Jumble

The tolerance and kindness you have shown me has been vastly more than I could possibly have expected or hoped for.

It could end there. The last substantive sentence of the message my ex-partner, ex-housemate, left with his father for me. He got a prison sentence on Thursday. He will be in prison for 12 months, at least; the sentence is twice that.

And now I don’t know what to think, or feel, or do. I know where he is, and I could write to him. I could visit him and be back in my house inside a couple of hours. I want to know what happened. Why, in contrast to many others, commiting similar offences, he got an immediate jail term. Why the court was adjourned for half an hour. What drugs possession they eventually charged him with. I am kicking myself for not going to court.

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I am angry with him. So, so angry. That house was supposed to be supportive and stable, for three years or more. Instead, I had to move at a stupidly busy time. He lied about the drugs. I knew there were drugs, yes, but he kept changing the names, admitting and denying their presence. Laughing at my ‘poor memory’.
And the other charges, what they mean, what his pattern of offending means, for our past relationship.

I am hurting. I am hurting because I thought I could trust him to be honest with me, and I couldn’t trust him with this, so can’t with anything now. And everything reminds me of him. I changed the cat tag this weekend; removed his now defunct ‘phone number. She was supposed to be our cat. And how we would have talked about the new Doctor Who. The Taizé pieces on my MP4 player that he recorded for me. Belle and Sebastian. Donovan. So much music. On top of that, there are echoes and footprints everywhere I turn in this city.

I pity him. He is not the kind of person who will readily survive prison. He likes routine sure enough, social scripting, but also challenge and activity. He won’t be able to play piano or program while inside – and won’t have many opportunities when he’s released.

Most of all, I don’t know what to do. To leave, walk away, forget. Or to stay, and wait, and support. I am torn in two. And numb to the pain, but anxious and stressed, and hallucinating, and I don’t know what to do, and I don’t know what to do.

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Fury, me.

Ten yo: Mummy, why is that lady walking like that?
Mummy: She’s drunk.

Stupid spastic

Oi! Are you drunk?

Spastic

Spastic!

SPASTIC!

The voices encircle me. Up the road, on the road that I live on, in town, on my way to school. I think I used to drown them out; repress them. I notice them much more now. The above, last week’s collection.

I hate that I can’t hide the disability; walk normally. My ankle-foot orthosis is still in for repair: my walking sucks. People’s interpretation of it sucks. I can’t walk properly. For the record, I am effectively, teetotal.

People stare. I remember them staring when I was a child, just learning to walk. Sometimes, they stared more.

Like in the adventure playground, at Black Park. They’re staring because, aged eight, I’m in the middle of a meltdown, because I can’t get on to, let alone across, the chain bridge. I am screaming for all I am worth. I’ve lost control.

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I’m screaming twenty years later in psychodrama, just as a child; with the scene laid out before me. My brother has already completed the adventure course. He wants to help. I am infuriated because he can do all the things, and I am older, and I can’t. I push him away. But I’m not allowed to be angry. But I am boiling with rage. But it’s not allowed.

I am evil and horrid and this is what I am really like; not the sweetness and light that my teachers see. I am bad to the core.

But you weren’t bad and you weren’t naughty: you needed something you didn’t have.

I breathe. The messages from my parents are ingrained. How can it not be bad to lose control? I breathe. I am trying to learn that it is OK to be angry. That containing my anger as a small child was not my responsibility. Being angry, and having no means to express it, was not my fault. I am not intrinsically bad. I feel bad. And I am hurting and I am pathetically exhausted. But the hurt is heard. And held. And it is safe. And things can be OK again.

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Rewrite

Pathetic. And stupid and desperately disappointed. I was offered a job interview for today. Somewhere different. Somewhere I’d not be known, MH difficulties or otherwise. And I’ve turned it down.

I’ve turned it down because it was a full-time job, a fair commute away, not teaching in my field, and…. I can’t take on that kind of workload whilst I’m in therapy. Before we’ve even gone as far as the logistics of I could only get in to university two days a week, despite that you’re paying full-time hours. Research work is flexible – teaching, less so. I can’t build my career whilst I am in therapy. Keep it afloat, maybe, but not build it.

I have to rewrite my story. The academic research life of bullying and homophobia and discrimination and prejudice, of bystander non-intervention, is masking the emotional work I need to do to deal with my lived experience of these things. When I’ve done the work, processed what happened, then I can return. Once – I thought it would be impossible to return – but it wouldn’t be, the staff say, it will be easier work when I’ve processed it properly.

There are other things, too, of course. Things that preceded and led from the research topics. My parents’ emotional rubbish and non-availability and arguing; my willingness to stay in an abusive relationship; the fact that I am socially inept; constantly desire to shred to ribbons. Guilt. Shame. Anger. Anxiety. These things will be addressed.

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Rewriting is hard. It hurts, more than cutting words on a page. Editing, proofing. Re-drafting. Not of words on a page – of my life. God – please write on me. Help me hurt. Help me re-draft and heal, find work again.

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F is for Fail

I can’t do this. Clearly. I’ve failed again this week to secure employment. The reason given for why – because I haven’t done enough publishing. But that’s because I have sent my writing to the interviewer and badgered and badgered him for it back – but it’s still not returned, for me to publish. He’ll get to it, he says. I can’t play these games. I’m not cut out for academia.

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I’m not cut out for life, either. I spent over ten years with someone who emotionally abused me, had a dark, secret life and is now awaiting a sentence that could be custodial. I became a bubbling cauldron of worry because my father visited for the weekend. I am panicking about my mother’s suggestion I see her next weekend. I should be grateful to see them, as they are, not concerned with the forgetfulness, the smothering, the extremes of being. My father: so when will you start the medical 18-month thing? How will it improve your walking? I have explained to him, many times. I promise.

I am failing therapy. The next time I self-harm, I’m suspended. I want to tear myself apart for being so selfish and anxious and rubbish. I am waiting with bated breath for the next time I cross the line, break down. Maybe this time, it’ll make me irrevocably unemployable. I am still going into schools; hearing from children – bullying, friends. Social milieu. I am unsteady; unsure how to respond to them; pass the conch to their teacher. Never touch a child in love or anger. I never have. I want to tear myself apart. I can only say that so many times. I think the therapy group are tired of hearing it. I should just suck it up. Carry on. People do feel that way. They get on with life anyway.

The suicidal thoughts chant through the academic writing – chant over the Taizé music. I rebutt them like recalcitrant children. The more stressed I am, the louder the thoughts sound. Three months I’ve been there now; they haven’t subsided. How much longer?

If I’m no longer an academic, if I’m no good at speaking up, and no good in work with schools, I’m not sure who I am keeping alive anymore. I feel dead and empty inside.  I have failed.

 

 

 

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Desolate

Since leaving T.C. last  week, I have been enveloped by a shroud of unrelenting, uninvited loneliness. Sadness. Alone-ness.

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It’s not because I’ve not had company. There has been tea and games, and sunshine and picnic and barbecue. There was fun in them, too. And there was university work and church. More than my usual level of engagement with others, if I’m measuring it.

This isn’t a physical loneliness, it feels deeper than that. Like loss. I know that the university group I go to Taizé with are there now – and that if it weren’t for TC I would most likely be with them. I wish I were with them. But it’s more than that.

I feel it when I’m with others. When they seem to be so connected and in tune with each other. And I am a twisted knot of anxiety and frustration. Or, I sense it in the distance of silence, when I can’t find the words to speak to someone. Anyone. I feel lost, and like I never will belong.

And then I can’t bring myself to talk. I deserve to be isolated. I am bad inside and out. Why should anyone be interested in me? To think they might be is pure arrogance. I become quiet and withdrawn.

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One of the Elders, ‘understood’ from reading up on my mental health diagnoses that I would never be able to form meaningful relationships. Some clinicians may agree with him, although not at T.C. For my part, I fear that he is right. That this well of loneliness will never dry up – that I will never truly trust or relax with anyone. Never have real friendships or non-abusive relationships. Never be able to be myself. I am desperate to feel like I belong. I want to belong.

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Slipping through my fingers

I am slowly slipping beyond my own understanding. Irony is lost on me. I’ve broken my self-harm contract again. All week the voices were chanting that I should destroy myself completely. That I deserve to die. I resisted, and resisted, and resisted. Until strength was gone and I didn’t. And it felt good, and it still feels good to know that my arms are not whole. I don’t deserve to be whole.

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I think it was the care that did it this time. The care shown me by physios and consultants as I attended the next Botox appointment for my right knee. The care in their faces as I removed the AFO (leg splint) to bleeding heel from walking in; as I described the tripping and falling, the problems since the last round of treatment wore off. Care, as they examined my foot, listed the areas that were tender, and worse. And the care it took four people to hold my limb in position, to warn, to inject, to make sure I was okay to leave. And to make sure that I got the AFO repaired. I didn’t deserve that.

Physio this time, wasn’t like that when I was a child. Then, it was about whether I could hand write (are you sure? Yes – see. Oh). It was about praise for improvement made as a result of doing exercises, that I hadn’t actually done since the last visit. It was about guilt and putting up with pain. Not making a fuss. And laughter and teasing when a selection of my classmates joined in the physio visits at school. I was discharged when I was ten.

Physically, these physio trips have caused, and left me in more pain than when I was a child. Yet, they have shown me more care than any other.

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Still my mind chants that the care is underserved. That I should have worked harder at physio when I was a child, even though my parents gave up on it early. That if I hadn’t worn the AFO, or had gotten it repaired ( in spite of not knowing that was possible) my foot would be in a better state.

My mind turns to the TC. More underserved care from a staff member after I left a group in abject distress. Don’t pull your hair, sweetie. Real care, I think. Not professional care. Real concern, like the physios were showing.

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And I write this as much to reflect as to remember. Because feeling genuinely, intimately, cared for feels weird. And it is rare. And that glimmer of feeling cared for, that I know I have experienced and lost to mind before, is already slipping through my memory in a sea of undeservingness.

Whether I deserve it or not, it was given. It is a gift – a God-given gift. I want to cling to that, in spite of my desire to rip myself to shreds. Cling to the feeling, alongside the knowledge, that God wants me to be cared for. God cares for me. That is a weird feeling.

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Taste the Rainbow 🌈

As I cack-handedly gave the children’s address this morning, offering M and Ms (other sugar-coated chocolates are available) in an attempt to demonstrate that colour is inconsequential to taste, this is the slogan that was running amok in my mind. I didn’t use Skittles (they supposedly taste different) but the rainbow was there.

I put it there, in flag format. Asked why the rainbow flag might be used as a symbol of the Pride movement. To symbolise the love and diversity – which come from nature – and which can combine in beautiful ways to form Light.

God’s spirit will be poured out upon all people.

The M and Ms demonstration didn’t (strictly speaking) work. But, it wasn’t so easy to detect colour, as it was taste. And, no matter what we look like from the outside, we have the same need to meet with God (chocolate) on the inside.  God, who can cope with all our differences (speak to us in multiple languages) and love us completely, no matter where we are spiritually, or on the LGBT+ rainbow.

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Easy to say. So hard to believe. I went to Pride yesterday. And I marched beneath my church’s banner. And I looked up and smiled at people as we went past. And I have never done any of that before. I have chosen instead to abstain, or to hide on the field. Never to be out there.

But it felt good, and the sun was shining, and I felt like I was acceptable, and that I belonged. Now, that was yesterday. And old feelings of judgement from my University days, from Christian friends, who claimed that they would never judge, yet proved to be the most judgemental of all. Of feeling bad and twisted, and unacceptable.

Those feelings are so hard to push a way. I find it so hard to believe that I am loved in God’s eyes, as I am. I feel judgement. I feel undeserving; that I want to hide away. I am frightened of being part of the rainbow.

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