Worthy to Heal

 

Rattling the cages of childhood, truths keep falling out. Tidbits of wisdom about what really occurred. Forced by shame to go on as if nothing happened made life oppressive in just about every way. Loneliness honed itself into a sharp, cloying, empty, bottomless pit devouring me for decades to come.

 Terror and trauma held into my little girl’s body changed me in ways I will never have as my own again. But I have me now. I am learning so much that my mother never wanted me to. Her ways were to just go on, the opposite of what was needed to heal.

Expecting me to be how she wanted me to be, how other little girls and young women were, caused a desperate need to fulfill her dreams. That yearning for acceptance and love broke down what was left inside even further. Who I was became lost beneath the façade of normalcy.

It is easier for family to go on without the shame of sexual abuse known, so the child abused takes it on. This damage follows a person for life. The toll to my body, mind, emotional well-being, and nervous system is severe.

The ‘tortured colon’ describe by my gastroenterologist? Which meant a tortuously painful colonoscopy until the anatomy of my colon became known. The constrictions and curvatures may have developed as a child by holding muscles in the pelvic area tight as a defense against further onslaught. It certainly was the reason for my skinny kid frame to become bloated and overweight, though that didn’t keep them off either.

And now, with peaceful lulls in my days and sleep filled nights… why are they suddenly disturbed by negative thoughts and insomnia? Because a brain broken by trauma held in unprocessed is incapable of sustaining happiness for long periods.

Knowing that gives me hope, because I can self-talk myself into believing that like every other woman sexually abused as a child, I do deserve happiness and peace. Happiness is peace; peace from negative thoughts, buzzing anxiety, a too fast paced life, and most of all blessed sleep.

These are basics that every child coming out of childhood deserves, human rights for all but that many don’t receive or develop. Beliefs forced onto a child form the personality. Shame, badness, and feelings of abnormality become cemented into the personality of a child suffering sexual attacks by those she loves.

Left to fend for myself caused irreparable damage. Self attacking traits carved in to me are a challenge to shift requiring a belief that I’m worthy along with the fortitude and persistence to take it on. 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

FRIENDS

Tinted, like looking at the world with dark glasses. When the growth of a personality is embedded with feelings of ‘badness,’ feeling abnormal, even dirty, it separates a being from others in so many ways… emotionally, spiritually, and intimately. Closeness is feared.

Anxiety arises. Any interaction with another human makes it pop like hot mercury. Though much of that has lessened, anxiety and the customary feeling of wrongness, or badness, are still issues dealt with daily. 

Living in a bubble is not my desire, but my needs require an environment that includes a great deal of solitude that is steadily familiar. Upsets in equilibrium interfere with my health setting off a reaction that is out of my control. But outings are still pleasurable.

A friendly gathering offered a place to really talk. Later at home the harsh voice began banging, “You monopolized the conversation. Can’t you see what they have been going through?”

Then a softer voice quietly budged in, “Give yourself a break. It’s OK to share. It doesn’t mean you aren’t aware of their struggles or pain, or that you don’t care. Let yourself off the hook. Think of the supportive things that were said, like, you are a good friend. Remember that?”

Remember that.

GROWTH

photo by Patricia

My head knows what my heart does not. When a child is sexually abused by loved ones, her world turns and does not recover. My head knows the blame is not mine, but the soul, my core, became damaged in ways that won’t be undone.

People my age die. It is not uncommon. The growth so far may have to be. That is the way for everyone. We keep growing until we die. And mine is enough. I cannot have what I would have, but I can have now with hope.

 

The Sun Will Come

Three or four days of a peaceful lull, good sleep, warm sunny days, a deep feeling of tranquility. Then every thought goes awry, or more so feelings are scattered, negative, and self-defeating. Tears come without knowing why. It reminds me of spring’s past, always a waterfall of tears often with no source known, they just come, and come, and come.

We sit by the creek watching the action. Weasels slipping, sliding, and playing in the water. A brown duck sticks her beak out of the box high up on the pole in the reeds. The flower bulbs planted a few years back have quadrupled in size spreading their glory in the wild gardens around us.

“You think too much,” Samuel says quietly.

“Evidently I don’t think enough, because I can’t figure things out,” I respond slightly defensive.

We sit some more, neither of us getting too revved up like in prior years when just about any comment from him would set me off. Sometimes a gem of a comment leaves his lips, but mostly another human being cannot grasp the wildness of a heart and mind fractured by one sexually abused as a child. Then living with it suppressed inside where it festers, grows, and breaks every part of her. The effects of suppressed trauma takes its toll, takes a life. No one around me knows about that.

Desperate for a reason to explain these blissful periods that typhoon into hyper negativity then tears… there is no real reason, though my squirrel brain is busy coming up with zillions of them, all my failures, shortcomings, and mistakes.

Or it may have to do with my younger brother calling to ask to stay for a visit in May. Also to get together with the other two siblings in the city. This get-together stuff is a basket of snakes because finally now I’m included? Do I want to be? It feels dangerous and toxic. 

Raymond would say that is personalization, making every negative thing somehow my doing. Personalization: Cognitive distortions are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves.

A good therapist would be helpful when my mind goes in tangents, but? Then there’s going, and talking, and allowing another to really know me. It wearies me to think of it. But another call was made recently to see if she has openings. 

There might not be any reason for the turmoil other than the change of seasons, from darkness to more light which causes havoc in the balance of brain chemicals… every year for as long I can remember.  

It is in spring that tears flow seemingly out of nowhere. It is best to let them. All the jumbled up feelings, thoughts and emotions that were managed over winter blizzard into a hurricane of confusion. The most that can done is to ride the waves trying to tame the harsh voice into a kinder and gentler one, and wait for the sun.

When sadness comes and you don’t know why, make a cake for a friend. Brighten someone’s else’s day. It didn’t help me fall asleep last night, but it did move me through an anxiety filled morning planting me firmly in the kitchen doing something useful. And who doesn’t like the aroma of chocolate? 

 

Speak Up

Seemingly slight disturbances upset the balance disturbing healthy patterns of sleep and emotions.

It was a brisk sunny morning, a perfect morning for doubling up on walking, more a pleasure than forced exercise. Time to move my body with no one hindering me from focusing my attention on what is happening around me or in my body. That is the magnet drawing the parts home, feeling free to do what is needed for me.

Plopping down on the patio chair dropping mud boots besides me readying for an early morning walk on a spectacular morning, the warmth soaked in, not only soaked in, seeped into my pores and right to my core. Like branches unfurling so did my body and every organ, hyper-aroused emotion, and nervous system.

It is my usual to run on alert, even here in my home. To melt in the spring sun and relax is such a welcome relief after a very long winter. It is my cure.

Sweatshirt zipped, hat on, almost ready to put on boots, Samuel said, “Maybe we should go for another bike ride.”

With hardly any thought I responded, “I’m game,” wondering as the words left my lips, do I really want to?

Yesterday’s ride, though exhilarating, and the first of the season, was painful. Riding on bike seats, even those sold to be comfortable, are not. The moment my butt hit the seat I knew going two days in a row was a mistake. But tough situations make me tougher, and off we went.

What could have been the best time of the day by a solitary meadow walk in the sunshine, turned into the hardest and most painful part of the day, with a sleepless night to follow because of one choice, doing Samuel’s bidding, not knowing mine. 

Going on forced throttle is not a good option for me as most of my life was lived like that; as if it were someone else’s fairy life, not mine. Pushing, then pushing harder, forcing myself to go with the flow like others when my interior was disintegrating physically, and mentally draining me.

Silence of the victims is required in families where sexual abuse occurs. The family reputation supersedes help for the child tortured. No help for my severe injuries. So I must not have any. Life becomes a stage where I play a part limping along to please others. Any scrap of kindness loomed large. I learned very early that I did not deserve what others did. 

That is not much different that today when even my husband needs to be pleased, and if shown even the slightest consideration it feels unexpected, not deserved. If Samuel is offering to go again, it’s a big deal, and I need to go. It is probably good for him to bike since walking hurts his hip so.

It was not good for me. I knew it wasn’t somewhere deeper than what was accessible. It is often like that, aware of some things, oblivious to others. Two days in a row is too much. Maybe a bike ride once a week can be handled, and only if I really want to, not because someone else wants to.

This is my own doing, yet it feels like it’s not. I was programmed this way. It is hard to change, but possible if aware of it with the courage to change and keep working at it.

It seems so petty, yet it is not. Doing more than my body can handle upsets systems enough to interfere with sleep and many other working parts. It may always be a challenge to speak up for my needs, to say no, to be however is real for me, to be authentic.

The tiny moments when it occurs are held like precious stones in the palm of my hand as the digging for treasure keeps on…

FAMILY

That poor child. Nobody wanted her, why would I? So many times abandoning the child inside, always abandoning her, not wanting to be her. Looking at the baby on a lap of a future predator, and three more growing alongside her, she never had a chance. Parents who had too many. Parents who coddled the first girl after six boys, having even one more boy after her. 

Is that what made them attack me after our father died? Did my parents ignorantly show favoritism to the only girl child out of eight? Did my attackers feel abandoned by our strict father for dying so took out their rage on the one who seemed loved the most? Or is mayhem just mayhem. I can talk about it now without it hurting so much. The need to talk about what was silenced for so long remains.  

Feeling included in the email group when Don sent the photo caused a longing to make contact. I sent an email to Don and Seth suggesting to meet in the city park for a picnic. There will always be a want and a need for family. I felt relief to hear back that Saturday sounds like rain, after Easter might be better.

Maybe that will be OK. My tendency is to do things without thinking through what is best for my real needs. Going Saturday to see brothers who really don’t interact with me, when at the same time already promising to bake a braided bread ring for Easter brunch for Shane, was just one of the many times too much is planned. Pulling back is then necessary. The desire to do what others seem to manage so easily without regard to my true needs and limitation festers on.  

Seth who was copied in let Don reply. Seth fell from the pedestal he was on after sending him a link to my book a few years back. For months he wouldn’t answer emails until one of my emails demanded why.

“It must have been cathartic to write, but why put our family’s dysfunction out there?” he wrote.

During that period of feeling rejected and criticized, my heart beat accelerated during meditation. Or I thought it did which might have made it so. I called 911, was taken to the ER, then admitted overnight for observation.

That episode is on me. My opinion of myself must come first. That is a life-long journey and struggle. Autonomy. Courage. Confidence. Belief in oneself. Step up and be me. I am still not sure I can do it. I also still fear Don, and his approval of me. Long ago he was the only father (figure) I had.

It is a complicated boat of feelings; past ways of interacting, new ways untried. There is great doubt that new ways will have a chance. The safest path is to live my life without manipulation, controlling personalities, or fearsome tactics that succeed in keeping me boxed in and silent. 

The yearning to be part of what is best not to be part of continues, at times more sharply than others.  Receiving these photos via email opened doors I had shut, not locked but closed. Opening them even a crack puts me at risk at sliding back into a passive, quiet sister without needs, boundaries or voice.

It’s OK to stick my toe into the crack but not if it needs to be squeezed into someone else’s shoe. I need to be me for what might be the very first time. My mind is not aware of what that is, but my gut knows.