INDEPENDENCE DAY

Glum though the day is brilliantly sunny, and perfectly summery. Last night the booming rocketing of firework bombs around the countryside kept me up well past midnight.

The celebrations of July 4th, once excited over especially when our boys were young, feeding off their excitement, is not a holiday enjoyed anymore- except that Shane brought the grand-children over the day prior for a picnic, swim, and overall fun and laughter.

Glum. Samuel and I were going to bike along the water today while Cory and Shane both celebrate with in-laws. They celebrate all holidays with in-laws, and why not, they have extended families; brothers, and sisters who have their own kids to play with theirs.

We have just us, though we try to offer fun; poppers to snap on the concrete, a brand new dirt bike for the meadow no one rides, a new basketball hoop attached to the shed roof hardly used that Samuel was against because it meant putting holes in the roof, but he did it anyway… for me.

Perhaps it is just not enough for modern days kids with so many activities; classes such as dance, taekwondo, and karate. And sports; lacrosse, soccer, and basketball. Then there is Scouting, plus they have a pool grander than ours with a diving board at the deep end since it is inground. We have only of ourselves to offer, not quite the same.

Though nostalgia saddens me deep to my bones, so does gratitude. My sons have extended families that I cannot give them. My job is done. Time required to care for myself as needs increase with age is plenty, something I am deeply thankful for.

I have no extended family, not really. 4 out of 7 sexually attacked me mercilessly. The other three, two who live within 45 minutes of me? Detrimental and highly toxic to my health, growth, and well-being. Their denial of who I really am causes me to disappear, pushing my hard won equanimity to vanish, falling into a chasm stuck, dangerously losing myself, doubt eating me up till nothing is left.

After such a hard night, my only desire is to walk the meadow. Then walk more, mother calming, soothing, and mine. Walk until tiredness seeps in with the gorgeous day and time on my own. Laps double the usual amount, but not forced, enjoyed, thoroughly. Thank you mother.

These sleepless nights are here to stay as my body ages and the life of over used adrenaline and drained out cortisol tired it out so much even tiny (or in this case bigger) events send my internal rockets off.

FRIENDS

 And then a friend replies, not one ever known in person, but one you might call a pen pal. Yet when two souls share from the core, do you need to meet?

How are you? She asks via email, as she really cares to know. It’s not the customary social question when you reply by fine though dying inside. So, I tell her.

I say I may be addicted to Xanax, considering how much use it’s been getting lately with sleep issues escalating this past year. Sleep issues began about the time my mother declined before her death, waking in the night eating bread gobbed with butter, never a daytime food choice. Often four or six slices, white soft bread with tons of butter.

Butter? I rarely use the butter dish watching Samuel eat his daily toast slapping on butter, or a blob on his vegetables which I rarely do. And white bread? Never. Samuel requires white, I eat high fiber wheat. My night-time sleep/eating issues began then, about ten years ago.

But this past year the use of nighttime medication has increased to a worrisome amount, each time feeling I failed somehow. That being unable to sleep is my own fault; faulty thinking, not calming myself, somehow, it’s me.

But is it? Couldn’t it have to do with becoming calmer, more peaceful, more connected to my inner core, wiser, and more self-loving? Or self-loving at all, even the tiny tidbits felt for the very first time?

Perhaps it is my doing, but not my fault. Because as my being becomes more whole, less scattered, the part repressed that keeps the memory of Danny’s rape from consciousness might now find a path up. That would make anyone anxious, and since anxiety tends to be my constant companion, anxiety rachets itself up another notch.

Energy comes in small doses, mornings are best. And the energy my body must need to repress such a trauma could be well used for happier endeavors. But that’s up to my internal workings.

I can’t just say, OK memory come up. And who would want to? Weight loss must be connected. Food was used at age 8 right after his coming into my room, and has been used ever since. My body was just as slim as other kids before, then blew up.

When often feeling alone, I am not. While sipping coffee on the screened porch before the sun rises, birds begin their cacophony of wake-up songs, one close by singing loud yet lovely, clear and true.

Wrapping the blanket closer around me, quietly walking towards the screen, there it is atop the shepherd’s hook, one little body singing such a great song!

Finally it’s time to go back inside to open emails, one from the friend I’ve never met. Her response to my lamenting the use of a night-time medication was (as usual) soft and gentle, along with this poem.

So, I am not alone, I have birds, friends… and me.

PHOTO BY PATRICIA

TRANSFORMATION

Exhaustion makes me weary. Sometimes growth can do that. Especially with a body worn out by years of hyper-alertness from repressed trauma causing startle responses daily with the accompanying adrenaline shooting cortisol through my veins draining my body from energy permanently.

And growth is challenging. Kicking the critic out comes with kick-back from her, rising up to torture more aggressively beating me ragged. Could it be that fearing the worst causes it?

After a night with no sleep at all, a fear if going without medication, when Samuel awoke all thoughts of keeping my misery to myself dissolved.

“I didn’t sleep at all,” adding, “I was awake after you came to bed, and stayed in bed till 2. I couldn’t lay there anymore!”

He was quiet, though a sigh escaped noticed by a slump in his shoulders on exhale. And a soft whisper from my soul which went unheeded and did not penetrate, if this happened to my him, much compassion would flow from me. But for myself I felt quite the opposite.

The tears squeezed out, “What’s wrong with me? Why am I so different, so weird?”

And that theme went on, the tiredness embalming me further. Feeling sick, I retreated to the bedroom pulling the shades and curtains, the kitty looked at me wondering what I was up to.

Yanking the blankets down from the neatly made bed, knowing sleep would never comes in the day, but also knowing that rest was required, I dragged myself under the covers turning on the TV.

Louise Hay? My interest was piqued. I’ve used her quotes several times without ever knowing anything else about her. Sometimes the universe, mother god, takes time to intervene… just for me.

“Look in the mirror and tell yourself, I love you. I really love you,” she said.

After the short segment about her work, the self-hate and self-criticizing thoughts which blamed me for sleep issues were completely transformed.

Going back out on the patio, the warm sun kissed and hugged me all over, my bathrobe absorbing it all along with other sweet sensations that weren’t penetrating when in self-hate mode.

The quiet day after the reversal of thoughts about self sent me meandering down to the creek, gathering a basket of rose petals on the way. Then out front to cut peonies to refill the vase with fresh flowers. And again, out to Samuel’s climbing roses for another sweet display. My hands scoop the petals in the basket, moving them so that would dry without molding, but also for the aroma to swell.

Something in me is fighting back, kicking me black and blue, not allowing for this new freedom and growth. But when a process begins, there’s no turning back. A soul knows where to go if you let it.

Thank you Samuel

Critic BE Quiet

My sleep routine must be very odd to most. With time to adjust it however wanted, you’d think it would be more customary, but my life has been anything but that.

To bed with the birds around 9PM, but usually up before them, clocking 7 hours when all goes well. Sometimes that stretches to 8, and more rarely, but miraculously, 9.

As with medications, the experts change opinions periodically, and it appears 7 hours is perfect, so maybe my abnormal routine is normal, just earlier than most. My critic often tells me how odd it is, then the wiser voice chirps in, that if staying up later to wake later it backfires because my body would still wake earlier than the birds.

A body fractured by trauma without intervention or help remains broken in some places, or at least mine does on this front. So? Gratefulness for getting that amount of sleep because any night could upset this routine without knowing why.

You can pat yourself on the back for taking the measures needed to care for your body, mind, and spirit, accepting the brokenness with love and understanding… or trying to… critic be quiet.

The Battle

Yesterday’s morn….

In the battle between critic and compassion, Beauty and the beast, the monstrous critic is beating hell out of me the past three nights. And last night loch ness won driving me out of bed for medication and food, my panacea’s for chasing out demons. This after two weeks of solid blissful sleep.

Hanging my head in tears this morning with a gurgling gut from too much food overnight, Samuel says, “You have to stop the thoughts!”

He’s referring to Shane’s wife getting hit by a deer in the new van, bringing so much angst over the difficult years between the two of us, making for a rocky relationship with my son. More so, bringing back all mistakes I ever made with him since birth. Yup, my mind just zooms to unwelcome places once the rocket fires. It isn’t about him or her, it’s me. All my corrosive feelings caving in to waste me.

“I’m not you. I’m broken. Something in me is broken. Don’t you realize that I do try? I put in a herculean effort, probably a hundred-fold what you do.”

“Yes, I do,” he says, repeating it, not ‘getting it’ at all, adding, “You have to tell yourself, been there, done that.”

He doesn’t know, he will never know. Lying there hour after hour trying and trying. Is it my fault?

Worried, Weary, & Grateful

Son’s new, NEW, van, hit by a deer. Would sleep return after using the bathroom? No. Worries, then more worries as everything looks bleak and disastrous in the black of night.

But getting up or using a sleep aid is not an option, self-discipline is. And that is being honed more than ever. So, stay. Stay till some traffic begins to go by, and is that a bird or wishful thinking?

Because worries cause restlessness, and this time, despite a few hours of committing myself to stay still, sleep doesn’t return.

And yes, that is a bird. A lovely start to a day with the chorus of birds through the open door even though a bit weary. There are still many grateful gifts to celebrate.

Lock Ness

Right before it was time to sleep a hunger was noticed. Really? You’re going to eat then brush your teeth again? Letting the feelings sit, it felt like real hunger, not the other variety that numbs uncomfortable feelings.

But choosing to eat a couple of peanut butter sandwiches with a full glass of milk. more calories than consumed at any meal in the daytime? What were you thinking, that thought erupting later in the night when my tummy gurgled in complaint making for a restless night and my heart pounding faster and louder in its efforts to digest it?

My mind wanted to whip me senseless, but the new me took hold- no, no beatings. There are parts yet unhealed. The old habit of being apart from my body allowing consumption of such an amount raised its head like Loch Ness and down the food went as if it was OK. It wasn’t.

Rustling up that newly found compassionate voice of reason when the tossing and turning occurred, along with four trips to the bathroom, some soothing occurred, and sleep. Chaos had returned in a moment, and this was brought on by me! Taking in that much food before bed, a big no no due to the the inability to digest food lying down… but… do without a dose of whiplashing added on to the unrest and discomfort.

The beginnings of weight loss didn’t occur until several months of working on a softer tone to self, with another rule, no chastising self when using food. If you eat when not physically hunger the deal is that no self battering gets served with it. THAT took time, but over time came success. Gentleness towards myself has not come easily, but with time and effort. So too does forgiveness.

REST

Getting off the night-time medication has helped greatly, last night making 5 nights in a row, though that one was harder. And probably due to the Covid Booster we had earlier in the day doing things to my body, like a slight headache, a very minor uptick in body temperature along with all over unwellness.

Changes in my body scare me. The soft gentle voice was needed to soothe me. You can do it, it’s OK. Over and over till sleep came, a bit fit full, but it came.

Samuel wanted to go the store after for a few things but one outing was enough for me. After having my own time to myself, this block of time elsewhere caused a need to come home and rest.

Away, those criticisms about laziness or not accomplishing. Yes, more could have been done, like going out walking or meditating. How energy sucking is that? Instead, my choice was to just vegetate, bring in the scattered parts and try to be in the moment.

It was hard not to zone out yesterday. Just that outing, with a shot in the arm and questions of how safe this fourth one will be, was an overload for my tired-out system. Resting was the best choice. Give yourself some credit, even a pat on the back.

NEW WAYS- SOUL WAYS

It isn’t earth shattering, what I do. Waking after a restful sleep with deep gratitude for that simple bodily need fulfilled, there it is. What do I do?

A puzzle, a craft readying for the kids to visit over the weekend, or what? Movies play almost non-stop, as if that is my safe way to interact with people. While listening to the voices known by heart because they play so much, household chores are accomplished, or the next meal is prepared- which means a lot of time over the sink.

That is such a pleasure when the morning sun splashes on my face warming my upper body. So, it isn’t earth shattering, what I do.

Yet being in my body, and in my life, following that inner voice that often is ignored or detached from, can cause a reversal of negativity in my closest relationships opening them to growth and better lives for all.

Not just in my life but also in those I touch. Since childhood that voice was ignored. How could it not be when divided from it at age eight? That voice calls in the night preventing sleep till listened to. That or the PTSD devil, haven’t decided which.

It is an upheaval of deep angst and unhealth, but when re-connecting and following through…that IS earth shattering! Asking for what I need takes an extraordinary amount of energy and is exhausting. Others have become accustomed to my placidity and apologetic tendencies. When persevering for what feels right repeatedly and doggedly until the desired outcome, well, that must be surprising and difficult to ignore.

It is the little things that shatter the old ways creating new and wonderous ones…

SLEEP HYGIENE

PHOTO BY PATRICIA

And so, a hard night comes again, sooner than wanted, and it was so temping to go back to old habits. But I feel good about staying, and some sleep came long after Samuel’s regular breathing. Not enough, but some, and that was nightmarish.

My mind just takes a leap into worry. And with such a busy mind, the body lays in purgatory, needing sleep but not having it.

But this morning, no grogginess, and there’s a feeling of success in that a choice was made and stuck to even though very hard. Kitty curls up next to me by the fire, and a glimpse of rose meets the darkened skies.

It will be a quiet day. Friday was the last hard night, then Saturday and Sunday- good, solid sleep, hearing one part of me say, ‘OK, you paid for your shortcomings with enough suffering, now you can sleep.’

Is this really a form of self-punishment? And for what? Two days in a row of good sleep is an improvement. Perhaps with continued work on good sleep hygiene that period will become longer and longer.