There’s no place like home

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It’s the 2nd of December and all of a sudden Christmas is just a handful of days away, or that’s how it feels. I have been in Mallorca since Friday and am slowly settling in – adjusting to the temperature, the scenery, the way of life; putting long held things down and letting go of things that are tight. The people are friendly and I feel welcome wherever I go. The sky is blue and in the centre of the day it’s warm enough to sit outside. The streets are quiet, empty… and I do not have to clean my shoes each time I go out. There is less pollution. Whites stay white. Food is cheaper, fresher and mostly organic. Apples taste how apples should taste. Seafood is common and it is possible to eat out often without guilt. I am eating out. I do not feel guilty. I feel restless though and I am finding this hard to accept. I cannot sit quietly or do what I usually do; there are fears and thoughts filling my mind with the kind of things that go bump in the night. 

I miss my home with its familiar surroundings – my pictures, my drawings, my ornaments, my Fimo unicorns and knitted mice, my crystals, my oracle cards, my pendulums and lucky charms, a tea for every day of the month, four alternatives to milk; gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, lactose-free products; a wardrobe full of choice, drawers full of excitement, a bed with a mattress and sheets that have only ever been mine, a brand new everything inside an old but renovated space… I miss the bathroom I at first disliked with its traditional sink and cracked white tiles, the floors whose scratches I hid beneath rugs, the neighbour upstairs and his heavy feet, the washing machine whose spin cycle woke everything up. I miss the central heating, the insulation, the open space and tall windows letting in the light. I miss it’s countless memories and the special things I did there. I could sit still and calm in that space for hours, content to be alone. I was warm. I was relaxed and safe. I am a creature of habit. I do not like to deviate from or break with routine; it tortures me, from the centre out, undoing all that I have put in place, unpicking all that I have set down, challenging my beliefs. 

Resisting the urge to rewind, burying myself deep in chocolate, tea and toast, over-sized omelettes and glasses of local wine, I try to love my hat, focusing on the importance of finishing that. But even while the comfortable click and clack of my needles soothes me, the simplicity of the project, the superficiality of its journey after that, fails to really get beneath.

Being mindful, I remind myself of how normal all of this is, how ‘okay’ it is to be a little spikey. In acting out I am speaking for the child within, the hidden part that is most often ignored. Like a dog, all she wants is a warm lap, a familiar space, a routine that caters to her every need and lots and lots of attention. Like an infant, she wants to play, existing solely in a space of love, laughter and light.

Maybe I will buy paper and coloured pens to paint my story out? Maybe I will buy thread and felt to stitch it down? I’d rather go for a walk on the beach, attempt to meditate with the sand on my skin, visit the cathedral, ride in a horse-drawn carriage, peruse the local markets, sightsee, explore, delving into each and every space, feeling, touching, tasting, really getting a sense of it. But I am trapped in another’s routine, rushing and rushing then sitting and sitting, counting the hours, avoiding the minutes, longing only for bedtime when, finally, I can shut it all out. 

This will pass, as everything passes; for there is nothing in life but change. We cannot still. We cannot cling. We cannot stop, no matter how much we might want to. And in the meantime – while I grin and bear and occasionally grimace and growl – it is best to view it as a meditation, the acquiring of a new level of acceptance, patience and self-love. 

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Learning to dance again

Opening a closed heart can be dangerous;
especially if you have not adequately prepared.
Just look at Pandora and what happened to her!
In the end though, there is no other way:
denial only prolonging what will one day find a way out.

Navigating extreme feelings –
emotions that threaten to overwhelm
the casing in which they reside –
I battle the urge to run backwards,
something external holding me to the floor.

Placing hands on parts I have for years now
happily suppressed – suffocating, starving,
ignoring… until they appeared to die –
I listen as they wake back up:
hungry, angry, needy.

Tears fall, sobs escape, screams wrench
and I keen like a mother grieving an infant: open, raw, exposed.
And while it might take a while,
for the denial runs deep:
even this small freedom is a respite.

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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Growing from the centre

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Growing from the centre, spreading out; opening tired arms, reaching out… I begin to evolve; returning – slowly, surely, bit by timid bit – to my maker, to the one who conceived the thought and (albeit thousands of years ago), made my forebears who then lead lives that in a very protracted ‘meandering-around-the-fields kind of way’ (a bit like my writing) eventually led to me.

But who is that voice that’s calling? And why now? Why not before, when I first had need of it? 

Was it necessary to be so beaten, so tattered and torn, so tangled and tormented, bereft? Did I need to lose it all before I could from the ground, the grey grit of the tired bedraggled pavement, start crawling back?

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Praying, meditating, practicing yoga; spending quiet time, alone time, time with me: I pick up the pieces, attempting to reassemble the puzzle that – whole, complete – amounts to an entirety of something I am only now coming to know.

I try to remember that God loves me and that Jesus died for my sins. I try to remember too that other people have suffered, suffer, are suffering still, and that we are all battling similar things.

Only it’s easy to forget and then feel miserable, or perhaps act out, speaking from the lonely part, the child that has since we began been neglected.

~

Reading self-help books; studying religion, spirituality, philosophy, metaphysics… I move, crossing a landscape of boulders that was ‘once upon a time long ago’ green and vibrant.

Planting seeds; tending to the garden, praying to the moon and dancing for the sun: colour arrives and I thrive, rising up from the ashes of pain and shame to walk with grace and confidence.

And I try to have fun and to remember how to play, taking advice from children and the tiny inside me, the ‘me’ that I am only now really learning to see and accept. Fimo unicorns dance across tabletops, origami doves gather around lamps, felttip rainbows remind me to be kind to myself when all around me I’m staring at clouds. Having allowed what has been forbidden to surface, it won’t now be shut back down.

I was afraid that perhaps I wasn’t being mature enough. 

I was also afraid that I had gone mad, losing my soul down a rabbit hole that, once entered, did not permit one to turn back. 

Now I see that the answer is simple, that I have instead been forced to rewind, returning to parts that never grew, reconnecting with parts that were rejected.

Listening to her, seeing her, for the first time; looking with complete awareness, judgement-free: I slowly heal what was allowed to self-destruct. It is painful and slow. Strange how this journey began as one thing, as a new career path, as an evolution of ego – albeit with a good heart – and then turned into something else entirely that has, in new and nefarious ways, challenged me.

~

Walking in the light, I see that God had other plans and that, really, when it’s all peeled back, there is only ever one path, one way, and it is love. 

Love makes us happy. 

Love brings us peace. 

Love enables us to forgive and thereby to finally heal. 

Love enables us to reach out and touch and begin to restore, transforming hate and anger, cynicism and judgement, depression and pain. Little by little, the world begins to change. 

It is a journey of a thousand miles. And, like all of you, each day I take another step. 

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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Letting go

imageIt’s been a week and so far I have survived; done better, in fact, than I had imagined when staring at the space from the wrong side of the door. The ‘big bad’ that I had feared, trembling in front of like a child about to pee itself, an adult held close to the end of a gun, wasn’t nearly as aggressive or nasty in reality. And the thing that lived under the bed – that still (obviously) lives there – has become my friend, in a detached sort of way. Funny how that happens: the big and the bad, the aggressive and the nasty, becoming friends. It has been a learning curve, for which I am truly thankful, teaching me to be more patient and not to expect so much, to embrace everything, no matter the casing. Ribbons and bows are all very nice – and don’t get me wrong: I really like them, like really!!! – but they don’t actually prove anything; they don’t make what’s underneath better, nicer, brighter. And once you take them off – removing what is now, your eyes having taken their fill, redundant – what lies below is of far more importance, it’s worth extending, sometimes, if you are lucky, far further than the end of today.

In light of this, I have unpacked my boxes and hung up my clothes, taken out pictures and ornaments, vases and cards. And I have done my best to lay them out, attempting with a light and happy heart, a clear and proactive head, a head full of commitment to the future, the task, to do the best that I can. It’s not perfect by any means, but that’s the point. Perfect is impossible. Perfect is hard. Perfect sets you up for disappointment and failure, frustration and hate. Perfect lead me here, to writing this blog, to living this life, to the tangled mess it’s all in. And perfect – not the clinging to it and the attainment of it, but the realisation that it has to be let go – will be the very thing that sets me free. Tolerance, acceptance, viewing things from both sides, examining every angle, learning to let go and to embrace, to like and to love, to see the good in every situation and the beauty in each story: that’s the way now; at least, this is my plan.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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