Haven been given only a small handful of truly useful information about how to be a happy, healthy human being during the first 18 years of my childhood (coupled with continual severe abuse during these years) has left me trying to create a patchwork quilt of a life. Just like I would choose a pattern for a quilt and place within it color and fabric combinations that will work together to create something useful and beautiful after my work would be done, I continually try to piece information together about how humans actually ‘work’ compared to the overwhelming information I received as a child that showed me how humans are NOT supposed to ‘work’.
I learn a lot from the nonhuman world of earth and plants. Even animals are a source of mystery to me. I have been given my daughters long-haired Pomeranian-Pekingese mix 3-year-old dog, Who Who. She is absolutely NOT child friendly and will never be safe to trust around little people. She growls and snarls, snaps and will bite them if allowed to. That’s evidently who she is. She bit my grandson — and was flown 1700 miles south from North Dakota to be my friend and companion down here where I life along the Mexican-American border line.
I don’t really even understand animals. While a lot of people might be in my similar shoes, at least most people can understand their peers – fellow human beings. But being abused and mostly sequestered in isolation even away from my 5 siblings taught me nothing about how humans relate to one another except on the most surface of levels — in other words, I could see the ACTIONS (including the abuse) but I did not develop an emotional-social brain that would allow me FROM THE INSIDE to FEEL the feeling-felt experience of being a member of a social species.
Of course I never actually new what was being done to me from the time I was born was wrong. I never knew what being treated RIGHT felt like. I simply endured and survived until enough time went by that I was ‘all grown up’ so that I could enter a different life. Here I am at 59 a long long way into that different life, but with so much emotional-social information missing (as my body-brain was built in the midst of terror, pain and trauma) I simply spend every waking moment of my life trying to learn how to get along better in a world I doubt I will ever truly understand.
So I watch – even my new dog’s eyes. I watch her movements, her body language, and listen to the changes in the tone of her voice. Most humans, formed in safe and secure attachment environments – who are not abused, neglected, maltreated and traumatized – naturally develop well before the age of four with enough information of the right kind given to them that they can be ‘people whisperers’ for the rest of their lives. People take these abilities for granted. We are NOT meant to develop in such a way that members of our own social species are a mystery to us.
But, mystery they are to me (myself included). This mystery is no less great to me as the mystery of how I heal the soil of the land I live on so that it can grow food to nourish me (and to be given to others to help nourish them). Every positive interactions humans have with one another is actually a form of nourishment for all involved. To learn about how to nourish my soil — and believe me, this soil that was long ago the floor of a great ocean was never built to provide nourishment to any but the most hardy native plants — I have to learn what a healthy soil is. Then I have to take steps to provide the nourishment this soil needs so that it can be, in fact, healthier than it has EVER been since the time it was made.
I have lived up north much of my adult life. I took nourished and nourishing soil completely for granted. In an abstract way I knew that over-farming and maltreatment of the land could hurt soil, but this is the first time in my life I have been faced with the kinds of problems this soil actually has if it is expected to produce something quite basic to my life: FOOD!
I did receive basic FOOD of the physical kind as a child (yet even my need for food was manipulated in abusive ways). I DID NOT receive the food of kindness, compassion, love, respect, or any other kind of nourishment a human being needs to build a body-brain-mind-self on the INSIDE that could come out at the end perfectly able to be what is called in agricultural (and cultural terms) SUSTAINABLE.
I fully believe that humans around the globe are soon going to be forced by the backlash of misdirected greed and ignorance to redefine and to change patterns of living toward a SUSTAINABLE way of living so that both the health of our planet and the continued survival of our species (and MANY others) can be supported.
As I work now to build my chicken coop and run, as I work to add all kinds of amendments to my soil – in the proper amounts and combinations, in the proper depth, at the proper time, in the proper way – I think a lot about what I am working to achieve on this little piece of property with my little financial resources reflects what I have done all my life as a human being who somehow grew to know absolutely that violence and the maltreatment of all life is the incorrect way to live. Correcting mistakes — my parents’ grave, profoundly hurtful and damaging mistakes toward me — has been the major job of my lifetime.
Animals (in my thinking) do not make mistakes that they, on their own, would choose to correct later on. They simply move forward through time being their self! Plants don’t make mistakes. If they are in a damaging environment they have very limited ways provided to them to improve their condition. As a gardener and as a person who might be fortunate to have a few animals in my life (my Mexican-American neighbor children, all native Spanish speakers, refer to every tiny bug they see as an ‘animal’) I come to understand how to take care of these life forms so that they can be happy and healthy.
I am most grateful that I somehow came out of my hell of a childhood instinctively and intuitively knowing what nurturing is so that I could be a wonderful mother. I learn by watching others – people and animals alike – who they are and what they need. I am learning about this soil here so that I can work to heal it toward a health it has never known – but I am not fooled into thinking that this healing process will ever NOT need repeated tending.
All this learning is not unpleasant. Much of it should have happened a long, long time ago. Now it happens at a different pace, in different ways – but often I approach the world from a simple place as if I were still a child. At least at my age I know enough to understand that if this is what it takes for me to repair at least some of the damage done to me through 18 years of continual abuse — so be it! I have found a niche on this planet, and have been given plenty of gifts from without and from within, that allow me to continue my simple path one single breath, one single step, one single feeling and one single thought at a time.
I’m not sure that even if I had been loved and protected, not abused and maltreated from the time I was born, that I could ever ask for more than this!