Tag: OCD

Where do the words go?

Where do the words go?

I’ve been trying to catch up on my commitments after a really difficult few weeks of being unstable or cut off and dissociated, following the contact from my abuser and the issues that came up during my meeting with the police.
This catching up has involved writing several emails, and putting together feedback on a document I’ve been asked to help put together. (I’m helping compile some material that may go towards a course supporting others with mental health conditions to manage money and debts.)

I have wanted to do this. I care about these topics and the other people I’m writing for. Yet it is a fight to get myself together to do it. My concentration is terrible. My brain seems to be exhausted quickly. It takes me so long to get down a few sentences that I then get frustrated about that itself, which doesn’t help. Thoughts, connected thoughts, then ever more rapidly spiraling thoughts, whip round my head out of control. But this doesn’t help me write. I can’t translate the thoughts into written or spoken words. I don’t know how that can be, since the thoughts must be in words! Where do the words go? Why does the spiralling take over til suddenly every idea is lost, any communication impossible, and an aching, frozen foggy feeling envelopes me?
The only thing loud and clear then are the voices telling me what a load of rubbish my ideas and words are, how I’ll hurt or be disrespectful to someone (or whatever the specific fear is that day), how nobody would want to read this, how it’s worthless….
An email that I’d think should be simple, which I think other people would expect had taken me a few minutes, can take me a couple of hours, including my obsessive checking once I have managed to get any sentences written down. When I was in office work, I was noticeably slow or would lose track of the passage of time. Sometimes, the same experiences stop me writing here, though they are not usually as bad. I’m inefficient and left exhausted. I turn to comfort behavior lile uncontrollable constantly eating sweet “bad” foods because of an unsettling aching hunger that probably isn’t really for food but I can’t satisfy otherwise.

***
I wrote the above a couple of weeks ago but ironically, didn’t finish the post. Today I have an article to write for an online mental health magazine. I’m writing about my experiences of debt and difficulties controlling my spending with BPD. I’m struggling. I wonder if I’ll find this a bit easier than the feedback I was trying to write, as I might not be so anxious about reflecting on what someone else has written, about what they might feel, about what we’ve discussed and whether I’ve paid attention and remembered correctly.

Ginny xxx

Getting stuck on a loop

I’m gradually coming to notice when I re-experience feelings associated to long past experiences of abuse. I’ve described this as emotional flashbacks. They can include re-experiencing physical sensations of events, but also and often more overwhelmingly, emotional experiences. This often leads to certain thoughts being triggered and impulsive, uncontrollable actions that aren’t necessarily helpful for me or others. (I say uncontrollable. I must still take responsibility for them though I do not yet manage successfully control them and the impact the feelings have on me.)

I’m also noticing that I re-experience feelings and thoughts associated to more recent events; events which are not nearly as damaging as the abuse and trauma I experienced as a child. Sometimes, I can identify that the event triggered a deeper memory, which to some extent explains my reaction. But frequently, I can’t identify this. It is like feeling stuck on a loop. It causes me a lot of guilt and anger at myself. I feel I am being childish and self-centred because I should just get over it. I feel guilty, especially when it leads me to think over and over a time when somebody upset or hurt me, because I ought to be forgiving them. If I am repeatedly thinking of the hurt and wrong caused to me, I am holding it against them, not truly forgiving and I am keeping a barrier between them and me. God forgives us fully and it is as though our offences are blotted out. When we receive his forgiveness, we are washed “whiter than snow” and He does not look any more on our transgressions. Who am I to think I’m so important that things that hurt me play over and over in my mind? I’m reminded of someone close to me telling me “nobody else is responsible for making you feel better” “I’m going to be completely straight with you and I don’t have to think about what you’re feeling”. Am I making other people responsible for my feelings by my inability to move on? Am I making everything about me? I really fear that.

An example of such an event and consequentially getting “stuck in a loop” occurred this weekend. It’s a fairly low intensity example. Yesterday, I was in the street when I was stopped by a charity fundraiser – there are many of these people in shopping streets in my city, stopping people and wanting to take their personal details and sign them up to make regular donations. This person both irritated and intimidated me immediately. I watched him approach a lady who was a little way in front of me and follow her up the street. He then came up to me, coming uncomfortably close and half-blocking my path. I think this kind of approach is particularly intimidating to me since I’m disabled, unsteady on my feet and walk with a stick (and in my mind it is insensitive and inappropriate to approach in this way someone who you do not know, especially someone who is clearly physically vulnerable). He started to ask me questions and I simply replied “no thank you,” and carried on walking as best I could. I am in no position to give money at the moment and do not want to be signed up to anything, and think the best approach is to firmly but politely refuse to engage with this kind of approach. He then continued to follow me up the street, very close, muttering behind me sarcastically “oh, well that’s just charming” and so on. I was at once frightened and suddenly angry. I turned round and by no means shouting, but firmly, told him “Would you please stop following me. I am not obliged to give you my details. I do not want you to follow me.” “Well that’s incredibly [*&$% expletive deleted] rude of you” he retorted. I told him this was highly inappropriate and asked for the details of the organisation he was working for as I would be making a complaint. Fortunately, I was able to get sight of the ID badge he was wearing as he told me “Good, I hope that you do, because you’re incredibly unpleasant!” and noted the details.

Now, this event should probably no longer be in my mind. I was not hurt. I was probably not in any danger despite his intimidating and verbally aggressive behaviour. Likely as not I will never see him again. I have never heard of the organisation he was working for and have no dealings with them. It was nasty but probably not personally directed at me. It is an unpleasant way for anyone to behave, and all the more inappropriate on the part of someone representing a charity. I felt strongly about that. But it isn’t really an important event. The damage caused to me wasn’t major or worth thinking about (beyond that tomorrow I may make a complaint to the charity as I don’t think he should carry on representing them so poorly or treating other passers-by in the way he treated me and the lady in front of me).

The intensity of the fear and anger I felt at the time was much more than it should have been. It flicked me to come very close to an outburst of upset and anger that wouldn’t have helped anyone. I was able to stop that by the grace of God. I went some way into dissociating, hurting, being out of it but thoughts spiralling in a way too much to catch, being on the edge of going into a nearby shop and impulsively spending, which is one of the responses I’m most at risk of when I’m suddenly angry or upset. Again, I was able to stop myself. Mixed into this was the thought, what if someone was watching me, what would they think of what I had done? Was it my fault and was I wrong? I went home. I felt very low and was starting to shut down and everything I’d planned to do that evening was too much. I’m ashamed to admit this.

I’m more worried right now though, that instead of this whole minor incident now being over, it has come back on this loop in my mind today, several times. My mind has compulsively played over the incident many times, very vividly, but until this has been going on for a period of time, I’ve been unable to acknowledge what’s happening, whilst also being detached from what’s occurring in the present (for instance, no longer hearing the TV that was on, no longer doing the task I was doing). The way my mind has been playing this experience over has been similar to the way obsessional OCD thoughts about bad things I’ve done or am going to do, take hold of my mind. All the emotions I experienced at the time of the incident have come back again. With each obsessional repetition in this loop, my doubt of myself and my own actions in the situation increases, so that I am more convinced that I did wrong, that it must have been my fault, that people were watching me and now know how nasty I am.

Why am I unable to move on from even such an unimportant event? Why are my feelings so extreme at the time and no lower some time after? Why am I so unable to limit the impact of the emotion and the memory of the emotion and event? Does it in some way I do not yet understand, send me back to memory of a more damaging experience? That would give some explanation at least. Or is my experience just totally out of proportion, making me self-centred, self-obsessed, childish?

This event wasn’t particularly emotive in comparison to events that take place with people I know and care about. When upsetting interactions with friends and family get stuck on a loop in this way, it can completely affect and impede my future interactions with them and feelings towards them. I feel this is all my fault through my faulty reactions, emotions and thinking. Ultimately I end up self-punishing and self-harming as the only possible escape and a desperate attempt to punish myself enough for my failure to be an adult and my failure to forgive.

Writing this, it occurs to me that this feeling of being stuck in a loop does not only apply to things done against me. It applies equally to hurt I have caused or fear I have caused others, and other mistakes I have made. Wrong things and stupid things I have done play over and over in my head. The intense feelings of guilt, shame, horror, pain, etc, play over in my head and diminish little in intensity over the years. I regularly have vivid memories of, for example, things said during an argument with my dad and step-mum 3 years ago, or something wrong I did in my work that I worried endangered a patient 5 years ago, a time I stepped out of line with something I said to my boss in a meeting 8 or more years ago… I re-experience all the feelings and they can really shake me. I become afraid of any situations similar to those in which these events occurred, maybe because I believe I’ll do the same wrong again.

Again I wonder if all the feelings I have, whether it be a situation of wrong done by me to others, or a situation of wrong done by others to me and consequential hurt, in some way are (a lesser intensity of) feelings that were overwhelming and terrifying during the years of my abuse.

I also know that in personality disorders, emotions usually reach a higher intensity more quickly, and stay at the higher intensity for longer, than in people without personality disorder. I guess that explains to some extent why the feeling hangs around for longer, though not the vivid mental replaying of inconsequential events.

I desperately want an answer and I think I’ll talk about this in my 1:1 therapy tomorrow.

***

I wonder have you had similar experiences? Have you felt stuck on a loop remembering experiences or having thoughts and emotions you want to let go, but can’t?

Ginny xxx

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #6

A closing drawbridge and a silent cry – Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #6

Protection in Emptiness

Eating Disorders and Personality Disorder – #6

“Closing the drawbridge” – eating disorders and rigidity

PLEASE READ WITH CAUTION – this post contains discussion of eating disorders (primarily anorexia), description of my eating-disordered thinking patterns, and a link to an article about studies on calorie restriction

[Wow, again it has been too long since I have posted in this series. Sorry.]

Many books about eating disorders, in particular anorexia, mention rigidity of thinking as a symptom which emerges as restriction of food increases and weight drops. When I worked at an eating disorder service, it was frequently described in inpatients on the ward. I’ve been pondering why this is and how much did I experience it when I was anorexic. I never used to think that my eating disorder was about control, although I now would take that back and I think I did use it if not exactly for control, in order to separate myself from my mother’s abuse and protect myself (and, I thought, others too) from demands, emotions and the dangers I felt they presented.

Perhaps it is logical that counting calories and measuring portions and exercise, forcing yourself to adhere to a punishing regime of starvation and painfully excessive activity in the very weakened physical state of anorexia, requires a strong, almost angry, obsessional drive. Sticking to this above and against all the natural urges of your body to keep you well and nourished, to the point that your body consumes its own muscle for energy, requires a steely determination that must be fuelled from somewhere. This could be seen as rigidity. It could easily spread to other areas of cognition and daily routine.

Certain chemical changes in the brain are thought to contribute to this rigidity as well, I believe. Two studies were conducted in the 1950s, using as participants conscientious objectors to National Service and former prisoners of war. One of these is the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, where starvation was imposed on physically and psychologically healthy participants who had no history of eating disorders. As the participants’ calories were reduced and their weights dropped, their thinking patterns became more rigid and obsessional thought and behaviour patterns emerged. When their calories were no longer restricted, they also became vulnerable to binge-eating. You can read more about Ancel Keys’ Minnesota Study here. (It would be considered highly immoral by today’s standards, although perhaps it is worth bearing in mind that one purpose of the study was in order to find out how to care for and manage re-feeding and weight restoration in victims of starvation in several countries following World War II.)

I am not sure to what extent rigid thinking was a big feature in me when I was severely underweight. Others who knew me at the time might disagree! It was mentioned to me on a couple of occasions.

On further thought, perhaps I did not struggle so much with rigidity over, say, my daily timetable – with the notable exception of excessive exercise, as I forced myself to swim a certain distance a certain number of times per week, until I was so exhausted and weakened that I could no longer move through the water which felt ice cold, my legs cramping, and I would drag myself to the changing rooms with my skin purple and blue, bruises appearing that did not heal and no number of layers of clothing warming me up.

However, if the rigidity was not externalised, it was certainly internal. This is what I think of as the “closing drawbridge” of anorexia that locks up or locks away everything we fear. I’ve talked in previous posts about the blissful, safe numbness of anorexia, ensuring my emotions were in check and flattened, and ensuring the evil I perceived in me was locked away to hurt only me, weaken only me, so that I could not hurt anyone else. Locking up the perceived evil locked up feeling, too. No more panic – just obsessive counting calories, distances, how to hide or avoid food. No more fear – just explicable pain, wonderful blanks and emptiness, safe empty gnawing in my stomach. No need to feel others’ feelings. No need to be hurt or be overwhelmed. Just glorious numb, nothing, whiter. lighter, clearer than before. No needing; no taking; just closing down, separated, apart from everything, locked up safe, pushing away and always succeeding, taking nothing in, frozen.

As a friend pointed out to me recently, emotions take energy, just as physical exertion takes energy, so with vastly insufficient calorie intake, there simply is no energy with which to feel. Despite the lack of energy, the drawbridge was shut tight and closing harder. The further I starved and restricted, paradoxically, tighter shut the door and even stronger came the energy driving me on, not to need, not to feel, not to fear, not to touch anyone or anything.

Coupled with that strength came a desperation never to leave this closed up place and never to need or feel again, to remain unreachable, to keep safe away and to keep everyone else safe away from me. If I could just be sure to hurt myself enough and never to eat, this wonderful place would stay with me. The fear of everything the drawbridge kept away joined the energy and both drove me harder and deeper into the numb place of anorexia.

Combined with my mother’s illness and abusive actions, there was no shortage of reinforcement from the outside that this numb place was good. The only period of my life in which my mother’s emotional abuse and threats reduced and in which she was even caring towards me, in which interactions with her were free of threats and scorn and twisted statements about the harm I was doing to her and my father, was when I was severely underweight with anorexia so severe it was probably life threatening. I was no longer a danger and no longer seemed to be so evil. I even thought perhaps she loved me. I even dared to hope perhaps the evil thing I was sure was in me and that came out and hurt and controlled and deceived everyone, was gone. If I could just stay like this, perhaps it wouldn’t come back. On the other hand with the drawbridge tight shut my body was mine as well, only mine, and the anorexia was mine, and she would never come near me again, literally never touch me again.

(Perhaps that was the one thing that was eventually true in all my twisted anorexic thinking. She did abuse me sexually during the anorexia but afterwards, she didn’t ever abuse me sexually again.)

Until I started to eat again and weight restore, there was only one thing that cut through my rigid defences, and that was singing. I’m not a particularly good singer but I was in a musical at my school (more because I used to be able to dance, than for my voice, I think!) and afterwards I took singing lessons, which were about the only part of my later school years that was enjoyable. Although I enjoyed singing, during the anorexia I would find that the music had a peculiar effect. We didn’t usually sing particularly emotive songs but I would often find music bringing me to want to cry or causing a strange twisting feeling of unease inside me, as though it was draining away the rigid kind of energy but I wouldn’t let it go. My mother prevented me seeking any professional help for my eating disorder but the only two people to whom I did talk about it honestly at all at school were my singing teacher and my art teacher. (My swimming coach was also very concerned about me and to some extent I did talk to her but, for some reason, although I knew she cared and was a safe person to trust, I was never able to be truthful to her, I think because in some way I feared hurting or disappointing her too much.) I don’t know why music and to some extent art, broke through the rigid protective mechanisms, but it did. I know that music can be very helpful in therapy for people with various conditions, including dementia and depression. I’ve never read about it in relation to anorexia but that might be something I should look into!

The struggles I have with overpowering, overwhelming emotions in my Borderline Personality Disorder, are the complete opposite of the protective place I entered in my anorexia, and they are an excess of feeling and needing which are probably, actually everything I feared. If I’m honest the numb place was safer. I’ve long lost the way back there and lost the key to the drawbridge and I hate that and I’ll admit that in the worst times, when I really hate myself and everything I feel and need, I wish I could return and it’s hardest at these times to try not to punish myself with cutting or purging. I’m trying to learn how to choose life and staying connected to other people – and to my body and my emotions – without the unbearable and dangerous becoming all that there is.

Ginny xx

Walking this Borderland #8: when it costs to smile

I don’t think that the saying “it doesn’t cost anything to smile” is true. It can cost a very great deal to get up, step outside, meet anyone’s gaze, smile, speak, even keep breathing, when you are crippled with anxiety, voices in your head, emotional pain, traumatic flashbacks and hurt or sadness that hits you any time, anywhere.

I believe in still trying. Through this cost, keep on trying to smile. Through the awful feelings, trying to do one little kind thing for another person and one little kind thing for ourselves. We may not succeed but the will is there. Only we ourselves and God may know the huge cost. Yet good will surely still come of the action, however small. We have taken an action opposite to our illness, opposite to the inclination of our anxiety and hurt, choosing goodness and strength.

This is a small victory and a small step forward in hope.

I emphasise that I do not mean we should try to push away what we are feeling, deny it or tell ourselves we mustn’t feel it or aren’t allowed to. Far from it. We should do quite the opposite. But every little action done in love – for others and ourselves – is a choice for good. When we are suffering very much and when it costs very much to smile, then every smile and every action is worth all the more because it is necessarily done with greater effort and greater love.

What makes you feel loved?  How do you love?

Ginny xx

Turning on the light

Turning on the light

“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”

J K Rowling / screenplay by Steven Kloves

I think I’m still stumbling around in the dark banging into things whilst I’m looking for the switch, but I’m trying…. 🙂

xx

What if I don’t trust them?

I’m still struggling to process what I’m feeling after therapy group on Friday. Tomorrow I have my 1:1 appointment and I know we will be talking about it. It is going to be so hard to go and even harder to go back to group when it comes around this Friday.

Just when I’d dared to start to think it’s okay, it isn’t. Just when I’d started to think group might be a safe place, somewhere that you can dare to speak about things that are otherwise forbidden, it isn’t.

Just when I’d started to let my guard down a little and trust, it turns out I’ve hurt everyone and didn’t even know. How did I not know? Usually I can feel it right away and know it’s my fault and this time I didn’t. I so so needed to trust them there and now I can’t. I couldn’t understand what I was feeling then last night the thought hit me – what if actually I’m angry and hurting because I feel I can’t trust them? I did the wrong and I caused the hurt but what if I’m angry because I feel people didn’t say what was really happening?

What if I’m angry because I feel I can trust or speak anymore?

What if I’m angry because I really needed to trust and yet again it all breaks down, just as usual, every other time? I know and felt so so strongly they hate me, they are angry, they don’t want me there, they hate me, they’re angry, and they’re angry for each other too because I’ve done wrong and got it wrong and they think I’m nasty, a fake, no right to be there, they just want me to go away and just put up with me because they had to. What if that made me angry as well as guilty because I can never know where I am and know I must never ever let anyone close but so desperately need people?

Does anyone else ever just wish they could never have to speak again?

The hallucinations are multiplying as my thoughts spiral through all these things.

Ginny xxx

Walking this Borderland #6: Shine

Walking this Borderland #6: Shine

Stars can’t shine without darkness.

To everyone who is alone, hurting, fighting, crying, tonight –

Don’t give up. If you can’t say, one day more, say, just one hour more.

When all you can see is that everywhere is darkness and you are breaking and cannot believe that it will pass, if all you can do is breathe, then that is how you can go on.

In this darkness, you will be the stars, and this struggle you give your strength and your heart to will make you shine the brighter.

Ginny xxx

Walking this Borderland – You’re not going THAT way

Walking this Borderland – You’re not going THAT way

Don’t look back.

You’re not going that way.

I don’t think we should never look back. Sometimes it can be helpful to look back, analytically, or in gratitude, or recognising how things have changed or how far we have come.

Yet, I like this quotation because it reminds me that, no matter how terrible things have been and are, we try to have courage to face each day hope-fully, and to trust that even if we don’t know where we are going, each day we struggle is a day we are going on, and that God promises us “plans for prosperity and not disaster; plans to give you a future and a hope.”

Ginny xx

We’re applying to evict you… Happy Christmas!

Since I lost / was forced to leave my secretarial job at the end of October, financially things have been terrible. Not only had I lost my income for the future, I lost expected income – I was paid only SSP for the time I had been signed off, rather than my wage, and was not told this until afterwards; I was not paid all the holiday pay I believe was due to me; I was given neither a notice period as specified in my contract, nor paid the notice period salary, so I was left without a month’s salary. In the end this left me down about £2,000.

I have taken steps against my former employer, reporting to them to the regulator for how I and several other colleagues were treated, however I have no hope of seeing this money. I can’t afford court proceedings and would have little hope to win.

I was very fortunate to find my current job at a department store but it is fewer hours (this is all I can now manage around my hospital appointments and with the state of my mental and physical health at the moment) and much lower pay. I thank the Lord that I have any job at all. It could have been much worse.

I have to apply for several benefits and the process takes weeks at best before any money comes through.

I had problems paying my rent in November, whilst I was waiting for my Housing and Council Tax benefit to be calculated and to receive any money. I was paid very little in November from my new job, because the finance department’s cut-off dates meant that though I had worked nearly a month, I received only one week’s pay. I phoned up the housing association from which I rent and told them about my situation and they were apparently very helpful. They agreed that whilst I was awaiting the Housing Benefit, I should just pay what I could.

I rang them several times and had several conversations with them, as did the council who needed to confirm some details for my benefit claim. Each time I spoke to them I asked to arrange a payment plan to deal with the arrears of rent and each time I was told that I couldn’t do this and should wait until the Housing Benefit had come through.

Then on 23rd December, I came home from work to find a letter from the housing association saying that they were applying to the Court for possession of my flat!! I would be evicted and would be liable for their Court fees.

This tipped me over the edge. It was absolutely more than I could cope with. By providence I was on the phone to a friend when I opened the letter. I still went completely to pieces and was literally about to take an overdose. If my friend had not talked to me for a long time I believe that I would have gone through with it. Thankfully after speaking on the phone to my friend at length, I was then absolutely overwhelmed with exhaustion and slept til the morning, which probably again saved me from doing anything.

The next day I phoned the housing association first thing. They told me that it was not a notice of eviction that I had received and that “it might be possible to avoid going to Court”!! Why would I be taken to Court, I asked. They claimed that I had not contacted them since the end of October. They claimed that I had not asked to make a payment plan. They said that it was my fault, when actually I had done everything that they told me to do. I had asked to make the payment plan and they had told me that I could not. If I had made a payment plan, this would not have happened, they said. So why did they tell me I could not make a payment plan, when I asked to do it? They claimed they did not know I had physical or mental health problems, when the reason I was housed with them was because of my health problems, when the tenancy support worker who helped me at the start of my tenancy had discussed them with them, when I had declared them on the forms I had to fill in at the start of my tenancy, and when I had discussed my situation in full on all the occasions I had phoned them since I lost my job (which they claimed to have no knowledge of).

I told them that the letter I had received – a day before Christmas, basically – had caused me so much distress that I had been about to take an overdose. “Oh dear,” they said….

Yes, oh dear! And a bit more.

After a long conversation they agreed to suspend action until mid January and I now have to write to them with all the dates I contacted them and what was arranged each time. And I will certainly be sending a letter of complaint.

How is it possible for them to claim they have no record or knowledge of any of the conversations I have had with them? How is it possible for them to claim they did not know my health problems? I will certainly conduct all future correspondence with them by letter sent by signed for delivery, so that they cannot deny I have made contact with them. How could they take no responsibility whatsoever for having not recorded any of the conversations I had with them, and not sharing information within their organisation? They lady I spoke to on Christmas Eve just said over and over, “well, I didn’t know any of this, you’ve never spoken to me”.

This really was almost more than I could cope with. I now feel that it’s a immediate possibility that I will lose my home.

I felt so angry once the first terror had passed. I had just got myself out of debt when I lost my job and now I am out of control and thrown straight back in again. I know it is only my responsibility to resolve it but I do not know how I can get out of this. Everything else mentally is worse because this constant anxiety is bubbling and rising in the background. I so needed my home to be safe for once. It’s like I’m not allowed to be safe and secure because as soon as something improves for a little while, it’s taken away and crashes again.

It’s too easy to resent when I feel like this. I need to be able to keep hoping, keep doing all I can to sort this out, apply for benefits, keep working, keep praying. God does not test us more than we can stand. But I don’t see that I can stand.

Ginny xx

 

Apologies for my silence… and a Christmas prayer

Apologies for my silence… and a Christmas prayer

I am sorry for being away for many days and for being behind on replying to comments. The last two weeks have been very mixed. I’ve been blessed to have the friendship of a couple of very supportive friends local to me, who were so kind to me over the Christmas days. Also, I’ve had a struggle over this time as always, and a very upsetting event through which I felt I absolutely couldn’t go on.  Again I was blessed with a friend who could see hope for me.

I will write more at the weekend and catch up on everything once this busy week at work is concluded.

You are all in my thoughts. I’m praying particularly for anyone who finds this time of Christmas and New Year taxing and hard or painful, as I know so many of us do. All we cannot find or do or be can be all the more hollow and isolating round this time. Loss is more raw. I’m praying for tiny little lights and encouragements and the knowledge that you are good, can do good, to help you through one hour at a time.

In my belief, at Christmas Our Lord Jesus loves us so much that He came as a little baby to ask for a place in our hearts and He came right into our darkness and poverty. So we are with Him right now in the midst of all the hardships. He asks no great deeds of us, only love. We need not overcome all our weaknesses to be with Him because precisely in weakness He came to us. We only need to be still, with Him.