Thursday, 8 October 2009


Had a hard time earlier this week. Everything's going well -- teaching continues to challenge and stretch me, and my students are a delight. I have some performance deadlines which are enough to motivate me to practise but not enough to terrify me, and things are going well at Nearest Church (which I need to find a better name for, but never mind): I'm getting involved, getting challenged, and also still feeling very welcome. Friendships old and new continue to grow and develop. My life is pretty good.

But I've been having a bit of brainhacking, or counselling as many people would call it. I'm dealing with the same issues that sidelined me in 2005, stuff about parents and trust and growing up. Yes, I had three years of therapy before, three years of going once a week to an appointment I mostly dreaded, spending the first half hour getting to the point where I could talk about things in any meaningful way at all and then the next fifteen minutes sobbing and the next five trying to regain enough composure to get up and walk out of the room. Those three years, and a lot of other help besides, got me to the point where I could venture out from under the duvet and actually do things. They got me to a point of functioning in the world again when I had retreated.

They didn't really deal with the reasons for the retreat. And if I want to remain functional -- if I want to keep doing things in the world without being ambushed at some point by uncontrollable anxiety -- I've got to do some work toward looking at some of those issues, painful as they are, at integrating those experiences into who I am now.

It's easier this time in some senses, because I am mostly functional. I get out of bed every morning. I practise most days. I don't cancel work, calling in sick because I don't have it in me to leave the house. But it's also harder, because doing these things means I have commitments I want to keep and there isn't always space for me to hide under the duvet if I'm frightened.

On Monday I had my appointment and oh, it hurt but oh, there was progress I think. And then I neatly folded my issues away into one corner of my brain and went off to do my teaching. It wasn't an easy evening of teaching, and on my way home while I was sitting on the Tube praying silently to myself those bastard issues unfolded themselves and I went from mostly calm and collected to being in tears. There is nothing quite as classy as crying on public transport, so of course that made me feel worse, and for a few moments I wondered if I was really losing it all again.

Thankfully, Sweetie was home from work a bit early and when I got in Intrepid Anthropologist had nearly made dinner, and between the two of them I had lots of hugs. And people on the lovely lovely internet sent their own hugs, and some choice words which genuinely helped. I was terribly clingy and insecure but Sweetie was very patient (he really is SO kind). And shortly before I dropped off to sleep I had a very strong feeling of being carried, being prayed for. I don't know if it was these words from a friend that did it,
"Behold, he that keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep...
The Lord will preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, for evermore"

or if there was some other trigger. But I am profoundly grateful, and I have kept coming back to echoes of that feeling over the past few days. It is intensely reassuring.

I'm also wondering how I can ever get things sorted out. I'm aware, you see, that I have a lot of reflection to do. This stuff I'm dealing with in brainhacking overlaps with some of my blogging here in fairly serious ways. There are issues around trust and abandonment and Eucharist and allowing myself to be fed, even if the church appears to be trying to limit access to God's table, and I find myself re-thinking my position on this in some ways which are rather scary to me. There are issues around abuse and intervention and how to respond now to people who once hurt me but no longer have that power, how to honour my parents, how to act in such a way that I have respect for myself without expecting that my actions can mend relationships that are deeply wounded.

Even though I am (moderately) anonymous, I don't know how much of this I can discuss here without maligning people who do not deserve it (and nobody deserves to be maligned). I don't want that to become an excuse for not doing the reflection, but neither do I want to speak ill of anyone. I need to be able to write about my own experiences but I also need to make it clear that these are just my experiences, that I do not have the whole picture and that I know I do not have the whole picture.

That doesn't go into the metrical psalmody from last night, or the stuff that's developing at Nearest Church, or the irony of the first person I went to church with in this country looking for a more inclusive church to attend, or my thoughts about same-gender partnerships and monogamy and my deep frustration that some parts of the church sanction these relationships if and only if they are life-long monogamy of a much higher standard than is expected of heterosexual partnerships. It doesn't touch on the big brown butterfly that flew around all our heads at the Eucharist this past Sunday morning, or the young man now deployed to Afghanistan.

I don't have time to blog it all.

Further updates as events warrant, I guess.


Ernest said...


You are sharing, many things that trouble you, which even if historic, are still there, hurting and holding you back.

I don't have any solution, I am not a trained therapist and certainly would not wish to comment on things which are so many layered.

If you feel comforted and uplifted by others prayer - please know that prayers are offered and you are held in prayer daily.

When I read your posts, despite some of the content I am renewed in hope for you and your journey - wherever it goes.

It reminds me of a prayer I found on the internet when I was pretty down last year:

Calm Me into a Quietness

Now,O Lord,
calm me into a quietness
that heals and listens,
and molds my longings
and passions,
my wounds and wonderings
into a more holy
and human shape.

Ted Loder from Guerrillas of Grace

Song in my Heart said...


I am glad my posts communicate hope. I do try to remain hopeful.

I don't know that there is a "solution" as such: nothing can take away the painful times of my past, and from where I am now I'm not sure I'd want that.

I know I am discovering more of who I am, and trying to learn what that means for how I behave.

I like the phrase "calm me into a quietness" -- so many of my silent times have been from fear of speaking up or anxiety about the future, and my calmest moments are always playing music, so calm quietness isn't something that I'm really used to. But even loud music can have a sort of quietness to it.

Thank you so much for your prayers.

Kathryn said...

You know where I am...and don't let my apparent busyness deter you - this is important and needs talking about.