Tag: prayer

The peculiar significance of treacle

Every year I forget how evocative certain Christmas smells are. Not just the more obvious things like candles and oranges and mincemeat and brandy, but certain specifics. It was black treacle and spices the other day, as I was making gingerbread dough. Suddenly as I counted out the syrupy spoonfuls I was taken back to being stood in front of another cooker, aged maybe 7, stirring the pan dissolving the sugars, with my mother watching. Chain smoking, of course. A knot of emotions expanded inside me as they did then. Excitement for Christmas. Some kind of enjoyment of doing a grown up thing. Delight at wanting to make pretty biscuits. Wanting to get it right and please my mother…. well, the desperate need to get it right, impeccably following the process she had shown me. That meant tenterhooks and anxiety and churning emotions, too often teetering on the edge of me ruining everything again (I thought). One mistake, one deviation from her instructions, her watching would explode into anger, ridicule, accusations and threats. Hours of shouting and violence would follow. And everything, I had made her do, and each time I’d have that sick terror inside that this time it was over and the threats were being fulfilled. Looking back and seeing how little was needed to tip us into that disaster, it’s bizarre. Laying a biscuit onto the baking tray in the “wrong” way (ie not the precise arrangement she required), not getting the bow on a package right fast enough, touching the wrong switch on the oven – even simply letting any of my anxiety show. It sounds almost as if it should be funny. But it isn’t funny when someone has you isolated, under their power and in fear; not in fear of them but in fear of yourself. Because one sure thing to me at the time was that it was my fault.

So, standing there measuring the treacle it all came back. As I’ve been making the biscuits over the last day or so, I keep being catapulted into so many emotions and suddenly reliving snatches of good and bad … And to tell the truth I’ve been pulled into the bad too much. Exhausted.

I’m fighting it, because there’s no way my abuser’s having this Christmas. This Christmas is for God and the present and my fiancé and it’s about all the good we can do and are thankful for today. I speak briefly, quietly to God as I roll the dough, cut, bake , ice, package these cookies. I’m pushing through the dissociation to do all I can to hope for this Christmas and for every flashback find twice as much I’m thankful for today.

Ginny xxx

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Hospital

My friend has been admitted now (see my last post).

He was in much more danger than I realised. I’m not putting specifics to keep confidentiality and to avoid any unhelpful triggers for readers.  He only told me after we had parted earlier. He didn’t want me to know and be scared. Then he went to A&E but didn’t go in. He was scared. He felt huge guilt too I think. He was confused and distressed and we lost contact and he was walking or lost in the hospital grounds I think. I got there as quickly as I could in a taxi phoning security to search for him. Thanks be to God for Security whose officers tracked his car. Thanks be to God that he did make it into A&E. I still don’t know exactly how.

Again I didn’t want to leave but he really preferred I did as his anxiety about hurting me (which he has never done) was so high. I spoke with the nurses and we all agreed is best for me to come back in the morning. He’s being cared for…he’ll be on a drip…he’s not alone…

I’m scared. He was so weak and drowsy and in and out of consciousness / awareness.

I’m hurting. Shaky. Scared. Exhausted. I don’t know what to do with all I’m feeling for him and the overload in my mind and chest. Hurts to breathe.

I know I have to accept right now I can’t do anything. The doctors caring for him can do something. God can do… more than something. Still I feel so horrible for everything I can’t do and all the good I see in him where he only sees what he calls poison.

I place him in your hands dear Lord Jesus. Hold him please tonight. Whatever happens now.

Ginny xxx

Descent into emergency

Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Help us in our need dear Jesus, please, Lord hear our prayer.

6.45pm

I feel so scared and powerless right now.

My dear friend is in complete crisis. I’m so scared he isn’t going to make it. I don’t want to tell all his business here. That wouldn’t be right. But he’s been through some horrific things and his mind and body is in utter pain. He could die, through what’s happening to him physically and the risk he’s at mentally.

I won’t leave him on his own right now. He’s massively distressed. He’s too scared to go to A&E tonight. I’m trying to insistently but lovingly persuade him to speak to the out of hours services to see if he can get to another place of safety, or to speak with his GP. Please God he is going to see the GP in a short while in an evening clinic they have. Please God we get there. He is letting me stay with him now. He so did not want me to at first but I could see the danger. Please God, please may he still accept my company and please may he get somewhere safe tonight. (There are very concrete reasons I can see he’s at risk but they are not my business to write here.) I’m in his car waiting for him whilst he’s speaking to someone who he felt he had to go see about an issue that came up earlier; I don’t think this is going to help any right now for him but he really felt the need to do it and I didn’t want to force him not to. Please God please may he come back soon.

I’m barely hanging on myself. I’ve been losing the grip the past week especially. Dissociating, losing time, self harming, huge panic attacks and flashbacks including physical sensations.

A neighbour has started being aggressive and verbally abusive. He’s been pressing me for money for months. He’s been doing the same to other vulnerable people on the estate. He’s been citing endless disastrous circumstances but it’s now coming to light that something else is going on. I’ve sensed things wrong for a while but now it’s becoming clear what he’s telling me does not add up and isn’t the whole story to say the least. It’s getting out of control. I believed and wanted to help him to get help, supported him with getting referred for a support worker and foodbanks. Now it seems nothing is true. I’m afraid for a vulnerable person he lives with. I’m going to have to contact the police I think.

8.40pm

We have spoken to the doctor and are waiting to hear if my friend can get into a safe place with support. There is no space at the moment. Even if he does it is only open til 1am. We’ve gone back and forth with the doctor and out of hours services. All doing all they can but of course there are these limits… and in the end I don’t know who can keep him safe when he’s as far down as he is now, hating himself and hurting himself so much and so afraid of everyone. I’m ripping apart inside. I’ve been where he is, or similar. I know perhaps I cannot do enough. I care for him deeply as a friend. I wish I could rescue him but know despite all the love I can give perhaps I cannot.

9.15pm

I didn’t want to leave him. He has gone to the hospital. The doctor was worried for me and said I should not go with him. He insisted I not go with him. He promised not to hurt himself and that he’s going there. I couldn’t do anything else especially since it’s his car and I can’t drive. We are keeping in touch by text. I believe his promise but I know from being there myself that when you are going to end it, that blackness and blank terror and loss and self revulsion and pain overrides everything, no matter how firm and true and faithful your promises. The doctor told me to go home because she was worried for me but I so did not want to leave him. I cannot save him in the end but I can be there.

9.25pm

He is at A&E now. The situation is far worse even than I knew but thanks be to God he is there. Thanks be to God he’s going to be taken care of…dear Lord I pray he’s met with compassion there as well as getting the physical medical treatment he needs. Please Lord, please can they still help him. Please enfold Him in your love, whatever comes now, if it’s the end or not, please show us Your saving help. In the darkness of pain and not knowing, danger, even death, You are our certain hope and Saviour.

Mother Mary, St Joseph, please offer to your Son in the way most pleasing to Him, everything I offer, everything I do, everything I pray….

Ginny xxx

 

 

When Love sees you – How was your Christmas Day?

When Love sees you – How was your Christmas Day?

How was your Christmas Day, and Christmastide so far?

There can be so much pressure from all sides at this time – different places and people, trying to keep everyone happy, trying to conceal when we feel anything but happy, a sense of distance from other people, endless rush, emotions all felt more keenly, on top of what we struggle with day to day. There can be great joy, laughter, hope and good surprises too, and I pray they abound for you.

I discovered this song, “When Love Sees You” online recently.

It’s written as Our Lord Jesus, who is all love, telling us what he sees when he looks at us and telling us what is happening when we feel hope is lost or that we have failed or when we don’t know what good the little we have can do. It lifts me up because it tells me that God coming to us just like He did at Bethlehem and as He does in prayer every day, isn’t about success and perfection. It’s about Him meeting us, as we “show [God] the pieces, broken and bruised” when we’re hurting; when we’re hopeless to answer needs around us “shaking our heads at two fish and the bread*”; when we fall in “sinful disgrace” and everyone around judges and condemns us; when we are overwhelmed and cry at His feet. He is in love with us, He sees His beautiful creation and beautiful work He’s bringing about in us, and He’s right here with us and always will be here.

God bless you this Christmas.

Ginny xxx

“When Love Sees You” from Music Inspired by The Story sung by Mac Powell

*ie at the feeding of the 5000 when the only food brought to Our Lord to feed the crowds was two fish and two loaves, yet everyone ate their fill. The Lord accepts the little we have that we give generously and in His power makes it into something wonderful.

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”]

 

 

I can’t be loved

It hit me today. I can’t be loved. I am unable to receive love, most of all God’s love. I long for it in different ways. Crave not being alone or being understood. Crave protection. Crave being wanted. Being needed. Being any good (any good to anyone, and just simply any good). Not being rejected. But I’m totally unable to receive it, accept and believe.

A friend said to me a few months ago that I always put a barrier and was too angry to let God love me. I got very angry with this friend at the time and very afraid. I felt like he confirmed everything I always inescapably feared about being outside God’s grace, bad, too bad to save and it was my fault, that however much I thought I wanted good I was bad in the end. I spoke very angrily to my friend, accusing him of frightening and judging me. But really everything I attributed to him, was what I utterly feared because of what I’d learnt as a kid being abused. The only way to stop my abuser’s threats coming true, I believed, was to accept what she (my mother) was telling me about me. That meant admitting to my own pervasive, enduring, dangerous evil.

I’m only just now suddenly starting to see how strong her deception was and how it has made me unable to receive love, rather only to receive confirmation of her view of me (or at least the view she presented as an abuser). She talked a lot about love. I did not receive love in that relationship and as a kid that’s the relationship where love is most important. My father loved me but she so twisted things that my impression of him was that he believed the same about me as she did. The closest thing I experienced to safety and love was “admitting” under her violent coercion to how evil I was, accepting and desiring her total control over me and my total weakness.

Most of all I have been unable to accept the love of God. My abuser’s twisting of the meaning of what should be love has had a very direct impact that I wonder how I didn’t see til now.

More on this in coming posts. Right now I’m feeling like I just fell off a cliff or something.

Ginny xxxx

 

Horrible feelings I don’t understand

I’m feeling really bad tonight. My head hurts. My chest aches. I feel empty and hurting at the same time. I miss my friend; I miss a lot of people lost in different ways. I felt drained after therapy this morning, which isn’t unusual but it was intense today. Things are happening in therapy. It’s needed but I feel like I’m coming apart as well. I don’t really understand the pain. I’m sleeping so much at the moment but I’m back in bed now. I can’t concentrate on anything I’ve tried to do. I’m going to pray, offer it all to God and try to rest in prayer.

xxx

Jealous of the Angels tonight…

These past two months several good people at my former church have passed. This week, I heard that the mother of one of the Priests had passed. She had suffered with MS for many years and in the end she had pancreatic cancer as well. I would not say I knew her well but she made a great impression on me the times I met her. She was kind and had a lot of selfless energy. She was an artist and prayed through her painting too.

Today, I learnt that an elderly Priest with whom I was at one time in close contact, is right at the end of his life. He is in a coma and it is likely to be a matter of a day or hours now. I’m asking that I may be able to go to pray with him and say goodbye tomorrow morning, if he is still with us. He is a dear friend though circumstances have meant that we have not so often spoken in the last year or so. I am very upset with myself that a lot of these circumstances I should have changed and didn’t and in my illness and fear I allowed or even set distance from this dear friend. I really care for him and he has been so kind to me and led me on in my faith. I have been useless and I don’t know if he knows how much he means and did for me. But soon he will, in heaven.

These two people both particularly affected me through their calm hope and the way they truly lived, really present and  experiencing the joys, costs, pains, losses, weaknesses, hopes and needs of every day. The experience was raw and awful and scary sometimes, especially in their illness. They didn’t stop being present or deny the feeling. They didn’t deny or worry about their imperfections or give up because of them.  They accepted their need for help, mercy and love. They gave it abundantly to others around them. Their feelings and their reality, and others’, was all part of what I’d describe as their constant prayer and thanksgiving. They didn’t deny or push down others’ feelings or tell them to think positive or that they should feel another way instead or that certain feelings are sinful or have to be overcome. They showed me that God is right here, right now. Not when we’re pure or perfect or when we’ve mastered and suppressed everything we fear about ourselves or when we’ve assured ourselves we’ve punished ourselves enough or atoned enough. God is here, with us and within us, in this scary, hurting, angry, overwhelming feeling, in our error, even in our failing and sin, just as much as in our joy, success and delight. I still get scared very often and still take the instinctive way of running, hiding, hurting myself. I still spiral down in very dark places. But what these two friends taught me is one of the very few things I can cling onto.

I miss them very much already. Part of it It feels like this.

Losing them has hit hard. Also, some conversations I’ve had this week, have hit me with some things I have to change. I can’t stop crying tonight. Therapy tomorrow will be…unstable I think. The very vulnerable child part of me is integrating with me and her emotions are coming out as mine, not just in the escape world. This will be scary in therapy group but I know it needs to be.

Ginny xxx

“Jealous of the Angels”, by Jenn Bostic. With thanks to Lite Brite for the video.

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]

The freedom of the sea

This weekend I went to visit family on the Sussex coast. I’ve wanted to do this for months and been battling with fears about the journey, being away from home, how my family would find being with me and how interactions would go. I’m so pleased this time I was able to do it, with the strength God gives and the care and support of my therapy group -and my family themselves.

As I cannot stand or walk for long at all at present, I was anxious about the journey and crossing London but it went as smoothly as I could ever have hoped.

underground_overground_wombling_free

(Thanks to http://now-here-this.timeout.com/2014/04/03/photo-of-the-day-underground-overground-wombling-free/)

Sussex is a beautiful county. Here is just one of the lovely views we took in:

IMG_0508.JPG

I especially like being near the sea. It’s just 30 minutes or so from where my family live. The beaches tend to be more pebbles, rocks and shells than sand. I collected this simple stone from the beach a few years back. As well as serving as a paperweight, I like to use it as a grounding object. Something about the cool surface is soothing. It’s one of the items from my Rescue Box  though more often it’s beside me on the bookshelf rather than in the box.

20160712_211104.jpg

In Sussex it’s still quite easy to find peaceful areas of coastline where you can listen to the gulls over the chalk cliffs and the waves, feel the salty wind and run your hands over little stones smoothed and polished by their journey back and forth over the beach and in and out with each fresh tide.

15-30mm-polished-redamber-pebbles

I love walking beside the sea. I’m not looking for the baking hot days for swimming and sunbathing – not that I’ve anything against that (and being in the water can actually bring me some relief from the pain)! I like being there and letting the sea calm me and assure me of the Presence of our loving Creator. The waves and the tide soothe me and tell me of a Heart much, much greater than mine and an eternal Spirit that speaks to each of us and whispers a hope unchanging, an order in the apparent chaos, whatever storms we are facing right now. In my journey at the moment I often feel very lost and overwhelmed, like one of the little pebbles on the beach tossing in the waves, sometimes scratched and roughly sanded against other stones, feeling very insignificant. But perhaps each motion of the waves in our lives is part of our preparation and refining, it smooths and polishes us to perfection, so we no longer resemble rough stones but bright and shining jewels that delight our beloved Jesus, who sets us right in the perfect place that He needs us to be.

Ginny xxx