January 24, 2013
I’ve been trying to write this for weeks. In fact since the 15th November. Since I read the ‘Paedogeddon: of God and Monsters’ written by Sara Kewly Hyde and published on Threads here;
I’ve been trying to respond since then. And I have written and rewritten this blog several times now. And then I decided I would write it, and try and put down in words some of my personal thoughts. The thoughts I had initially.
Because however hard I try to come up with something deep and meaningful, I am not sure I can. However hard I try to come up with something that is ‘seen’ as ‘theological’ I am not sure I can. In fact I am sure I cant.
I’ve discovered all I can actually come up with is my own personal, deep down, gut instinct response to what Sara wrote.
I have been challenged. Big time. I have not been able to stop thinking about it. Since I first read what she had to say, it has played on my mind, and I have thought about it at least once a day, often more.
I am a survivor. I grew up being abused by the people who should have been caring for me. By the people I should have been able to look up to. The man who should have been a father to me abused me. I was abused by someone else who was unable himself to deal with being abused.
I also, as a young adult, in my early twenties was assaulted one day, in the street, just down the road from where I was living at the time. When that happened, that day, my life changed. Forever. Yet another thing was taken away from me.
I had nothing left. It pushed me to the brink of death, because just over a year later, I would try to kill myself (here by the grace of God and all that).
Sometimes I am able to eloquently describe and talk about what it is like to be abused, and raped. And sometimes I am not. Sometimes I am able to put into words the pain, shame, fear and torture that fill your mind. It is torment.
However hard you try to wash, scrub, cry, scream, cut and plead away the pain, the memories, the nightmares, they don’t go.
They will never go. They will always be there. And even though in time, you may be able to try to start living a life, a different life again, those memories will always exist. Sometimes they are more painful than others. But a day does not go by, when some memory surfaces. Somewhere, sometime during a normal day, something will trigger a memory. It could be a smell, a word. Something. Anything.
But what I have learnt as I grow stronger (and I shall be forever grateful to those people who support me in this journey) that life can be lived, and lived well. And that is the journey I am on, learning to live life, and live it well.
I am learning to laugh again, to smile, to be loved, and to love.
And it is going well. I think.
But then every now and then something comes along that halts you. Makes you stop. Makes you remember even more intensely than you already do. Makes you reflect more so than ever before. And makes everything so loud once again in your head.
That has been my experience since the Jimmy Savile expose happened. Since it was revealed that he was a predatory child abuser, and that his victims could be as many as 500 and counting.
Since everyone has been talking about child abuse, and rape. Since it has not left the front page, and Internet, the conversation in the street. Since the topic has been everywhere. And that is why I wrote this:
To put into words, and convey some of my thoughts and feelings that had been aroused so much more than they usually are.
However, reading Sara’s Paedogeddon article made me realise that my response was just that. It was my response. It was the emotional and personal response of someone who has experienced the pain of abuse.
And this is where the clanger kicks in for me: it was NOT a Christian response. And it was not a response that considered the offender. In fact I never really thought about it from those points of views. I never really thought about what it means to be a Christian and a survivor, to the point where I have to then think about how I think about and respond to people who rape and abuse. Not properly anyway. Not deeply. Not with any meaning.
Until I read Sara’s thoughts. Her article was so well written. And it touched on topics I have not wanted to, have not been able to, and have tried to ignore.
But I have no choice but to. I have no choice, as a Christian but to confront these issues.
So how would I respond? If I was face to face, or in the position where I had to be with or engage with an offender.
And this is where I come a little stuck. This is where my head goes round and round in circles, and this is where I have written this blog so many times, and still not managed to write a coherent answer.
The best I can offer is I don’t know.
The best I can offer, after chatting about this to many people, including close friends, other survivors, and my minister is this: I don’t know.
The truth is, I really know how I would respond to someone who I knew was or had been a child abuser, or a rapist. I don’t know how I would love them, or even if I could. I don’t know how I would respond to someone sitting in front of me in church, who was a known sex offender.
Maybe I would want to hit them. Maybe I would want to scream at them. Maybe I would want to walk away and never have to think about them again. Maybe.
Or maybe I would want to talk to them. Maybe. I don’t know. Maybe I wouldn’t.
But I ask myself this: do I have a place myself, a place in a Christian community if I am not willing to accept this line that Sara wrote:
‘The church needs to be a place of acceptance and healing for the abuser and the abused’.
But it is true. Painfully true.
If I talk about, and expect, and desire, and wish to see His church, THE church understand, accept and have a place for a survivor of abuse, then surely I have to accept that it is also a place for an offender. I have to accept that there can be/is/has to be a place for them too. That they also need to be part of a community that will accept, love and support them. I have to accept that they are people too.
She says this
‘There has to be grace for those who have committed even the most atrocious, life wrecking crimes , and those cripples by the effects of these crimes, otherwise the cross is a nonsense’.
As a survivor, and a Christian I HAVE TO BELIEVE that Jesus came for the people who abused and raped me too. That He came for people who abuse and rape others. Otherwise, as Sara put it so well ‘the cross is a nonsense’. And deep down, no matter what state my relationship with God is, I know it is not nonsense.
But that is big. That is big stuff to get my head around. But I am trying to. Slowly.
But how does this actually play out?
And again, that’s where I come to ‘I don’t know’.
I could give you the answers I’m ‘meant’ to. The answers where I say I would greet them with open arms, welcome them into my community, my family, and love them. But whether I would or could, I don’t know?
I could give you the answers that I have thought about for the last few weeks, that have gone round and round in my head, the ones where I have tried to be deep and super spiritual, but actually those answers wouldn’t be being true to myself. Because the answer I have is I don’t know. I simply don’t know.
But I do accept that there has to be a place for them. The church has to have a place for them. Because deep down, deep down where it hurts so painfully, I know Jesus has a place for them. He loves them, like He loves me.
Knowing that is not easy. Trust me. I don’t say it in a blasé way.
But it’s the truth.
I have to accept that these people have the right to be engaged with, supported and part of Gods Kingdom, like I do.
But I also have to accept that I do not have to everything and anything to everyone and anyone.
When I threw this topic out on to twitter a few weeks ago, I had a chat with Jon Beech who you can find here: @_jonb
I asked something on the lines of, how as a survivor should I/could I engage with offenders. His response startled me. I was not expecting it.
He asked back whether I should have to.
His point was: I cannot, and not have to engage with absolutely anyone and everyone I come across. I do not have to be all things to all people. I can’t be.
So I have to accept my limitations. Whilst accepting child abusers and offenders may have a place in my community, and probably already do, that I just don’t know about I have to accept I don’t HAVE to engage with them. And that unless God somehow struck me with lightening and convicted me in such a way that made clear that I was meant to, that actually I can keep myself safe.
At the top of Sara’s article on Threads, it says this in a blue box ‘ who has all the answers? Not us, that’s for sure. But ignoring the questions doesn’t make them go away’.
And that’s the truth. Who has all the answers? I certainly don’t, but the questions will not go away. So we must keep discussing them. We must keep talking about them. And we must be honest.
So, I bring this to an end, probably without writing about what I started out intending to. I am a Queen of tangents.
But rest assured, these topics are ones that roll around my head on a daily basis, and are never too far away from my thoughts, so if you ever want to join in the conversation with me, feel free to contact me. I’m open to all thoughts.
October 31, 2012
Most days I sign into here and I often glance over how people have ‘found’ my blog. Its often by googling something, and then they land here. And often the things people type are relating to surviving abuse, depression, church, mental health, self harm amongst other things.
Sometimes people land at Fragmentz by typing something like ‘is there hope …’. Is there hope for … a self harmer? A depressive? A survivor?
My response to those people is YES. LOTS. And I really hope by stumbling across this blog that those people who are typing those things are able to find hope in this space.
And that those people are also able to find hope in the life they are living.
Because there is hope. Maybe it is small grains of sand shaped hope, and maybe it might be something bigger. Maybe it is something very quiet, or something very loud.
But however big or small, quiet or loud there IS hope.
Whatever it is you are facing, whatever storm you are in the middle of, keep hanging on to hope.
If you are unwell with depression or other mental health issues: there IS hope.
If you a survivor of abuse and/or rape: there IS hope.
If you battle with self harm: there IS hope.
If you struggle with suicidal ideations: there IS hope.
If you are fighting to stay above the water, for whatever reason: there IS hope.
I believe this for you, if you are a Christian. I believe this for you if you are not a Christian.
However some of the searches people have typed and found my blog with, related to battling issues and Jesus. I truly believe Jesus still loves you, whether you are depressed or not. Whether your self harm or not. Whether you battle with God or not. Whether you are a survivor or not.
He loves you. And has a hope and a future for you.
One of the most important bible verses when it comes to hope, and my own life, is this:
Jeremiah 29 verse 11 – ’I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for’ (The Message)
Please know, wherever you are, whoever you are and whoever you believe in,
you are precious.
You are valuable.
You are beautiful.
There is a hope.
There is a future.
As I sat writing this blog, the last verse of a poem I wrote called ‘the whisper’ came into my mind. It is this :
As the years pass by, the scars never go, but begin to get lighter
She sits down, and watches life go by, and the sun getting brighter
And as she confronts all of the things in her life she fears
In the stillness the previous whisper of ‘I love you’ is all she hears.
I dont pretend there is an easy way for life to happen. There isnt. Life is tough. But please know and live in hope that brighter days can exist. That even though the memories never go, they can be lighter, things can be brighter.
Please know you precious, your are valuable, you are beautiful.
You are loved. Loved. LOVED.
October 28, 2012
I simply can not write a new blog without mentioning the previous one. So this is just a little blog as a response to that blog. The one just before this one that I’m typing right now. The ‘Some thoughts on Jimmy Savile, and being a Survivor‘ one.
It was a blog I wrote in reply to several weeks of press coverage, and several weeks of intense conversations with people, all over the place, from work to queues to twitter to all over.
It was a blog I wrote in the space of an hour, after several days of ‘attempting’ to put something into a coherent piece of writing. And then, all of a sudden, after being out and about one day, having a flu jab, meeting a friend for coffee, I got home, turned on the computer and there it was. In my head. And I just typed. My thoughts. On the Jimmy Savile eruption and being a survivor.
I pressed send, and as per usual tweeted that I had blogged.
Within the space of an hour, the blog had been RT’d (retweeted – for those not on twitter this means re posted by a twitter user so their followers can see it) by many people. And it continued in that way. So that by the next evening, 24 hours later that post had had more people read it than my whole site has ever since I very first started this site.
It was immense. I had emails, messages, tweets, RT’s, texts, and it continued to be passed around the blogosphere and twittersphere. I never could have imagined how many people would end up reading it. How many people are reading it. Even now, every day I get a regular stream of people coming by to Fragmentz to read that post.
I was also very honoured to have it included on the www.threadsuk.com site, which is a great space for articles written by twenty something christians on a really wide and varied range of topics so its definitely worth checking out sometime.
I never thought my little post, my little blog, my little piece of writing with some thoughts from ‘just me’, an unknown person who just tries to make a little dent in the world she lives in, would be so popular.
I also never thought the response would be so immense. That I would feel so overwhelmed by it. But it was. I did.
And so, I’d like to say thank you.
To every person who read it.
To every person who Rt’d, or emailed it, or passed it on to someone else for them to read.
Thank you to every single who took the time to engage with what I had written. Who responded. Who contacted me. Who texted me, emailed me, tweeted me. From the people who mean so much to me and have played/do play such a huge part in my life, to the people I have never connected with before and everyone in between.
Thank you to everyone who has been incredibly kind and supportive. To those on a deep and personal level and to those who have connected in other ways. I know there are some amazing people that surround me, that I could simply not do life without. So, again, thank you to you.
There have been several times when I have just cried from the simple emotional of feeling so valued and listened to. Because ingrained into the way I think about myself is that I am of no value and not worth listening to what so ever. Which on a rational level I know is not true, but programming your mind to totally think something completely opposite to what you have grown up with can be a challenge sometimes.
But I am growing, learning that is not true, developing and starting to raise my voice more and more. Over the years, as I have grown, been nurtured, been loved and supported and continue to be so, I have found that voice. My voice. The voice that is able to speak out, type out, talk out about my experiences.
And if by using the voice I now have, and am learning to use more and more, I can connect with people, raise awareness of the issues that are relevant to me, and so many other people then its worth it. Worth being vocal. Worth the emotional cost that can occur when you spend hours in a day talking about such emotive topics.
I have had the huge privilege of being able to connect with people who have contacted me over the last few months, and the last few weeks in response to things I have written here. Its an immense honour to be able to chat with them, have coffee, email, and talk with them. About the issues that effect them. Issues that have also affected me. And although I can offer no professional help, and don’t ever suggest I can, I can offer an ear. A tissue. I can walk along side their journey just like I have had and do have people who walk along side me in mine.
I have also had the huge privilege to have been contacted by/and to connect with people who have read my blog and have been challenged on their views of survivors/mental health issues and how society and the christian church responds to them.
And that is why I write. That is why ‘www.fragmentz.org’ exists.
If one person can feel less alone because of something they have read here, or because they have been able to connect with someone else who has been abused, and survived, who has tried to die, but survived, who has depression but is surviving, then deep down in my heart it makes me realise that good IS starting to be weaved out of some of the most traumatic events in my life. If one person has been challenged and is able to go away and then start speaking out themselves, and raising awareness of the issues then that IS good starting to be weaved out of the traumatic too.
I do not believe for one moment, any more, that God intended/created it all to happen so something good could come out of it. Not at all. BUT I do believe that out of chaos, deep deep pain, black living and darkness, God will eventually weave it together and bring something good out of it. And I cling on to that. That hope.
And so that is my hope with this whole blog space. That is/was my hope with the blog about being a survivor and the Jimmy Savile thing. That by writing and sharing, something, however big or small would come out of it. And it feels like it has.
So, to everyone who has contributed to sharing it, so that people have found it who have in turn then felt less alone or been able to start raising awareness of these topics themselves, Thank you.
September 10, 2012
‘What is it like to be accidentally alive on purpose?’
Someone asked me that on twitter last week having stumbled across my blog and some of the posts I have made.
What a brilliant question. Its been a little while since someone has asked me something that has felt so deep, something I so desperately wanted to respond to with an answer immediately, yet that I also had to go away and consider.
My initial response was this ‘scary yet wildly exhilarating and exciting’. And whilst I have tried and tried over the last few days to come up with something as deep in response, I have not been able to. The only answer I have been able to come up with, and continue to come up with is that. Its scary. Yet it is exciting and exhilarating.
The reason they asked that was because they read something I had written a bit back, that talked about ’4 years since …’. Because 4 years ago, I wanted to die. Seriously wanted to die. In fact I was devastated that I didn’t when I tried to.
If you look back into my blog (you wont have to go that deep) you will find various writings which talk about that experience. That desire and longing to be dead.
That feeling of hopelessness, darkness and complete brokenness.
It was inconceivable that anything could or would change. My heart had broken and it felt like it would and could never be fixed, mended, put back together again.
Why am I writing about this again? Because today is World Suicide Prevention Day 2012.
You may have seen people tweeting about it, face booking, blogging. I have been truly moved by the many many different things I have read today. Peoples experiences, lives and families.
Every year on the 10th September is the World Suicide Prevention Day. And this year marks the 10th anniversary of that day. 10 years of research, prevention and education.
For more information on this and the organisation its ran by check out World Suicide Prevention Day
Here are some points made about suicide from their website:
* Data from the World Health Organization indicate that approximately one million people worldwide die by suicide each year.
This corresponds to one death by suicide every 40 seconds
* Suicide is one of the leading causes of death among the young
* Suicide is estimated to be under-reported for multiple reasons including stigma, religious concerns and social attitudes.
* Suicide affects everyone, but some groups are at higher risk than others
In just those few things are some really worrying and sad statements. True though. And so today serves as a day to remember those who have died, those who are considering it, and those who have come through it. It is a day to remember and think about those who have been effected by it, even if they themselves have not attempted suicide. Because for every person these facts suggest, is a family. Is someone who loves them, knows them, has at some point been in contact with them, and therefor are also affected.
As I wrote several years ago, on this day, in 2010, before I ever got to a point in my own life where suicide felt like the only option, I had already come into contact with it. Already knew someone who, when I was a young person, and they were my youth leader, felt their life could not go on. And it didnt. They hung themselves. I’ll remember to this day, that day we got a phone call to tell us he had died that morning. I was a teenager. His wife was left, with two young children. His parents were left. His family, friends. It affects everyone.
Today serves to raise awareness. Of the issues. Of the fact that so many people out there live in darkness, real torment. A life of no turning around. No where to run. No where to hide. No where o seek solace. No where to find peace. No where to find rest. There is no choice for them. Actually, there is, one choice, the only choice. To die. For then may their souls finally be still.
We must begin to/continue to speak out about this issue. Not be frightened to address it. Not be scared to utter ‘suicide’. We must bring it to the forefront of conversation. We must not be scared to open up the ‘box’ so to speak, and to allow people to explore the topic. We need to be aware.
As some of you who follow my twitter feed may remember a few months ago I spoke in an evening service at church. And I was frustrated, and hurt more than frustrated by the criticism I received straight after by the minister for mentioning ‘suicide’. I spoke about a different theme but mixed in with that some of my own story, to which I bought up the fact I had wanted to die. He had felt in ‘inappropiate’ because some young people 15/18 year olds were in the room who have had a family member commit suicide when they were very young. The young people themselves were fine. The vicar wasn’t. My impression was that he was uncomfortable with it. Which has been my experience of church generally. Whether thats because they choose to be uncomfortable with it, or because lack of knowledge and understanding leads them into fear, I don’t know, but I do know it needs to change.
We must not/cant be afraid to talk about it. We must change perception and stigma.
And today is part of that. Its been moving to see people posting many things online, and to see a movement of people coming together with one focus in mind. To raise awareness or suicide and the prevention of it.
What we must make sure of though, is that today is not a stand alone day. That those people who have tweeted, written, talked about and passionately ‘involved’ themselves in the conversation continue to do so after today.
For people like myself, and others affected, it does not go away after ‘one day’.
I was really moved to see a friends picture of her wrist today. With many other people, she marked her wrist with the word ‘Love’. As a sign of solidarity. Thanks Jasmine for letting me share this here. So simple yet so moving.
Lets keep moving on with this issue. With trying to understand it, and working out how we can support those people around us who feel there is no option other than the final end.
May 15, 2012
The tears fall,
Behind closed curtains,
no one would know,
the truth, as
the tears fall.
The tears fall,
mourning lost love,
her heart is torn in two,
life broken, as
the tears fall.
The tears fall,
the night goes by,
a forgotten person, as
the tears fall.
The tears fall,
her soul yearning,
for nearness, once again,
something, anything as
the tears fall.
The tears fall,
as early sunrise light
floods into the darkness
and another day arrives, as
the tears fall.
May 6, 2012
Spent some time last night reading my old blogs, something I do occasionally. And I also read an old journal, that I kept, mostly in 2008, and around the months when I was at the bottom of the bottom. Below is an entry I found and read. I spent a long time chatting to my beautiful Godfather on the phone yesterday, and he is only one of two people I know in my life now, who knew/knows my biological father. Its always thought provoking to discuss my biological father. Below is an entry I wrote, in 2008 about an incident when I was young. In fact, one of the tamer times really. My father was an abusive bully, who ultimately broke the lives of the people around him, and the lives of his children. Sadly my brother was to then take on the traits of him, as he grew up, and only knew how to deal with the pain with anger himself. That left me being being in the position of being abused by father, many different times, and in very many different ways, but then as I grew up, also by my brother.
Life really is like a box of chocolates isn’t it? You never know what your going to get, or be given.
Most of the time we were at house ‘on holiday’. I dont really remember exactly how old we were but one week we spent most of the time in the garage with the babysitter, playing games. Or my stepmm would look after us. I think I was perhaps 10 years old and remember missing my mum so much. We were the other side of the country from her. I would cry. At some point I must have done this in front of my step mum, for her to simply say ‘wait until your Dad gets homes’.
When he got home, I was hiding upstairs. I dont know where my brother was. I remember him shouting my name whilst he sat on the the double bed in the spare room. He has taken off his belt and shoes, and I knew I had to go and endure the beating. It was better to go, and get it over with then endure ‘the chase’ so to speak, because then it would only have been worse.
Apparently I had upset my stepmum and disrespected her by missing my real mum. While being beaten reasonably black and blue with his belt and steel capped military shoes he kept telling me to never dare to cry again.
Maybe thats why over the years, crying became such a problem. I never dared to cry in front of them again, and in fact for many years never dared to cry again in front of anyone. In fact I never really cried at all full stop.
That same week my brother and I went skating around the base my father lived on. At the top of this huge hill were the armed guarded gates, and we’d always go to the top to say hello to the soldiers and show off our passes that said we were allowed to be on the site. Maybe we broke the boredom in their day, I hope so, but I know we enjoyed those moments. We would then skate down the hill as fast as we possibly could. Being a child at the time, the hill felt huge (it probably wasnt that good) and it was great fun.
Except for this one time, when I fell. Just by accident, it was no ones fault. Least of all my brothers. But he got the blame. He was made to sit on a chair, when we got back home, in the middle of garden whilst my father towered over him, shouting and berating him. This huge man standing over a very young, skinny, pale faced and scared child. I remember watching what happened, and yelling at the window, even banging at it. But I had been locked inside the house. What could I do? I dont know, but I should have done something.
I had dinner with my mum tonight, and during the conversation I asked her if my Dad had ever hit her. She said no. So I asked her why she thought he did us. Her reply was ‘because you couldn’t hit back’.
I believe my father did what he did to us, because exactly as my mum said, we couldnt fight back. Whatever he did to us, whatever type of abuse he endured on us, he was always the stronger person.
But I am an adult now too. And I can have the ability to be strong too. I loved a quote by Gibbs from NCIS the other night where someone said ‘I am not a victim’, he replied ‘No, your not, Your a survivor’.
And so through it all, I am starting to learn and believe that actually, despite his abuse, the bullying at school, the pain inflicted on my by my brother, the subsequents depression/selfharm and pain I inflicted on myself and then the assault in London which finally finished me off and led to what some would say a bit of a breakdown, that I am surviving. And I can survive.
One of the most important lessons over the last few years I have learned, with regards to faith and God, was given to me by someone who I love dearly, and whose family have accepted me, and love me as I am. Not long after trying to kill myself, I spent some time staying with them, and we sat in the garden one evening and their garden table, talking about the universe. I was so so angry with everything and everyone, and my view at that point of God was that he was a sadistic Nazi (I know I know, I was very angry at that time!) … and I was also frustrated and fed up with people/Christians who would say ‘well, you know God has intended all of this for good to come out of it’. Honestly? Well if you look at it that way, or think off it that way, then how can you not think God is cruel? He isnt this kind loving thing if he deliberately causes alsorts of unknown pain on someone just so good can eventually come out of it can he.
Anyway, Andrew told me this … God never intended the bad to happen. It was not His plan. In the world, or in people lives. But what He can do, and does so is somehow weave the chaos and the hurt, and eventually make something good out of it.
I was so profoundly affected by that, and its stayed with me for a long time, and been a huge part in bringing me back to a real sense of God in my life.
When I first started blogging, years and years ago, my very first blog was quite a faith blinded one. So full of life and a love for God – who was to know at that point my world would be turned upside down, and the very things then I knew i believe in would be broken. I for sure didnt.
But right now, it feels like I’m coming back full circle, but as a very different person. My faith is growing. Deepening. Through it all, even the times when I could barely utter a word to God, or when I did they were just screaming profanities, I never didnt believe in God.
So here I am. A survivor. A survivor who can now cry (a lot at times) but who is learning to live and love life, and God, again.
April 12, 2012
What am I? (apart from weird)
Am I a fundamentalist? Er, no for sure!
Liberal? Yeah most probably …
Evangelical? Whats one of them?
So most of you following my twitter feed/facebook and who read my last blog yesterday will probably have worked out that I am at a Christian Conference.
Spring Harvest to be precise … check out www.springharvest.org if you have never heard of it, or would like to know more, even better want to come in 2013.
Anyway, so yeah, here I am at Spring Harvest, again, after coming last year and being really surprised. Surprised at the week itself, and surprised at how challenged my own attitude was. And that’s not always easy to say is it? Not many people go round with a placard saying ‘I’ve got a bad attitude’. Neither did I, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t mean particularly, I just wanted to come and have a fight. Try and annoy people. Be sceptical. And if anything was said or talked about that did not fit into ‘my view’ that obviously it was wrong. Somehow God really challenged my attitude of being intolerant of intolerance. It took a while to realise I was just as bad as those I disliked for being intolerant because I was intolerant towards them.
So here I am again. Spring Harvest 2012. I had planned on going to some stuff today, and trying to write something reasonably spiritual, intellectual and interesting as a blog, then I realised that isn’t me really is it. I’m not especially clever, and my knowledge of God and the bible is pretty lame compared to the amazing people I am surrounded by, and in total awe of.
I decided I needed a rest day today (I know I know, its only the second full day, but I’m knackered!) and it’s been brilliant. I had breakfast, another nap, a chat on the phone with some friends, and coffee. Time to think and more hot chocolate/drinks/time to think and write. ( I am going to have to buy some if not all the talks, as I think I have missed a few I would quite liked to have been to, plus apparently there was a really interesting lecture this afternoon that I missed on woman in leadership – another thing I really like about SH is its apparent commitment to equality in church leadership. The main preach in the morning is by Ness Wilson, a church a leader, and there are many awesome woman involved in running Spring Harvest, and doing the teaching/talks)
One of the things I have been thinking about is the huge array of people here this week. The huge array of people I have met so far. I don’t know if it is just me, or the friendliness of the people here, but I just seem to end up in conversation with people (don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining). There are a huge variety of folk who have all come away for a week, most of whom want to learn more about God and spend time with other Christians. And that’s great … really great.
But that has made me wonder how many denominations there are here? I have no idea. I don’t know if Spring Harvest would know either. So far in the short few days I have been here I have heard or met people from the Church of Scotland, Church of England, a Pentecostal church, Nondenominational, United Reformed and Baptist church.
I am sure there must be more too.
I don’t know if Spring Harvest is a particular denomination or not, I don’t think it is. But then I got thinking about the terms fundamental, evangelical, and liberal.
They get used a lot to describe people don’t they ?
I’ve often heard people say ‘oh I’m an evangelical Christian’ or ‘ I go to a fundamentalist church’ (that kind of thing anyway, its fair to say I have not met many/know many fundamentalists).
I have spent some wondering today whether it matters or not? After all, there are folk who would say that it does not matter, and the only important thing is that you believe in God and would call yourself a Christian.
I kind of get that … but actually reality is that it doesn’t work that way does it, because otherwise we would all ‘just be Christians’ and there would be no denominations at all – maybe that would be a good thing? I don’t know?
So, how do you know ‘what you are’? How do I know ‘what I am’?
Answers on a post card please – alternatively just use the comment box – i’ve had to put ‘moderation’ on due to some really vile comments coming through but I always approve normal comments, even ones that disagree with me
The other thing I have been thinking about, and plan on spending some more time thinking on and writing about is the 18-30 things.
Spring Harvest has an ’18-30’ venue going on this year (I think they had it last year too) and over the last year or so it has become increasingly apparent, well to me anyway, that doing 18-30 stuff is becoming the ‘thing to do’. I’m experiencing this in the church I am involved in too – they have a passion/desire to try and reach out/create something that includes and involves and is 18 to 30 relevant.
Whenever I talk/tweet about this, it is not just about SH or criticising anything they are doing specifically. Its trying to think about it all in the wider ‘big church umbrella context’.
Now some of you are probably wondering why it has anything to do with me. I’m not a church leader. I’m not a leader of anything. I don’t have any sway, and I am not really able to back up my thoughts with anything solid other than them being just that, my thoughts, and the thoughts of some other people I chat to.
The reason why I am writing about it though, and thinking that it has a little bit to do with me is because I fit into that age group. But the end of that age range. As a nearly 28 year old, I am supposed to ‘fit in’ to the 18-30 group.
But do I? And do the other people who are my age? Do we fit into something that is trying to focus on an 18 year old, just leaving school, maybe going to Uni, maybe just starting work, maybe going on a gap year or on one. Do we fit into the group that is trying to focus on 18 to 22 year old somethings who are students and who are at University? Who are studying and struggling with life choices, careers paths, where next and all of the other things that come along with that life (not that I would know about any of it, having not been to uni).
Do we fit? And should we?
Or does there come a time when we have to admit adulthood and engage with mainstream adult programmes when it comes to events and church life?
Anyway, just a few thoughts from today … just noticed the time, ironically have to dash other wise I’ll be very late for the 18-30 Function event that I’m head to this evening – already late as I should be there now, ops!)
April 11, 2012
Its quite a strange feeling … being alive when your not supposed to be.
I guess some folk would say I am meant to be but the way I see it is I’m not.
Four years ago I took an overdose. People would say that people who take overdoses are not serious, and are only crying out for help. Maybe that is so for others but it isn’t for me. I truly wanted to die. And as far as I was concerned I had taken enough stuff, in a big enough cocktail to ensure that I did die. I didn’t plan on surviving. Its fair to say my state of mind was a bit irrational. Thinking back now, my mind was screwed (it still is) but back then it was screwed in a much bigger way.
It is really hard to describe the day, four years ago. In fact a lot of it is blurry. I just remember being so desperate for the pain to go, that I could not see any other way out. My life was never meant to have worked out the way it had.
Stuff that had happened was never meant to happen. When I was a very small child, I could never have imagined what was going to be ahead of me. When I was a child the things that happened to me that were wrong were normal. Wasn’t everyone abused? (It wasn’t until I got older did I realize the answer to that is no).
I have written before, a few times about the darkness, the pain, the hurt, the desperation. The no way out and no where to go feeling. The heart wrenching all hope is lost feeling. Because that is how is felt. I had nothing. I was nothing.
So what was the point in being alive? I didn’t see any …
So I tried to kill myself.
Imagine the feeling of waking up, a bit hazy, dazy and realizing that instead of being somewhere else (I had no idea where I was going to end up, I think my head thought it would be a hotter kind of hell than living, because that would be what I deserved) however even that was the better option than actually being alive (does not make much sense really when you think about it does it, but then I didn’t (still don’t often) make much sense) …
I was devastated to be alive.
But that was four years ago.
I keep saying four, because I cant quite believe it to be honest. Four years! It feels like it has been a long long four years, yet it also feels like it has flown by.
The biggest thing I cant quite believe, and would never have imagined in a million days would be the change since then … how life has moved on.
Yesterday I tweeted something on the lines of ‘it’s the day before the day I tried to kill myself four years ago and instead of smoking, drinking and self harming I’m getting ready to go to Spring Harvest – a Christian conference’ – (obviously it was a bit shorter on twitter!)
I have the honour and privilege of being at Spring Harvest this year, and I’m really thankful to the people who have made it happen. And as I was getting packed to come, I was thinking about the fact its been over a year since I last cut, I don’t smoke any more, and I have the odd drink, but that’s it.
Last year I arrived at Spring Harvest on the back of a bet with someone who reckoned I wouldn’t survive a week at a Christian conference, despite having already been to a few. Not only did I survive the week, I think I survived it quite well.
Everything I thought it was going to be, it wasn’t. The fights I was looking for didn’t happen, and I went away from the week realizing that actually, despite my protests and issues sometimes I am a Christian. Yes, I am a Christian.
I am still trying to work my way round, understand the true meaning of Gods love, and really get to a place of belonging. There is a heck of a lot that I don’t understand – a heck of a lot … but I am firmly on the journey of trying to understand. I still need to learn more about why I am here, what the meaning of my life is and why the stuff that has happened happened. I know that there are no easy answers to any of these questions, and that they are things that I am going to have to explore.
This afternoon, instead of going to the seminar that I had planned on going to, I went and spent an hour chatting to someone from the Pastoral Team here at SH. It was something I was a bit hesistant about, but something that I felt my soul stir into doing and I’m pleased I did. I felt like I was given a little clarity to my thoughts and feelings about today. And how God fits in to it all. Because He does.
I know that process isn’t going to suddenly become easy, but then I’m used to not easy.
But it’s a process that has now started.
One of my new years resolutions for 2012 was to spend more time concentrating and focusing on the future. Thinking about where it is heading, trying to ascertain the pathway I’m meant to be on, career wise, spiritually and personally.
And so, I supposed you might read this blog and think it is not doing that. Which is true, kind of.
I want to keep moving on wards, forwards, and part of that process is to process the past. I know I have spent some time talking about the past, four years ago in fact, I feel I have to. I have to mark it somehow. And the marking it somehow is more about celebrating the fact that I am alive . Its about remembering where I was, thinking about the years and the journey I have been on because that’s all so important when it comes to thinking about the future, my future.
I feel like I am marking it by writing this blog. Short of shouting out to everyone here, at Spring Harvest that It has been four years and I want to celebrate life right now the only way I know how to mark it is to write.
IT HAS BEEN FOUR YEARS, AND I AM ALIVE, AND THAT IS GOOD!
What has happened is a part of me. I can not erase the past. I can not erase the scars that my body bares, and I can not erase the torture that sometimes haunts my mind.
But I can use some of those experiences, exactly how I don’t know yet.
But I want to look to the future.
I want to talk about it. I want to share my story.
I want people to know my story because more importantly I want others to know they can survive too, and that can happen by me sharing my story.
March 15, 2012
Just a little poem of sorts, written as my own thoughts to the #ididnotreport hashtag and tweets that flooded twitter a few days ago. Some incredibly brave tweeters, and a beautiful (but incredibly sad) thing to see so many people finding a voice.
My own response is about being abused as a child, teenager, and then as an adult in an event that was totally seperate to any of the stuff i’d experienced as a young person.
(its probably not the most poetically grammatically correct btw)
so here we are, my little poem
#ididnotreport because who would have heard?
#ididnotreport because who would believe?
#ididnotreport because i could not utter a single word …
#ididnotreport because it meant more punishment i’d receive.
#ididnotreport as I got older, for what would be the reason?
#ididnotreport as things moved on, but the memories remain,
#ididnotreport as years went by, and life moved into a new season,
#ididnotreport as i always felt i deserved the pain.
#ididnotreport because i had nothing left worth trying to save
#ididnotreport because nothing mattered to me any more
#ididnotreport because i could never be that brave
#ididnotreport because even when i tried, someone always closed that door.
#ididnotreport for it had all gone plus more
#ididnotreport for everything i had left was taken
#ididnotreport for I had been shaken to the very core,
#ididnotreport for my whole life had been broken.
#ididnotreport but sometimes I wish I had.
January 15, 2012
I guess it is fair to say that 2012 is now in full swing, being the middle of January. My end of year review has been quite late this year, usually its at the end of a year, as it should be, not the beginning of the next one. Hey ho … I am also quite late in writing a Part 2, as i felt Part 1 had gone on long enough so I though I would split it into two parts.
so, below is the last thing I want to mention about 2011 …
* I was just back reading a blog which had something written in it that has stunned me. Alot actually. In Feb 2011, I wrote ‘It has been 10 months since I last self harmed’. That in itself was massive. To now be able to sit here and write that its been over 20 months is even more massive. I dont know who reads this blog, and its fair to say I dont know your experience and your thoughts on things like self harm, however for me, it has been a very big part of my life. For a long time a very secret part of my life, something I never wanted anyone to know about, and was very careful to make sure no one did/could see. Once or twice in a few crises moments would ‘seen’ places such as my arms be affected, but on the whole I self harmed in places no one could see. It was not about attention. It was not about people knowing. It was a personal private thing. And so very hard to try and explain the release, physically and emotionally self harming gave to me. Its fair to say it hasnt been easy. Theres been some close moments! It still isnt easy, because when things get tough its often the first thought that comes into my head … maybe because it was a coping mechanism for so long … and dont get me wrong I’m not saying i’ll never go back to it. I hope i dont though. So, as to how that relates to 2011 … I’ve gone a whole date wise year without self harming. Wow.
I wanted to share the above with you because i see as being something that reflects how 2011 has been for me. There seems to have been very little ‘drama’ throughout the year, which is unusual, but what there has been in a steady continuation of the journey that I guess i could call recovery, or moving on, or whatever phrase you want to use to be honest.
Its fair to say, and I am sure I have written this before somewhere either on here or twitter, that 10 years ago I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams that life would turn out how it has done so far. I could never have imagine how tough it would/was going to get. Dont get me wrong, I was not stupid, or naieve, I knew life wasn’t a bed of roses from an early age, but equally so, I didnt think that when things were already tough, they would get even tougher, and more tougher on top of that.
I never imagined that once id been crushed into tiny little pieces, that Id then get trampled on, and turned into even smaller bits. Fragments into more fragments until there was nothing left. Who does? But it happened …
however, here I still am. And somehow surviving, and dare i say it … almost thriving?
I am on a road, a long road which i am sure is going to throw out more blows no doubt, but a road which has some sunshine on it too … i am starting to enjoy life, enjoying learning how to live again, how to laugh, how to love.
And i cant not say thank you to everyone who has been involved in my journey. People as i mentioned in my previous blog whom I dont think I could ever express truly how grateful i am to, for their love.
as for 2012 … who knows what it will bring? I dont for sure …
however, as i think about the year ahead, i think about the three new years resolutions I have made (something i never normally do ) …
they are :
1) to lose weight ( see my blog titled My name is fragmentz and I’m fat (no really I am) to see why this is SO important to me! It is something that I am going to spend alot of 2012 focussing on. My first goal is to lose 2 stone by Easter, which is roughly 2 pounds a week, and by eating sensibly, going to the gym and execising more and the help of Slimming World, I am sure i can achieve this. The bigger goal is way to huge to think about all in one go … as ideally its about 6/7 stone … i dont think i’ll reach that by the end of the year but If i could be well on the way, id be pleased.
2) to continue moving forwards … to spend more time looking into the present and forwards instead of backwards. this one is simple in words, but maybe not to simple in actual practice. My past is part of who I am . Its part of who everyone is. And i disagree hugely with the pastor who once told me that if i became a Christian my past would be erased and i’d forget it. Unless you took my brain away, or erased my memory entirely, then that aint going to happen. And why would I want that … because despite some of the horrific memories, and the things that have happened that haunt me, and even to this day appear in my sleep sometimes, why would I want to erase some of the happy memories? I dont want to erase my past. and some of the experiences are shaping who i am becoming now … shaping how I am able to support other people in their lives. For example, there is a situation with someone who I chat with regularly to, who I would not be able to walk along side and support in the way I do, if i had not experienced what I have (if that makes any sense). So, although i dont want to ‘forget’ my past i also dont want to spend more time dwelling on than living in the present or looking towards the future. I want to spend more time focussing on the here and now, and the things to come, then what has been and gone. Its something i am going to try anyway!
3) to somehow get closer to God/to learn more about God (I have no idea in what shape or form this will happen). This is a biggie. For me anyway. As I wrote before, I had some interesting experiences in 2011, including Spring Harvest. Those experiences have made me come to terms with the fact I am a Christian. Yep. I am. Even on the dark days. I am. And actually I have been for some time. But Ive just chosen to sway between good and bad days and ‘yes i believe today’ and ‘ no i dont’ … so, for 2012 I want to be more committed. To God. I dont know how this is going to look. What shape or form this will play out. But I am going to give it a go. I want to learn more about God. I want to get to know more about Him, and more of Him. I want to understand more of His will, and why He came to die, and forgive. I want to learn more about his nature. I want to continue my relationship with Him … and deepen what I already know. This is tied in with Number 2, about looking forwards and not backwards too. I want to do the same with God. I want to try and come to terms with my past and the role god has played in it, but also then to look forwards more. As i said, who knows how this will play out … maybe it wont at all. But I hope it will.
So, thats me done for now … thinking about 2012 and what its going to look like.