO PEACE

The fifty-degree morning felt balmy and unusual for December, patches of icy areas, the rest soggy grass. So quiet, not barely a sound making it eerie yet satisfying.

While resting creek side, an owl, with an odd bird response each time it hooted. The new addition of solar fairy lights put up yesterday in the happy sunshine twinkled a welcome on the walk down away from the house’s floodlights.

Much thought is put on new growth and discoveries. Others in my life have been put on pedestals. You are normal, not shattered unable to trust, love, feel warmth, or let others in.

You are better in all ways. Close to 70 years old it is a new revelation that we all are just people with flaws, faults, and oddities added with mistake making, all of us.

The best plan is learning to forgive, others yes, but also myself, for all the blunders or other more serious errors. Take it all in and love it anyway.

This is my path to peace.  

KNOW THYSELF

Quote by Socrates: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.”

The lantern swaying back and forth, ice glittering with its sparkly glow even in the black before dawn. My ice trekkers keep me from falling and work like a charm, a wonderful Christmas gift for those days when all the path ices over.

Sitting by the water, barely a crack of light beginning to show, the quiet, dark shadows are unnerving, yet also relaxing. A distant train clatters satisfyingly.

More rounds to go before the breeze begins to chill me, round and round, the twinkling lights in the house a beacon one way, with glimmering solar stars glowingly wrapped around a few trees the other way.

While resting again, mother nature does her work on my body, mind, and spirit, curing the restlessness of winter cabin fever, rushing pink health to my cheeks, and the warmth of movement to my body.

But the best cure is calming my rat brain, much worse in the winter, which takes any tiny hardship and magnifies it into disaster. Calm, peace, and sleep-filled nights are blessed to me of late, so when those negative thoughts creep in, chase them far away.

Use a big corn broom and swoosh! That feeling of nostalgia niggling in the background, of loss, memories of old with others long gone, or others still here that closeness is difficult for me to nurture or sustain?

Those are to be felt, because my premise about feelings is, feel them. Trying to squash feelings makes them harden and stay.

So, tears have come each day and I let them, squeezing out not knowing why, nostalgia, loneliness? Then the why comes, (yes to both of those), and with it understanding, acknowledgment, and feeling real and accepted, even if it’s only by me. Because who better to know than me?  

Love of Life

Photo by Cory (my younger son)

Each day there is a job to do, work on self-esteem. Though possible to improve on that front, the core of my being already formed is staying that way.

You cannot cut into the layers of a tree and remove its inner ring without killing the tree.

I am who I am, who was formed during childhood, with beliefs about myself that became embedded into my personality.

So, each day takes focus, work, and effort to counteract the life-threatening critical voice which thrives so dramatically inside me. To tell it, I do deserve life, equality, pleasure, and happiness, even amid all the other struggles and pain that life brings to each of us.  

BE KNOWN

At first urge, unwanted feelings that arise are denied or run from. The more unwanted, the more running or stuffing.

What freedom to hear a soft whisper say, accept them. Let them be, feel what’s there, and like a vapor they then dissipate up and out.

Sometimes, and very often, the experience teaches me about myself; motives, wishes, desires, hurts, the potpourri that makes up me.

We are all a mixture of pieces, some parts wanted, others not, but in accepting all there is, a person yet unknown blossoms as love of the whole self grows.

JOY

Each day challenges: old haunts, familiar yet unhealthy ways of being, habits ritualized over the years- habits of thinking that put me in a negative light, all that I touch, think of, and do is perceived as bad or wrong.  

There has been no crime committed, yet in my mind I am the crime, a disturbed self-portrait painted by familial sexual abuse at an early age.

So, each day begins anew with self-talk, much needed self-talk. Friends have given a helping hand over the years but could take me only so far.

The real change, the real challenge, is what’s inside, and discovering self-esteem for myself. What others have given has saved me many times, pulled me up from drowning, live-saving, yet temporary.

It is a new and delicious way of viewing myself, the world, and my place in it… that I deserve joy and happiness.

Not from what I’ve done or will do, but by being me.  

Life is not easy, it is hard, yet there is joy, there is light, but it must be found both inside and outside myself.  

The Cosmos Within

This ‘becoming’ of a new person, or the real woman within unknown to me till recently, takes time, a lifetime, and then some.

When responses, sensitivities, and guidance come from the soul, out of the head, and arising from that ethereal part of me without bones, sinews, or blood, the floaty misty presence that’s invisible is more powerful and wise than thought, and magical, miraculous, mystical moments occur.

Moments stretched into a way of living. Once the dust settles after torn in savage pieces due to C-PTSD (which visits regularly), a solidness internally can be leaned on, used, and best guided by. A mythical place that is real and has always been there, but parts were too shattered to connect.

People speak of the soul, what is that? Something floating around after we die? Or can it be a place that isn’t a place but an oasis of changing clouds that swirls within offering the heavens one dreams of a child?

Go there, be blessed with the uniqueness of you. Because like a snowflake, we are all different, unfathomable, and infinitely precious as every countless star.

Do not put your face in the pillow at night and have dark thoughts consume you, you are better than that- so much more.

EVERY PRECIOUS MOMENT

A walk in the meadow-1/19/2011

The things once done, are no more, deal with that. My body won’t tolerate it. Yet in its place there is so much wisdom, peace, safety, and calm.

Every precious moment matters, the feel of my hand with the long slender bones beneath, the stretch of toes waking up tendons and muscles all the way up my calves, the scent of balsam filling the house using candle warmers in every room, and taking time to be with the cat as she turns herself into a contented warm pretzel by the fire.

No, after a life of draining cortisol rushing through my bloodstream daily, often several times daily, my body is depleted and can take no more. Yet my tendency is to push, push, push, fearing that even my best friend Samuel will see me sludging on the couch as if a lazy good for nothing human, but really it is the ever-present critic within that bites and sucks the life out of me.

Rest, rest, and more rest. It takes a great deal of time to connect to my body and care for it; eyes that dry easily especially after the cataract surgeries needing the humidifier filled daily. And drops in them a few times each day especially when the heat is running. Exercises on the chair with the rope and pulley to unlock a shoulder that once was badly impinged. Taking medicines, supplements, and vitamins morning and night, and oh so much to keep an aging body going.

All good things as once our lives didn’t last this long. But for one who left their little body at the age of eight, staying in it long enough to feel what it needs takes focus, calm, and a great gentleness for self.

That does not sound so hard, but a devasting critic took over at a young age when brothers sexually abused my little body and no one came to help, but much worse it could not be talked about and the blame, shame, and crimes were taken in as mine. Growing to love myself does not come easily.

It is a life-time work. Can I go with Shane and his family tomorrow night at the little Christmas festival around the block at the park where trees are decorated from area businesses outdoors to vote on, and Santa comes with candy canes, hot cocoa, and cookies?

Well, yes, if I don’t care about my sleep habits, so no, because it takes all evening to keep my whirlwind psyche calm. To get excited, even happily, means looking at 2AM in the morning wondering if sleep will ever come.

It is difficult accepting my limitation especially when comparing them to others. How do you explain to anyone who hasn’t gone through it or lives it how even happy gatherings cause angst, tiredness, and PTSD rockets to go off? When it occurs, and it does with even tiny things, a great need for rest and quiet comes with it, and sometimes recovery takes days. Solitude is my refuge. When once being alone felt like a knife was cutting from the inside out, it now offers a healing balm.

When able to care for myself as deserved and needed, and feeling strong enough to challenge that critic which will not happen when overwhelmed or tired, so many gifts slowly return- gratefulness, love, warmth, appreciation, well-being, and cherishing every little moment. Quiet and rest is the magic that brings me back to life…

1/11/2009 by Patricia