Full circle

When I was a child I got my first puppy and promptly named her tickles! Years that followed were filled with other cats and dogs. Animals brought a certain comfort and unconditional love.  It was the norm to have pets in our loving and warm household.

Then I married, had children and moved to the middle east, where we lived for 16 years. Pets were frowned upon and even forbidden in our household. When we moved back to the United States the same rule applied and it was a scary concept to even imagine having a pet.

Finally after ten years of living back home my kids helped me and supported me in fulfilling this dream. Last March I adopted my Sophie. In  many ways my life has come full circle and I am getting back to the real me! These photos are of my constant companion and sweet baby! She is beautiful, smart and feisty!

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Update on the book

For the past few months Saleeha (oldest daughter) has been working on the book. She has organized, suggested and reviewed. I worked last year until I needed a big break but now that school is almost starting I will put my efforts back into finishing the book and first publishing a poetry book. I am new to all of this but feel that it is time! It is something that I have to do or need to do or just a part of the process of recovery but whatever it is, this is the time. Thank you for being there on this journey. Your love and support mean everything! 

Riyadh 2001

Jeans were seen as inappropriate and bad for the bones and female form. Silence gripped the room as he looked up and down rubbing hands across his face and then head, ultimately finding their resting place in his lap. The usual commentary repeated itself and unbeknownst to my scrambled brain, it made little difference what logic I attempted to pursue; she was young and did not have a womanly body, we lived on a western compound where all young girls were allowed to wear jeans and lastly there was no way to return these items. I finished my plea with a reminder that his children were modest beyond the norm and had never engaged in activities that would reflect poorly on him.  A roundabout discussion as to why my parents would bring such offensible items into our home and the improbable threat that he would actually speak with them, ended in tears. It was necessary to place myself on the side of caution and therefore I stood firmly with him. I knew there were only two options, we were either with him or against him. The jeans were rumpled into a ball and placed well away from view, hidden in a vast and endless cavern that contained forbidden actions, thoughts and words.

Her frail figure approached the table and placed the plastic sack down on a chair just beside me, tucking it under miscellaneous jackets, bags and items that were stacked in a pile. Her eyes shifted nervously at first forward and then a slight tilt of her head dared to look behind her. He was nowhere in sight that was the obvious and unspoken conclusion. The younger children voiced their irritation at this seemingly wasted trip to Faisaliah (one of the first malls in Riyadh). Clatter of shoes rubbing against the table jangled our nerves as Heme squirmed and rolled between the table, floor and chairs. The pants were eventually taken from the sack and handed over to my lap where I surveyed their color, length and ability to conceal her tiny figure.

Plain light blue, loose fitting and ordinary, they appeared to be the best that we could find and the only suitable option in this upscale, trendy mall. They looked to be perfect, a replacement for the shiny, fashionable jeans and shirt that Grama had recently brought from America. Grama and Grampa supplied all clothing and as far as she knew that is where necessities came from. A play station, toys, shoes, towels, mixers and of course clothing had become my parents “gift” to the children as well as to him. Dress pants, ties and shirts were purchased and put together into suitable and professional sets and then brought as yearly gifts in boxes that either preceded their visit or came along with them. This was undeniably the most helpful lifeline that we were blessed with but also came to be a sharp double edged sword, both welcomed and dreaded.

Little ones jumped to attention and sat upright, the girls fixed loose hairs and smoothed their abayas and I knew that this was it. He smiled and sat directly opposite my chair and I reciprocated with a grin and nervous laugh. Heme pestered and whined asking for ice cream, cheesecake and fries. I shushed him and placed him on my lap informing Baba (their father) that we had found the perfect pair of pants, a replacement for the distasteful and repulsive ones that had been the topic of discussion just days before. He waited patiently as I took them out and did my best to make them look mundane, unflattering and non-threatening. An exasperated sigh wisped between clenched teeth and parted lips, his eyes rolled back and forward and his hands rested in their place on his lap.

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Grateful for the little things

Here in Idaho we have snow and ice, cold temperatures and blue skies! I love this kind of weather it reminds me of the house on the hill waking up to glistening snow on the trees and icicles that hung from the top deck. Childhood memories flood back and a warm sensation keeps me feeling safe and happy!

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I am ready to make another list of the things that I am grateful for. These are more specific to my progress with anxiety and daily functioning. Of course I am grateful for my parents, children, grandchildren and friends.  Some changes are small and others are huge, or at least they are for me. I hope that this inspires at least one person, makes them feel they are not alone and life does move forward!

  1. I am grateful that I can take still continue to take a full walk outside and enjoy it without anxiety!
  2. I am grateful that I can still cook a meal and have renewed my love for cooking.
  3. I am grateful that I can still clean the house without panicking.
  4. I am grateful for and to my blogging friends. The shame and guilt that I have carried is now in the light and thanks to each person who comments, likes and supports me in this journey I am able to feel more open and able to share! This is truly my special safe place! I am able to reveal more things that happened without fear.
  5. I am still not able to drive unless it is totally necessary but I feel I have made progress.
  6. I am grateful that I have continued blogging three times a week. Some days it is difficult to interact and while I miss my good friends sometimes I just want to stay isolated, but my goal of blogging three times a week has helped me to keep a normal schedule and routine in my daily life.
  7. I am grateful that I am back to eating more fruits and vegetables. Before he came I had lowered my cholesterol, lost weight and was lifting weights. After he left everything fell apart. We spent those three weeks staying out of the house,driving around town, eating fast food and not being mindful of health. It has taken me almost three years to get back on track!!!
  8. I am grateful for the forgiveness that I have given to myself. I forgave him, his wife, but never truly forgave me!!
  9. I am grateful that I can now see how I want to put my book together. I am working on it when I feel up to it.
  10. I am grateful that my mind is now clearing and I can process everyday life.
  11. I am grateful that I can feel joy even if it is fleeting.
  12. I am grateful that I am starting to care about me!IMG_20180307_081221

 

Walk the loop

 

 

Happy Friday everyone. I have had a pretty good week working on the book and balancing other tasks in my life. I have reached a milestone and one for me that is important. I am once again able to take my usual walks without anxiety. 

 

Daily dreams and nightmares seemed to keep company with day time vigils. Locking checking and planning an escape route if it became necessary. I looked through the slider and out onto amazing land that rolled and dipped, dotted by tractors and an occasional pasture. Memories of summer evenings and moonlit drives along the winding Palouse had faded and were replaced by an all-encompassing vision that this was no longer my home.

A faint crunching kept pace with footsteps that at first moved gingerly past brightly colored houses. The stride widened as confidence grew and an increase in speed took over. Bare streets stood in contrast to the distant Palouse, now a brown and white patchwork of snow and fields waiting to be planted. Geese floated giving their customary greeting of honks and a visible formation crossed overhead. Three grain silos marked my favorite scene, one that was viewed daily from the wooden deck he had enlarged just 3 years before. The old red barn held it’s place in the backdrop and was a welcome reminder that we were in farm country. A pristine winter sky engulfed the landscape making it seem endless and I walked the loop without looking back once.

 

A little break

Happy New year! I hope everyone has enjoyed a safe and wonderful holiday full of blessings!

I needed a little break and so I just took one! Things were getting busy and I felt stressed out, anxiety was slowly returning so I focused on what I could do to feel more relaxed!

I am working on a new, simple blog schedule where I post three times a week! The house is still on holiday break or at least for the college students so I am busy getting everything back to routine and look forward to working on finishing my story!

I have missed everyone and the amazing friendships that have brightened my life! Have a great week!

Afraid of flowers

I have not been around much lately. I miss you all and think about you often. 

Rocks clicked beneath my feet, each one a tiny reminder that I was alive, present and accounted for.  The vow to continue a steady pace without looking back would be broken numerous times, bringing shame and despair. Inspecting branches, grassy areas and fields that spilled out onto the trail were now part of the new walking routine. A carefree bush became a supposed breeding ground for squirrels, raccoons and insects, all a threat to my existence.

This was the path I had taken for the past 7 years and each turn was well known to me, but somehow things had morphed and danger lurked. A dog barked in the big blue house, he jumped frantically as if to warn of impending danger. I shuddered and contemplated returning home to relative solace and yet a lingering determination remained. I watched the road with great caution and anticipation, scanning both front and then back, breaking my promise to just walk.

I compelled myself to breathe, to take in the sprawling fields of green and brown dotted with red barns, grain silos and a single tractor. The sky was a pure blue, a painted backdrop to this scene of tranquility. A rush of warm and soft emotion prompted tears that lodged in the creases of tired eyes. Safety and assurance felt like melting snow that turned into soft green grass, the scent of lilacs and honeysuckle played in my mind pushing it to recall forgotten days. The lawn swing creaked as it joyfully rose to the sky, melted popsicles stained my lips a vivid orange.

The visit-4

For the first 10 days I stood assuredly, revoking the authority that had been given away freely for decades. A sudden and powerful confidence blossomed and filled my soul with a compelling strength.  I spoke out against ridiculous edicts and demands, a voice that had faded through stifling oppression had now become audible and confident. I heard myself saying ” no, this is my home too”  and even though a smile widened across his mouth, a cold and calculating disdain rose from within his eyes.

Waves of uncertainty came and went as I struggled to hold onto the increasing power that I felt. It was hard to imagine why I had stayed silent for so long and it seemed as if my words now meant something. Nagging guilt surrounded me as I fought between the urge to stand up and the reality I had known for 30 years.  As a dutiful wife it had been ingrained into my very soul that there were obligations and rights that should not be neglected and that my submission was needed to secure his love and approval.

At every turn I reminded him that this was also my home and that permission should be taken before making alterations. He appeared to be a watered down version of his former self and smiled making sure to secure my acceptance before continuing with the projects he had planned.  I felt confident that I had made headway that I was now in charge of my own life and home until one too many refusals came to a head and sent his temper spiraling out of control.

A small but visible red splotch was a constant reminder of my attempt at regaining misappropriated power that had now faded back into anxiety and fear. Humiliation, shame and confusion swirled through my mind, now shattered by recent events.  I clumsily picked up remnants of the morning routine, socks, a lunch bag and laundry that needed attention. I wandered aimlessly with a strange robotic purpose, stopping momentarily to nod at him, hoping to keep the situation from escalating. This feeling had not been present since we stood in the marble hallway preparing to leave Saudi, never to return. But here it was again, debilitating fear that taunted me, reminding me of the person who had been skillfully manufactured and sworn to live in secrecy.

He marched confidently around the property, hammering and making changes wherever he saw fit, mocking the work I had done, threatening to tear out flower beds and build walls. Any sign of individuality was taken as an affront to a vision carefully groomed for years.  He made holes in window sills to anchor shades, dug up newly planted grass to put up shoddy wooden stairs and made certain to leave his residual stamp throughout the residence.

Anxiety

I have not been on wordpress as much lately, have not posted recipes or stories. I am trying to keep my blog going and stay in touch with everyone which has been hard. If I have not visited you lately, please excuse my absence. I have worked hard to create this space and do not want to just drop it and so I struggle each day to be as present here as I can. This is something I am proud of and I feel blessed to have so many good and caring friends here!

I have OCD, there I said it. I remember as a child explaining to a new friend all about my rituals. She was confused and asked many questions but after that day our friendship didn’t go any further. I never knew my behavior or ideas were different but learned to keep them to myself.

Years later when living in Saudi I experienced symptoms that were worse and so I researched online and realized I had OCD! I still lived in denial and quite frankly was trying to survive through an emotionally, spiritually, verbally, financially and intimately abusive marriage, so OCD was not my main focus.

Here I am now, age 54, having to face it and to figure out what to do. I was unsure, was it PTSD, Anxiety or OCD. After he visited 18 months ago and it ended badly, things started falling apart. I have seen therapists and taken other little steps but still find I am living in fear and anxiety. I am telling you this because a good blogging friend told me to reach out and express myself.

Once again I thank you for your love, caring and support.

Lynn