Like my dog, I like to hide inside blankets…


 
If I wasn’t afraid, I would run home now, pack a modest bag, grab my passport and head for the airport. Scanning the boards, I would pick a hemisphere, a climate, a culture, then confidently stride up to the information desk and push across my savings, knowing, as I did, I was making a commitment and honouring a contract.

But I am afraid: so my desire to travel is suppressed, along with my yearning for learning and adventure.

Playing it safe, my life curls into a ball: minimum challenge, limited contact. And while it doesn’t alarm me overly much, it doesn’t really excite me either.

Waking from a nightmare last night, I am full of agitation. Abandoned by my friends, left alone in a strange location which they, when they were here, trashed, my day is haunted by flashbacks. I feel nervous and scared too, too scared even to dig for the message my inner me wishes me to know.

All around me there are signs. Every day I am presented with options and choices of things I might do if I were brave enough and every day I shy away, fearing the consequences of standing up. And while I speak my truth and honour my feelings, never withholding even when speaking out might at times appear unkind: it is not enough.

I was born with an inner yearning to not be here. On earth I have never felt at home and I long for the peace that I know I used to have. In meditation and sleep I find it but like a drug the effects are short-lived. So I hang out with people who will leave me, seeking others who will let me down, knowing that because this is a repeating pattern, they will take everything I have.

by Rebecca L. Atherton


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A villa with no neighbours

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August is disappearing, fast-slipping into September, and I can’t help being nostalgic about something I’ve never had: a summer like last year; days spent outside, cafés by the sea, bbq’s, a pool, a villa with no neighbours. I miss the peace. I miss the quiet. I miss the freedom… I know it’s not forever and it’s all still there, but my heart feels broken, weeping for something that has died. I can feel it now – raw, restless, enraged; rising and falling like a turbulent ocean intent on capsizing every ship.

I know it’s a test; or at least this is what I am telling myself, if only because it sits better that way. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Or maybe it does? By calling it a ‘spiritual’ journey; refusing the dis-ease and discomfort to be named – not properly, not ‘officially’ in a way I can’t later deny: I’m opening a window and in doing so discovering that in darkness there is also light.

And I know it might sound weird – it would do to me if I wasn’t who I am, if this hadn’t all happened exactly as it has – but I feel the presence of God more and more profoundly every day. There are subtle messages, unexpected gifts, encounters that introduce me to something new inside. A process of remembering, I am slowly returning to who I was before life (people, experiences and places) got in the way. And as I do, I am aware that I have company: an inner mother cat who stands in front of my heart, reaching out to hiss and scratch at anyone and everything that tries to intervene. I am getting to know her slowly and slowly I am making her my friend.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Things I would love to shake

There are feelings in my body that are new, that I haven’t previously experienced. And others that are overly familiar: things I would like to shake but haven’t been able to dislodge. The new ones bother me the most: their discomfort harder to shut off; I don’t have the reserves of experience that time permits.

I’m learning how to manage them – slowly, in parts. And in that process achieving both failure and success. Like so many other things: it’s a journey…

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, where I will be next year as a result, or if I will even still be here and who I will be if I am. I have changed so much in so little time. In a lot of time, I might not even recognise myself.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Tiny red flowers

Repeating the same mistakes,
I find myself returning to people and places that hurt;

then, angry, hurt myself,
seeking salvation in tiny red flowers.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Directions of work still to do


I’m exhausted today: no energy, no strength. After a morning in denial, I actually went back to bed – me, the obsessive taskmaster who never lets slip, the iron-fisted diplomaterian who demands and expects certain results, felled by external forces involuntarily imbibed. I’m learning, obviously: gradually developing the ability to be more personally kind, to allow what’s needed a space to rest; listening, sensing, feeling after so long in denial. And it felt nice, curling up with my dog: we shared energy, my hand on her side, her paws around my arm.

As I napped, drifting in and out, the past passed through my mind and my body reacted, various twitches and tremors lifting this, shaking that… Observing was a kind of story: directions of work still to do; each separate inner and outer part tugging me back to an event, an unresolved memory.

A friend suggested TRE (trauma release exercises), which resonated. And now I realise that this is why my back, arms, neck, shoulders, legs, hands and feet ache. It fits: so much has happened, not only in the last few years but also over the course of my life. The only question, and it’s always been the burning one, is will I have time to lift it in order to travel my mind, body and soul to the destination I desire?

The clock ticks…
 
Click here to read about my experience with TRE.

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?

~

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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Yellow rose petals


I dream of school and find myself in a classroom, attempting to recall a language I used to know. Later, I stub my toe and although it is not hard enough to break it, it is enough to turn it black.

I don’t leave the flat and spend the morning being gentle – dusting, sweeping, tidying… and in-between I get more done than I have in months of going out.

If I were a bird, I would spread my wings and fly away. Human, I try to unpack my suitcase – endeavouring, at least for now, to embrace the place where I am stuck.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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The underside of seldom-swept things

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Visiting the underside of seldom-swept things,
I discover a toy soldier and a ball of yarn.
On the opposite side of the room,
there is a doll without legs and a forgotten sock.

A drawer reveals sellotape, blue tack and glue.
A cupboard: scissors and paper.
I sketch a house with two floors;
am told to add a basement and a loft.

While a woman makes dinner in the kitchen,
a man mows the lawn out back,
and although there are no children,
there is birdsong and plant-life.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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The clouds float north while I travel south

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I survived but I’m scathed: different, somehow, from when I set out. Two days on and I’m finding it hard to stop and sit; impossible to achieve my usual level of calm. Inside there is this space: something that was there absent. And whether the thing removed ought still to be there or is better off where it is, it’s not a comfortable position to be stuck within.

Looking to the horizon but unable to see beyond my own two feet, I find it hard to have much faith in the future. Walking a straight line, I travel in circles: revisiting old ground, recovering people, places… When the shine fades, I turn to my knees, searching for something I have lost standing up. Washing in puddles, eating from bins, I gain a fresh perspective, readopting forgotten things.

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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A leap I couldn’t rehearse


Wednesday, 4th March
It feels like it’s been a long week, even though it’s only Wednesday. Why is that? What makes one shorter than the others? What’s the trick to managing it; making it better, easier? I think the bottom fell out sometime last week; maybe before? I’m suddenly struggling: missing Mallorca, sun; craving the simplicity of island life, the standard of living that allows. My head keeps going there awake. And asleep, I dream. Last night, I went to Port Andratx; to my regular table there: the one on the terrace, the one by the sea; the one surrounded by rolling hills and verdant trees, yachts large enough to be a house. Breathtaking, peaceful, warm… Imagining it now, there are tears. And I feel like I need to cry. Only I’m in the middle of a busy city and there’s nowhere quiet to go, nowhere private. I keep bumping into that, each day, in different ways. 

I’m tired. I’m rundown. I’m fed up. I want to go home; only I don’t know where that is anymore, or if I ever did. 

When did I last feel happy, safe, secure? 

I rewind but cannot arrive. 

Thursday, 5th March
I think I feel worse today than yesterday. And yesterday, I felt worse than the day before. Aren’t early nights meant to make you feel better, more alive and energised? My sensible evenings seem to be doing the opposite. Either I’ve burnt the candle down too far, or lived with two ends lit for so long I’ve run out of options, the wax having used itself up. It might require longer than a week. It might require longer than a month. It might, although it scares me to think it, require longer than a year. A long time ago, back when I first slipped and tripped up, back when I was still a child, I thought it would only need a season and ended up giving more than my hands, paired, can count. The tripping then was severe, though. I’m not sure it’s that bad now. Only: how to be sure? 

Today hasn’t been so bad, not overall. It’s given as well as taken. Spiritually, I’ve filled up. Reaching out has paid back and sharing restored. My chat with the Rector was worth investing in for the risk was well received and his advice compassionately tendered. For an hour and a half, we talked: me filling in my narrative history, my past and present script; he commenting and adding additional bits. He was easy to open up to, listening in a way that was both genuinely caring and intrigued. It felt like an offloading: the weight of recent events reducing, if not entirely, then enough. 

I’m still tired, but the tiredness makes sense. I accept the ‘why’ and understand the need. I have been running for so long, I’ve drained not only the readily-available but also the emergency reserves. Care and attention are called for and more self-love. 

Saturday, 7th March
I’m sitting in Starbucks. It’s 9 am. Outside the sun is shining and the city is quiet. It’s warm. There is lots of light. I can feel my body uncurling, my heart opening up. Delicate changes… appreciated. 

In half an hour I start the first day of a two-day course: the long-awaited Level 3. I’m apprehensive, scared. More is expected. 

Testing myself on napkins, I revise symbols and names, repeating over and over until I am confident they stick. But I can’t do anything about the root complaint, the ‘not being able to feel anything in my body or my hands’. Everyone else seems to get heat or pulsing, colour, when they close their eyes. Some can read auras. Others, discomfort and dis-ease. I see pictures; I get images, stories… But whether they are useful, part of that person’s story or only related to me, I can’t tell. Shared, they seem to mean something. But don’t they all? I can see a butterfly, hear a car horn, catch a leaf or watch the sun go behind a cloud… and take it as a sign. Another day, in a different frame of mind, I might miss it or ignore it. 

I listen to other people. I watch their lives. I scan Instagram, Twitter and Facebook dreaming of Singapore, Australia and Thailand, coveting Hong Kong, Japan and LA, mourning Mallorca and France, fighting tears and envy, trying not to want or at least not to want so much, to be happy, to accept. Only it’s not that easy, not after travelling to kinder places, experiencing warmer climes. I know there are options. I know I have a choice. And this – here, now – isn’t it. 

I’m falling, deeper and deeper: walking backwards, rewinding, getting tangled up; the past, more real, strangely, than today. I remember why I left, why I needed to; why I wasn’t supposed, ever, come back. Being here is a lesson in appreciation, in valuing what you have. Only I can’t decide what’s more important – people or sun, possibilities or peace, variety or routine… It’s not as simple as I would like. It never is. 

Sunday, 8th March
It’s 9 am and, again, I am sitting in Starbucks, killing time before my course starts, attempting to align myself to the day. I’m nervous, full of fear. After yesterday, there is a lot of emotion attached. And I didn’t sleep: worry and noise keeping me up. 

I feel underprepared, my defences weakened. Already, there are tears and nothing’s happened. I’m not sure I can get through the day. If it weren’t for the fact that I do not have a choice, that it’s now or I don’t know when, I would beg a reprieve. As it is, I’m stuck. 

Deep breaths. Squash and press. Quiet inner child and summon outer warrior. 

Only, I’m technically more of a ‘worrier’. Brandishing weapons; hooting, hollering, wearing short skirts and skimpy tops, feathers and paint: not something I’m keen to explore.

I wish the day over, the course complete, sad that this line of study is falling short of my expectations. Nothing is as it is presented, as simple as I would like to believe. It all sounds terribly fun and exciting in print, in theory. But in reality: it’s too much too fast; insufficient time in the framework to practice, process and assimilate. No wonder 90% of the people who attend these courses never have the confidence to go out and practice what they have learned: using their skills, their abilities; working; owning the mantle they invested in both mentally and physically, requiring more than they have within reach to gain

by Rebecca L. Atherton
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