Resting B**** Face in the Church of the Poison Mind

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said I find it hard to move on yet I have decided today to purge some of my ‘friends’ on Facebook and to simply not engage with horror people IRL. 

This has come  from the realisation that I am surrounded at times by women who can best be described as having ‘resting b**** face’  syndrome. (RBF). No matter how hard I try to be friendly I get nowhere.  And they call themselves Christians!

I don’t really know why they don’t like me but there it is!  They make me feel like the white, blonde/ginger bitchy girls at school did or used to. Yeah, you know the ones… The shiny people! 

Actually some of the men are as bad.  There’s a couple I can think of right now – arrogance personified!

I really don’t need this stuff in my life.  Be gone!

When Pastors Reach The Divided Path

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1-divided-path-tracie-kiernan.jpgWe said goodbye to the best pastor today as he and his wife are moving onto pastures new. I’ve been really upset about this for a few months – Both of these people have had a very significant impact on my life and I think of him as a nephew that I never had – but I’ve come to terms with it now as it is right for them.  He will be a real loss to us, as will she, but I also know that we reach ‘the divided path’ many times on our journey through life.  

Pastor B and his wife  need to be in the new place and I also am taking steps towards a different kind of life. Whether I will stay with this church or not I do not know. I am not somebody who moves on easily. However I know that eventually I will want somewhere which is nearer to New Home as the journey to and fro is quite time consuming and tiring and also I am not a member of the community where my present church is.  I will stay with them for the time being until I feel more secure and settled in my new life.

Close to You – Why Divorce is One Flesh ‘Rent Asunder’

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IMG_1226 1.JPGIt’s no secret that it has taken me longer to get over my marriage breakdown than it has for some other people.

This time, the season, is the first time in 30 years that I have not seen Ex regularly. We co-parented our dog for six or seven years after The Separation and she died at Christmas 2016.  Although we have been in touch a little bit by text and email we have not seen each other.  I think this is a good thing.  They say that no contact (NC) is the way forward.

I was talking to my mother about this the other day. I said, “Ex is the person that I have been closest to in the whole of my life.”  Now this may have been a little hurtful for my mother to hear but it is true.

We are meant to separate from our parents.  When we marry we expect to travel through the decades with our spouse.  Also, there is the sexual connection which binds us to our spouse; something that, hopefully, we do not share with our parents.

It seems strange but it was only this realisation that my ex is the person that I have been closest to in my whole life that made me realise why it has taken me such a long time to get over him and the marriage.  I don’t think I necessarily miss him as much as being married,  though I am not entirely sure that I would choose to remarry.  The thought of never being in love or being loved again in return, however, during my remaining life is pretty grim!

 

The tyranny of the ‘Fat’ Brigade

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vintage-1107700_960_720One of the most distressing symptoms of my prolonged health relapse is that I am very underweight. I’m 5ft 1″ and under 7 stone. I eat like a starving donkey, take supplements, including whey protein powder, I am having tests on my repeated GP visits.  I hate being this thin.  It makes me feel unfeminine, weak and insubstantial.

Yet people feel free to tell me,  most  emphatically, that I am too thin… in a concerned voice.  It seems never ending.  I find it patronising and hurtful. It is socially acceptable to tell me I am too thin  but how would they feel if I said: “Hi! Still fat, then?” or “Crikey, you’ve put weight on. Bit of a porker!”

Constantly telling someone they are too thin seems to imply that you’re starving yourself, (you’re anorexic) or just plain difficult!

I think some people genuinely are concerned but it does make me wonder if some are they’re doing it to make themselves feel better about themselves and THEIR bodies. To be fair, no-one at church has said this; it’s my secular friends! Go figure! 

I’m going to have to think of a good riposte next time somebody pipes up!

 

Valentine’s Day Prayer

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“We pray today for those in love, those off love, those in between. And for those who are lonelier today than other days.
We pray today for those whose frozen hearts cannot love & those who feel so unlovely that they can’t love themselves.
We pray for the elderly man gazing today at a black and white photograph in a silver frame of a wedding in another time.
We pray for the the mum, who quietly bought herself flowers yesterday. And the boy who dared to send a card but didn’t get one back.
King of love come comfort and forgive us this cheap, gaudy, desperate, isolating thing we have made of you. Amen.”
Pete Greig – Valentine’s Prayer

One of our pastors shared this on Facebook. It’s awesome.

A Lover’s Story: Crookes Valley Park, Sheffield, 1988.

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“Will you stay in our lover’s story?” Kooks, David Bowie.

Back in 1988 I saw our time in Sheffield as a sad and lonely period yet in retrospect I see it differently. We were young, not yet fully formed, and very much in love.

My job was hard, physically and mentally, and I felt pulled in many directions. At work, I was the ‘newbie’, before that word was invented, who had to make her mark, a graduate among school leavers, viewed with a little suspicion. I wasn’t part of any clique and was frequently homesick for my birth town and my parents. Gray was out-of-work and lonely too. As I had dragged him to this landlocked city I felt I had to make everything alright for him. Exhausted after my day at the office I felt obliged to go out at night, to pubs or to the cinema, when really I would have preferred to stay in and just talk or be.

Sundays became special though.

Mostly we walked in Weston Park, sometimes visiting the art gallery there, and often in Crookes Valley Park, which was often swathed in mist.  He would wear his Joe Orton-style leather jacket and I would be in my blue coat with its real fur collar, which I’d picked up in Oxfam in Broomhill. It looked like something straight out of a Tissot painting. I kept that coat for years.

Crookes Valley Park comprised sloping greens and a flat lake and was peaceful in a melancholic sort of way. Gray was often sad and we were frequently tired. What we talked about I can’t recall but conversation always flowed between us as the leaves came tumbling down around us. There was this utter sense of togetherness, of being with the right one. If I’d have known my Bible back then I would have identified with the verse from Song of Solomon:

“I have found the one whom my soul loves.”

Sometimes we would walk down to Hunter’s Bar and end up in Pizza Hut. Having been on the dole for a few months before I got this job this seemed to us quite decadent! I relished seeing the anticipation in his eyes and we’d laugh as the soft, doughy pizza would melt in our fingers – and then in our mouths. I loved to see him happy like that.

Sundays were doubly precious because I never looked forward to rejoining the world of office politics in a department that was sinking fast in an era of privatisation. Many people in the office were having affairs with each other as if it was the last few  days of pre-war Berlin. This was the very antithesis of my world of “pure love”, monogamous, hopeful and magical.

These memories can pierce my heart, as if they were happening right now. I wonder at this, bemused, that he, in his new life with new wife, doesn’t feel it too, at the very same moment as I do.

The subconscious mind, I read, doesn’t understand past and present, but sees everything as if it IS occurring right now. And it is happening.  I’m walking in Crookes Park, Sheffield, with the man I love.

I am loved, valued, wanted.

The Jubilation-Despair Clash

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Things have been very up or down here.  I’ve just had a very busy week,  busy for me that is.  

JUBILATION   I went to a prayer meeting at the tiny church on my new street. This church is linked to my usual church – they belong to the same family. I’m hoping to get involved in their home group whilst I am recuperating from my long health relapse.

I’ve had beloved visitors to the flat which has made it feel much more homely. I also met a woman and her partner at a social event. She  invited me to her new home which is a palatial edifice overlooking the sea. The views are spectacular.  They moved up from London six months ago. Gentrification is definitely taking place here.

I also went to a craft/technical workshop yesterday which I absolutely loved.

DESPAIR  But there are downsides too. I went to my GP and asked to go back on antidepressants as being housebound much of the time has been really getting to me.  I am feeling a little brighter for that.  I am also going to be tested for Addison’s Disease.  I don’t think I have it but it is a good place to start,  to find out why I have had muscle wasting and weight loss over the last 3 years.  Personally I think it is to do with hormones,  lack thereof,  after my hysterectomy.  Low testosterone can be a real problem.

I am really struggling with my trusted mechanic, who is looking out for an automatic car for me. It’s taking ages and I feel that there is a breakdown in communication. I feel like a ‘problem’ to him, which is how my ex used to make me feel, whereas we have always got on brilliantly. 

My relationship with my  best friend, G, is also proving to be quite difficult. We have had some talks recently about how I feel the friendship is being eroded by his extraordinarily busy, stressful life. Much of his life is negative. I really do fear for his health – and he does too! He got defensive when I brought up this ‘fading of our friendship’.  He basically told me to ‘get over it’ and ‘get on with it’.  I  believe  he has lost perspective and sees me as attacking him rather than trying to sort the problem out.  We have been friends for 31 years.  I don’t think he has any conception at all of what it is like to be very often housebound and vulnerable because of that. Disappointing.

Therefore, I have jubilant times and times of despair.  I have a large desire to tell a few people to sling their hooks.  But I know that that will be self-defeating in the long run. I must master my emotions! 

Regular Self-Care As a Route to Health

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This is from the TMS Wiki Structured Education Programme. It struck a chord as I can neglect myself in terms of diet and rest if under stress. http://www.tmswiki.org/ppd/Educational_Program_Day_37

Regular Self Care

The ability to care for oneself is an essential skill that that needs to be learned and practiced to prevent or relieve TMS/PPD symptoms. Most people learn this as children when they are given adequate opportunities to play. A four-year-old with paper and fingerpaints does not care how many pictures per hour they produce, or about the quality of their work or who will see it. They care only that they are having fun. If it stops being fun they move on to another activity they enjoy. This is how children, and adults, learn how to meet their need for enjoyment. Adults may not need as many hours spent in this way as a child, but the need is always there.

For some children, the opportunity for carefree self-indulgence is limited or non-existent. If children are abused or given excessive responsibilities, if among the adults in the home there is violence, drug abuse, a high need for support or erratic behavior the child may focus on the needs of others (adults or siblings) in the home. This may leave insufficient time for acquiring self-care skills. In addition, low self-esteem from a less than nurturing home may leave children feeling unworthy of taking time for themselves.

Adults lacking this ability care for everyone but themselves. If they have spare time, their thoughts turn to using it constructively for the benefit of others. On the list of those whom they support, their own name is missing. For some, the only break they get occurs when TMS/PPD symptoms become too severe for them to function.

Fortunately, self-care skill can be acquired at any age. Here are some steps that have helped others:

  1. Recognize the issues that may have deprived you of self-care skills as a child. It may help to imagine your own children (or a child you care about) growing up in the same environment you did. If those children would be missing out then so did you. This provides a solid justification for learning the skills you missed.
  2. Take 4-5 hours every week, if possible, for activity with no purpose but its own joy. Ask members of your household to support you in this effort. Trial and error are usually needed to find enjoyable activities (going to a gym to work out usually isn’t enough fun, for example). Don’t worry if you feel like a failure at this for months because that is part of the learning process. It is not easy to change a life pattern that has been successful for you up to now.
  3. Don’t worry if you feel guilty about not doing something “constructive” with this weekly self-care because that is usually how people feel at first.
  4. If there are people who created difficulties in the past who are still creating problems for you, consider ending or strictly limiting contact with them during the time you are developing self-care skills.

Once you acquire this skill you will have it for life. In the future, whenever your stress level begins to reach levels capable of causing symptoms, you will have the ability to leave the rest of your world and focus on you. This is a powerful technique that, by itself, has relieved severe and long-lasting symptoms in many people.

Scary Monsters and the Buddhist Way.

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20141206sa-shepherds-hut-wagon-retreat-tiny-house-interior-example-009I’m still feeling very unsettled in my new home. I think it’s because this is the first home I have ever owned by myself, even though I am over 50.

First came my parents houses, then university halls and student houses, and then renting with my now ex-husband. We went on to buy a couple of houses. There’s always somebody by my side.  

Now I should be viewing my move with a spirit of independence but I think I’m just scared! I would also really enjoy having someone to share the renovations with. I used to love planning our houses with my ex.

A friend of mine said it took him three years to settle into his home. Everything went wrong for him until he started going to meditation classes then everything fell into place for him and he stopped running away. He’s now a practising Buddhist.

I have decided to stay here until 2018. If I still feel unsettled I will think about moving then.  

Seek Out Laughter as You Age

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cat-shaming-pics-will-have-you-rolling-in-laughter-1I don’t laugh as much as I used to. We laugh and smile much less as we get older, studies reveal.

One reason  (for me) is that spending a LOT of time with the very elderly, such as my mum, is not always conducive to joy. Perhaps that’s why people love kids – they laugh such a lot and make us laugh. (I find pets do this for me.)

With this in mind I have made a conscious decision to seek out things that make me laugh every day whether that’s films, YouTube clips, radio programmes, memories. It’s gotta be worth a shot!

Marriage support – Care for the Family

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“Every marriage is different, but all marriages experience ups and downs – there’s the romantic times when the sun seems to be always shining, and the tough times when winter seems to have set in for good. We want to support you in your relationship whether you are preparing to get married or have been …”

Source: Marriage support – Care for the Family

Kindness of Friends Brings Startling Revelation

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Had a wonderful time with friends this weekend.  One of them, P, I have known for 31 years and his partner, J, I’ve known 25 years! We went to a very posh hotel and they treated me to dinner!

They treated me brilliantly, with such care and attention,  making sure I was comfortable etc. It certainly made me realise how little my former husband valued me but, more importantly, shone a light on how poorly I valued myself. I must hold myself with little regard to have put up with much that I did. (I was no saint either, I may add.)

I have been overwhelmed with how kind people have been since I moved house. Many  of them have given me presents, for example, totally unexpectedly. S, for example, cooks for me! I don’t ask her to – she just occasionally hands me something for the freezer. 

It has to be said that old friends really do make me feel happy and secure.  There is something very powerful about having a shared history.  Also, the fact that P knew me before I became ill is very healing because his memories of me are not just of “the sick, fragile one” nut as the energetic one who was leading a fairly normal life.

 

Dr Sarno Makes Me Realise I’m a Bitter Hag!

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I am doing a lot of mind-body therapy at the moment, following the teachings of Dr Sarno, author of The Divided Mind and inventor of the term Tension Myositis Syndrome.  It’s fascinating stuff.  Basically, the idea is that many chronic conditions are the result of holding in, or rather repressing, difficult emotions, especially rage/anger.  The process is unconscious.

You have to list all the things in your life, past and present, that make you angry or cause other negative emotions such as sadness, fear, etc.  My list is very long –and I haven’t even finished!

I have realised I am criminally envious of and bitter towards two Christians I know.  These two seem to live the perfect life and it really gets to me.  It pains me to admit it but I really do not like one of them.  It is hard to say it out loud but I think this person is spoilt and they have made me feel like some people in the past have made me feel: lesser, lowly and a bit grubby.  I appreciate that that might be more MY problem than theirs.

I am seething with vitriol right now!  It’s not a nice feeling but at least I’m being honest with myself.  This person, of course, has no idea I feel this way and, as it happens, I have not seen them in real life for months and months.  But, boy, do they like to flaunt their lives on social media! And hopefully they will never know of my dislike. These feelings may pass now I’ve acknowledged them.

Well, that’s my vitriolic posting for the evening. I think I feel better for it!

Facebook Envy Destroys the Soul

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I had a quick scoot around Facebook yesterday, looking at posts by people I don’t normally see in my newsfeed. Came away feeling depressed and envious. That’s just not right even though I know that  Facebook pics often show just the ‘Kodak moments’. It’s a lie!

I hope there is a Facebook backlash in a way. I’ve been trying not to spend as much time there – but it is not always easy. I’m spending more time with Jon Kabat-Zinn, on CD, I hasten to add, and in print. He’s a lifeline at the moment. And a much healthier companion than 400 virtual friends.

Happy Divorce Day!

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One of my church friends is celebrating his first anniversary of remarriage today. This couple seem to live the perfect life!

I am happy for him but his announcement on Facebook and loving words to his wife reminded me that today is the second anniversary of my divorce! Cruel irony.

Yesterday, though, ex and I went to the beach. He had come from neighbouring country for work and our shared care duties. It was lovely. We got on well and it harked back to other times. I was sad that I can’t walk much (still undergoing the muscle relapse from hell) and sad that his new wife is very sporty and active.

I say to God, “Why have you abandoned me?” It’s just not fair!

Ex has changed a lot. I am sure he smiles and laughs sometimes but I never see that abundant laughter and joy on his face now. Maybe he saves it for others or other times. I don’t know. Maybe too much has happened to him for that.

 

Not Celebrating Recovery

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DSCF2594As the relapse in my health – long-term condition –  from hell continues I have dropped all regular commitments, including Celebrate Recovery at church in nearby city.

Not even sure I am going to go back to it. Not making any plans at all like that. Researching how to recover from this relapse a lot and thinking I may just stick to following my church’s sermons online while I recover.

CR is great but there are a lot of platitudes uttered from the manual. It is also a very tiring evening, especially if there are only two of you in the small sharing group. I will carry on doing my moral and spiritual inventory though. That’s useful.

Midsomer Murders and the ITV3 Generation

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eeb0e564c51ba8370576f5761e2081efI confess: I have a soft spot for ITV3, the ‘resting’ place of the elderly viewer. I love Endeavour, Foyle’s War, Inspector Morse and Lewis. Big fan of PD James’ and Ruth Rendell’s work in print and on screen. Not a fan of Midsomer Murders.

Living (temporarily) with an octogenarian makes me think a lot about the elderly. Not all old people fit into a stereotype, of course. Many are offbeat, fiery, questioning, and open-minded. But the Brexit vote has also made me think about other older people, especially the Daily Express reading contingent.  I am brought into contact daily with this filthy rag

Why is it that older people love detective dramas of the type I have listed? My thoughts:

  1. They are very British. English countryside, British actors. English towns and villages. English cars, mostly. Suits. Hats even!
  2. Easily identified characters. Idiosyncratic but not too weird, e.g., Morse.
  3. Old people seem to love characters who come in pairs (Lewis and Hathaway). The ‘buddy’ element.
  4. Often set in the past – or a present that doesn’t really exist (Midsomer Murders) caters to nostalgia factor plus sense that ‘things were better back then’.
  5. Crime dramas – very black and white in that there are good people and bad ones.
  6. Resolution. The bad guys are always caught, I think. Order is restored. All’s right with the world.

When age, infirmity and looming death/meeting one’s maker are on the cards, ironically, these murderous dramas offer a sense of safety and familiarity plus a chance to be indignant at the ‘goings-on’ (moral judgements) and behaviour of the ‘bad’ characters. It’s my belief that old people (some, not all, I must stress) do not like ambiguity and these reruns on ITV3 serve as a comforter.

 

Lexit, Not Brexit. How My Ex Made Me Think Again

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My ex, who’s very, very left wing, was here earlier – explaining why he voted to leave the EU. Really made me think and threw open new doors in my mind. He might be my ex but he always did make me think a lot! He was talking for over an hour on this. It was absolutely fascinating.

He pointed me in the direction of the Left Leave movement. See link above. Such a shame that we couldn’t make it as a couple cos he is still, on occasion, one of the most stimulating people I’ve ever met. I think that’s partly why I find it hard to move on. Although, to be fair, I seek peaceful man rather than stimulating man now.

http://www.leftleave.org/lexit-statement-on-the-vote-to-leave-the-european-union/

Elderly Brexiters Have Sold Us Down the River

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Utterly fed up with the crowing Brexiters. What a mess. Hate crime up, the pound down, businesses in turmoil, and virtually no government going on here in the UK.

What’s worse is that my mum is here looking after me ‘cos I am having the relapse from h**l and she is making a huge difference and I am really, really grateful – BUT she voted for Britain to leave the European Union. I think she feels guilty though. She admitted that she and her generation are hankering after the Britain of the 1950s, but she knows deep down that this will never happen and that the world has changed too much for that.

Old people, Daily Express readers like my mum, have totally sold younger generations down the river -and they won’t even be around to see the mess they have landed us in! I feel sorry for the young, educated, passionate people. They are understandably bitter.

And even worse, nearly all the people I know at church, barr Pastor 3 and another leading light in the church town, were I gather, on the Brexit side. .

This, along with the fact that most of them are Tories plus some of their beliefs is making me seriously consider leaving this church. As it happens I am confined to quarters and will be for some long time. I will sped the time thinking about what to do and where to go if I ever get out of this relapse. old-people-funny-t-shirts-18__605