Category: Noticed in the news

Going away for a break

Going away for a break

Wow. This week has been really emotional, with so many really sad tragic things happening – the Grenfell Tower disaster, two terrorist attacks in London, another attempt in Paris, another major attack in Mosul – so much pain. I desperately want to be able to “do something”. Help. Bring some hope. Bring the merciful love of our Heavenly Father into this pain.

My partner and I have taken some action to do this and I’ll post more on that separately.

Meanwhile I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. I’ve had a couple of appointments with the pain clinic which have been very draining and in some ways upsetting. I’m sure I’m going to learn things that really help there and I have to try to keep going, keep trying, keep open to what they’re saying and offering even through the parts of it that hurt.

Today my partner and I are going away for a few days. We are staying in a besutiful hotel. We’re going to meet up with some of his family and my goddaughters’ family too. This is the first time in I don’t know how many years that I’ve been away on holiday. It’s not to a totally unknown area but I’m anxious. It’s a huge thing for me to go away and stay somewhere I don’t know and to stay a few days. I am excited too and know I really need a break. Most importantly I’m looking forward to some time to spend with my partner, talk and pray together, and share home calmly rather than constantly running around at the point of exhaustion and it seeming that time in which we can be there for each other and be thankful for each other sometimes comes last. I’m thankful for these coming days and pray for God’s blessing on our time together.

There’s a pool at the hotel and I have made up my mind that for the first time in about 7 years I’m going to get in the pool. I’m going to try to do some of the exercises my pain physiotherapist gave me and try to swim a little. It should be fun but also a great challenge to overcome as I haven’t been in a pool since I used to swim obsessively to try to lose weight when I was in the grip of bulimia.

So it will be a weekend of firsts and implementing some beautiful changes, please God.

Wishing you all good things this weekend.

Ginny xxx

 

Update long overdue!

It is a really hectic, up and down time at the moment and I’m much overdue posting. It has been hard to gather my words. I don’t make a habit of 2am posts – certainly not the best time of day for coherent writing – but I did not get to finish this earlier and it felt important to write before a big change coming up for me in the morning.

Belatedly, wishing you good things this New Year. I think I can just about say this since it’s still January! I’m praying that positive times and opportunities come for you and God’s blessings are shown to you to encourage you each day.

January is always a strange time, cold and empty in a way, after Christmas. Right now, so much seems unsettled, in the world, for my loved ones and in my personal life. I’ve written that before not long ago and of course it has not magically changed with the new year; if anything it seems all the more apparent. I’m trying to give generously of time and resources and friendship, for example to friends in need, and that’s how we encounter Christ in every day. But I’m feeling twisted apart inside because I come up against my limitations, what I cannot give and cannot resolve.  The family in my block, both of the partners seriously ill, whose Benefits have been suspended unresolved for weeks so they have no food, heating or electricity. My friend who has already suffered terribly and now faces more surgical procedures, my friend who has been homeless for almost a year and whose life may be in danger… to the thousands on thousands of people seeking asylum, the fear taking hold giving weight to insular policies that seem to offer protection but perhaps already spiral out of control. (The Mexico border “wall” seems to me to teetering somewhere between bizarre Divergent- trilogy-esque images and more than echoes of the Cold War era eastern block policies.)

I steer away from political issues in this blog but I think this turmoil hits ever closer to home. We hope that in times of hardship we come together and hold onto what matters most but I’m starting to think a certain level of hardship and fear brings only divisions. Then again, in my faith I believe somehow this must not be true because Jesus became Man to suffer and experience everything we suffer and go through. And He is all Love. Love came here, into the darkness and despair. Nothing changes Jesus. The despair and dark and hurt didn’t change Him, didn’t change love. So Love is here, Love suffers and struggles, but isn’t extinguished, so even in the hardest times, it’s love that remains – not division and conflict . I mustn’t lose sight of that.

This post has diverged somewhat from the update I originally planned. Probably to do with the fact that it’s 2am. I’m going to try to get back on track.

Since Christmas, I feel I have not been able to catch up at all. Usually, I have a big clear out, going through cupboards and drawers and so on and decluttering. I haven’t managed this at all. I’m frustrated with myself that I can’t keep on top of the housework at all. My emotions are bubbling over and have been for some time and I feel I have no resilience to cope with straightforward things. Saying that, maybe a lot is happening at the moment. I’m about to be discharged from the personality disorders community service I’ve had therapy in for the past 2 years. I’ve been trying to find support and things I can get in place for after my discharge. This has not been easy and actually it has been quite distressing because I have been promised a lot of treatment I haven’t had and I’m left with major mental health issues unadressed. On the positive side, I have made contact with a peer support worker and Recovery Coach who are going to help me short term and I think this will be really valuable. I have also signed up for some courses at a Recovery College, which I’ll post about (and explain) next week.

My physical health is not going through a great patch just now. The cold always makes the pain worse so that’s part of the reason. I have had to give in to the fact I need a wheelchair sometimes now and I’m looking at getting a mobility scooter. At least this will help me be less isolated and take a little stress away perhaps, because I’ll be more able to take part in things outside my home, like my volunteer work.

Practically at home, I am going rapidly up the wall at the company who should be repairing my boiler. I have had problem upon problem since November and now have no heating or hot water. I feel they have handled the whole thing terribly (7 canceled appointments for a start, having to phone 6 times to arrange a very simple thing, and so on, then them accusing me falsely of missing appointments). Ggrrr!! I know this is just part of life but in the state I’m in at the moment, I can’t cope with this, and feel very frustrated with myself for that. My emotions explode out of all control. Then I get angry with myself because so many people are going through so much worse.

A close friend has serious housing issues as well as a huge number of health problems. I’m trying to be there and do what I can. Cook hot food and support him with form filling and trying to get him a support worker who could help. It is a little way I can try to help and use the knowledge I’ve gathered from my own housing issues in the past.

I’m going to stop here. Later this morning is my last group therapy session and this will be a really really hard lot of goodbyes. I’ve been writing thank-yous and goodbyes, some of the hardest cards I’ve ever had to write. I’m sure I’ll write more about this last session and ending therapy, in the coming days. At the moment I’m struggling to find the words. I’ve cried so much today.

Ginny xxx

 

 

Christmas Day – “O hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing!”

Christmas Day – “O hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing!”

Christmas morning! We’ve arrived. Christ Our Lord gives Himself to us in tender love and mercy. Come, let us adore Him, the Christ Child in the manger.

What a year it has been, personally for me, for my loved ones, for this whole world. Falling over the same stumbling blocks and falling into the same sins, or losing sight of hope in the face of fear, flashbacks, overwhelming emotions that can block out everything I want to believe in, it does not take much to make me despair and think God’s mercy has run out for me and He will cast me aside and say I do not know Him. Looking at what’s happening, here, in my family, in the UK, in stricken countries like Syria, never have I felt so helpless here and now faced with such need, fear, suffering, the very present threats of acts of terrorism, the devastation and loss wracking so many people. It is so hard to know how to respond and easy to feel very afraid.

At the vigil Mass last night, we sang “It came upon a midnight clear” after Communion. This is not one of the carols I know best but never did this verse seem so apt:

Yet with the woes of sin and strife, this world has suffered long;

Beneath the angel-strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong,

And man at war with man hears not the love song which they bring –

O hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing!”

So often I, we, cannot hear the song that Our God sings to us His beloved. Shame, fear, despair, self-disgust, pride, all can make this “still small voice” harder to hear. I was praying, feeling despair and the voices were saying to me, how could God look at me now, how could He look at my foul disgusting weak lazy heart. The Lord answered me in prayer, “My gaze is longing Love.” And He called me to draw near in prayer to the manger at Bethlehem, with His Holy Mother and St Joseph’s protection.

The nativity is the sweetest song of love for us. God who brought this whole world into being, who shaped the seas and land and skies, who brought each of us into being in love, is come in humility, even vulnerability, as a little Baby, reaching out to us, fully sharing our human lives. He was born into darkness, poverty, homelessness, a world confused and at war. The Priest told us in his homily last night, when we look at the Christ Child, we see the certain knowledge that God never gives up on us. He delights in each of us. He delights in us so much that He chose to be born as one of us. And I think He chose to be born, needing us, needing our simple answer “yes” to receiving Him, yes to resting in His loving gaze, to holding Him in our minds and hearts, to carrying His hope into the world, to encountering Him anew each day but most especially this Christmas morning. So we learn to “give back the song which now the angels sing” in the words of the carol.

You are in my prayers today. I feel deeply thankful to you for reading, commenting, your thoughts, prayers and support and the experiences you share on this journey. I know that for many of us Christmas and New Year is not an easy time and it gives rise to deep, erratic emotions and maybe painful memories. I struggle at this time. Through all the joy of the gift of God this day, I feel overwhelmed and unstable, emotions heightened, the pain of losses and traumatic effects associated with this time and deepened, and the needs, expectations and rush of the holiday period are not easy to face. I’m very blessed not to be alone, to have two special friends to celebrate with quietly today, and to have these couple of friends and the blogging community here with whom I can share honestly. Thank you.

I’m wishing you plenty of moments of happiness; peace deep in your heart through whatever path you are on; that you can experience friendship, care and support; that in the hardest times there are little things to give you hope bit by bit; most of all, that you know the love of God who delights in you.

“…And ye, beneath life’s crushing load
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! The days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
The blessed angels sing.”

[From “It came upon a midnight clear” by Edmund Sears (music by Richard Storrs Willis) – see here for full lyrics ]

Wishing you a blessed Christmas.

Ginny xxx

[Image from “The Nativity Story”]

 

 

“To one who will forever dwell in love and cherished memory” – Remembrance Day 2017

“To one who will forever dwell in love and cherished memory” – Remembrance Day 2017

11 November – Remembrance Day…

I think this year I feel more thankful than ever to be living in a stable and peaceful part of the world and feel the call stronger to pray for and work for those who do not have stability and who have been impacted by the effects of war. So many have given and are giving their lives.

…Yet while onlookers stand and see the simple, moving ceremony

There is a home, a place somewhere, where sits a waiting, vacant chair

And one great yawning empty space in someone’s heart, no last embrace

To bid a final, fond farewell to one who will forever dwell

In love and cherished memory, a Husband, Son, eternally.

– From “Home at Last”, by Tony Church (former Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineer)

World Mental Health Day – and guinea pigs

Today 10 October is World Mental Health Day. (For another hour and a half at least – erm, better late than never!) This year the theme is “psychological first aid”, which you can read more about on the World Health Organisation (WHO) website here .

When I worked at a hospital I took a course in “mental health first aid” and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve used the skills and understanding it gave me, across the board in work, social and family situations. It covered everything from gaining a basic insight into various mental health diagnoses, to how to be there for someone who is suffering distress or overwhelming emotions, to how to build psychological wellbeing and recognise the impact of both day to day and unusual events.

Today we marked World Mental Health Day at the community centre I go to for volunteering, creative groups and support. Visitors were encouraged to the centre, we had tea and cakes, discussion and some interesting videos made through the Time to Change campaign (http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/).

I also received a gift from a friend – a lovely book on guinea pigs and a piggie snack for my hopefully-future-guinea-piggies! I don’t know the lady who gave it to me very well and I was touched that she’d be so kind to me.

rspca book.jpg

It’s an RSPCA guide and it has some sweet photos as well as lots of information on how to make them a good living environment.

rspca book inside.jpg

I’ve been reading up on piggies and I’m hoping to be able to get some, possibly by Christmas. I both want to and am nervous about doing it – I’d love to have something to care for but will I be able to look after them well enough? Another friend knows of a guinea pig which may need a new home, though things aren’t certain (guinea pigs prefer to live in pairs, otherwise they can get lonely, and we are not sure how this may work out as this piggie is very nervous and a previous homing did not work out). It was really nice to receive this book today. Not only was it a thoughtful gift, it has encouraged me to have confidence to go through with this and that my friend thinks I’d be able to look after them.

I hope something good happened for you today too.

Ginny xxx

World Mental Health Day – William, Kate & Harry

World Mental Health Day – William, Kate & Harry

I’ve been impressed by the work the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry are doing to de-stigmatise mental health conditions and raise awareness of the importance of being able to access the help we need. You can read about what they have been doing today here.

To my recollection their work and their discussion of their own personal experiences (for example, following Princess Diana’s death) is the first time I’ve heard  a member of the Royal Family openly discussing mental health and wellbeing and the importance of responding with compassion not judgement and stigma. It’s encouraging to me to see this change. Recently, many friends of mine have met with really painful and dangerous discrimination and absence of help when they were really in need (as I have I too in the past).

I’m putting in an application for an opportunity through a service user involvement network to speak, from a service user / patient’s perspective, to medical students about mental health, discrimination and support. I’m happy students recognise the need to learn about it. I don’t know quite how this will progress or if I’ll be chosen but I’ll let you know.

Ginny xxx

Image thanks to http://www.aol.co.uk

Becoming like them would be worse

What a week. On Tuesday, again I was crying, asking, what is happening across the world. Every day there seems to be more violence and anger and fear and it is felt all the more as it erupts in places we thought were safe and stable. The murder of the Priest Fr Jacques Hamel in a small town, St Etienne-du-Rouvray, outside Rouen, was particularly shocking for many reasons including the fact that it shows such acts of war can happen anywhere. Loss of life is equally terrible wherever and whenever it happens and I fully hear the call of those pointing out that atrocities like this go on every day potentially unreported in areas of the world suffering indescribably more than the continent I am privileged to live in. Certainly the spread of attacks in European cities in the last month shakes us by making us realise there is no longer any way we can pretend it is something distant from us or not affecting us.

Some of my family set off today on a holiday driving through France and Spain.  I will be more mindful of their safety and praying all the harder for them than usual. I can’t imagine what it is like living somewhere that has been directly affected. Understandably, there is a call to action. Churches in the UK have all been asked to review their security systems, for example.

One part of the response that I find very alarming is the segregating, defensive, even attacking language and stance that spread quickly in articles and comments on a couple of pages I follow. I can understand the roots of this response, for example, the desire to remove the threat of extremism and restore safety and silence those who preach hate. But very quickly we risk acting in hate ourselves. In the days following Saint Etienne, I read several alarming comments calling for us to take up the crusade against the Muslim world which we supposedly “left unfinished”, saying that anyone who raises their children in the Muslim faith condones these barbaric acts, saying that terrorism spreads from anger (okay, that part I can accept) which spreads from bad education about the source of the Arabic world’s problems and to stop it we have to educate the angry young men who may be recruited by extremists that the Western World is infinitely better than theirs and all their problems are of their own making.

“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”

(John 13 v 35)

Perhaps I’m naive but I was shocked. Of course I am not suggesting tolerance or negotiation with extremism / extremists. However, somehow, I don’t think asserting our superiority is going to calm their anger. I don’t think responding to extremists’ war with a “holy war” of our own is a way to bring peace. Labelling a whole religion or culture on the basis of the way an extremist group twists its teachings and seeking to obliterate it, is not a solution to bring peace. Quickly we become anger and we speak in hate. We become like the aggressors that we fear.

I prefer Fr Dominic LeBrun, Archbishop of Rouen’s, response when he was leaving the World Youth Day pilgrimage in Poland to return to France the day after the attack on Fr Jacques. “I cry out to God with all men of goodwill… The Catholic Church has no arms than prayer and fraternity among men. I will leave behind here hundreds of young people who are the future of true humanity. I ask them not to give up in the face of such violence and to become apostles for a civilisation of love.”

Becoming apostles for a civilisation of love does not mean a saccharine sweet front or a return to Flower Power (!) but a genuine and often painful call to continue through pain, instability, suffering, hate and poverty responding in love – still allowing ourselves to dare to feel things other than anger and coldness that might protect our hearts, allowing ourselves to hope, allowing ourselves to believe somehow that people are foremost created for good, including ourselves.

IMG_0189.JPG

This applies on an intimate scale too. I apply it to my recovery from what I experienced at the hands of my abuser. That way I do not become what she wanted me to become and do not become like her.

If I give up, stop seeking the good in the little things of every day, I become isolated, as she desired. If I believe the voices, which pleases them – and pleased her – then I remain paralysed and in her control. If I shut myself away and do not speak because I know the torment that will go on in my head afterwards because of her twisted words and threats so firmly internalised, her world continues to surround me. If I allow anger to harden my heart then numb me; if I do not dare learn to let anyone love me; if I do not dare to allow my feelings and needs without punishing myself, then she wins.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

(Proverbs 31 v 25)

If I keep looking out and up, I learn to be thankful for a world which teaches us constantly more about our loving Creator. If I counter the voices with God’s Word of truth and life, I become like Him. If I reach out with love wherever I see someone suffering or in need, I forget my own, and good experiences multiply and become more wonderful and more vivid than the fears. If I believe the Lord made us in His image and “clothes with strength and dignity”*, I believe first in my capacity for good and slowly may learn that I am not the evil that she so well convinced me that I am. In all I do, Lord, may “my deeds publicly declare Your praise”*.

Ginny xxx

*Proverbs 31 vs 25 and 31.

 

PS – for fellow NCIS fans…this episode sprang to mind…

becoming like him would be worse

Ziva: This country holds itself to a higher standard. It is a nation of laws which are to be followed not only when it is convenient or easy. I have seen firsthand what happens when convenience wins out.

Tony: You never talk about it.

Ziva: What is there to talk about?

Tony: [Long pause] Come on, Ziva.

Ziva: What Saleem did was bad enough. Becoming like him would be worse.

From NCIS Season 7 – “Masquerade”

PPS: NCIS property of Channel 5 and CBS; directed by Donald Bellisario and produced by Don McGill. Image – Cote de Pablo as Ziva (not from Masquerade because I couldn’t find a suitable appropriate one from Masquerade).

 

As long as we have HOPE

As long as we have HOPE

katniss prim hands

“Fear does not work as long as they have hope, and Katniss Everdeen is giving them hope.” – President Snow, in The Hunger Games – Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Of all possible characters in the Hunger Games trilogy, I did not expect to be quoting President Snow! However, I think Suzanne Collins has voiced a truth here that we can hold on to.

prim volunteer hunger games

Fear does not work as long as you have hope. I’m learning this. I’ve been thinking on it for a few days and it’s a message particularly for today. There has been another terrorist attack in Europe, a lorry driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice in France, killing over 80 people. Waking up to learn this, I felt fear, grief, sadness, helplessness, unable to know what to do, seeing nothing I can do to make the hurt and tragedy better for everyone suffering in this. I can’t imagine how afraid everyone in Nice is.

Fear does not work as long as you have hope. Watching the news there seem to be fewer safe places, nowhere out of reach of the hurt and damage that comes from anger, terrorism and extremism. It comes closer to home both in these violent acts and in the people fleeing even further violence as refugees.

Terrorism is designed to take away hope. I cannot do anything to directly practically change what happened in Nice, or at the Bataclan, or Baghdad, or Turkey. But – as long as we have hope. Hope can start very small and very close to home. I can choose to carry out every little action, with care and attention and love. I can choose thankfulness in my day to day life. I can choose to replace an angry response with a questioning one or a loving one. I can’t get back the lives the terrorists have taken. I can kneel and pray with the grieving. Nothing takes away the suffering for those who have lost lives and lost loved ones, but in choosing to place HOPE in God, in love, in goodness, in every moment being an opportunity for us to be thankful and love, I can stop the terrorists also taking over my heart with the fear and hurt and hate they spread. Every time such frightening and destructive things happen, I can try to be a little more conscious of my choice to hold onto hope and my choice to love others around me. And I have to say – Tammi Kale, you inspired me to take this approach in a comment you left on one of my earlier posts. So a big big THANK YOU to you Tammi.

The same applies to the path of recovering from the fear placed in me by my abuser.  What has happened is terrible and letting her have my heart would be worse – by me becoming fear, hurt, rage, or even cold and numb and unable to bring any fruit. This will be a very long journey, I know, because her grip on my heart and my memories is still very great. Strongest is the deeply planted doubt that it was my fault, that nobody would ever believe a child could be so bad but it was all because of me really, and the doubt that pulls me apart when I dare to speak and the voices that taunt me and scream at me and tell me I’m a fake and a liar and ugly and disgusting. I couldn’t have any hope when I started my treatment. I really needed someone to hold it for me. Gradually, I am learning to hold onto hope for myself. I am learning that I can act in love. I am learning that carrying hurt, pain, need, crying, does not make me evil. I am learning that admitting these feelings does not make me dangerous. I am learning that I am not the feelings.

I am learning to believe in a God who is not repulsed or driven away by darkness and failure. My God says the night is just the same as day to Him. My God says He created me – and you – in His image. His image, not evil, is at the centre of my poor heart, although it is small and hurting and I feel very weak. He has placed us here to become more and more like Him, more closely united to Him, and to be His hands to carry His merciful love in this hurting world. In order to do this, I must learn to be loved, first. And it dawned on me that perhaps I do not know how to be loved because the fear planted by my abuser has taken over so much of my heart. This is going to be a long road, as I said. Being formed into our loving God’s image, and learning to be loved, gives a hope that cannot be taken away. Learning to be loved takes away fear.

katniss prim Hope catching fire

Prim – Since the last games, something is different, I can see it.

Katniss – What can you see?

Prim – Hope.

– The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (movie)

[Stills of Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) and Willow Shields (Prim) from The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; property of Suzanne Collins / Lionsgate Entertainment. Images sourced from fanpop.com and thehungergames.wikia.com]

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

– Rupert Brooke

Today is the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916; the largest battle of the First World War and the greatest loss of life in the history of the British Army.

It is hard to find adequate words for this day as we remember sacrifice on that scale. I wonder if we think enough on the way and the reasons people gave their lives.

When I was at school we made a trip to some of the Somme battlefields and memorials, including the Thiepval memorial (pictured above*) where the commemoration service was held today. I am very thankful that we went there. We walked some of the tracks over the fields; we made our way through ruins of some of the dug-outs and trenches; we counted names on the huge memorials; we passed through lines of stark white crosses. I remember looking at the engraving of the name of one soldier not yet 16. We could not imagine the horror that was suffered and the lives given in those fields but it did give a lasting impression, just a little more, of the scale of the sacrifice and what we remember.

At school we also studied the poem above. Most of the analyses of it focus on Brooke’s patriotism. Yes, of course that love of and gratitude for our homeland is strong and passionate. But the way I read it, it is not an isolating, insular love of our country. It is a generous love. As England blessed The Soldier, so the Soldier is giving himself for a better world, and looking forward to the peace of the pure peace of heaven; he “gives somewhere back” the good that he has, in his life and in his death.

The sacrifices of these soldiers seem all the more poignant to me this year, given the current uncertainty of the future for the peaceful Europe we fought for, sparked by our exit last week. They also remind us that we have come through far worse times than now, and that we have so very much to be thankful for.

– We will remember Them. –

Ginny xxx

*With thanks to somme2016.org for the image

PS – for some reason my blog has decided not to let me insert hyperlinks in my post above tonight 😦 To read more about the 100th anniversary commemorations, you can visit: http://www.somme-battlefields.com/centenary-somme-centenary-14-18/commemorations-2016-countdown-has-begun 

(Br)exit this way…

(Br)exit this way…

[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.

Ginny xxx