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.

Ladies, Luke and Lunch

On Sunday afternoon, around 40 women from my church, are going to be getting together and creating an audio recording of the book of Luke.

To say I am excited about this would be a bit of an understatement!!

This kind of came about because of me. No, it’s not that simple and so far from just me.

Last summer my church did a spotlight/focus group for anyone that was feeling disillusioned with church or God. Baring in mind my history – and my bewildering urge to step up and be vulnerable so others feel safe to share – I went along …

Long story short, I had coffee with a leader from church and I ended up telling a bit more of my story and trying to answer her (very familiar) question of ‘why are you still in church?!’

Once I explained I couldn’t read the Bible because it brought back too many memories from my childhood and the constant replay of my father’s voice in my head, she asked if I’d tried an audio version of the Bible …

After explaining that listening to the Bible read by a man was just a reinforcement of the “men are the final authority on God and life and you are just a feeble woman” message I grew up with, she challenged me to find a version read by a woman …

Numerous hours and frustrating clicks on my keyboard later, I found one woman read, second hand, audio version of the New Testament available for over $150, through US Amazon only.

I decided this had to be corrected and honestly? I was kind of surprised no one had noticed this gap before… I mean, how could it have slipped everyone’s notice that there wasn’t a female-voice audio Bible?!

Instead of heading down the route of crowdfunding, awareness campaigns and professional recording studios, I mentioned my plan to the amazing S who had first suggested I find this female audiobook. After one of the most spine-tingling ‘I’d been thinking the same thing’ moments ever, we had the plan I’d just dreamed of.

And so, two days from now, after notices and then an interview in one service and an interview still to come in the second service, over 40 of us women are going to come together and create what we believe is the first of its kind in the UK – a women-read audio recording of a book of the Bible.

I know I am absolutely not the only one out there who struggles with reading the Bible – for whatever the reason – and the number of any of us that would struggle to listen to it in a male voice can only begin to be recognised.

We still haven’t heard back and got the all-clear from the publishers of the TNIV, but I hope that this can be free to anyone that wants, or needs, to hear it, and can be given, free of any charge, to any organisations that seeks to heal and support anyone who has been hurt by men, of whatever gender, background or faith.

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.