Unto us a child is born

imageAching, breaking, feeling fragile; the pain in my side no weaker than it was four day ago: I’m contemplating the ‘walk-in’ on Wardour Street. But I’m scared. Sick people remind me of my own mortality, and it’s not so sturdy of late. Things hurt. Others don’t work anymore. And I’ve no idea whether the hurting and the not working are permanent or temporary. Each time we move, each time I suffer a trauma or am challenged and pushed: I slide, and the slope is dark and dangerous.

Looking up, I can still see the sky: a weak hollow of blue light, diluted and empty. No clouds. No planes. No sun. Just a thin strip stretching from left to right. Some days it’s brighter, more intense, and on days like these I draw comfort from it. Some days it’s dull and dead and on these days I sink to my knees and pray, for I have no energy, no motivation, no drive, and things as simple as walking and talking tire me.

Recently, it’s been up and down, bouncing me like a yo yo on thread. Nausea creeps into my belly to sit and sip, drinking tea and stretching out, acting (for all intents) as if it owns the place – which it doesn’t but which I could be convinced to believe it does, because it is such a frequent visitor I can’t now remember when it last went away.

Sitting in church yesterday – listening to the sermon but drifting, not really there… images of past lives, past people, past things… passing through: rewinding me, reminding me; picking at threads, fingering snarls, thumbing pulls, travelling bobbles; contemplating each and every one as if it were the most intimate, infinite thing: precious, priceless… I have an epiphany. And whether it makes any difference overall, or any sense in a day or a week: the warmth and the strength are a gift. Raising limp hands, separating joined wrists, pulling reluctant arms from lazy legs, I wrap myself around that feeling as tightly and securely as I can, hoping against hope, against experience, against knowledge and thought, that it won’t ever go away.

Only it will, and the only question that holds any importance is when? For if the answer disappoints, I will be devastated.

Today I am tired and the colour of the sky unnerves me. Yesterday there was reason to celebrate, to try to feel positive and upbeat. And I guess there was a break too, from the normal way of things. But now it’s back: the pressure, the expectation, the need… and I’m struggling. Feeling useless, uninspired; doubting my ability: I look at everything I’ve done – now and then, lately and a long time ago – and it all seems so shallow and incomplete.

Doubt descends and I sink: deeper and deeper. And the slope down which I was slipping is no longer just a slope; it’s also part of the sea, and I am drowning too.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Deck the halls…

imageIt’s Christmas Eve and I ought to be excited. I ought, also, to be calm. But I’m not. I’m restless and agitated, on edge. If I were a dog, my heckles would be up. A person: I’m all spines and spit. Like Goldolocks: nothing is right – too hot, too cold, too thick, too lumpy… too light, too dark, too full, too empty; the usual suspects disappoint and the old favourites fail.

As I move from place to place – wandering up busy streets, traipsing down deserted alleyways, past places that are decorated and places that are dark, shivering and cold because there is a sharp wind and it’s raining out: I’m aware that I’m searching for something, although I’ve no idea what. The inner child is crying. The outer adult longs for tender words. Despite spending a relaxed morning with my dog, her first outing since arriving: I am fearful, wondering how to dispel the encroaching shadow before it joins forces with my own faint line.

Tomorrow is unprepared: full of desires but empty of plans. It’s a bit like my life, which tilts forwards and backwards.

At least there will be surprises tonight – like a Hoover, a lamp and several decorations: small things that, collected, make enough of a difference to lift the place. When you can’t bear to walk on the floor because of the dust, or spend a moment longer than you have to in a room because it’s dark and empty and that depresses you: it’s time to act.

We do what we can, using what tools we have. We reach for the sky. Sometimes we touch the clouds. Big things… little things… bright things… tired things… they all count. Given the resources and the lack of ready materials, I consider the improvements a miracle.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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