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.

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The Ripple Effect

Ripples in life pile up growing bigger as they cascade down like a snowball gaining size as each event plops on top of the other. Then the PTSD monster won’t allow a return to sleep at 4 AM. What that does to the rest of the day is disaster.

No armor for my restless soul hell bent on caving in on itself with fury, the fury of being eight and the everlasting damage done. A feeling of badness that takes energy each day to resist, but without sleep I’m lost in the wilderness of wrong.

“I’m a bad mother, grand-mother, I’m born bad with no right to be here,” I said to Samuel, allowing the dark inside me to seep out, and with it tears.

At 4 AM, the thought that my comment about a certain sneaker possessed my grand-son to buy that very pair with his own money, kept me awake.

“No way,” Samuel said, “A kid that age wants to buy those things. It wasn’t because of you.”

I wish I could believe him, but I was on a mission to lash myself.

“You don’t have this inside you, something that makes you feel bad every day,” I said.

“I know,” Samuel said quietly.

But his gentle encouragement helped. Thoughts that allowed myself to run ragged with hurt needed reining in. If only I had the energy to combat them.

Work in the studio felt tedious. Being conscious was burdensome. Later in the dreary day, unusually cold and rainy, energy was mustered to do meadow laps in-between the rain-drops. The day improved with more acceptance for my dis-ease, and myself.

It is the way. Things go along, then not. A fender-bender in the parking lot, cancelling a trip to Niagara Falls due to inclement weather, and my son visiting on Mother’s Day, something that should be joyful bringing worry instead. Like a snowball gaining momentum on it’s run down the hill, it was enough to make my brain go haywire, then make me turn on myself.

You did not control your thoughts, my harsh mind reprimanded, that is why you can’t get back to sleep. 

But the disease of PTSD does not allow for that. Once activated it is out of my control. That is something not easily accepted. Blaming myself is so much easier, though painful. The damage done during my childhood years has to be gently understood– time, after time, after time. Being a fighter at my core, acceptance continues to be something to work on.   

 

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.

 

SOULWORK

Sinking down into myself, into the core, into my soul… really deep. Going past all the shattered pieces to where it all began, life. A soul born complete. You are there if you dare to find it. And it scares me.

Walking out to the shed with a raincoat over my bathrobe to shut the door left open overnight for some unknown reason, I look around at the beauty created. Walking back to the house every nook in the landscaping has a piece of mosaic made by my hands from that place inside of me.

I have taken blackness and made beauty. I walk the earth in a shroud of heavy seriousness keeping fears at bay, creating a counter punch with my work along with great conscientiousness to keep afloat.

There is more than saving myself from drowning. Touching home in my soul where connections are made with my body, not fearing it. Where unfavorable behaviors begin to be understood, forgiven, and treated gently. Where goodness is acknowledged in its authenticity, not blackened by the past and those who want to keep me there.  

There is a place I’ve hardly been, feared to go, and want to be.

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. .

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.

 

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.