SPRINGTIME MANIA

That feeling of being different digs in oppressing my ability to enjoy the coming of spring. Spring itself is causing this upheaval, interfering with sleep as a manic brain swirls when hitting the pillow causing leaps of ecstasy but landing hard going under without resurfacing well.

Working daily to keep my hat on, bringing it down a notch, doesn’t always work towards good sleep. Thoughts still sometimes race making me wonder what kind of mental ailment might yet overtake me in this life-time.

The physical deterioration of my body due to age is enough to handle, but PTSD always lived with since age 8 worsened as years went by. An older body cannot take the hits of adrenaline and cortisol that daily occurrences cause- simple surprises like Samuel appearing in the hallway or a leaf blowing by while walking. My body reacts as if in danger though none is there.

It is hard, that feeling of ‘differentness.’ During the pandemic, though scared until the Governor talked daily about what he’d do, then doing it, bringing a new sense of security, the days became the best ever. Now the rest of the world knows what my life has always been like; solitary, lonely, and alone.

Yes, I have a partner, but it doesn’t matter. You can be with people and still be lonely. Because others don’t know unless they have been through something similar.

Waking after a bad night where yet again a sleep aid was needed, my head drops down while explaining to Samuel, or trying to, “You don’t know how hard it is.”

Tears fall. “If something happened to you, I couldn’t stay in this house one night,” I said.

The night before it occurred to me that I could not, nor didn’t have to do what Samuel always said was the wise choice if one of us were to die first. Stay in the house at least a year before deciding what to do with it.

When parents die, in this case both of our mother’s years ago, (our fathers have been out of the picture- mine through death when I was a child- his out of divorce and ambivalence), then you begin to think about dying because you are next in line.

But I’m not Samuel. He does not deal with PTSD, nor does he understand its challenges. Of course he could easily live here alone because he’s not scared. What he said made sense, don’t make any rash decisions. So I believed that’s what I had to do in the case of his dying first. But in the middle of the night when awake every little noise scares me even with him right there next to me. No way could staying here occur without him. Tears fall yet again when explaining this to him.

“I couldn’t stay. The thought of staying terrifies me. And that doesn’t make me weak. Comparing myself to my friends makes me feel weak because several have no problem being alone. But I am not weak. In many ways I’m stronger,” I said.

Bringing these real fears out made me cry, made my feelings real and valid. Making the decision to honor who I really am, what I really deal with, and do what is the safest and most loving for myself is a huge leap of growth quite miraculous. And it helps in those dark scary moments to remember that somewhere deep inside myself is a rock, a strong secure rock to hold on to and guide me.

MATILDA

The fall morning chill calls for wrapping up in a warm quilt when sipping coffee on the porch unwilling to let the summertime routine go. A candle is lit to chase away darkness while waiting impatiently for the sun to rise.

Fall brings a change in mood dropping like a cold stone in water and with it more somber thoughts fraught with dire warnings. Hopeful or fearful? A choice becoming more challenging as the short days bring cold gloom especially with the pandemic striking harder as people gravitate indoors and the flu injects its threatening tragedy compounding the fright.

Shuttering doors and windows feels like shuttering my soul, confined into smaller spaces that suffocate. Combating that effect takes effort and will. Cast light where there is darkness, bring hope where’s there’s despair.

Small things bring pleasure and sparkle; making a card for my grand-daughter’s birthday, an oversized card decorated with shiny embellishments and innovative lettering, chicken soup and home-made bread for Shane’s family sick with colds. (but no Covid as they tested negative, testing required by the school in order to return), and putting together Matilda, the happy faced pumpkin who easily returns every year just by applying buttons with pins and a little rouge.

It’s a historically rough period, adding on to existing stresses. Whatever pleasures sought, albeit how small, help to elevate happiness, peace, and equanimity.

 

LIGHT

Railing at the changing seasons equates to less joy. Adjustments are required as the days grow shorter wondering- is it imagined? There was hope to avoid it for once, but that’s not happening. It is real, waking in the night more often with dark thoughts about the past, or trying to fall asleep with warning bells going off fearing my entire soul is fraught with maliciousness.

Stop. Breathe, you’re OK. It is just the onset of autumn, and you know what that does to your thinking. Self talk is crucial for my thoughts as dark as the shorter days.Time to double up on the usual work as my mind is as heavy as my leaden feet in the path, dragging them step by step, each lap a struggle through the heaviness. 

Welcome fall. Out come pumpkin, cinnamon, and apple scented candles for the warmer, along with creams and essential oils to enjoy which also embrace fall. Apples in the hallway Samuel picked off the tree a week ago are finally dragged into the kitchen to make applesauce.

The bubbly pink sauce is sprinkled with cinnamon, but my blunted senses hardly notice. It is difficult to stay in my body and go deep afraid of the negativity welling up. But go there, then stay, that’s the answer. Do what brings pleasure, just look at the meadow once dancing with buttercups and daisies now yellow with mustard. The changing hues swap color as the seasons change. 

Birds chatter en masse in the hickory trees, then a swell suddenly forms in a cloud flying in group formation, dipping like an out of control roller coaster, then gone leaving silence behind. Just be… absorb what’s there, find the light. Pick a bouquet of sunflowers and zinnias. There is beauty, let it in. Breathe deep, relax.

 

DANGEROUS PEOPLE

After the socially distant impromptu get-together at Seth’s, the week was difficult. One sister-in-law brought up Tom’s name, and she did so after we’d had friction over her bringing him up to me over a year ago.

It isn’t asking a lot that these people called ‘family’ not discuss him. My attendance is once yearly or less. But she did as if my presence didn’t matter at all. That caused more than a week of feeling pierced in my core away from myself– numb.

Eventually tears came, then came more. Family, real family, would not bring up the name of a person who abused me so horribly then spent the rest of my life making me pay for it with disparaging remarks and put-downs around others. His damaging treatment all the years after his crime caused the greatest harm.

And no one bothers to respect that buddying up with my abuser, acting like nothing ever happened, wounds as much as the original attack.

What at first seemed like a happy gathering for the first time in a long time, caused deep pain. Forgetting how interactions of any kind in the hope for authentic acknowledgment always has painful repercussions. These people called family are dangerous… all of them.

 

SUNBEAMS

The meadow at dawn

What to do when everything is alright with the world? OK, not the universal world suffering the blight of the pandemic, but my own internal world which is found on this little plot of land I call heaven. No more being a renegade living as a rebel outcast because even the three brothers who never touched me seemed to cling together against me.

What if there is real caring and some of my resentments need the gift of tolerance just as they do in any human interaction? And what of the trust issues? Well they are there on a permanent basis. When the inner voice cries out ‘beware’…listen to it.

But the soul’s yearning for family never requited has been filled by an impromptu outdoor socially distant gathering. Picking up my pot oil supply in the city, a quick stop at Seth’s was made only a block away. He called the other brother also living in the city. Soon he and his wife popped in with their cups of coffee.

The ten minute visit turned into three hours, and the thirst for ‘family’ was quenched. It was fun, felt safe, and for the first time was OK. Because I am OK. Traveling miles in the meadow, footfall after happy footfall among the bobbing heads of buttercups and drifting butterflies, my strength blossomed with the love growing internally.

Strong enough to love me, or learn about how that feels as it blooms, the doors to family that had closed but left unlocked cracked open, widening enough to enjoy their company and feel safe. The safe part is paramount occurring only after my ability to say what I need to say when I need to say it crystalized. 

Not by force, but by walks in the meadow where I’ve learned that the opinion of myself that matters most is my own.

                                                   Photos by Patricia     

A Walk Among Butterflies

photos by Patricia

The fall in fall is inevitable as dark thoughts begin invading. There’s ways to combat this yearly drop in mood by increasing reassurances to myself. Yet there it is. Pretending it’s not only makes the usual problems worsen.

Escaping the moment by over-doing activity, or busyness doesn’t help. Slow down- be in the body, spirit, and soul, even if being there can be difficult. There are joys amidst the challenges.

Thinking of our governor and the daily challenges he faces with such great success causes me to wonder at my inadequacies. But more helpful talk floats in. For many, including myself, the best work is self-care.

Focusing energy on taking care of oneself is success. If I don’t, who will? Finding ways for pleasure, excitement, and joy are important too, making the more painful parts of daily life tolerable.

Joy is found as the butterfly lights on the bushes, when hummingbirds come to the feeder, or the nodding of Queen’s Ann’s Lace in the meadow breeze. Hopefully these will chase away the feelings of danger and impending doom instilled into me during the childhood tragedies which deepen as winter’s echo calls closer.

 

SAFETY

My Secret Garden

Six years ago my blogging began around this time, and the feelings of approaching fall are similar. The down in mood, sadness over just about every loss that ever was and ever will be. But hopes continue that it will be handled and nothing occurs that makes a whopping depression. Because I’ve had some of those.

The morning is cold, 49 degrees, and fall feels so close. After yesterday’s list of house chores were checked off, including weeding the flower garden a bit, today feels like staying still.

Dew sparkles like glittering diamonds. When the sun finally comes above the trees, soaking it in though my thick bathrobe soothes every bone and sinew, also soothing my internal worries always at the ready to take a jab.

It’s OK, my refrain when worries take hold. It’s OK, you’re OK, everything’s OK. Well, of course it’s not as the news states. But it is OK as far as anything I’m able to do to fix it. My feelings are that kids should learn from home right now. And colleges? Are they daft? Sports? Are you kidding?

It still amazes me how others aren’t being serious about this deadly virus. But in my little slice of paradise there’s nothing I can do but keep myself safe, and hope my children and grand-children stay safe.

They move about much more than we do. Shane’s family leaves tomorrow to stay with his brother in a neighboring state for a week. My prayers are for their safety. Wistfulness descends for not being able to see my son who lives so far away.

We’ve not been together other than virtually since last Christmas. And we’ve already decided that his coming this Christmas isn’t a good idea. Though sadness can sweep me away doubting that decision repeatedly, it is the right decision for us. My efforts focus on the positives of which there are many.

 

The Cure

Eerily quiet and unusually dark at my accustomed waking time, the silence is unnerving. Where have the birds gone? My guess is many have left for warmer climates already. They surely arrive here earlier in the spring than most people realize, as early as February’s end.

The feelings of loneliness this usually brings is not as deep or as painful. There is an energy occurring that wasn’t present during all the years of restless sleep when waking at all kinds of hours, staying awake watching TV.

Good sleep means more energy. It also means a brighter outlook on things with a happier mood, happy which equates to more peaceful. The magic cure seems to lie in the pot oil begun after visiting Cory last fall in a state where the oil is legal.

After choking on  smoking the pot also purchased, then hallucinating afterwards freaking out, needing my grown son to talk me down, it was the oil that was more fitting for me. The pot these days is nothing like my college days because it is way more powerful.

The oil seems to have cured much of what ails me. Not a total cure, but toning it all down and still there to manage. What a blessing, and all in this innocuous little plant. It probably wouldn’t have done all it can do earlier in my life because there was just too much to overcome. 

But after years of therapy and living through the worst, it was the little bit needed to send me over to the side of peace. Still the work goes on. It does not offer immediate self-esteem. Nor does it remove anxiety, an issue worked on daily.

But it does help with sleep a great deal along with the tendency for repetitive negative thinking. But discipline is needed to keep countering those voices which sometimes thrash me down unequivocally.

All the tools that help are needed, and this is one of many. But this addition after all these years is an amazing balm to my overworked systems. Though it works for me, it is not a recipe for everyone. We each find our own ways through our own hell’s. 

 

At Peace In The Moment

The day is quiet, laying before me like an open book. Rather than do, do, do, my quest resides deeper staying in one place a very long time. With sneakers on, uncharacteristically ready for action, Samuel asks, “Do you want to go biking?”

Wanting stillness and peace, not action, I respond, “I’m not ready. I have to eat, get dressed, then meditate.”

“Well, I don’t like it when it gets too hot,” he says, adding, “I’m going.”

Good. Time alone today is a good thing, opening the windows after he leaves because he said keep them shut so it stays cool. There’s cool, then then there’s cool when feeling so chilly a sweater is needed.

It is summer, and after the stickiness that made me happy to have air conditioning, today is just a nice summer day to be enjoyed fully… windows open.

Sometimes in my efforts to please even just one other person, my self is lost in the shuffle. Sometimes compromise means giving up too much, so much the internal forces are not at peace which equates to unhappy.

Sometimes the business of placing so much effort each day in moving my body more, the pleasure is lost in the doing instead of being.

So today come back home and experience the satisfaction of each moment without pressure.

FEEDING THE SOUL

photo by Patricia

What is needed to make it a day that satisfies? Exercise, meditation, and feeding the soul nurturing messages. Not an easy feat for a person used to feeling that the joys of life do not apply to me. But over time progress is made.

Activity improved to the point where chances were taken that should not have been taken. Yet again trying to be like others, but these others aren’t living with the effects of early trauma. Going without treatment, having to keep all of it inside my little being caused lasting damage.

Learning to accept limitations is ongoing work along with sending messages that encourage instead of destroy. Habits can evolve over time, not by stopping it cold, but by replacing the old habit with a new improved one.  

Feed the soul with positive messages, messages that are true. You have value. Dive deep and look, you will see, feel, and live it.