FALL INTO FALL

Amends were made to the three brothers pressing me to join in explaining why it’s not possible for me do so. Now they are placed beyond daily thoughts so much because the ones who really are interested in me and my life are my real family, Samuel, sons, grand-children, a sister-in-law, and friends.

These brothers act as if they are caring, but aren’t interested enough to answer emails or interact in a way other than what serves their own needs. OK. My situation has been put forth plainly without their decades of gagging me. That took enormous effort. Maybe once again going forward can occur without so much angst.

The ups and downs of being drawn to the fire of origin family… all it’s memories, the secrets forced on me to keep, the ravages of expecting me to be someone I’m not (pleasing doormat), getting burned, cooling off, then doing it all over again, over and over… well, maybe sufficient mental beatings have occurred to stop doing that. It is challenging enough to keep my sanity.

My mood dropped like a rock, forgetting how severely the change of season affects me. The warmer mornings called me onto the porch to watch the sun rise, rather than hunkering down under the full spectrum lights to improve mood. So that has begun again.

The usual meditation routine went by the wayside for months after years of hardly missing it, but that too is needed and room must be made for it once again. And the pot oil, no wonder sleep wouldn’t come.

When sleep issues arose the dose kept going up and up, doubling over time. No wonder my head felt manic with thoughts. Too much causes problems instead of curing them. Backing down to a modest does has helped a great deal.

And the simple work of being with me begins again. How hard it is to be in my body and be OK. To not run. To breathe, and be OK.

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.

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!

A Kind Place

Soon we take a trip to see our grand-son who will be one year old later in April. We’ve only known him via the on-line camera, though that has brought much joy, warmth, and laughter. He is almost ready to walk his first steps. We have spent many happy hours with his older sister, now 4. She excitedly counts the days until we come warming my heart with golden love.

Running out of wrapping makes for creativity. Slapping some poster paint on the box of stuffed unicorns for them both looked really chintzy, more was needed. Sparkles! Yes… after that why not painted words in pink and purple with a little more added glitz?

The project took way more time than planned, but it was fun as most crafts are. And now she’ll have a box to treasure and keep. Though it’s the baby’s birthday, she likes hers surprises from Nana too. And I don’t disappoint.

The morning starts thoughtfully wondering at the shear disappearance from myself. Where have the good thoughts gone, the gentleness inside, the warm place to fall? Abandoned, cold, empty. And why?

Because when sleep issues arrive over a too long period of time, the blame falls all on me. I’m too tired to fight the bully who shows up full force. One day good sleep leading to good eating, exercise, and maybe not enough enough beneficial emotional work. Because the next night not falling asleep. Somehow my body and mind split over the day without being aware of why.

Or is it just seasonal due to no fault of my own? Of course it is, the change of seasons messes with brain chemicals making them whacko. Whatever the reason, the kind gentleness learned, albeit a tiny taste of what might be even more possible, is GONE.

That is what will sustain, an interior to depend on. That is where the healing becomes more than just a word. My belief continues that if sleep is not blessed upon me, I must not deserve it or have done something bad or not right.

That makes no sense. It is habit not reality. March into April has been volatile, ups, downs, and moments of calm. As the sun rises pouring onto my face through the blowing wind and paned glass, breathe into the moment, and into my body even if the feelings scare me. Go there, be there, observe, listen, learn, and accept. Once the season settles down so will I. In the meantime, gentle kindness…

YOU’RE OK

PHOTO by Patricia

Temps drop 20 degrees, wind howls so furiously the chairs on the porch walk across the floor. Knowing exercise is needed, the cold keeps me in not even wanting to go down to the cold basement for indoor movement on the elliptical.

Nestled back on the recliner with the afghan pulled up snuggly, thoughts of it being OK to take time off from the exercise regime require focus and repetition. You’re OK, you’re OK, you’re OK. A few days off doesn’t make you bad.

It doesn’t take much to disrupt the newly found self-esteem. Too often the harsh critical voice is running the show out of habit without even being aware of the cold, oppressive input. A little bit of warmth is constantly sought because the life-long habit of self- contempt takes precedence without a constant beam of clarity on what’s being told to myself.

Once breaking through the ice of habit, warm waters are found, so rich and luxurious. To swim in these waters for  the first time in my life, even if just moments at a time, brings calm with a new sense of being where joy warms my soul with aliveness. The essence of life, being there for each moment fully.  

Self-Loving Kindness

PHOTO by Patricia

One of many misfortunes of having the stomach stapling over 40 years ago at my mother’s urging, is this sensitivity to water and any possible contaminates in it. The last three days have brought me down with no apparent reason for a gurgling painful stomach other than possible irritants in the changing bacterial count from our public water.

It may not affect others, but does me, and sometimes drastically with an infection only dealt with by a prescription from the doctor to kill off the pesky organisms. It feels a bit better each day so it probably won’t come to that this time.

But it does, once again, bring up the hate for my mother. Always a testy relationship filled with love and hate all at the same time. Not something wished on anybody. Fury and warmth, clinging to any form of the latter but hardly quenching my thirst for love because it is only now that I’m able to begin to show kindness to myself and appreciate all that my being forged through.

Love from another won’t fill me up, love for myself does that. That quest is ongoing after a life of the opposite. But that hate? Mom wanting a thin daughter. Was it out of love for me, or was it because a fat daughter was not good for her?

Kicking at the ice topped snow while walking the white glistening meadow, it occurred to me as the talk to myself continued, that yes, she urged quite excitedly to look into that surgery which would magically change my life. But as a fully grown adult, the choice was mine.

True, yes, yet though my body was matured into the 30’s, my emotional being was stuck at a much younger age where all growth essentially stopped.

So the hate isn’t all for mom, there’s plenty for myself. But that isn’t the way forward. Forgiveness is, for her and for me. Hate won’t propel me onto the path of happiness, peace, and wholeness. Only self-loving kindness, a path that is softer and sought out with focus.

Through focus the old grooves can be tripped onto new ones by remembering who I am, where I came from, and how I moved through the necessary stages of life.

The JOY of BEING

Stopping at Seth’s after buying a supply of pot oil, he invites us in. Donning masks we sit chatting in his living room for over an hour. But afterwards, even though it seemed like a lovely visit, confusion sets in.

It takes a few days before feeling centered, and this seems to happen after any interaction with one of the three brothers that have formed some semblance of family.

There is love for them, but not an ability to be with any of them. A lack of trust prevails. The pleaser comes forth, the one my mother honed to fake perfection that says one thing but means another.

The chatter box comes out of my mouth happily flitting from one subject to another, when what I really want to say is, “Why did you make a life of being a close buddy to a person who abused me so horribly? Then spent the rest of his life making me pay for it? Why did you buddy up against me?”

Let them have their little group, and I can partake when or if I want, but decline when I want to without excuse, regret, or guilt. It took a few days for my internal world to become a kinder place to be.

Inside felt like a wasteland, no kindness fostered, just the critic. Being around any one of them brings out the plastic doll my mother created that fakes everything, smiling as you wrong me.

Quietly my soul came back. Quietly my life returns. Quietly the joy of living fills me bringing warmth where coldness had frozen all kindness.