Husband seems to be working alot more this weekend. Either that or, now that the kids are back in school, the lack of family time is even more noticeable. (Or, even more probable, the fact he went to bed exhausted at 8pm last night when we were supposed to be ordering a curry is still making me hangry.)
He does meetings and writing and risk assessments most of Saturday- “all I do these days is ruddy risk assessments!” – while the kids play and relax and don’t really want to go out.
Meanwhile, I miss our Bubble. We haven’t seen them for 10 days due to busyness on both sides, and the rest of the family have made it quite clear they want their weekends back. But… I’m a little bit bored, if I’m honest. I miss having other people inside of our four walls. I miss being useful and I miss knowing I was helping somebody. Of course, nobody else agrees!
I clean the bathroom.
Spend too long on social media, read things I shouldn’t and then have far too much time to think about them.
Eventually, Husband is free to play board games with the Boy while I convince the girls to come for a walk. (Male folk reluctant). We play in the woods, splash in puddles, hang umbrellas from trees and I try and forget all of the horrible stories I digested earlier in the day.
God please, please make our world more safe for these little girls!
The kids jump on me and slam a tray full of breakfast on my stomach. The Boy waves a bag containing a decorated plastic cup, tea bag and biscuit from school in my face, whilst the Eldest explains the board game she has made and the Youngest unwraps a box of chocolates and presses it against my forehead. “LOOK!”
All at the same time.
All within 30 seconds.
After this whirlwind, they inform me that we can do anything I want today, anything at all, but I’m not allowed to clean or cook.
“Great. Can we go on a nice long walk?”
“Watch the Church service?”
Not actually anything then, it would seem…
I video call both of our Mums and, whilst we wouldn’t ordinarily see them on Mothers’ Day anyway, the distance feels a bit lumpier in the throat all the same. It has been a really, really long time.
Meanwhile, Husband has another busy day, rolling his eyes as he pops into the kitchen for coffee. “Do you know what I need to do a risk assessment for this week? Palm crosses. Honestly! Putting palm crosses into envelopes requires a risk assessment. My job is crap!”
Speaking of risk assessment my bored brain is going to some very dark places this afternoon. After the news that Sarah Everard was abducted and murdered by a serving police officer last week, and subsequent lockdown-defying vigils are heavily policed; tensions are running incredibly high in the UK right now.
(See, didn’t I tell you it was nice when all we had to do was pit Meghan Markle against Piers Morgan?! Seems like a lifetime ago!)
In the midst of this, a Facebook acquaintance adds me to a closed group where women are promoting demonstrations and sharing their stories of sexual violence. Which is timely and good and needs to happen, but… I shouldn’t be in that group. I would never have volunteered to be in that group. Due to some preview rules around friendly invitations however, I can now see everything. And I know I shouldn’t. I know my mind. I know that my imagination is too active and my anxiety will be triggered. But I am weak. And so… I read. Whether from compassion, or respect for those opening up, or a will to understand, or from morbid curiosity or some other deep need to know what really happens in other people’s lives… I don’t know. But I read everything.
Every shocking, unjust, unimaginable, heartbreaking detail.
And it is triggering. Of course it is.
And it’s not so much the things that have happened in the past that begin to haunt me; the couple of occasions where I have been followed and feared for my safety. It’s more the things that could have happened. I start to dwell on life pre-children, pre-Husband, pre-anxiety. The times when I was young and naïve and quite often stupid… the times when I trusted countless (yes, I admit it) men to respect my thinly drawn boundaries… and they did. The times I trusted male strangers – actual strangers- to take care of me, often (I admit it) when inebriated... and they did.
But… What if?! What if, what if, what if?!
The two most pointless words on the planet.
Still, I read all of these stories and think, gosh… was I just ‘lucky’… or were they all ‘unlucky’?
How can I know which my daughters will be?
And where does God come into it all?!
Heavy. Too heavy for a diary post, but today I feel too hopeless to write anything else.
I put something on Facebook, but regret it later. It’s not my place to spread darkness. But today, I don’t see much light.
I wake up and I am still thinking about ex-boyfriends and friends-with-benefits and other innocent could-have-been-rapists. (Gosh, I really was stupid back then! Or at least, a different kind of stupid to now…) My mind is so full of it that I almost write a blog of stupidity memories with no real purpose, in the hope that something profound comes out of it. Thankfully, I read this instead!
I mean, I still don’t understand why such awful things happen if “God is awake”, but for now I am just content to hand over my past and stop dwelling on it. (I mean, there are some very entertaining stories in there so let’s never say never, but certainly not right now!)
In other news, the books that the Boy melted down over last week are now such a big hit that my throat is sore from so much reading… which can never be a bad thing!
It’s not just a sore throat.
But it’s also not Covid, so I’m counting blessings. Nasally.
Gosh. One week back in school and they’re already bringing home snot germs! I feel rank.
And still wound up.
I feel angry that so many women and girls have been harassed and abused and assaulted, with very little justice to be had. And I feel hopeless. I feel hopeless because my own experience with men has largely been good, in that respect. There are some really, really good men out there. Lots of them, in fact. And so I feel hopeless, because what good would something like a curfew do? All that would mean is less good men on the street.
Besides… this 97% of women isn’t generally on the street anyway, is it? It’s domestic. It’s date rape. It’s perceived and accepted mysoginy. It’s systematic and underlying and toxic. It’s not so easily ‘fixed.’
And so my soul feels heavy and wrought today. Where are you, God?!
I listen to Lectio 365- a much recommended prayer and reflection app by the 24:7 prayer movement- and it’s as if a light-bulb appears above my head.
See, I am supposed to be a part of a prayer guard for this town and I haven’t joined for months. In fact, I am so out of touch that I didn’t even consider the Spiritual element in any of these evil deeds, atmospheres or environments currently raging around us.
C.S. Lewis writes of “the devils” that one can make two dangerous mistakes about “them”: to be either completely dismissive of their existence, or to be so believing as to develop an unhealthy obsession with them.
Me? I think I just plain forgot.
For someone who has felt a calling to intercession, that’s pretty abysmal.
Rank. Rank, rank, rank.
I sit in the car while the Youngest is at preschool; not because it is raining but because I feel far too ill to wander about on foot.
As usual, I have a bag full of books but spend most of the time with my head back and my eyes closed. The song “I Surrender” plays over and over in my mind until I give in and put it on; transforming it into a heartfelt prayer. I am so overwhelmed with hopeless thoughts and emotions, there’s not much to do but hand them over. This is all so much bigger than me, but nothing is bigger than God.
The afternoon is spent drinking Lemsip and watching Frozen with the Youngest, until we both fall asleep.
Consequently… the entire evening is spent trying to get the Youngest to go to bed. After which… the early hours are spent sandwiched between a sweaty Husband and a star-fished Toddler, because she came back into our room at 4am and wasn’t tired enough to put back quietly. My neck, shoulders and arms cramp as she wraps her legs around my head, muttering: “I love you Mummy.”
Such a range of emotions going on right now.
The Youngest and I are both tired and full of cold. I keep her home and we watch Frozen… again.
Or rather, she watches Frozen while I finish my book. This time it is Theodora’s Diary by Penny Culliford: which, although quite dated, I actually enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would! Perfectly put-downable, light-hearted escapism for those who remember life before the internet.
(Yes, I am reading a lot of Christian Fiction at the moment because, yes, I am growing rather interested in writing it!)
In the afternoon, the Youngest takes on a ‘Nurse’ role and goes off to get changed and make me drinks and ice creams and pizza and what not. Or at least that’s what she says she’s doing…
Husband’s day off.
It has been a heavy week and we are living in heavy times.
I have recognised- for the umpteenth time- that I need to dull some of the external voices and influences in my mind. And that is an uncomfortable realisation, because all of the issues being raised- not just this week, but this year- are incredibly important and it is not OK to be ignorant. I want to be involved.
But it is imperative to be self aware.
I didn’t used to suffer from anxiety, but I do now. I know it, I know what triggers it, and I have a responsibility to take control of it as far as I am able. I also know that it is partly down to a vivid imagination, and partly down to reading more and more words from this world and not enough of God’s Word, which steadies me. Yes, I am following my Bible-in-a-Year and intentionally engaging with it more recently, but it is not enough. It is not enough to put so much other stuff in there too that I allow it to be drowned out.
I cannot afford to be tossed about like chaff in the wind. I’ve been here too long for that.
And since when did I care so much about what other people thought and said anyway?
Since their opinions were available at my fingertips, every minute of every day, perhaps…?
It’s time to switch them off.
And I don’t mean to be ignorant. I will stay informed (within reason), I will sign the right petitions, donate to the right causes and so forth. But I cannot read every article, weigh up every comment and walk in everyone’s shoes. I just can’t. Lockdown, social exclusion, and disengagement from community living has us all cooped up and on edge, whilst we watch the world divide and pit against one another in multiple arenas, forgetting that we were all together, once.
And so while some were made to argue and debate,
And some have important things to say;
I think I was made to reflect and create.
And I know I was made to pray.
Know who you are.
And know that that’s OK.
And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus each day.