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.


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.  

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.  


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.


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.  


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


And so, the self-pity leaks out splashing down my face when allowed, though often as in the past, tears are suppressed causing a life robotically lived.

So let them flow, even if not knowing why. Stress causes tears, even happy stress. The way my body ejects parts of itself leaving the rest behind while rocketing off to Never-neverland? What’s left is wasteland, a vulnerable, weakened, self-doubting desert where I’m parched for warmth, love, and wholeness.

That happens too often and is the cause of great angst and self-pity. Yet there is magic, a friend far away consoling me. Knowing about my lack of self-esteem, and how self-blame batters me ragged over things having not a thing to do with me, eating me alive from the inside out.

A few words from her soothed, and supported my own quiet, wise, voice that couldn’t be heard over the critic’s which was banging away till the bruising caused me to curl insanely up into a fetal ball.

One kind word. One kind word. Thank you.


Grossly sleep deprived, my body couldn’t stay awake past 8PM. Waking at 2AM, there wasn’t a possibility of more sleep, and who is to say what is normal for any given individual, so up for coffee.

6 hours of sleep is an improvement over 4 from the previous night. My sleep becomes erratic easily, but it is going in the right direction.

Sometimes disciplining myself to stay in bed is rewarded with a few more hours of sleep. REM time is important, and another round would be healthful, but it isn’t happening today. My mind was not going to shut down. Who gets up at 2 in the morning if they don’t have to?

But here we are, the cat and me, cozy around the fire, and that will have to be OK for now.



How much is luck, or timing, and how much is due to my efforts at calming my interior? Because some mornings waking at 2AM, my body is so awake there’s no more sleeping.

Yet with self-talk to calm, bouts of sleep sometimes come, off and on till 6AM, but other times, no way. Does PTSD work like that?

A beast quiet at times, roaring at others?  And does self-esteem faulter, rise and drop hinged on whether the PTSD beast roars its ugly head? The tendency is to blame myself when it isn’t controlled, but is that fair, or even accurate?

No, of course not. Even the low blood sodium, making me anxious with concern, though my blasé doctor says it’s a lab error.

What have I done to cause it? Do others blame themselves for everything? No. The work to pull in compassion for myself, to seat myself at the thanksgiving table of self-love will be a daily job every day.