Sunday, December 23, 2007

Untethered and free

So we sat in the cafe, tables surrounding us full of healthy young men who could chat and talk normally and ride bikes without falling off them. And he accepted that he wouldn't be going to the college that he had dreamt of and he accepted that we would find a way though. And we made plans and then walked out into the crisp winter sunshine, ice still on the ground, the trees brown now, no leaf to be seen. But sure as day follows night, spring follows winter, and I am no mere passive recipient of what life delivers. Just as a farmer tends the crop to ensure a full harvest, I can tend my life, my loves. I can plant, I can nuture, I can tend and I can create. And I can still dance in the darkness and be assured I will not die until he has had every drop of help I can squeeze out of me and give to him to live his independent dream. My spirit will live on after I die in those drops I hand onto him and I do not and will not surrender. Ever No matter how bad I feel now or in the future.
That is my creed, that is my promise.
Merry Xmas.

Man gets tired; Spirit don't
Man surrenders; Spirit won't
Man crawls; Spirit flies
Spirit lives when man dies

Man seems; Spirit is
Man dreams; Spirit lives
Man is tethered; Spirit free
What spirit is man can be

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rejection

Rejection is acutely painful
Especially when the reason why is not known
I want to ask why but am afraid of the answer
So we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.
Risking again rejection and pain.

But if someone could tell me the answer to why, it might make the hurt go away....

A strange year 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A crumb

A frantic morning, begun by being locked out of the team base as no one was there to open up, on possibly the coldest morning of the year then a fractious meeting and a rush to get back for the afternoon. A client was running late so more gnashing of teeth. "Where is my crumb?" thought I, wishing there was a Cat around I could kick.

Then it arrived in the shape of a card from the client, hand made beautifully with appreciative words inside. Client thought I could keep it and on difficult days use it to remind myself that it was worthwhile, I did make a difference.

I will do just that.
Much better than finding another Cat I can kick.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Low

When I was a Christian and I was feeling low, I used to pray for small crumbs of comfort- that things would happen that would set a light in the darkness for me. Small things, maybe an encouraging letter from someone, a silly thing happening with the kids, some good news...something from the bible, maybe.
Sometimes I would get them, sometimes not. But I used to actually search, seek things that would stir my dismal days and that probably, more than anything else lifted me.

I found myself yearning for those days earlier today. Work is incredibly busy in the run up to Christmas, Son2 is busy failing exams nonchalantly and Son1 isn't getting to sleep before midnight. I can't fix Son2's computer and today I realised I lost a voucher my mother asked me to get her for my brother....amongst other things.

All I want is a small crumb of comfort...something I used to often get out of a psalm or a verse from the gospel. Because I believed the message it gave.

So I am going to search the house and my life till I find that crumb, because otherwise I'll be sitting in a puddle of tears by Christmas and hubbie will be thinking of leaving as he can't cope with the demand for tissues...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

On the other hand

Yesterday and this morning were moments connected of raw emotion and pain.
The mind could not engage to reduce the seering feelings of loss and regret.
But now the storm has quietened, I have started to think...
On the other hand...
Things now make sense
No more trying to fit square pegs into round holes and pretending they fit
No more needing to believe ten impossible implausible things before breakfast, half of them so bizarre, even the Red Queen would have difficulty
No more needing to accept a version of love that includes eternal damnation
No more needing to divide according to preferences of things put in holes
No more justice that if given out by man would be regarded as evil
No more needing to believe a fantasy that hides despair and doubt, hate and power behind it.

Instead, this is what there is.
Me
My boys
The world
Things bad and good, nice and nasty, sad and happy
To be lived and tolerated and relished and enjoyed

The other hand is an ok way to live and live it I mean to do.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Loss

Of all the losses I have suffered, the loss of You was the greatest.
For You would stay with me when all else left.
When I lay behind the sofa crying as a child
When I lay in my bed sobbing as an adult
My tears in the ward looking down on the child being damaged
You were there
And as I grieved for the boy lost, the man who was not to be
I took comfort in knowing that one day
With you
He would be free and whole and not suffer anymore
That you would make all well

But then
Two years ago
Driving to work
I lost You
And it hurt

The hole you left I have tried to fill
With music and fun and frolics
Poetry, rhyme and pictures
Pain and pleasure intermixed

But it is unfillable
It stays there, a gaping sore which says
The damage will not be undone
The boy and the man you lost are gone forever
The suffering has no glorious purpose
It just is

Loss hurts
It pains
It strains my whole being

And some say I wanted this pain...
No, never
If I could go back and be part again of the blissful ignorance of before
I would
At least
I would today
Because today
All I can feel
is Loss

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Finished

106,000 words
Now I can stop writing day in day out and think for a bit....
Son1 had his interview for residential college today.
With so much riding on this everyone had everything crossed that it would go well.
We were however foiled, by manga, as ever.
One potential student there, let's call her "L" was clearly bright, doing A levels, challenging and very rude.
But she knew about manga and the pair chatted away like anything.
So when in the group task she became more challenging and the others started to get at her, he came to her defence initially, but she was hostile to him.
And he retreated into himself, as he does.
Hiding away in his body, when he cannot hide away in space.
And he had "memory pain" of times in the past when this had happened, making him worse.
So he took himself off and they didn't see the wonderful brilliance that is Son1, but the stressed, anxious soul seeking to disappear.
I can only hope they saw enough in the morning to make them realise that he needs this so much and so do we....

:(

And when he got home we chatted and told him how wonderfully well he has done and even if he doesn't get in, we'll do it all here like they do there...
And he smiled and laughed and spent an hour with me setting up the Wii he had for his birthday....him setting it all up and me reading the instructions as we went along. We got there in the end! Like we will in life.....

Friday, November 23, 2007

I hate my job

I really do.
So does job share partner.
Today we reached the last straw after another management brilliant idea which would mean once more we did more work for less pay and talked tactics
She didn't favour my plan, which was to enter the pron industry, as she felt two fifty year olds would have a limited life and income in it. She favoured a more Thelma and Louise approach, though I told her driving off the cliff was one thing but I drew the line at wearing headscarves.
So not reaching agreement and running away together being not an option due to the fact that two families were totally dependant on our income, we just dreamt stupidly away. Our departure from work was delayed as the alarm wouldn't go switch off, meaning a door was open and after having been through the building and discovered I wasn't the culprit for once who left a door ajar, we departed under a wonderful moon to our respective homes and families.

I spent the rest of the evening writing nano wise. The little group are due to leave Lourdes soon to travel back to the UK, thankfully, as I did wonder if I was ever going to get them home, what with losing Edgar in the mountains and Sister's vindictive phone calls. I have been surprised by how mellow I have made the story and the religious people (apart from Sister) compared to the way it was planned and can only think that my angst at religion has lessened considerably. Maybe as writing this has tapped on the human side of the faith I left behind, the wonderful people I encountered, who treated other human beings like human beings, with feelings to be considered, instead of as disposable objects to be cast aside when they ceased being useful.

(Note to self, put work and other stuff in box and shut the lid. NOW!)

But those people who went and still go to Lourdes, reflect the side of the faith that I loved, the active, lived side. I still try and live it in my own way, just without the belief being a part. Maybe I haven't changed that much after all.....

Still, with son1's birthday fast upon us and then a rapid descent to Christmas, will hardly have time to think. Better get this book done and dusted quick...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nanowrimo

Hit 50k Sunday evening- day 11. Not bad, although whether the 50k words will ever make sense is another matter. It has once again been productive, entertaining and hugely therapeutic. I have been surprised by just how peaceful writing about Lourdes made me feel, even though I do not believe, the atmosphere that I find there of friendship and humanity uniting through joint suffering managed somehow to permeate through the words I was writing into my fingertips and seep through my body. I am reminded that out there are many who unannounced love and care for others with no song and dance, not everyone exploits, abuses, hates. Sometimes with my work, it is hard to remember that....

It also helped me gain perspective on my recent difficulties. I have now lost over a stone in weight and haven't eaten more than three meals in November, surviving on rolls and fruit, which seem to be about all I can tolerate. Hubbie has given up buying food for me as I just don't eat it and I have had to stop wearing one of my work skirts as it doesn't fit any more! I will try, hard, to eat again, but at the moment even a roll is a bit of an effort. But at least nanowrimo gave me a focus, instead of mooching around feeling sorry for myself, I have been sorry for Maggie and the others, whose lives I have sadly inflicted with great difficulties. But Maggie isn't one to let a little thing like dying stop her living to the end. I just wish, now, having seen her grow, that I could save her, with a misdiagnosis, or a miracle.....

So onward. The story is probably two thirds of the way through and I plan to continue and finish the draft by the end of the month. Then will read it and think.....this is utter rubbish!
But it is my utter rubbish and I had a great time writing it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Leeds

Spent the weekend in Leeds with son2- he off seeing a friend, me off to town, window shopping, eating olives and drinking green tea with jasmine contemplating the last time I had done such a thing.
And in the evenings we talked. About life and love and relationships, cabbages and kings.
About what do you do when you feel your heart wrenched from you by rejection, loss, separation. Fifteen year olds can be quite insightful, and he could see much that i wouldn't even have grasped at his age.
But then he has Son1 to live with, to learn from, to use as a tool instead of a hinderance in his walk through the jungle that is adolescence.
And my heart aches, which have plagued me since the dreadful loss of all I held dear, are a tool for me too, to colour my words with reality and pain, felt, experienced, still present in some small way. But easier to carry.
And day after tomorrow is November the First which means just one thing.......







NANOWRIMO!


Arggghhhhh!
50,000 words- my aim is to complete by Nov 15th....
That's over 3,000 words per day.
I shall get my finger cream at the ready, my coffee pot filled in anticipation of a story the begining I haven't even started to sketch out in my mind!
It'll keep me off the streets.......and at the computer, where I belong.
So watch out for a small scatty welsh person, who is busy scratching her head and trying to think of ways of stopping her characters take over the plot again. Point her gently in the direction of Wales and tell her to get back to typing, or face the consequences......

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Fallen like leaves

"Don't you come round here and tell me I told you so"
Sarah McLachlan "Fallen"


I have sunk quite low too
Messed up
Not done what a woman of my upbringing and inheritance should have done
Which was to carry on walking the path I should have
Carrying the faith high, full, complete
In my heart, my soul, my mind....

But I lost it
Or I threw it away
No matter which- and I know which one I believe happened
It has gone
And I am now in the cavern of darkness
Fallen so low
With the voices of a million
Laughing in my ears
At my stupidity and foolishness

And still I do not stop!
I carry on crawling around in the cavern
As if soon, somewhere, I will find some light in this darkness
A gem
A hidden secret
Instead of decaying rubbish

But suddenly I realise
I have not fallen
I had lowered myself down
Lowered myself to the floor
And this decaying rubbish
That I feel with my hands?
No! Beautiful fallen leaves
of multicoloured shades

They whisper to me
Trying to make me hear
Words that I need

"We need to be here" they say

"And you do too
The summer does not last forever
Neither does the winter
It cycles round
We are part of that cycle
Of birth and growth and death
And we finish in a flourish
Of flame coloured skies
Horizons filled with our glory
Before we descend to the floor
and cover it with a carpet of fire
for children to run through
Screaming and kicking
Seeming to abuse us,
but no
no abuse
they are growing too
as they need to
as he did too

You will grow
You are the indestructable Cat
who will not fail
despite being shaken
despite the tears
that have dried on their own

You will not break
You will see this dance through to the end
Because it is what you will do
What you want to do

We cannot hold to the tree
When our time comes to fall
We let ourselves down
Like you did
And lie here
Like you have

But now it is time for you to rise
To get up
and go
On with your dance
of exploration

and run through us first!
Kicking and laughing
Make us fly with the joy of your dance
And go in peace and contentment
For you will not be broken
And there is much more to find
Much more to live for......

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Container

I am a container
A receptacle
For other people
For their rubbish
Their hatred, their anger, their despair
Their sorrow, their rage, their resentment

I take it in
Absorb it
Detoxify it
Send it out, hopefully with the burden lightened
For them
For me

But sometimes I get tired
And weary
And my containment slows and screeches to a halt
Inside the turmoil and anguish of many lurches around
And crashes into the delicate coils and cogs of the machinary that keeps me going

Then I need to go offline
Time out
Space from all

From others, their lives, their problems
From me....

I need that time and space now
I have over filled the container to bursting
And the tears are flowing out
And there is no holy water or magic spell to sprinkle on it
To heal it
and me
and help me glide on

My fault
My responsibility


Yet despite the gripping inside me
Of a thousand hands and voices in despair
I know that in the end all will be well

I have been through worse, far worse
Through a woman seeking to end my life
Through my son's near death and damage
Through the loss of my reason for living

My tears will dry on their own
I will survive
And I will not be broken
And I will continue to grow and dance in the darkness
Until I see the light again

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Crying in the chapel

You saw me crying in the chapel
The tears I shed were tears of joy.....

I wish mine were
Mine are tears of hopelessness, despair, totally joyless
Tears of shame and humiliation
Tears of self pity
And a feeling so chronically empty and useless that I have no idea if it will go

I know it will
I know feelings do not last
But the last few days have taught me how fragile my mental state actually is and how I should be taking more care of it....
I am but a fool

I can't wait for M to come home.....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another bad day

It all started badly. Woke at 5.30, with that horrible early morning down in the depths feeling. I put on the radio and waited till 6 in the hope I might get back to sleep, but no avail.
Up I got, did my early morning ablutions and then sat and checked email and and listened to some soft music. Next woke the kids. T had been difficult, his dad being away on Lourdes, the last few days haven't been easy. I noticed that he seemed to be going to the loo frequently, but as he didn't say anything thought nothing of it.
Then the bus was late.
And 5 minutes after it should have left, T announced he had tummy ache, felt sick and had a headache.
I couldn't risk it, cancelled the bus, got Mw to walk to school and called in the Cavalry (Mgu) who arrived at 8.45. I flew into work, arriving just before the Tuesday meeting was due to start to face numerous difficulties and hazards all day.
Arriving home, discovered T had been fine all day and the terrible two wanted me to do this that and the other all evening.
Now I have finally sat down, will have a bath now and try and relax.

Just hope this day doesn't repeat.

In other news, I have learnt more about myself recently and am waiting to have a pulling together in my head of the newly discovered traits and drives. Once more what I find about myself surprises me, amuses me, terrifies me. Here's hoping for a more tranquil drawing together and coming back into focus than the last time!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Once upon a time...(an odd dream, told in story fashion)

Once upon a time in a far off land there lived a small person. She was small and fat and spotty, and she knew no one would ever really love her like that. There were some people who would say that they loved small fat people, even ones who were spotty, and hairy, but she knew they were only joking. She hated herself and wanted to change but was too weak and unbalanced.
One day though, she met a grand magician. He said he could make people like her and even say she was pretty and even possibly love her! She was amazed! He gave her a magic looking glass and a magic camera to take pictures of the mirror with and she gazed into it, wondering what she might see....

And there she saw a small pretty woman, with sparkling eyes and laughing mouth and beautiful shining hair. And whenever she showed people her face in the mirror, they suddenly saw that she could be beautiful too and she actually started to believe in herself. She took lots of pretty pictures that people told her were wonderful and she believed them.

But then along came a Joker, who loved to make people laugh. And he pointed at the small person and started to laugh at her hair and her size and her spots. And he tore up her pictures and spat on them on the floor. And he called her names and followed her round and wouldn't leave her alone. And he laughed so loudly he made everyone laugh at her and forget what they had seen in the mirror. She looked once more at her reflection and realised she was still the same small fat spotty person that she had always been. And she started to cry because she hated herself and her weak will and her lack of balance.

Then I woke up.
And I started to cry...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Birthday beckons

Tomorrow is my birthday and I shall celebrate it- strange word for the way it makes me feel- in the bosum of my family. Not friends though, as son2 cruelly likes to point out to me, I don't have many of them. Well, I do, but none of them celebrate my birthday with me as I have studiously avoided that over the years. So much so, they all forget until 2 weeks later....
Anyways, I am one year on from this and today feeling no better. It is odd how anniversaries bring out the sorrowful in me. Maybe as I look back over the 48 years (not that I can remember all of them) and think of how many of them started with a prayer, or thoughts of the Lord. Now they start with nothingness, just thoughts of me and how terribly low I have sunk. Like my bread crumbs...
Which, incidentally, stood for my tetchiness, my bitchiness, my naughtiness and my wounding of self.
The latter of which I am doing now, by pondering all the negative and pushing anything positive firmly out my mind. And the first I did earlier, as I got up and realised I would have to tidy my bedroom as hubbie's mother will be sleeping in it tonight and will no doubt make some comment about how unkempt it all is even after I tidy it. (That's the bitchiness done...)
Now all I have to do is be naughty....


I digress....
I am just filled with a overwhelming sorrow this morning. If I stop to think, I just cry, if I listen to music, similar. But grief is unstoppable, everlasting, this I know, and it also eases if it is allowed to act, so I shall have my half hour of tears and hopefully be ready to dry my eyes, put on my false face and smile as the postman brings no cards but bills and magazines for me to read and inwardly digest so I can continue in the job I hate....

Uh oh....
Self pity mode
I shall give my self a kick in ten minutes and get on with it.
Should have thrown that in the pond too.....
Happy Birthday for tomorrow to me, may the next year be a less sorrowful one again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tomorrow

I miss ritual
Easter vigil
The symbolism
Light, water, fire, rebirth
I am going to take a bit back tomorrow
Sunday is my birthday
I plan tomorrow to celebrate my rebirthing day!
By casting crumbs into the water
By thinking of what within me has been good and that works well and that loves and rejoices
Of what has been bad and mean and vindictive and thoughtless
Of what could do with increasing
And what could be decreased
And I shall cast my faults upon the water
And let them swim round
Naked in the clear bubbling stream
Let them be purified
Watered
Washed
Cleaned
And returned to me, because they are mine!
My faults
That I should own
Accept
Be responsible for
Work on, one by one, but always see as part of the whole
That is me....

Amd sometimes I am mean
Thoughtless
Vindictive
Bitchy
Ever so slightly naughty...........

It is part of me
And I need to say sorry when that part of me hurts others
Offer reparation
Move on
And try again......but not get so down if I fail......

Have a good day tomorrow
Find some joy in something you pass unexpectedly
And smile as you think of the mad mother casting her bread upon the water
Smiling as she thinks back over a truly adventurous year...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Casting out

I look back on a year of change.
Starting with tears and deep sorrow as with a crash my birthday came
And I realised that things would never be the same
I would never celebrate the whole of it
Raise my hands with joy to the Lord again
And I wept

Then I moved on
In pain and despair
With a heavy heart, walking as far as I could
Till the going got too much
And I faltered

So time and space were given
And gratefully received
And answers sketched out
In multicoloured hues
Some so clear they screamed out in red
Others a dull lifeless beige
Some seemed to be answers but were more questions
Pushing me along
With the aid of guides in disguise
Angels dressed in strange clothing

Then back up
To face the threats
The gripped muscles, the tightened throat
To stand firm against the tide
Not to allow a tear to fall or a heart to ache
But to relieve it all in idle play later
But even that turned against me
And left me wandering out in the cavern
Wondering how to find light
How to move out
And when

So now, at my feet I have my life
My love, my family, my friends
Those who like me, those who do not
But mainly at my feet I have what will be my choice...
Of what my life shall be
Laid out in its fullness
All of it there

What to keep?
What to let go?
How to decide?
What to chose?

Tomorrow shall be a day of thinking....

Rosh Hashanah

"In another long-standing tradition, called Tashlikh ("casting off"), worshippers walk to a creek or a river and empty their pockets or cast bread crumbs into it, symbolizing the casting off of their sins of the previous year. This is usually done on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah"
I think I need to do a bit of casting off myself
A touch of reflection
About current habits and ways of living
And think about what I actually want
And if I actually know that

So Wed will find me down the allotment with some bread crumbs and hopefully an idea of what I am casting away, standing by the bridge looking into the brook
I have 48 hours or so to meditate and decide what needs to stay and what should go......
Watch this space!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Faith

video

it's just not the same faith I used to have....

Poem by Mary Oliver

Music Every December Sky, Beth Nielsen Chapman

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I can't be with him...

"I can't be with him..."
Son2 whispered frantically to me.
We had driven to Ogmore, a rocky and sandy beach, where the wind was blowing and children were running and screaming up and down the beach and on the rocks, waving their arms, pretending they were planes, birds, butterflies, monsters. Dogs bounced through the water, spraying the salty scent wherever they bounded, shaking their wet coats on the children, who doubled their shouts. And son1 viewed the scene and joined in, in his usual style, bouncing, waving his arms, shouting and shrieking, louder than any toddler could.

But he is not physically a child of 5, in whom this behaviour would be tolerated and expected. He is a tall 18 year old.
And son2 looked on aghast...

"You don't have to stay here with him" I spoke the words and with a look, he flew himself, over the rocks, as far and as fast as he could into the distance. Until just a little stick figure could be seen, running along the horizon, looking in the pools as he got to them, inhaling the clear air and the sheer joy of the day.

It didn't take son1 to notice the absent party and he started off running into the distance. It soon became a game, son2 leaping from rock to rock, son1 in hot pursuit. And while they amused themselves, I sat (in a puddle, but that wasn't intentional) and thought of how hard sometimes living with son1 can be.

Later, son2 tried to explain why he wants him to stop "if he lives with someone else they won't put up with it" he argued and I tried to reassure him that some of the purpose of his brother going to college was to help him learn what can and cannot be done. Right at this moment, I told son2, I didn't see why he shouldn't seem to be a little different every now and then......

But in talking about it all, my worries about the future returned. We hadn't heard from the college and will have to wait for September to see if he even has a chance of going there.....

But at least this morning the cobwebs were blasted away.
From all of us, one way or another.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Breaking bad news

You can go on courses now, to learn how to break bad news to people. Websites exist dedicated to it, managers learn how to do it, doctors practise in role playing to ensure they can do it well. But human to human, bad news doesn't break, it falls and spreads, rapidly transmitting through the population. As we found this morning, with the news that our colleague's son had died in Greece after a tragic accident. She has started work with us all Friday morning, to be called home by an urgent phone call from her husband. Two of the team took her, packed her bags as she and her husband sped off to Greece, to where their 19 year old lay critically ill.

So this morning, talking to the team from the ward, I heard that the previous evening, his life support machine had been switched off and he was dead. We shared the news then amongst us, the sorrow and grief of this extroverted wonderful nurse, much loved in the team, cast a shadow over the business meeting. From time to time one or other would sigh as something, a word, an image, a memory would bring us back to a hot Greek day where tears were surely falling.

Then my turn to break bad news.
And I wondered after, as I walked back to my car, shaking from the fallout, whether I had managed it as best as I could. Could I have looked more sympathetic? Used different words? Followed the planned "script" more carefully? Our ever supportive psychologist, who had been privvy to the before discussions, listened attentively as I poured it out and felt that yes, I'd done OK and that sometimes, however it is broken, bad news cannot be dressed up in anything other than it is.

Then home again to son2, now trusted to look after the house alone while his big but less responsible brother goes elsewhere. I look at him and think of the boy whose life has been ended far too soon in Greece and want to hug him, hold him tight, stop him growing and walking out into a world where boys ride bikes with no helmets, and jump into seas from rocks, and drive high powered jet skis and drink and take drugs and risks and think they will live forever.
But I don't.
I just smile and eat grapes as I continue to sort over running work things out, and go upstairs and put this computer on and play my music.
And as Kate Rusby sings about who will sing her a lullaby, I weep inwardly for the boy who now will not be singing anymore, and for the mother in Greece with a heart that will never be whole again.

Sleep softly...rest in peace.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Thoughts and feelings

Having one of those watery days.
Comes of a far from perfect week at work, (bed crisis? What bed crisis!) the onset of six weeks of horror aka summer holidays and pain in my right arm which has settled in for the duration. Or so it has appeared. Plus that time of the month all ladies love...

So when a minor thing happened elsewhere (though not ~elsewhere~) it opened the flood gates. And as the tears flowed and the misery sat heavily on me, I tried my best to turn those negative thoughts that were piling on me to positive ones:-"Now, what evidence do you have for believing that?" I asked myself while sobbing into my coffee.
But in the throes of an emotional flood, nothing will hold back the irrationality.
Especially when it is the most vulnerable point that has been hit.

But I have to take much of the blame myself. I am like Achilles, who in my view should have shown a bit more common sense in the type of armour he wore. Some sort of clever anti poisoned arrow heel device, for instance...

My lack of common sense in exposing myself to things that only prick and wound has been round for a long time, my persistence at CF, for example when I would nightly leave the forum and cry myself to sleep. Now the exposure is in a different place and a slightly different way, but the same principals apply. And still I cannot let go, cannot stop, keep setting myself up for the put downs.

Maybe there is something in me that wants to expose that vulnerable spot, to test it, to risk a wound. To hear the insults, be they truthful or not, to listen to all the views that others have of me, be they good or bad. Maybe I need it to grow, to allow limited damage and hurt to occur, to understand how painful it is, in order for me to see how I can sometimes pain others. And experience what so many others feel, day in, day out.

So as long as I don't end up in the same place as Achilles, perhaps it is not lack of common sense at all, but tolerance of hurt I am learning, so that I base my views on who and how I am on me, not on other's views of me....

And now, I've even stopped crying.
And look, the sun is put and there's a rainbow!




Ok, no sun, no rainbow, but at least a new way to think next time it happens.

Friday, July 20, 2007

End of another week

Another Friday comes and goes.
This one goes and brings with it those long school holidays.
Good for you teachers out there, but torture for us poor parents.
Starts off well, with Son2 ordering the family taxi service for first 6pm, then 6.30, then 7 then 9pm.
Problem was hubbie had left to provide the pick up so I was busy relaying messages to him via the mobile, until he returned, exasperated at 7pm. Well, he was not that exasperated, he just popped to see Grandma instead and used their time productively, talking of church and church gossip.
Son1 meantime was already fed up, as one of the grand schemes he had thought of didn't work out.
And it is not really even Day 1 of the holidays....

The rain continues to fall and while taking out our excellent junior staff to say thank you and good luck, I left my raincoat in the hotel. So as I walked out to the car in the one bit of dry weather all day, I didn't notice, till it was time to leave the base and I looked out at the water cascading out of the sky and remembered.

But otherwise much achieved in terms of paperwork and seeking out other opinions about things we are pondering, even though the opinions I received were not what I wanted....

So this weekend will be a chill one. Nothing booked, no grand schemes, just time and space and freedom to rest and think and muse on the way my life has gone over the past two years and where it could possibly go next, given the frenzy of activity I am facing.

Or maybe I'll just be a cat stretching out on the bed, hoping for some sun to warm my weary limbs.
While listening to music and dreaming of less frenetic times than these....

Friday, July 13, 2007

To go gentle or not....

Do not go gentle...
Words that echo in me.
I do not plan to go gently, I plan to rage against the dying of the light.
But now, before the light dies, there are other calls on me.
To lie underneath the stars and to gaze into the awesome cavern of space and wonder if what I plan to do will be the making of me or the undoing...
And wonder if indeed the risk I plan on taking is worth the heartache it could produce if all goes wrong.
But life lived without risk is dry, dust like, empty and without joy and I want the stars to grab me and fill me with the spirit that day in day out I do not have.

And I am doing this of my own free will
Go gently, as Kate Rusby says...

"Underneath the stars I'll meet you
Underneath the stars I'll greet you
And there beneath the stars I'll leave you
Before you go of your own free will
Go gently"

Or am I just pretending?
Wait and see.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rain...

Something very strange happened today.
It stopped raining and got a bit warm.
There was blue stuff in the sky, and people were out of doors.... smiling!
Very odd.
And son2 or Mw as he is otherwise called, was busy learning Welsh.
It's an odd thing, him learning this Welsh, as I have to listen to it and ask him the questions while being totally unable to undertsand what I am saying or hearing. He mutters things about my pronounciation but is slowly but surely working his way through the passage he will need to know to sit his GCSE oral module in less than a week.
And elsewhere, on CF, the forum I once posted on freely before I was banished to the edges for not believing, plans are afoot to allow people to post where they will.....

Very strange but welcome at last.
So I popped in and said hi.......and was saddened by how many people expressed fear that these atheists will descend and try to stop them believing in God. I just want to chat with my friends, wish them happy birthday, laugh with their jokes, commiserate with their sorrows.....

I hope his plan will come to fruition.
Maybe, if it had back then, things would have been oh so different........

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Animals


I took this video clip today from which the above photo is taken. While wandering around in my usual somewhat aimless fashion, I happened upon several damselflies up to no good in our garden pond. One wonders what sort of moral and ethical dilemmas damselflies have to cope with, they are apparently inclined to homosexual sex on occasions and the male holds on to the female firmly after mating so she doesn't go off and do anything untoward, like mating with another male. Anyway, they held me rapt for ages, until son1 yelled at me to get back in the house as he wanted me for something important. To tell me he was tired. He was bored. And he wanted something to eat.

So I left them to it, and when I next went back to our little pond, they were nowhere to be seen. I must watch out for the larvae, I think I saw them last year or the year before, but this year there may be more....

And I wondered what is it exactly that separates us from these beautiful damselflies? At times, as a species, we hold ourselves up, put ourselves on a pedestal, but often, like the animals we are, we are driven not by higher ideals, but by the same instincts that caused those delightful creatures to hold firm to each other.

And often, daily, in my job, I learn of those who suffer as the result of others acting on their instincts, their desires, their wants. Who have been receptacles for the other and now cannot survive with the knowledge of their past, which is deeply written on every fibre of their being.

And I don't have the answer for them.
The answer to their "Why?"
The answer to how to wipe it out.
The answer to how to live from day to day without this shadow over everything and anything that happens.

I turn to others, but they don't have answers either.

Sometimes it is all we can do, protect and wait and hope.

And offer hope to them, that one day, the knowledge might be a dagger rather than a case full of swords, a lighted match rather than an all consuming flame.

I can only hope....

Saturday, June 02, 2007

one dog, one cat



"Mother of two boys, one dog, one cat..."


All profiles generally and names have something to do with Cat- partly because it's part of my name, partly because my beloved cat is so important to me.


And sitting in the car, being picked up from a solitary two day break in London, to try and invigorate me ready for work again, I received the news that all pet owners dread.


Jj was no more, run over by a car, her dead body being found by a caring woman, who took the time and trouble to trace us.


The boys, learning this while I was away were all devastated, all (including hubbie) cried.


Hubbie, who never liked animals, who didn't want the dog, let alone the cat, cried.


And they buried her down at the allotment, under one of the trees.


So no more Jj, waking me up in the morning, purring at me, closing her eyes at me, treading her paws softly on my bed.


No more Jj, wrapping herself around my legs as I walk or sit, saying hi to me in her way.


No more Jj bopping Sandy with a soft velvet paw, claws in, rolling on the warm patio, no more gentle cuddles with the supremely relaxed and loving cat, who never scrammed me once.




I'm still in stun mode, keep thinking she'll be coming back.


But she will not.


My life, our lives, were all made more cheerful and joyful, more blissful, by the presence of this small, dark, loving creature.


She will be missed.


Greatly missed.....


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Teddy Bears

Yesterday I was chatting to someone on one of the many sites I browse in and out of, and I was asked about my children.
I gave my standard reply.
"I have two boys aged 15 and 18, and the 18 year old is disabled."
I've found it is a good idea to add this as it stops difficult questions, for example about how I get on with his girlfriends as that just makes me miserable.
Sometimes, as yesterday, people ask what the disability is, and after trial and error I give learning difficulties and mild autism as a standard reply again.
Yesterday, however, this met with a different response..
"Come on, that's not really disabled, is it?"
I was a little stunned, only afterwards wondering if it was a misunderstadning of the word learning disabled. I usually add "more like 8" to give an idea of his level of functioning, but neglected to yesterday. So that comment burned on me last night and into today and came back to haunt me at lunch time.

We had gone round to see my brother and his family, staying at my mother's house. Their delightful 5 year old was, as ever, star of the show, running round like a mad thing before becoming enthralled, as many children are, by Son1's little dances.
Son1 loves standing in his grandmother's hall, in front of her mirror, doing strange movements, while making equally strange noises. His cousin watched and then by some ruse, probably by throwing teddies at him, got Son1 involved in a game.
It seemed to be a complicated one, with rules designed by Son1, who loves making up games with rules which involved shrieking, throwing teddies up stairs and through the hall until both were exhausted. I filmed some of it with my new cam and all said how sweet it was to see them playing together so well.
At one point they sat on the floor together, mentally ages so similar, physically oceans apart. One small and compact and cute, big black eyes, dark hair and cheeky little face, the other tall and chunky and covered in eczema, awkwardly stooping down to be small like his companion.
I watched as cousin put out a friendly hand to son1 who patted him on the back. "Well done, you won" he said.
And my heart broke, as it often does in moments like this.
Son1, 18, "not disabled" but happy to play a 5 year olds game.
Because he is at a 5 year olds level, in many ways.
Seeing nothing strange about it, seeing it as natural, relating to his cousin as an equal.
And in the meantime, son2 his in the front room, so he wouldn't get drawn in.
Acting like a teenager should and would.
And I thought once more of what could have been, should have been, if only those medics had taken more care....

The pain never goes.
It just becomes more naturally a part of life with son1.
Something to be expected and accepted.
To be borne till it goes, till it fades into the background again.
To emerge once more when the next challenge comes along.........

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Three Graces


"The Three Graces illustrates Canova's outstanding ability to transform cold hard marble into soft lustrous skin."


I stood and wondered at it.

White hard stone.

Cold, dead, no form to attract, no wonder at how beautiful it was.

Then the hands of the master.

Taking away what was not needed.

Smoothing out, chiselling away, till finally laid bare the wonder that we see.

Gently touching, hand to face, cheek to forehead, skin to skin.

Head resting softly, serenely, full of contentment and peace.

Legs bent slightly, backs twisted but smooth and inviting

Inviting touch, taste, smell, kisses, worship.


All this from stone and chisel and the eye of a master.

Put this in my inner eye, carry the feeling of tranquillity and solace, of sensual beauty and gentle love away from the room where silent feet tread to the heart of a busy disturbing world.

And let the disturbance settle, let it be ridden over by the image of those beautiful three women embracing for eternity....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I still haven't found (2)

I have climbed the highest mountain, run through the fields,
I have sailed into storms, lain on sands of gold,
Ventured into dark caverns, without even a light,
Ran back out
Then in again.....

And I still haven't found what I'm looking for!

Perhaps I never will, because, I think, the time for thinking of myself as an explorer in this strange world is nearly over.
There is much that needs to be done that is being side tracked in my fun but time consuming explorations
For example, I really do want to learn to play the violin.
And play the mandolin a bit better
I want to listen to my music loudly while lying on my bed and reading books that take me further into my imagination than I ever thought I could go.
I want to do a diploma in teaching, perhaps even an MSc, though the cost is somewhat prohibitive!
I want to join a choir and sing my heart out once more, like I used to, when I believed.
I want to watch my children more and more, as they sit together chatting, as son2 tries to instruct son1 in the ways of the world.
I want to sit in the garden and lie back on the bed and stare at the sky and watch the birds swoop round and round, heading for the trees.
I want to go to town on Sundays with the boys, laughing and joking and teasing and smiling, as we go from games shop to fantasy mag shop to book shop and mum's knicker shop and on....

And when I was ill, I stopped doing so much of that, because I couldn't.
But now I can again, and I am not going to let this job keep me cowed in a corner, fearful of what may come next.
My life is for living, and because I have loved life, I shall live it and not be afraid to die...

So as I go to Scotland with dear sweet sister (is it morning yet, shall i get up, shall I put this here, what time is it, shall I wash my face, shall I have a drink...) I go as me, as I used to be before all this stupid faith loss stuff started, before the delightful threats that started my old blog, as I walked fearful every day of what might happen.
It's me and I'm back and I am no longer afraid.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Another not so good day...

But let's not talk about that.
I'll just get on with this peg figure model of my boss and look for the hat pins I used to have...
(*hums tunelessly...)

I've just finished reading Madame Bovary by Flaubert. My father, when I spoke to him about this, muttered about how long ago he had read it (in the original French, of course) but was far more impressed by a book called Flaubert's parrot, which he promised to look out for me...
I digress.
Some of the characters amused- the emotionless chemist, secular and scientific to the nth degree, superior to the hapless Bovary, finally awarded the Legion of Honour (as Flaubert was himself.)
The lovers, a succession of men who were bewitched by Madame Bovary initially, but grew tired of her emotional excesses and moved on to other things...
And Madame Bovary herself. For me, the most striking moments in the book were almost the last, as dying at her own hand from the arsenic she crammed in her mouth, she receives the last rites from the Cure of the villager who as he did:
"..dipped his right thumb in the oil and began to give extreme unction. First, upon the eyes, that had so coveted all worldly pomp; then upon the nostrils, that had been greedy of the warm breeze and amorous odours; then upon the mouth that had uttered lies, that had been curled with pride and cried out in lewdness; then upon the hands, that had delighted in sensual touches; and finally upon the soles of the feet, so swift of yore, when she was running to satisfy her desires, and that would now walk no more."

Such earthly pleasures, so intently searched for by Madame Bovary, but no ultimate satisfaction, for in the end, deceit and lies and the superficial nature of what she found overtook her and led her to her death. And not only her, her husband, who finds how false a woman she was, but still continues to love, cannot live with the grief that surrounds him. And their little daughter, Berthe, placed in the hands of an aunt, to work her life out in a cotton mill lives a million miles away from the life that her mother once sought to lead.

Will I, as Madame Bovary did, at my last, turn back in despair to a faith that I once had? Seek anointing, blessing, to turn back to the God I do not now see?

I do not know. But I somehow doubt it.

The book has other messages for me too, that I am pondering and playing with in my mind, about earthly pleasures and the reality of life. How many people do I see whose unhappiness centres on their desires, unrealistic or not, going unfulfilled? How often is my unhappiness caused by the same? Yet the answer does not lie in merely striving at all costs to satisfy, but maybe in addressing and exploring the roots of the desires and channelling them consciously in other ways.
Maybe.
For who wishes to travel the path of the lady who died to the song of a blind man?
" "The wind it blew so hard one day
Her little petticoat flew away!"
She was no more...."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Good day, bad day

Started at 8am, finished at 7pm today. It had its moments, such as my poor job share partner ringing me up from fracture clinic where she had been sitting for 2 and a half hours..."and there are still 10 people in front of me..."
To assist in her hour of need I read her one of the replies to my stroopy kick butt email written first thing that had been met with approval by the team and probable horror elsewhere. It at least gave her something to smile about, as she sat, wasting time she could have been using treating people in our overworked clinic. But the NHS is like that, no common sense applies.
And later, much later, as I was about to teach the juniors and to be recorded for them to remember what I said to them (camcorders are all the rage at teaching sessions nowadays and they save having to listen to me the first time) my excellent empathic second in command looked at me with sad eyes and asked if I'd heard about R, a colleague from where we used to work.
I knew right off that this meant R was dead. This tall, dignified, intelligent man was no more.
I wonder if he realised how much people would feel at his passing, how much they would sit in sorrow. Maybe he never knew how much he was regarded and respected by his colleagues.
And we sat in silence almost for a few seconds, thinking of R and how much he will be missed.
And worked through the teaching with the thought of how many others have recently gone the same way. Death is never painless, especially like this.
Sleep peacefully.....

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Metamorphosis

Today I morphed back into someone I haven't been for a long time...
The cool, but not calm although collected, kicking butt, ever so slightly (ok, more than slightly) manic mad woman defender of the team.
As fax after fax arrived to annoy the team further, and to provoke cries of things that I can't really write here, I took pole position and fired off emails and directed the team like an over emphatic conductor of an outrageously loud and discordant symphony.
The team took this in their stride, one muttering "Does it seem like you never really went away?" as I took on the role that once was second nature to me, before the pain and fatigue made mere survival from day to day my focus.
I already knew the battle we were fighting was one we were going to lose, but I couldn't see us go down without a futile token gesture, to register our disapproval. So tomorrow will no doubt result in defeat, but at least we tried and at least succeeded in annoying everyone who will win.

And today I actually had enough time to go to the loo.
On one occasion for a quick 2 minutes.

Which was better than Tuesday, where I arrived home suddenly realising that the last time I'd seen a toilet was in the morning as I left for work.

Now all I have to do is make enough space in my 9 hour day for a cuppa and some lunch.

Meanwhile, back at the place I call home, children continue to do their own thing and husbands continue to paint, build sheds for sisters, plant yet more squashes and marrows and potter round greenhouses in a fetching pair of shorts, happily humming a merry tune as he does. And I sit here, listening to my music, singing along with Rod Stewart and Bob Dylan and Abba, and wondering what MacArthur Park is actually all about and why precisely someone left the cake out in the rain. Family life is a funny thing......

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Da Vinci's cavern

Not sure if I've put the quote here...
Just in case, here it is, viewed last December, virtually on the anniversary of my deconversion, at a Da Vinci exhibition in London....

I wandered some way among gloomy rocks,
coming to the entrance of a great cavern,
in front of which I stood for some time,
stupified and incomprehending such a thing…
Suddenly two things arose in me,
fear and desire;
fear of the menacing darkness of the cavern;
desire to see if there was any marvellous thing within.


Leonardo da Vinci


That quote has expressed for sometime how I feel about the way I'm going in life....deeper and deeper into the cavern.
I haven't yet got to a point where I feel it is explored sufficiently to leave, nor am I ready to stop.
Earlier this week I nearly bolted out of the cavern and back onto solid, safe ground in brilliant daylight but I think that time has not yet come.
Still more to find out, I think....perhaps just being slightly more cautious about inching my way forward.

Anyone got a torch?

Book of Job

Why?
I wrote this in March 2005, just 2 years ago.
Today I was thinking about the book of Job again, after doing other things , some of them a million miles away from that place I used to be.
And I thought that the poetry of the book of Job may still have a place in my understanding of suffering.
The story is simple.
The devil is wandering around the world and gets a bit peeved to see good old Job happily worshipping and praising the Lord.
"I bet if he lost everything" said the devil to God, "he'd curse you."
So God, being a fair sort of chap, allows the devil to carry out an uncontrolled n=1 experiment on Job (not really having taken on board that such a thing cannot be extrapolated and really should be regarded as anecdotal evidence.)
He kills off Job's family, lets him lose everything, but doesn't yet touch Job's person.

And Job is annoyingly placcid in all this.
A line that often used to come to my head in times of loss is uttered...
"The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the Lord."

So the devil is allowed by God to up the ante.
He touches Job's person.
Boils cover him and he is reduced to sitting alone, wondering why, as I often did. Why has God allowed this? What could I have done to deserve it? What part of his plan is this suffering?
His friends come along and suggest possible hypotheses but it is not until the end when God speaks to Job that we get some hint to what the true meaning of suffering is....

And the answer?
That there is no intrinsic meaning in it.
It happens.
Life is.
There are no whys to be answered in the sense that I spent so long asking- "Why me? Why Julia? Why Tom?" Now before, when I believed, I did have my answer from God and it was "Trust" but now God has gone, I think my answer has to be the annoying one I like to give four year olds who continually ask why.

"Because."

Suffering happens because life happens. It is just part of it, not to be avoided, but that exists.
In a way, that knowledge brings more peace than the "Trust!" answer did- a peace that religion cannot bring. Religion brings with it questions about judgement and punishment that I could never be fully at peace with. A world without a capricious judging fickle creator somehow allows a more peaceful co-existance with the rest of it, at least for me.

Maybe I'm odd, but even yesterday, as I sat and listened to the sermon about how peace cannot be given by the world, I felt more at peace now than I did that two years ago when I wrote that first entry...

Even as I venture further into unknown territory.

Maybe just the calm before the storm.

We shall see.....

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Still haven't found what I'm looking for....

When I was pregnant with Son2, all of 16 years ago, I belonged to an ecumenical gospel choir ("Sing it Sister!") and used to bolt out soulful ditties. We made tapes of the things we were learning, and at the end of one of the tapes, someone stuck this version of the U2 classic.
I loved it. Played it loud whenever I could, especially lying in the bath, on high volume, hands on my naked pregnant belly, feeling "Toby" (as he was called then) kick and leap about as I sung. And after rehearsals, he couldn't keep still, very excited by it all.
As cassette tapes do, it finally broke and whenever I heard the song from then on, I would think of this wonderful vibrant version, with the passion and intensity of the faith of the choir I was singing with echoing through the years.
Scroll forward many years to a Saturday night, sipping red wine and mixing the red drops at the bottom with the tears that were falling over something too sensitive to mention. Words had hit home, I had just seen Den and was so aware that in facing her passing, I was to do it without the faith and belief that once held me so strongly. And that in my exploring in the here and now, I still hadn't found what I was looking for....
And in more hope than belief, I entered it into youtube, and to my utter amazement, found it there.
The words still speak...

You broke the bonds and you
Loosed the chains,
Carried the cross of my shame,
Of my shame
You know I believed it.....
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for.....



And as on an uber website far away, those who once denied the truth turn back to the light, I seem to head further and further into the darkness. This dust here is mere dust, once more all is straw.
And talking to Den's mother I used the old familiar words, not wanting to wound her in her darkest hour, comforting her with the faith I still know but do not believe.
And on a day out, back to the Glastonbury where I sat and contemplated as my faith slipped out of my hands, I headed further into the darkness of Da Vinci's cavern.
I still haven't found what I'm looking for....
....but the search goes on.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Denise

On April 24th 2007, the wonderful Denise died. At 49, she had lived all her life with her parents, needing full physical care, she was tiny, had speech that was hard to understand and a wicked sense of fun and love of life that is rarely found in anyone. She loved her family, but like any woman, she wanted independence, her own place, maybe a man in her life, children, but none of that could be. But never once did she groan about not having what she wanted, she just went on her merry way, living each day she had as fully as the last.

And we went on holidays together, in various combinations. Five or six of us, girls of the same age, becoming women of the same age, holidays that with one exception were the essence of laughter throughtout. Denise bore being hauled around by us, dropped occasionally when we all had drunk too much gin (her favourite tipple) and had an eye for the absurd that she would draw to our attention at the most opportune moments.

Like in a quiet moment in the Blessed Sacrament procession in Lourdes. Being pushed ahead of us, behind a young Italian man in tight trousers which remained at her eye level for sometime. At a pause in the proceedings, her voice rang out, as clear as a bell for once. "Nice Bum!" she said admiringly....

She often had to tolerate being treated like a child instead of the woman she was. Head patting, patronising well meaning comments she usually bore well, except when tired and fortified with gin, when the remarks back might be less complimentary than they were taken to be. But she retained her good humour about it all, often after the person had gone, a mere look would be sufficient to send us all into spasms of laughter.

"She doesn't drink, does she" a worried comment might come, as we poured out her fourth gin "just 2 (vertical) fingers" she would call. "Lemonade" she'd say, her speech loosened and limbs eased by the relaxing of her muscles, ever ready to go into painful spasms.

One year, she was ill on our trip away, gravely so. A chest infection nearly carried her off while away from the family that adored her, but she scraped through. Not once during that week of tension did she moan or bewail her fate, and as she recovered, we lay there at nights, not able to sleep all of us, reading a torrid romance we had found in a corner of the hotel aloud, crying with laughter at the antics of the handsome dashing hero.

Ten days ago, she went into hospital for some tests. She had been losing weight and was in pain. Last Wed, a week ago, the doctors told her parents, both elderly and struggling to contain the tears, that she was not long for this world. I managed to see her Saturday, in her bed, queen of the ward, with the nurses running round her and we shared photos of her at my wedding, holding my babies and holding a litre of beer at a French cafe in bright sunlight, with her arm resting casually on the arm of the latest fancy man to fall under her spell. She could hardly breathe enough to speak, but her first words were to ask about my mother, my sister, Mike and the boys, no sound coming out but her lips forming the words.

And yesterday morning, after coming home 24 hours before, she slipped away peacefully. Her mother had realised the end was near in the evening, and had the priest straight round, who anointed her and prayed with her as the doctor came and eased her pain.

She slipped off into a peaceful, tranquil sleep, then at 2am, opened her eyes and sighed, and left this life.

"And I know she was in pain, and I know I didn't want to leave her here without me" her mother said to me yesterday, "but I'm going to miss her so much."As will we all.

The world is a much better place for having had Den in it, and a poorer one now she has gone.
And as I look at her photo here, from 15 years ago, her arm resting on the shoulder of the young Italian man in tight trousers, her face alight with that smile, I smile too and hope the memories of the joy she gave and the laughter she brought will help her wonderful parents through the next few difficult months.

Goodbye Denise...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

week three....

Shattered by Friday evening.
I'm not made of stern stuff anymore, a bit too fragile for my own good.
Still, I got through it, the clinics, the ward, the meetings, the teaching...
And at home, things trundle along.
My zest that I found has flattened a bit, I come home and just want to flop, to stop, to switch off and do anything except interact with other inhabitants of planet earth.
But something inside tells me in a strict and forceful way it would be singularly unhelpful to do this, that I need to keep switched on, that in time, my body will adjust and not feel so fatigued anymore.
And while I work, in a far flung corner of France, thousands of happy children and their helpers are dancing and singing their way through a week that once was the highlight of my year.
Leaving only a tinge of sadness now, as my mind focuses on what I lost through dancing that particular dance for so long.
But they have just landed back happily...
so my sufferings in November weren't exactly in vain!
And my dance now is slower but interesting still.
I plan to keep on going, whatever my body is telling me....

Thursday, April 05, 2007

End of week2

End of week 2
To everyone's unsurprise, the local young people have mangaed to work out a very easy way of getting through the security fence. They just remove the bolts which were meant to be security proof but clearly not youth proof. Now as well as having a lovely area to play in at night, they also have lethal missiles.

G spent most of today chasing various youths out of the premises, and they recognised in this former miner's wife veteran of many strikes, someone not to be argued with.
Meanwhile clients came and went, phone calls were answered and emails responded to.
And my joints, which are supposed to be better, grumbled and groaned as I went up and downstairs for coffee and to interact with the rest of the team in their overcrowded noisy offices.
I drove home in relative calm, this gradual return helping, so that when T opened the door and berated me for his game not arriving, Norway not being in the UK and TV not having Sky on it anymore, I could answer with this unusual relative calmness as I entered the house and placate him. (And the iPod wasn't charged up...he carried on complaining regardless.)

And Mw got 84% in his second English paper, thus bankrupting me and teaching me never again to promise a cash reward for exams...

And M and I are at peace, relatively, despite more revelations and difficulties coming out in the family. He takes my latest escapades in the manner of a man who can take anything and despite my selfish explorations, lets me continue, gently helping me along with his observations and own limited explorations. My time at CF is over, I don't even read it now, and that helps me feel more at peace than anything else, sad to say. And as I reach for something that I have never had and probably will never had, I learn a lesson that I am trying to teach T; sometimes, you can't have everything you want, even if you feel you need it. Sometimes it must just stay a distant wistful dream, even if to think that makes the tears fall. That sometimes is the lesson to learn.
I hope I learn it soon and move on from where I am now....

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Work

So....back to work.
Strange feeling.
Arrived by 8am at base1, managed to park and walked up to my office, with the sound of a vehicle reversing in Welsh powering down on me to finish me off. A tattered wanted poster, obviously placed there by a client angry with another client flapped on a lamp post as I strolled past, purposefully, hoping to get to my office without tears or bumping into anyone difficult.
Once there, I soon launched into the computer. By some freak of memory, I entered the correct password first time and was greeted by 375 emails, 75 of which informed me it was now time to empty my mail box. Started to work through them at top speed and to be horror, found that until I emptied it, I couldn't send anymore. Which limited what I could delete.

Curses!

But undaunted, I soldiered on until 9am and the Friday morning meeting with the juniors, all distressed, as rightly they should be, by the chaos delivered by this wonderful government that has led several of them facing unemployment in August...

But they gave me a cheery welcome back and I picked up where I left off, offering advice, support and gentle encouragement to the gravely demoralised workforce.

I then had my first bit of terrible news of the day. Delivered by a colleague, in hushed tones, my heart sank into my boots and stayed there. Job share partner looked equally shell shocked. We parted company, me to the community base, she to supervise with no spring in our steps.

At the base2, warm greetings, hugs and pictures of firemen failed to hide the state of the place, the lack of staff and the air of forboding here too. Conflicts were abounding and all the muttered signs of relief at my return could not hide the difficulties we were facing. With the lack of admin staff a problem, I took up position in the front desk area and stormed my way through external then internal emails, post of the last four months and diaries. While answering the phone, letting clients in and out and chatting with E about life, the universe and everything. And I eventually discovered at the bottom of the pile my pay slip- which revealed I'd been underpaid by more than a third this month, for some strange reason. Phone calls to several people brought no joy. No one could help me until Monday....
Argh!

Five hours later, and after a morale sapping meeting of the group, I headed back to base1 for another meeting, where difficulties were discussed and potential solutions postulated. We can see a way forward, but will management agree? Watch this space, is all I can say.
So at 5.15, with one coffee sipped while deleting emails and no lunch break, I walked back to my car, past the wanted poster on the lamp post, still flapping away.

Home to the boys and the post and M, nervously and tentatively asking how today went.
And 16 hours later, I finally managed to tell him, while watching Anthony Quinn play Zorba the Pope in the Shoes of the Fisherman, stupidly crying at the site of the white smoke as I remembered the feeling of watching it as a Catholic, with hope in my heart.
I soon stopped.
No point in dwelling on what is past.
The future may hold unlimited surprises....
Still, back to work.

I can't wait till I'm next in to see what disaster will strike next.
I think I might pretend it is a soap opera, and play suitable music in my head as I drive in and out. Complete with grand climaxes and funny endings...
May make it all even partially bearable.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hurting (2) (or possibly 3, I lost count)

I had to give myself a kick yesterday. I was sliding back into morose self pity mode, the influence of hormones falling due to the "time of the month" ("how long is your period then," asked son2 "because I think it's the longest one in history, judging by your moods") another minor hiccup at CF that to me seemed like a veritable explosion, and my imminent return to work. And other stuff that is running round inside my head.
Anyway, as I suddenly became an observer of my own inner world, I saw all the danger signs and stamped on it. So today, I'm merely tearful rather than figuring out an escape plan and due to go out soon to distract myself on my last day off sick.

It's the longest I've been off work, apart from the year I took off when we discovered about Son1's problems. It has helped in some ways, my joints are better in that I can actually walk places now without not sleeping due to pain afterwards and although I still need further tests on what the heck is going on in my hands (next week) my physical functioning is better.
Mentally?- well, I no longer dwell on escape plans all the time, I have an alternative in my head should the going get too rough and though it would mean a radical upheaval, it is one we could do.

So although I'm still hurting, especially over the CF stuff, I'm doing something about it, something active (which involves once again leaving CF...this time, hopefully, to stay away.) And as work beckons and draws me back in, I'll no doubt be too busy soon to do much more than come home in the evening and collapse in front of a warm television...

Watch this space!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bliss

Drove today, alone, to Birmingham and back, my only company my CD with its repeated cycle of my twenty favourite songs (ranging from Carole King's Tapestry, through a little bit of soft folky music to Catatonia's Cerys belting out what she does every morning when she wakes up.) Thoughts ran through my head, images, little day dreams, worries about work, family, which every now and then I put on one side to focus on driving in the appalling weather. Arriving at Brum, I did what I went there to do in all of half an hour, had a quick drink and took myself back, through blustery dry weather. The black mountains gazed at me in all their glory as I came closer to home and I started to think about the morning and Mass at church.

Not my favourite Mass of the year, but one I have been playing at for the last 16 years or so, the Mother's Day Mass. Head teacher and I are friends, and when I lost my faith he said, somewhat nervously "You're not going to give up playing?" and so far, I haven't. It was a cute occasion, starting with the infants, 5 yr olds mainly, singing tunelessly two songs then yelling out a poem to their mothers, who had little chance of understanding a single word, but whose eyes filled with tears to see their little ones dressed in all their best clothes up on the altar, performing.

The Mass otherwise folowed its usual somewhat chaotic course, enhanced by an appeal for the Lourdes group I used to travel with in the middle.

One of the hymns the children sung (tunelessly and in this case, as it was the more self conscious juniors, quietly) was by the late great Sydney Carter, author, poet and musician, who died an atheist after many years of searching. The words, as ever, filled me with glee, he would find no welcome on a more orthodox platform, but his ideas of life that needed to be lived, and if necessary, lived without faith and lived gloriously, continue to grasp and inspire me when I revisit them.

So as I drove onto the M50, the hills in the distance, the greenery lit up in the sunlight, I hummed away tunelessly Sydney Carter's carol (as he called all his songs...) and laughed at the memory of small children in big hats and huge aprons showing how much they loved their mums.


Round the corners of the world I turn
More and more about the world I learn
From the old things to the new
Keep me travelling along with you

And it's from the old
I travel to the new
Keep me travelling along with you

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Journey....

By Mary Oliver (Dream Work, Grove Atlantis.)
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy was terrible.

It was already late enough,
and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
Determined to do the only thing you could do --
Determined to save the only life you could save.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Son2

I couldn't have a son1 post and not follow it with a son2 post.
Everyone should also have a son2. I discussed this earlier with son2, who was in full agreement.
I had just told him of our plans for son1 to go to residential college for a year, which may not come off, in Sept 2008.
He face fell.
He'll come back at half terms and holidays, I quickly added and he smiled.
He likes having his brother round mostly, though he can be a tremendous burden on him. Son1 sees son2 as being his own personal entertainer, guide, bodyguard, counsellor, playmate, punchbag, expert in games and best friend. He is desolate when son2 takes off with his friends for the day and will ask every 5 minutes when he will be back.
Son2 carries this heavy burden with the impish charm and laconic manner that makes everyone, teachers, fellow students, family, friends, fall in love with him and want to spend time with him. He has a little adolescent side, that answers in grunts and monosyllables, especially if homework or bed is mentioned, but he knows this and he sees it as his right and duty, indeed, to be rebellious.
He thinks freely and independently, still believing in God but not seeing a God of punishment and hell as one that he could particularly relate to. His God seems more like a companion to walk through life with, who sits and watches and laughs just as uproariously at the rest of us at Son2's mad ideas, sarcastic monologues and witty humour.
"Everyone should have the Son1 and Son2 option" he said to me; "Gives a good balance." It matures Son2, entertains him, gives him responsibility and insight early and gives the rest of us refreshment, lightness in the heart and something wonderful to greet us on our return home from work at night.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Son1

Every family should have at least one Son1- T - to keep them sane and on the right path.
Now yes, I agree, Son1's do bring with them all sorts of difficulties...and son1's do suffer a lot, but they bring with them all sorts of benefits. They help keep things in perspective for a start...
And they speak their mind.
Totally above dissembling, tact, able to see straight to the heart of the matter.
Not afraid either, if it needs saying, bring along son1, and he will say it.
"Mum, you know your hair? It looks ridiculous."
"Why do you say that Grandma? No one would help you? You didn't even ask anyone."
Everyone else standing round, wondering how to put it so no one gets hurt.
He sees the truth and says it.
And no one gets hurt.
I knew my hair was ridiculous.
Just couldn't be bothered to do anything about it.
Grandma knew she was playing games.
Her forte
Just didn't want to admit it.

He sits like our collective conscience on our shoulders, our eyes to see the world as it is, not as we want to see, to see us as we are, not as we wish to be perceived, our ears to hear the truth we need to hear.

So, here is to son1s wherever they are.
Let us hope the world will always recognise their valuable contribution to keeping us human and sane....

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Desperation

“Beautiful Lady, we pray
Reveal to us, the love that you portray.
Your words so gentle, O sinless queen
Your heart so pure,Star of the Sea.
Ave Maria…”

Lying in bed, words flow through my head.
Images of the day.
Some good- A for science and hugs accepted
Some wonderful- the love of two people for 50 years celebrated in a warm friendly Mass, where tears flowed as I sang the words above
Some deeply sad- as I learnt she had died, the Angel that lived with little thought for herself.

Some desperate.
Tears more than once.

Flowing as I faced a column marked "work" to fill in....
As I faced to never seeing the Angel again
As I faced up to the emptiness of the depths, the needs and desires and wants that lay and lie unfulfilled now and forever
As I faced up to that which I had become, that which I always had been, that which I always would be....

Stark past bringing into focus an even starker future
Sometimes you can't make it on your own
and as I recognised the depths of the other
I realise that to the other I am the someone
The one who stops him falling into his deep despair.

One more thing to face up to.....

Friday, March 09, 2007

Frightened Rabbit

"You look like a frightened rabbit again"
I knew I did
Frightened rabbit mode
Frozen in headlights, still as can be, hoping all will pass by leaving me safe and secure.
When first?
As a child, with the stranger whose face and name will remain ever unknown but whose action is burnt deep into my being.
But more often, as a teenager, with Her.
The anger, the shouting, bringing on rabbit, who froze then when told, the bolting, the leaving.
Out of her sight.
Hiding.
Lying behind the couch, safe and secure
Crying, sobbing, wanting the storm to pass.
Deep down, wanting her to search, to come, to say all is well, are you OK? I love you...
That miracle never happened.
Those words were never said.
Others were...
You quitter
You'd look pretty if you weren't so fat.
Just be thankful you are not like her....

The storm would only pass when I got up and found her again and said "Sorry, all my fault, I'm to blame, I won't do it again, forgive me, please."

Easier to be a frightened rabbit.
To stand and freeze, physically, mentally, emotionally.
Not to feel or think, let it all pass over you.
The anger, the shouting, the words of disgust.
Words inwardly taken, now part of my view.


But now, time for change.
Time to unfreeze, stop running and hiding.
Stop being a rabbit and face the storms...

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Come out, come out part 2

"Mum, are you gay?"

Now that is not a question you expect your 15 year old son to ask. He actually said mum are you a lesbian, but it looks better like that.
I swallowed.
Why is my son asking me this?
Um, what to say?
Thinking quickly, I said to him"Why do you ask?"
My 15 year old has no need of assertiveness classes.
Patiently he repeated the question, several times, leaving me in no doubt he was curious for some reason and wanted an answer...

Dissemble? Prevaricate?
Tried both, he just kept firing the ultimate question at me.

So I told him the story, in suitable words, that I wrote last time and he listened in silence.

"So will you leave Dad?" a worry clearly visible on his face.

I explained his dad had known for a long time and that we had no intention of leaving each other. I loved dad, he loved me and we both loved him and his brother. I told him I thought of myself as bisexual now, but a bisexual in a monogamous relationship with his father, not about to run off with any man or any woman. The family was where I belong and where I stay...

He thought.
He grinned.
"Does Mgu know? (My mother.) Can I tell her if she doesn't?"
Blackmail opportunist!

He laughed and reassured me he would never tell anyone without my permission and we moved onto talk about other things.

I have no idea why he asked, he says it was a bit of a joke and I guess having seen my stunned reaction to the question, he wanted an answer, a truthful answer.
Was I right to give it to him?
I think so, I have no reason not to tell him, no reason to lie to him. He is old enough to ask the question and old enough to know.
But much further it should not go.
However well my parents have taken my lapse from the faith, this might be a bridge too far.
So this is as far as I come, at the moment....

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Come out, come out, wherever you are....

Posted this somewhere else today in response to a debate on catholics, marriage and sexuality...

Re the whole bisexual thing...
a little story about the Catholic Church and sexuality and how it has affected me...

When I was 17/18, i was not attracted to men at all, in fact I was somewhat repulsed by the dirty hairy creatures. I knew where my attractions lay, I knew I was gay in fact and had to reconcile that with parents whose views on sexuality were rigid and unforgiving and a church that I saw in the same way. Sex was for marriage, being gay was an aberration to be treated. My mother had told me rejection of her faith was a rejection of her and to sum up in British understatement mode, I spent a worried few years. I rang gay helplines more than once but finally concluded the only way to avoid sure hell fire damnation was to continue with an earlier plan of being a nun and live a celibate life.

Scroll on ten or so years, and I met hubbie on a trip to Lourdes, who is still the most amazing man, my best friend and someone who just "lives the gospel." We got on; had similar senses of humour, similar beliefs and we "courted" and married. But underneath it all, I knew all along, like those thousands others spoke of, that my inclinations were entirely in another direction. Fortunately, hubbie being the type of man he is, after many years of not talking about the obvious problems, when we did, we found a way to work round things. We are still a family, and intend to remain a family, as once we both promised, till death do we part.

The Catholic Church's teaching on this caused the earlier years of my life to be confusing, and agonising and it does the same for thousands more. It can result in people hating part of themselves, rejecting it, which, as others have said, can lead to much unhappiness in families. I'm just one of the fortunate ones who have been able to resolve some of the issues, but I am still left living a life which could have been so different if I hadn't been a Catholic.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Exploring- progress report

For the past few months, I've been on what I guess I can only call a selfish voyage of discovery.
But it has thrown up a great deal about myself that I didn't know, or rather, that I always knew, but didn't admit.
Or had admitted once, many moons ago, but because of my fear and the beliefs I held, because of the family I was born into, I rejected as being part of myself and tried to bury it, under piles of rationalising and spiritual striving that was always destined to fail.
And as a result, I spent many years bitterly unhappy, this square peg, trying to convince herself and everyone round here that she was round, like the rest of them.
As I started my exploring, I came across a guide.
I don't know if it would have taken the path it has without that guide. Doorways in my mind have opened to things once thought, done, seen and forgotten. New experiences have impacted on my life, and hubbie's life as a result.
Are things better now?
Yes and no.
Yes, there is more honesty in our relationship, more understanding of why we married and what we didn't think about when we married.
Yes, we both know we want to be together "warts and all" for as long as we both shall live, as we once promised.
And yes, maybe at the moment, my ideas and thoughts and actions are a little, how did hubbie put it......"wild and way out"..... but in a way, having sat for so long on so much passion and desire, it's hardly surprising.
"You'll calm down" he says, laughing at my latest purchase or venture or revelation, ever confident that we can ride this storm, like all those others we have faced...

And not better-
well, things that were done cannot be undone.
Things that were not done will never be experienced and part of me weeps and grieves for what could have been, should have been, would have been...

But overall, yes beats no, and with exploring continuing and getting into deeper waters and darker caverns.....who knows what may be next?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Snowdrops


On Sunday we went to the Snowdrop woods and walked as best we were able around the paths that wind their way in and out of the trees. The grass not visible, covered in a sea of white snowdrops.

T as ever had a tizzy mood. He was starving and needed to eat. Couldn't possibly continue walking and would I stop taking photos NOW! I negotiated 5 minutes to take a few snaps, then left the camera with Mw and walked back to the cafe with T. Where he had chocolate cake and apple juice and talked ceaslessly about his latest game.

Half an hour later, the others joined us, good timing as I had just brought soup and rolls for them to warm them up. Mw had taken beautiful photos and M had too.

And I sighed inside, knowing that this is how things are, how things will be...

But I can cope. And I saw the beautiful snowdrops, shining brightly in the sun.

And thought of my favourite poem...


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.