Endings Bring Beginnings

I don’t catch on quickly when I’ve been friend-dumped, unless it’s overt. It’s the ‘nice’ friend dumping that eludes me. It shouldn’t, but it does, especially when it felt like the friendship was real.

But here’s the thing about friendships: they’re not commitments. They’re not contracts, they’re gifts.

An old saying about friendships coming ‘for a reason, a season, or a lifetime’ is useful. I’m a fairly loyal friend, unless our values are so different that we oppress rather than uplift each other.

That time has come, and probably has been there for a while, but I didn’t want to see. I also relate to another saying that ‘everything I ever let go of has claw marks all over it’.

It’s painful – and I understand life is pain, but I do my best to avoid it. It’s all about lessons, though, right? I gained from those friendships, and I hope they gained from mine too.

It’s embarrassing when they’ve moved on and I didn’t notice. I just thought they were busy, or dealing with life stuff.

Of course it’s something we all go through – and get through. I hate that platitudes start churning through my brain – my effort to feel better – to find meaning and understanding, but there’s nothing to understand. I did nothing wrong, but it feels like I did. Sadly, my trauma brain, that old, worn, neural pathway tells me I fucked up, and I need to make it right:

…Then the beatings will stop. Then I’ll get what I need. Then I’ll be worth liking and loving.

The only way out is through. The only. way. out, is through.

I’d like it to not effect my whole life, so I must remember that my trauma picks untrustworthy people to try to make trustworthy so I can heal my hurt.

But it doesn’t work like that.

I have to build new, unsullied, neural pathways – and then make them stick. You know, easy-peasy…

Not everyone is honest. Some people just want superficial friends, and there is nothing wrong with that; I just wish they’d wear a sign so dense people like me would know.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Breaking Through

It’s there in the morning, when I’m most vulnerable, stirring back to consciousness – especially if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep.  It follows me to the bathroom where I splash cold water on my face & say ‘good morning beautiful’ to the sad face in the mirror.  Why does it surprise me that a compliment – a talisman, really – slightly boosts my spirits?

My actions happen under duress as I lay out my yoga mat and lay down to stretch.  The thing is fierce now – practically yelling at me, telling me to give up, just go back to bed; sit down and do nothing.  Why bother?

Hate’s litany joins in, and I battle this every. day.  I manage to get some exercises in, but don’t complete my whole routine.  My new task is rewarding myself for progress, not focusing on how much I think I suck.

Today’s epiphany isn’t new, but newly remembered: I worked myself out of a job when my son grew up and left.  It’s wonderful that I managed to foster a productive, beautiful, kind human.  He’s bright and independent – and I am empty.

I wouldn’t change how things are except to be alright.  I failed to take care of me by solely taking care of him.  I was it.  A single parent – who had lots of help – but my child was my everything.  I showed up for him when my constant demons told me it was too much, and I soldiered on.  I cried through making meals sometimes, or house-cleaning, or the myriad unending tasks – but I did them, and I can’t seem to muster the same resolve for myself.  I don’t matter as much as my child did, but my work is changing that.

Perhaps getting out of bed, splashing water on my face, doing my PT exercises, getting dressed, and brushing my teeth are as much as I did for my child, even if minute in comparison?

Whether or not I’m doing the best I can, I’m still failing to fully show up for my life – for what’s left of it.

Raising my child is still the best thing I’ve ever done, and while admirable, it’s not my whole life.  He grew up, and so did the other children I watched for several years, but childcare is not my passion, even if I’m good at it.

Childcare is thankless and lonely.  If you do a good job, who cares – it’s what you were supposed to do.  There is no recognition ceremony, no severance package, no pension. Transferable skills are laughed at – even though there are many.

Grief moves to the side when something rewarding and motivating takes up more space, and though I engage in singing, writing, and acting, I’m not making a living through those passions.  Friends have gotten book deals, national singing gigs, or paid and recognized acting jobs, and I’ve got to make a new choice because those passions are a dry well for me.

There is an answer, but whatever it is has to happen soon, and must move my grief so I’m not pushing through it every day – so that every day doesn’t look the same.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Songbird Sings

This winter is easier than last, but the chill and fierce wind still keeps me indoors.  I was part of a songwriting group last winter given by Robin Lane, called A Woman’s Voice, through her non-profit: Songbird Sings.  We met for several weeks of songwriting and recording at The Salasin (Women’s Resource) Center, in Greenfield, MA.

We started meeting around this time last year, and what helped as much as songwriting was the wonderful and resilient women who participated.

Sharon Brody from WBUR.org came to Robin’s recording space last summer to interview those of us who wished to, and to talk about Songbird Sings, and how we were helping heal some of our trauma through song writing, and through connecting with other survivors/”thrivers”.

In an interview with Robin, several participants, and myself, some of my song, February Day, plays after I speak, and in the background.

I seem to write best, and most often, in a group, and hope to continue song writing, as well as blogging, fiction, and non-fiction writing.  Snippets of two of my older songs, Listen To Me, Rock of Gibraltar, and our collaborative song, Free Your Power, can be heard on the CD Baby site: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/robinlane.

So much work lies ahead to realize my dreams, and being a singer-songwriter leads more to lots of gigs in lots of coffee-shops, bars, and out of the way places, than to vaunted halls of music, but at least I’m trying, and that trying keeps my hope – and so far me – alive.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

‘Tis The Season

From: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2011/sep/09/autumn-food-breaks-italy-france
From: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2011/sep/09/autumn-food-breaks-italy-france

Nat King Cole croons The Christmas Song, and I remember that it’s my sister-in-law’s favorite holiday song.  Many years ago we went caroling: she, my brother (her husband), my next oldest sister, and our younger brother, as well as some family friends, and I remember our fun, our exuberance, and just us as young adults.

Eventually, our lives expanded out like the big bang – each of us in our various orbits, claiming our bit of space, our independence from one another.

What role our family trauma played, I’m unsure, but untreated trauma does not resolve of its own. It can be medicated, white-knuckled, tossed outward, or left festering inside, but it has to be handled.

There are healthy ways of dealing with trauma and not so healthy ways.  So much creativity has been born from pain, and those who’ve had that outlet are sometimes healed, but not always.

I doubt my brother would want me to feel sad for him.  It’s not pity he needs, and it’s not pity I’m giving.  I lived with my parents too.  I was there too.  I was affected too.

He doesn’t want advice from his littlest sister, even though I had to deal with my trauma or die – even though I sought professional help, and practiced the tools I was given – even though I trained to help other trauma survivors – even though sometimes it’s still next to unbearable remaining alive.

The best way out is through, for me.  Just let the feelings be, but visit the skills I’ve learned before I’m in crisis.  I forget that.  I think I’m healed – that I’m all done feeling pain – or that I’ll always cope well from now on.

Pride kicks in too – the belief that I’m knowledgeable, and therefore untouchable.  The other side is despair.  Why remain alive if I keep going through this, or if I can’t make life better?

I can hold my brother in my heart – as well as my whole family – and I re-affirm that he is whole and complete.  He is competent, capable, and has enough humility to seek what he needs.  He knows I care, he knows I’m available, and he knows I understand as perhaps few others can.

He’s made it through, all these years later, and I remember that what’s not dealt with keeps manifesting itself until it’s faced – whenever, or however, that trauma shows up.

I’ve re-connected with most of my siblings after raising my son and having my space again.  My S.O. has been an understanding, caring, and deeply loving partner, and I know how rare that is, and I still want to run away now and then.  My old nemeses, fear, self-hate, and depression, muscle their way in, but if I’m fortified enough, they’re easier to battle.

This time of year is filled with the ghosts of trauma past, their presence appearing unconsciously, making it seem as though now is the problem, or that I have made no emotional progress.

I cannot save my brother, or anyone who doesn’t want to be saved, but I continue to love and care anyway. The violence witnessed, and perpetrated on us, got into our psyches, but it was also programmed into our DNA before we were born, from the violence done to our parents, and on down our line, but we can use our will, we can learn self-love, and we can practice self-care, changing not only ourselves, but the DNA we pass on to our children, and that they will pass on to theirs.

Christmas is about hope in terrible circumstances.  Whether it’s just a story, or has some historical truth, the message, to me, is perseverance, self-love, and love, and hope, for humanity.

Love, kindness, and care are what matters, and the carols my family and friends used to sing were, and still are, a gift of light in a dark season – for ourselves as well as others.

I wish all whatever you need, and for more joy, comfort, peace, and love – whatever you celebrate, or not!

Happy all-the-days. 🙂

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Consequences

My task is learning to deal with negative reactions. A while ago I heard ‘Mean Tweets’ on the Jimmy Kimmel show, and the horrible things people say about and to celebrities, and how those celebrities deal with that. Mostly they made fun of it, and humor is a great way to diffuse that kind of derision. Writing or speaking publicly about my life experience, and negative fall-out, is best handled by ignoring those comments, but if I want a dialogue, I need to respond, and be thoughtful about how I do that.

I have differences of opinion all the time, and do my best to be respectful, and kind – even if I feel the opposite at the time. I’ve had shared experiences with family and with friends, and we didn’t incorporate events the same way, but trying to invalidate my position with ad hominems or other aspersions only shows their lack of credibility.

Being liked and well-regarded matters to me, but speaking my truth is more important. Accepting the consequences is hard, but I’m not shutting up. They are as free to not read or listen to me, as I am to disregard their opinions.

In the 1980’s, when child sexual abuse was nationally disclosed by Oprah Winfrey, I’m sure she had backlash from family and from strangers. Then ‘false memory syndrome’ was coined by some asinine psychologist, and then applied to anyone who disclosed childhood abuse as an adult.

Sometimes traumatic events get blocked because your psyche cannot cope, and because all energy must go somewhere, that trauma ‘leaked’ or manifested in other ways, be it mental illness, or self-harming behavior. I think most people compartmentalize their trauma and get on with their lives, but triggering events happen eventually, or something brings it front & center, like a major illness, or mental break-down, forcing them to work through it, or face sometimes dire repercussions.

My goal is contentment, and serenity, and working through my issues is the only way I know to get there, regardless of how messy that might be, and if my words help anyone in similar circumstances, then it’s worth not shutting up.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

I Forgive Me

Maybe I’ll get a wide-screen view of my life when I die, and I’ll have the perspective of a stranger, seeing all I did and didn’t do, and perhaps it won’t be as terrible as I fear.

I know where I fucked-up, and I know where I tried to right things, and I know where I did well.

I parented a child mostly on my own, and I finally forgave myself for all that I wasn’t.  I can catalog a list of what I didn’t do to him that was done to me, and I can catalog a list of what I did, and didn’t do that could have made his life better.

Sometimes I was a real shit.  Sometimes my selfishness, and lack of perspective, or just self-righteous justifications, ruled the day.  I wish I had done better.

I forgive me because I haven’t yet.  My guilt and shame have made my life a tough place to be, and I yelled and lived so much in my anger when I was raising him, and I’m sure that caused lasting harm.

I think I made him afraid of emotions, afraid that they would always overwhelm him, so it’s better not to have them.

I forgive myself for causing his anxiety, or adding to his challenges in this unforgiving life.  While I appreciate his forgiveness, it’s most important that I stop adding more shame.  At my worst, I worry that I’m unable to change – that I wouldn’t be any better if I could do it over.  I’m grateful we need not find out.

I forgive me for not caring enough about myself, for not having a fight reaction when my flight reaction was dissociation rather than getting myself out of the situation.  I forgive myself for not being stronger, more willful.

I’ve learned how to fight – how to scratch, and kick, and tear skin – to make sure I have some DNA.  I almost welcome anyone to try to mess with me now, now that my rage is outward, and I’m no longer cowed.  I could have prevented so much harm, but I think it’s better to learn late than not at all.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current.

A Stitch In Time

When I was about five or six, my family moved into a two-story house heated by steam radiation.  I used to try spinning on the twist knobs at the bottom of the cast iron radiators, and managed a three-quarter turn.  I stopped my efforts at a full turn when I fell and got a black eye after hitting the knob. 

My older sisters and brothers used to scare me and my little brother around Hallowe’en by taunting us before bedtime with a ghostly sounding chant of: “There’s a bad guy in the window!”, starting low and soft and reaching a high crescendo after the third or fourth refrain, and we’d run screaming up to our rooms.  A night or so before Hallowe’en that year, my brothers got the bright idea of cutting out a cardboard silhouette of a man, placing it in the upstairs window near my bedroom, and illuminating it with a flashlight behind the curtain.

While the 'bad guy' in the window didn't look like this, this drawing I found is creepy enough to represent what it looked like to me.

I got so scared when I saw it, especially because one of my sisters was chanting the ‘bad guy’ theme just before my brothers moved to reveal the cut-out, or somehow made sure I saw it.  I ran screaming with my hands over my eyes and my head down, directly into one of the cast iron radiators.  I cut the top of my head open so deep that my mother had to bring me to the hospital to get stitches.

I remember that when we got to the hospital and they were cleaning the wound, the nurse told me that the doctor was going to sew me up, but if I needed him to stop, just tell her it hurt, and they’d stop.  I was lying face down in a pillow, and yelled as loud as I could for them to stop because it hurt so much, but they didn’t listen.  My only consolation was that it took three nurses to hold me still enough for the doctor to finish sewing up the wound.  I was so mad at that nurse for tricking me.

Being lied to about pain when I was a child led me to always tell my son that shots, or stitches, etc., would indeed hurt, but that I believed he could handle it, and it would be over as quickly as possible.  Thankfully, there weren’t many times I needed to prepare him for pain.

*

*

*

© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Life On Earth’s Blog, 2010 – infinity.