I taught several tutorials on cognitive neuroscience (read: how the neural networks of the brain are involved in thought processes) this week. I rely on analogies a lot in my teaching. This week, stolen bicycle chains, and not having enough money for tickets to get inside the Millennium Stadium to watch the rugby, made their appearance.

Using these analogies again, after so long, I remembered another (straight neuroscience) one. Not mine, but one I use. How the frontal cortex of the brain is like the conductor of an orchestra. If we’re talking emotion, then the amygdala is the nerve centre; the musical instrument(s) of emotion. And the frontal cortex, the conductor of those instruments, so they all play at a tempo and volume (and harmony) that the world at large finds acceptable.

Apart from, at least one of my musical instruments broken. Maybe a string has snapped on a violin. And events this week have left that violin playing at  full pelt, beyond the will of the conductor. And the conductor has tried desperately to calm the orchestra, to mend that broken string, with distraction, and teaching, and taking on more work, to try to fill the void of the struggling, silenced instrument, but all the conductor has managed is a reef knot. A violin playing with a reef knot in the midst of one of its strings doesn’t sound like a violin.


In fact, the violin doesn’t seem to like being silenced. When it sees its score come up, it wants to play; struggles against the conductor trying to hush it while a replacement string is on order. But it will not be silenced. And it sees  its score more and more easily, and sends the orchestra into a discordant meltdown more and more often. The conductor is exhausted from trying to hold the violin together, when it wants to play of its own accord.

I am ready to give up. The meltdowns are a consuming fire of tears and stress and anger. Unrelenting anger. I am horrid of horridness. Anger upon anger upon anger. Sad and desperate and lonely. Unless I am working. But work is of no use at all. It will all be blown away one day. I have had enough. Enough. Enough.

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3 Responses to Discordant

  1. Reading this, I am reminded of the endless voices that invade my own conscious mind from time to time; usually following some conflict or unpleasant event. I wonder why they don’t tend to come when something good happens?

    They take the form of a conversation; one that I will probably never have in real life. They’re not easily switched off, and they can be exhausting! I guess many of us can identify with similar experiences.

    I’m not sure how I stop the conversation. At one point in my life, some 16 years ago, when I was also suffering with mild depression, I would just take myself off to bed. Daytimes weren’t so bad since, like you, I had things to occupy me. But evenings alone became pretty desperate, when all I had was my own thoughts. I would simply have enough of the day and go to bed. Fortunately, I was able to sleep!

    But I’m not really sure what it is that I do now to silence the voices. Maybe I just allow them to play themselves out. Perhaps I cook, or lose myself in Facebook? Yes, I suspect that’s it! Facebook! A place where I can have a real conversation with online friends, many of whom are also friends in real life, that replaces the angry or noxious conversations that invade my head.

    But what doesn’t tend to happen with me is the meltdown you describe; the internalised rage against myself. Perhaps I have just enough self-esteem to act as a protection to my unconscious inner-self.

    And perhaps that’s it? Perhaps your own self-esteem and self-worth is so fractured and damaged that the voices, the violins, turn in on themselves in self-destruction? I may, of course, be completely wrong; but that’s what I am hearing.

    From the little I know and understand, I guess the damage was done years ago, little by little, one tiny bit at a time, until self-worth and self-esteem were so horribly damaged that there was some sort of collapse and you were left struggling to find something, anything, solid and firm on which to stand.

    And I guess the horror is that so much of religious life simply says, ‘peace, peace, where there is no peace’!

    I fear that, in this place, all encouragement, all Scripture, must sounds like platitudes; but, but, I’m reminded of the Pslam:

    I waited patiently for Yahweh;
    Yahweh inclined to me and heard my cry.
    Yahweh drew me up from the desolate pit,
    out of the miry bog,
    and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
    Yahweh put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.

    It’s my prayer for you.

    I think that you, my dear friend, know what it is to wait for Yahweh. Sometimes it’s like waiting for the God who isn’t there! But at other times that Real Presence is so incredibly close. And sometimes we just need to know and experience love enfleshed!

    If I have any advice it’s to stop trying to reach out to those who, because of their own limitations, can never be there for you. Some simply do not understand your anguish; and I guess that you may never be able to make them understand. But there are others – I’ve read their comments on your Facebook – who, if only in part, if only fractionally, understand your distress and would reach out to you and enfold you in their loving arms. Are you able to trust such people to love you? We are only capable of loving in part and understanding in part; but our desire is to understand and to love.

    When I see you, I see someone who is incredibly hurt and damaged, through absolutely no fault of her own; but I also see, in all of the vulnerability, an incredibly gifted young woman who is precious and lovely, who is giving and kind, and who is capable of great things.

    I see a very tender flower, almost destroyed by the early frosts, yet still containing within the plant that supports it all the potential life and beauty of the summer.

    Much love x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, David. Don’t know about the psychological analysis – but waiting on God is *hard*. Letting go and letting God, ditto. Self-esteem currently measures at 0, whatever it was like in the past…

      Exhaustion has lowered my resilience, that I know, too. Taize service soon. Source of True Peace. In the meantime, attempts at sleep, at work, at hoping for God.

      Bless you x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Bless you too!

    My comments weren’t intended as a psychological analysis – I don’t have the capacity or knowledge for that 🙂 – more as a reflection, a questioning, a grappling to understand, albeit from my own perspective.

    And I do understand how hard it is to wait for God: the God who it seems at times just isn’t there. And I HATE the expression ‘letting go and letting God’! But I’ll wait with you if I may.

    And I want you to now that the title of your blog is such an encouragement!, speaking in one breath of faith, and doubt, and hope! I don’t trust those who are only able to speak of certainty; that doesn’t reflect our daily reality; it’s unreality.

    I’m glad that you have the Taize service to look forward to.



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