FOOD or FEELINGS?

So eerily quiet this morning even the birds aren’t talking and a queasy feeling surfs my stomach. Crickets hardly peep, not a sound, barely a movement of leaves at first until a soft breeze moves in. Perhaps the animals instinctively feel what the news last night warned of, the possibility of tornadoes.

At least the day was not faced with dread. The full spectrum lights, a return to a diligent mediation practice, the push off the couch to walk, and a drastic reduction in marijuana oil for sleep issues are all helping.

In order to treat myself with respect, which mean not gagging down feelings with food, my doctors have gotten a mouthful out of me after not speaking a peep for years. My primary responded by finally paying attention to me and my needs.

We discussed my use of pot oil and for the first time heard from her that just a few drops are needed. My dose kept going up and up thinking that helped, but it backfired causing more sleep issues, and an exorbitant increase in anxiety rather than decreasing it.

The cardio Doc has yet to respond to my personal letter to him after his nurse wouldn’t answer a simple medical question because my choice was to cancel an appointment due to the pandemic. ‘You haven’t been here, make an appointment,’ her note coldly read in the on-line chart after my question was posed.

Really? I have to come in and spend 50 bucks to know whether to continue taking a baby aspirin each day? Reports are saying there’s a bleeding risk as we age.

After going there for many years you can’t answer a benign generic question? The only reason for several decades of cardio appointments was not due to need or directed by my primary care doctor. It was out of fear that I’d fall dead just like my father who lay there at my feet at age 8.

Oh, the years of unneeded EKG’s, STRESS TESTS, EHCHO’s and yearly visits out of terror I might succumb to what my father fell victim to. And doctors, even the best ones, will gladly do it to keep their revenue going. This one too because he did say in my father’s case it had more to do with his smoking.

Yet he continued to oblige my need to ease my mind each year. That could be looked at as a positive then, but no longer, the pandemic making me reassess just how many appointments are needed each year. Unless a heart event actually occurs, NOT HIM! To hold back medical advice is cause to go elsewhere if a heart event ever occurs. Unconscionable. I’m sure they have their own spin on it, but so do I.

In me lies the need to finally advocate for my needs though with many stops and pitfalls along the way because my training was to stay disturbingly quiet about my needs. Traumas, too many to count, were forced to stay within me causing my skinny kid frame to burgeon dramatically into an obese one shortly after the first sexual attack by a loved one, also at age 8.

To keep family secrets throughout my life took a LOT of food. I want a healthy life. That means NO MORE SECRETS. That means speaking up for my needs even if different from your expectations or beliefs, and doing so even when terrified of the outcome. Who is this new me? Or maybe it’s discovering the me always there waiting for one special person to be on my side… me.

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.

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

The Kernel of Self-Love

You need to accept that this craving for family will always be there. That the fantasy you create in your mind is much better in all ways, certainly healthier.

In my minds creation they are the people you wish them to be, the ones you adored in childhood because you didn’t know better.

Feeling pulled down, locked in, inauthentic, pleasing, pleasing, pleasing, freedom lost. My body became sick, all organs affected, heart, colon, nervous system, a betrayal of myself and all that is believed in.  

And you know, you must know that this pull is for life, and that you’ll reach out again. Try not to. Keep the life you’ve built. Life is hard enough sorting out the moments quietly trying to feel each one.

The trip has been arduous, the oasis found only after a life-time of work. And that work continues and needn’t be hampered, even damaged by the wants of others.

The pressure has been great. But relenting to it brought illness, dis-ease, and toxicity as if drinking poison … freezing my body to the core- spirit, mind, and emotions.  

Just because another wants, doesn’t mean you have to give. The work done, untied as if it never happened. Stop giving up yourself for the needs and wants of another.

That little kernel of self-love, that warm glow you’ve begun to foster needs your full attention towards Y-O-U. It’s OK to love you… with tenderness, softness, kindness, gentleness, and lots of cuddling. Yes, you can hug yourself!

SPRING

What a week, up, down, and everything in-between. Things go along so well it almost feels unjust, then upheaval because sleep won’t come. Trying to figure out why doesn’t always succeed. Sometimes answers come but they are fuzzy without surety.

But it is February, often the hardest month for a person normally in a lower mood all winter due to shorter days. But the burgeoning of spring is not far away. The signs are missed if you’re not looking.

A new breed of bird, mockingbirds, are at the feeder after not seeing them all winter. A friend saw four robins. Out walking there is much more bird chatter after a winter silent as a tomb. So it’s coming, hold on!

It doesn’t help that vaccines are out but in short supply causing anxiety in the race to get one. And everyone wants one, so you just have to wait. Though a friend is getting dose two by driving over an away. Samuel says he doesn’t want to do that, nor do I.

A few days after visiting Seth, sleep, oh blessed sleep came. I’m not sure if the draw to family will ever keep me from dipping in from time to time. Almost every time the period afterwards causes upheaval and unrest. No, I probably won’t learn for the need will not go away.

It smacks too much of the person I was molded to be. I am not her now. I live free, think free, and feel free… unless relenting to the need to dip my toe in the swamp called ‘family.’