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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Chrysalis 

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I continue to exist in a state of flux, a butterfly locked in the body of a caterpillar, desperate to get out, to travel, to experience, to see, to taste, to touch….. but unable, because I am weighed down by feet that are corrupt.

As I walk, I trip, slip and deviate. I am sure there is a path: a true one, a straight one, a clean one; but mine, as ever, meanders and is slow. Considering I was premature – born early and left to ripen in a casket – I’d have thought I would be more direct, more able to hurry along. But I’ve always resisted speed. My natural rhythm is gentle and slow and I get overwhelmed easily. Why? Why so eager at the beginning and now, part through, so shy?

Fear, that’s why. I’m terrified of age, disease, pain and death, illness, misfortune, loss and hardship, dying as an action in and of itself. Life seems to be all about letting go and losing, saying goodbye. It’s a lot for a body to carry.

Burying my head in meditation, my heart in prayer, I muddle along, grateful for the miracles and patient with the truths. For while there are things that might hurt and things that render me flat, there are also things that lift me up so high, at times I fear I might not ever come back.

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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