Each week in the Therapeutic Community, we have half an hour when we all fall silent. Not for personal reflection and prayer (although I struggle to resist a temptation to this) but to allow for creativity of some form. One of the very first pieces I did was words weaved around lines on a page, drawing a cockle shell. The words spoke of my terror of being open; of a rough, tough exterior, and of people (other TC members) not knowing, and not realising, what they were asking to engage with, in asking me to be more open with them around my emotional life. I was rotten to the core.
Above, an image of one of the shells I picked up on the beach at Rockcliffe (my Lyonnesse) on a recent trip to see a friend. It reminded me of that writing. Of how closed and scared and coiled up I was a year ago when I entered the Therapeutic Community. I have a gorgeous time away with human and canine company, enjoying the Scottish landscapes and seascapes. And it feels more precious because I am able to acknowledge my fragility, bruised self-confidence, taut fear of alternative Biblical voices on sexuality. I know that I can feel truly horrid inside. But that that does not mean that I am rotten at the core. I feel loved here.
Dating has shaken me more than I thought it could when I embarked on it. I am nervous again in the Therapeutic Community, and with friends; seek their reassurance more often. I am less sure of myself; that what I want is OK. That it is OK to voice it. I am fragile and I want to harm myself again. Atone for the shame and disapproval that I feel around pursuing what I want. For the anger that I feel at my parents. For being rotten, rotten, rotten, and trying to believe anything different.
The TC voices offer reassurance and encouragement, note the relative fragility. Remind me that I am not rotten because I feel rotten. I am able to express myself creatively, authentically. The voices and the silence feel sacred, of God. I may be fragile. I may also be me.