Go Away PTSD

photo by Patricia

It was bedtime. Routine in that area has become very important, extremely so. Yet forgotten, or the hope that maybe this one time I could do something excitingly spontaneous and it would be alright.

It wasn’t. The next two days didn’t go so well.

So on the way back to the bedroom after putting the crazy cat in the studio for the night, I took a peek at the night from the back porch. Fireflies appeared, one by one, watching, mesmerized, feeling childhood awakening in the bones of my memory.

Dashing around the yard at dusk with the kids from the neighborhood playing Kick the Can, or Ghosts in the Graveyard. Being called in late once dark settled in, all dirty and tired, falling asleep easily after a day of hard play. But that is not Patricia-world now. Now routines must be adhered to.

But only this once? Since things are going so well, can’t this once be added on to what has been a stretch of wonderful summer days? Days when miles upon miles of bike rides along the path by the water are also combined with laps and laps of walking, because energy expended seemed to compound into more energy.

Can’t a quick dip in the pool be enjoyed? The quiet water luring as the last pink faded from the sky casting a rosy glow. Donning my swimsuit, an irresistible dip was risked. Fireflies grew brighter as the waves cuddled me. But my senses began to ratchet up rather than calm down as they should have been doing.  

The impromptu fun delighted, the water warm, the twinkling solar string lights making it a magical wonderland of joy. Too much joy, exciting me beyond any possibility of sleep. The haranguing voice began its pounding, ‘YOU KNOW BETTER! YOU YOU YOU.’ 

Routine. Remember that? You must pay attention to your unique body needs. Stimulating your senses when they should be winding down won’t work. Lying awake long after Samuel came to bed, medication had to be taken. Not only did my body go off the deep end, so did my mind.

The negative thoughts chewed like snarly, dripping fangs, taking bite after bite, pounding my being with fearful stabs. After staring at the television for over an hour, another dose had to be taken.

Finally drowsiness, and back to bed. Sleep came as if encased in a tomb like a mummy with no movement until waking. There goes a day of waste. No walking, no chores, no nothing except for the escape into watching beloved movies. Because a body that jumps into the dangerous pool of PTSD needs calm. No motion, nothing except feeling sorry for myself. That equates to food used to numb it all out adding to the load of crippling self-hate.

It takes a second day to recover and feel as if back into myself. Depression, disconnect, and displacement from my very being all needed time, quiet, and seclusion before re-connection to body, thoughts, and spirit. Go away Samuel, leave me alone. Everything had spiraled about like a mini universe out of control, all from a simple quick dip in the pool. 

This morning wholeness. The fresh picked lavender scent is noticed as the gurgling fountain settles my soul. The morning feels cherished, not feared. Because once the PTSD breaker is tripped, fear, panic, and the surety that a terrifying thing is about to happen exposes every nerve as it readies for danger. Terror from childhood when the peril was real crashes in putting my alert system on edge with red-light vigilance. THAT is tiring, and once happening, out of my control. 

A special day is one when my being feels whole and is whole. When the tiniest event floods me with pleasure; the toad living in the potted plant on the patio blanketing himself under the wet dirt as if it is a home with a bed, the birds sipping at the birdbath, the abundant lavender in bloom along with the heady scent calming my very pores with their aroma.

The morning is sweet again with wonder as we celebrate 42 years together. On this day, at this moment, I feel whole. 

PAPER DOLL

Though summer brings oppressive heat, walks bring peace to a mind working on over-drive. Before breakfast the heat and humidity is tolerable, even pleasant until the sun comes full up. So many thoughts bombarding into each other on a day when feeling scattered too.

How to come together? Time alone by the water— birds, raccoons, turtles, frogs, carps as big as sharks, and the water weasel, all keeping me company. It is OK to stay where safety is found, the decision to cancel so many plans repeatedly questioned.

No, we are not being too extreme. Others seem to be taking risks we’d rather not take. We are being cautious. Camping next week with Shane… no, nor any camping. A trip to Cory’s in Massachusetts’s…no. We don’t care to deal with public restrooms, or any other possible source of contamination.

And finally peace over these things. It is the right and safest decision for us. Whatever is needed is right here, it always has been. There is also relief at not having to travel. It always took its toll on my fragile nervous system, depleted after a life of excess cortisol coursing through my body unnecessarily. My startle response raced into fight or flight many times daily. My body still does it, though years of meditation have helped calm it down.  

There are wounds still needing attending to. Trust is not something regained, but maybe in increments. Samuel and others aren’t out to get me, a belief cemented into my views since childhood when learning just what human beings are capable of. That belief won’t completely change, but some cracks open up letting in light during rare moments of peace and safety.

Chet spent a good deal of time figuring when he could get at me, and that expectation, that others are trying to do evil, will last. It made an indelible imprint, a deep wound to attend to… a crumpled paper doll needing gentle care.

A Morning Stroll

A walk before the heat index reaches 100. The gifts of summer are many, though summer didn’t seem to arrive until yesterday. And with it the joy of swimming, flowers in their splendor, and garden goodies. 

While floating round and round in the pool looking up into azure cloudless skies, thoughts of the child so often spoke of. Where is ‘she’ most of the time? Is there anything left of child I was? Maybe. But most of her died off. The child who took on so much all on her own aged in ways I wouldn’t have, and fast. Very fast, almost instantaneously.

But there is still a part that loves summer, remembering the love of water and running my horses. The abandon of all things serious for pleasure and fun. When someone says ‘Have a nice day,’ it is really, ‘Make a nice day.’ Because so much can be done to make it so if the effort is put forth, and it is work. 

Talking to myself with kindness, acceptance, and understanding. Asking, what brings joy, and do it. And for me they are simple pleasures— walking in the fields, picking strawberries from Samuel’s garden, and his roses.

Roses and roses, including baskets upon baskets of petals plucked each morning… the scent intoxicating, brought indoors to dry. permeating the whole room with a delicious appeal. They make very special sachets.

Arranging bouquets is particularly pleasing especially coming from the abundant blossoms all around seeded and planted by my own hands. Watching creek-side while a raccoon takes a quick dip, shakes off, then scurries up the bank and away as a huge bull-frog splashes in. 

Ahh summer, you are finally here…

Naughty (curious) kitty, get down!

Fresh picked spinach and strawberry salad…

The Destroyer

Giving up control so easily, has that become a way of life? Well, yes. Giving into a sister-in-law’s guilty pressuring to come to a party, or a myriad of other cave-ins, it happens regularly. Not respecting and paying attention to my own soul whispering’s, neglecting my needs for another, is a way of life since age 8.

Always please or be alone in the dark in the middle of the night. Be kicked out of an abusive family, or stay with it. As a child this doesn’t come in words but in the gut to survive. The family is all a child has, though someone should have come to remove me, or them.

It takes every atom to stand my ground, simple things like saying no, and it is exhausting. The terror of rejection and taunting too keen, because in childhood that’s what Tom did after his night-time attack.

I am the victim, victimized and ganged up ever after. But the subtleness of his emotional attacks after the physical attack were what annihilated me. Any chance of wholeness pick-axed till nothing was left but a shell in a whiff of smoke.

Every time he smirked, a part of me died that could have flourished.

Bestow Love not Hate

photo by Patricia

An unease invades the morning reverie. Perhaps it is the lack of sunshine hiding behind thick clouds on a balmy morning still warm from yesterday’s heat. Perhaps it is a change in me. Day after day of an upset stomach the realization surfaces that my body is telling me something. But what, so disconnected from it that I really don’t know. 

Connect. That doesn’t come naturally, though it must have in my first 8 years before the attacks began. A skinny kid with long blonde hair, happy on a beach before my father died, Then all went tragic and crazy.

Boom, like lightening, weight came on and stayed on for the next fifty years keeping me safe, hiding me, making me someone other than who I was meant to be.

Trust is the most grievous loss, gone forever. What kinds of relationships sustain without trust? None. The daily feat is picking up pieces of shattered me trying to trust enough to get close… husband, son, or friend. 

The timidity to speak up about likes, dislikes, to put forth anything looking like a boundary, gone. Boundaries obliterated when even my body was not my own. When unmarked boundaries are crossed and my mouth stays mute, then grudges, resentments, and hate howl. 

Oh that anger, not allowed either. It takes a lot of food to suppress anger. Over the years anger began to  erupt naturally on rare occasions expressed in the moment, naturally, freeing and normal. Taught to stay quiet this was miraculous even in its rarity. 

And with a quiet muted mouth, my body grew large screaming unhappiness, terror and pain. Nobody listened. It was one more thing to hate about myself.

But what if I listened to its cues? What if love was bestowed not hate? With no map, no direction, no permission, could I do it? Over and over I try, and fail. But what if?

 

LOST

photo by Patricia (lilac)

Sit, stay. The mourning dove coos at 6 AM, a gentle breeze softly skimming over me, leaves newly erupted soothing with a ruffled whisper. Lost, feelings of losing my way for the last several months.

Could it be the challenge from a sister-in-law hardly ever heard from though she lives in the city less than an hour away?

“We are all getting older,” she said in an email, using the heavy power of guilt to persuade me to come to the Christmas party with the other two brothers and wives.

My relationship with Don, once father-like, changed over the years after he expressed the burden of playing that role. The rift became pronounced during my mother’s decline when bickering under the duress of debilitating emotions, explosive and labile. 

Her words swayed me, going to the gathering with a chip on my shoulder, not hugging, not entering easily into conversation unless wanting to. A person different than the malleable people pleaser they grew up with.

And with it came a very fast weight gain still hanging on making me so unhappy. The different person is not so different, pleasing by going to something I did not want to go to. My going meant losing respect for myself, and my ability to look out for little girl me. ‘She’ is scared of them, and I didn’t protect ‘her.’

But if my brother wanted it so badly that he enlisted his wife to work for it, I went, not wanting to live with regrets. But in going something inside myself was denied. If the question is whether to hurt someone or myself, it is almost always myself, even, or especially, when unconsciously… a knee-jerk reaction taught and beveled into my core when very young. You don’t matter. Never put yourself first, you’re invisible and unworthy anyway. 

And with going so did my safety. Weight is about safety. The more weight, the safer.

That group of people always felt safe. Those three were the three out of seven who didn’t sexually attack me. So safe, right? But aren’t those that know and do nothing just as culpable? Maybe more so.

There are still no words of comfort or support. Each continues a relationship with the last surviving attacker now living out west.

His presence, though distant, casts darkness on the sunniest of days. He haunts the brightness in the form of Trump, or other people lacking integrity. Those that love to manipulate while acting like victims as they manipulate and greedily take without remorse or shame. The only shame lies in me for ever being born. 

The craving for family will continue, the need for safety remains.

SADNESS

It is hard to come to grips with the present when the past often pulls me back. Think of those suffering so much more than me right now, as tears fall watching the funeral of a family as they say farewell to yet another victim of the corona virus.

Yet denying my own place in the world which encompasses reality, not the origin family’s narrative of the truth which obliterates the trauma’s endured as a child, is not living wholly or authentically.

There is sadness, there always has been since the first attack, but the reality of what happened was denied. So I denied it too, there wasn’t an alternative. But then, like now, denying something doesn’t make it go away.

Opening up the country as if the virus suddenly has disappeared is causing great grief inside me, rupturing a well of sadness and loss that is preventable if we had a leader who would lead. He instead sits on his ass pontificating how wonderful he is but admits, yes people will die. Does he give a fuck? No. 

And opening myself to the reality of my life causes sadness, often choosing to try to act like others instead of with my own truths. Living split. The body moves but the rest of me works to catch up, or fast forwards ahead of it.

Prostrate over my mother’s grave 11 years ago, cut in two with grief, it took years for the pain to ebb. But during that time was when healing was more than a word. Instead of going to a dry well for love, my mother who really did love me but with exceptions, I learned (and am still learning) how to love myself.

That little girl hurts. She’s sad. She may always feel sad. A family left, abandoning me as they had their own grief to attend to. Living in the same house, still they left in all the ways that matter.

And I left her too. Coming back as a whole means owning it all.  Wrapping my arms around myself, just as Mother Nature does when sitting on the patio in the warm sun.

Mother Sun caresses me while in my thick bathrobe wrapped in a blanket on a sunny spring morning. The heat warming through as if she is rocking me. There must be ways to soothe a tender heart as the nation fractures in chaos due to the evil one. I know that the majority of hearts are pure. That they will conquer and endure, but hell is still to come.

Trying not to think of what is really happening is the same as not being who I am. How to stay in the boat as it sways sharply in the swells.

 

 

 

 

TRAUMATIC

photo by Patricia

There will come a time when looking back, what is happening now will be less traumatic. Living through it is traumatic. My escape is eating, eating so much nothing else can be thought of except that. Eating fear works but with a toll, self-loathing. 

It eats me up with no room for escape making everything worse and harder, even sleep. Waking, or not falling asleep, with an urgency close at hand, the emergency is internal adding to the external chaos.

What I do matters. If actions are used that are self-destructive such as over-eating, dread increases, even if unconsciously. My body knows it isn’t able to remain stable if fed incorrectly or too much. No wonder sleep evaded me. The threat to life was me.

Living through this is traumatic. While walking the meadow on a sunny morning, spring renewing herself with green adornments growing daily, my thoughts uncovered a truth. Even without the virus’s taunts of death and sickness looming every moment, my life has been much like that anyway.

Threats to life were everywhere, in every person, around every corner, my hyper-vigilance since the eight only compounding as each year passed. This additional threat topples me over the edge even while trying to act nonchalant about it.

Whether alcohol, shopping, food, or drugs, SOMETHING needs to take me away from the truth of so much suffering. Yet that isn’t the answer. Taking a stand does. Stand up in the middle of it. Do what can be done to be healthy.

A friend calls, the first in the last many weeks, and we spend time together on the phone as if we were together. My friendships are precarious due my issues of trust, or lack of it, compounded with the inability to speak up for myself causing great anger when taken advantage of.

Yet some friendships have endured and are so needed right now. They are fresh air compared to any interaction with the origin family whose own baggage interferes with any chance of closeness.

A failed zoom meeting will be tried again with our little group of five who have met consistently each month for many years. We are all less capable with these digital things than our grown children who are adept at computers and their workings.

Time was again spent in my studio after being absent from it for many months. Rolling out clay to be baked in the kiln, music playing gently in the background while the cat hunched on the shelf curiously looking down at me as incense burned… my hands worked with satisfaction.

All things nurturing are so precious right now…

Care and Love

photo by Patricia

So easily the ‘self’ is lost in the fray. Going robotic happens quickly. Then the letdown, the loss of sleep, anxiety consuming like a hungry bear.

Moment to moment, be there. Slow down. Slow way down, catching the inner workings as they happens, not going on as if all is wonderful, but as it is. Not so wonderful. Not when the world suffers, and fear gurgles in the quiet moments.

Only in being there can it be soothed. And it is OK, more so, necessary to be there deep inside where my being hides and resides, even from myself.

Playing old roles when interacting with the origin group, the pull of the role that makes others comfortable. Losing all growth in an instant, becoming clay molded unrecognizable.

Come back home inside, moment to moment. Take care of the precious soul finally found; spiritually, physically, emotionally, and wholly.