Tag: home

A Very Hungry Caterpillar finds a home

I found this little guy when I was sweeping my patio. I thought he’d prefer a nice leaf to curl up on, rather than the paving stones.

20160714_182532

I am trying to tidy up my patio garden. It isn’t big at all – I have a patio door that opens onto a very small paved area and then a small flower bed beyond. I haven’t given this little space the attention I should since I moved in, largely as my physical challenges make gardening tiring and painful. Plus I’ve never particularly enjoyed it!

This week I’ve made the promise to start caring for it better. It is a blessing that I have this little outside space. I didn’t expect it at all and living in a flat it’s a privilege to have any garden. It’s a help for everything from being able to hang out washing to getting to sit outside, breathe, pray, ground myself in all the sensations of outdoors, and feel less isolated when I’m not well enough to walk far – I don’t have to stay totally indoors.

So I want to behave more thankfully for my little garden and take care of it and find ways in which, just maybe, I can create something pretty. It can be part of learning to give some time to creating a permanent and stable home, which I’m really not used to having, as until I came to this flat I was living between different kinds of shared and temporary accommodation where most of the time I stayed shut away in my one room, too scared of interacting with other people and too locked into my obsessional thoughts and hallucinations to leave it unless I could fulfil my compulsive behaviors and unless I could be sure I’d see no-one. I’ve had to leave so many places when I lost jobs, couldn’t make the rent, broke down mentally and was so disturbed I’d be asked to leave by the people I was living with.

Some level of security (though I’m not without financial problems) is a new thing for me and it’s hard to build on it. Any home I have, I expect to lose. Actually, for some strange reason i haven’t figured out yet, having a home and taking responsibility for it frequently fills me with panic. I feel like I’m losing control or can’t manage it, I’m out of control with everything I’d want to be in order (paperwork or cleaning etc) or other times I’m not sure what I’m scared of; something to do with I’m not allowed my safety, knowing it’ll be taken away, fears of being attacked or watched by my abuser and flashbacks associated to particular places in my flat. Having said that, I can feel safe in my home and I even have a place within my home where I surround myself with comforting and grounding things that help me stay safe when I’m dissociating, having flashbacks, the emotions are too much, and the like. I thank God for that. It’s so important for me to learn how to build on this otherwise I ignore the goodness of everything I have. Giving myself permission to trust in having security and knowing how to create an ordered home that I care for and give thanks for, is a new thing to me. I’m trying to take some little steps towards it, with my garden and trying gradually to bring more order to each room in my home.

20160719_163816.jpg

(Thanks so much to Cathy and her lovely blog at  https://cathylynnbrooks.com/ for reminding me how nice it is hanging out washing in the sunshine 🙂 – and as ever encouraging me so much to appreciate the beauty of the present moment in the little things. )

Ginny xxx

Ten Dishes #3 – full of beans

This month has been even tighter than usual financially. Someone extremely kindly gave me some groceries to help. I received a few items I wouldn’t usually cook with. Two of these were a tin of ‘tender broad beans’ and timed cannelini beans. I decided to see what I could make with those using just the ingredients I had already in the cupboard.

This was the result:

20160621_193655-1.jpg

It is hard to make it look appetising in the photo however it was actually really nice (though I slightly over cooked the rice)! I used onion, tinned chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper, mixed herbs and some stock. Using half the beans made plenty for my dinner plus another generous portion I put in the freezer. I still have the other half of the beans left over in the fridge to make something tonight. So all in all it has been extremely economical.

I think it was also nourishing and healthy. I’m really trying to take steps to improve my diet at present because it had become so poor due to trying to keep costs down. I am very unhappy with how my weight has been increasing with my medication and I really want to try to take control back in a healthy way that looks after my body.

Ginny xxx

How often do you “need” to spend time with others?

I’ve been trying for a long time to arrange to meet to catch up with a particular friend. We used to be close and live in the same city, but we haven’t met since a very brief meeting at Christmas, and before then the last time we met was at a an event at her Church in September. I miss her a lot and have been feeling very sad that we live so close but meet a handful of times a year and never in such a way we can catch up properly.

Part of the reason we don’t is that she has a family now, including young children, and I completely understand and agree that family comes first before friends. Still I’m sad to see her so very little – and also (and this is a big part of my feeling) worried for her. She gives all her time to her children and various numerous volunteer works at her church and parish. She home-schools her two older children. She almost never suggests meeting up, she never seems to socialise except for seeing other mothers at home-ed groups, and she told me she hasn’t met up with a friend for over a year. She never takes any time for herself and she does not seem to have any desire to socialise.

Should I be worried about her? I am, very. I feel like she must be so tired and drained and stressed and never have a moment to take care of herself or do something she wants to. Most of all I fear she never has any time that really is for talking and sharing with her friends. I know I wouldn’t be able to cope with even one day of her schedule let alone the foreseeable future.

I think she is amazingly strong, dedicated and generous to her family and she is responsive to their every need (let alone all the time she volunteers). She has clearly made big sacrifices. She says she loves it and never feels the need for any break or to see any one. I just can’t see how she can possibly be well or happy and it seems really isolating to have so little contact with others.

At first I was hurt that she had no interest in meeting – i made no end of suggestions and she declined them all and didn’t suggest any alternatives and pretty much said she doesn’t do that kind of thing. I was lonely and upset already and I’m sad that we are no longer close friends. She really matters to me and I care for her and miss her. There’s only so much you can keep a friendship going and only so close you can be when you only text message and email. And I’m worried for her welfare, as I said.

Perhaps I should just accept that she says she’s happy and she is. It got me thinking, perhaps it’s a difference of personality. She’s happy not to leave the house for several days at times, whereas I usually feel compelled to go outside, see the outdoors, be around people,  even if I’m not meeting or speaking to anyone (except when I’m very low and not going out is then a sign I’m very unwell). Meeting up with someone is of no interest to her, whereas it’s very important to me, although there are few people I trust and am able to be with at the moment. That probably is a particularly bad combination and makes me particularly needy with the few people I do trust! I need time alone too and have times it’s all too much but loneliness is a big struggle for me. So I’d silence, which is another thing she loves. Perhaps it’s as impossible for her to understand my needs, or values in a relationship, as it is for me to understand hers and how she can be well and happy in her current situation.

I wonder whether she doesn’t value meeting in person, spending time together in friendship, catching up, doing some things for herself outside the family and so on? Or does she just need less of them?

This got me thinking, do we all have such very different needs firstly for contact with other people, and secondly beyond that, what I somewhat inadequately call deeper or more meaningful interactions (a good conversation with a friend you trust and can be “real” with,  as opposed to eg a passing interaction in a shop or talking to a work colleague – all are important but I know I very much need to be able to share how things really are sometimes, not just keep up the acceptable businesslike front where I seem to be well and in control of myself! ).

What do you find that you need? What is important to you in a friendship? How do we know which is normal?! I think my therapist would say that’s one of those questions where there isn’t a definite answer right or wrong. … I’m left wondering in this friendship,  firstly if she’s really okay or not and then how can I be there for her, when she has no interest in regular contact? How do we keep up a friendship with someone whose values here are very different from ours?

Ginny xxx

Financial disaster again

Financial disaster again

Disaster is a strong word, I know, but it’s what it feels like right now. I know that many people have suffered and struggled with far more and I am fortunate that I do not have my own family to support – no partner, no children – it is only me, otherwise this would be hundreds of time worse.

I had to leave my last job for my health. I could no longer cope and I was getting daily bullying, harassment, intimidation, pressure, then was told I was completely useless anyway. I tried to make a choice to stop my health deteriorating further and to enable me to keep on going to my therapy sessions. I hoped it would be a choice for the positive. I was so so thankful when I was able to find another job quickly. Although it was much lower paid I could do part-time hours that I needed and I thought it would at least give me a chance. I was just starting to hope again.

Mistake.

Wrong again.

Why haven’t I learned my lesson by now?

I found out last night that instead of the nearly 1 month’s pay I was expecting next week, I will get just 1 week. They have some strange system for temps of pay being at least 2 weeks behind everyone else, and something I don’t understand about different cut-off dates according to when you start for when you get paid. Apparently you get the pay you’re missing at the end of the temp contract. I assume so that if you leave without giving notice they can withhold it.

Even my manager didn’t know about this and couldn’t believe it. I am very thankful and appreciative that she phoned payroll and tried to get things sorted out for me, or an advance. She really did much more than I would expect a manager too. It isn’t really her problem. But payroll flatly said there was nothing they could do.

So now I have the prospect of living on 1 week’s pay until the end of December, which evidently is impossible. Rent? Council tax? Electricity, gas and water bills? Food? Travelling to my hospital appointments? And let’s just pretend to forget that Christmas is coming up and I have nothing to give some of my family or my godchildren! It was already a total pardon-my-French mess because I was paid only Statutory Sick Pay when I was signed off in my old job, and wasn’t told this until after the event, so I didn’t know to claim Housing Benefit as soon as I should have done.

I had just climbed out of debt and now I will be straight back in again – overdraft? Applying for credit cards? I don’t know. That would be the best case scenario. I do not know how I’m going to live. I’m already eating rubbish because things are so desperate financially, trying to live on coffee and toast and whatever I can find in the pound store.

This really was the last straw last night and I was completely wrecked. It had been awful already before this. Just as soon as there was a tiny bit of hope it was smashed away again, like God and the world is saying, how dare you hope, how dare you think you can have anything good, you don’t deserve it, you’re dirt.

I was put through to a support line and there may perhaps be a possibility of a loan until next month, but if it were all to be paid back next month I have no idea whether it would help or just postpone the same situation happening again next month.

I was distressed at work (in private) after this was all dropped on me – none of it was explained before I started work and even my manager didn’t know. I know I’m fortunate to possibly be in a situation of getting help from my employer and not many people would have that assistance. But I just don’t know.

And the support service were helpful and did seem to appreciate some things when I explained my situation but they also said if you think you want to be kept on you will really have to prove yourself, perhaps they will forgive you this time for having a meltdown but if you ever let it happen again there are any number of people standing beside you, if you aren’t strong or if you have any time off your job will be taken away and given to the next person. This was the support team, not my manager, and they do not actually have any say on my performance or whether I have a job or not. I already thought and knew the things they said but it did make it even more painful and anxiety provoking to have it spelled out by another person who is there to provide support.

I wonder whether it’s worth going on. Is it just postponing ultimate complete disaster? I should be more thankful and hopeful but I’ve really run out of strength. I really needed something to hope in.

Ginny xx

Making it home

Today, I had some new furniture delivered – fantastic bargains in a local furniture charity shop. (The large number of charity shops round here is a particular blessing for those of us on a tight budget and possibly more creativity than money 🙂 .) So I spent the best part of the day re-arranging and cleaning and installing the items.

I have been in my flat several months now and it is my first place of my own, as opposed to renting a single room as lodger. I am thankful beyond words to finally have a housing association flat. Without this I would never have been able to afford to rent a whole flat as rents are incredibly high here. I cannot believe this place should be mine and thank the Lord for it every day.

I was a lodger in a family home before moving here. The family could not have been nicer and gave me privacy but I was struggling a lot, just as I had been in all my previous properties. That was probably one reason I moved around so much. Apart from financial issues or having to move when jobs ended and new jobs started, getting to a new place sometimes provided a temporary illusion of escape. When the illusion came crashing down it would just be worse than ever.

Anyhow, at the last place my OCD and obsessional thoughts were very hard to cope with and hide and my anxiety was increased because there was a young baby in the household, which seemed to increase my fears that I would cause people harm. At my worst times, which was becoming most of the time, I would dread bumping into anyone in the shared kitchen and having to speak, so I just stopped preparing food. The close proximity to others made me want to run and hide. So hide I did, in my room, which was the only place to spend time anyway, since there was not a shared lounge, only a kitchen (and bathroom, but that’s not exactly the place for small talk or hanging out). Then once I was in my room for any length of time, I felt trapped. The panic attacks, flashbacks and terrifying thoughts would come and there was literally nowhere to run.  There was not anywhere to go to get a breathing space or a different environment or to be in a different place for a while to help me step out of what was happening in my head. I’d lie on the bed or sit on the chair and do my best to employ the distraction or self-soothing techniques the clinicians told me but feel I was just suffocating in the world inside my head.

I can’t say how helpful it now is to have more space. It turns out that it really is true that you rest better when the bedroom is set apart as a relaxing place. I have the space I need in the kitchen to cook when I am able to. It is rare that I am able to at the moment, for many reasons, but the fact that I have my own kitchen does at least increase the likelihood that I will prepare food. My lounge is cosy and I’m even so fortunate as to have a view out to the communal garden. I have a very tiny garden and a flowerbed and although I do not enjoy gardening, I do like to keep it tidy and there is a certain satisfaction in pulling the weeds from the earth to let the little plants breathe.

In some way, I can begin to make this flat my own. Having a place where I can start to feel safe in the space, make some choices about how to lay it out, use my creativity to make it the way that I enjoy and even bring other people into it, makes it a home. Caring for it (cleaning, tidying, doing the little flower bed outside, feeling thankful for what I have) gives a constructive focus.

Much as I was longing for a home for a long time, I am still surprised at the difference that it makes to have one. Often I do not realise the value of doing something quite simple towards making it more of a home – such as tidying and choosing how to arrange things, as I did today, or perhaps painting the walls the colour that you like. Even on the very bad days, being in this home makes it slightly better, somehow. Maybe it’s a little bit less scary, a little bit safer, a little less unpredictable, a little more space, or a little bit more of beautiful or positive things around me.

Thank you dear Lord, for HOME.

Ginny xx