The essence of this post has been in the back of my thoughts for many days. Yesterday I took a few more pictures of my yard project knowing that they somehow illustrate whatever it is my mind does not seem to want to look at head-on. Part of me knows if I continue to delay writing this post my related thoughts will eventually simply disappear. This part of me does not REALLY want to know what some other part of me both knows and wants to write about.
I have no idea what needs to be said here, so the best I can do is follow the pictures. I feel as if I am standing in front of a gate myself right now that I have never opened before. For some reason it is very hard for me to enter in my writing, in words right now….
This writing is in part about how survivors of severe infant and child abuse make the best of their lives using everything useful that we can find. We are able to make our lives out of what, I suppose, most ordinary people would never notice as important or useful. We were not given a choice. Nobody smoothed our way, gave us the ‘cream’ or the ‘gravy’. In our malevolent early world of hostile deprivation and harm we marched on – and when someone knocked us over – we got up and marched on some more.
With the exception of screws and a few 2′ x 4′ boards here and there, as you can see in these pictures every object going into my east yard goat-hoped for project has been deemed useless and discarded by someone.
As I have done since the moment I was born to my abusive mentally ill mother, I continue to make the best out of whatever I can – with every effort to make what was ugly – beautiful.
In these pictures I am creating a dual-purpose structure out of pallets to both shade the goats and to collect and divert rainwater out to the new little Jujube tree I purchased at our local Farmers’ Market last Saturday.
I was proud of myself the day I figured out how I could create the gutter arrangement using this piece of ‘regular people’s’ usual gutter pieces – with a 10′ hose (that was the cheapest ACE had at $2.49 a foot) to run to the Jujube tree. (Now I am smarter and stopped to dig vacuum cleaner hoses and metal tubes out of the throw-a-way trash at our local thrift store to use for the next water reclamation project.)
FORTUNATELY I had to wait for the silicone to dry overnight in this little drain I created – and it was just as I was drifting into sleep the night after I put this together that the thought HIT ME: “There’s no way once this whole pallet shade structure is put together that I can clean it or keep it clean. Everything that swooshes down the gutter will clog up my tidy little hose plan!” I needed a filter and I needed to attach this thing where I could clean it out (all this is placed underneath Russian Olive trees that shed LOTS of little leaves!)
Living as a survivor – not being REALLY able to plan things out smoothly — not being able to ‘mentally time travel’, as the neuroscientists call it, into the future. I cannot PLAN the way I am supposed to be able to.
Yes, I am – along with many early abuse survivors – extremely ‘right brained’ – obvious at those many times when I find it so hard to even think in words.
I can FEEL the changes in the part of my brain – the higher cortex that in better and in MOST childhoods gets what it needs to grow and develop to operate properly – related to…..
AGAIN – please take a look at this important article about the changes in brain development due to infant-child abuse –
+Dr. Teicher’s ARTICLE ON TRAUMA ALTERED DEVELOPMENT
*Notes on Teicher
But – I do the best that I can – and now realizing I needed to change my thinking to get this project to come out as I wanted it to…..
Time for the TIES – taken off the bottom of T-shirts that I am tie-dying to make a baby blanket for my coming-into-the-world soon new grandson!
And, a few garden pictures
Thus ends today’s tour – although my words fail me in trying to talk about what it feels like to have been dished up a heaping plate of unbelievable overwhelming abuse and trauma for the first 18 years of my life — to survive that – to live with the changes those traumas did to my physiological development.
Not unlike how I was as a child, I have recently been having great difficulty making sense in ‘coherent words’ out of myself in the world. My brain could not have possibly formed in ordinary ways given the conditions of my first 18 years of life. I did the best I could – but my thinking has never followed what I imagine to be most people’s ‘ordinary patterns’. Severe traumas are extraordinary events – and surviving them makes us extraordinary people.
It is often very hard for me not to compare myself to other people – in terms of ‘how successful is MY life?” Not very it seems most of the time. I REALLY have to work at affirming my own value and worth as a person.
Meanwhile, I make one ‘work related’ decision at a time – which for the most time occupies my thoughts so entirely that I don’t have any spare room in my mind for tearing myself down. NEVER did a therapist – or any self-help book I have ever read — recognize that there are some of us who suffered abuse as infants and children in a mad and chaotic world that was so far past what most people can begin to imagine that……. well ……..
We know a different world. We always have. We always will. But we are HERE and we ARE beautiful! We made it out of our earliest years in hell – and whatever it takes to keep on making it we find – shifting, constantly shifting – adjusting – adapting – to whatever each day brings to us – so we will be here tomorrow, too.
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15 thoughts on “+MAKING A LIFE IN A MAKE-SHIFT WORLD – (and making some goat pen shade)”
SO much work!!!! Wonderful, can’t wait for the goats!
It IS such a long struggle, any trauma is (mine wasn’t anything approaching yours, but enough for CPTSD & all kinds of other disorders – joy!), & I hope you get to a place where you aren’t thinking in terms of success & value & can be at peace with your inherent value. That may be the new lithium talking. It may just be a new manic confidence. I hope not.
Peace & love,
Hi dear Jill – Seems I’m stuck in a bit of a loop – my ‘baby’ brother (born 1965) is taking a 21 day trip from Seattle to Anchorage with his (new to him) boat – with is wife of 25+ years, a good friend and his wife – reason fails me even though I know Mother DOTED on this boy (born when she was 40) – but most importantly I and my 2-year younger sister were old enough by the time he was born to care for him WELL – to keep Mother from doing anything too crazy with him during his earliest most important developmental years. He was also only 4 when I left home – hence he was spared the terrible witness abuse my other siblings experienced watching what was done to me.
He’s worked extremely hard, has made wise decisions – etc. – but seems I am comparing myself to him and falling so far short as to be invisible in comparison, hardly existing at all….. Here I am broke, on disability, working with dirt.
I could say, “Shame on you, Linda, for so putting yourself down.” But I can’t get a reasonable handle on my feelings right now – so work I do….
So good to hear from you – !!! thanks so much!!
Well, that’s something right there – amidst all that madness you saved your brother. There’s self worth right there. God, I have never hated anyone so much who I am so far distanced from. Sick or not, your mother enrages me. Heal, sweetheart, heal.
teary eyes – that’s OK
In a big way – the catch is – there CANNOT BE any comparison between my life and my brother’s really
That is such a profound
today’s post is in part about that
+Age 7 – mid-1959 – The ‘baby bottle’ and mid-night beatings
I cannot try to remind myself enough that when dealing with an abusive childhood that had a mentally ill parent as a perpetrator
there IS NO REASON
nothing can be ‘reasoned about’
there WAS NO REASON
Mother’s mental illness excluded REASON
I hate it that this makes my attempts to MAKE any sense or reason out of my own childhood IMPOSSIBLE!!!!
Even REASON has been stolen from me when it comes to understanding myself in the midst of my own terrible suffering
if that makes any SENSE!?!?!
Do you have a therapy team, hon? You’re right there on the border, what mental health care in Arizona like? Do you feel like you’re WORKING THROUGH this, or is it just on your mind terrorizing you all the time? It just seems like you’ve got to somehow work it out, & doo all the educating and awareness that you have to, but not have to live with it every day all these years later. I really want to see you have peace, we’ve got such A+ care in Mass but I know it’s not like that everywhere, Boston being the medical hub of the universe…Will read your post shortly, and probably cry cause I’m all emotional today. I think my destiny is to be a vigilante…love, jill
I have WAY too much to ‘work through’ in this lifetime — no possible way — no matter what — NOT POSSIBLE
and I do not delude myself EVER into thinking there is any possible way. Impossible is exactly that. IMPOSSIBLE!
And, no, there is no ‘mental health care’ in Arizona. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with my ‘mental health’. (not being contentiousness – just facts). I know for a fact there is no human way for ANYONE to have come through what I did for those 18 years and handle ‘it’ better!!!
I have no fallacy that any human being has one single ‘answer’ for me – nor do I fool myself that any human being can assist me to ‘learn’ or ‘handle’ anything better than I can do for myself.
I lived through a hell that maybe 1% of the population of America can begin to understand — and not one of THOSE people are going to have made it through the rigors of survivorship let alone the training needed to ‘be’ a quality therapist.
My job is to tell it like it is. I document. While it can be a deep human urge for people of enlightened compassion to wish to ‘make things better’ – I choose to face the facts and the truth.
An infancy and childhood with as much terrible, comprehensive, consistent, ongoing (for 18 years) kind of terrorism, trauma and horrendous physical/emotional/psychological/ etc abuse leaves its tracks inside a survivor’s body that can NEVER be erased. Why be concerned that early abuse is evil and wrong and hurtful for a lifetime as it changes the course of a human being’s life — if we pretend the consequences can be FIXED?
Not gonna happen.
Sorry hon, I didn’t mean to offend you, I just wish you didn’t have to live with it every day. I understand about therapy & agree most aren’t qualified to address trauma or half of the issues that come up among mentals. It’s the rare professional who can grasp it without having experienced it – and that only comes in the form of a gift.
I wasn’t suggesting you’re mental – I guess I was just worried that thinking about it so much must hurt you, although you write about it as I write about my own stuff – fairly detached & well thought out, not hysterical, which means you’re handling it. I just hope to put my own trauma away someday. Mine tries to kill me regularly. I just started to take lithium, it actually targets & eliminates suicidal thoughts, and after a few weeks it’s settling in finally and I am shocked to shit but it’s working. I have no desire to die. But I still feel like whatever it was that was driving that suicidality has got to be eradicated from my brain. But I don’t think about my trauma in the same way you do – it wasn’t nearly as horrific – maybe I need to. I just have 5 kids so I can’t focus on the negative. But am hoping through intensive therapy that I can work my ass off & get rid of it. Not pretend that it didn’t happen, but find some kind of way to make peace with it…
I really hope I didn’t offend you hon! I am just trying to be supportive, that’s all. Sometimes I guess it doesn’t comes out the right way. I’m a pretty good communicator, but within this realm one has to be a pro, and I am not.
Big hugs, tons of support, & I will always read your posts.
Not to worry – I just popped off a little reply — love you and your wisdom, questions — and HATE your suffering – as I hate my own!!
When I mention today I took what resources I could find and used them – I evidently DID NOT have what I suspect researchers are going to identify more clearly in the future, any genetic combination that could have been activated to pop a SUICIDE billboard in the front of me every time I tried to turn around!
I am MOST grateful! And I am SO SORRY you have been hounded near to death by something so horrific that does NOT really belong to you! It comes to us from our ancestors – one way or the other!!
I am not at all offended – I am sparked and challenged in a good way to look to my own beliefs and understanding – stimulating thought is a good thing for me and so very rare and I thank you!
My days of being a child-raiser are far gone! I was spared the full realization of my reality until after they all left home!! Their leaving home was the biggest trigger to my biggest traumas – and I was completely unprepared for this to happen. Living with my children, raising them, was the greatest healing balm of my life.
Oh, I am looking forward to hearing from you soon that the billboard SUICIDE has vanished from your rear view mirror as you smoothly cruise on down your road of life!! Not to be seen ANYWHERE — NOWHERE AT ALL!!!!
Thank you, your de best, my dear!!!!
And, I say – to you, dear one
In the future
big league researchers such as Teicher and ‘his Harvard research team’ as I call them will honor survivors such as I with interviews to learn about not only how MAD my abuser was, about what she was capable of doing to me
but most importantly about the marvels – the true miracles of resiliency – that allowed me to survive and to become the — yes, trauma altered – but also the truly power-filled (stubborn) fantastic survivor that I am!!
Go for IT! And IT does not always mean some kind of change, or even a desire for change for changes’ sake
IT means knowing the TRUTH – stripping all illusion and delusion from the FACTS — and being supremely proud of exactly who we are in the world with every breath we take
even though many of those breaths happen IN SPITE of agony that has been so built into the body we live with that there will not be an escape
until we graduate
to ‘the other side’
To live with HONOR — that is our truest healing — no matter what!
I hear you. I am a Harvard Medical School case study, so I’ve been there, believe me – my trauma stories are on another blog & are password protected. It’s not stuff I address here, just the illness. So I get it – YOU are LIVING your life, not SURVIVING. I thought I was fine, I was high functioning & lived behind a mask (personality disorder) & I had a trigger seeing someone abused in 2010 & tried to kill myself a month later & I’ve been sick ever since. I just spent a month at McLean & I feel a bit better for the lithium but I still feel like I need to deal w everything I assumed was no big deal my whole life.
So I just read your posts & they’re so painful for me that I just assume that they’re agonizing for you. But apparently they’re not. So YOU GO GIRL! You’ve done better than most of us, most of us still struggle with all of it. God, I’m getting a headache thinking about it!
Purrs, strong lady.
I am hoping, please, that nothing I am currently writing bother you in response to your thought provoking and so-much appreciated comments here! Like swan divers moving together in grace and motion we come to learn about ourselves in interactions with one another. I am most grateful for the opportunities your writings give to me to look more closely inside of myself — especially in these current days in which words have seemed to be vastly inferior to what I wish to express!!
Love!!!! Linda – alchemynow
Oh not at all sweetheart, I’m just sorry if I wasn’t being gentle. I know therapy is not the answer for everyone, it hasn’t ever been for me. I’m just trying now, because I have to, for my children. My own mother killed herself & while she was sick & was probably better off, damn do I wish I had mother now, even if it was just to take care of her and make her comfortable. So we’re just at 2 different points in our lives with our experiences, that’s all.
Much love!!!! Jill
Oh, there — so for you most difficultingly (love that new word – useful one!) – you do have a dang ancestral combination!!!! Naming the monster – the air begins to leak out!!
DANG! See, I did not have that risk factor – and not having risk factors is the same thing as having protective factors!!
You are in the best of hands!!!! (My mother and her mother were raised in Boston, btw)
Hummm……. Got me thinking some more……
No, I would not name anything I feel using those words. They apply perhaps to how I felt at various times going through the abuse moment by moment. But thinking about it (a first time so will have to look into the clear waters of my soul to find my own truth about this if I can) — I can’t remember feeling agony as an adult.
I feel LOTS of different feelings – unpleasant though some may be at times, they don’t have that name.
When I write – when I can find words – I find my feet more firmly planted (at times on the narrowest of precipice edges) — of my own inner self-direction and empowerment. My big thing is that I have been smoking cigarettes for 42 years and cannot find a place inside of myself to love myself or my life enough to quit — and smoking is and will kill me. (I was told 5 years ago I have onsetting COPD)
THIS is a very big deal to me — perhaps related to the agony I do not go near, the agony I keep in the cloud of smoke. If there is ANYTHING that I truly would wish for true help with — it would be this!!
But as far as I can tell the smoking is tied to my deepest terror, probably from the first breath I ever took (and the first ‘puff’), of being alive and of breathing at all.