Thursday, December 8, 2016

Time to fly - a Modern Blues Story in Real Time

My children are getting prepared to leave me. Both of my sons and at the same time. They are 18 and 23.  They have been my world from the moment I knew they were growing within me. From the time I was a very young girl all I dreamed about was having children. A longing for a sense of unconditional love. I would get lost in my thoughts on how every day I would tell my child I how much I loved them. How perfect they were to me, even their flaws.  They would never wonder if they were a mistake. Yes, I had it all planned out ...the one thing I didn't plan on was them leaving the nest I dreamed about providing.

Needless to say as my boys make their plans to have some great adventures I sit with mixed emotions.  We've been through so much together. Survived so much, and they are such great human beings I will miss their company as much as I miss their presence.

Originally they were to leave last month but logistics on getting things together in a short period of time on top of the holidays drawing near gave me an additional couple of months with them...for this I am thankful.

I am secure in the knowledge that they will be fine. Both of them have common sense and know right from wrong. Neither of them has ever been in trouble - I've been graced by not having the worries so many parents of teens stay up late at night, having while they bite their nails.

Kyle, my 18 yr old, is off for a career in music and heading to Memphis and the deep south where the Blues called home - yes, you read it right...he's a musician. He needs to go. He needs to be away from rural Wisconsin and be somewhere his music will help him take flight. I support him 100 percent. He is that talented. I know it will just be a matter of time before the world realizes what so many in our little rural community already know - his musical ability is a gift that needs to be heard.  Blues oozes from every ounce of that boy.

Lately he's had to make some tough choices - does he continue to stay close to home playing cover songs with other musicians and not always the genre he was born to play? Does he forget about music and try to get a regular 9 to 5? Does he go to college and wander aimlessly in attempting what else to do with his life - or, does he go for the gusto? He picked aiming high and reaching for his dreams.  he has courage.

Justin, my 23 yr old, is going with to be there for Kyle.  Kyle needs family close by him and until things take off, he will need help with the bills. Justin needs to be somewhere he can live to his full potential as well. Being a member of the LGBT community in small rural town USA is not an easy task. He needs to fly.

How lucky am I as a mother that my sons are best friends?  Especially when you consider all that they did grow up experiencing. It would have been so easy, and quite frankly...expected..that they take a wrong turn in life before even hitting adulthood. But, they didn't. Thank you spirit guides for watching out over all of us through this time of transition.

We broke the cycle. It wasn't easy, but we did it.

It will be hard to kiss them farewell. I will worry. Kyle is such a sweet kid, as is Justin. I worry about someone trying to take advantage of Kyle's gifts - it has already happened a couple of times. Then he had me playing Devil's advocate and taking the brunt of confrontation ..something he doesn't like but knows is a necessity.  I will have to keep the faith that his courage will keep him safe from vultures and coattail riders. Over the last few months he has gained the confidence needed to see it all through.

As you can probably tell I am writing this all out to help reassure myself that all will be fine. My boys will be okay and so will I.  We are entering new chapters in our lives.  I must admit it is scary.  I am hoping that in a couple of years I will look back on this post and chuckle while reading it.."what was I so nervous about?"

I've written about Kyle's music before so I will not detail all it out again -

I will share my son's latest videos - ones I burst with pride when I watch. You see for the last couple of years he has been known as a great and natural Blues guitarist. However I knew something else about the child - he could sing and write lyrics. When he recently broke free from some restraints he found his voice and his words.  Enjoy the following videos..

But, before I leave you - please kind to my children..they've lived through enough sorrow, pain, and tears - it's their turn for joy.

Kyle doing what he does best - Blues guitar -

Kyle finding his voice and words -an original - If you know our story of surviving domestic violence and then the aftermath of rebuilding a life and surviving poverty..then you will know how deeply personal and emotional the following song is to not only him, but me as well.  I taped this the night after he wrote it - his emotions were raw as he played it for me.

Lydia - this song is simply beautiful - and is available on his website and iTUNEs

This song is also available on his website and iTUNES - it was literally written on the spot in a recording studio - a one take wonder with Simply JP singing. It was right after recording this song a call from the great Ruby Wilson  - Queen of Beale St. - came was where she invited Kyle to play at a benefit in Memphis at BB Kings. That benefit was in July - she died just a week and half later. My son was one of the last guitarists to play on stage with the legend.

This is from earlier this year when Kyle played at BB Kings in Memphis with Miss Ruby Wilson singing.  Quite an accomplishment for an 18 yr old young man

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Recognizing patterns of abuse - they're everywhere

Now, just by reading the title to this posting I am going to place a bet that you are assuming I am talking about the pattern of abuse in an intimate relationship. While those patterns can be found there this post is dedicated to the patterns that are all around us, in our everyday lives - anywhere there is power and control, there is the possibility of it being abused - creating abusers and their victims.

If we do not start recognizing those patterns in other areas of our lives, how then can we expect someone in an intimate relationship to see the pattern slowly sucking them into the cycle to the point they cannot leave before too much harm is done?

Abuse - there are many forms -we know this; physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, and financial.

Whenever there is power and control, there is the possibility of abuse -abusive relationships (or coercive control or controlling behavior) is the way that abusers exert physical, sexual and other forms of abuse to gain and maintain control over a victim.

Now don't fall into the trap of thinking of relationships as just being intimate or familial - this is important in learning and seeing the patterns for what they are and being able to teach children what is and what is not acceptable.

What spurred me to write this post is the tone in our country right now. We've been through one Hell of an election campaign season only now to crash into a political battlefield.  Sitting back watching this unfold I saw the cycle of abuse take center stage throughout the entire ordeal.

Remember that our candidates have teams behind them crafting their messages and getting it out to the public to garner votes. No doubt manipulation tactics are being utilized. This election cycle we've seen some incredibly bad behaviors and manipulations - to the point where just about everything being said had to be researched to the tenth degree.

There has been name calling, lies, and threats. All forms of emotional and verbal abuse. All of which are coming from people in power and who have been seeking the most powerful position in the world.

I find it truly troubling that our children are watching this unfold and growing up where these behaviors are starting to be normalized and ignored. Yes, I hate to say this, we can blame our mainstream media for not standing up to it and for fueling the fodder.

Others have touched on these concerns of mine this election cycle and hopefully more will - the American public is being abused by the system and our politicians.  The cycle is clear.
It starts with the tension building - getting us to take sides - playing on our fears. 
Explosion - once we take sides-we battle it out protecting our votes - our candidates
Honeymoon period -when things get out of control, those who started the cycle try downplay the damage that has been done and pat us on the head. 

It is being played out daily on our television screens and on our social media accounts.  It is damaging.  This doesn't mean we stop using our voices to issue support and or dissent -but we need to be responsible in how we do it or else we get sucked into that cycle. 

Free From Abuse- a blog site wrote about this in a posting called Abuse and Politicians.
In their posting they wrote:
I understand that we need to hold our politicians to a high standard. After all, they are representing the public’s voice. My issue is HOW the candidates so easily sling mud at each other and think that’s perfectly acceptable behavior. It’s almost a game to determine who can find the most dirt on any given candidate. In my book, that’s verbal and emotional abuse. Now, calling this type of behavior for what it actually is (verbal and emotional abuse), it’s as though we are glorifying abusive behaviors between politicians. In other words, we’ve become desensitized to it. When we become desensitized to something, we don’t recognize it for what it is. It then becomes a part of our regular cycle of life where it no longer alarms us.
If we don't start demanding better from the most powerful on how they treat one another and us, the voting public, then how can we respect them? They are supposed to be our leaders - and there are many of them partaking in the rhetoric and abuse of power

We need to teach our children the difference between assertive vs aggressive. 
Using your voice for good vs using your voice to abuse. 

We need to teach them how to recognize the patterns of abuse - all abuse - in all areas of their lives and how to call it what it is. 

Now I wrote about this earlier tonight on my own Facebook account. I posted the picture above with the intent to save it for this posting - in the status I wrote "aka....American Politics" 

I was chastised by one person for doing so - she said I stepped over a line. Maybe I have in that it is a line that needs to be stepped over- recognizing abuse patterns wherever they may enter our lives. 


Monday, October 17, 2016

Life as a survivor - PTSD and the elections

Well, yes, it happened. This damn presidential election and the news tied to the campaigns triggered something in me that has not happened in a very long time; POST TRAUMATIC EFFING STRESS DISORDER. 

Do I sound bitter? Maybe I am and that is because when you experience an episode of PTSD after many years of not having to deal with the symptoms, it is a slap in the face on just how human and flawed even the strongest of survivors are - a little wake up call. 

One positive in all of this is I knew what was happening to me as it was happening, unlike how I spent most of my life when the flashbacks would immobilize me with fear.

I knew I needed to just let the memories play out and I would be back to myself again. They needed an outlet as the triggers were too many and everywhere I turned.  Knowing this kept me from having a full-fledged panic/anxiety attack. Something I haven't experienced in a very long time now.

Yesterday the PTSD punched me in the gut. I cannot even remember what the specific trigger was, but I am sure it had to deal with the controversy over the sexual assault allegations taking up space everywhere you turn. The other day I was at a local restaurant with my son, and even there one was unable to escape the coverage - it played out on the television above the bar, directly in my line of sight. So, yes, I am sure it has to deal with all of that - the controversy, that and also in about a week I will be facing one of my fears through a project called "Believe in Yourself" - I will write about that in another post. 

I was getting ready to go out with my son and hit up some of the local resale shops in our area. As I was putting on my make-up I felt my breath catch and in my mind I saw the long hallway of the apartment I grew up at in Evanston, IL. Midway down that hallway on one side was a door that opened to a walk-in closet. A closet where my mother kept linens and cleaning supplies, plus whatever else she could pile in there. It was the very closet I would crawl down the hallway to and hide from our neighbor next door when he would appear at our back door by the kitchen. He always knew when I was home alone. Considering back in those days I was often home alone because I was an ill child, in and out of hospitals, he would show up quite a bit. 

The apartment building I grew up in at the time this happened. Upper left apt. on the top floor.
I was nine years old at the time and he was the neighbor I first met through his dog, Kelly - a beautiful German Shepherd. He also had a Great Dane named Duke. He lived with a friend, another male, they were roommates. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War. Looking back I can now see how skilled of a groomer he was of his victims. Many children lived in our building and I know others met the same fate as I, some of them with deeper scars. 

I don't need to go into the details of the abuse brought upon us children. Those details are not important - it is the aftermath of the crime that is and why I had that flashback. 

When the PTSD hit in my mind's eye all of a sudden I saw that hallway - that kitchen. My body tensed up with fear. I relived that trek to the closet, closing the door behind me..sitting in the dark and waiting until I felt safe to exit my prison. That scene played out over and over. I knew what was happening while it did. My son came into my room, rushing me to get ready - I snapped at him to leave me alone and give me privacy. 

The next thing I knew I was searching out the pictures I found on the internet a while back. They were of the very apartment I had once lived. It is now a condominium and the current owner had it up for sale -the listing had pictures. For some reason, I needed to see those pictures once again. 

"Yup, there's that hallway- just like I remember. There's that closet handle, I can see it. And that kitchen, that old galley style kitchen in the Victorian era apartment building. I remember that built in - and yes, that pantry but I can't see the pantry. It was just off where the sink is. Across from that closet was my bedroom. I remember. I've always remembered this - and it is still all there. I loved that old building. I hate some of the memories I have." - Those were the thoughts playing over and over in my head as I examined the pictures. 

"PTSD. This is PTSD. Yes, this all happened to me and I am okay now. I am fine. The memories are just memories." - I told myself. 

As I talked my way through the flashback and memories my body relaxed and I was no longer frozen in place. I could breathe again. 

The incidents with this pedophile happened nearly 40 years ago. This is what PTSD does to sexual assault survivors, even those of us who have been on the path of healing for decades. The difference today from say even 20 years ago is I know what is happening should a flashback occur. I can work through it without beating myself up and walk away a bit stronger knowing that I no longer carry their guilt-their shame. But, unfortunately, the memories will always be in me. And while that is unfortunate, I have come to terms that this has been part of my path. I know my life has been filled with many experiences, some of them truly amazing - those amazing ones, and the ones yet to come take up more space in my mind than the ones I would rather not remember. At one time in my life, when I was much younger and hurting so terribly from multiple assaults, I was unable to see the good in my life -now I can. 

I finished getting ready and met my son out by the van. He was waiting for me. "I am sorry for snapping at you," I said. "For some reason I had a flashback to my childhood - PTSD, and I needed to work through it." 

"That's okay Mom, I understand - you good now? "

"Yeah, I am  - let's go find some sales!" I replied. 

And that my friends, was the truth! I was good- I was fine.  Too bad we couldn't find any good sales. 

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