Got to take the rough with the smooth.

My requests this week to hang out tonight (Friday) from various people have all come back negative when I asked. Which should not really surprise me given that it is one of the first Fridays where things are opening up after lockdown and it’s half term AND people are seeing thier families and friends etc. What has surprised me is the hole of self pity I have found myself in. Normally I am quite good at avoiding them or jumping out quickly, but today that doesn’t seem to be happening. I’m worried that a year of being alone in lockdown and not bubbled might have wrecked my resilience to self pity, which I really hope is not the case. It’s so hard not to think “Another Friday night being a lonely, 38 year old widow. This is how it is now.” And it’s heart breaking. I’ve been so good at being able to not engage with it but right now everything is screaming it at me. Everything. “Come on Vick, what about the Lord?” I hear you say. What about the Lord? Yeah the Trinity are still with me and never leave me which I am grateful for, but as I have said before in my posts, they are not a physical human presence. I mean, part of me is cheeky and tells the Lord that he made me this way to need physical human interaction so he needs to sort it out, I try but people are busy and I get that, and I don’t want to be a burden to anyone or people be forced to hang out with me, nobody wants that. Forced hang out, yuck. The problem with self pity is it is too close to self confidence, cause once the woe is me starts then the ‘it’s because no one wants to hang out with you. You are not as funny or lovely as people have said or you think, who would want to hang out with an overweight loser like you?’ So where does that leave me now. Trying to crawl out the hole I’m in which I am going to attempt by having a shower, (why is mowing the lawn so messy or is that only me?), watching some crime detective shows and walking the dogs later on. Hopefully by then it will all have passed and I will be back to my cheery, adventurous self.

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One Word Prayer.

*Content Warning: Strong Language

One of the most heart felt prayers I ever prayed and one that I believe was instrumental in the change of circumstances that happened around it was just one word, a word that many would say should most definitely not be used in the setting it was….

When I was called to the hospital by the Doctor to say goodbye to my Dad, we went in the afternoon and he was so poorly, had lost a lot of weight, he couldn’t speak though he was trying too and he was in and out of consciousness, it was horrible. We stayed for a while and then (because we were told we could go back when we wanted at that point, they later changed the rules on us the following morning but that is a whole other devastating story..) later on I felt like I needed to go back to the hospital and sit with Dad for a bit. Because it was about 11;45pm the side door that we had used to go into the ward was closed and I had to use the main doors, this meant I passed the chapel.

When I saw the sign to the chapel, I thought I should go in and say a prayer for my Dad and my family. I sat for a while and there was so much in my mind, and I was so sad at how Dad had declined so rapidly and how it seemed the end would be in the next few days if not hours. I was desperately sad for our family after losing Paula relatively not that long ago and how my sister Keeley would be on losing both our sister and our Dad, who she totally adored completely. I tried to pray, but I was overwhelmed. Normally when I am overwhelmed I pray the Jesus prayer or a part of it, but even that I couldn’t manage.

I sat for some more and then the only word that came and that I said as a pray was ‘fuck’, being deeply ashamed at this point about what I had just said, I walked out the chapel and sat with my Dad for 2 and half hours praying for him and reassuring him that I and the rest of the family love him and everything was going to be ok. Literally from that moment on he started improving, he started eating again and became much more coherent, even thought the hallucinations were still quite severe, however because he did pick up we were able to move him out of the hospital which I know they were doing their best but were over run with Covid patients (my Dad had been one of those but asymptomatically), and they couldn’t look after him to the degree he required, and I know he was being unintentionally neglected…

I know this because when he got to the hospice he was so much better, they had time to give hi a shave and make sure he was wearing his pyjamas, he was eating and talking and had put on weight which was a blessing to see that he looked more like the person I knew and not some shadow of himself. It also meant that both Keeley and I got to spend time with him and speak to him, and while it was only a week at the hospice before he died and the day before he died Keeley and I had to self isolate as she tested positive for Covid, it still meant we had time we would not have if he had stayed in the hospital. I will forever be grateful for being able to sit with Dad and talk and read him the paper and spoon feed him some soup and trifle. Being 85 he was brought up not to show much affection or reach out emotionally but after the suicide of Paula he did start to, though it didn’t come naturally to him. I believe when we were alone one of the afternoons he tried to reach out to me about Mum’s drinking and leaving me alone to deal with it when they got divorced even though he didn’t quite say it in those words.

So even though at the time I felt ashamed at what I had said to God, in the end I think God respected my honesty with him. I think he understood I could not process all the things I had to say to him, and he took and understood what I actually meant from that one word. I am blessed to be able to see the mercy God had on my sister, my Dad and myself. And whilst the grief of losing Dad is really starting to hit home, I know its got to come and it’s all got to come out. I’m grateful I have started processing some of it.

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First post of 2021 and an non event that feels like an event…

I know I haven’t written anything this year but thats because my Dad died at the end of January and the build up was intense and then afterwards I have been focussing on trying to function and catch up with the lost work and college from January and February. Bless my Dad he really was one of a kind. Miss him terribly, so many people loved him. Some reflections on losing Dad: I didn’t realise how losing one parent would impact on my grief of losing my Mum in 2006 but when you have lost both parents it it is another ball game entirely. Mother’s day this year was one of the worst for me!. Obviously I have thought about John a fair bit too which leads me onto something else…

A while ago in one of my blogs I talked about how I had been looking down at my wedding ring and feeling increasingly frustrated as I no longer knew what it meant. I commented on the time how at one point it was the closet thing I had to John, but actually it no longer stood for being married to him in a present sense as ’till death do us part’ and all that. I am in a widowed young support group on Facebook and the topic of wedding rings regularly comes up and like most things it is up to the individual whether they take it off, when they take if off etc. I had assumed that just like my Gran who lost her husband young I would never take it off, especially since I enjoy wearing rings too, so would naturally just wear it regardless. I remember in the early days of losing John watching an episode of Lewis who had been widowed and someone asked him about whether he should take of his ring and he said ‘That one stays.’ However, today feels like the day where I will take it off. This feels like a huge event and a non event all rolled into one. Questions that abound to me straight off the bat is: What are you saying by removing it? Are you forgetting John by taking it off? Will you feel guilty by removing it. That one can be answered fairly easily as if what I’m saying by removing it is I am no longer married (which duh!) BUT I’m open to something or someone else happening then John would want me to take the ring off as he always said if anything were to happen to him he wanted me to find someone else. He would even try and make me promise but I could never even contemplate that at the time. I could move it to the other hand but it would need adjusting as its shaped to fit my engagement ring and I already where my mum and grans wedding rings on my other hand. I’m aware I might take it off for a bit then put it back on or off for a few months and then put it back on again and I know none of it really matters in the grand scheme of things. But do ever wonder if part of you is further on that you are and the rest of you needs to catch up. Hmmm… something to ponder about anyway.

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Hopes and dreams

It’s been a rough couple of weeks with my Dad, it would take far too long to write all the drama thats happened with him, but something has gone on every single day for 10+ days solid. My sister Keeley is exhausted and as Dad is now refusing all help, we have reached the point where there is nothing more we can do. But he is very unwell physically and mentally and frail. I am most distressed by this as it feels like a replay of what happened with my Mum. She refused all help and declined and then died alone, and it appears that is what Dad is doing too. I don’t think I can go through all that again though. Keeley has said we just have to let him get on with it as he says he doesn’t need our help and go and live our lives! Easier said than done though right? But all this has made me think, what does it mean for me to go and live my life? It’s quite a bit of a deep question really and one that could be answered in a variety of ways. Firstly it’s impossible to just forget about Dad and not worry about him, so firstly thats not gonna happen anyway. What I have realised however is since John died I have deliberately and consciously held everything very lightly, so that my hopes are never dashed. Whenever I feel I am getting too invested in anything or wishing or wanting something to really happen I immediately pull myself back and make myself hold it lightly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing cause as I have said before I am an ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’ kind of girl, so once I’m in I’m all in. What I haven’t articulated till this evening thinking things over is how exhausting it is to hold myself back from really wanting anything or really desiring anything. Apart from finishing my degree I don’t actually have ANY dreams for the future. How sad is that? Gosh, I could almost cry. It makes me wonder how fragile I might still be after losing John and that annoys me, cause I don’t want to be fragile. It’s a tiring thought for me. On one hand I am like, “Nothing can hurt worse than losing John, so bring it on! I have a deep resilience!” and then on the other hand I can’t even let myself hope for anything good to happen in case it doesn’t and it makes me sad. It’s a little crazy as I cannot protect myself from getting hurt, thats impossible and the nature of life is that we will be hurt. I’ve recently found myself wanting to have hopes, dreams, desires and being invested in things. And I’ve found myself wanting to throw caution to the wind and risk being hurt. I’m also aware that my life does feel quite open at the moment, like I could take it in whatever direction I want to. Not sure how based in reality that is though. I make myself laugh when I do let myself half wonder about the future cause I switch between ‘Life is short and we have to do what we have to do while we can’ and in the same breath, ‘Woooaaahhh this is the whole of the rest of my life we are talking about!’ Why am I so complicated? Why is life so complicated? Where’s God in all this? Good question. Sadly I have no idea and weirdly I’m not too worried about that. I think it is just the season I am in. Everything feels in the air (not just with me but everyone due to covid!) I just wish somethings would start to land, and I would start to have some hopes and make some decisions. Still, chin up Vickster, onward!

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Time, Rings, Tears and Things.

As I have mentioned previously time is such a strange concept this year. While chatting with my therapist last week we talked about how time is going fast and yet slow in equal measure. I cried a lot about John last week and mentioned this in my session. What I hadn’t anticipated was my revelation about how I have been thinking a fair bit about my wedding ring. My eye has fallen upon it a number of times this week, and I sobbed as I told my therapist “I just don’t know what it means any more.” This is such an alien thought to me. It used to hold more meaning than possibly any other material object I own, and so to find myself questioning its meaning only under lines my heartbreak over being widowed. I can’t stop thinking, “Till death do us part” and its has. Because of death we are apart. The marriage is over. Obviously I know this, but sometimes I really have to remind myself. So do I stop wearing it? Do I swop it to the other hand? What does it mean not to wear it? Am I in someway giving up on my memories of being married? Am I somehow denying what I had with John? What will other people say? How is it going to look? I don’t suppose it’s any surprise that the CEEC video that was released last week would stir things right up for me about everything, but I hadn’t realised how it would make me think through different parts of my life once again. My therapist said to me, “Well Vicky, like everything you do, I’m sure given the amount of thinking time you have in lockdown it will all have been well thought through.” I find myself once again, trying to hold everything in balance. I need to remember, things are not black and white. Things can be both/and. They can and more often than not, they are.

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The Struggles Real.

The other day I did something really scary. It’s something most Christians would never admit to doing. They wouldn’t admit it to themselves that they actually found this true let alone anyone else. After everything I have been through with the Lord, all the things that have happened in my 24 and a half years of being saved, it’s only now I have finally admitted this to God. It’s been coming for a while. But it’s reached its peak. It’s probably taken all these years for me to admit it to myself let alone God. A few days ago I came home after walking the dogs, I dropped to my knees at the side of my bed, burst out crying and I tried to say the words out loud, but for a long time I couldn’t. Even now thinking about it I want to cry. It’s so sad. And I so don’t want it to be the case. But it is. It just is. I managed through sobs of tears to tell God, that because He isn’t physically present, despite how many times I have claimed in public and through worship, actually He isn’t enough for me. Whether it is right or wrong that I should need a physical presence to keep me sane and ok, I don’t know or care, but God is not a physical being who can be with me (I feel like this is blasphemy just thinking it let alone writing it). He can not hug me when I need a hug. He cannot speak to me audibly when I’m lonely. He cannot provide the physical touch I need. AND I HATE IT. I acknowledged that I still believe in Him as much as I ever have done but I have to be honest. Technically He made me this way to be a tactile person and to need physical touch. Not that He is to blame for me not having it, but more an acknowledgement of that is how I am. I have asked Him kindly to be gracious to me. I’m grieved that I cannot find some resolve in me that God can be totally my everything, as I have sung and said many times. Honestly I have been worried that this acknowledgement might be the beginning of the end of my faith, and I pray to God it is not. The truth will set you free right? I did feel much better after I had cried to God about it. I feel better for having said it. Finally something that has niggled at me for years I’ve admitted. God cannot physically provide the touch that I need to be able to function at my best capacity and I don’t know what to do with that. I don’t know what admitting that means. Does it have to mean anything? I don’t know. I spoke in my last post about how I wondered what the effect of lack of physical touch is having upon me, I did not see this coming though. It’s a horrible thought for me that God Himself cannot somehow make that need go away. I don’t know what happens now. As I previously said I talk to God all day long but in another sense I feel I might have distanced part of myself from Him, cause I just hate the fact that He can’t “meet my every need” like is so often repeated. AT THE SAME time however, I recognise The Lord Almighty is not a genie to grant me all of my desires and needs when and however I want them. I know I am blessed to have shelter, clothes, food, a job, health and I’m grateful for all those things. If this is just “a season” then I’m sorry, its too long. I can’t do it. And if this is “a test” I’m sorry I’m gonna fail it one way or another. I know God is gracious and compassionate and will have mercy on me if, no when, I do fail and I don’t want to take that for granted or use that as an excuse. I also realise that I am so focused on me and my needs at the moment I almost feel like I’m teetering on the edge of hedonism. Maybe I am. This is not easy. I can’t stand it when I struggle with my faith, it drives me up the wall. As if I need this at the moment. As the tears fall as I write this..I know what I want….and it’s not what God can give me. Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy, You are the only hope I have.

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(Long) Snippets of the Vickster on the eve of Lockdown 2.0

I’m feeling the need to blog, however I am very tired, partly because I stayed up till 4:30am watching the America Election results and partly because of every other part of life since 2017…. so what comes out next might be interesting, might be total drivel….

Manchester hasn’t really been out of lockdown since March, unlike other parts of the country. This for me personally has been really difficult. I have had 3 hugs since 23rd March and I am THE hugger. Living alone and working from home at the minute means spending so much time alone that I sometimes feel I’m going slightly stir crazy at times. The lack of physical touch for someone who is tactile is excruciating. I often wonder what effect it is having upon me. Don’t get me wrong I am incredibly blessed to have my Yorkshire terriers and I know my mental health would be much poorer without them. But it is not human touch. It is not the tiny miniscule interactions with human beings. What I would give to hold someone’s hand. Just the thought has reduced me to tears. I also think this is having an effect on my focus, I thought it might be just that there’s loads going on in the world and living through a pandemic and my Dad being so poorly, but I’m more and more convinced lack of human touch is affecting my focus as well subconsciously. I have had to fast forward or turn the channel on TV when I see people hugging or kissing, cause I can’t cope seeing it but not experiencing it for such a long time. One of the books I pre-ordered back in the summer arrived and even though it is essentially a murder mystery it has been described as ‘ravishment vs restraint’ and honestly, most disappointingly, I cannot bring myself to read it…

Twitter, I love Twitter, honestly to me it’s brilliant. It keeps me occupied and interested in a whole range of topics. Granted like any social media platform it can be a horrible nightmare but I seem to have set it up well so I mostly miss a lot of the nonsense. Anglican Twitter..erm…moving on swiftly….

The latest essay I wrote even though it was sooo hard to write with everything going on and a lack of focus (I’m dreading writing one in lockdown 2.0) I actually enjoyed what it forced me to think about. It made me think through how women have been and are treated in different arenas in life. I got to read some good books and I also got to think about women oppressing other women. That is something I have never thought about before. Essays like this are difficult cause the answers are sooo big and things need to change so badly that little me writing an essay from her flat in Reddish seem of very little consequence. I am grateful for my theology degree though, its a source of inspiration and an anchor in choppy waters, and my college is beyond wonderful.

Last night as mentioned I stayed up to watch the US election results. Not a lot happened and even though I write this 12+ hours later no winner is declared and may not be for days and possibly weeks. Via the wonders of technology I got to “spend the night” with someone else as we watched the results from our own homes, and they were able to talk and explain everything to me. I really enjoyed it.

This week very unexpectedly someone new has jumped into my life. And really I shouldn’t be writing this, but also I feel it’s important to document it somehow…. though why I can’t just write it in a notebook on my desk I don’t know…. especially as my blogs not a secret… and they could read this….anyway, enough. I know if they do read this they will say this is a wrong reading of them but I don’t care, cause actually I think its the real reading of them. I think it would be fair to say there are not many people like them. They have thought a lot of things through. They help a ton of people. They are intelligent and funny. They are respectful and kind. I know life has hurt them a lot, but yet they remain open to people. They are a big deal in their area and rightly so. I have known about them for a while but actually knowing them in person for the last week I have learnt loads. I have been able to be completely myself with them even though we are relative strangers. They have confirmed things about me I have spent a long time wondering about. And considering there’s a pandemic on and we can’t meet for coffee and all the normal things you would when you were meeting someone new, it’s been good.

Grateful to be re-appointed as deputy church warden at my beautiful church but seeing as I haven’t been going for a myriad of reasons to do with covid and rules and the like, and now its shut for 4 weeks plus, it feels weird. I am missing church. I am a little worried about me spiritually because I am so alone, but on the other hand the Lord is all I have, He’s the constant one. I talk to Him from my waking minute to my going to sleep so… Granted a lot of my prayer life is currently manifesting through 90’s songs but my spirit is just connecting with certain lyrics so…

I was gonna have a rant about loads of things but honestly I don’t have the energy. All I’ll say is…no can’t even do it…too tired…. just be kind… thats all I’ve got.

So Wednesday 4th November 2020 eve of English Lockdown 2.0 what will the next 4 weeks hold? I can honestly say I have no idea whatsoever.

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A ramble of different things.

My Dad has been very poorly and was in hospital for 5 weeks. He is out now…apart from the hospital losing him for 2 hours over the weekend when they took him back in briefly. If I’m honest I don’t think he can live on his own any more. I try not to admit that but I’d be lying if I thought he was getting on ok, cause hes very confused, and I don’t think he is coping. The next few weeks we shall find out but that is not helping my mind’s focus on tasks. I did go and see my Dad on Sunday. When he came out of hospital last week I was very tearful that day as I was so relieved and so I was pleased I was getting to see him. I have been so worried about him. When I walked in one of his carers was there. I greeted Dad and then immediately introduced myself to the carer Dave, at which point Dad interrupts me loudly with “Don’t you (meaning me) dare speak to me about religion!” I was taken aback. I NEVER speak to Dad about anything to do with religion, cause I know he doesn’t like it. I dare broach the subject. I have never (and would never) tried to convert him cause the moment I talk about what I’ve been doing if I even mention anything to do with church he makes a hissing sound at me. (Once when I was about 17 he said to me ” Can’t you quit this religion business and just be like everyone else and smoke and drink?” and at his 80th birthday party just as the room hit a quiet lull moment his voice carried through it with “When are you going to pack this religion business in?” Thankfully one of his friends jumped to my defence as I was mortified with “Leave her alone, it’s not doing her any harm.”) He continued, “DO NOT talk to me about religion I don’t want to hear it.” Dave the carer looked stunned and embarrassed. I felt like I’d been punched. Dave the carer made a swift exit. I sat on the sofa and waited for Keeley to arrive. The air was uncomfortable. I tried to make conversation but Dad wasn’t having any of it. I love my Dad I really do, so to have him react to my physical presence in such a way was really difficult. Especially the amount of time and energy I (and the beautiful wonderful friends and people in my community and twitter community) have spent praying for him. I am doing my best to be forgiving and not be bitter about what happened. I know he has not been well and I know he’s confused, but that hurt.

I should be cracking on with an essay, but I am too distracted. Distracted by everything. The ridiculous events of the world in the current pandemic and the stupid situation Manchester finds itself in with being locked into an argument with the Government about what ‘tier’ of pandemic level restrictions. I honestly don’t know how that will resolve itself but its exhausting listening and watching it all get played out. I am excited about writing my dissertation proposal and I’m excited about the reading that is required for it, but I haven’t had the mental focus to do it. That is frustrating me. I’m really really tired. I either lie awake all night or sleep but wake up feeling like I’ve lay awake all night. Nothing I do makes any difference whatsoever. I have been very lax with my discipline of morning and evening prayer which probably hasn’t helped me as I enjoy the forced rhythm it gives to my life. I know this is going to sound woo woo but bear with me.. I asked the Lord a question today and he answered via Katy Perry lyrics…. surely not I thought. But then actually yeah, He would have to speak to me through that medium as I haven’t given The Trinity space to speak to me any other way the last week or so!

I also have a really good idea for a niche book, however, I wouldn’t be able to write it alone, I would need expert help. And I can’t tell anyone cause they very might take it and run with it. I know there is an audience. And as far as I know (well have googled) no one else has written on the subject… so I’m in a cul -de-sac with that.

I also have a new Twitter crush which this time I am not going to tell them like I did my last one….. (silly girl!). It will all come to nothing and I think is just part of the distractions…. but it’s made me think about my life and losing John and do I actually want another relationship as it will be complicated cause I’m widowed and I’ll never stop loving John and the other person will have to accept that and why should they, and how would I stop myself comparing everything to what I had with John… and on and on and on….. and then the low self confidence kicks in with what would anyone see in me anyway, I have nothing about myself, I have nothing to offer and on and on and on….

So I’m going to go back to my desk and try and read and write for my essay again with out letting all the distractions overwhelm me.

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A u-turn and a climb down.

A few months ago I wrote the following blog:

If you haven’t read it basically I am cynical and scathing about the video that was released by a coalition of Churches across the UK. I bemoaned the fact that people thought it was a great move of God….

Well… let me just say, some of the things I said I stand by. Particularly when it comes to who certain churches would welcome and bless, however, having just listened to it played by the worship band at my online residential course for my Theology degree, the song broke me in a way it hadn’t earlier this year. I realised that at this specific moment I need a blessing. I need to hear that God is for me, and many other people need to hear that message, most desperately. I could see at the time how it could bless people but I understand it more thoroughly now. Do I think it brought unity….umm no I still don’t really, do I think God used it, yeah I think He did and is. People need to hear that God is for them, cause so often they have heard the opposite of that. So does this mean I am not as cynical as I think? The jury’s still out on that front.

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I don’t know…do I?

This week has been one of those where I’m left wondering about so many different things. Have I got everything wrong? Do I know anything at all? What if I am wrong about certain things? What would that all mean? Since John died I have been uncertain of myself, but it would be wrong to say I wasn’t before he died. I have always been uncertain of myself. I have struggled with self confidence all my life, and what I have found this week is I have not come as far in that area as maybe I thought I had. Often I feel I am a walking bunch of contradictions. I think one thing and then consider the opposite and finish with ‘I don’t know!’ For some reason at the minute I can’t seem to ‘pin anything down.’ If you ask as me my opinion, I’m probably going to give you a unsatisfactory answer. Believe me, I am as frustrated by it as the people I am speaking to must be. I am so unsure of myself and I’m not sure (funnily enough!) what’s prompted it or where it’s come from. Or maybe I’ve always been like this? See, I don’t know anything! I really don’t know what I think! And may I add, its exhausting always considering everything, constantly and never reaching a decision or conclusion about anything. I just wish I could settle (yes my maiden name was Settle….its not funny). Or maybe I’m not meant to settle on anything but surely that can’t be right, you have to know what you think about somethings? Maybe that is what’s knackering it up for me. For a good few years I thought I knew what was right when I was happily married and life was good and then all that got up ended. What if it is fear holding me from knowing my own thoughts, incase when I do my world gets turned all inside out again and I’m left wondering? Suffice to say… I don’t know!

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