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, cafΓ©s 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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The mirror is old and ornate

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Monday, 2nd March
I’m being tested today. I can feel it acutely. There is a tension in my stomach like butterflies. And my heart is hollow and sad. I keep thinking about what my partner said this morning, returning to the words, the thoughts… and I can’t make it go away. It’s haunting my head in a way that is aggressive and unkind.

I’m also frustrated: I just spent an hour writing something which failed to save. As a writer, this is profoundly painful. Although, for some reason, it’s a lesson I never seem to learn. I should have copied it first, giving myself the backup option of pasting it back if it refused to update. I usually do. I must have been distracted. The writing was intense, the journey deep. And now it would appear that I went there without cause, dragging myself over hot shards when I could have self-nurtured, dreaming of things that would have made me happy instead: like unconditional love and healing hugs, Sunday movies and newspaper fish, new friends, and kittens and puppies, my parents, my relatives, drawing and knitting, unexpected compliments and smiles; making something and then, after, when you’ve finished it, loving it for what it is; it’s been a long time since anything I made brought me joy: I’ve lost the inside bit that came alive.

Anyway, I digress… Ignore my meandering. Instead, rewind. Let me take you on a journey. Slip down beneath your eyes, falling silently. Picture the passageway, the hole; you are Alice in Wonderland. Make-believe that this is a meditation. I am taking you on a journey.

You are in a bathroom. It is warm and light, a radiator pumping out heat, a window looking out onto a quiet street. There is no one walking below. In the distance: traffic, busses and cars. There’s a man showering and a woman brushing her teeth. It’s Monday morning and the air is heavy with anticipation and fear. Neither one wants to leave. As the water flows – hot and cold, fast and slow, intermittently – a question is presented casually. “How about going away in a couple of weeks? I was thinking Mallorca. We could stay in a hotel, something in Palma.” Brilliant. Beautiful. Kind. A lovely idea. Her mind travels… tentatively, returning.

She falls silent. She thinks. She opens her mouth and starts to agree. And then she stops, abruptly, pulling away. To go there now would be to open a box, inviting contribution from things that are better left, opening wounds that have yet to heal. Some haven’t even been inflicted. Some were made today. However, even she cannot stop what happens next, falling down a crack, travelling backwards, landing in a place she misses so acutely she has since sought to avoid all contact, all memory. 

It’s summer. There is a villa with a long drive: palms lining both sides, leading up to the porch; a large meadow surrounding all of that. There is a walled garden too, towards the back, and in it, a pool. It is calm and peaceful; blue. The wind strokes the trees, the crickets stretch, the geckos decorate the walls. The windows are open and she can see inside – to a large bedroom: white, with a dressing table and a mirror. The mirror is old and ornate. She looks, and sees a woman smiling back: toned and brown, healthy and alive. She looks happy, relaxed. There is a flicker of recognition, and then it is gone. 

Further down, following the wall, meditating over brick, there is another window, inside of which sits a sitting room. It contains a sofa and two chairs, both comfy and new, her style, and on the floor, a cowhide secured beneath a trunk. There’s a fire too and next to it a pile of wood. The wood comes from outside, from the trees growing on the land: olive, almond, pine. It’s a lovely room: fresh and airy, light. 

Round the corner, there’s a corridor with a sink. Next to it, a bathroom. The bathroom consists of a tiled floor, a long mirror, a toilet, a window and a shower. Minimal. The shower is open to the floor. When you use it, everything gets wet. It shouldn’t, but like everything else on the island, it doesn’t quite work. The ‘not working’ lends it an air of eccentricity, a quirkiness that she initially resented then grew to love; a bit like the lack of speed, everything taking an overly long portion of time: the Post Office an hour, the bank two, service in cafΓ©s and restaurants, bars, half. The first year they were there they weren’t prepared, had no idea Christmas shopping would take days. It’s not like England, London, the rest of her known world. 

The kitchen comes next: open plan and large, the heart of the house. In summer it is her favourite space, the only place where she can comfortably sit. In winter it is cold, and there is always a fire. She looks around, sees the well with the bucket, the worktops and units, the large fridge. She sees her dog in her bed and the cupboard above it, the lines of shelves. She sees the beams and the walls: original, authentic; typical to the area. As a room: it’s almost as big as where she lives now, a place surrounded by people and noise, a place which she has managed to like but will never love. Her heart pulls and she falls deeper. 

There are birds in the trees and sheep in the fields. Because it’s spring, there are lambs: small and white, innocent. Many will die, catching a cold when it rains. There is blossom. There are flowers. There are sunrises and sunsets, some so beautiful she has to stop before she can accept that they are real. They look like paintings. At night there are rabbits in the fields and when she walks up the drive she can hear them scatter. It’s so dark she cannot see without aid. Her neighbours are far away, the equivalent of a street. She cannot hear the road. There is only one place she can walk to. 

Each day she travels to a different village, visiting a different space. She walks, she sits, she writes, always with a backdrop of meadow and mountain, beautiful architecture, sand and sea. Sometimes there are yachts. Some have siblings. Several have helicopter pads. She has never seen so much wealth before. She would like to go on one, just the once, to see how the other half live, but she doesn’t have any friends that are that wealthy, that live like that. She wishes she did. Her favourite places are close to water. She sits outside in the shade. She is warm but also cool. She wears clothes that are thin and light, delicate like petals and diaphanous like dust. She would like to wear nothing or clothes that are almost invisible: it is that hot.

But now there are tears and her heart is torn. She is scared that it might break, that she might not be able to stitch it. So reluctantly she pulls herself back into the present and lands in her chair. 

She is in London in a cafΓ© she likes, only she doesn’t like it much today. And she’s drinking a tea that’s overly milky and starting cool. Her stomach feels heavy and full. It is uncomfortable. In seeking to release something that was trapped, she has woken something that wasn’t present before, adding instead of subtracting. She is missing for the first time, pining what was lost. She wants to go back. She didn’t expect that.  

This is why the weekend is a bad idea, a punishment as well as a treat. In indulging she would only be making remaining impossible and there isn’t a choice. To leave now would be to throw away everything that has been invested, everything that is yet to come. It would make it a waste. She tries to care. More and more lately she has felt like running away and each time she feels it she cares less about the price. Life is for living and she is only surviving, only just doing that.

Packing up, putting away, moving on: she sighs. It doesn’t do to dwell. She mustn’t linger. Already, she has strayed.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Learn more about my work and the inspiration that guides it
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Attempting to bridge the gap

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Wild Geese
 
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting β€”
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
 
Mary Oliver
 
Monday, 9th February
I’m breaking a habit and skipping a day, leaving yesterday where it is. It was too busy, too full, and I’m not sure in trying I could even begin to explain it. I was attending a course: Level Two of the four-part training I am doing, the follow-on from the one I previously cited and have been writing this observation for. It was good and I was once again surprised at how well I managed, especially when compared to before. When I took it in Australia I barely managed to complete the day. Just me, it was too intense; tight enough to be considered claustrophobic, lacking space in which to pull back, burrow down and hide. I couldn’t sit in silence. I couldn’t disappear into my head. I couldn’t even doodle or take a short break. And the way of actually practicing, the ‘what’ attached to the ‘do’, was much more complex, demanding more than I had to give. It is a relief to have found a good teacher, one that I like.
 
What wasn’t quite so good was that I left with a bee in my bonnet and wild horses instead of legs, too much containment fuelling a need to run – or in my case, walk, as fast as my body was able. I was also upset (or perhaps disappointed is the better word?) by the lack of presence and attention given by my partner, his distance denting what had previously been a buoyant mood. It scares me. The further I travel down this road of self-discovery, this track of becoming, of being true: the further away he gets; his energy, his drive, his present place of being and point of focus, at odds with mine. He’s fast: I’m slow. He’s hard: I’m soft. He’s full-on, full pelt, angry and aggressive. I’m sailing at half mast, floating and benign. I look for the good: in places and in people. I stop to talk. I try to bring happiness, even if it’s only fleeting: a smile exchanged, a mumbled “hi”. Sometimes, most times, the weight he brings is heavy and painful; I cannot breathe. Around him, I’m not sure how to be myself. It’s difficult and challenging. 
 
It helps to knit. And with wine, I relax: more able to accept, to take. But it’s not the answer. In order to reunite – mending what has accidentally been broken, damaged, destroyed – more is needed; only neither one of us currently knows what that particular element is. 
 
New day, morning; I am brushing all of that aside, focussing instead on my work. Too much ruminating is unhealthy and I have a tendency of doing it. It shouts where I whisper. It pushes where I beg, overriding everything, killing all good. 
 
I look in the mirror and assess how I feel, trying to ignore the dents and the lines. I feel clean. I feel light. I have energy. My eczema is almost gone. As are the sores on my tongue. And my cold is sort of behaving, a relief to my nose. I won’t be competing with any 20-year-olds, but I will survive. 
 
Tuesday, 10th February
Running after my tail. Breathless, exhausted, mind divided up into separate pieces – happy, useful, overwhelmed; sad, hopeful, disappointed: lots of things pulling me to and from, into and away… I’m wondering: Where is here?, Where is now?, no longer sure of the way. 
 
Trying, tasting, finding, attending and uncovering, attempting to water what has already started to grow: I scan my calendar and it complicates. Full of dots – social, personal, friends and family, business, events, groups and classes, special days, potential things, emergency activities: ‘I’ struggle to find space. 
 
And yet it’s good: what I’m up to, how I feel. Not perfect, nowhere near; but good enough for now. I’ve found a path and begun to unravel. I’ve begun to connect and communicate. Questions that need answers and boxes that demand ticking are being addressed. Different from imagined, there in comfort in amongst the pain. Dulling the unavoidable down, delaying decisions that might harm; pretending, acting, haming it up: I continue to convince for now. All too familiar: the charade is simple enough; the best option for now. Pushing myself; confronting the things I usually resist: I do myself proud. A long day; many faces, places, moving around: I am growing in the right ways. 
 
But I worry that I am also leaving behind and I cling to what I will miss. Is it possible to continue to grow, walking a path others don’t travel, climbing a tree in a secret wood; finding a space, building a home, settling down: when those to whom you are attached remain conected to the ground? 
 
The repetition of our particular drama frustrates and I hate myself for my reluctance to stray. How can I hope, when each day my dreams are shattered? How can I believe, when what I believe in never manifests? Am I a lost cause? Or am I simply a prisoner to my heart, desperately clinging on to something that has already gone? 
 
Wednesday, 11th February
Amazing day; felt blessed: people smiling at me everywhere I went; lots of beautiful connections. 
 
Taught a friend to knit. Met another to catch up. Wrote. Lots of energy and strength.
 
Eczema worse. Tongue too. Itchy eyes, red. Nose raw, bleeding. Why?
 
Did distance healing on a baby, plus a long session on myself; then struggled to sleep, worried about the baby. Premature, born with serious complications – a blockage in her food pipe, a hernia, underdeveloped lungs: she was only given a 50% chance of survival and was unlikely to survive. Her first six hours were spent in surgery; her next, intensive care. Awful! Tragic…
 
I picture her behind closed eyes: scared and alone, hurting from things she can’t name. I picture her family too: mother and father, grandparents, aunt and niece – their despair and distress, their fear and frustration, their not being able to do. It makes me want to weep, my heart profoundly aching. It must be the connection, the Reiki. I mean: I can’t imagine how it must feel for real; not to have created something, made something, held it inside you, and then to (possibly, heaven forbid) have to let it go. Surely you would break in two; collapse, shatter and melt? I know I would. I can’t even manage losing a pet. I mourned a rabbit for three years: cremated him and kept him; I couldn’t get another animal for four, I couldn’t take the risk. And when I did – eventually, finally – it was only a hamster. And while he might have been a friend – one whom I spoiled and indulged, one whom I built houses for and trained to use a tray, one whom I let run around the house – we weren’t connected: I couldn’t. I miss them still: my rabbit and my hamster, my Damien and my Pumpkin Pie. It was only when I got a dog that I managed to open up, learning to trust all over again as if I had never learned how at the start. And even that took time, years, needing separation and injury
 
Now, I’m a sap: letting her into my bed, sleeping with her against my arm, my neck. And in Mallorca, she followed us everywhere: always in the car, always in restaurants and cafΓ©s, always present in my arms or on my lap. It’s unfair that she can’t be now, that it’s not permitted. But we adjust: me, her, us. And it’s not forever…
 
I do my best to make amends, to compensate: why else would I voluntarily disturb my sleep, injure my body, damage my health; why else would I put her above meditation and Reiki, my daily practicing of it? We do it out of love, in an attempt to appease our guilt. 
 
Thursday, 12th February
The baby made it through the night: still delicate, still fragile, but hanging in there, clinging on. I hope my Reiki helped, although I’m not vain enough to believe it did. I lack confidence, both in my own personal skills and in the process; in something as simple as ‘the laying on of hands’, especially when worked from a distance, possessing that power, being that potent. But that’s not to say that it isn’t or that it can’t: people have overcome worse, been helped by less: what is prayer, after all, if not a statement of intention, an affirmation of love, a thought or a wish firmly believed? In this case, however, it is far more likely that she, the baby, chose of her own free will to fight, along with that of her family and doctors. I pray that she remains okay and that she continues to heal. And I will do Reiki again tonight, simply stating that if either she or her family do not wish for my help, for the Reiki, that it returns to the place from whence (hence?) it came. It’s what they suggest: the masters, the teachers… and I must obey. In the meantime, I will wait and hope to hear something, but only if it’s good. If it’s bad, the coward in me would rather not know.
 
Baby aside, I’m challenged: struggling to adjust to a different seat in a newly-discovered cafe; same old… And the alien element – the not being where I belong, where I want to be – is making me feel unsettled. Coupled with the already-present bodily discomfort, the spikes and the spines, the clicks and the aches, the bites and the scratches: I’m feeling great. Winter, the cold; the ever-changing, up one minute, down the next, nature of the temperature; the hostility of the wind, central heating pitted against draughty streets, crowded stations, cold cafes and stuffy bars; overly warm shops: all compete to unpick me, pulling my together apart. As I try desperately to catch the edges, to pick up and sew back the pills, to repair the holes, I realise that it is a futile task. Life has at long last caught up, biting where she used to snap: there are dues to be paid, debts to be honoured, promises kept. Lacking the power to physically go back and undo; my only choice is to carry on, focussing on the things I can do. I realise now that my greatest task, far from in-formidable, is to make peace with my past, forgiving not just where I would like, where it feels easy, safe, but everywhere I have to. It’s the only way. It used to be safe to stay relatively still, to sit and wallow in boredom. Today, that place is full of darkness, damage and danger. There is a clock on the wall that lately has started to tick. The hands move, the hours pass, the day’s vanish. Time flies even though it mostly feels slow.   
 
As my mind struggles to add it all up, to collect and reflect upon its various pieces; to repair, to resolve, to restore and to remove: my body continues to complain. Things that were whole are now somehow in pieces, things that were healthy are sick, things that fitted don’t and things that worked won’t. It’s hard not to resent, to hold against and reject. The thing I rely on the most, I need over and above everything, has let me down when I still need it, when I require its strength. 
 
I am travelling a difficult road. I am facing countless challenges. It’s that ‘one more thing’, the ‘straw’ that threatens to break the ‘camel’s’ sloping back. 
 
Friday, 13th February
It’s been a long day – but all my days are long these days: it’s the nature of my new life, the routine I’ve been forced to adopt. Spending time in an unfurnished apartment doesn’t appeal: there’s no chair, no desk, no cupboard or bookcase. There’s also no light. Basement living doesn’t suit me. And, besides: I’m here to grow not hide. I need new experiences, fresh challenges, social interaction and noise; music and conversation, movement in and out. I need to push myself, expanding the dimensions of where I am comfortable, putting myself out.
 
Attempting to do just that, to throw myself into London and everything that its got, I went to another meet-up group this morning: a book group run by American expats. Feeling challenged by my current physical discomfort – the eczema flare-up, the sore tongue, the nose that won’t stop running and that hurts to touch; the stomach discomfort and the sciatica in my leg – I was tempted to skive, choosing to stay in the cafΓ© where I was working fairly productively instead. But I had made a promise and was reluctant to do to others what others so often do to me: it’s not nice, it’s embarrassing and it hurts. So I took my grumbling body out into the cold and drew upon my inner warrior. 
 
To begin with, it was awkward and I felt out of place. They mostly all knew each other and I was new. They were that much older and a lot better off. They were ‘official’ expats and I was an imposter: a Brit pretending at being one of them, at not belonging… But as we talked and started to share, I realised that we had lots in common: busy partners, well-travelled pets, a desire to fit in to a place that is temporary, storage containers, stories about moving, finding a place to live in a space that’s alien, expanded awareness and experience of the world, time on our hands, missing pieces… I stopped watching the clock and thinking about when I could leave and instead relaxed. 
 
Now, later, after a long walk in the rain brainstorming a quiet solution to the busy predicament: I am almost blind. Having worked solidly for almost four hours, it’s time to go. I shall pack up and leave, biding a fond farewell to yet another addition to my ‘Places to Return to’ list. I’m doing well. Growing it slowly. I’ve worked out that ‘new’ helps, the excitement providing energy that would otherwise be absent, the anonymity curbing my paranoia and unrest: things I am working on but yet to fix. 
 
Saturday, 14th February
It’s Valentine’s Day but it could just as easily be Monday or Tuesday or any other day of the week, a day like any other. I haven’t done anything different. I haven’t been whisked or swept. I haven’t even been lifted. 
 
Instead: I’ve washed my hair, tidied the flat, fed the dog, done Reiki, walked, got wet and ended up in a cafΓ©. There, I’ve drunk two cups of tea and worked intently: head down, concentration focussed. It feels like Valentine’s Day has been put on hold, its contents and manifestation left up to me. Being a traditionalist, this doesn’t sit well with my notion of roses and candy.
 
I’m trying not to care: after all, it’s totally commercial; a made-up merchandising concept, invented to encourage uncharacteristic expenditure on frivolous things. Things like chocolates and flowers, bouquets of roses, meals that are overpriced… But I do. What woman doesn’t want to feel special, to witness and then bathe in a declaration of love? It’s normal. It’s in our nature. 
 
At least I feel physically better than yesterday: less sore and congested, less spiteful and mean. Last night, too many things were present at once. My tongue hurt. My nose stung. My eczema itched. And all were inflamed. I’m trying to figure out why. My latest attunement? My giving healing? Doing too much? Or perhaps it’s the weather; or just general distress, caused by moving and feeling uprooted?
 
Asking myself what to do; I hear an answer. Take it easy. Be soft and gentle. Respect your mind and treat your body with care. Stop pushing yourself too hard. Blow out the base of the candle. Drink more water. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Remove sugar where you can. Add more supplements and make everything that goes in count. Be mindful. Do not attempt to silence the things you are reluctant to confront, the things you would rather avoid. While chocolate helps, the effects are temporary; better to focus on natural solutions: meditate or walk. They might not cure the root, but they will at least water the flowers, helping them to grow. 
 
Sunday, 15th February
Attempting to bridge the gap – soothing the parts that hurt, tending the bits that have broken, the body that’s unwell: I fill my days with impending deadlines. I’ve fallen behind: the size of my plate insufficient for the contents I’m asking of it. Living in fear – of windows, of holes;  I’ve created an open door, accommodating an endless supply of guests. Meditation clashes with Reiki, both within the circumference of my daily schedule and the face of my notebook. Classes, workshops, groups, talks and seminars, revision, research, study, visiting family, touching base with friends… Used to a slower pace, an altogether less demanding existence: it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. And while I might not be drowning, I’m not swimming either. 
 
Floating, kicking as I cling on, searching for land in an unfamiliar environment, I look to the things that I am learning for aid. Like a dog: I’ve been chewing a similar problem for years. Only where once I believed – in an easy solution, in a quick fix; now I know better. A long way to go, the present day seems daunting; the future, far off. If I felt like things were changing; if I could connect with the Universal Life Force, the Source, the Spirit, the Supreme Soul, the ‘whatever it is that’s out there’: it would feel like I was getting closer to where I feel I belong. 
 
I have always argued that there has to be more than what we are able to see, what is visible on the surface: something bigger, better; an overarching point. Now there is a hint of it existing, if only I can believe. But as I try to educate my intellect and commune with my soul, my mind puts up a barrier and my ego resists. 
 
This morning, I prayed while practicing Reiki, asking God to guide my hands. Still fighting ailments – face, foot, stomach, nose and tongue: I’m tired with the same old story repeating itself, over and over. It feels like each time I advance, repairing what was only recently broken, picking up and stitching what has come undone, my achievements are quickly stolen. Why, with so much effort, must the world be so unjust? 
 
by Rebecca L. Atherton
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Delicate corridors that would be more comfortable left shut

Monday, 2nd February –
First morning alone in the new flat; woke feeling awkward and anxious. Cut and bleeding, alone, I attacked a hat, tidying up the fluff that was covering it, stretching it over a balloon; wetting it, drying it, attaching a pom pom. Lacking complication, it calmed me. Then washed, dressed, drank tea, restored order to untidy bits and left, heading to Covent Garden.

My shoulders still ache, although not as bad as before. My nose is still cracked; equally, sore. But I think there has been progress with my eczema, even if it is only visible to me. And last night wasn’t quite so bad in the end. At 9pm, I finally relaxed. I managed to sleep. Small things. Important. Although far from perfect: with settling, some peace has been restored.

I think the lesson I have learned is to lower my expectations; to not want so much. Expecting, wanting… is dangerous: I’m constantly setting myself up, searching for perfect in an imperfect world, an environment that is hostile and violent. In this way: a house is never a home, a cafe not a sanctuary, a friendship insubstantial, a phone call lacklustre, a book empty, a song fleeting, a prayer overly demanding, a wish destined to be unfulfilled.

Days drag, evenings fly; sleep, a respite but not a remedy. My batteries run low. My mood crashes. My motivation drops. Standing in winter, cold to the core, I struggle to see ahead. Clutching at straws, forever pulling the short one, the runt: I survive, but only just.

Thankfully, today is a little better than the few that went before: Friday, Saturday and Sunday proving a chore. Moving depletes me, taking more than I have to give. There was a time when I used to court it, viewing a change of scene as the simple solution to the numerous complexities I am unable to fix. Now, I am wiser: experience has taught me that there is no out-running the suitcase, that problems also have legs. Like the Hungry Caterpillar from the children’s book: they run on many and they do not quit.

Grounding myself in the present, living for the day, existing in the moment and allowing it to be enough: so far, so good. I am not hurt. I am not injured. I am okay. Infinite pleasures can be found in the minutiae of mundanity.

Learning to trust in the bigger picture, stand straight and tall, keep doing and trying even when to do so feels impossible, is painful and hard. Just as breaking hurts because it surprises and shocks: so healing can be uncomfortable because it changes solid things. In clinging to the past, we might gain temporary respite, but only in the sense that what we know no longer hurts us all that much. Change is difficult, something that most of us shun, but without it the ‘now’ can never be that different to the ‘then’, ‘tomorrow’ nothing more than a replica of ‘today’. In order to grow, to gain: we have to allow that there will be a period of transition that might involve pain. Like childbirth: new life must find an exit, pushing itself down delicate corridors that would be more comfortable left shut.

On the outside, my body is growling in complaint, but inside a seed has been planted and asked to grow up. I try to water it and treat it with respect. A work in progress, we have good and bad days.

Tuesday, 3rd February –
Up early, despite wanting to sleep, woken by the clitter clatter of impatient feet. Groan, stretch, complain, sit upright; immediately become aware of my shoulders. Tense, tight, several inches too high, hunched and sloping: they ground me, pulling me back to last night – the ugly words, the heart that was broken, the head that was heavy and sad. I look at the floor and they’re still there: the words, the feelings, the pieces… lying in puddles. But then there’s the man, all effort and smiles, and I can’t stay mad or broken. So I forget and forgive, shoving it back to the place where I put everything until there is time and space.

An hour passes, and I am alone, padding my way around the flat. I find it hard to leave: washing, drying, dressing, cleaning, tidying up. I get trapped. I loop. Finally, I free myself. I celebrate, stepping out into the street: the peace and quiet, the unfamiliarity, still covered in dust, twinkling at me from beneath clouds that would upset Pollyanna. But I am smiling and okay and I’ll take that. Grabbing hold, I draw myself up the street – towards the centre, the dial, the heart. I’m smiling and I’m light, shining for now. I even spend minutes I don’t have buying a gift for my partner, debating over character and colour, design and need. Whenever I’m angry, hurt: I react with love, guilt festering inside. It’s something I need to work out: how to accept myself for who I am, what I’m capable of, what I have, instead of throwing it all out in the bath each time I encounter something I don’t like. We are all a mixture of good and bad. Good things can be bad things and bad things can be good. The challenge is accommodating it all, taking from each what it has to give.

Wednesday, 4th February –
After yesterday, today was a pleasant surprise – brighter, lighter, less intense; the temperature was also that bit more tolerable, which meant that places were warmer inside. I had energy I didn’t expect and I felt more positive, like I had reached the peak and was now free to descend. Or would it make more sense to say that I have hit and skidded along the bottom, bruising and scraping all manner of things? Either way – climb or fall, ascend or plummet – my face is healing and my glands have gone down, no longer causing me noticeable discomfort.

I go out. I sit and work. I meet a friend and we chat. We also make – her a scarf, me a hat – twisting and looping yarn with dexterity. Before I know it, it’s 4 o’clock and I have survived.

Feeling peaceful, I decide to go for a walk, simultaneously phoning my mother to catch up. I manage to remain buoyant throughout, even when talking about things that aren’t pleasant – like flats and moving and feeling unsettled and how the cold attacks my bones. Then, an hour left, I tend to my karma, giving money to a homeless man, thanking a shop assistant for her previous advice, spending time talking to people most people usually neglect. I make jokes. I smile. I listen more than I speak. I feel good too, or alright.

Thursday, 5th February –
Still feeling stronger, slowly allowing that the worst of it – the cold, the eczema, the stress – is over for now and I am free to move on, forging ahead into a better future, with more sky up above. And I’m trying hard to let go, removing all expectation, all hope and fear, all need, from where I will eventually end up. Life is too chaotic, too unplanned, too determined (at least right now) by external influences and events. I am not the master: I am simply the maid, and I do not especially like this. It’s limiting, restrictive, contrary to what I, individually, need. I know England is all about touching base with his career, reconnecting with old acquaintances and contacts, making a mark in a new field, but it’s important that I find a space too: attending workshops, taking courses, classes; gaining knowledge and insight, qualifications and skills. And I also want to make friends, reversing my previous almost complete isolation from anorexic to nourished. I never want to be that lonely again; as an experience, it was horrible.

Taking my own advice, I went straight to a cafe and wrote, fitting in an hour before class. Then I went to the meditation centre to continue my course in ‘practical meditation’, where I cleared up a lot of Tuesday’s confusion and learned about something called “The World Drama Cycle”, a concept that, unlike the rather bleak ‘karmic’ one, I liked. Entering with a medium-sized bounce; I left with a large leap.

And from there, it went downhill: the lack of a plan fuelling my discomfort. Why does it always have to be this way? Why am I such a chore, such a puzzle, such a tangle to figure and smooth out?

Friday, 6th February –
I feel like a mouse, stuck on a wheel; turning and turning, unable to get down. Life continues to evolve: the world revolving, slowly but surely. I get up, I go out, I go about my business. But what is my business about and what am I trying to achieve? The plans I had have disintegrated; in my hands, a crumbling mess. Picking at the pieces, examining them, holding them up: I seek with a view to find, but the glass is covered in dust. Why, in order to feel excited, motivated, not only to want to sit but also to settle and remain, must I constantly mix it up? Why the need for change when, elsewhere, I desperately cling – to things remaining the same; to nothing picking up and moving, to strangers stealing the rug? And is it just me; or is it this way with everyone the globe around?

I know the world is suffering and that we each carry a case. I know that most are overly full: a lifetime of problems folded inside. I know mine has run out of available space, that I either need another one or to attempt to take things out. I currently don’t know how: all former attempts disastrous, diabolical, hard to taste. I still have their residue on my tongue: mistakes and regrets, pain and anger, a bitter pill my stomach objects. Presently, there isn’t much I can tolerate, which is why I keep my circle small: a wheel in a cage, a mouse in a house, straw on the floor and cotton wool in the bed; toys, both hard and soft, scattered around… and me – long-tailed, whiskered – in amongst it all; my anxiety contained.

Today has been a bad day, not greatly different to all of the others; no better, no worse. I navigate it with ease because, although odious, it is at least familiar. I fantasise about when it will change, when it will about and turn around. I should also dream, but I lack the strength. Navigating dreams takes effort and concentration, direction and intent: things I do not possess.

On a physical note: tongue slightly better, sore but not cracked, not bleeding; eczema continuing to improve, now confident it will go away; foot weak, delicate, threatening to break, to do what it has done countless times before; nose cut, dry, bleeding, painful to touch; shoulders tense; stomach red, burning inside; mood delicate, confidence shaken, self-esteem low; tired, running on empty, ready for it to all be over now. This particular trip has cost me more than I anticipated, more than I prepared for. My reserves, already depleted, have all but run dry.

Saturday, 7th February –
Weekends seem to be the hardest, demanding more clarity and focus, more making-do and managing-with, than I am prepared for or have within me to give. I circle the flat. I spend hours getting ready, delaying going out. It’s wet. It’s grey. The day does not pull me. Neither does the question of ‘where to go?’ and ‘how many hours do I have to fill up?’.

Time drags. Anxiety bites. My mouth snaps. I am mean when I do not mean to be. I hurt what I want to have.

Walking off – anxious, alone – I pace streets covered in puddles, pass people in huddles, visit shops. Minutes collect. Hours accumulate. Why can’t I sit?

Eventually: a place, a space; heat… I sit. I work. I chat, a stranger providing temporary distraction from the things I cannot confront.

Sunday, 8th February
A space with a door and, inside, windows. A ceiling that is high. Radiators that creak and floors that complain. A sink that is screaming. A chain that won’t flush and a bath that won’t run. Lights that flicker and stop. A bed without springs and a chair without legs. Boxes and cases. A table that bends and a sofa that won’t. Blinds that are black. And in amongst it all, giving and trying, making and thinking, creating outside the box, a heart that is hopeful and a mind that believes.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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Cardboard tea and sleep that is slow in coming

Monday, 26th January –
Woke feeling positive, energised, slightly better: my tongue improved and my skin (the eczema – although still there, still bad) different, thanks to a new and totally organic cream.

Showered, dressed, cleaned. Went out. Walked for half an hour, feeling moderately positive, despite the rain.

Had a hypnosis session and left more relaxed, stronger too, comforted by the connection to someone real and the gift of their insight. Felt more heard and understood than I had in a while.

Walked again, losing myself in a network of streets – all the same, all vaguely attractive. I have a habit of doing that: walking, getting lost. Where I used to be like a map, able to navigate anywhere: new places, old places… of equal challenge, no different: now I am like a first generation Sat Nav, my details out-of-date. England has changed me, damaged me, taking things that were useful and important away. A shell, hollow and cracked, I remain close enough to a person in appearance to fool those who care to look but nowhere near solid or real enough where it counts. A work in progress, I come together plank by plank.

Focussing on the present, I try to embrace who I am right now, but it’s hard to love something so volatile. I watch other people, especially the young, and envy them their vitality. They are who I used to be in the ‘when’ that went before; the ‘what’ that was the ‘is’ in another lifetime. But even with nothing to show, with the pile of damaged and useless that remains, I have faith. Today is a good day and on good days I believe: in the point, in the reason, in the eventually ending somewhere. There is a logic to all of this, a line running through the narrative. In time, it will become clear. Like others who are suffering, I will endure with patience and strength. I continue my journey and walk until I am found.

I get to my afternoon without further incident, glad to have somewhere to go. Quieter than before, it’s peaceful, and despite a lack of confidence in my ability to communicate, I manage to interact. But I struggle to give to those who wish to have, retreating from arms that are horizontally outstretched. This is not a dishing out and mopping up day. I require all of my energy.

Evening comes quickly, impatient to arrive, and I meet it without resentment. A switching off, it signals an end to ‘me’ and a beginning of something different, a ‘me, a she and a him’.

I sleep well, the little one against my neck, her needing me grounding me in the present; wake rested but wish to remain flat.

Tuesday, 27th January –
A morning of tasks: Reiki, packing, cleaning and washing up – all good, all easy; one practice for the next step, the where I’m trying get to, the rest old friends, processes I can rely on to hold me. I don’t get why people hate housework: beneath the surface, there is comfort and peace, gentle therapy. But I am aware that I was also looping, stuck inside: the day and its demands, its lack of events, bugging me. There was also an anxious dog, pacing and whining. In fact, it was her discomfort that acted to dislodge me, and it was from here that I dropped.

Walking helped solidify my morning, as did a place to be, but I lacked tolerance, patience and strength. A queue at the bank, and I gave in to a growl: frustration at having to wait for 20 minutes, sparking a vocal outburst, albeit brief.

My class, meditation, helped put me back together again and even though I completely failed to reach the desired space, the quiet and the light, the golden radiance, I enjoyed the knowledge and the companionship.

After, I continued to walk, restless and unable to remedy, resorting to negative behaviours to placate the anxious parts; angry at myself for allowing damaging habits to intervene. Why, when I am trying to find and walk a better path, can I not commit? What is sit that pulls me backwards? Finally, good sense wins out and I find a place to work and write. Once planted, I don’t move, keeping my seat for 3 hours: moderately still, adequately occupied.

The end of the day and the streets scare me, full of aggression and rush. I flee into quieter spaces, worn and wrung out. I am ready for the conclusion: home, dinner, my partner and my dog, my book and its window into a place that is ‘else’. My neck and shoulders ache, have done so all day: something tight unable to escape. My foot hurts too, threatening to break as I walk. And my eczema sits furious on my face: a cluster of raised parts, itchy, upset and red. I feel unattractive and old. I walk with my head bowed, paranoia and fear resting heavily, pressing down, invading every cell.

I focus on what I have done, what I have achieved, and this at least stops my morale from dropping, venturing into dangerous parts.

Wednesday, 28th January –
Positive, because Wednesday is my favourite day, the day when I host my group. And, also, afterwards, I am having tea with a friend. Full days are good days, energising where others take; they comfort my inner child, encouraging the authentic me to come out. So, in spite of the rain and the wind, the early near-drowning, the arriving soaking wet, I am positive and alright.

My group goes well, even though this week it’s just the two of us. We talk. We knit. And as always, it’s curious.

Then tea and a great chat: honest and long, two-sided, me trying hard to help. This fills me up: I feel useful and strong(ish). And after, even though tired, anxious, aching in all of the usual places, nervous about moving in the morning and this being my last evening in a bumpy place that has, despite lacking a lot – furniture, light, peace and quiet – become home, I have a good evening, creatively inspired and relaxed.

I sleep well too, deeply and without the usual up and down antics that compel me to wake several times in order to pad barefoot to the bathroom and back. Putting myself first, pushing my guilt aside, I make my dog go to bed as well, relieving my arms from her body and its constant weight, a pressure which antagonises my rib, shoulders and neck. I dream, but what of I can’t remember: most likely anxieties about the morning and the turmoil it will bring; the end of my current, fragile status.

Thursday, 29th January –
My face aches, stings, is red: pieces of dried skin flaking, escaping, taking leave and slipping away. It has changed from angry to expressive to sick, and the journey continues: me wondering what, when, it will end. I’m unsure about what to do, whether to continue with the withdrawal, whether to trust in the advice given by a teenager over that of a GP. But I’ve been using steroids for so long and they are bad, I holistic things. And, besides… they didn’t really work. Which is why it’s back in full force with me trying to fight it.

Tuning in, sitting in silence within the relative comfort of a busy cafe, I attempt to communicate, asking the spots, the flecks, the weeping bits, what they are saying to me. They tell me that they are sad and disappointed, and also that they are mad and frustrated too: they have been sitting still for too long, waiting on a hundred ‘nothing’s’ to manifest.

And what of my tongue? That positively screams. On top of the ulcers, the sores, the cracks and the dents: I managed to actually bite it, impressing upon it two holes; their message clear: “shut up, silence, get back in your cage”. My speaking up, my raising previously modest expectations, my making demands, does not wash. Too much has happened for anything other than disaster to be declared.

But I carry on, determined, in spite of the obstacles in my path. Our journey is supposed to be hard; our road rocky and concealed: if not, there would be little point in our being here. In order for our lives to be valued, of worth: we must confront and conquer our individual demons, our bit to cleanse to the earth.

My dysfunction clings. Things cry out in the night. There are beasts at my door and animals in my house, bent on nefarious activity.

I slaughter the animals, one by one, feeding them to the beasts. I invite the beasts into my bed, ‘consciously’ killing them, making sure they are first surrounded by love, calm and unaware. Slowly the air thin and I begin to breathe. At first, only in short, sharp, breaths: laboured and painful, air wrapped in knives. But later – gradually, slowly – more deeply and with less conflict.

Meanwhile, my shoulders cut my neck and my back bends. My ribs refuse to heal. And as for my feet: they continue to disintegrate. But ‘it is what it is’ and it will either end or it will go on and either way – stop or play, cease or exist, persist: I will remain attached, like a limpet on a rock.

Picking up the keys: anxious, scared; I try not to overly anticipate. I have been bitten before. I have honoured false prophets, swallowed bitter lies. I have tasted offal and bile. There has been more bad stuff, more to dislike, than there has been to love. I love my dog and I love my partner, but I do not love my life: it has not been kind or fair; and neither has it, despite my continued commitment to it, been fun.

Outside the door: a struggle to get in, man pitted against lock. Then in: eyes wide, mouth open, in shock. Nothing has changed, or not enough. As I look around in disbelief, the tears arrive and my anger turns to pain. Fear wraps me in a blanket: I cannot live here. It is worse: worse than the nightly noise, the lack of privacy, the blinds that are always down and the mess outside, the tramps and the drunks… And I want to stay, where it is warm and safe, where it is known, where is is at least shiny and clean. The kitchen stares at me like a broken smile, ugly and garish, half done. I feel like I’m in an office or a student flat. The radiators remember a time gone by and have missing bits. The fireplace is cheap, naff. And the floor is so dated, so damaged, so old, there is no resurrecting it. All that can be done is to cover it with rugs, however many it takes to eliminate the underneath mess, its surface telling stories I don’t want to read, containing the imprint of lives with too much to tell.

Friday, 30th January –
Up early with reluctant feet. Into the bath and then out. Flat on my back on a bed. Pushed and pressed, pieces that have moved away manipulated back. Exit feeling fragile: things that hurt, hurting in different ways. Back to my parents, where I hibernate, waiting to feel well again.

Mind heavy, full of fear; scared to leave: unsure of whether I am capable of surviving it, the dreaded unknown of a new place and of managing to change my heart so that I might be able to settle there. Comforted by parental companionship and being one-step-removed, but aware that it is temporary, an escape.

Wait…

Tick… Time passes.

Eventually, an email: tied to an earlier promise; effort attached, closing the void. Call. Speak. Thank. Pack and prepare. And even though I feel weak, broken, unfit: I take my leave and get on the train.

Crowds. Noise. Discomfort. Clinging to cardboard tea and sleep that is slow in coming.

Then reunite; hug, kiss, walk: anxious and cold.

Find a seat, a bottle of wine, needles attached to a ball and something intricate emerging. Relax, unwind, smile, if only for a while. Delay going back, digging heels in.

Then a door, a key, and wood opening; me standing still: eyes shut, patiently waiting. Scene set, I step: lights low, music playing, radiators churning… Cosy. Impressed by the ‘for now’. So much energy and love, it’s enough to paper the cracks.

Make do. Cook. Sit and eat. Imagine it’s just for a week. Then read in bed until eyes tired enough to shut, mind sufficiently distracted to grant peace. Cling to body of dog, leg of man, deep inside duvet heat.

Saturday, 31st January –
Slept well, even though plagued by nightmares: people invading the apartment in muddy shoes, a bath full of pins, and my parents and various other less familiar relatives descending to gloat. But woke aching all over as a result of the Cranial I had, delicate enough to break. My face was also red, raw: eczema torment. I am trying to be patient and kind, to love myself despite feeling ugly: it’s hard, mirrors offend. But I refrain from judging symptoms I can’t help; my face does not mean to harm me: something beneath it does. It’s a root I need to extract.

Managed, eventually, to get up and set about sorting through boxes in order to hang and tidy away: figuring, if I’m going to stay, if I’m forced to be here for a while, I may as well try to fit; resisting will only further antagonise.

Braved the shower, survived, and even managed to laugh about things like using a brass light covering as a mirror to dry my hair and a dog bowl as a cup.

Went out in the rain, didn’t collapse, stayed practical and present. Sat down to work and caught up, easing the burden that has amassed.

Sitting in the present, feet fighting to stand, pushing everything else – the future, the past – away. Then, next, are dangerous, too many emotions attached.

Dreading Monday, being alone, but okay for now.

Sunday, 1st February –
It has turned bitter outside and the wind has teeth, invading the weave of jumpers and coats. My bones ache and I can no longer feel my limbs: arms and legs brittle sticks that snap. Side-stepping tourists and distracted commuters, guarding my body as best I can. The effort exhausts and I long to stop, pulling my outward inwards where it’s safe. Only there is no respite, not inside or outside, because of the things that glow white.

Last night discomfort joined me in bed; sleep was slow. But waking was significantly better: raw and itchy, flaky and soft.

The day drags and I fail to find peace in pursuits that normally deliver and even though I dread tomorrow and once more being left alone, I long for an end so that I might escape. The flat that on Thursday upset me enough to run away, now doesn’t feel so bad, familiarity blurring the edges, because, if nothing else, it has become my own. And can I afford to move again when moving demands so much, draining the almost empty, turning the upright wrongside down?

Telling myself: this too will pass.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

To keep up to date with my progress and receive a copy of my newsletter, send me your email address.

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Without stitches you just have rags

Monday, 19th January –
Feeling peaceful and positive, full of confidence and energy: a great start.

And I had an amazing day: talking to lots of people, both known and unknown; attracting conversations and connections from strangers, both on the tube and in shops.

I challenged myself and liked how it felt.

Tuesday, 20th January –
Anxious. Trapped. Stuck under a cloud. Unable to settle anywhere, familiar places as alien as previously unexperienced ones.

Had moments of peace in class: listening, meditating… but then drifted, aimless, getting progressively stressed. Felt weak and fragile, detached from myself.

Physically, I’m run down: the result of being overly challenged; events beyond my control demanding energy and space.

Discovered a blood-filled blister in my mouth: ugly, large. It scared me: I don’t like surprises. Planning to treat it with Reiki tonight. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 21st January –
Delicate, self-conscious; lacking confidence. Experiencing low esteem; lower than what I am used to and used to managing alone.

Spent a semi-pleasurable morning knitting with a friend, teaching and guiding her through the ebb and flow of a blanket. But then – afterwards, alone – the day dragged.

By evening, I was a mess: anxious, stressed, entangled.

My mouth, instead of improving, has grown worse: the blister making way for sores down both sides of my tongue. This doesn’t help the way I currently feel about life and about myself. It feels like ever since I hit thirty, I have been unravelling. I look in the mirror and my reflection offends: old and tired, ailment-sick. I am learning not to look too hard and to stand back. It’s one of the few times it helps to be long-sighted, further convincing me that, despite struggling to see, to navigate safely – up stairs, through doors, down streets… I am better off without frames. I am tempted to start wearing make-up and push the idea around in my mind: mulling, stewing, letting it sit… But it is so contrary to what I believe in, so ‘not what I do’, that I don’t know if I can bring myself to change that much: it would be a betrayal of self, an open acknowledgement that I am less. Or am I advertising exactly that in my refusal to conform, to attempt to master beauty? I know it’s what’s inside that counts, but I am surrounded by beautiful people and I feel like I don’t belong. Besides, I’m not all that proud of the inside either. A work in progress: me, myself and I still have countless miles to go.

Thursday, 22nd January –
Took the morning slowly: pottering around the apartment, cleaning, meditating, doing Reiki… Felt better. Went to meditation, which I enjoyed, and was able to participate. Decided to pass on all afternoon activity in favour of my other half: in hindsight, a mistake, as energetically we clashed. Thankful when the day was finally over and I was released.

Still physically rundown: tongue getting worse; stomach aching, burning, cramping; shoulders and neck tense; lower back tired, drained; feet hurting, especially the right.

Friday, 23rd January –
Felt noticeably better than yesterday, finally over the effects of the Cranial I had on my rib (the one the cheap massage before Christmas broke, the one in the Chinese massage parlour, the one with the small girl who took a flying leap).

Embracing it, I went for a walk in the sun, and didn’t die of the cold. Actually, I enjoyed it and felt happy to be alive. A first for a while…

Spent the afternoon with my sister catching up, celebrating her birthday; exploring Covent Garden arm in arm. Managed to be kind to myself as well as her. Enjoyed connections with lots of people, shining from within.

Later, I even stood up for myself, realising, profoundly, that I am often happiest alone, separate from known others whose energy – hard, aggressive, paced – has a tendency to clash. However, instead of happy, this newfound awareness made me sad me. It doesn’t bode well for my ‘home-sweet-home’ and notion of the future.

Saturday, 24th January –
Great morning pottering around the flat: cleaning, tidying, etc..; to me, therapeutic.

Did Reiki.

Went to another Meetup group (I’m an addict: the deprivation of the last two years making me extra determined to throw myself into anything and everything interesting while I can). Met more people. Made friends. Really enjoyed it.

Afterwards, became anxious: most likely hunger-led. Since the Attunement, my body has turned into a greedy child, wanting always to be stuffing, cramming… craving sugar and carbs: bad stuff; things that, previously (due to professional advice) have been banned. Succumbing daily, my will power weak: I continue to exacerbate what I should be attempting to fix and I’m not sure why. Am I trying to be nice to my inner child? Or am I seeking instead to sabotage the direction in which I am trying to go, stalling what is quite possibly the most important journey of my life?

Sunday, 25th January –
After a terrible evening (containing an argument, a breakdown in communication, upset and floods…) and an unsettled afternoon wandering, clinging on, agitated and anxious: today was actually a good day: meditation seminar, long walk, lots of writing and studying in a cafΓ©.

Felt more connected. More energetic too, believing that I have found something to which I can belong. I might give all of my possessions away and join a monastery or a temple, really devote myself. I like the idea: always have. Maybe that will fix the holes, enabling me to be here without all of the pain? Probably an idealistic solution; a rose-tinted remedy. Realistically, there would still be unhappiness: stubborn injuries, incurable ailments, internal malaise; big, existential questions without answers that suffice… Still, I can dream: zzz zzz zzz.

On that note: tongue still sore, stomach still burning; shoulders, neck and back, aching and tense; old foot injury back: rearing, biting; eczema a little better (perhaps?). Notice rib for the first time since Friday: still there, still tender. What a brat.

And yet: without stitches you just have rags. I am at least making progress.

by Rebecca L. Atherton

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