Caring for My Soul

Laying there at night either trying to fall asleep, or middle of the night waking’s, a new voice of kindness washed through the harshness of self-blame for this predicament bathing me with warm compassion instead of cold rejection.

Relief that the surgery is over, and he has made it through the dire consequences we were told about unscathed (though shuffling that walker around grimacing continues), compounded with this gentler person born in me though still in her infancy- has made for adequate sleep for almost an entire week.

Is my voice so powerful? Sometimes, yes, other times not a thing can be done as C-PTSD is just that; chronic, and striking without warning or invitation. But there are times that caring for my deepest places by bringing truth to my internal dialogue, goodness prevails over that shrieking critic.

Love of Life

Photo by Patricia

One of Samuel’s friends has been keeping track of him. And Shane calls daily, along with our other son Cory. Other than that, it is quiet around and feeling sorry for myself crept in thinking of how others would be receiving cards, visits, and phone calls.

Our visits are with the nurse, physical therapist, and an occupational therapist. We are both too tired for anyone else even if it was offered. Yet there is and always has been a nagging feeling of ‘not enough,’ not enough of whatever, no matter what it is.

That feeling carries back to before my dad died at age 8 remembering a continual craving for attention. With 8 kids there wasn’t enough of that to go around. Yet…. my life now is more than enough. What matters is what I feel inside, that all the rooms are opened and dusted, receiving myself wholly with love.

Finally I called the florist and had a lovely bouquet delivered for my husband with a card that read, ‘Happy Healing- You did it! I love you, Patricia.’ He seemed pleasantly surprised. Fresh flowers brightened my day too.

He is working hard on walking around frequently and doing his exercises moaning through the pain. The front approach of replacing a hip is far less painful than cutting through butt muscles. We did our homework and chose a surgeon qualified at the less painful approach.

My truth- as much as a more social type life looks appealing or more normal, as ‘the grass is greener on the other side,’ it isn’t a life fitting for someone who deals daily with great anxiety around other people, or too much stimulation other than that which I make for myself.

Acceptance of what is necessary for a peaceful life released the ‘not good enough’ tension right down to my sinew and bones. This is the life we chose and desire, it is our best life. We don’t do group things like church or other activities. We like/love our life. This experience causes gratitude to fill me up like a warm bath.

But Samuel’s recovery also causes my insides to twist, having to use a walker, groans at every effort, and that slow dragging sound echoing in the hallway as he pushes it around along with his debilitated self. The glimpse of old age makes me cringe. It is hard to watch, but knowing healing comes more each day gives me lift, hope, and security in the knowledge that soon we will be doing the things we love once more.

The life we were living before surgery, will return once he regains full strength, and has is my best life. The capability of being fully present isn’t something I was capable of for most of my life because surviving meant dissociating.

I am able to be present in my body, and in my breath.


The rat brain kicked in at sleep time- over and over a painful incident and sleep was not forthcoming. But instead of a restlessness forcing me out of bed, the story was challenged of blaming myself for it.

The stories we tell ourselves, my stories, need so much rewriting and editing, and often need to thrown right into the garbage. Yet it is not so easy when hitching my wagon to them all these years.

My fault my brain has been injured? My fault that very often it starts up with worries, fears, and the feeling bad about being me beliefs? It is not my fault. Thoughts move through constantly without my permission. It is not my fault.

Removing self-blame from the equation helped sleep to come, fitful, with dreams remembered each time because waking occurred so often, but sleep did come. And for that I am grateful.


Only by going to the fear, accepting it’s there, can it be met with kindness, patience and understanding. Awareness of how scared I’ve been came to mind when discussing Samuel’s upcoming hip replacement on the phone with my son. Fright filled tears swelled trailing down my cheeks like hot ice.

And Samuel, usually my rock, is nervous too, feeding my own fears exponentially. Seems an oxymoron to stay connected with one’s interior no matter what’s there, but then also keep my hands busy so that fears don’t overwhelm and consume.

Samuel, not a man to discuss his feelings, admitted a feeling last night which surprised me.  But only after he got up from the couch barely able to stand up or move to the kitchen.

“I don’t know how you work with Mike all day when you can barely walk,” I said.

“It’s the same as you doing all that baking to keep your hands busy, it occupies my mind- measuring, cutting- then I’m not thinking about it,” he said.

It is not easy to admit fear. Aren’t we supposed to be brave? Bury feelings of fragility, fear, and vulnerability, which often are looked on as weaknesses. It is strong to say, ‘I’m afraid,’ but do it anyway.


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.  


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.  


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


It’s a new and different life, living by the gut, some call ‘soul.’ Instead of the head full of the critic banging away, there is a subtle, softer voice going unheeded for most of my life.

How did the connection occur, and why did it take so long? And why so fleeting?

But once it is felt then flees, the need for connection makes it stay longer and longer so that eventually living any other way is unbearable. The shift back to wholeness occurs automatically out of necessity.

Most people live this way, always have, whole, not thinking about it, just checking in with their internal guidance system all the time. But trauma, especially during years when all parts of a person are growing and forming, causes fissures unfounded.

Soul? What’s that? My head guided me like a robot. A human with a robot’s mechanical parts. To live whole is new- a joyous life. Not odd. All that was done in my life felt abnormal.

It is not abnormal to surround myself with nature, and to curb outside stimulus as much as possible.

That my body cannot withstand overstimulation isn’t my doing, isn’t my fault. Trauma early on meant a life of adrenal rushes daily, cortisol bursts that are meant for only dire moments of life-or-death situations.

Not simple sounds or startles that cause a blood curdling scream to escape my lips or the intensity of being out in the world, a very dangerous place for a woman who learned too early that even those loved and trusted can attack with disdain and a caustic lack of care.

Then anybody could. The stresses on the body took a life-time toll. The only ‘safe’ times in a lifetime of stress are those in nature with a creek gurgling by. Or with a child, or animal, when manipulation, cruelty, and coldness was absent. Instead, moments of joy, warmth, and love abound.  

To wrap myself into a life a safety is to grow in ways never felt before. To feel full, grateful, at peace, and whole.