Real Life

To the man walking down the street at 11:30pm, staring at the woman putting out the recycling collection, in her cheepo jogging trousers with a hole in the bottom and her broken Birkenstock-look-alikes, swearing when the lid fall off the shampoo bottle …

Yes, this is real life.

This is real life when you have the first physical sensation flashback you’ve had in years.

And you don’t do anything, your face remains the same and you carry on listening to your friend talking. You swallow the panic and the intense nausea. You space out but try and act engaged.

You call your husband when you leave and forget why it was you called him and what it was that was so important you had to call him, when you’d be home in 5 minutes.

You go home, even though you need to go grocery shopping, and one of the first things to leave your mouth?

‘Why can’t I even react to a flashback like a normal crazy person?’

You try to take a nap, but can’t – or you drift out of waking and dreaming so quickly you can’t tell if you slept or not.

But you go get groceries and you cook your husband supper. Because that’s what you do.

You push away thoughts you don’t want all evening. Because that’s what you do.

And then you remember at 11:30 at night that you haven’t put out the recycling for the collection in the morning. So you do it in your comfy clothes that don’t get worn outside. Even though they have holes in and you’re grumpy.

Because that’s real life.

When Your Heart Is Just Too Heavy

TRIGGER WARNING: This post talks about some issues that might be triggering, please consider before reading.

My heart is so very, very heavy and I have that aching tightness in my throat from needing to cry, but not being able to get out one tear.

I have read too many stories today of CSA (Childhood Sexual Abuse) and ChurchToo survivors. I have to read them – my heart demands I bare witness to their stories and hear their truth. But it brings pain – not just the pain that flows from their words and must be a daily part of their lives – but it stirs up my own pain, reminds me that the lid is still open on the well of my own experiences.

I also printed out almost an entire journal to read, that was recommended through the GRACE organisation – Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment. The journal was titled ‘Child Absue and the Chrusch – Prevention, Pastoral Care and Healing. I didn’t really read it as I printed, but my heart broke again that it is even needed in the first place.

Why am I putting myself through such tough reading, such constant exposure to horrible issues? Because I can’t just sit and do nothing. There are too many hurting people out there, hurting people that all too often don’t find the comfort they need within churches, and if in my battles to make people talk about these things more and have a gentle, loving response to survivors, I can help at least one person to feel listened to, valued and loved, through one of the most horrific life-experiences, then it is more than worth my pain, my heavy heart, my sore throat, my nightmares.

For now, my heart is too heavy and it has exhausted me. Sometimes seeing hope is nearly impossible and the mountain seems overwhelmingly steep.

So for now, I’m going to seek hopeful-oblivion in an afternoon nap.

Anxiety is Exhausting

Being anxious isn’t exactly a new thing for me. But I’ve lived with it a long time, I get familiar with the regular feelings of anxiety and it kind of melds into the background normality of my life – maybe not normal or healthy for most, but it’s become my normal.

I’m about to do something pretty big and pretty brave – watch this space for more details in a few weeks.

I’m very excited about it and am convinced it is the right thing to do… but it involves me being pretty open about my story, in front of two-services-worth of my whole church …

That is just one part of the project, not even the most important part for most, but it is the motivation behind it and without doubt, the most scary part for me!

So right now, my anxiety is screaming, rolling around on the floor and demanding I pay attention. As I said, anxiety is something that’s become normal for me, but right now it’s more than I usually have to deal with. The constant reminding myself to breath evenly; trying to ignore my fast heart rate when I’m meant to be sleeping; the tightness in my breathing and the pain in my chest; the feeling deep in my throat like I’ve been breathing in too much freezing-cold air; the constant effort to un-clench my jaw and relax my shoulders… it’s exhausting.

Not just the exhaustion from the physical symptoms, but the exhaustion from a mind that won’t stop whirling with possible scenes of the events, what the repercussions might be, who might not understand, what people will say – if maybe I have made some horribly big mistake and I shouldn’t be doing this or maybe even that none of ‘it’ ever happened in the first place.

Despite being excited for this project, despite knowing it’s the right thing to do, despite wanting this to be a first step towards more… my anxiety is trying to cripple me, and it is exhausting.

Feral Families 

So I responded to a thread on Facebook.

Not something I normally do. I know that it’s a more public forum when it comes to people you know in your day to day life. At least with blogging there is some sort of a sense of being a faceless person – or at least of being able to pick and choose who knows who you are … 

This post was talking about a documentary on Channel 4 called Feral Families. These parents had taken their kids out of school and were teaching them at home … or letting them do their own thing … mostly with a no-rules attitude. 

Someone had watched it and was surprised that they weren’t as adverse to it as they thought they would be. Comments followed from varying view points, but the biggest concerns seemed to be about the children’s futures –  would their lack of education and/or standard life skills be a problem for them when they were adults? Would they regret the way they were raised?

Enter myself. I am a grown up product of an alternative education. Granted I have had added religious and abusive factors which has affected not only the way my parents handled the homeschooling, but also my experience of it and how I look back on it now. But still I am someone that has grown through homeschooling, come out of the other side and can give an answer to those questions about what the future kids will feel – not the only answer, but a valid one none the less.

I’m not sure if I was overly honest, overly critical, overly supportive, overly biased – it is very hard to tell. But these are many comments. 

I decided to watch this program after reading this thread … especially as this is quite a personal topic for me. I was homeschooled from 3-16 and ‘left school’ with no GCSEs or A Levels, poor 11-year old maths and basically no chemistry or physics. I was one of 4 siblings and we only had 3 face-to-face friends between us. There was no way we would have been classified as no-rules, as it was a religion-based choice. However ‘schooling’ was a loose term and my education was basically down to my own efforts from 13. There were other complicating factors in my childhood, but I left at 21, have lived mostly-independently since then, have held down jobs and even got accepted onto a university course. Mostly by my own determination, but I was taught very good reading, writing, communication and reasoning skills. Will I homeschool my own kids? Not unless there’s some overwhelming issue that makes it a necessity!!

On the flip side, when I was 16 I started working as a mother’s help for another homeschool family. She brought in a tutor for the subjects that she didn’t feel confident she could teach herself and would drive hours every week to make sure her three children went to clubs and socials with other homeschooled and regular-schooled children. All 3 have since got multiple GCSEs and A Levels. No 1 has gone to a good university and now has their own flat and job. No 2 decided they wanted to do their A Levels at a local college. I have a lot of respect for the persistence and strength of the Mum. 

If you have read this far – thank you so much! I felt the need to present a bit of an insiders perspective of the story! 🙂

Having re-read my comment, it might sound like I am supporting this parenting style (although I can see some benifits – definitely not!). Despite my parents belief (and I think a widely held belief of the small number of parents who started homescholing in the ’80s) that homeschooling would set us apart and universities and employers would snatch us up because of the self discipline it would demonstrate, I have found this to be far from reality! To answer Jen Ann and Joanne Hall – yes, it has a massive inpact on the child’s future! Job searching has been a massively stressful and largely unsuccsessful mission. Eventually I have found jobs in childcare, where I have the most experience – thankfully I enjoy it! But not allowing your children to take the exams by which every educational facility and employer filters their applicants – disabling. And I don’t use that word lightly.

Thank you for responding! 🙂 I don’t advertise my background and I think that sort of answers your question in itself! I am more ashamed than proud of my unusual upbringing. As I said there were other complicating factors which I hope makes my experience abnormal for homeschooled/homeraised kids. I believe everyone’s past experiences and how they handle those shape the person you are today, so would I change that person? Difficult, but I’ve fought really hard to become the person I am so … no. Most of the time! Even at 8ish I was desperate to go to school and be like other children, so I think I would have been better in a more standars route. But each child is different and I have heard amazing stories of children flourishing from being at home. I felt that at the time of programming, the children were still at the age that *of course* they prefer being at home and getting to do whatever they want – what kid wouldn’t?! Do you regret it later? I have. I think a parent should look long and hard at the motivation for the choice and should put extra effort into thoughts of their children’s future, because have they taken on a massive responsibility or what?!