I am here again, after 27 years. I used to come to church services here. When I was little. All four of us came. We came to Sunday service. Apart from, I wouldn’t be left in the creche, wouldn’t stop screaming, so my mother stopped going to church. No point, if it was just to spend it with me in the creche. So it was my fault we stopped going to church. That’s what she says. I remember the rows. The tumultous rows about me and not going to church.
My memory is not of the services. I can vaguely remember the creche. Aged three – the tin cans I couldn’t walk on when other children could; the resultant tantrum. I shouldn’t have been so frustrated; shouldn’t have screamed. I should have been grateful. Should be grateful. That whole church prayed hard when I was born. That is why I am not more disabled. I should have been pleased about what I can do – not frustrated with what I can’t. That’s what my father says. I am still not grateful.
After that, I remember Sunday school. Trying to put my hands together as Hilda showed us, to pray, desperately trying to prise apart my fingers. Failing. Swallowing hard to stop the anger that was threatening to overcome me. I couldn’t pray like the other children. My mother definitely wasn’t there then. I went out with the big children. I remember joining the service sometimes. We were led out then, from the olive green carpet of Sunday school, onto the gallery. Right to the front, because if I stood on tiptoe, I could just about see over the railing. One morning, my four year-old self is screaming. She is protesting the ritualistic drowning of the white-clad people below. If you put people under water, they will drown. Church isn’t meant for drowning. This day is 11 years since my own baptism; 6th February, 2005. How much further can I fall from there?
The Sanctuary is smaller now; the circular rounds of pews, fewer. Or maybe I am bigger. I don’t feel bigger. I want to be held, like I once was in this place, like a baby. I want to go back to 10th May, 1984. My dedication. Here, right here. Held tenderly in the Promise of all that is to come, all that might be. I am trying not to drown in the memories. We are supposed to be at worship. Church isn’t meant for drowning.
The worship becomes effortless. It is Keele-style; easy to slip into, to become part of. To lose oneself to God. None of the tension of my current church is here. No one is pretending that I don’t exist. No one hates me, hurts me. Everyone is welcome – and welcomed. I feel like I am at home. At peace. I breathe the music, pray the music, breathe the music. There are echoes of the calm of my baptism. All things belong to God.
The calm is lost, as the music fades. The talk reminds me of the margins. Of being on the outside. Of how deep the hurt of rejection runs. I cut deeper now. Cut down rather than across. I am the monster. I am a storm of unbridled emotion. People need protecting against me. The way the church treats me must be my fault,my emotion causes it. I must unleash the emotion on myself in case I hurt someone else. It works. I have never hurt someone physically, since starting to self-harm. However much I harm, I am still full of evil. I know this because I am surrounded by couples. Instead of feeling happy for them, as one should, I feel annoyed by their hand-holding; want to force them apart. My parents became a couple here. My parents met here. My father, my age, my mother younger. A ten year jagged on-off relationship towards their marriage. I am drowning in this place.
Would that I really could drown. End the storm. Would that my parents had never met. Would that I had never been born, never been born, never been born.