Holiday Musings from Sarah Elise
JOY is alive and well in the here and now. The above shot is moi and my husband the delicious human being that he is.
First picture is of me with my youngest son. The second is of me with my first born son, who opened me up in so many ways. Fritz pictured above. My horse. I am unaware of how he is doing these days as I do not speak to the incest family. In the here and now, joy is doing a dance.
Oh boy, here come the holidays...In years past the PTSD would be stirred up like a sandstorm. It gets easier as the years go by, thankfully mainly due to the healing effect of my family, my kids and husband. We have a clean slate with which to begin our nouveau familial style. I love my boys and husband so much. I feel that they inspire me and bless me...not just in the usual ways, but when I feel lost in the past, they bring me to center and keep me going just by being themselves. This is one of the ways motherhood and partnership heals me.
When one of them has a need, or a want, as they do a zillion times a day, I am snapped back into here and now. The here and now, this has been my focus. I tend to criticize myself and tend toward perfectionism in myself that I would never expect of anyone else. Perfectionism is a synonym for masochism, and self sadism. I feel so grateful for my family, and for surviving the trauma of my mother abandoning me, and my father raping me all those years, not just sexually but emotionally and spiritually. When I met my husband, I was in an unhealthy place, still tied to the blood family on my father's side. I was self destructive. The sight of him was like a reflection, and the image was of safety, goodness, love, and family. As the horses once did, Troy reflected my innate goodness back to me and I him. Wow. What a gift.
It was a momentous milestone for me to break away, ignoring the drone of bad advice and misguided emotional "support", telling me to come home and live there and be close. Be close. The incest web. I said no thanks to that and stayed with the man I would marry and become a mother with. It was very hard as the family, as most dysfunctional families do, knew how to manipulate me. I really left home in 99, I just kept going forward, years passing, rising like a phoenix. Very daring for me. The one thing they really had to wield were the horses. I began riding when I was 3. My horses gave me a sanctuary, they loved me unconditionally. They were magical. As I grew my grandmother, my father's mother, was "grooming" (interesting choice of words, huh?)me as she put it, to take over the family business. I elected a very different path and the shit hit the fan. Both my grandmother and grandfather tried making me feel so guilty if I ever desired anything outside of the horses. This was sacrelige! Of course I did desire other things, especially my own interests as most teenagers do, but their guilt worked.
I miss those horses. In 2004 I had to walk away from them, and one special one in particular. I chose my baby, my husband, their lives and mine over the horses. Over the family, over the pull of the incest web. In 2004 I even cut ties with my grandparents for good, filed a rape report against my father, received flowers from Eve Ensler, and began examining my relationship with my mother. The year of emancipation. My breaking away from them and thus the genesis of my breaking the cycles really began years earlier, in my mind. I was digging out of prison, misguided at first, in that I tried escaping through drugs and unhealthy relationships. I guided myself into the realm of true escape after I grew tired of hurting myself for things someone else did to me. I put myself first. My own mother never put me first, she left me with my father. My heart felt like it was being mutilated when I thought of my child ever feeling that. Over the years I have stayed in touch with that pain, and the pain of my father's abuse. It has kept me more empathic. Somehow she, my mother, lacked that fierce maternal bond. I was attached to both of my parents deeply, as children are. I am also incredibly bonded to my kids. My husband thinks I am more bonded to them and in touch intuitively with them than anyone else on earth. I love that he thinks that and am proud that I am!! Not apologizing for my goodness folks. Not gonna play it down either, I am a pretty great mama!
I give them what I never had. I feel the enormous ache and grief over my own losses as a child, I vow every second of every day that not only will I NOT repeat things, I think of what I WILL do. What can I add? Asset based thinking here, what can I give, not just what can I avoid doing. I can make a conscious effort to show my love and manage my anger and model healthy things for them. I add cafe dates, volunteering at my son's school, I teach them to be aware of mother earth and all her creatures, I honor their innocence and vow to protect it no matter what, I watch them grow and learn and try to appreciate the challenges they present me, like being more patient. Watching them safely develop and explore their bodies and express their emotions so freely is amazing and challenging. I was never allowed to feel my anger or even my joy fully. Especially not anger. Oh hell no, no anger for Sarah. And joy stifled by the always present threat of things falling apart as they so often did with my dad. He could never deliver a promise, hold down a job, keep a stable home for me. I remember when toys had to be brought back because he could not afford them. I still struggle with letting my hubs go out and shop for me at the holidays. I freeze up and feel like I am 7 again, walking through K&B, trailing my dad as he walked up to return gifts. John Lennon played in the background, singing about so this is Christmas, and what have you done? He promised a house and a dog, a job that he would keep, a mom for me, he promised to not touch me there anymore. All broken, all broken. I chose my husband because I knew that he would never do such things, although the sick little girl inside of me wanted a jerk to replay trauma with. As for the past, the holidays I think of them. All of them, horses, people, red velvets ribbons. Are they ghosts? I don't know. William Faulkner said "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past. " Interpret as you will, but it's all about tending the wounds and simultaneously living in the here and now. We used to decorate their stalls with stockings and wreaths and we had parties for all the clients. People came and brought gifts and food, we even had a costume contest for the HORSES!! I miss so much their soft faces, their whinnies, their cantering up to me, the smell of the barn, like cedar and shavings... and I miss being so good at something. (I won all kinds of awards all of my life, equestrian success was a huge part of my having any self worth.) I love Angela's metaphor, though it is more literal than metaphorical for those of us who have experinced abuse, of the sword of trauma piercing us. I remember thinking to myself about five years ago, this is like an iron maiden. I feel like I am in one of those iron maidens, knives coming from every direction. Horrifyingly accurate. It is like a sword, all of it, not just being raped. Not being protected, no armor. The armor should have been my mother, my grandparents. My uncle and aunt who chose denial. The sword is out and now we tend the wound. I am tending the wound. Part of tending the wound so it does not get infected is acceptance of what was and cultivation of hope for what NOW can be. NOW, the reality is that as a parent I must accept that I AM good. I must accept that goodness. It is so hard to accept our own goodness at times. I can not explain why my mother and father, grandparents and uncle did not see my goodness and honor it as I do my children. Blinded by their own unhealed wounds, enormous gaping wounds infected with drug addiction, emotional numbness, denial, inability to protect the vulnerable ones, and fear. Infected and blinded.
It was what it was. I am who I am today and though a part of me still needs to cry, rage, and ask questions, thats part of what helps me walk solidly on my healing path.
In the meantime, in the now, I am creating, with my husband and family, joyous, grateful, creative and impassioned energy for our new family tree. I know the reverberations will be felt into the next generations, and the little girl I was will feel the ripples too. I invite her to be here now, now and always.
Let's all invite our parts, our little ones inside, to come and be here with us now. They are waiting for our love and safety so they can leave the dark rooms, where they have been alone and crying, and come into the light where they belong. We can parent them now. If you are not a parent, you actually are a parent, because we all have inner children who need love, they are all the children we once were at certain times. The traumatized ones need us. And we will rise up like the phoenixes, and be here for them now. Namaste and Love to All~S