Category Archives: physical realm

go only as fast as your slowest part feels safe to go…

Nov 14 revised Go Only Cover_Reduced

 

I can’t wait to get my hands on this book.  It’s ordered and on its way.

The full title is  Go Only as Fast as Your Slowest Part Feels Safe To Go: Tales to Kindle Gentleness and Compassion For Our Exhausted Selves written by Robyn L. Posin Ph.D.  If I hadn’t had the enormous good fortune to have crossed paths with Robyn before I knew of her book, the title alone would have been enough to have grabbed my attention. My soul seeks out and especially loves words like this.  Safe. Compassion. Gentleness.

You see, I’m a slow person in the ways that most of our world deems important to be fast.  I drive slowly, like an elderly couple on a Sunday afternoon, I’m the one who is leading the parade down Main Street, holding up traffic and keeping folks from their ever-present tendency to rush.  Yes, I get honked at a lot and am okay with that.   I like the feeling of peace that travels with me now instead of the gut tightening experience of rushing from one destination to another.

My movements are slower now also as I’ve come to realize that my serenity lies within me.  No longer am I chasing the carrot dangling in front of me, going ninety miles an hour inside, always reaching, grasping for the unattainable that is out there, somewhere out there, just slightly out of my reach.  I now know and try to practice a mindful lifestyle based on the innate wisdom that resides within.

But it hasn’t always been like this.  It wasn’t until my body broke that I fell into bed and took stock of my life.  Perhaps through lack of any other choice, I acquiesed to the cruel fact that I had fractured and splintered, used and abused, pushed and prodded myself almost to death.  I quit my job, dropped out of life, accepted the AMA’s diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Immune Dysfunction and slept for an entire year.  Summer, fall, winter, spring.  When I went to bed, my daughter was a high school freshman.  By the time I began to come out of my physical fog, she had nearly completed high school.

But this conversation isn’t about my poor choices or the ramifications of traumatized children or even the physical effects of abuse.  This is about a woman, who is a part of a movement, that exists to open our eyes to the possibility of acceptance and compassion in relationship to ourselves.  It is about physical slowing and emotional stillness.  It is about granting ourselves permission to honor the parts of our psyches that are smaller, littler, slower or feeling unsafe.  And taking that recognition to a level of loving acceptance.

Even though I haven’t read her book, I’m certain the gentleness of her words will blow me away.  I’ve found that to be true when I’ve visited Robyn’s website, For the Little Ones Inside.  Her writing and art struck a chord and I felt the immediate desire to slow down, let go, relax my body, relax my soul.  My exhausted self needed her. We exchanged a few e-mails, she’s on my blogrool and I’m on hers.  Perhaps I just needed to know that beliefs such as hers really exist.  That we can, in fact, lovingly accept our smallest parts and don’t have to hide or push them away. That it’s okay to be confused, unsure, distracted, cautious.  That it’s okay to just be.

 

Suggested Link:  Words, images and tales created by Robin Posin, Ph.D. at Compassionate Ink 


“the boy” drunk dials me….

“the boy” called me today which he does periodically.  The younger generation call it drunk dialing but I know this pattern from a historical perspective and know he just needs to make contact with a person from that time who understands him.

Certain phone calls I rarely answer but his I do every time.  This was the first time that he was stumbling, almost incoherent drunk and to top it off, he was driving.  After extracting the information that he was minutes from home, I kept the conversation light until he reassured me that was in his driveway, out of the car and inside his house.

“When are you coming home?”, he slurs into the phone.

His voice was an immediate shock of familiarity even though its been a year since I’ve heard from him.  His pleading words took my breath away.  I didn’t expect him to call let alone ask me this tough question.  He misses me, he says.  He doesn’t want anything, just to visit with me.  Even now as a full grown man, his deepest wishes are to have companionship, connection, family.  Our sober conversations where his feelings are sufficiently stuffed down, wouldn’t have revealed his pain. But today, his emotions unleashed and fueled by alcohol, they came tumbling out.

My heart is immediately beating with his. The rhythm synchronistic and strong.  We are small children again marking time as the cycle of physical, emotional and sexual abuse alters us forever.  It changes who we might have been and steals all opportunity for joy in our future.  We are branded, he and I, with trauma.  Deep, imprinting, searing scars.

I tell him that I’ve been taking care of myself and that I miss him too.  I hear relief in his voice at my words that I’m doing good.  He wants to know that I’m okay and that I can always call him for any #%&!ing thing I need.  His voice is urgent as if he’d been thinking those thoughts all afternoon at the tavern and had to purge them quickly.  His courage coming from cheap rum and cokes.

As children we were there for each other.  We were handed a situation that no child should ever have to deal with.   5-yr olds should never have to know how to defend against raging, drunken, ignorant adults wielding their pathology on them, but this is, in fact, is what we had to do.  We became expert ninja fighters at a very tender age.  In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t fighting.  The sensation of burning slaps, welts and impact upon our small bodies is a feeling that has always been present.  Back to back, we would stand, flailing hopelessly against people 10 times our size.  But we always, always tried.  Defending each other was the only dignity we had in that cruel world we grew up in.  An earlier post tells a more complete story. https://rescuinglittlel.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/boy-torture/

I tell him that soon, I promise, I will come visit him.  I do not ever use the word home as it is not.  My home is where my beautiful husband and daughter live with our dogs, our garden, our family here.  But I know what he means, he’s asking me when am I coming back there to help him defend against the demons that are in his head.  The ones that huge amounts of alcohol consumed in the middle of the day can’t even come close to drowning out.  He wants to know if there is any peace beyond the crazy, futile gyrations that he takes himself on.  He wants to know, what Van Gogh perhaps imagined when he created the series of paintings near the end of his life.

Van Gogh’s image “Worn Out”

Vincent Van Gogh, himself,  wrote in Van Gogh: The Life. VanGoghBiography.com

I was trying to say this in this print — but I can’t say it as beautifully, as strikingly as reality, of which this is only a dim reflection seen in a dark mirror — that it seems to me that one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the existence of ‘something on high’ in which Millet believed, namely in the existence of a God and an eternity, is the unutterably moving quality that there can be in the expression of an old man like that, without his being aware of it perhaps, as he sits so quietly in the corner of his hearth. At the same time something precious, something noble, that can’t be meant for the worms. … This is far from all theology — simply the fact that the poorest woodcutter, heath farmer or miner can have moments of emotion and mood that give him a sense of an eternal home that he is close to.”

This is what “the boy” wants to know in his moments of emotion and mood.  Where is his eternal home?

And reaches for the closest anchor he can think of.    Me.


but you will be better soon….

“But you will be better soon.”

“But you are getting better.”

I’m so weary of this phrase chirped over and over to me, friends and relatives refusing to see me, to really look at me, skimming along the surface like water bugs.

So what if I eat slower than I used to or sometimes lose my thoughts easily….they will eventually come back or they won’t. What’s the rush?  Where does everyone need to be?  Does me getting better mean that I join you in a world of injured souls eating bad food and ignoring the pain in their neighbor’s eyes just because you are in a hurry and have a million things to do?  No thanks.  Instead I will accept this illness with grace as the gift that it was given to me that I can know the world in a way that most folks can’t or won’t.

I know Emma’s favorite cracker to make bread crumbs; she reminds me often when i see her at the market and I thank her each time.  She tells me with such a gleam in her eye that her husband loved her cooking when he was alive.  I know that Barney the dog prefers the green treats to brown ones and that he will sit up on his hind legs when he sees me coming around the corner while walking Rosie in the evening.  I know that the pierced kid who has shown up for drama every day this semester, who doesn’t speak much, looks so surprised when I compliment his artwork that he wears on his skin.  What’s the equivalent of that knowledge mean to you in your world?  Masters or PhD?

Your efforts to entice me back into your crazy empty world do not go unnoticed, its just that your currency holds no value. Conversations on your latest purchase/home remodel/trip abroad/over entitled children’s latest example of lack of gratitude sour my stomach.  Who decided that your way was better?  You don’t seem that peaceful to me.

My dogs will wait patiently, accepting, sniffing, while my erratic gait interrupts our walking pace.  They don’t ask or care about my creditials or bank account balance.  I prefer their company these days as I tune into their frequency instead of the skimming water bug people.

I know I’m tough to look at these days.  Illness has that effect on people, I get it.  So I scare you a bit and you have to glimpse at yourself and your own mortality and yes, it will freak you out.  Seeing your reflection always does when your psyche is mirrored back to you for the first time.  Especially so when you don’t want to look.

But you will be better soon, you are getting better they chirp.  I say “what’s wrong with me the way I am?”  

“What’s wrong with me now?”


boy torture

i am ready to channel and write down one of the most painful, repetitive childhood traumas that i actively remember.  none of this is speculation as i have it locked in my memory, ready to replay over and over , which it does often.  i also have it on a DVD by a fool that actually included it in a home movie collection because my family of origin suffers from ignorance that would be unbelievable by most.

this memory is one like a swirl, a whirlwind kind of feeling, a merry-go-round that you run around and around and then just jump on.  it requires me to consciously summon up a place that is dirty and haunting, a place that i hated then and hate going back to now.  when i do go there, its effects are immediate. i feel them instantly and completely.  this memory has many facets to it; betrayal, child abuse, powerlessness, ritualistic and premeditated cruelty.  there aren’t enough vile words to describe how i feel about these occurrences; evil, ignorance, insane, devoid of any conscious, sociopathic in nature…

my nephew was only six months younger than me because my oldest sister got pregnant young and my mother got pregnant old.  that put us less than a year apart even though i was technically from the generation above him.  none of this mattered because he was my little brother, my buddy and pal, my best friend in the whole world, an extension of myself.  i can’t remember a time without him, i felt the feelings that siblings feel of just always being there.  i mothered him and clucked over him as we grew up together and he loved it, he was kind and sweet, would play any game that i thought of because i was the thinker and he was the doer.  boy innocence wrapped up as a gift to me, i couldn’t get enough of him and he loved me the same way.  sometimes, we would just walk through the yard holding hands because that is how life felt the best to me…

somewhere around four or five something different started happening around us.  a switch flipped and suddenly we weren’t being left alone to explore the world together, we were being prepped as if our status had changed.  the men from the farms around us started paying attention to us, i suppose because we were no longer babies and under the care of our mothers but now separate beings left abandoned for younger babies in need; small persons for the men to amuse themselves with.

in the farming world, late afternoon meant coming in from the fields, taking a break from the heat; a pattern that i knew well and even though i knew it was coming, would fill me with dread as the summer sun started to make its downward turn.  these vile, sweat stained animals called men would stomp in from the barn where we would hear the tractor engine turn off, the instant silence of that engine noise fading left an eerie void,  giving me a cold tremor up my spine.  then came the beer can flip tops hissing, they would guzzle one down quickly and have the next one ready to sip with not much conversation at first.  they had to catch their breath which they eventually did by leaning up against the car or a tree, then slowly they migrated toward each other usually forming a semi circle and facing one direction.  looking toward the field or standing with their backs to the sun, these vile men would look for a distraction to the chores that they had been paying attention to all day.

i’m not sure why they picked us to torture and tease, i suppose because there wasn’t anything else for them to do.  their lives were farming, drinking, sex with their wives or the current woman they were cheating with, sleeping and eating.  too early for dinner, the wife wasn’t finished with her chores yet and couldn’t be distracted, they turned to the children who held a status barely above a farm animal.  

as the beer began taking effect, it gave them a glazed, snarly kind of aura.  one of them would start picking at something about us, noticing us, summoning us over to their circle citing some random offense in their ignorant backwoods language…”look at that sissy boy picking flowers with the girl, he’s not a real boy…come over here boy…somebody oughtta teach that boy to toughen up”. . .it would go something like that, my sensitive friend and brother, demonized by his own father and laid out as fodder to the neighbor men;  the father maintaining his loyalty to the adult men over his own son.  slowly they would taunt the boy in, pulling on his good nature and willingness to obey his elders.  verbally they would begin to laugh and snicker at him as he stood before them, eyes filling with tears and head hanging low. i will myself to help but i can’t, i’m already frozen;  my body knows this scene too well from experience and has reacted accordingly.  i know they would soon escalate their taunting so i try to get my body to move, to stop being paralyzed and immobilized by what i knew was coming.  if i could provide a distraction, if i was bigger, if i could only stop them…but i was a very little girl, one tenth of the size and weight of these full grown men.  once they started it would be almost impossible to stop them but then again, i had never really seen anyone try, except me.  

when they bored with verbal taunting, hungry for something bigger,  they would move on to shoving the boy baby from one side of the circle to another, sometimes hitting him around the circle with switches from a nearby tree, and sometimes, when they were feeling particularly cruel, they whipped him until he got his own bundle of switches gathered to be used on himself.  my boy angel would grow wilder and wilder as the shoving and laughing continued; the more frenzied he got, the more frenzied they got.  when he fell to the ground in the powdery dust, they would kick and poke at him to get up and he would shoot up, full of rage, fists flying at the men one of which was his father.  they would hold him out at arms length by the hair on his head and let him flail the air with his rage.  once he was in a full blown hysteria, they might slow down a bit because the howling shrieks of the boy child had alerted his mother inside the farmhouse…or sometimes it alerted his grandmother whom neither would do anything to stop this horror but whose presense seemed to slow the men down.  maybe in some way it took the  fun out of it for them.  i’m not sure at all because try as i might,  i can’t begin to think like these animals do.  even as an adult, i can’t wrap my head around such evil.  

the one person would defend the boy at all costs to life and limb, was me.  i would flail myself at these men as i didn’t care if i got hurt, that wasn’t important.  i would throw myself between him and the men trying to shield him from the shoving and kicking, both of us getting covered the dirt that would puff up everytime we hit the ground. the laughter seemed far off in the distance and the only sounds we heard were that of our bodies thudding against the ground and the breath leaving our bodies….it seemed to go on forever, time stood still…. i would bite the nasty, sweaty flesh of those man arms that would hurt my friend…. their slimy, slick arms picking me up and throwing me in the air…my beautiful summer sundress falling over my head and blinding me…the smell of beer, stale breath, grimy sweat that hadn’t been washed off for days, lingering, lingering still, to this day.

at some point, they would grow tired of the game or the mother/grandmother would give them the look that said “even though i won’t protect these children you should probably stop doing that to him but i know you are the man and i shouldn’t question you because its just not done so instead i will just light a cigarette and avert my eyes from looking at my very own child being actively tortured.”  they would eventually shuffle off, throwing their beer cans at the dog, finding something in the barn that needed to be done next while i gathered up my boy child;  my tear stained, dirty friend who had wet his pants. we would go as far from the house as we could. sometimes i would sneak back up to the house to the water spigot and find a way to bring back a drink or a wet rag to clean him up a bit and hold him until his sobbing and gasping turned into a quiet blank stare.


I am safe now

 

 

 

 

May 10, 2011

I am safe now. This very moment, where I am sitting, in this chair, in this house. I am safe. I say it over and over so I know its true and so I believe it. Looking out the window at the light as it dims from daytime to dusk, watching the shadows start to form, I still can’t believe that I am in a place where no one can harm me. I surround myself with my dogs, my flowers, a few very special and trusted friends, my husband and daughter. That is the best that I can do on most days, simply exist for myself and my immediate world.Not that this is bad, quite the contrary. This is the absolute best I have ever been and why I am able to finally give voice to this child. As I have come to know her, I’ve been blown away at how incredibly bright and resourceful she is. When the burden of generations of incest was given to her, she coped, somehow she coped and managed to break the insidious cycle that no one else in her family was able to. She crawled out of the smallest crack in the wall, not knowing where she was going but gave herself absolutely to the notion that a better life waited for her. To make the journey even more challenging, she was 5 and a child from extreme rural poverty and ignorance, so the idea was not one she could even lay her eyes upon. No one led good lives, most folks were unhappy to the point of violence. Because of her courage and unshakeable faith in something unseen, I have come to love this child so much and why I finally became able to rescue her.I shake even as I write this…I’m not sure that the night childwants me to speak. Sometimes I feel that she is bursting with words and stories and chatter and other times, she is so quiet and introspective. She desperately wants to tell her story but knows from a lifetime of experience that speaking out means trouble, sometimes danger. She speaks to me through symptoms and sensations especially at times when she needs my attention the most but I pay attention the least.My reality seems surreal at times like this, as if I am straddling two worlds. The walls that define my dimensions are thin and I travel back and forth between them often. I build my conscious and unconscious around this maneuver, one that was learned through experience and guided by instinct, not one learned by imitation or the product of parenting. My life skills have been developed by the seat of my pants, so to speak, and still continue to evolve due to my dogged pursuit of figuring this out this trauma and healing the aftermath of its storm. Psychiatrists disagree whether to diagnose me as multiple personality syndrome or at the very least disassociative disorder and I would probably agree with some of both. I do know that I cope by escaping somewhere in my brain.And that it has worked for me always. I also know that I feel things, mostly emotion, stronger than most people. And I don’t say that lightly, I seriously mean I feel emotion so strong its almost crippling. I have walked into a room and sensed people’s imminent deaths, I know almost immediately if someone is lying to me, transferring both positive and negative emotion simply by their energy.Life often becomes unbearable and so painful that I must retreat to myself, to my center, to the part that has soothed me when the unspeakable has been happening around me and to me. That part of me isn’t fluid, it is choppy and sporadic and crazy hyper-vigilant. Its eyes are moving and jerking constantly, never letting their guard down for a moment, watching, assessing, possessing the ability to sense the slightest change in energy that would send off a distress signal of danger. Perfected as a child, this sense is a gift of survival and the burden on the body. The human body will in time wear out, it grows tired of being guarded and tense, then it turns to exhaustion, bone weary, chemically imbalanced, muscle wasting exhaustion. And that’s where I am now, praying that my body can hold on.

I knew something was horribly wrong with me even before the doctors sent me home. They of course were waiting for a physical sign, which they evenutally got, before they could definitively say I was ill. Allopathic medicine can be incredible if you have something that someone can see, a lump, broken bone, rash, narrowed arteries, etc. But if you are one of the unlucky who have issues that are subtle or chronic or energetic, especially if they have been with you so long that they have adapted and morphed into your personality on a cellular level, then you are totally on your own. So…this is it, the start of my story, honest…naked…vulnerable…


The day child

We will call her the day child…a child who only has conscious awareness of herself during the day, the fractioned piece of her total self. Her transition from night is slow and very unsteady. She knows the process of waking which comes to her first through sound. She hears house noises, the air conditioner running, her dog snoring beside her, very faintly the school buses heading down the hill to empty the children into the playground. Great care has been taken to soundproof this room from the outside world, there is no room for intrusion on any level. She must know everyone’s whereabouts and location at all times, if she doesn’t she will vigilantly check and scan the room for anything that looks or feels amiss.

Vigilance is hardly the word to describe her behavior, it is more like hyper vigilant, obsessive and panic driven, energy funneled completely into the one thing she seeks more than anything, which is safety. She is exceptionally bright and visually a master at observation. Nothing can or will ever go unnoticed in her environment or it might lead to danger. An impending assault, an unwelcome visitor or simply the men noticing and starting to sniff her out.

Sometimes the sound is completely muffled by the earplugs which are to her the greatest invention ever and her constant companion. They numb and muffle much better than alcohol or pot which in her experience just make you not care if someone is stalking you and that’s the last thing that’s true for her now is that she doesn’t care.

As usual, her eyes are squeezed shut as tight as they can go and she feels the familiar twinge of a headache as a result. Its the price she pays and actually has grown accustomed to the familiar process of willing her eyes open, one at a time for her first glimpse of the day. So far, so good. She hears nothing unusual and sees her bedroom, just as she remembered it from the morning before. It is at this point that she can let her body uncurl, pulling her arms and legs from the fetal position and gradually unfolding herself from her nightly protective stance. She creaks and pops as her shaky muscles aren’t as forgiving as they were in her youth. They want to snap back into the contracted position held in the last 8 hours. Its always at this point that she wonders how long her body will hold out, what is the limit of torture that one can physically take?


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