One woman's journey and dawning realization of the slow destruction of her spirit while trapped in the jaws of disability.

Disability is at first an affliction of the body, then a state of mind and finally a shackle upon the spirit.

Lydia M N Crabtree, 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Contractual Nightmares

The most disconcerting thing about violation is nightmares.
I went to bed last night fairly content with my lot in life. I was happy: happy with my husband and the life I am leading; happy about the future and my son’s imminent return from his winter visit out of state; happy about how blessed the Goddess and God have made my life.

Here I am four in the early morning when not even the commuters have crawled out of bed to face Monday morning traffic.  My nightmare last night was so vivid, I woke to find myself curled in a jumbled pile tucked up as close to my husband as possible. I was sweating in sheets and my unfortunate bid for the reassuring contact of my husband had left my back feeling like I had performed some type of unholy tantric acts in my sleep. My newly fixed nose was pretty beaten up having been stuffed into the soft blanket I often sleep with and the stress had caused a dsyautonomic flare. All my muscles ache and it feels like I have been hit by a bus that came barreling through my bedroom on silent wheels in a hushed violence. The only evidence of the strike was how difficult it was for me to untangle and stagger into the bathroom for pain medication.
The problem with my nightmares is that it takes whatever problem I have let sit in my subconscious and manifest those problems in my dream with a barbwire twisted sense of reality. Currently I am suffering maternal anxiety with my son so far away. We talked everyday about everything and nothing and him being gone for so long is a gnawing barb to my subconscious. Yesterday, two good friend’s had really bad days. I made one of them extremely upset and there was no resolution by choice. Sometimes bad days need to come and go before perspective can be reached and because of my deep and abiding love for my friends I chose not to confront the issue during that hot, instant of confusion that comes when stress overwhelms those we love and makes them a little difficult to accept that love we have.

These things for most of you would be minor bumps upon the road and certainly not nightmare worthy…for a survivor of incest and consistent childhood abuse it turns into this story.
We are in THE house. My family lived in multiple houses growing up and there was one house on the end of a cul-de-sac where the majority of the confusion and abuse I survived took place. It was from this house we suddenly upped and moved from the city to Nowhereville under mysterious circumstances to build a new house in the mountains of North Georgia. It was in this house where I meet my childhood best friend who would eventually find me as an adult and confront me about my father raping her. It was in this house where my bedroom was separated by an entire floor from my mother that I watched my father rape my sister on multiple occasions. The bad, ugly house that seems so innocuous on the exterior and was a place of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual anguish on the inside.

In this house, my biological mother is searching for my brother. Even in my dream, where I have been trained to lucid dream, I understood that it wasn’t my biological mother looking for my brother it was me looking for my son. Of course, we couldn’t find either. I was content to let the dream continue because even as my subconscious played out in Technicolor the feeling of loss I had been experiencing in my son’s absence, I understood that it was just that: a reflection; a mirage; a healthy way for my subconscious to better deal with my missing child. Besides, my waking, conscious, participating self knew that in less than twenty-four hours I would be at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport picking up my child, so he isn’t really lost, misplaced or even really gone.
Then my biological father enters the dream. At first he is what he has always been in my life, a threat. My father being a stone sober explosive abusive meant living weeks and months with a man that seemed as harmless as a fly, as upstanding as his Masonic brother’s believed. Then something would happen and our entire world would crumble, dishes would break, threats would be made and carried out, safety and security would morph into hatred and distrust. I would be ripped away from feeling loved and thrust into a world where nothing pleased my biological parents and I was left scrambling to figure out how to restore a more even keel to my own existence.

The threat his presence always represents is twofold: the eminent creation of violence and the establishment that I am not loved. Having been trained to participate and direct my dreams, at first I am able to keep his presence in my dream a threat only. I am able to handle the thoughts that I know are fabricated and not really a part of my current life. My biological father isn’t going to beat my biological brother or my son because he is missing. Neither is missing anyway. One has divorced himself from me and sided with my biological father and the other is safe in a bed in Massachusetts being loved and carried for and spoiled by others who love him. For awhile I am able to contain the dream centering it around looking for my biological brother with occasional appearances by my harried biological mother who is worried about waking my biological father.
“This is just a reflection of my anxiety regarding my missing son,” is the mantra my brain tries to chant without being overwhelmed by the tidal wave of emotions the dream is creating.

Then my biological father awakes demanding to know what is going on.
Once again I step in to try to manipulate the dream. Suddenly my dream self is dressed in a business suit and my father is naked but covered in his own bed. He used to sleep during the day and some of the most disastrous incidences often came from waking him accidently. We were trained to be quiet as mice or get snapped shut in the mouse trap that was my father’s violence and uncontrollable rage.

I confront him and the dream shifts to contract negotiations. I begin to tell my biological father that I have been in heated contract negotiations with a woman about property and that the woman thought she had figured out how to get out of our contract. However, she didn’t know the law very well and I had already gotten the signatures I needed so she was stuck!
I am swamped suddenly with a sense of foreboding and begin to struggle with feelings of love and acceptance. My heart is suddenly worried about whether or not I am being loved or I will continue to be loved. IN the dream I am trying to win my father’s affection with my prowess as a business woman and simultaneously worrying about the woman I am in contract with, whether or not she will continue to love me.

Remember my friend who was having a bad day? One of the crazier after effects of continued abuse is a belief that we are unworthy of love. Not the platitudes we spout breezily on Facebook or Twitter. LOVE – unconditional, constant and regardless love that is given without merit or regard to anything other than one person has decided to love another.
My friend is a survivor of her own hells and this type of love for her is different. She hasn’t had a lot of love that is based on a voluntary contract that has stuck and been unassailable even in disagreement or strife. In my dream, I am telling myself I have taken a contract to love her, even when she wants to get out of that contract; my love for her is binding. In the face of her fears about people continuing to love her without judgment, I am going to love her. In the face of my past and her past, I am going to love her.  My dream self is telling the manifestation of inconsistent love that I have figured out how to consistently love someone else despite the blueprints for loving I was given by my past.

Then my biological father says, “How do you know she will uphold the contract?”

A dream that I had been able to steadily navigate overwhelms me as past feelings of regret and unloving come swarming in to assail my subconscious mind. I am surrounded by the white noise that has form and words and tells me all the things I fear the most:

“She won’t love you like you love her.”
“She will break this contract.”

“There are things you can do to make others not love you anymore. There will always be things you can do to lose the love of those around you.”

My subconscious mind provides me a ViewFinder of still photos showing me all those who have professed undying love for me and then found me lacking and unlovable. Many of these photos are persons from my past and some are even in my present. People I know or suspect for whatever reason do not love me anymore. It ends with a still photo of my beloved friend her face contorted in rage, all traces of love gone from her.
At this point the dream world shatters and I wake in that sweaty, aching heap trying desperately to reassure myself that my husband, my stone, my constant still loves me. If he were awake I would ask him and he would tell me. I ask him all the time, “Do you love me?” and he patiently answers, “Yes!”

“Of course!”
“You’re alright honey. I love you and will.”

But his warming assurances are locked in his own slumber and I know he has to get up soon and go to work, so I crawl out of bed and take pain medications and sit down to purge myself from the nightmare so I can face my own day unencumbered by the remnants of my own nightmare.
I know you are surprised that this dream isn’t violent. My most violent dreams come in that time just before sleep when I feel the most vulnerable. That is when I daily relieve the horrors of sexual and physical assault. My deep slumber is when I dream of the most damaging things done to me, the emotional and mental vestiges years of physical trauma inflicted upon my psyche. In the end, all survivors of childhood abuse ultimately worry about the love contracts in their lives.

We have love contracts with all the people we are in contact with from our most distant Facebook acquaintances to those very closest to us. These contracts are often unintentional and are developed over time. It is the unintentional nature of most love contracts that leave survivors of childhood abuse floating on a sea of uncertainty. My first marriage was a victim of a completely unintentional and ever evolving love contract. My current marriage is rock solid because of an intentionally built love contract.
One of the things I have come to understand, due largely because of my sisters of choice, Sarah and Crystal, is that love contracts do NOT have to be unintentional and they do not require anyone’s signature but my own. My friend who is freaked out and screaming and upset is actually worried about the expiration date of our love contract. What she hasn’t yet realized and accepted is that the contract for our friendship and love doesn’t have any stipulations in it. For adult survivors of abuse, contracts without stipulations are an unknown and unbelievable thing.  Without Sarah or Crystal or my late mother, Coco, I am unsure I would even understand that myself.

You see, it took people coming along and given me that unconditional, unstipulated contract of love to help me understand several things that are vital in loving. First, love is a choice based on nothing but the decision to love.
Why does my husband love me? Why does Sarah or Crystal love me? Why did Coco love me?

No reason whatsoever.  They decided to love me. They decided somewhere along the line to love me without stipulation. They decided to teach me how loving is suppose to look. Coco showed me the love contract all mothers should have for their children. It is the contract I have for my own son based upon the blueprint she gave me.
Sarah showed me the contract of unconditional, unstipulated, unassailable love. We have hurt each other deeply and those wounds have healed giving way to a deeper, more abiding love and affection. With each year that passes that love becomes something more than a contract and is almost like breathing. This love is the oxygen in my emotional system and reflects most accurately how my husband loves me.

Only his love adds to it all the affection, cuddling and awe that lovers give to one another. He sees me through the lens of his love contract and I am always beautiful. I am as beautiful to his loving eyes today as I was when I married him ten years ago or hand fasted him eleven years ago.
Crystal’s love is the responsible love. She is the tough love that says there are expectations and when you fall short, I will love you anyway because I know you. You would never intentionally harm anyone because I know you have been intentionally harmed and that thought you would do the same mortifies you. However, sometimes you act without thought, your impulse and pride get you and you need someone who loves you enough to tell you these things. It is a truer love in some sense than the lover’s contract Tony has and it is a harder love to believe in because I am left feeling that I will do something to be unloved and eventually my sister by choice will choose to love me no more.

It is this fear that my dream echoes for my other friend. She is worried about our love contract. She is scared that her own past and her own anxieties is going to run me off of loving her. In my dream I triumphantly tell my biological father that my contract with her is unbreakable and I owe Crystal for the knowledge of why.

The why is: I choose to love her and what she does or believes or chooses is irrelevant because my contract isn’t really with her, it is with myself. In fact, I do not believe you can actual have a contract of love with someone else really. Love is a decision you make in your heart to give something that has to be believed on with faith by the other party. You can’t wrap it up and gift it at Yule. You can’t quantify it. You can’t define it. It is outside the realms of this materialistic realm.
Once I understood this, I could choose who to love and what they did, the choices they make, the things they choose to do have no bareing on my contract to love them. I have contracted with myself to love them. I have said, “She I am going to love.”

He, I am going to love.

For me this means that I am going to try and see the person through the eyes love. When they rant and rail against the horrors of their past or present, I am going to love and try and understand the things they say and do are all tied back to a fear of losing love. When they assail me with hurtful words or actions, they are asking what the limits of my love are. Can they do something to make me not love them anymore? What is that thing? Where is that line? They are in essence saying, “I know there is something that will make you not love me anymore and I am going to find it before you do.”
Make no mistake there is a difference between love and healthy boundaries. I love people who are no longer in my life because they couldn’t maintain healthy boundaries and had to consistently push and push to figure what it was that would force me to not love them. I love them still and I have separated myself from their behavior. Truly a person can only accept love if they love themselves and most of us do not love ourselves enough to recognize when we are being loved.

I haven’t always had this outlook. There was at time when my judgment of others cost me dearly and I lost the respect and admiration that love is tied to of people I dearly wish I could still claim I have. There are some hurts, however, that never heal and some wrongs that do not deserve to be forgiven. Because of this knowledge I have of myself and how in the past I have broken my own contract to love others, I woke in a cold sweat, my insecurity rolling down my mind like the sweat down my back.
What if my friend doesn’t know about this intentional contract to love? What if they are unaware they are worried that they will do something to be unworthy of love? What if they have conditions on the contract to love me and I fall out of favor of their love?

Even as I wake I try to remind myself that isn’t how loving works really. Love is about my choice.
She, I choose to love.

Even if she has stipulations, even if there is something I does that make her love me no more.
She, I choose to love. 

My love for her is based solely on my decision to love and in the face of the most painful emotional turmoil; I can remain true to my decision. I can let my own worries of love and acceptances go, because I cannot control the behavior of others. I can however control my own.
She, I choose to love.

I can make these choices because others have chosen to love me.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
I love you because I know no other way
Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVIII love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other wayI love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other wayI love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way



No comments:

Post a Comment