Category: Music and lyrics

For the first time in forever

“There’ll be actual real live people, it’ll be totally strange

But, boy am I so ready for this change!”

Anna_costumes_(Frozen_2013_film)

Yesterday was another little but notable step for me. It was my birthday recently and to celebrate, a small number of close friends came over for a bring-and-share lunch. This was the first time in a very long time I have done anything like this. The few close relationships I have are a very precious blessing to me. I never usually mark my birthday in any way and find it too embarrassing and uncomfortable. I am not used to having a home that I can invite other people to. Thankful as I am to be here, it has taken me a long time to get the courage to invite people over and this is the first time I have invited more than one person at a time. Actually, it is the first time for years I have been in a group of people in this kind of social situation, where I’m interacting with everyone for a substantial period of time. Also, it was my first attempt at a gathering where I’d be hosting and caring for everyone.

Building up to the day, I was excited and very touched that my friends cared enough to give the time to come and were spending such an effort to celebrate with me. In particular my dear friend L. was coming from over two hours away with her little girl to be here. I was also very anxious and feeling overwhelmed by worrying that I’d do everything okay, be able to make it nice for everyone, help everyone get along well (not everyone knew each other) and be able to do well enough with everything practically needed since I can’t stand or walk much right now. With everything that has happened in the last couple of weeks with work and my health, I was repeatedly tempted to cancel, but not wanting to let people down or hurt them, stopped me, and so the day came.

I was so grateful L. was there. Her presence gave me confidence and her beautiful little girl, overflowing with interest and happiness, made me feel better. L. helped me finish setting things out and without her being there I don’t think there’s any way I’d have had the confidence to go through with it.

It was a beautiful day of blessings. The food seemed to be well received and appreciated and everyone brought something to add to the meal (actually, leading to plenty more inspiration for my future Ten Dishes posts!). A lot of the simple practical things I had worried about, like whether everyone would be comfortable in my small flat where decoration and furnishing are still something of a work in progress, were actually okay. I’m very fortunate to have friends who are understanding of the time it takes to bring a home together. Everyone chatted easily together and it was possible to find common ground and interests surprisingly quickly given that not everyone had met each other before. The two beautiful children (one 9 months, the other nearly 3 years old) were adored and delighted in.

I was full to overflowing with thankfulness and the lovely illustration that people wanted to be there and cared enough to come and join in generously. The shame, worry and embarrassment I had felt beforehand was steadily taken away during the afternoon. I was struggling physically after a time and the pain was bad but I was helped and nobody was angry or expressed that they thought I should be doing more or was a bad hostess. I hope they really were happy not just saying nothing out of kindness. Mentally I felt drained and was aware that I could not concentrate as well as I wanted to, because I was “missing” things, not able to take in what people were saying or dissociating very briefly but repeatedly. However, nobody reacted as though they noticed or thought I was being weird. I wonder if they did notice or not. Were they actually being considerate and accepting of what was happening or could they not tell? I wish they could not tell but I don’t know… I’m sure they must have…perhaps I can check this with someone I trust most, like L. Nevertheless, things still seemed to be okay. I hope.

Afterwards, in the evening after everyone had gone, the pain and exhaustion were severe but I my heart was still brimming with the surprised joy of the gathering and the kindness everyone had shown. The gifts of God in friendship mean so much to me right now and help me believe things will be okay.

For now, I have several thank-you cards to write, as well as this very happy memory to think on!

“Because for the first time in forever

There’ll be music, there’ll be light…”

Frozen_Anna_Wallpaper_2

Ginny xxx

Lyrics from “For the first time in forever”  from Disney’s “Frozen” as sung by Kristen Bell. (How much my little goddaughters would approve!) Images with thanks to wikipedia.org and disney.wikia.com respectively.

 

As long as we have HOPE

As long as we have HOPE

katniss prim hands

“Fear does not work as long as they have hope, and Katniss Everdeen is giving them hope.” – President Snow, in The Hunger Games – Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins

Of all possible characters in the Hunger Games trilogy, I did not expect to be quoting President Snow! However, I think Suzanne Collins has voiced a truth here that we can hold on to.

prim volunteer hunger games

Fear does not work as long as you have hope. I’m learning this. I’ve been thinking on it for a few days and it’s a message particularly for today. There has been another terrorist attack in Europe, a lorry driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice in France, killing over 80 people. Waking up to learn this, I felt fear, grief, sadness, helplessness, unable to know what to do, seeing nothing I can do to make the hurt and tragedy better for everyone suffering in this. I can’t imagine how afraid everyone in Nice is.

Fear does not work as long as you have hope. Watching the news there seem to be fewer safe places, nowhere out of reach of the hurt and damage that comes from anger, terrorism and extremism. It comes closer to home both in these violent acts and in the people fleeing even further violence as refugees.

Terrorism is designed to take away hope. I cannot do anything to directly practically change what happened in Nice, or at the Bataclan, or Baghdad, or Turkey. But – as long as we have hope. Hope can start very small and very close to home. I can choose to carry out every little action, with care and attention and love. I can choose thankfulness in my day to day life. I can choose to replace an angry response with a questioning one or a loving one. I can’t get back the lives the terrorists have taken. I can kneel and pray with the grieving. Nothing takes away the suffering for those who have lost lives and lost loved ones, but in choosing to place HOPE in God, in love, in goodness, in every moment being an opportunity for us to be thankful and love, I can stop the terrorists also taking over my heart with the fear and hurt and hate they spread. Every time such frightening and destructive things happen, I can try to be a little more conscious of my choice to hold onto hope and my choice to love others around me. And I have to say – Tammi Kale, you inspired me to take this approach in a comment you left on one of my earlier posts. So a big big THANK YOU to you Tammi.

The same applies to the path of recovering from the fear placed in me by my abuser.  What has happened is terrible and letting her have my heart would be worse – by me becoming fear, hurt, rage, or even cold and numb and unable to bring any fruit. This will be a very long journey, I know, because her grip on my heart and my memories is still very great. Strongest is the deeply planted doubt that it was my fault, that nobody would ever believe a child could be so bad but it was all because of me really, and the doubt that pulls me apart when I dare to speak and the voices that taunt me and scream at me and tell me I’m a fake and a liar and ugly and disgusting. I couldn’t have any hope when I started my treatment. I really needed someone to hold it for me. Gradually, I am learning to hold onto hope for myself. I am learning that I can act in love. I am learning that carrying hurt, pain, need, crying, does not make me evil. I am learning that admitting these feelings does not make me dangerous. I am learning that I am not the feelings.

I am learning to believe in a God who is not repulsed or driven away by darkness and failure. My God says the night is just the same as day to Him. My God says He created me – and you – in His image. His image, not evil, is at the centre of my poor heart, although it is small and hurting and I feel very weak. He has placed us here to become more and more like Him, more closely united to Him, and to be His hands to carry His merciful love in this hurting world. In order to do this, I must learn to be loved, first. And it dawned on me that perhaps I do not know how to be loved because the fear planted by my abuser has taken over so much of my heart. This is going to be a long road, as I said. Being formed into our loving God’s image, and learning to be loved, gives a hope that cannot be taken away. Learning to be loved takes away fear.

katniss prim Hope catching fire

Prim – Since the last games, something is different, I can see it.

Katniss – What can you see?

Prim – Hope.

– The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (movie)

[Stills of Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) and Willow Shields (Prim) from The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; property of Suzanne Collins / Lionsgate Entertainment. Images sourced from fanpop.com and thehungergames.wikia.com]

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

– Rupert Brooke

Today is the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916; the largest battle of the First World War and the greatest loss of life in the history of the British Army.

It is hard to find adequate words for this day as we remember sacrifice on that scale. I wonder if we think enough on the way and the reasons people gave their lives.

When I was at school we made a trip to some of the Somme battlefields and memorials, including the Thiepval memorial (pictured above*) where the commemoration service was held today. I am very thankful that we went there. We walked some of the tracks over the fields; we made our way through ruins of some of the dug-outs and trenches; we counted names on the huge memorials; we passed through lines of stark white crosses. I remember looking at the engraving of the name of one soldier not yet 16. We could not imagine the horror that was suffered and the lives given in those fields but it did give a lasting impression, just a little more, of the scale of the sacrifice and what we remember.

At school we also studied the poem above. Most of the analyses of it focus on Brooke’s patriotism. Yes, of course that love of and gratitude for our homeland is strong and passionate. But the way I read it, it is not an isolating, insular love of our country. It is a generous love. As England blessed The Soldier, so the Soldier is giving himself for a better world, and looking forward to the peace of the pure peace of heaven; he “gives somewhere back” the good that he has, in his life and in his death.

The sacrifices of these soldiers seem all the more poignant to me this year, given the current uncertainty of the future for the peaceful Europe we fought for, sparked by our exit last week. They also remind us that we have come through far worse times than now, and that we have so very much to be thankful for.

– We will remember Them. –

Ginny xxx

*With thanks to somme2016.org for the image

PS – for some reason my blog has decided not to let me insert hyperlinks in my post above tonight 😦 To read more about the 100th anniversary commemorations, you can visit: http://www.somme-battlefields.com/centenary-somme-centenary-14-18/commemorations-2016-countdown-has-begun 

No hands,  no feet on earth but yours – these broken paths

No hands, no feet on earth but yours – these broken paths

On my way home from work I cross a park. The other day on the footpath, I noticed that the little cracks in the path’s surface had curved round to form a heart shape. (Hopefully you can just about see in the photo.)

There are plenty of breaks and cracks to stumble through on our lifes’ paths and there’s no escaping the hurt. Yet I try to remember, we need not fear the pain and confusion and our weakness. When we look back at what we have travelled through and what we leave behind for others, perhaps we will see it was love that remained through the very hardest times, love that grew in our hearts and that we left in the good we did, unknowingly.

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” – St Teresa of Avila

“Keep to two subjects, the weather and everybody’s health”

“Keep to two subjects, the weather and everybody’s health”

“She’s to keep to two subjects – the weather and everybody’s health.” – Henry Higgins, “My Fair Lady” (the musical)

I rather like the quote I stumbled across a few years ago,  I can’t remember where, along the lines of: I hate it when anyone starts talking about the weather because I instantly begin to suspect they are avoiding talking about something else!  It’s true I think.  I’ve also read that the two topics on which normally reserved British people strike up a conversation with strangers are the weather and delays to public transport. Again, probably true, I think.

Nevertheless today’s weather was rather worthy of note. I woke up to sunshine, though it was very cold. It then began to pour although only half the sky was cloudy. I walked to my Tuesday coffee group in sunshine and a cold wind. Beautiful deep pink blossom was coming into bloom in the park, almost overnight. Here is a photo of it (sorry not fantastic because of the strong breeze). Rain returned and then I left group in a mixture of snow and hail lasting several minutes. Hail when it’s almost May?!

Ginny xx

 

My rescue box – update

A while ago I posted about making up a “rescue box” as a tool to help me cope in times of crisis. You can read more about the principle and how the box helps here and I’d strongly recommend reading that before reading this post. In brief, the Box is a way of putting together in one place, easily visible and quickly accessible, the things that will help you cope when you are feeling bad. For me feeling bad tends to mean very upset, crying, struggling with voices and other hallucinations, and re-experiencing traumatic memories. The Box is not a cure for how you are feeling and is not meant to make the emotions go away. It isn’t intended to be a way to suppress them. Having said that, it is to some extent distraction, and a way to access tools to lower your very heightened emotional state so that you can then be more able to cope, to think, or to avoid impulsive actions that may be harmful to you. The CPN who explained the idea to me recommends it as a tool for BPD sufferers. I would imagine it could help people dealing with a variety of other situations / conditions too.

I promised an update about my box once I had put it together, so here goes. I’m new to this technique and I’m sharing updates as I go along.

I made my Box by covering a cardboard packaging box in gift wrap. I’ve started to stick some pretty things to the outside of it as well – a flower, some Hello Kitty stickers because they make me smile, a few little snippets of encouraging text – and I’ve put a little plastic pouch on top with a pretty card and a message from a dear friend. I’ll continue decorating the box with more sensory, pretty, attractive things and things that have a meaning for me and remind me of good times. I think this increases the likelihood the Box will be in my mind and be an appealing thing. (Half the problem with coping strategies, I find, is remembering to use them when the hard times come – often the distress can be so consuming I just don’t think of how to access helpful tools and techniques! Anything that helps me call them to mind has to be a plus!)

rescuebox

The contents of the Box is very much a personal thing, of course, as different things will be important to each of us. In case it’s of interest, here are some of the things I keep in mine (you can see them in the picture).

  • A couple of little stuffed animals – I’ll freely admit I am very childish! 🙂 I find them comforting and have quite a collection. To be honest, Bunny is usually next to me on the sofa, not in the box 🙂 and I collect “ty” Beanie owls and my-little-ponies. I guess stuffed toys also give a soothing tactile experience when you hold them, which can be useful for BPD sufferers. As a soothing sensation increases, the unpleasant sensation of very heightened emotion may reduce (again, I explain this better in my earlier post).
  • For similar reasons, a little bottle of scent. It’s soothing and distracting and if you are trying to control your breathing, the pleasant aroma can help you be aware of exhaling and inhaling.
  • A coaster, to remind me – make a soothing cup of tea! Drink it really focussing on the warmth and taste.
  • A special smooth, flat pebble from the beach, which is calming to hold (feeling the cool, polished surface) and which reminds me of the happy day on which I collected it.
  • A CD – at the moment it’s a CD I like with songs that lift my mood. This is a new one for me to try and I’m not sure which way it will go. When I am not in crisis, I enjoy listening to music. Putting on particular kinds of music and even dancing to it (well okay that’s a strong word – bouncing, at least!) can really pick me up. I’m not sure what kind of effect listening to upbeat music when I feel absolutely dreadful will have, but I’ll give it a go! It’s a way of trying to take an “opposite action” i.e. forcing yourself to do something “happy” or good for you when you are feeling sad and bad about yourself. The idea is this may in turn lift your thoughts. So listening to happy music and making myself move around to it might help lift my thoughts and feelings. Equally, at times music that expresses some of the anger or sadness I’m feeling can help as a way of “letting it out”.  I think I am going to trial both and then put together a playlist of favourite tracks specially for times I’m feeling down. Good job I live alone so there’s nobody to suffer for the fact that if I sing along I sound like a mouse with a particularly bad chest cold 😉
  • A favourite book I know well, which encourages me at the very hardest times, and some prayer cards with very short prayers. I can read over passages of the book, or say the prayers in my head, to repeat a hopeful and loving message to take the place of spiralling panicky thoughts, or the voices I hear telling me that I’m evil.
  • A few cards and a pen, to remind me – could I write a note to a friend? I.E., something nice to take me “out of” my own mixed up head, to force myself to do something positive, thus acting against the negative thoughts in my head, and making somebody else happy too?
  • A ball of wool – could I do something creative? Make pom poms? Do some cross stitch embroidery? Colouring?

I’ve tried to include a mixture of things that are happy and soothing of themselves (eg the stuffed animals, the scent) and things to encourage me to do something positive (eg the cards or the music). I’m also going to add to the box some pictures of my family and my close friends and my godchildren, basically people that matter to me, as a reminder of reasons to keep going and all the good things and good times that I can be thankful for – all things that can so easily be eclipsed in times of extreme distress.

So, that’s my Box! I hope perhaps this might be of interest…. I’m new to this and I will post another update about whether / how I find that it helps me.

Do you use any kind of toolkit like this to help you in the hard times? What would you put in your rescue box?

Ginny xxx

 

All I want is to be your harbour

Sail your sea, meet your storm. All I want is to be your harbour. The light in me will guide you home, all I want is to be your harbour. Fear is the brightest of signs – the shape of the boundary you leave behind….

I love this song by Vienna Teng, “Harbour“. I feel it will inspire a couple of posts over the next few days 😉

I pray I can grow stronger and be able to be there for the people I care about so much, as a safe place and a harbour and a faithful, un-judging, unwavering, companion. I pray we can all find our own harbour.

To everyone who sails this turbulent sea and just by being here, helps me meet this storm –

THANK YOU.

Ginny xxx

 

“Be soft…”

“Be soft.

Do not let the world make you hard.

Do not let pain make you hate.

Do not let bitterness steal your sweetness.”

Kurt Vonnegut

Too often, I do not know how not to be taken over by bitterness. It’s one of the most frightening things about the out of control emotions in BPD. That anger comes from nowhere. That nothing else exists of me but unbearable pain and I cease to be able to conceive of everything I most care about.

How do I keep on going, holding on to a truth of a permanence greater than my emotions? It’s one of the reasons faith matters to me so much. God is Love and always Love, unchanging and infinitely greater than me or anything I can feel or conceive. God made us in His image, ultimately good, for unity with Him. No matter what we fear or feel, our hearts are His. We cannot lose Him. No matter what we suffer, He is not a product of our emotions or our actions. No matter what we cannot see, He is giving us a purpose and a share in His work in this world.

xxxxxxx

Be soft.

Your heart is a fertile ground, tilled and turned in pain as in joy, to receive seeds of hope and love and newness. It is not a comfortable process, yet what tender flowers will grow there.

Be soft.

Receive the sun, receive the water, sometimes gentle as the evening dew and other times torrents of salty tears. Precious grows the rose from these streams.

Every flower has value, from the most elegant rose to the tiniest blade of grass or timid daisy. Just so, each heart and each step upon this way .

Be soft, still when the rose bears thorns. Let this pain be turned to purer love and stronger hope; let compassion and mercy spring unchecked along this path of testing and pain. Do not let this ground freeze over, to try to flatten the land, hide the barren earth and cover the sharp edges of the pebbles on the way. Anger may be swifter, indifference may be safer, indifference is cold, and nothing can take root in its frozen land. Freezing ground may be hard and seem strong and impenetrable – but then it shatters, fragments and is gone to nothing. The tilled earth, soft, accepts beauty taking root and good multiplies, gives and gives on.

Be soft, let the vines take root and bear much fruit, sweeter for the gentle ripening, sun and rain. The grains of sand and stones are slowly refined and turned, polished and strengthened, and become the brightest gems and precious stones. The fruit is rich and plentiful and feeds many needing and hungry souls, for this is love, compassion and mercy.

Be soft. Be soft and you will give and sustain so many more than you imagine. Be soft and you will shine, much brighter than you know.

With thanks to Cathy for the inspiration of the quotation “Be soft…” – visit her lovely blog at http://www.cathylynnbrooks.com 

xxx