Tag Archive: God


Loss – A Reaction

I have an ongoing relationship with Satire. A kind of 'well you can't choose your family' relationship. Which is fine, so long as I keep him to myself and chose not to share his perspective too often. Satire, I've learned, is best applied to matters of a political or sociological nature. Not really appropriate for matters of the heart and soul.
Trouble is, Satire is a quite indiscriminate... I can't shut him up.
And so, as I find myself explaining that I lost my friend last Tuesday, I inwardly cringe at the familiar voice that tells me how VERY careless I must have been, to actually LOSE a friend, in THIS day and age where mobile communication is EVERYWHERE.
Whilst my kin continues to emphasise the absurdity of a whole genre of 'death euphemisms', my listener is looking questioningly at me, poised to offer condolences, dewy eyed as I further explain the tragic circumstances of my friend's death.
And they were tragic. A sudden accident, and the young man who helped me through some really tough years of my life is gone.
Just like that. (I know... I know... I hear Tommy Cooper too)
The news broke over me just like canvas on a tent frame. All in a moment the world was muted and time passed unnoticed.
I stayed in the tent for a few days. The thoughts almost entirely about him and the family he leaves behind. I could hear the noise outside, the people's laughter, other news, frank discussions but none of it seemed relevant.

Sitting there, I think random thoughts.

  • First: how am I supposed to 'be'? - Is my reaction 'normal'? Do my meds keep me numb?
  • Second: How can the world just... carry on? Why doesn't everyone know?
  • Third: My grief isn't allowed because in the wake of the enormous loss his wife and children are facing, my own is so pathetic
  • Fourth: I live some way away. How do I support them? How can I help my god-daughter?
  • Fifth: Sadness and grief are not the same thing. Sadness is only one part of grief
  • How fast death can sweep life away. How precious life is while we have it
It's helpful to make this concrete. Writing it is easier than I thought.
This is the sort of post that might finish with one of those cloying one liners you see stitched on cushions and stencilled on laminate... Vintage schmaltz on distressed furniture.  I'm angry at death for being so cruel. My faith affords me the certainty that my friend is in a FAR better place, and it IS a small comfort. But my heart is definitely a little broken and as always with these things, Satire's hand ensures I go spiky above sorry.

This week a young girl I was an inpatient with was cremated. A shockingly stark reminder of Anorexia’s power to take lives. It’s so easy to forget the facts. Eating Disorder charity BEAT are clear that “Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, from medical complications associated with the illness as well as suicide. Research has found that 20% of anorexia sufferers will die prematurely from their illness”.

Hard to deny the seriousness of this illness. Yet, it is so often misunderstood and misjudged.

Star Fall – for S & C

Same sky, different star

Eighteen years

fly fast

Moon behind the clouds August 2015

Moon behind the clouds
August 2015

Sometimes glimpsed

on clearer nights

your incandescence

burning bright

Other times,  faded,

harder to see,

a thin ship to sail

on the widest of seas

Sometimes the darkness

covered your face

but couldn’t extinguish

the core of your blaze.

Now, I search the sky

ravage constellations

cry

eyes blind, stream like rain

calling to see

your star again

I reach out

tear black canvas

fingers finding

vacant nucleus

this dark hole,

from which your star fell.

And I howl

at the heavens

And the heavens say to me:

Cry not

for those who fall

for stars who drop

don’t land at all

At once caught up

by beams of sun

the point at which

we’re all begun.

Drawn close to heat

and now they shine

with greater brightness

all the time.

Firefly ©2015

It’s that time of the year again.

The first brush strokes of autumn begin to tinge the greens and yellows of late summer. The air grows a little cooler; the sun, a little whiter and dawn’s breaking, slower and quieter.

And then there are the spiders.

Scaffold-legged, they run amok in our houses, apparently mo’t measured the fear of a fully signed up member of Arachnophobes Anon against the brazen tap dance of these too-quick-for-comfort creatures.

I digress hopelessly.

The fact that I fall apart when faced with a spider contrasts markedly with the way I react in a crisis. Put me in a room with the spider and I break into a cold sweat. I experience weakness in my major limbs. Paradoxically, when faced  with a REIMAG1372_1AL shock or crisis, I become almost ultra cool… Weeping and woe-ing makes me impatient and I will veer away from any kind of hysteria.

Today though, I was shocked to the core and though nobody would have known to look at me, inside I was choking on my own words. Words that wouldn’t form to express, to heal, to challenge, to cut through layers of psychotic deception.

Sometimes, words won’t do. They don’t hold enough power.

Then, there is nothing to do but fall to your knees and cry out. Cry for help from one who is bigger than the chaos outside and more powerful than the feelings within.

Today, I cry. I cry for a friend whose mind has descended into the hell of psychosis. The first episode.

I couldn’t help.

The irony is, as we sat on her hospital bed, she told me that her Anorexia has never been so good.

Straight swap? I wish I knew more about the mind.

Hole-In-The-Wall-God?

Although I rarely mention it in my writing here, my faith is one aspect of my life which I think would fundamentally change the very essence of my being were it to completely disappear. In truth, my spiritual journey, much like my therapy journey, has been a challenging mixture of blindness and revelations; of soaring and stumbling; and of denials and acceptances.Image

 I’ve been in places of unshakeable certainty, unable to understand how anyone could ever question such a tangible God. In later life, there have been times when I’ve swallowed bitterly as depression and the weary despair and fatigue that accompanies it, flecked inky pools of indifference and doubt across any conviction that I once had.

At this point on the journey, I stand on a different mountain, overlooking a very different landscape.
A part of me draws some strength from the inner sense that God stands with me.
This acknowledgement of ‘a higher power’ seems to play a crucial role in recovery. AA refer to the ‘higher power’, as do a range of other successful addiction recovery programs; the theory being that as human beings, we are often weak willed and for all our good intentions, cannot free ourselves from the power of ingrained behaviours and habits. We need to draw on a strength that is not ‘from’ us, but is outside of us.

A part of me worries as I consider how God is referred to in the 12 step programs.
Does it not all sound a little bit ‘God-as-hole-in-the-wall’ ish?
I’m not sure.

Image

What I do know is that right now, I find myself knocking on heaven’s door morning, noon and night, asking for supernatural strength with which to fight the Anorexic howling which coarses through my mind interminably.
I pray as I sit down to eat my snacks, my meals and as I battle the urges to spit my food out after chewing it.

Politician Frank Field says of Christmas;

“It is my favourite festival because it reminds us that we can always begin again”…

…A sentiment I like because it’s rooted in hope. Now, perhaps you are one of those enviable types whose boundless optimism shines forth, making you a beacon for desperate souls like me (who experiences hope in a short rush

Sand-Hand-1309326

which passes the mind through like sand from a loosely clasped fist).

Perhaps you are a glass half full sitting on the sunny side of the table.

If so, great! You can probably look over your shoulder and give a grateful nod to those who brought you up (controversial point, I know).

If like me, you struggle to keep a faint ember glowing, this post is for you!

When I started writing this blog, I wanted it to be about HOPE. I wanted it to be a small ray of hope streaking through the darkness of cyberspace.

Candle-calendar

If ever there was a time where we see the little lights of hope, “Advent” is it.  And I want to say that Christmastide, although an incredibly tough time for people like myself and perhaps, you, is also a time where there is a sense of something new… and not just the ipad or the SatNav in your stocking, but in the way that we can live our lives and make small changes in the ways we react and respond to people or situations.

Hope is intrinsically linked with change: something I’ve never really thought about before, but seems so relevant to those of us who struggle with eating disorders or addictions. It’s so easy to give up. Sometimes it’s easier to say; “I’ll never make it”; “I can’t change”; “my ED is stronger”;”my problems run too deep”.  But the painful truth is, believing these ‘despair-mongerous’ statements (okay, so I made up a word), is putting a jamjar over a flame.

And we’ve all done it. We all give in to the nagging despair. But it doesn’t have to be like that. We can fight for the life we want, or to be the person we want to be. Where there is hope, there is light and life. Christmastime can be full of angst and grief and despair. It can be a time of immense loneliness and suffering. But, as in the real Christmas story, there can be moments where hope is born.

The hope that we can make it… that we haven’t blown it.

But Lot was so afraid he couldn’t move. So the angels grabbed him by the hand, and they grabbed the hands of his wife and of his two daughters, and they led them out of the city. As soon as they were safely out of the city, one of the angels said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”  And then God rained fire onto the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Thick, black smoke filled the air like smoke from a fiery furnace. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.

But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

(Paraphrased Old Testament story – Taken from Genesis 19:25 ff )

Sometimes in life, you have to grit your teeth, set your face like flint and let the hot tears run cold down your cheeks.

running woman

You have to put blinkers on and RUN, ignoring every twinge of agony and crashing through every brittle hurdle of despair.

Scream if you have to, but whatever you do… DON’T LOOK BACK.

Don’t look at what you were, where you’ve come from or how you felt.

Just keep running like nobody has ever run before.

There’s a point in recovery, be it recovery from an addiction or recovery from an Eating Disorder, when to look back is fatal. Just like Lot’s wife, to look at what you’ve left behind will destroy you.
In the case of Anorexia, to stop pushing through the pain barriers, to allow yourself a tiny backward glance, is to begin to slow down. Casting that quick over-the-shoulder peek, may not feel like it, but it’s going to make your feet like lead, your path like treacle. And all of a sudden, it’s got you. Again.

You were going through hell and you should have kept on going.

Why go through halfway through hell and turn back?
That’s what looking behind you will do.

I’m not talking about mashed up romantic ‘my-partner-your-partner’ kind of love. That’s all well and good (says terminally single she). I’m talking about a different kind of love; a love that I believe we all have a capacity for, were even designed for. It’s a love that transcends all our cognitive understanding, our hypotheses, theologies and ideologies. It bypasses our intellect, supersedes multiple intelligences and burns through the layers of tired, grey matter. It’s a love which, although at its most visible in the natural world, isn’t tangible or describable. It can be found in every ‘in between’. In between the Redwoods’ leaves, the freesias’ flowers,  the sea and the horizon, the Oaks’  branches, mountain passes… It’s in every shade of beauty. It’s that which we feel when we glimpse a bigger world and a small, silent surge of power waves through us.

In recovery, we need to begin to acknowledge that we are not the world. We are a tiny but vital part of something much, much bigger. AA talk about the importance of connecting with a ‘Higher Power’. I don’t know a whole lot about the 12 step recovery method, but I do know that it has worked for literally tens of thousands, so if you are one of those who is reading this whilst thinking that it would never work for you, please, take a moment to wonder why you would be such an impossible case.

In any type of recovery, I think it is essential to find this deeper love, and even if you don’t feel it, to know that it is there. It exists. It is a possibility.

Paul Brandt sings a song about addiction and about how ‘love will find you’. I call it ‘God’. Call it whatever, there is a love that will follow you down the deepest pit, the darkest tunnel, the weariest and most broken depth of human experience.  Folded up tightly within that love, is a hope that things could get better. Doesn’t matter ‘how’, just that it is possible.  If you are feeling that you’re in that unreachable place, where despair and darkness seem the only things ahead, listen to the words of this song and hold on… There is hope, even if you can’t see it or feel it. KNOW that it is there and you will be found by love.

Hold on. Love will find you.

…Maybe there IS. Maybe there isn’t.Allowing for Possibility

Either way, if we don’t allow ourselves to entertain the possibility that there COULD be a different way of living life, and there MIGHT be a different way of thinking about things, we will never know.

I’m not the hippy type. I promise.

I don’t hug trees, I don’t take herbal hayfever tablets, I ‘m not a vegetarian, I’m not a member of Greenpeace, I don’t do yoga, I don’t wear clothing woven in South America and I’ve never tried Arnica.

But (there had to be, right?) BUT, I do believe that we get into certain patterns of thinking. Even scientists report that there are certain ‘neural pathways’ in the brain, which is a technical way of saying that our thoughts get used to travelling along particular alleyways, leading to familiar places, default settings, if you like. Humans are creatures of habit, brains follow suit.

What are the implications of all this for those of us in recovery?

A friend recently told me that, although they’d like to believe in something bigger, they just COULDN’T and I sympathised because I, of all people, understand doubt, unbelief and wanting something more than myself. Later, I returned to our conversation in my mind and came to the realisation that the word ‘couldn’t’ would probably act as a barrier in her mind.

To be truly open to something, like the possibility of recovery, is to allow it to rattle round our minds without any thing as concrete as ‘words’ attached to it. Just as if you are rolling a ball round a clean floor; no mud, no dust, nothing to stick to it…

Sometimes, I wonder if it’s in this act of ‘allowing’, that hope filters in… unseen… unheard and then… suddenly:  there.

Opening up old wardrobe doors. No thoughts. No can’ts, cans, couldn’t, wouldn’t, must, should or shouldn’ts.  Just opening something up.

It has to be worth a try.

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