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.  

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.  

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

HAPPINESS, WARMTH, & JOY

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.

WHOLLY SPIRIT

Thoughts fall jumbled like dice from a Yahtzee cup. Feelings of self-confidence fall with them as the critic pounded away. The fun of doing Christmas crafts overrode any work on the spiritual emotional self, and it withered as the critic grew louder.

Where or where has the oasis of self-care gone, that place being built as a sanctuary and a soft place to fall? Bad habits of eating feelings into numbness took over making me sick for three days…. yet I kept eating out of a different kind of hunger than physical.

In my weariness and pain, a new day.  Back to basics, which calls for constant attention to thoughts that tend to blacken my soul if allowed, when that holy place needs light, love, and acceptance.

CANDYBAR DAY

Sometimes a girl just needs chocolate. If the candy is made with fat free condensed milk, graham crust with just a little margarine, and unsweetened organic coconut, is that considered healthy? Magic bars magically feel good, the molten chocolate swirling my brain chemicals with happy vibes.

After the orgy, just sitting, all day sitting, my body hardly moving, I began to feel better. But it’s so off the mark of should dos, and the critic had to be shut up- yammering away at ‘should and should nots.’

Sometimes it’s not laps around the meadow that cures, but stillness. As summer collapses around me, kissing the pool good-by after Samuel covers it for the season, and all the windows are shut to the cold shutting out the sounds of crickets, birds, and other wildlife, the silence plummets me down to depths I’d forgotten.

Just hardly months ago my being was used to dullness and the down mood of winter. And a friend reminded me of its coziness. It is good to have friends. But it is in me that the will must be found to face every day, because some days it isn’t there as if, not another?

Weak, vulnerable, fallen off the precipice of sunlight and joy into darkness so suddenly, the will of finding that light in other ways almost completely escapes me.

Stillness, not moving, enjoying the rapture of chocolate, all things social norms encourage one NOT to do, as busyness, productiveness, and ‘eating your greens,’ are the goals… quietness ensconcing my most inner being brings me back in to myself- back home.

MILD SYMPTOMS

Maybe Samuel brought Covid home from the coffee shop but was asymptomatic. Maybe it’s just sinuses, but with a fever? No one likes being sick, but for me there’s a fear with it that feels scarier than feeling ill.

Spending a good portion of life not being in my body, when it goes awry- that is scary. Unfamiliar with it in healthier times, when off-kilter the territory becomes even more foreign.

When running from yourself, it isn’t possible to care for yourself. Being disconnected how could it?

But these last weeks, especially when night after night a routine of good sleep has developed, and each morning time is spent just being, staying, and not running, a connection with all elements of myself brings a wholeness unfounded.  

With it an ability to care for each aging part which needs more attention than ever before. It is not easy to keep an old car running, spare parts, tune-ups, grease, all sorts of attentive focus.

But when chaos and anxiety fill up my tank, that’s all there is. When peace replaces the foaming buzz, miracles blossom, the miracle of well-being, and feeling there is a place for me here now.

HEALING

Minute by minute, moment by moment, time passes. But each one is precious, sensing the depth in every one, or drowning it out with worry? Much time is wasted on the later, then remembering.

There isn’t much time left. Finally, after decades of chaos and self-hating, there is a shift of major occurrence. Instead of the critic flying free treating myself like some kind of fluke needing beatings, bad treatment, chastising, or bullying, there is an opening to how it feels when coming out of childhood with self-love.

Becoming gentle, kind, and patient to myself takes focus after a life doing the opposite, living off the voices in my head from the traumas in childhood being discounted, denied, and ignored completely. A child takes that and blames herself making life unlivable.

Go slow, take care of the hurts, whether physical or of the soul, and spend the time needed to do so. It is OK to love life, and myself.