Category Archives: Whole

Sunday morning thunder

I used to go to church as a child, sent there with lower-aged siblings by my parents to sing in the choir while they had three hours of uninterrupted breakfast in bed. I had heard the phrase “thundering from the pulpit” and as we half-listened to the watery Anglican preaching, used to wonder where the admonishments were, the Vicar’s words were so gently uncritical of the elderly parishioners of St Margaret’s, Upper Norwood.

But it seemed to me there was plenty of scope for outrage, what with the natural world being destroyed in front of our eyes, and the perfect example in Jesus himself who threw the money lenders from the temple and told everyone that priests were unnecessary and everyone could be like him, if they wanted. Even two thousand years later, after extensive revisions and corruptions of his message, that thunder remains – the sweeping away of the old, the ways of vengeance, the jealous God to be feared, replaced by a loving, compassionate God who wants only that we live in harmony with each other. Why is the Old Testament with its fury and contradictions and intolerance even considered part of the same teaching? One of the things systematically edited out was Jesus’ rejection of the old, painful ways.

Meanwhile, in straight-faced protest, I changed the words of the hymns, singing in a loud, clear voice, “TO BE A PENGUIN” “AND DID THOSE GEESE IN ANCIENT SLIME” and at Christmas, “GLO-O-O-O-O-O, GLO-O-O-O-O-O, GLO-O-O-O-O-O, GLORIA, HOSANNAH IN EX CHEL-SEA!” even though I was a Crystal Palace fan.

In the same way, even though I meditate, and connect more deeply with Buddhism and the Tao, my heart lifts itself unto Jesus. I don’t go to church, unless it’s for architectural, historical or marriage reasons, but daily I practise the forgiveness of sins, on the basis that my own fuck ups might somehow be made less frequent, and as time drags me to the end of the branch, that I might become less prone to brooding resentments and the inevitable depression this brings.

A wind moves through the temple, upturning tables, sending small change rattling and ringing as it is swept out.



The Question of Attraction

I’m pretty good at looking after myself, it has to be said. Not stupendously smug about it, but given that I never expected to see 30 and yet here I am two decades later still functioning in body and mind, my genuine joy in mere existence is unexpected and delightful. 

I prefer being single, I’ve realised, in theory. It’s great, and it makes self-care much easier. No explanations needed re: odd habits, no apologies for accidentally trampling on carefully-nurtured, fragile preconceptions, no need to request “me” time when I need to think or write, no expectations carried or judgements made. No embrassing relatives, no dodgy friends. It’s almost perfect, apart from lack of emotional and physical intimacy and the sense that I must be wasting some essential aspect of myself known only to God and one special person.

Happy as being single makes me, I can only go so long before the need for union asserts itself. When I look back, as is my wont, I start to wonder if my mostly wonderful, occasionally nightmarish relationships have been born simply of physical attraction combined with a certain personality type. Physical desire has always been a necessary factor for me to take the risk of making myself vulnerable, but there is something beneath the surface which I can no longer deny. I am drawn to unbalanced women. I find them, they find me. Aware, unaware, there is a pattern. The great magnet pulls all souls towards truth as K.D. sang, and my truth seems to be that I experience my deeper attractions to women  who are creative, intelligent and kind, but also frequently suffering, psychologically unstable, obsessive, sometimes self-abusive. I wish it were different, but I’m uncertain whether that conscious knowledge will reach my instinctual nature any time before death.

In my waking dreams, I stroll barefoot, hand in hand through warm, shallow waters, my beautiful lover and I laughing at the perils of the world which are conquered by love and loyalty, comforted by the knowledge of our compatibility.

In reality, I choose (or am chosen) unwisely. It may take months or years but however long the relationship lasts, in the end, I hang on at the waterfall’s edge, trying to prevent disaster for one or both, often cut off from the kind, loving souls in my life who would extend their hands to stop me plummeting, more lonely than I ever was being single.


Write, baby, write

Keeping a diary is healing for body as well as mind, says this article, and based on my experience, I agree.

This is why I have returned to the simple practise of blogging.


Maia Szalavitz at Time magazine reports on a new study suggesting that writing about traumatic experiences, and the emotions associated with them, for 20 minutes a day greatly accelerates the healing of physical injuries – in this case, tiny skin wounds administered as part of the research:

Researchers led by Elizabeth Broadbent, a senior lecturer in health psychology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, studied 49 healthy senior citizens, aged 64 to 97. For three days, half were assigned to write for 20 minutes a day about the most traumatic event they had experienced, and were encouraged to be as open and candid as they could about exactly what they felt and thought at the time…

The other participants wrote for the same duration about their plans for the next day, avoiding mentioning their feelings, opinions or beliefs. Two weeks after the first day of writing, researchers took small skin biopsies, under local anesthesia… Eleven days after the biopsy, 76% of the group that had written about trauma had fully healed while only 42% of the other group had.

I know this to be true. I started blogging five years after a life crash, and it definitely helped me heal. My wounds were mostly psychological, the results of a disastrous relationship and some bad life decisions. I more than survived, I thrived after pushing the medical establishment for answers, finding them myself, and undergoing deep psychotherapy.

I also concur with this:

…you shouldn’t view journalling as an attempt to formulate solutions to your problems; the real benefit comes from the third-person perspective that’s attained when you externalise your thoughts. It’s interesting to speculate whether the effect may be similar to that of meditation: not changing your thoughts and feelings so much as changing your relationship to them – so that you no longer take them to be an unquestionable, intractable, non-negotiable reality.

Write, baby, write.