Broken Brain

photo by Patricia

It is an achievement confronting the most negative thoughts in the middle of the night when waking to use the bathroom. The best times are when it is easy, but with the challenges of shorter days, and what that does to my brain, negative thoughts bash at me like tropical waves.

In the dark of night demons come. You are not to blame for whatever present repetitive thoughts plague you . Your broken brain needs to keep you like a gerbil in a wheel, but shift the focus. You can be free of it for this moment. And my thoughts move on to more generic images.

Sleep comes, but it even takes work to sleep….

This post describes the dilemma so succinctly. 

Trauma Isn’t Lazy

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Patricia Jane Johnson

photo by Patricia

My real name is Patricia Jane Johnson. I live in upstate New York. I was abused sexually in childhood by 4 out of seven brothers. The three remaining brothers who did not abuse me. steer clear of me in fear of my wanting to talk about the past. Or to cling with each other to make some sort of family, a family I wake every morning in the dark and want to be part of.

Doug (Don in the book) was once father-like to me, taking me into his home when I was in my twenties and helping me get on my feet and proceed in life. Steve, (Seth) who only recently moved here from California, and little brother Ted (Stevie) who we once called Speedy due to Mom being rushed to the hospital during labor when he was born.  

Only one brother of the abusers is still alive. His name is John. (Tom) He is the eldest and the one I felt the most hatred for, not for slithering up in the night when my little brother and I were allowed to fall asleep on the couch together watching the Christmas tree lights then  committing oral sex on his little sister, but rage at his treatment towards me all the years after—not of contrition but ostracizing me, and making me look bad whenever he could.

This is the real me. There is no reason to protect the ‘family’ as for me there isn’t one. There never was. No one appreciates that it was kept inside of me for their benefit, not mine. No one benefits from that. I’m not ashamed. I was a child. As a woman the shame is not mine. It is on those that abuse, and others who protect the abuser still living, and the supposed ‘family name.’

FALL

photo by Patricia

My thought was to choose not to fall into a winter depression which often begins as early as August. That is not to be. Up at 4 am, my stomach gurgling with what was put in it earlier, stuff that shouldn’t have been eaten, sleep would not return. Only worries, one after the other, always darker and more worrisome in the middle of night, toppling over each like pebbles down-sliding into rocks then boulders.

You cannot escape yourself. As much as the want is to be a happier person, more upbeat, and easier with life, that is not how things are for me. My broken brain needs care and attention.

On the full spectrum lights go in the morning, something that has been put off in my denial of how things are and have always been throughout adulthood. My crazy eating patterns won’t magically stop either, but need work and constant monitoring. Overeating like last night is similar to getting good and drunk, same thing. Too much of something to avoid something else.

My crazy rat brain likes to spin in her wheel. Lying there trying to meditate, moderating the breath, the thoughts spin through. Moments of OK-ness come with hope and a resurgence of strength, only to disappear one moment later. And that is not unusual, the yin and yang, mine so disparate it can be hard to bridge the chasm.  

 

Discover the Joy

photo by Patricia

Run. Don’t run. Run into food to relieve the pain. Run into repetitive thoughts to keep pain at bay. Run by staying still, frozen in time and memory. What if you stay still to go inward?

What if you are the good person you are searching for from everyone but yourself? Stay still but don’t run. Nourish the thoughts and feelings that unwrap your true self, beautiful, bold, and whole, full of abandon, freedom, and joy.  

THRIVING

photo by Patricia

A new journey opens, connection to my body. In moments, then longer, wholeness and connection. Once tasting how it feels to be in my body, and to feel safe, more of it is wanted and needed. Like daring to dip a toe in the water, so to it is for someone disconnected from her body since age 8.

It is unaccustomed, unusual, and new territory. Feeling that wholeness comes over time, and small ways then bigger, the body speaking as one. Actions arise from below, not the mind. And are integrated with all other parts.

Moving healthfully becomes more natural than previous ways of survival which blocked all else. A relaxed ease helps guide the path in ways that coax the best from each day by choosing that which helps the body, mind and spirit thrive.  

 

HAPPINESS

photo by Patricia

Happiness comes with the littlest of things, washing dishes then having a clean kitchen, puttering around the house doing other small chores that keep things tidy, and mostly by giving permission to myself that it is OK to be happy, to feel at peace. That I too deserve the same as any other.

For too long, decades really, angst over something or other kept happiness from me. Fretting over this person, that interaction, what was said, how someone looked at me, any tiny thing loomed overly large and threatening.

Since childhood when the sexual attacks began, I felt ashamed and to blame. An older brother’s friends were in the kitchen looking at me and talking. It had to have been about how bad I was.

That feeling followed me into late adulthood. Even my first attempts at therapy were clouded by worries over anyone knowing the real me. A brother’s friend worked there, a brother who sexually abused me over a period of a few years… what if his friend read my files?

He had every right to since he worked there. Still my persistence in having a life kept me going despite the terror haunting me. One therapist after another through the years, whatever it took to keep going.

And finally a feeling of peace, which for me is happiness. Peace, good health, a good night’s sleep, and the ability to live in more present moments than once occurred. Meditation began that path, and writing with all the raw honesty found within, along with the gift of finding compassion on-line from others who know of the challenges and feel similarly. 

Gratefulness seeps in with calm, tranquil days.

 

SURVIVE

Clouds of self-doubt that burdened throughout my life left by the scars of brothers who chose to use my body for their own devices, slowly melted away. But it took years. Decades. Age 8 it began. Not till 50 years later did true healing begin with the telling of all that no one wanted telling. The black tar of others was scourged out. Chapter by chapter, week after week, it all came up.

The nasty, awful things done to a child, that child was me. The things I lived with inside were like snakes biting, and the bleeding never stopped. No child should carry those wounds, that filth, as if it were her own.

It came up. Sipping coffee all morning, the tears slipped down freely. Good tears, healing tears, tears that were welcomed every morning for weeks until done. The internal pain stored up was finally being released bit by bit. And it was freeing.

The release set me free as a person without clouds of shame…red hot shame. Shame in every interaction since age 8, along with a feeling that I never should have born. Hence death looking inviting.

Also tears of joy. Because when things get stuffed, it all gets stuffed. And there was joy. The joy of my ponies and horse. Ice skating on the pond, night time bon-fires on the island in the middle of the pond while snow fell, sledding down the hill behind it, buckets of hot, home-made cocoa when all eight of us trekked back inside, accompanied with platters of toast dripping with butter…

The good with the horrible. It isn’t usually such a chore to find balance in life. But when you must hold such traumas inside with the good, it can feel and be impossible. And many times anxiety rules instead of peace. The beginning of true healing began once was the black tarry ooze floated up and out. 

My mother’s death was the impetus. With her gone, the truth could be told. I no longer had to protect her fantasy of a happy family.