Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

So another year passes, probably the most dramatic in my life.
The year in which I waved goodbye to faith, not just as something that I possessed, but as something that I strove to regain.
I no longer want it back.
Too many things that harmed me over many years tied up with it.
So what will 2007 bring?
No idea.
More trouble, that is a given.
More heartbreak, more sorrow, more pain.
But in exploring the solutions to all those, joy, discovery and new experiences that make me wonder and gasp.
The gentle sigh of the breeze and the thunderous din of the hurricane, blowing me about until I come to rest somewhere new and strange.
And admit that I need to grow so much more, that I have been stunted by the limits I have placed on myself and continue to place.
But grow in a controlled, responsible, mature way, not at the expense of others, no seeking satisfaction while the peasants starve!
Happy New Year and may it bring to you all you want and need this year...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Graphical images

If I could draw a graph of the last two years, it would be an undulating mess of ascensions and descent.
Sometimes climbing to the heights, as I thought I had finally realised meaning and truth, sometimes plunging into the depths as I lost everything that was most precious.
Now it is undulating more gently, around a lowish point.
Things drift pass me, events, images, thoughts and feelings as I sit in my safe room and explore as best as I am able, while supporting and carrying the loads given to me.

And now I stand outside the cavern.
Uncertain of whether to go in.
I've ventured in a short way and in the distance I can see fiercesome things that may consume me.
But I also can not see any way back....
Maybe it is time to leave my safe room at last and venture out into uncertainty and fear but into progress...

Who knows what the graph may do if I do that?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

One year ago today

One year ago today...

I lost my faith.
My belief, my trust, my love of God, the God who I once believed had made me to know him, trust him and love him in this world and the next.
Who had redeemed me through the sacrifice on the cross.
Whose name I called on all the time.
One year ago I looked into the sky and realised it was all gone.

And this has been a year of mourning, with occasional bursts of dancing, as I learnt to say goodbye to faith and to live without the colour that it had brought my life.
In all things.
My thoughts, words, deeds, feelings, experiences.
My relationships.
The way I saw and perceived the world around me, nature, animals, flowers, joy, destruction, love, hate.
It coloured it all, without exception.

But now it is time to move on.
To discover how wonderful reality can be.
How the colour has not gone, just changed in hue.
So I need to turn and stop mourning, get up and start dancing again.
And tackle things left hidden for years under piles of fear and guilt, to confront and accept realities about myself and the world that I would far rather not face.
To explore, alone, with friends, with strangers, the mysteries that face us all.
To enjoy the journey for its own sake.
So today I will raise a glass to you my friends who have walked with me this past year.
In acknowledgement of your friendship and care.
May your lives and your journeys bring you the happiness and richness you deserve.


Friday, November 24, 2006


I'm on an enforced period of rest.
One month.
Hopefully what I have is reactive and not rheumatoid arthritis, according to the consultant.
So in the first week I have written all my cards for Christmas, put all the addys onto the computer, watched cosmos and the DVD of monks that someone sent me from CF/II (my father has too- an amzing film), read several books, made cards and explored on the net.
The latter has been interesting.
Every now and then, something that I have always known about myself becomes apparant.
This case is no exception.
It led to a long discussion with hubbie and many issues that have been sitting half untouched since December last year were finally brought out and stood in the open for us both to see.
Because I have changed.
The thing that was a most important part of me, my faith, is now no more and I have to find out what that means in terms of how I live my life and how we live our lives together...
We both know one thing, we want to stay together, but there may be areas in which we now clash. But having got through 20 odd years of disasters together and ended up where we are now smiling, hopefully, even as I explore the world from the safety of my room, things will be ok...
And at least while I explore, I can have fun doing so and thus take my mind off my rest.
And my pain!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

This and that

Chris's funeral is on Monday afternoon. Keith, one of the Lourdes group people rang to tell me this morning. His group was planning to take Chris to Lourdes next Easter with their noisy, lively, exuberant young peoples group.
He would have loved it.
Tom doesn't want to go, but he keeps mentioning it every now and then. And Matt's class prayed for him in school.
As for me, I went to see the doctor this morning and she signed me off work onto the sick to REST! I hate REST! -it's always seemed pretty pointless to me.
So I've made a whole load of Christmas cards (perhaps that's why my hands are hurting), watched a DVD and chatted to a couple of friends from CF, who I love very dearly...
Mike's been in and out and is in work tomorrow and I will start reading some physics book to try and relax...
I actually am feeling very very fed up. My hands are so important to me because of the guitar and if I lose flexibility in them, it matters so much.
But when I look at what Lyn and Andrew and James and all the rest of Chris's family are going through, I should be thankful for so many things and count the good things I have and look at this as an opportunity to learn something new.

So, those who pray, please carry the family in your hearts, especially at 1.30pm on Monday (GMT) when they will be saying a sad farewell to Chris.
I know it will mean a lot to them to know people are praying...

Missing the road

I think a couple of things though that I have recently acknowledged have really helped me, which are too personal to go into here...yet...
But it is the decision to leave CF for a while (Christian Forums), which you'll have to forgive me for saying, is a very toxic place for people with doubts, that is probably my biggest step of divesting myself of things that wound.
It is a too dogmatic place to be, too certain for people grappling with uncertainty.
People wrestling uncertainy need understanding of that first and foremost.
They need to learn that uncertainty is a part of life to be grasped and celebrated, to seek truth, which may not be the truth they think it is and the answer they are expecting.
As Sidney Carter said of seeking his Jesus who was surrounded by a question mark, "You ask for dead certainties; all we offer is living possibilities"
But CF does not offer those living possibilities as an option, it allows, in its rules and structure, a board when members are encouraged to point towards the dead certainties and rebuke those who seek anything else and I think it is that in many cases that has killed many a seeker's faith dead.
Because people who seek may not be able to answer definitively if asked where they are, on which side of the road they belong, when often they're not even sure what road they are looking at.
Making them focus on the state of what they believe and what they doubt in the name of purity stifles their exploration even further, it makes them define things prematurely before they are refined and from CF's perspective, drives it further from where it is aiming.
And I think that was what happened to me. I do not blame anyone but myself, at any stage I could have switched off the computer and stopped the thoughts that the relentless probing of where I stood produced. It is probably, in the long term, good that I didn't, where I am now is more honest and open though terrifying, than I have ever been.
But I can't see a road at all now to walk on, just the landscape ahead. I miss the road like crazy, it was so good to know where I was going, but the trees and fields and distant mountains look inviting enough to explore them without that certainty that I once had.
And to explore without CF for a bit...
..and without the god I no longer believe in.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


A year ago I was exploring my faith.
I didn't see it as anything else than looking more deeply to banish the doubts that were lurking.
Doubts over things like giving out condoms to prostitutes- a sin, I was told, putting me out of communion with the church (though that post vanished not long after I read it.)
Like whether Bishops who made statements that contained information that conflicted with accepted scientific research should be subject to criticism of that research (isn't what the Church says good enough for you anymore?)
And to cut a long story short, the exploring led to a shattering of the foundations.
On November 21st, I sent the request asking that my icon be changed. I was in turmoil inside, and the decision to deprive a senior member of CF of a Christian icon because of her beliefs threw up the fact for me that I, too, could not state I shared those beliefs..
I originally sent this to one of the mods and was told to send it to a member of Alpha
I've been thinking about this over the last few days/weeks really. I cannot put my hand on my heart anymore and declare that I believe/affirm the Nicene creed in all it's aspects and therefore should treat myself the same way I would have treated someone else when I was a mod. I have a lot of doubts at present but also, the decision about "H" and a couple of other posts I have read have convinced me that I need to do this.
Thank you"

What was interesting was that although I could not at that point say that I had lost all my faith, in fact in a message to a friend I said this..
"Just wanted to let you know I won't be posting in OBOB for a bit.
Because of various things I've changed my icon to Other Church, which means I cant post in the CO section.
I'm still going to church and all that, I just don't like things about the way that CF has done some things lately added to which I am actually all over the place doubt wise
It hopefully will stop me being on so much and hey, it'll sure keep me out of Reilly's."
I prayed for people still, asked for prayers and held on, to what I wasn't sure entirely, but held on I did.
But as I explored more and could only read and not post, cut off, as it were, things got fuzzier.
Until finally, on December 5th 2005, after a weekend in which I had argued long and hard in GA about OSAS doctrine, I realised here I was actually talking about myself

"I think our understanding of another is difficult because we are coming from 2 different approaches.

I can see what you are saying. From a viewpoint that does not believe in the type of spiritual rebirth you are talking about, I would say that if you examined a "born again" Christian in minute detail- their thoughts, beliefs, attitude, prayer life, and their intimate view of their personal relationship with Jesus and compared it with the people who are posting on this thread when they were calling themselves "born again", you would find no difference.

To you, I think you are saying, it is because either they were not truly in a relationship with Jesus or that they were and will one day return, being inevitably drawn back to that which they cannot resist.

To someone who does not believe in Jesus anymore, they have experienced a great loss, because whatever you say cannot undo the fact that their beliefs, their relationship to them was genuine, full of meaning and often the be all and end all of their life. And not believing as you do in this spiritual rebirth, they quite rightly point to you and say, R, I was once like you.

Until suddenly, one day, it all became so much straw."

So I wrote once more to the patient alpha member and asked to be designated a non Christian.
"Sorry S.
I've come to the conclusion that the only honest thing I can do is ask for a change to a Seeker icon.
I cannot really say I believe anything anymore, which is probably the saddest thing I have ever written.
But I will keep seeking and hoping that one day what I had will return."

And now- I'm exploring again but in a new a totally different area of my life and this exploration is fascinating, frightening, at times exquisitely painful but leading me on relentlessly.
Who knows where it all may lead.
I don't think, sadly, it will lead back to faith, but as I bid a fond farewell to CF, a place where I gained so much friendship, but lost so much, I hope at least to be led to a place where I am not afraid to talk and tell about what I am thinking or feeling for fear of being condemned and rebuked, as happened at CF. Because that may lead to change, but not in a good way, in a painful, twisted, nightmare, where things plunge so far down so rapidly, so out of control.
So here is to exploring, but on my terms...
And here's to the "celebration" shortly coming up, of my first anniversary of that nightmare day when I looked in the sky and realised I no longer saw God there...
And in that celebration (ironic word) realise the pain of realising it was all so much straw is the same today as it was nearly a year ago.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A sad day

When the boys were little, we lived round the corner from my sister in law. Next door but one to her lived Chris, the same age as my Tom. He had a chronic skin condition and was very small for his age but oh so lively! He and the boys and the girls from down the road spent every dry day outside together and every wet day inside, usually in our house. Tom didn't mix well, and I would sit on the step or on the wall with a book, to keep an eye on proceedings.
One day Tom had a chest infection and I took him to the doctor. Chris was there with Lyn, his mother just before us with what she thought was the same thing. He'd just gone on a wonderful new drug for his skin, which had left him bald and in need of creams several times a day.
But it wasn't a chest infection, it was heart failure...
And tests led to the sad news that only a transplant would save him and as he was so small and in need of such a quick result, it seemed unlikely.
But two days later, they got the call, while dad was in church on Good Friday.
He recovered well and was back in school in no time, up to his old tricks.
Well we moved away and Tom went to the special school and we lost contact.
And today I heard the sad news that Chris was dead, after spending a period of time in hospital.
And as I think of those summer days, sitting on the wall, the kids annoying the life out of all the neighbours, I weep for his wonderful parents and his brother, who gave him so much of their time and energy and loved him so very much and now are in sorely in need of everyone elses comfort and help...
A sad day...
Please remember Chris and his family as you see fit, I am sure they will appreciate it.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Missing hugs

I am missing hugs
And touching
And shaking hands
And moving quickly around the place, bending, turning round to look at something funny behind me
Walking long distances without worrying about getting back to the car
Lying in bed without being bothered about how I'm going to get up again
Cuddling with Mike

It's been 4 months now and I just want to wake up one morning and not hurt.


However, it is teaching me what others have gone through for a far longer time...
I think I would have prefered a virtual lesson though rather than the full written interactive one.
Still, got to laugh, hey?
At least I've done 40,000 words!!
And tomorrow I've got a lunch break (don't tell anyone, they may find a way to fill it...)
and the day after is saturday and I plan to finish the book this weekend.
Faint heart never won fair lady after all.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Walks and words...

Well I managed 5 miles.

Was probably not wise, my knees and feet are still hurting. My neck was bad too, I dressed several peoples feet and the odd positions I stuck it in are still causing me grief.

But the joints have told me not to worry, that they'll settle down.

So I've gone straight from that into nanowrimo and I'm up to 17,000 words already. It's spured me on to finally leave CF, to empty my blessings bank, tear up my character, symbolically say bye to all there. Lost so much!

So at the moment, I think I'm written out, I've done about 6,000 words today and my head, hands and fingers hurt!

So I'm on a break, listening to Lindisfarne and drinking coffee while the boys watch the rugby.

And I'm trying not to think about Monday or week Tuesday...

After no deaths for ten years, two in two weeks and two inquests in 8 days.

I think that neither will be pleasant, for me and certainly not for the families, wrapped in grief.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Moaning bones and laughing joints...

My bones are groaning.
I wish they'd shut up, I can do enough moaning and groaning without them joining in.
They seem to be saying...
"50 mile walk! Are you mad or what??"
I totally agree with them at this point, going to Lourdes for three days and walking 50 miles is not the most sensible thing to do when you have a probable active rheumatoid arthritis...
But if I listen to my bones, I guess I'd end up doing nothing, but sitting at home, wrapping myself up in cotton wool and having a pity party..
So, I'm listening to my joints instead, who are far more sensible.
They say "Keep us moving, but don't stress us too much. Keep us laughing and smiling and oil us with tablets and accept the fact that this is how it is going to be. If we fight off the attack, we'll find it easier to laugh, if we don't, maybe more difficult, but we'll still succeed!"
My joints are far more optimistic than my bones.
I think I'll go with them.
If the arthritis gets better- I'll find it easier to smile but if it doesn't, I cannot make it better by moaning and groaning and sitting in a hole. I need to just listen to my joints, put the bones on ignore and carry on to meet the next hurdle.
And you can see why I have to go from the total I've got...
Thanks to all my lovely sponsors.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Just a little passage I read.

This is- virtually- a copy of a message I sent someone.
Talking about faith, belief and so on...
I do rabbit on a bit...

Just a little passage I read...

Earlier today I found a book I'd mislaid for sometime, found rather thankfully, as it is hard to get.
Another of those little co-incidences
Called "Dance in the Dark" and written by Sidney Carter, writer of Lord of the Dance, it chronicles his loss of traditional faith and his movement from loyalty to Christianity to loyalty to truth, but with a realisation that in truth, he would not be disappointed, nor would he disappoint any God worthy of the name.

This passage struck me:
My Jesus is surrounded by a question mark.
Lack of conclusive proof concerning what he did or said is an essential element of what he is.

What kind of proof can I expect?
Round the lips of pre-classical, archaic staues of the gods and goddesses
of ancient Greece hovers a playful smile: ironical and yet serene. There, I find an answer to my question.

"The question you ask is not the right one. The proof you seek is not the kind of proof that matters.
Back your hunch and take your chances, that is how the game is played.
You are part of creation, so create.
To create, you have to play.
You ask for dead certainties; all we offer is living possibilities.
Sulk and you will get no pity.
So take up your fate, your cross (if you prefer to call it that) and use it to create."
The Jesus that I choose is one who takes up the challenge
"You are right" he says "that is how the game is played."
So I create.
I show the song I hear, the dance I feel.
That is what I choose and I back it with my life.

I think I need to stop sulking and get back to dancing!
To dancing in the light and dancing in the dark.
To reclaim the Jesus that I can believe in- his teachings, his compassion, his challenge to live and love; and to live it in my life the best way I can.
Whether I can see a God in the sky or not.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A rose...

The Rose- Bette Midler

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long;
And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong;
Just remember that in the winter, far beneath the bitter snow;
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the rose.

Time to move on.
I just have to wait for the sun to return, which it will, it always does.
The heaviness that is so hard to shift will ease and be replaced.
But I know that what I once had has perished in the snows, and maybe was never truly there to begin with and will never return.
And I know it is fruitless to continue searching.
Still, I have some life left to live, things to do, sensations to enjoy, sorrows to meet.
Children to bring up and send on their way, cards to make, clients to help and listen to,
Friends to laugh with
Mikey to be with....
Because I have loved life, I shall continue to live and at the end, I shall have no sorrow to die.

No, not adieu..

After all...

"It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important".

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bible- Why??

I've recently been reading Gerald Priestland's excellent "Priestland's Progress- One Man's search for Christianity now."
Priestland, a Quaker, made a radio series in the early 1980s for the BBC which encompasses a journey through Christianity, interveiwing many different Christians and others to explore his own faith in a personal and deeply moving way.
As I read the views of many people interviewed, one thing that struck me was their reliance on the Bible as the guide for their faith, without any of them really saying why they did that- which to them may be self evident, but in my position at the moment, it is not.
So I suppose my question is why should one regard the Bible as the word of God, and perhaps, more importantly, what does that actually mean to individual Christians?
I'm deliberately posting this here, not GA because I'm not after a debate but answers from Christians to questions I have.
Thanks in advance

Posted here at CF...
But I asked for it to be closed.
Well no one seems to understand what I'm asking and I'm not sure if I fully understand it myself.
Directed to how often the question has been answered before, I didn't feel I could say, after reading the answers in the many links given, I know that, all that and it doesn't answer what I'm asking.
I think it's because what I'm searching for is proof and proof will never be found.
And faith has gone, so there's no way back.
But if anyone out there can tell me why the bible?- I'd be grateful...
Or even tell me what I'm asking- it might be a start.

I wept buckets over that thread too- it'll be the last time I do something like that at CF! I'm back to fluff, stupidity and glitter...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Psalm 121

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

I loved this Psalm.
Every time I passed a hill or mountain, it ran through my mind and my heart.
Being watched over by a Lord who cared
Who would keep me from harm.

Now I knew that was not physical harm
I had my share of that!
Nor emotional, mental harm.
But spiritual harm
I had a God who would keep me safe if I but trusted.

Went pear shaped.
Now the Psalm rings hollow
The cries of victory that once filled me with strength say nothing
Say that I was deluded, the book that once I placed my faith in is no more of God than the writings of all those others...
The faith I held and held so dear was straw, myth, fable.
And I stand alone...

I know I sound sorrowful, which I am.
But I am not looking for anything but understanding.
I have no choice but to feel this way, no option but to walk on
And hope that whatever I walk into will be truth, will be reality
Not fable.
I remain open.
I trust and hope that if out there somewhere there is a god, who wants me to know of him
He will let me know and guide me
But I have little hope of that happening

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,

by night, and am not silent.

I've been crying and praying on and off most of the last hour or so...
Please come back.
But nothing.
All is straw.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Message to a friend

Someone sent me a lovely message and this was my reply. I just wanted to reproduce it here, because it expresses how I am thinking at the moment about missing my faith...

"What I miss is quite simple, it is the presence of my faith in my life and the extra dimension it brought.
I felt secure and loved by a wonderful creator and overwhelmed by a God who became man and died for me.
I had what was for me a relationship with that God- and let no one deny that.
I miss that at times terribly and my birthday brought it out.
Just because a person was once in love with a cheating man who they thought was in love with them, does not mean once they find the truth out, the loss of the love they believed was there does not hurt.

Every now and then this surfaces...and lately, probably because I've been in pain and tired and emotional, it has surfaced with a bang.
But I know feelings do not facts make and as much as I want God back, I know that my wanting cannot make him any more real than Santa.
That hurts like heck at the moment, but sometimes, I have found, I have to let things hurt so I can work through them to the other side."

I cannot just take God back, make myself believe because I don't.
I want to believe as I did before but I can't.
So I just have to work through my hurt and come out the other side, a heathen, as I believe the term is, one of the great unwashed.
And it hurts to know that is how I am thought of, but it is, I guess, what I now am.

Thank you for all your support, my dear friends, I am sorry that it has not succeeded.
*hugs* to you all...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Pity Party

It started because I decided to look back at last years blog to see what I was up to...
And read this... (post 255, 16th Sept 2005)
Funny, the tune was going through my head again.
And I read on, through the months that followed and suddenly saw how far away I was.
And thought of this time last year- of having a "Happy Birthday" thread in OBOB and being part of something that now I am so far from.

Martyrdom by pinpricks
Can't remember where I read that
Rumer Godden?
But pinpricks, continual, persistent, can be painful and hard to
How difficult to hold back the words, the retorts, the anger!
Leave me alone!
I just want to be alone and live my own life, my way.
But he looks on, smiling at my weaknesses
Look through the forest, work your way through the maze, ignore the
pinpricks, the dross, the padding and go to the heart of the matter.
That God is love.
Active, real love.
The love of God will defeat the pinpricks, the dross, the
It will pull the mighty from their thrones and raise the lowly.
It will fill the starving, send the rich away empty.
If love is not there, He is not either.

Where did that go?
Why did it go?
And a forum without a birthday thread reminds me I am a branch cut from the vine that has withered and died inside...

If I could turn back time and become just 21 again....

So this is my little pity party
Mourning the loss of my faith
Because it is a loss
It was a positive thing for me
It helped me and made me grow

Well, there may have been negative bits too, but tonight all I can see is loss and I'm weeping.
Boy I hate these hormones...
I want God back.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Some events imprint themselves on your memory.
Aberfan was the first such memory for me, even though I could have been no more than 7 or 8.
My father had worked down the Merthyr Vale pit during the war, the pit which produced the dust which went on the tip which slipped and killed a whole generation of children.
I just remember it being a dark dark day, my mother crying, my father going to take things needed to a depot.
And being aware that if I had gone to school that day in Aberfan, I would not have come home.

Coming out of the lecture theatre to be told "there's been a terrible accident"
Only hearing accounts till I got home then watching in tears and horror as people fell to their death, were crushed by the falling towers.

For what?

No words to answer, just Max Boyce's poem on Aberfan.
Wherever we are tomorrow, let us bow our heads and remember all those whose autumns came too soon.

A shy fragile leaf now greens
In a bright and plastic room
On tender stems it offers forth
To cast its earthen womb
Fed by a valley's tears
That watched it leaf and grow
To tell of ones that sleep the night
In Aberfan below

One day those sleepy flowers
Will leave that sunsealed land
And wink away the night
That no one understands
To tell us why that summer fades
In a single afternoon
And why that day in Aberfan
Did autumn come too soon.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The life that I have

The life that I have is all that I have...

Words that rang through my head this morning as I did some reading.
Try as hard as I can, I just cannot believe in an after-life.
That is scary.
Because one day, inevitably, I will die and be no more.
Buddhism suggests meditating upon death as a preparation for it- but they too believe in something continuing after death.
Which I cannot.

Should that make a difference?

The next line of the poem reads...

The life that I have is yours.

If instead of looking for a physical or mental continuation of my life, I give my life and the love of my life away now, prepare for the death and separation that will come and then live joyously with those around me, then death will not be the end of the life that I have lived.

And what better way to do that than by following the path of those wise men and women who have touched so many through the years?

"Unless you forgive from the heart..."
"Love your neighbour as yourself..."
"Go and do likewise..."

Just a thought.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Moans and groans

I had a virus infection about four weeks ago and it has left me with an "inflammatory arthritis" or so the doctor put it so nicely yesterday.
Should be gone in another month or so (didn't like the "or so" bit.)
Meantime, I take some anti- inflammatories, have a whole load of bloods done (yikes!) and suffer in not quite silence for the next few weeks.
I'm not looking forward to my return to work on Monday like this, and I have a peer group meeting and have to cope without my wonderful old ward...
I'm in self pity mode big time.
Added to which hubbie has had a crisis (no details, but extremely worrying and stressful) son1 keeps bursting into tears because he wants a girlfriend like son2 and son2's affairs of the heart are causing me more stress than the rest of them put together.
So I felt close to packing up shop at the begining of the week.
Putting an answerphone message on my life.
"I'm sorry, Cath is not available at the moment, she has left the planet in a cloud of angst."
But I would never do that, too much pain and heartache.
Nice to think of a thought-less stress-less place to be sometimes though.
A day out might even be nice...

OK, moan over.
Today we are going to a bird sanctuary and I will take more photos to bore people with and hopefully have two mminutes to sit and enjoy the atmosphere without son1 sounding off in one ear, son2 in the other and hubbie in the third...

Oh and the pic was an icon I saw in a Church in Abergavenny.
Taize icon.
brought back memories, so I took it with me in my reclaiming quest...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Summer Holiday2

We've all been on our Summer break.
To Yorkshire, to a beautiful cottage.
It had its high points and its not so high points...
Like the power kept cutting out and the lack of privacy not apparent in the advert.
And the weather
And the children, who were demanding and dissatisfied by a great deal of what went on.
T was his usual self, totally focused on himself and his needs and proud of the fact.
"What do you expect?" he answered at one point, as I attempted to haul my aching body round York in an attempt to find the one shop he HAD to go to...
Two hours later, found and rejected as being "ridiculous" for not having the product he "needed." An ice cream helped distract, as always and I had the chance to wander through the rambling shambling passages of York and sit in awe at the wonderful structure that is York Minster.
Mw was quieter than usual, worried about his gf, wanting to speak to her, be with her as she went through a difficult time. But he relaxed gradually and his witty and sharp banter kept up my spirits as my body continued to ache and complain.
M drifted along, above it all, taking T out for walks and drives in turns, reading his books and greatly enjoying the railway museum.
I took great pleasure from the little things I could.
The brook at the end of the road.
The views.
Meeting an internet friend and his fiancee.
The rabbits playing in the fields by the cottage.
The wind on my face while riding the "pirate boat" with Mw in Scarborough bay.
The views of the Moors, the purple heather, the silence.
Sitting on the couch with Mw snuggling in, watching Shrek2 and listening to him laugh...

Things of incalcuable worth and joy.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Reclaiming Christ

When I was little and growing up, I remember a period when feminists were seeking to "reclaim the night." Looking at taking away fear and dread from the bogeyman who dwelt there, terrorising women into not going into the night and making it once more a place of joy and delight, a time to explore, to allow the mind to expand with the vastness of the sky and the distant lights of the stars.
Today, as I read A N Wilson's book on Paul, my mind expanded and the phrase came into my head "reclaiming Christ." Now Wilson, like others, is not a believer of the historical view of Christ as my old church used to see him. He sees the gospels as being the growing churches interpretation of the life of Christ and feels we will never have a truly accurate picture of the Christ that really was.
But does that really matter, I muse to myself, if I can try and reclaim some of the teachings that still echo in my heart?
It's no use trying to talk with real life people about this, they see only my rejection of what they hold dear. But when I read, as I still do occasionally, the writings of Carlo Carretto or Jean Vanier or Brother Roger or Mother Teresa, these incredibly wonderful people I see that they were driven by something that I want to reclaim, even if I cannot really believe it.
I'm so far away from where I was once, when my life just twirled around Christ.
Is it possible to reclaim that while not believing it?
Is it possible?
Can resurrection mean something vital still, though not once what it did?
Time to muse and ponder.
Perhaps reclaiming Christ means to live Christ, to live resurrection...
Who knows?
I can try though...

When you forgive your enemy
When you feed the hungry
When you defend the weak
you believe in the resurrection

When you wake at peace in the morning
When you sing to the rising sun
When you go to work with joy
you believe in the resurrection.

Belief in the resurrection means filling life with faith
it means believing in your brother
it means fearless towards all...

Carlo Carretto, Blessed are you who believed.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Summer Holidays

So I was on the phone to a friend and she suggested that I join her in a 50 mile sponsored walk. Being in a somewhat manic mood at the moment, I responded in the affirmative with this being the outcome. So I now have 3 months to raise £500 and get into shape for a 50 mile walk in 2 days in the foothills of the Pyrennees, to raise money to take disabled children to Lourdes with our Lourdes group.

So why is a committed atheist doing this? Perhaps my posts back in April about the Lourdes trip (Lourdes1- Lourdes7) will tell why. Despite not believing in the events that took place there, nor in the God that those go there pray to, I believe in the positive effects that taking such children away as a group and giving them the love and care that they need can bring...

So in practising I am incuring the wrath of Tom. Today, we went to Cefn On Park (pics above) so I could walk my mile. Tom was irate and trailed behind muttering about how I shouldn't do things for other people, only him and how hot it was. In the end he told me it was so hot, he wished he could destroy the sun.
"You'd be dead too then" I informed him.
"I DON'T CARE!!!" was the impassioned response.
Recognising by this that our son1 was strongly moved, I probed into why life had got so troubled once again.

The non arrival of a game he was expecting was the trigger and it needed much coaxing and Socratic type questioning to arrive at a point where he would let the sun live.
That and an ice cream helped.
And now he's back happily playing on a game- for the next ten minutes or so...
And I am increasingly thankful that weapons of extraordinary power are out of his hands...

And me, I'm gathering up my energy to do another walk...
So, please, if you know any millionaires, point them in the direction of my site and ask them to send some money to help send some children to Lourdes.
And keep me and my poor legs in your thoughts. They're complaining already...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Busy week

So this time last week I was in Antwerp at a truly joyous celebration of the love that two people have for each other. And Tuesday I was in Glasgow. And today I am recovering from a Ball last night.
Add in to that a busy couple of days in work, emotional turmoil between colleagues and children and you have one busy week.
But, as always, it came and went. Time marched on unstoppable. And in cyber land, feelings were hurt, dramas enacted, rules discussed and pondered and enforced.
And I felt increasingly disconnected from this strange virtual world where seemingly small things take on such huge proportions and my world, where I am ant like amongst the important virtual Christians, who stomp round and trample without thought of who they are crushing with their words and actions.
And who seem so strangely disconnected themselves (with notable exceptions) from the words of the Christ they follow.

And last night, Martin fixed me with his beady eye, inbetween his usual pattern of behaviour and reminded me that I was to come and see him to chat.
I laughed.
Still atheist, I told him.
Made no promises either.
No words of his will convince, from him will come nothing new, all that may happen is a fracturing of friendships.
So I smiled and accepted the Sambucca offered and left him in Martin universe.

And now it is morning and I am wide awake and M snores peacefully and T roams the house in his morning fashion.
Another busy day to face.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Faith 2

Hebrews 11.1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

What do I now hope for, now that I no longer believe?

Having read this thread on CF, in particular one or two of the posts from Christians, it is as if I have become colour blind to God.
The things they say make no sense.
Once I used to say those things, think like that, believe with all my heart and mind and strength, yet now, it seems like so much straw.
So what do I have faith and hope in?
Those I love, those I cherish, those I trust.
Those real living breathing people that I have surrounded myself with, who work with me and live with me and love with me and laugh with me and cry with me.
And one day all shall be dust.
No substance in my future, just an end to me and my conscious presence in this world.
No gates of paradise to walk through, no beatific vision, no happy ending of the Last Battle for me.
Some may wonder how I keep on living with this thought.
Why not end now, walk away?
Well, I don't want to, I have too much to do, my boys to see to, my clients to listen to and hold through their despair and their dark nights. Who would see to them and who would put on Tom's cream, calm his fears, laugh at his jokes, soothe his troubled brow?
But I retain the right to walk away at a time of my choosing if ever the going gets too much and I have nothing left to offer, no family or friends to fight for, to give to, no skills left for those who need it.
And I can live with that knowledge of the finality and inevitability of death.
It is real for me, as surely as day follows night follows day, that one day I will be no more.
And as reality, I prefer it to the stories I used to live with.
The story of a creator who consigns people to eternal torment for following the wrong path, for foolishness, for silly human pride and weaknesses that we all posses. Who listens to the wailing and gnashing of teeth, but who does not respond for all eternity.
Thinking this through and saying it out loud makes me unspeakably sad, because this is not how I used to see the Lord, the one who was my Lord, my God, my all.
But my vision has altered and there is no way back.
There is no substance now in the things I once hoped for and no evidence of things unseen.
Just me and reality going forward, till I get as far as I can go.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

"And build a Hell in Heaven's despite."

So, mission accomplished.
Or so I should feel.
But as I originally thought, there are no winners in this, only losers.
The victorious side full of guilt that the other side must now be suffering.
And I feel like a worm, though I know the way I went was right and true and the only way I could have gone.
And tomorrow now comes into view, impossible scenario, with no answer and no solution.
Different modes have played out in my head, if I say, if I do, if I suggest...
But finally control is not mine and I have no answer, nothing to say or do, no suggestions that will undo an horrific past and a nightmare present.
I can try and offer a little balm, but on the open sore that is her soul, what good will it do?

Love was misused
And no pill, no potion, no magic words or therapy, no CBT, no analysis can give sufficient love to ever overcome that memory of the misuse.

William Blake

Love seeketh not Itself to please,

Nor for itself hath any care;
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hells despair.

So sang a little Clod of Clay,

Trodden with the cattles feet:
But a Pebble of the brook,
Warbled out these metres meet.

Love seeketh only Self to please,

To bind another to Its delight:
Joys in anothers loss of ease,
And builds a Hell in Heavens despite.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Try to stay calm and controlled, now...

I'm doing my best.
When sometimes something happens that appears to be unjust, but you only have the one side, it is easy to go like a bull at a gate and charge and end up not helping.
So I am trying to stay calm and in control, gritting my teeth when I see the triggers and not respond.
I've done the right thing up to now and will wait a couple of days to see if anything happens, letting it all flow gently over me.
The heck I am!!
The flow is surging over me like a storm crashing on the rocks, alternating anger and fury with moments of waiting, which makes being calm and collected all the more difficult.
And I can see why this is a hard decision to take from one sense, but my instinct, which I trust, tells me something is not right and I will not rest until I can at least get others to see that.
But whatever happens, someone will get hurt, of that there is no doubt...

And it focuses me onto other issues that I too need to address, that run too deep to think of now, too close to the bone to open and explore.
Calm and collected, one thing at a time.
Do not risk losing more, too much has been lost already.

So, as I muse on life I think I need to muse on something that is food for my spirit.

To muse that love is enough, despite all that goes on around, to overcome the crashing of the waves on the rocks, the uncertainty of what is right or wrong, the waiting and the tension.
My hand will not tremble, nor my feet falter from this path...

Love is enough

by William Morris

Love is enough: though the World be a-waning,
And the woods have no voice but the voice of complaining,
Though the sky be too dark for dim eyes to discover
The gold-cups and daisies fair blooming thereunder,
Though the hills be held shadows, and the sea a dark wonder,
And this day draw a veil over all deeds pass'd over,
Yet their hands shall not tremble, their feet shall not falter;
The void shall not weary, the fear shall not alter
These lips and these eyes of the loved and the lover.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Love's the sweetest thing...

Two contrasting women
Both bearing the same name
Sitting, talking, crying, thinking
Of things past and present, of loves and losts
Of aches in the heart and in the mind

I sit and absorb and reflect and wish the majic was majic indeed
To spread and make light the burden
Not within my power
Nor in my basket of potions and pills
No heartease, no memory spell
To remove the dark side of life and replace it with the light

All I can do is all that I do
Listen, reflect, ease where we can
Hold when needed, push when stuck
Absorb the rage, the hate, the anger
With a wry smile and a shared tear
With hope that riding the waves with them will work
And that none of us will fall
before the end is reached

And that the hatred shown past
will be wiped out
by the love shown now
and that finally
all may be well
and all may be well,
and all manner of things may be well.

Sleep sweetly my friends....

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Post from Nov last year elsewhere:
Things I need to do...
Awake all night in pain
I must go to the doctors next week!
My friends have all confidently and independently decided it's a gastric
ulcer and it's certainly not all in the mind, so I better go and get it sorted.
I can't cope with the lack of sleep any longer!
Also in one of those awful hanging on by a thread state of minds.
Trying to stay well away from topics that may just tip me over, because
I've been at the end of my tether before but never discovered what happens when
the tether runs out..
Do you plunge screaming into the abyss?
Because that's what I forsee and I don't want that at all
Hence the need to avoid certain discourses
But too much is going on in my head (lack of sleep is not good) and the
thread is getting thinner and thinner
And perhaps confronting the problems might put them to bed forever, instead
of snapping the thread

But the thread snapped...
And today I so wish that I had gone away and stayed away.
Because this abyss is not where I ever wanted to be
But now I'm here, I'm trying to make the most of it.
The sheer walls either side make it somewhat hard to climb out, but I can see a way forward and I can see a chink of light.
And I have kept walking towards it and the light is getting stronger.
I can't verbalise it all very well, but I think I can live it.
Well, some of it...
Kindness, compassion, empathy and care seem to be the motto
They can defeat much, not all.
Cannot defeat the worst that humankind can do to each other, but they can gently brush the edges of the horror and make things a little more bearable.
Perhaps bearable enough not to give up the fight.
My hope...

Friday, June 09, 2006

New York seems a distant dream...

Matt is lying on my bed listening to the Waterboys as we chat.
NYC seems a distant dream and we both wish we were back there, probably for different reasons!
"So peaceful!" says Matt- I know he is thinking of lying in Central Park under the trees in the shade with a gentle breeze cooling us off as he reads his books and birds scatter around us...
Me, I want to see all those things I couldn't with him- the museums, the art.
Stand in front of a beautiful Madonna and child, that still hold me, still move me, despite what I now believe.
Gaze in awe at the love of mother for child frozen through time on a canvas and wonder why this child has won so many hearts, so many lives over the years.
And think of the words that child was reported to have said, his acts that spoke louder than words.
When he bent to the ground, the crowd standing round expecting condemnation, a good stoning, he wrote instead in the sand.
What did he write?
Perhaps the name of each, and their hidden sins, crimes of the heart known only to each one.
Sins laid bare, for all to see, in the light.
And she who was stood there, exposed, scarlet letter on her chest, she was spared and forgiven.
Go and sin no more...
But forget not your sin, for it is part of who you were
And being forgiven, forgive much and understand much, so that others might too begin to see...

The message still resonates within...

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Being your friend, I do not care, not I,
How gods or men may wrong me, beat me down;
Your word's sufficient star to travel by,
I count your quiet praise sufficient crown.

Being your friend, I do not covet gold,
Save for a royal gift to give you pleasure;
To sit with you, and have your hand to hold,
Is wealth, I think, surpassing minted treasure.

Being your friend, I only covet art,
A white pure flame to search me as I trace
In crooked letters from a throbbing heart
The hymn to beauty written on your face.
— John Masefield (slightly
adapted into the second person)

I found that at jfk in a book of poetry that I bought
Beautiful and expresses how I feel about the many friends I am so fortunate to have, in both virtual and real life world. The beauty and love of my friends is something that powers me on when days become difficult and burdensome: the encouragement of my mad but loving co-workers, the shared joy found in small miracles with T with my Lourdes friends, the empathy and laughter of friends from the net and so many others, some old and longstanding, some new but deep in my heart already.
In friends I am rich indeed!
Thank you all of you from the bottom of my heart...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


My bodyclock is totally gone! I woke at 3am here, bright as a button, while Matt snored peacefully. Our time here is gentle and relaxed, wandering in Central Park while watching sparrows peck at our feet, with museums and sights intersperesed at a gentle pace.
And manga- Matt found a bookshop stuffed full and is determined to fill his case.
Every now and then we speak of Tom.
I had not realised how much Matt felt pressurised by him, how much he hated being always at Tom's beck and call. How much, deep down, I felt that way too. We sat, the first night, opposite each other, sharing thoughts and feelings about it and looking for ways to go forward, so that we all have more space to breathe in a house that at times feels like a fortress inside, with people barricading themselves away to protect their fragile hearts. We sit, Matt in his room, me in mine, dad downstairs, hiding from the whirlwind that Tom can become, from the hours of unrelentless barrage of words and anger.
There has to be a better way...
I promised Matt to look with him, while realising one thing that we cannot do
Change Tom..

Would I have him any other way?

I would not ask that question, it is an impossibility, so best not considered. I love him, however wearing he can be and I want what is best for us all...

So time to think as we continue here and time to go and wake Matt up, ready for the day!

Friday, May 26, 2006

All my bags are packed...

...just got to get through today in work, then it's off to Heathrow tonight and nyc tomorrow.
Really nervous now, taking Matt so far away.
Usual separation anxiety!
But at least Tom's skin is a little better, although they've referred him to a specialist for his face, which is terrible still...
And when I return, it's another long hard slog till the next break, in August.
I feel I'm leaping from break to break at the moment and it helps...
Mustn't leave such a long gap next time.

So nyc- during a public holiday
Not my most inspired decision!
Let's hope all goes better than my last two trips.......

See you soon!

Monday, May 22, 2006

When I am an old woman..

..I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves..."
(Warning by Jenny Joseph.)

I have an awful feeling I'm already at this stage.
Or maybe I have always been an old woman.
My dress sense would have made Michael Foot look positively elegant
My eye for colour strange in the extreme and my ability to do my hair reflected in the fact that I can never let it grow beyond an inch or so.
So here I am, short, fat and scatty, losing my glasses and watch and passport
And vague in the extreme...
("What time are we flying?"- "Um...sometime Saturday morning..)

I wonder Mikey has hung on to me as long as he has, he certainly has a well worn look of a man whose patience has been sorely tried.
Even moreso now I have performed this ultimate betrayal of losing the thing that once pulled us so close together...
I still regret it on many levels, especially on this human relationship one.

He still just smiles sweetly at me and tells me I will get my faith back, of that he has no doubt.
My protestations that I am equally sure of where I am now are met with typical Mikey stubborness...
But life goes on. Matt has failed once more in cookery to produce anything edible and the dog rejoiced as it meant she had a whole load of salmon. The cat seemed content too. Tom's skin has improved with all the hard work of creams four times daily and hopefully we'll continue to keep it clear. And job share partner has her interview tomorrow and I suspect will get the job, which will leave me up the creek without a paddle...
So as well as a watch, my glasses and the passport, I'll be looking for a paddle too...
And the happenings at CF continue to entertain, stimulate and produce deep sorrow. I am trying so hard just to let the feelings ebb and flow, take them as inevitable parts of the loss of my place in the society I once inhabited.
And with each rush of feelings, my ability to let myself feel the pain is growing. Instead of fighting it or distracting, I sit and hurt until it goes.
Which it does.
And feel for those whose hurt does not go and whose pain remains.
Shadows in the past become more ghostly and less in their ability to torment and frighten...
Out of every difficult situation, a chance to grow occurs.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


I like to stand back sometimes and be an outside observer on the innermost turmoil that rushes round inside.
And I'm trying to do this now, hence the post.
I'm hurting, hurting so badly at this moment.
Tears are falling and it's all incredibly stupid and pathetic and juvenile.
But sometimes the trivial things in life awake paths that travel deep inside, to hidden areas, where only I can go and where only I see.
Things I cannot and will not share with anyone.
Memories from the past echo into the present and taunt and torture.
But I take a step back and look from a distance and realise I must allow myself to hurt.
Like a boil once more, it grows and then it bursts.
And in that painful eruption, the poison comes out and the hurt goes away.

And after the storm, the eruption, the shedding of the poison, the quiet and the peace returns.

To be part of a group is a wonderful thing, to feel a member, to belong
But I cannot be that any longer, I have to face the fact that it has gone.
And stand here alone on my own two feet...

And face reality, not a virtual world of intrigue and conspiracies
and veiled insults and contempt

So let the hurt grow and burst and let the poison out
Then let the goodness in to take its place
See and feel the goodness that is there
That is reality
Even in a virtual world

Then you can face the future, bloodied but unbowed....

The life that I have is all that I have,
The life that I have is yours.
The love that I have of the life that I have,
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have,
A rest I shall have,
Yet death will be but a pause,
For the peace of my years in the long green grass,
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Chitting and chatting and planning and sighing...

Insomnia has reared its head again over the last few days. Probably due to the pain and soreness of the tomgue! I've had night after night of waking every hour and Tom too bad with his skin, making things difficult...
So I'm up at night chitting chatting away and planning the nyc trip and from time to time sighing deeply as I read yet another post that reminds me of how far away I have moved from where I once was.
I'm not distressed by it now, in fact I am more at peace and content than I've been for a long time.
It is just that the attacks and the venom directed against those who do not believe is such a sad and sorrowful example compared to the many who believe and love and give of their all.
And of those too who do not believe but show their warm compassionate side too.
There is no way to tell them apart...

So here's to a night with some sleep and a little less chitting and chatting...

Though it is fun!

Alice Meynell
I must not think of thee; and, tired yet strong,
I shun the love that lurks in all delight—
The love of thee—and in the blue heaven's height,
And in the dearest passage of a song.
Oh, just beyond the sweetest thoughts that throng
This breast, the thought of thee waits hidden yet bright;
But it must never, never come in sight;
I must stop short of thee the whole day long.
But when sleep comes to close each difficult day,
When night gives pause to the long watch I keep,
And all my bonds I needs must loose apart,
Must doff my will as raiment laid away,—
With the first dream that comes with the first sleep
I run, I run, I am gather'd to thy heart.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Poor Tom...

I could have cried several times today. Tom late last night showed me his skin which was worse than I'd ever seen it and I knew I couldn't wait, I'd have to get him to the doctors.
Which we did.
The patches on his elbow had gone down to his wrists and up to his shoulders.
His eyelids were cracked and sore and his face excoriated.
They confirmed it was definitely eczema and gave us a host of potions to take away.
Now, at this stage previosly, I usually would ask "Why?" and look to the sky for an answer.
But there isn't an answer, a reason, a purpose in this latest twist in poor old Tom's life. Just a situation to be dealt with.
And having bitten back the tears and concentrated on the work in hand, both he and I have had such fun tonight working out a schedule for these creams! He rang Mgu to tell her, delighting in getting them all in the right order...
And there is no reason why it shouldn't all get better. I just secretly wish it hadn't happened.

Elsewise, I have to start thinking about nyc. Only 10 days and counting, so Matt and I need to get organised. I bought some sandals, got my scarecrow hair cut and tried to sort out some clothes. Matt meanwhile is having problems of the heart, as his ex gf takes her anger out on him by alienating all his friends. I caught him in his room, last night listening to the "Sound of Silence" in tears...
Once more, wisdom comes in knowing what to say and what not to say. I just let him talk and swear (a little) and he went off to sleep, if not happy, at least not crying anymore.

Being a mother is a tremendous thing!

Let us have a poem...
One I read today and felt it stir feelings inside me...

Christina Georgina Rossetti

The irresponsive silence of the land,
The irresponsive sounding of the sea,
Speak both one message of one sense to me:—
Aloof, aloof, we stand aloof, so stand
Thou too aloof, bound with the flawless band
Of inner solitude; we bind not thee;
But who from thy self-chain shall set thee free?
What heart shall touch thy heart?
What hand thy hand?
And I am sometimes proud and sometimes meek,
And sometimes I remember days of old
When fellowship seem'd not so far to seek,
And all the world and I seem'd much less cold,
And at the rainbow's foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong, and life itself not weak.

I do miss those old days..and though there is no going back, I miss being at one with those I love- my parents, family, hubbie...
Tis a great loss...

Monday, May 15, 2006


My Lilac in bloom..

Robert Burns
O were my Love yon Lilac fair
O WERE my Love yon lilac fair,
Wi' purple blossoms to the spring,
And I a bird to shelter there,
When wearied on my little wing;
How I wad mourn when it was torn
By autumn wild and winter rude!
But I wad sing on wanton wing
When youthfu' May its bloom renew'd.

I love Lilac!


W.E. Henley (1849-1903)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Being Captain of my soul is a funny thing. For so long, all that I did was looking to the captain that was God, who set the rules and guided me. But now it is me on my own, no outside forces to assist or advise, no book to turn to in trouble to look for inspiration and life plans.
Just me and the collective wisdom of others, that I can take or reject as I see fit.
A scary responsibility, far more challenging than anything else I have faced.
Yet liberating...
Because I am master of my fate. I no longer have a divine practical joker, as sometimes god appeared to me to be, "stirring" the pot. "It's God's pudding, and he's doing the stirring" someone once said to me, when I was in the darkness of despair about why god would not answer me.
But now it is different.
I no longer see a future in which my fate is decided by a god, who at times had appeared unkind, unloving, harsh and punishing. The emptiness of the sky is a loss to me still, but it is a loss of things that are negative as well as positive.
So I face the future, that I know one day will end, in the knowledge that it is up to me to mould it, to face it, to live it, to experience it and if it is not good, then I have no one to blame but myself.
And that is very liberating.

For those who believe, that must sound like blasphemy..and I'm sorry if that is how it seems. But I can only speak what is in my heart and hope that you realise that it is still me here, the friend you once made, and I hope in reading what I have written, you will not judge but try to understand where I am and where I am going.
*hugs* to you my friends...who have tried so hard with me to no avail.
I wish I could please you by believing again and it would be so easy to pretend.
But that I cannot.

So here I am, the captain of my soul, facing the world bloody but unbowed. Whatever the future may bring, I accept that it is my task to go with it, to ride the storms out, to run and laugh in the rain and to embrace the life that I have with all of my being.

So that when I face my death, I can truly say:
"Because I have loved life
I shall have no sorrow to die."

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Ok, because I think you may see this elsewhere, I'll put it here too.
One thing I hate about this is hurting people I love, so if this hurts anyone, I'm very very sorry, but I can only speak the truth.

I was a Catholic Christian and just a year ago I was devout and my life revolved around God. I prayed when I woke till when I went to bed and my social circle, my family, friends were all from a similar background. God was the centre of my life and the thing that kept me going. Life had not been easy- too long to go into here, but my son had a serious psychotic episode at the age of 12 onwards and I had spent many hours holding and comforting him as the voices in his head taunted him and threatened to destroy him. That had severely tested my faith but I had passed through it, finally placing my hope and trust in a God I thought was one of love, all benevolent, who would not let me down.
As part of my search for something to help me through the difficult times, I used the internet and found a Christian forum. In the evenings, in the gaps between looking after son1, I was able to read and take part in conversations about God and to find support and fellowship there. I ended up a mod and spent time moderating the apologetic forum.
Now there I was faced with a lot of the questions I had previously asked myself together with new information and thoughts I’d never had before. It set me off on a bit of a quest to search for truth, reasoning that the God I believed in would not let me down.
But instead of certainty, I found more and more doubt, more and more holes in my faith.
Until finally, one day in the beginning of December, while driving to work, I looked in the sky and realised there was no God.
My world sort of crumbled for a while and I thought I was going to fall apart.
But I didn’t.
I tried so hard to get my faith back with no success, until I realised it wasn’t going to come and I would have to accept life as it was.
And through that, I have finally found peace and contentment, strangely more so than I had before.
Maybe because I was always searching and asking for God to solve my problems, relying on something outside myself.
I still have days when I yearn for my faith and my social situation is anything but sorted, but the days on which I am glad this has happened are increasing and my angst about it all far less. So thank you to those who have helped me in this difficult time, appreciated beyond words. And here’s to the future, for all of us, whether we are Christian or not, that our friendship might remain and we still see in each other the people that we are....

Friday, May 12, 2006

Helicobacter day 3

/self pity mode on
I feel awful. I have no energy, having not slept well last night, my tongue is black with an ulcer on one side and white bits on the other and my tummy is misbehaving at all the wrong moments. The meeting this morning was so, so sad and I cannot face anymore conflict.
/self pity mode off

Feel better now!
Nothing like a moan.
I'll hopefully sleep tonight and with any luck will be refreshed and happy in the morning. Tom will be more relaxed, Matt will actually talk to me without calling me short stuff and I'll visit the family without getting into awkward conversations with anyone.
Always look on the bright side of life!!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Helicobacter on its way out

So I went to the doctors after my usual Wed am routine...
Waited half an hour and finally got in to see her.
As I already knew, my helicobacter test came back positive, so she prescribed me eradictaion therapy, telling me that it has loads of side effects.
"Sorry!" she added, brightly.
She didn't look very sorry to me.
I told her about my ulnar neuritis and she agreed that was what it was but didn't know what to do, so she was going to ask round and let me know.
I left with a script for a whole load of tablets, which I took tonight for the first time.
Accidentally took double one of the doses, but what the heck, it'll balance out.
And now my tummy is gripping like anything, but a cup of hot coffee and a hot water bottle are getting rid of most of it.

And Tom came home from school telling me we'll have to move to a bigger house, because three of his friends are going to come and live with him.
I did question whether their parents would be OK with this, but he didn't seem to think it'd be a pronblem.
I'll just have to work harder to earn more money and he's drawn up an elaborate timetable for them which includes
12noon: Thomas's mum and dad to make lunch
and it also schedules visits by the other parents to "help out"!

At least he's a little happier at the moment.

I've got him to draw up shorter term goals, which start off with one of the boys coming round for tea on Saturday...

And I got my outfit for the wedding!
Now just got to get shoes of some description...

So a good day, all in all. My hand may still be numb and my tummy growling like a dog that's had its bone stolen by a smaller canine creature, but things are moving in the right direction...and Tom is happy- see photo....
The best thing of all.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Back to reality

Back in work this morning with a bang. Narrowly avoided an assault and discretion being the better part, finally left the ward by the back door to avoid further incidents. Also narrowly avoided a kiss from a delighted person, who had got me to agree to something against my better judgement...
So off to see J and co this pm, who are still targeting me with offers to come and work with them ("Just what would you like? Name it!")
I avoided asking for absurd and tried to focus on the reality of what the job is now compared to when I left the service 3 years ago...
It has improved for the better, but I'm not stupid, and it would have huge challenges and issues.
But I'm unlikely to face quite as much in the way of threats to kill, assaults etc. and unwanted kisses and hugs!!
But I'd leave the team, who despite all the ups and downs, I like and appreciate, and oh so many clients who have had such a raw deal prior to our arrival (13 different workers in 2 years.)

Difficult things to balance.

On the home front, Matt has done his first SAT and Tom is bouncy, probably because he knows he has Friday as a day off this week. He's chuckling away to himself in the bath as I type, over some little joke he has running round his head.
No doubt I'll be let in on it later.
And M is watching TV downstairs with the dog and cat to keep him company.

He liked his poem I printed out. He's going to keep it with the notes I've written him over the years...
21 years

If he was here, he'd look at me with that wicked grin and say
"You get less for murder..."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

For M

"Violette's poem" by Leo Marks

The life that I have is all that I have
The life that I have is yours.

The love that I have of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
But death will be just a pause

For the peace of my years
in the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours...

You can take a photo if you want...

T hates having his photo taken.
It's a major chore if we need one for a serious reason.
He skips out of them, grimaces, does everything that he shouldn't.
And he hates going places which might be interpreted as museums...

So our attempt today to visit the industrial ruins at Aberdulais falls was doomed, in our minds, but it was so nice, and the bluebells would be out.

But he surprised us, once more, by first agreeing to walk round, and then, out of the blue, as I was stalking his father and brother with the camera, to ask me to take his photo "by the big wheel."
He was fascinated with it and wanted a memento...
Then a photo by the big tower...
And then a photo, first with his brother and dad, and then with me and Mw.

I never know why he'll suddenly change like this, but to be honest, I couldn't really care.
He enjoyed himself, I have some lovely photos of him where he's not running off or grimacing or unaware of me taking him, and we had a lovely trip out. He blew a fuse on the way home and is waiting now impatiently for me to finish typing so we can chat again, about his game, but hey, that's life and I wouldn't miss a minute...

A Song of Living
Amelia Josephine Burr

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
I have sent up my gladness on wings,
to be lost in the blue of the sky.
I have run and leapt with the rain,
I have taken the wind to my breast.
My cheek like a drowsy child
to the face of the earth I have pressed.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have kissed young Love on the lips,
I have heard his song to the end.
I have struck my hand like a seal
in the loyal hand of a friend.
I have known the peace of heaven,
the comfort of work done well.
I have longed for death in the darkness
and risen alive out of hell.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I give a share of my soul
to the world where my course is run.
I know that another shall finish the task
I must leave undone.
I know that no flower,
nor flint was in vain on the path I trod.
As one looks on a face through a window
through life I have looked on God.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Of pictures and sculptures

So despite the absence of underwear and kettles and dried fruit and all those little essentials that J needs to keep going, we ventured on.

Tuesday was Musee D'Orsay & Rodin, Wed the Louvre, Thursday Notre Dame and more piccies elsewhere...

Art overload once again. But certain things leapt out at me; the gentle hands of Rodin's Cathedral (above), the sheer eroticism of "The Kiss", the horror of his "Gates of Hell." The wonder of iron age amulets in the Cluny, the mirth that some of the reliqueries produced in both J and myself and the silence of the worship at Notre Dame, that I no longer could be part of.

So despite the continued chatter that J kept up, her everlasting worries and my occasional lapses of patience with her endless questioning (Are you sure that's the right door? Could you be wrong? Shall we ask the man?) we got on well and I apologised for my tetchiness and she tolerated it all in good part.

Her life otherwise being limited to my father and mother.

In a week, other than us, that is all she sees, all she knows. No friends, no workmates, no where to go, no one to talk to. But for one week, the horizon so much broader and with 302 pictures to dwell on, may it be something to carry her through to our next trip.

Wherever that may be...

And I so need to work on my patience! Perfect is one thing I am far from!!

Always look on the bright side of life...

So we'd got to Paris successfully, no hitches and were waiting for the cases.
Which were not appearing.
Gradually, every one of the 15 people who had been on our flight departed, leaving just an increasingly wound up J and me.
With some misgivings, I drew out my baggage tag to speak to the staff present and stared in understandable heartsink fashion at the tag.
It said, quite clearly, Zurich.
I hadn't looked at it when we booked in...

So several minutes later and staying very calm, J and I left the hall, our baggage undetectable (maybe Zurich, maybe back in Bristol) and set off for the hotel.
It was raining...

I outlined the plans to J- the bags would be delivered when they were found and flown out, in the meantime, we had our medication (J never goes anywhere without hers- she'll start fitting within 12 hours without it) and money and could buy thr bare essentials for overnight.
J remained relatively calm.
We set out for a walk and ended up on one of those awful bus type tour things- but at least we were dry and could get our bearings.
We ended up (via the Madeline) going to Sacre Coeur, where Vespers was going on.
We sat, listening to the nuns singing the psalms, as around us people walked in silence around the church.
In front of us, a family sat and the man knelt and made the sign of the cross.
It took me back to all my past trips with J, where we would always enter hundreds of churches.
And in each one, I would kneel and pray, light candles, go to adoration, mass....

Different now.

We finished our visit and went on to eat- my first omlette of many...

Bought toothbrushes and T shirts for the night and settled down to sleep
In a strangely empty hotel room, populated only by J and me and some ants...

Sunday, April 30, 2006

A life worth living

I'd packed, checked in online, printed out the boarding passes and nearly overfilled the bath.
I settled in it, the water lapping the edges, bubbles up to my chin.
T comes in, tearful and shaky.
He's not been right for a little while, his skin is dreadful and he's had more tantrums than we would normally see...

He didn't see that it was worth continuing to live, he told me. Life just gets harder and harder, every year more difficult.
College, swimming, everything just looming in front of him.
He'd much rather not learn to swim, because if he fell in water, he'd drown and that would be the end of it.
And that would make him happy.
Tears fell onto the floor from him and I tried so hard not to join in.

We talked and mused and we tried to break down big problems into littler ones.
I agreed to write a letter to his teacher (who T reckons, doesn't understand him) and see if that helps.
Then we'll try the next problem.

T seemed better after. Later, Mw made him roar with laughter and I was relieved.
Last time T got this low, he thought of ways to "give up his life" and he now is older and wiser and could think of ways that would work...

And on CF someone suggested that people who get angry with a god who doesn't ease sufferings are "spoiled brats"- like children wanting an iPod.
All I want is for the 6 year suffering of my 17 year old to end for long enough for him to actually enjoy life and want to continue it.
Is that too much to ask?
If it is, I'm a spoiled brat and will continue to be so.
I want his sufferings to end and I see no reason why I should stop wishing that for him...

Off to France tomorrow, M holding the fort.
Why do these things always happen as I go away?

A message for all feeling despondent (like me..)

Here's something I found this morning that might help.
It helped me...

This is what you should do:
Love the earth and the sun and the animals,
despise riches, give alms to anyone who asks,
stand up for the stupid and the crazy,
devote your income and labour to others,
hate tyrants,
argue not concerning god,
have patience and indulgence towards all people
re-examine all you have been told in school or church or any book,
dismiss what insults your very soul
and your flesh shall become a great poem.

Walt Whitman
From the preface to the 1855 edition of "Leaves of Grass"

Hope it helps someone else out there other than me.
And just remember too:

Man gets tired- spirit don't
Man surrenders- spirit won't
Man is tethered- spirit free
What spirit is man can be.

Saturday, April 29, 2006


/self pity mode on
I shouldn't help hubbie test the wine for my niece's wedding while in a downcast mood.
Leads to all sorts of things...
Such as thinking about things. It is great being able to post in the pub again, great..
But what it does mean is that I spend more time lurking round in OBOB
And become acutely aware that I am no longer part of this group called "Catholic" "Christian".
I cannot post there, it is not permitted, even in innocent threads saying "happy birthday" or other such things.
I am no longer part of your community.
And that is reflected outside in the real world.
I no longer am part of the community here, the community that my family and friends belong to.
It's amazing what an impact something like this has.
It is more than just having a label, a word, it is a real separation from a group that once was my world.
And every now and then, when something has happened that brings it more to mind, it becomes very real to me and I deeply regret what has occured.

But I cannot see a way back. I cannot believe in the god of the bible anymore folks, I have tried and I cannot.
So I'm stuck here on the outside looking in.
When my heart wants to be with you all on the inside.
But it's not a place for me anymore.
However much I think and try and bend my mind that way, in my deepest down heart and mind, I know it will never come back. And I have to find a way to survive like this, in a world without god and without the community I used to cherish.
Most of the time I can manage it, it is just every now and then a little sigh comes my way and I long to be back the way I was...
And I can say it here because this is the one space I have where I can indulge a little self pity and hope that those who read will put up with it.
And I'll read this tomorrow and I hope my heart will not be aching quite so much then...

And Monday I fly once more to France...
Better think about packing.

/self pity mode off...

7am and all is quiet

I woke, sadly at 3am, my period of good nights sleep after Lourdes over...
It's been good though!
But I used the time usefully planning my trip with J
48 hours and I should be at Bristol airport.
I don't even know where that is right at this moment.
(Don't tell J!)

Just a little while longer and we should be in France.
Industrial action, plane crashes and delays etc. permitting...

Then 5 days with J.
She's hard work, like an older version of T but without the tantrums.
Her illnesses are pretty well controlled but she is so obsessional and unable to do a simple task like washing without asking about it 20 times..
(Shall I wash now? What soap shall I use? Is this the right towel? Where shall I put the towel?)

She is totally incapable of independent living and when my parents go, she'll come to live with us.
Where, I'm not quite sure, T has now totally taken over the small bedroom and M has done nothing about finding an architect to look at converting the garage...
Still, go with the flow.
Even if to get over to the window in the small bedroom means climbing over bits of dismantled computers and a game station...

Lourdes has been processed in my head and surprisingly I'm feel emotionally intact after the trip, which is a major shock to me.
Normally I come back a gibbering wreck
Maybe that will be Paris!
Or even NYC, which is looking more and more a bad idea the closer we get to it...

"Are you looking forward to a seven hour flight with me tormenting you all the way?"
Asked Mw yesterday, sitting on my bed and bouncing up and down, talking in a silly voice unceasingly...

In the end I got a bottle of Chanel No. 5 and chased him out of my room with it, only for him to return with a pool cue as a defence against the spray's reach.
We circled for a bit and I discovered by holding the spray high I could still reach him and he retreated, leaving son1 collapsed on the floor in howls of laughter.
Which was so good to see.

But 7 hours on a plane!!
Valium and gin for mum, I think!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Wistful thoughts

One thing Lourdes always pulls out of me, whether I want it or not, is thoughts that have a certain wistful quality.
This is the place after all, where M and I met, where at 34 weeks pregnant with T I went into the baths and prayed for a safe delivery, where I have made so many friends and experienced so much emotion and love.
And pain...
When I finally came face to face with the grief that was the loss of what T may have been.

This year I wept once deeply, but mostly was too busy to dwell on my wistful thoughts.
That time is now...

One thing that strikes me is how I have lost a certain sense of belonging. Once I shared a common belief with these people, a common life view, a common purpose.
But with every Mass that I did not receive my separation became clearer and clearer to me.
And a gulf opened between those I love and me.
Because the only thing that will bring us back together is me returning to belief.
And that I can never see happening.

And that gulf also exists between my family and me
More worrying still...

So my wistful thoughts on last time I went, sitting at the Grotto at night and feeling so close to God, so close to others, now gone.
And on returning, unlike the others, not to peace and order but to the chaos that T leaves in his wake and the uncertainty of his future...
With no one to pray to and intercede on his behalf.
I'll go with the flow, meeting each challenge as it comes, but without the back up I once thought I had.
And the sorrow is not all consuming, but gentle and soft and liveable with.
I just wish he was like the ones on the street "with the nimble feet, playing out a normal part."
And I wish I hadn't lost my faith...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hitting the wall

I hit the wall today.
It was almost impossible to put one foot in front of each other.
My head hurt, my ulcer griped at me and my body kept yelling "Go back to bed!"
When I got into work I discovered two urgent full reports that needed to be in by Friday and no time to do them in.
On the up side, my tray was only one foot high with material
And I thought I had at least two spaces in clinic.

(I didn't but it made me feel happy for a short time.)

So I surged through paper work and turned up for the team meeting and left early to return to more paperwork.
I finished the reports, started clinic at 12 and finished with a flourish at 4.45pm, hardly drawing breath...
The med student was given a good guide of some of my nicest clients and seemed interested and appropriate. He'd also obviously been reading and studying, so he gets good marks from me today.
Finished just 5 minutes later, only to discover that we couldn't lock up because the alarm didn't work.
Two social workers, a nurse and a doctor puzzled over it and went round the building on several occasions to check all the doors were locked, to no avail. Eventually my method of screaming at the alarm and pressing "cancel" all the time got us back to the opening screen and we finally escaped.
We did have visions of having to stay there all night, protecting the base against the attack of the graffiti artists, who would love to come in and play round inside as they do outside...
Once home, I could tell all was not well.
T was twitchy and sure enough, blew a mega fuse about an hour later.
He was unbringdownable for a while until finally I got him calm enough to agree to go out with his dad for a drive.
Once home, we had a minor repeat, but bath and tablets later and he's calmer and even laughing a little at something he's doing with Mw.
And I thought
How lovely it was to leave those childrens problems behind me.
For one week, their problems were ours, now they are back with their parents.
But we have T
And at times, when I've been in work all day and come home to a raging banashee, my system starts to protest.
I'm so tired...
When will it end?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Hot off the press...

Not we need really.
Besides being a tad inaccurate (the name of the trust, the number of children left on the plane, the fact that communication was going on- in the person of hubbie for one) it takes the focus off the good side of the week on to this last little bit.
How annoying...

And I'm sliding into post trip let down mode.
Earlier on I fell asleep while listening to the Waterboys.
I woke up praying, then stopped short as I remembered I don't do that anymore.
Or something like that.
And started to cry...
I'm just far too emotional- tiredness and lack of sleep.
And the doctor phoned- they want to see me again after my latest blood tests.
Probably means they'll force me to have an endoscopy.
Especially if I confess the pain hasn't gone.

So all in all, I'm feeling weak and feeble tonight.
I better be better by Sunday, as I'm taking J to Paris for 5 days.
And she is as much of a handful as T.

So I've just had a bath, with joss sticks burning and now I'm listening to Classic FM chilling me slowly throughout
The boys are settled (for ten minutes at least) and M has brought me a lovely cup of coffee.
And flowers have just been delivered from the group to say "thanks"

Sweet things to dwell on and to carry me through...