E-mail to Non-Abusive Brother

photo by Patricia

The fact that I have to describe a sibling as abusive or non-abusive is what causes perpetual sadness and low grade depression in my life as a continual way of being. This brother, Don, was once like a father, as ours died when at age 8. We have become estranged since my mother’s passing ten years ago, but I have done my best to overcome the distance without much success.

Those in the family origin do not talk about important issues, so this email will be a shocker. Yet for me, it is imperative to be real.  

Dear Don,

As much as it would be nice to visit for coffee, the drive is difficult. So often you welcome me, yet you are the one who drove around the country for fun, and drives as a part-time job. Driving doesn’t affect you like it does me especially when it includes city traffic. I often wonder why you don’t make the drive here just to have a cup of coffee, or walk to the water to sit awhile. Though you came once with the boys, and another to take me to lunch in Williamsburg, and a few picnics including Samuel’s retirement party, just stopping by to chat is not a time I ever remember happening.

I have lost count of the times I’ve been up your way just for that reason. I have missed some picnics where Tom was also included. I reached a point where that became untenable. I also prefer getting together with others one to one rather than groups, but it isn’t reciprocated.

The road goes two ways. I’m sorry you can’t find your way here. I would love that but it seems it just won’t be. Shane has been too busy to have us for lunch which would be close to you, so I thought I’d just come anyway. Yet it is a challenge, and not easy for me though I can do it if necessary. I just wonder why you can’t or won’t.

I think of you often. I took the fall basket that I didn’t get around to delivering, and repackaged it into a birthday gift which probably won’t find its way to you house either. Day to day life is a challenge. Sleep is a challenge. Adding other challenges is hard. Even appointments are hard upsetting the routine of day to day, and the comfort and safety of home.

The traumas in childhood left lasting damage. I know you don’t want me to talk about it. A long while back you were upset with me relaying how much Penny went through, so why don’t I just get over it. So I won’t say more. And I won’t complain for that very reason either. I don’t need you to solve my problems like I once did.

I stopped after you  said that just once you’d like me to call without it being a problem. I get it. You have your own stuff, and going to you was inappropriate. I just wish you would have said so, not dismissed my challenges by comparing them to Penny’s and how well she does despite them. What is worse than repressed memories of rape?  I remember everything else done by three other siblings which is bad enough, including your buddy Tom. But what Danny did still remains repressed, though I know it was violent, and was rape. That is what causes so much terror in my life even now.

The other daily challenge is the intense feelings of badness that grew in me from age 8 becoming part of my personality. I work on self-esteem issues daily because I grew up feeling bad, that I don’t have a right to even be here or have a life.

This was meant to simply be a note to let you know I’d love to visit with you, but come here on occasion too?

Patricia

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JOY

People have always been fearsome. How could they not be when childhood was fraught with brothers who held me down, manipulated, lied, and broke trust so completely it never comes again? The snakes, bees, and killer bird are much more easily dealt with on this little plot of land called home.

And it is more home than ever was, because in it an internal home has also been found. Luckily the feeling of wholeness that others take for granted has occurred in me. First, writing the book, where the child in me let loose like a steam pot exploding.

Each week a chapter arose, one week joy, the next, severe pain. And most weeks included tears sliding down my cheeks sometimes in rivers. Sometimes needing a choking rain, but always healing in ways the word was meant to be.

Others in the origin family will interact with me, but only if the game of secrets is played, and only on their turf or in groups. The insanity of this brings upheavals of anguish, the mental confusion bringing only pain.

No one wants to know me as me. And I get it. We each have our own hell and cannot hear the other’s or let it in. Yet the façade of invisibility won’t wear on me anymore. It’s not that I want to talk about the past, just not be chained from it as it relates to my life now.

But you don’t want to know me, just own me, control me, and have me be a puppet. No. The craziness of this tips me over and I can’t have it. No.

People scare me, even those that call themselves family. There is a piece missing in me that has been lost forever. And these souls needy of their own take advantage of the hole. That is how it is.

So take joy in the life created, and know it is OK. You don’t have to fix what is not fixable. It is OK. You are OK, in fact beautiful.

 

RESPECT

Creating a safe environment, and a place where stimuli from others is kept to a minimum, leaves only the dangerous catacombs of my own mind to traverse. Weary after a morning of pleasant tasks, rest is needed. It is easy for harsh thoughts to chastise such repose, but the challenge is met chasing them away. 

A life of anxiety eroded my nervous system making it prone to collapse. My body which inherited a proclivity to arthritis becomes achy and tired needing rest just as much as the mind. While Samuel becomes so much more active in the warmer months going outside all day to work on one project or another, a soft reminder rises. You have permission to take care of your needs whatever they may be.

Listening to body cues is new to me. Real hunger at odd times rather than the scheduled morning, noon and night. Tiredness with the presence of mind to rest. Escaping into movie plots to relieve the banter in my own mind. Knowing when I want to do something or not, rather than doing it because someone else wants me to.

Respecting body cues, whether physical, spiritual, emotional or mental has brought a great deal of freedom and peace. Peace that could not exist when anxiety ruled. That is not boredom you feel, it is peace. To be alone with myself and feel happy, a new frontier to explore with wonder. 

 

Humpty Dumpty

photo by Patricia

Waking an hour early, restless, my mind too awake to allow for more sleep, I rise, closing the half-opened window which allows just enough fresh air for comfort during the night. Clicking on the heat in the dark hall-way, disappointed that my rat brain woke me, plodding to the kitchen grinding coffee beans, a flicker of deep red is noticed through the stained glass above the sink; the moon, a crisp fat finger nail moon burning red through the pane.

Too glorious a night not to take a look, I pad out to the patio with camera in hand. While stars flicker, a few birds tweet good morning while waking from their nest. Missing yesterday’s chance at an impromptu visit because I didn’t want to ask my son to stop when he called to say hello caused a hollowness inside me that won’t go away.

I don’t want to be a pest or press him when he has so much on his plate. The sun had come out on a bright, cold sunny afternoon. But the opportunity came and went, and then it was too late. Instead they rode in the car with him while doing errands, but could have been here playing with Samuel and me, even if only for a short while.

It seems a little thing, but it is enough to keep me awake when my eyes open. A missed chance gone. I don’t shake things off like that well. The best remedy is to invite them all over with the surety of a visit to be counted on for next weekend.

Telling myself how tiny a problem this is, applying lashing after lashing while lying there trying to sleep, such as how can you let this interfere with sleep, is no help, and doesn’t put me back to sleep. Beating myself up for not doing something, not saying something, not being assertive for my needs, not, not, not…well, who can sleep with that kind of thrashing?

The fractured me is constantly being put back together, like Humpty Dumpty, breaking all over again each day, each night, each morning.

 

SUNBEAMS

photo by Patricia

Always a need to busy my mind, because without some distraction my wayward brain likes to dwell on negatives, real or made up. While walking in the crisp air on a sunless day, a day of beauty even without the sun, thoughts go to relationships that seem doomed no matter what. Then a little bird close-by is heard, chirping a song.

Snapping back to now, now is the moment. If you’re present with where you are, instead of drifting off, then what has happened, or will happen, won’t take you away. Can thoughts be better controlled this way? The walking around, lap after lap continued, and with it more enjoyment as the present is more realized and negatives are let go of.

Down by the creek… rest. The sun came out, and though the day is thirty degrees cooler than the day before, it is a spectacular spring day; trees budding, a full out cherry tree in bloom on the hillside all alone in its glory looking much like a rising moon, and suddenly a beaver ducking under the water to make a fast get-away.

Lingering by the sparkling water a settledness takes hold, and the brace of wholeness fills me. It is this quietness each day which satisfies deeply. My environment can be controlled so that stimuli doesn’t overload my senses. Nature’s activity suits me filling the cracks and the holes with peace. .

A Soft Place to Fall

Building from the ground up, no matter that my age has become golden. My spirit, or part of it will always remain at age eight, and many other parts lag behind because growth becomes stunted when traumas held in go unprocessed.

Look at the pieces, scattered, shard-like, curved or smooth, but all badly broken. Hold them tenderly because each is a part of me, and needs gentle care. There is meaning when patience and understanding is applied doing some unraveling. Learning what lies beneath my anger, pain, and resentment offers a recipe towards freeing myself from the agony of stagnation.

Instead of floundering, instead of sinking, look at what hurts and why. Though unaccustomed to softness towards self,  work towards offering compassion, understanding and acceptance. Those are the nutrients that provide  growth, and a soft to fall inside myself.

 

There Is No Place Like Home

One friend is off to the Caribbean, another leaves soon for two weeks on a European river. My son returns from the Outer Banks today. My journeys are mostly within, or looking at photos of other’s travels, though the audacity to take some shorter trips is still taken on.

And that’s OK. Walks through the meadow take me to my core, and what better place to be? A place not visited until these past few years, a place unexplored, with unimaginable delights.

There I find home. There I find sustenance found nowhere else, though my life has been spent looking everywhere else; inside other’s existence, in busyness, and doing things, worrying over things, anything but staying inside me.

But that is where wholeness resides, picking up the shattered pieces one by one, as if mirrors to see my reflection… jagged and ill-formed. Gently the shards go back together. The whole is nothing like the one that began in childhood. But it is whole, and it is solid.

Sometimes the pieces break, as they weren’t put together right. Winter breaks pieces apart with her cold sun. Warm spring comes, and with it peaceful lulls in anxiety, feelings of wholeness, and connectedness to my body. Footfalls in the meadow while little birds tweet hello on nearby branches as if following me, rest my soul lifting a smile from me.

“Hello,” I chirp back. I do not have to go away to find my splendor. Everything needed is in my own backyard. There is no place like home.