Month: June 2016
[Note: I began writing this Friday 24th June]
Today is a strange day in the UK.
Yesterday the people voted in the referendum on Britain’s future in the European Union and early this morning we heard the results – and we have voted to Leave. Just after 8.00am our Prime Minister announced his decision to resign (you can listen to his speech here); by the Conservative Party Conference in October he will have handed over to a new Prime Minister who will begin to negotiate our exit from the EU. There has also been a vote of no confidence by MPs against the leader of the Labour Party.
I don’t normally write about political matters and I somewhat consciously choose to keep them out of this blog. It isn’t what I want the focus to be. In any case I never feel sufficiently well educated, informed and aware to make a view and comment (I know that’s not a good thing and I’m trying to change it). There was certainly no shortage of conflicting messages in the run up to the vote with each side foretelling disastrous consequences of “leave” / “remain” respectively. Another aspect of politics I find very difficult to get my head round is how the explanation of how our lives will be affected in practice by decisions so quickly gets deeply buried beneath interpersonal and inter-party conflict and attacks. If I listen to a political debate I usually get a clear picture of what each person does not want and who they hate but not a clear picture of what they want to make happen and how it will happen in terms of you or I. The fact I get lost when emotions run high (even when it’s other people’s emotions and I’m just observing) doesn’t help!
I can’t talk about the politics but I can say how it feels. Right now it feels very unstable with lots of unknowns. I think we’ve made a decision that’s going to have an impact far longer lasting than the choice of a Prime Minister in a normal general election. We haven’t just chosen our leader for the next few years. We’ve made a choice that affects our and our children’s future relationship with the rest of the Union and quite possibly wider than this. It’s a step defining how we want to interact with the wider world and our changed position will no doubt influence how countries much wider than the EU want to relate to us. Already this morning [Saturday] the consequences of our decision are clearly affecting other European countries’ attitude to us, with France among others demanding the immediate departure of Mr Cameron, the choice of another Prime Minister within days (it’s very hard to see how that could be achieved democratically, is it not?) and the immediate activation of the Article 50. In fact in the short term, for all the Leave campaign emphasised the independence we’d get by exiting the EU, these demands seem to suggest we may still be under the influence of the much less open attitude member states will now have towards us.
I switched on the news straight away around 7.00am Friday when the final count had come in. First of all I was stunned. Perhaps that was naive, but I was. I didn’t think the vote would be so close and I thought that in the end we’d vote to remain in the Union. As soon as David Cameron stepped out to address the press, I felt he was going to resign. I was not particularly a supporter of Mr Cameron but I felt real sadness at his speech. Clearly so did he.
A little later in the morning came a poignant demonstration of the impact the vote has had on people like you or me. A friend of mine is getting married next year and a substantial portion of the money she and her fiance had saved for the wedding and their planned house move was invested. This morning, this money was just gone, just like that, because of the instant effect the outcome of the vote has had on the stock markets. I’m not sure how much it’s possible she will get her money back now the pound is back on the up. As well as hurting for her in the huge blow she’s suffered, I was again stunned. Whilst I had long thought that leaving the EU would be negative economically, I didn’t have a picture of how quickly and how hard it could hit individuals. Was I very unaware? Maybe, but also, I don’t think I’m alone in that. I don’t think there was clear enough information on this kind of impact.
I know that instability and the reaction to the instability is inevitable when there’s a big change and that is not a reason in itself to steer away from a change. But this time I don’t see a clear path of what we are going towards. I won’t go on about the arguments for and against because they’ve been gone through at such length in so many sources already.
One thing that does worry me is that a petition has been raised by supporters of Remain [in the EU], demanding a constitutional change, which would mean that votes with less than a 60% majority and less than 75% turn out of voters were not valid and had to be repeated. This change would then be used to render Thursday’s referendum result invalid and to call another referendum (with the objective of an outcome favorable to Remain).
Now, in some ways I can see their point. It is sad that less than 75% turned out to vote on such an important matter. This may not have been because of indifference or even people feeling unable to choose how to vote – there may have been practical impediments, for instance, there were severe flooding and storms on Thursday afternoon which prevented a significant number of people racing the polling stations. This is most unfortunate. I don’t really know quite how it could be organised but I can see a case that we should have found a way to enable these citizens to cast their vote and have it counted. Still, I don’t know that this would have swung the vote the other way. The problems were not so severe as to account for anything near the 25% of British citizens who didn’t vote. Most of the flooding problems were around London, where locally Remain won the vote anyway.
I find the purpose and basis of what is being asked for in this petition to be very wrong. It has been raised by persons who are not happy with the outcome of a democratic vote in the hope of getting the outcome they want. They are refusing to accept the fact that the majority of citizens voted Leave. I wanted us to Remain but I accept that the majority choice was Leave. We are proud of our democracy. We can’t ignore the outcome of a democratic process just because we don’t like it. Before the vote, it was not stipulated that there had to be a certain percentage majority for the results to be valid. There was plenty of time to consider and apply this if we had wanted to. Again, the petition is calling for it to be introduced after the event to invalidate the democratic results because Remain supporters don’t like it. Plus, introducing a new regulation after the event and then using it to invalidate the previous event seems bizarre and unfair. The law doesn’t work like that. If a new law is introduced, we don’t retrospectively arrest people who “broke” the law before it existed. This should be the same. The only place it would be right to declare the results of a democratic election invalid, in my view, would be if there was reason to think the voting process was not democratic – if people were manipulated, personally threatened or coerced. We risk taking a leap into the territory of trying to control how people vote and manipulating results.
Another rapidly emerging feeling I observe is young people and young voters (teens through early/mid twenties maybe) angry and frustrated towards what they perceive as the older generation who they consider have messed up the future for young people who will have time live with the consequences of our exit the longest. I do not agree and do not think this view is very well founded at all or the accusation fair, but it is powerful. Even in my small circle on social media and at work, this anger is taking hold and turning to hate and angry, accusatory comments. I do not doubt it will soon go beyond comments and real division will be caused. Together with the fact that views are polarised between England and Wales and Scotland and Northern Ireland, it seems we could be heading for a less-United Kingdom!
For me I think it’s clear we have made a lot of decisions based on fear – fear of uncontrolled immigration, fear of losing our identity and independence, fear of the future when so many people struggle materially day to day. For me, the past week has ensured I’ll work harder to understand what is going on in the government of our country rather than avoiding it feeling too intimidated by the acrimony and extreme views and scare stories that surround it.
This month has been even tighter than usual financially. Someone extremely kindly gave me some groceries to help. I received a few items I wouldn’t usually cook with. Two of these were a tin of ‘tender broad beans’ and timed cannelini beans. I decided to see what I could make with those using just the ingredients I had already in the cupboard.
This was the result:
It is hard to make it look appetising in the photo however it was actually really nice (though I slightly over cooked the rice)! I used onion, tinned chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper, mixed herbs and some stock. Using half the beans made plenty for my dinner plus another generous portion I put in the freezer. I still have the other half of the beans left over in the fridge to make something tonight. So all in all it has been extremely economical.
I think it was also nourishing and healthy. I’m really trying to take steps to improve my diet at present because it had become so poor due to trying to keep costs down. I am very unhappy with how my weight has been increasing with my medication and I really want to try to take control back in a healthy way that looks after my body.
When I first started this blog, I was certain that I was going to keep it anonymous. By “anonymous” I mean, for example, I don’t use my full name, I avoid posting anything that would indicate the town I live in and I do not post photos of myself or my loved ones. Recently, I’ve been wondering whether I might change my approach slightly, for instance, disclosing a little more about me, or sharing photos sometimes, or no longer refraining from talking about local groups, services, activities etc that might give away where I live.
It’s a hard decision. I was talking about it with my friend S who suggested “Why don’t you ask other bloggers what they think?” I thought that was a great idea.
So, I’d like to ask you a question: what do you think about blogging anonymously versus revealing personal details? Was this a difficult issue for you? What led you to choose how much you reveal and whether you write anonymously? If you started your blog anonymously but later decided to share more about yourself, or vice versa, what led you to that decision? If you’d like to make any comments I’d be very grateful. Thank you.
I’ll share a few of my own thoughts on the decision I’m trying to make.
Ironically, it’s partly because some of what I post here about my emotions, experiences and relationships is so very personal that I refrain from sharing personally identifiable information. Many of the experiences I talk about are very painful and intimate, especially those from my childhood. If someone I know as an acquaintance or colleague (rather than a very close friend) came across my blog and learned what had happened to me then I might feel really uncomfortable to say the least. At the start of my blogging, anonymity let me write more freely. Also, I didn’t know what kind of reaction I might meet with. Allowing myself to be identified could have made me vulnerable if I encountered unpleasant or harassing “followers”. In fact this hasn’t happened at all; since I started my blog I’ve been very blessed to have caring and supportive visitors to my pages who have become friends and that’s a huge gift. THANK YOU! It’s now partly because you have become friends that I’d feel comfortable sharing, and indeed would like to share, a little bit more.
However I also know that if I were to be identified my blog might affect not only me but my friends, family and the professionals who care for me.
I’ve written about relationships breaking down and hurt I feel. I’ve shared sensitive experiences that involved others, such as my childhood abuse and relationships in my family when I was growing up. When I mention someone else I never give their name, only an initial sometimes, but if I were to be identified through my blog by someone who knows me (say, through work or a friend of a friend) then other people I’ve mentioned in my posts potentially are more likely to be identifiable too. It’s a small world, as the saying goes, and I don’t have that many friends! 😉 My friends and family may not want to be identified, or they may be upset. The anonymity of the internet does not give me the right to be horrible about people and I try hard not to write personal things about other people or things I wouldn’t say to the person directly. However I’m inevitably only writing my own experience and perception. In another person’s view it may not be balanced. On the flip side of this, I try to write positive things and express gratitude about the good friends I do have in my life and it would be nice to share more of that.
As well as considering my friends, I have to consider the hospital and my doctors and the therapy programme I attend. There aren’t many specific personality disorder services in the UK and if I say where I live, which hospital I attend will likely become clear to anyone else vaguely local with knowledge of PD. I might worry about anyone making a judgment about the hospital or therapy on the basis of what I write. It’s just me, after all.
Equally there is a lot about the support I get that is great and I would like to share this to help others. Having experienced at least 15 years of mental health issues, slowly I’ve come across sources of support and services that can really really help, some in times of crisis and some day to day. A lot of them are not easy to find. I’d love to write about them and how they’ve helped me, in case this in turn helps others and because I think they deserve recognition. So far I’ve held back so as to avoid revealing my location. Perhaps that is over-cautious of me.
You get the picture that I’m in two minds about this at the moment!
[WARNING: this post contains content that may be distressing including mention of past abuse and things said and done to me by my abuser; it also reflects my very distressed and confused state. If this may be upsetting or unhelpful I would suggest giving this one a miss.]
It’s been a really bad day.
I’m sorry I can’t post quite what I said yesterday that I would although this is quite closely related.
I can’t do anything right now really. I’ve never felt so lost and fragmented. My thoughts are racing but I can’t get them into words. I’m freezing cold. I literally feel far from everything real. I tried to go for a walk to calm down. Everything around me – trees, people, sounds of talking around me, the ground – seemed to be existing and happening further away than usual behind a screen. The pain and exhaustion is intense and shattering.
Something inside me that was the last thing pushing me forward even in the mess things are, seems to have switched off. I can’t do anything. I don’t want anything except desperately wanting someone to hold me. I don’t know for sure what I feel apart from lost.
I feel a total failure. Failure as a friend. Failure in what everyone else can do. Failure as a Catholic. Failure at being. Not enough.
My friend told me he’s known for years I’m angry. That terrifies me. I have done everything to stop it getting out. I stopped eating. I cut myself. I overdosed. In the end it came back to stopping the evil getting out of me. It didn’t work. Everything I feared. There are evil things in me I can’t control. They got out when I was a child. What my mother said is coming true. I can’t even hurt myself enough to stop it getting out.
He said I’m too angry to let God in; that I don’t want God to love me, I always want there to be a barrier, I won’t let God love me.
But I thought nothing could stop God’s love. I so want to love God. It has never occurred to me to think I don’t want God to love me. I don’t think I please God and I don’t think I love Him enough and it is very hard to truly believe He does love me. I find it very hard to think He does want me and I’m terrified whatever i do, in the end He’ll reject me and everyone will see how bad i am and I’ll be damned. But to think I don’t want God to love me? It terrifies me.
The thought terrifies me constantly that my real desires and motivations are evil however much i want them to be good and even when I think they are good. That God knows and other people know they’re bad really. That it’ll be exposed sooner or later. That it means I can never be loved and never be good.
Just like when my mother told me, she’d be taken away because of me or whatever she was threatening at the time, I’d fool people it was because of her but she’d know and I’d know it was all because of me really. Nobody would believe a child could be that bad but really it would all be because of me. When all along I didn’t know what I’d done wrong and desperately tried to do what she wanted and needed, it turned out that was how bad I was really. I took in totally on board.
And – they’ll know you enjoyed it, she’d say after she put her hands in me. They’ll know you wanted it and you enjoyed it. Mind you don’t do that, don’t breathe like that, or they’ll realise. It hurt and I was frightened but she told me they’d realise I wanted it. It plays over and over in my mind now. The thought that I wanted it, is as bad again as what she did. And when she had me do things. You love that don’t you, you really like it…. I wonder if anyone’s listening. ..no one would believe it’s all because of you, daddy and I would be taken away and you’d be sent to a special school for morons. Are you a moron?
Another time, just because i couldn’t do something – Look, this is a toddler walking rein. This is what you put on babies when you go out. So if you’re going to pretend, we’ll put this on you whenever we go out so everyone knows you’re a baby.
As a kid I knew I was evil. But even as a kid I wanted to be loved. I wanted it but I knew I was too bad really.
I’m fragmenting now.
Now my friend has said I don’t want God’s love. I don’t want a relationship with God. I want to put up barriers. I’m too angry. I didn’t think it was possible not to let God love. My only hope was we can’t stop God loving. But he said I refuse to receive it. What I feel is shaken and darkness and alone and losing one by one everything that gave me any stability at all. I try to read the Bible and I feel fear. Where I should feel hope. Where my friend tells me i should feel hope and joy and I just have to keep on doing it and i have to make the choice and if hopelessness carries on it’s a choice. My friend said he doesn’t think I’ve really tried to pray. That I haven’t kept doing it. That if I don’t feel hope I have to stir myself back up to it. That it works for most people so why would I be different, why wouldn’t it work for me? I repeat words I cannot believe and promises I cannot feel and try to follow a God I cannot find, I am twisted inside trying to act against everything I feel and say only what I want to believe but isn’t real in my heart.
I am completely lost. The relationships that meant most to me all broke down and it turned out I’m not a good enough friend, that when I was trying everything I could to do good and to keep all the frightening horrible evil things inside me, I was just a burden.
I have lost any grasp on what I can trust. I’ve lost any grasp on my faith. I think I desperately want my God – i thought I did, at least that was sure, although I found it impossible to believe He could want me. The terror of the harm I do and the evil that will come out of me and knowing I can never really know if I think or mean or want what I think I do, was too great. But now I have been told I don’t even want God, am too angry to want God’s love. I’m utterly shaken. Have I never had any faith. …if despite everything I really don’t even want God and everyone but me knows that then I’ve never had any faith and I’m lost.
This is absolute pain now. I cannot function. I am so frightened.
Two things were said to me yesterday which have given rise to strong feelings and thoughts for me.
The first was that hope is always there and it’s a choice and we choose whether to accept or deny it.
The second was that healing of even awful pain is possible but we have to want it.
These statements and what they imply and the thoughts they lead to are very hard for me.
Tomorrow I will post again on this topic. For now I’m really interested to know what you think. Do you agree? What do you think? Do the statements imply particular things for you or give rise to strong feelings?
I know it’s a bit strange without the context but I did not want to cloud the issue with my own strong interpretations and what I felt. Tomorrow I’ll write about that…but first I’m really interested in any thoughts you may want to share in the comments.
I know this is random but it was very cute and I thought it might make you smile.
A couple of weeks ago I shared a picture of a family of ducks on the river.
Well, passing that way again, I noticed the little family settled down for the evening on the river bank. Mummy duck seemed to have between ten and twelve ducklings! I wasn’t quite sure and didn’t want to get too close in case I should disturb them. Nevertheless mother duck certainly has her hands (wings?) full.
PS – Unfortunately the river gets very dirty in this spot. To my surprise the ducks actually seem to enjoy eating the green algae that grows on the surface!
Lots of lovely wildflowers are coming into bloom this time of year, sometimes in unexpected places.
I found some especially bright poppies by the supermarket:
Where I grew up we called this one cow parsley!
The other day I stumbled across this stunning rose in an otherwise unkempt garden.
I love how sometimes you find brilliantly coloured, delicate flowers growing in the most unlikely places, like little purple blossoms growing across a stone wall or this poppy springing up from arid, grey, hardened soil.
The little blooms are not as fragile as they appear. They thrive in barren conditions. They draw their life and water much deeper than we see.
Perhaps it’s the same with our hearts and souls when we have travelled a hard road of suffering and abandonment and pain and are trying to find the way to recovery. Gradually or suddenly the path bears fruit and something beautiful comes to life at the most unexpected time. As we draw deeper and deeper strength we bloom like that poppy in arid, unstable soil, finding something unshakeable that lets us flourish. Exactly what it is, is probably different for each of us. Then we can even inspire and strengthen others.
“Every flower created by [God] is beautiful; the brilliance of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not lessen the perfume of the violet or the sweet simplicity of the daisy. I understood that if all the lowly flowers wished to be roses, nature would lose its loveliness. And so it is in the world of souls, which is the living garden of the Lord.” – St Therese of Lisieux