God of …

God of miracles 

I believe in you 

God of healing 

I believe in you 

God of peace

I believe in you 

God of justice 

I believe in you 

God of comfort 

I believe in you

God of hope 

I believe in you

God of life 

I believe in you.

Yesterday, today and forever

I believe in you.

A black Ocean.

A black ocean above, full of bright shining stars,
Beaming down on a life full of scars.

Vast vast skies of dark overflowing with light,
Seemingly unaware of the terrors of night.

Always lurking, never going away,
Even when you think they’ve been kept at bay,

Ready to creep in, ready to invade,
Always keeping you on guard and afraid.

The battles will continue on and rage,
Always wanting to keep you locked in the cage.

Hold on, hold on, don’t let go.
For never again will you go so low.

Do not be overcome, do not fear,
For hope has come, and He is here.

Starting to unlock that big heavy chain,
That keeps you held in all the pain.

Wanting to love you, hold and heal,
Desperate for you to see He is real.

One step at a time, moving in a new direction,
Allow yourself to come under His protection.

Rest for a while, and let the tears fall,
For He sees them and will catch them all.

A black ocean above, full of bright shining stars,
Beaming down on a life full of scars.

© Helen

There is hope.

First published at the end of October 2012 on ‘fragmentz’ (the blog I had before this one bit closed down to come out of anonymity) but I found it again this afternoon and felt I needed to share it. 

My understanding of Jeremiah is much broader now than it was but I still stand by that being an important verse and for many years I held it close. 

I still believe in hope, and I will believe in hope for you, if you are not able to yourself at the moment. 

You are loved. 

‘Most days I sign into here and I often glance over how people have ‘found’ my blog. Its often by googling something, and then they land here. And often the things people type are relating to surviving abuse, depression, church, mental health, self harm amongst other things.

Sometimes people land at Fragmentz by typing something like ‘is there hope …’. Is there hope for … a self harmer? A depressive? A survivor?

My response to those people is YES. LOTS. And I really hope by stumbling across this blog that those people who are typing those things are able to find hope in this space.

And that those people are also able to find hope in the life they are living.

Because there is hope. Maybe it is small grains of sand shaped hope, and maybe it might be something bigger. Maybe it is something very quiet, or something very loud.

But however big or small, quiet or loud there IS hope.

Whatever it is you are facing, whatever storm you are in the middle of, keep hanging on to hope.

If you are unwell with depression or other mental health issues: there IS hope.

If you a survivor of abuse and/or rape: there IS hope.

If you battle with self harm: there IS hope.

If you struggle with suicidal ideations: there IS hope.

If you are fighting to stay above the water, for whatever reason: there IS hope.

I believe this for you, if you are a Christian. I believe this for you if you are not a Christian.

However some of the searches people have typed and found my blog with, related to battling issues and Jesus. I truly believe Jesus still loves you, whether you are depressed or not. Whether your self harm or not. Whether you battle with God or not. Whether you are a survivor or not.

He loves you. And has a hope and a future for you.

One of the most important bible verses when it comes to hope, and my own life, is this:

Jeremiah 29 verse 11 –  ‘I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for’ (The Message)

Please know, wherever you are, whoever you are and whoever you believe in,

you are precious. 

You are valuable. 

You are beautiful. 

There is a hope. 

There is a future. 

As I sat writing this blog, the last verse of a poem I wrote called ‘The Whisper’ came into my mind. It is this :

As the years pass by, the scars never go, but begin to get lighter
She sits down, and watches life go by, and the sun getting brighter
And as she confronts all of the things in her life she fears
In the stillness the previous whisper of ‘I love you’ is all she hears.

I dont pretend there is an easy way for life to happen. There isnt. Life is tough. But please know and live in hope that brighter days can exist. That even though the memories never go, they can be lighter, things can be brighter.

Please know you precious, your are valuable, you are beautiful. 

You are loved. Loved. LOVED’

11 years later and this is me …

I dont know how many of you have been to see ‘The Greatest Showman’?
I have, twice, and really must get hold of the DVD. Its my one of my favourites.
As I write this I am listening to the soundtrack.

The iconic song from the film by Keala Settle, and album has partly inspired this post which I almost just called ‘This is me’ which I have on repeat right now.

However with it being 11 years tomorrow (or today depending on when I hit publish) , the 20th August it felt apt to bring the two together.

‘I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are’

The lyrics to this song are so powerful and I relate to them massively.

My life changed forever on the 20th August, late afternoon, walking past a building site I had walked past SO many times before.
It took me on a journey I had no idea about. The journey of being a victim. A rape victim.
I had no idea what to do, how to be, how to move forwards.
I just put one step forwards at a time and some how managed it.

Looking back there are things I wish I had done differently.
I wish I had told people, my friends, especially those in London who had no idea and no idea why I suddenly moved after deciding to settle there.
I wish I had told my Mum instead of feeling this fierce sense of protection for her, and not wanting to expose her to my mess.
I wish I had found other ways to cope without drinking and self harming, and trying to die a few times.
I wish what had happened hadn’t happened.

But it did and at the time despite now wishing I had done things differently I have found peace with the fact that I did the very best I could at the time to survive.

I’ve learned that by doing just that, my very best over the years, I’ve changed.
I’ve changed from being a victim to being a survivor.

For years the darkness was present and often overwhelmed, as did the thoughts, the ones in my head that told me I needed to hide, to hide who I was and my feelings, because no one wanted to know or cared, or wanted me, this person in ‘broken parts’.
I spent years being ashamed of both my physical and mental scars.

Yet, somehow deep in my soul was this ability to not be totally grounded down to dust.

‘But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious’

I was fragmented, lots and lots of different fragments (hence the name of the anonymous blog I wrote for many years which many many – more than I ever imagined people read) but I wasn’t dust, and I started to find my ‘place’.

A place to be, and belong, in life. Not as an anonymous person hiding behind my stories.

As me, Helen, the survivor.

As me, Helen.

I am bruised, for sure but I am also who I am meant to be.

I’ve learnt to laugh again, and love again, and find joy in life again.
I’ve learnt to let people in, to accept support, to accept I am who I am, and that is who I was and am meant to be, shaped by my experiences but not beholden to them.

This last year in particularly I have learned to embrace being a rape survivor as part of my story. It isn’t all of who I am, but it is a part of who I am and that cannot be changed.

Last year, at the 10 year mark I had decided to stop ‘marking’ the anniversaries as such, and as it has drawn nearer I’ve realised by doing that it feels like I am erasing that part of my story. Which I don’t want to do. The date is seared into my memory and I’m not going to just not talk about it because I want to ‘forget it’. That will never happen.
Having got this far, to this point, of acceptance, I am not now going to erase it.

So here I am, marking the 11 year mark, with writing something.
Tomorrow (or today depending when I publish) I shall spend the day cooking for a weekend away with friends, and a cuppa with a friend.
I shall have some time reflecting.

I shall also, in my head, and maybe verbally who knows, shout ‘screw you’ to my rapist, and his friend who was there.
Screw you because you didn’t beat me. And you have not silenced me.

Physcially maybe, and mentally for a bit sure, but overall?

No … so SCREW YOU.

‘I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me’.

Those of you follow me on Twitter and social media (although I’ve been pretty quiet blogging wise lately as I’ve dealt with the physical health issues I’ve got going on) will know I’m pretty passionate about talking about sexual violence and violence against women.

As part of that I sometimes share my story. I know some people think I’m mad … and some people wonder ‘Why’ I put myself out there in that way …

Well …

I do it because I am not afraid any more.
Im also not afraid (and never have been) of what people think of me.
I genuinely dont care. If people don’t want to read what I have to say, they don’t have to, (although I hope people do!)

People with voices and the ability to speak out need to be seen and heard.
It is 2018, and despite the successes (?) of online media campaigns such as ‘Me Too’ society still needs to see and hear survivors of sexual violence.

It is 2018 and stigma still exists.
Prosecutions and convictions are abysmally low and victims/survivors are failed every day across the country by local services and police.

So we have to, if we are able, speak out and challenge and bring about change.

I also do what I do so other people know they are not alone.
Being a victim of rape, or any sexual violence can leave you feeling incredibly alone and isolated and I spend a lot of time in contact with other survivors who find life hard, supporting them as a friend, and as someone who understands.

So I hope by beating the drum loudly if just one person knows they are not alone, and that someone out there cares, then it is worth it.

I’m thankful for the women who went ahead before me, beating  their drums, mentioning in particular the rather amazing Jill Saward who was a forefront campaigner on this stuff, and a close friend, who personally taught me so much. We miss you Jill.

So, here are , 2018 and its 11 years on for me …

I am happy (apart from when the health stuff gets bad)
I love life and living.
I’m loud, bubbly, outspoken, fiery at times, passionate about Jesus; and loving people,
I’m not where I ever thought I would be BUT I am where I am meant to be, and its a huge privilege to be able to use my experience to support others.

I am Helen, and 11 years later this is me.

29063309_10160238079410615_8169116908973457408_n.jpg

This Is Me – Keala Settle

Kintsugi – Beauty in the brokenness and God.

(Originally written by me for Thorns and Gold – Tanya Marlow’s blog in Sep 2015)

I never knew life could change totally in just the space of a few minutes.
But it can and it did for me.

I’ll take you back a bit, to that day. Just over eight years ago.
I was walking down the street. Two men were standing at the end.
Not long later I was left in the corner of the building site wondering why they hadn’t killed me.
I had no idea in the moment that there would be many times over the next year where I would wish I was dead.

Life had not been easy beforehand anyway. I had tried to compartmentalise. I had tried to block it out. I had tried to ‘move on’. It wasn’t so easy. But I managed. I built walls. I became ‘tough’. I didn’t let the world scare me. So much so, someone once told me I had a heart of stone. I didn’t. It’s always been quite soft, I just had to protect it. But that day I could not protect my heart, or myself.

I was left feeling like I was nothing.
I was left unclean. Stained.
Used and abused, discarded like a rag.
It was brutal.

I was broken. Completely broken.
Shattered into thousands of tiny pieces.
Fragments.

After that day, the day I was raped, nothing was ever the same again and I did the only thing I knew how to, in order to survive. I closed ranks even more. I moved away from the area within weeks. Left the community I was part of, and went ‘home’ to the one I had grown up in. I didn’t tell anyone, for a long time.

I lost control. I drank. I smoked. I self harmed. I tried to kill myself. Twice.

But whilst standing on the bridge that I was ready to hang from, in an effort to make my second suicide attempt actually work, car headlights passing by stopped me, and a tiny flicker of doubt crossed my mind.

It was the last time I was to try and die.
And as the morning dawned the sun brightly seeped through the cracks of my black out curtains and flooded into my bedroom I decided I had to try and live.

Hope – the size of a grain of sand, so small I could hardly see it, though its quiet whisper I could hear – entered into my life.
Unknown

That was seven years ago.

Fast forward to September 2015. Now.
Sitting in the garden, watching stars and writing. And thinking about how life changed yet again for me in 2013 when I discovered gold.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of using gold to fill cracks in broken pottery, or to weld together broken pieces. The object is then seen just as beautiful as before, if not even more beautiful.
Beauty is found in the brokenness.

See, once upon a time I had known Jesus. I had known He was good. And He was love. But after that day I couldn’t believe it. I used to think I wasn’t a Christian any more. I used to tell people I wasn’t one, but the truth is I was. I did believe. I just hated God. I was angry.

Until, through a series of what I can only call ‘holy moments’ I met Him again, and He became my gold.
I reached out, and He reached back because although I ‘wandered away’, He had never gone anywhere. He had been there all along, and was still there.

He was there, in the darkest of dark nights.
He was there when my light went out.
He was there when I lost all hope.
He was there when I screamed, swore and sobbed.
He was there when the tears fell behind closed doors, so no one saw.
But He saw, because He was there. Right there.
Weeping with me. And He has wept with me since.

Over the last 24 months as I’ve lowered the walls, and allowed the gold to run through every part of my broken shards I’ve discovered more and more where He was. And where He is.
He was there, and He still here, with me now.
Weeping when I weep, but also smiling when I smile, and laughing when I laugh, which are all things that as life is being breathed back into my soul I am learning to do again.

And I’ve discovered that this gold, this vibrant, extravagant, powerful gold that is God is restoring my soul.

I used to think the word restore meant ‘to return to its original’ and thought it was not applicable to me, and that it never would be. I could never be restored back to my former self.

Yet I’ve learnt ‘restore’ can also mean ‘to bring back to health, good spirits’.
Kintsugi does not make something to be exactly the same as it was before. It restores something back to good health, with its visible gold.

And so restoration with God does not mean I am being restored to look exactly how I did before.

I am still being restored. I am being brought back to life.
My soul, my spirit, my heart that was left so cracked is being ‘filled’ in. I am being pieced back together again, to look a little bit different to before, but with just as much beauty running through, if not more.

I have discovered the beauty of gold in my brokenness.
I have discovered the beauty of God in my brokenness.

Smear Tests and being a survivor – #SmearForSmear

Roll up roll up … according to Twitter today, having a smear test is quick, easy, and nothing to be embarrassed about.

Apparently research has shown that women are too embarrassed to go for a smear test. This is being tweeted about today under the hashtag #SmearForSmear – a campaign which encourages women to post selfies of themselves with smeared lipstick on. Its to highlight that the number of women going for their routine cervical screen testing is falling.

The hashtag has been trending all morning, and all you have to do is have a quick look to see the mass consensus – that there is nothing to be ashamed of, that there is nothing to be embarrassed about, it doesn’t matter what your ‘lady garden’ looks like or doesn’t look like, that its quick, that it could save your life, that the nurse has seen it all before,  that its worth it and so on.
All of these things are true.

Except the ‘its easy’.

Because for many many women, it is not easy.

What isn’t being talked about is that for A LOT of women, having to book an appointment with someone you may have never met, having to go and undress your lower half and lay on a table exposing your self while said person probes and pokes around down there as you wonder where to put your hands, or what to say to them is far from easy.

It is 2018, and whilst numbers of women going for their smear tests are seemingly decreasing, the number of women who are victims of child sexual abuse, sexual violence and rape is on the increase.

‘Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that’s roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour’ (taken from Rape Crises)

That is just one statistic, in the UK – of women affected by rape. That isn’t including any other sexual assault or violence or statistics about women who have been abused as children. I don’t know where to begin with finding out those kinds of numbers but be assured, it will be phenomenally high.

Yet it isn’t really being talked about in relation to going for cervical smears.
There is just a small handful of us today tweeting about the impact being a survivor can have and how it can make something that is ‘easy and quick’ for some a traumatic nightmare for others.

Last year, I had to start some chemo based drugs to try and get on top of some autoimmune problems I am living with. In order to start the drug, I had to have a recent (and clear) cervical screening. I remember when the Consultant told me. I froze.
I asked if there was any other option, any other way around it. There wasn’t, apart from not having the treatment, and then there were no other options after that either.
So I had no choice.
Something I had avoided for years, and years, and more years, had come up and I had to have it. All the pieces of paper in the post I had ripped up, all the conversations with my GP saying ‘no’ came to an end.
I booked an appointment with a nurse I had seen once or twice, to have a chat. We made a plan, which included a double appointment, taking a friend, and diazepam, lots and lots of diazepam.

I made it. She was lovely (I am lucky – not everyone has that experience), and being stoned off my face helped.

BUT I still felt as if I had been re violated. As much as my mind told my brain it was fine, it wasn’t fine. I had flashbacks of the procedure, AND of my trauma. I had nightmares. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t want to see anyone. I hibernated, and hid away from the world. I stopped going to church, and talking to people. For weeks and weeks and weeks.
And I couldn’t tell anyone why. I felt silly, and stupid but however hard I willed, I couldn’t stop my brain from working the way it worked.

I was able to move forward from it eventually, but it took some time, and the test came back clear and I was able to start the chemo drugs.

I am pleased I had it done, because it needed to be done. I am pleased I was able to move forward from it, and hope the next time it might be less traumatic. But who knows?

When it comes to being a survivor of sexual violence, we live life doing what we can – to survive. And we live life dealing with whatever is thrown in our way and however our brains decide to behave on any given day. We have no control over it often.

This also affects women who have experienced trauma in other ways, such as traumatic child birth delivery.

It is important that the voices talking about sexual violence and trauma and how it affects having a smear test are not ignored.

It is important my voice is not ignored.

I want there to be proper conversation, research and consideration about the issues around this.

I want the shaming of women who are not able to go for a smear test easily to stop, and for people to be aware and more considerate of the real issues, including the ones I have mentioned, and how the ‘being embarrassed’ thing doesn’t actually cover it properly.

I want women to be able to access having smear tests knowing that their issues and concerns have been taken into account.

I want there to be change.

Its 2018 – surely its time?

‘Me too’

I feel so privileged to introduce you to my amazing friend, Jennifer, who is going to be blogging here.
I am in awe of her strength and character and this post, her very first blog post ever shines a light on those traits. I’m looking forward to being able to publish more of her thoughts in coming months. Why not have a read and let us know if anything resonates with you?
When I first read this post it bought tears to my eyes … we all need that ‘me too’ but what do we do if we cant say it? 

The all Inclusive, “Me Too.” by Jennifer Bowater

I’ve recently been introduced to two little words with a lot of meaning.

These two little words are an ethos if you like of a beautiful friend of mine that is working with a collective of women writers with the outlook of championing each other on. (You know who you are!) It’s because of her that I have recently searched the countless encounters of my life for my “me too” moments and discovered that they were few. These are my thoughts as to why and in writing and exploring these thoughts I hope I can change the future of my “me too” moments, and possibly yours as well.

Like I said above, I personally haven’t had very many “me too” moments. My life hasn’t been exactly relatable. My childhood was pretty broken, as were my teenage years, and my struggles into adulthood and entrance into motherhood were very different than a lot of people around me. Because I couldn’t join in with the “me too” moments, I found myself becoming isolated (partially my own doing of course). I’m actually an introvert (shout out to the INFJ’s in the room) so it was mostly ok, but also it was detrimental to my mental health.

In those rare times I was willing to share my early motherhood days with others, (which feels like eons ago now) I wish I could have heard and had more of these precious “me too” moments. Or at the very least, I wish I heard more praises being uttered than criticisms. Above all, I wish I had praised more than criticized.

All too often though, I think we inadvertently shame each other for doing a good job, or for being able to do something we possibly didn’t have the time or space to do ourselves, or for achieving beyond the (sometimes supposed) chaos of family life. Did you ever wonder if that “chaos” didn’t exist for everyone? Is that ok to ask? Gosh I hope it is, because I know the loneliness and self-loathing that the lack of apparent chaos brings. That sounds backwards doesn’t it?

So, self-deprecating became my best friend and one of the only ways I could relate to a lot of my peers. Over time, that has a real effect on your self-esteem and the value you place upon yourself. I know this because that is precisely what happened to me.

I think this is probably a good time to give you a little insight into who and possibly, why I am…

Firstly, Hi, my name is Jennifer Bowater and I’m a serial organizer. Ha! (I’m also an American living in the UK…you may have noticed by some of my spellings.) Basically, I control my environment wherever possible.

I love (NEED more like) routine, I thrive when presented with a challenge, I’m naturally an ordered person, an introvert and a fighter (for myself and others, I am a lover of Justice), and I know my inner-self pretty well…probably from all that introvert-contemplating I do. 😉 

These seemingly good qualities are mostly the result of, shall we say, an unconventional upbringing. We were on the run from the police as a family for a few years, which ended when my father was finally caught and imprisoned when I was nine. My mother then hid from her responsibilities and essentially gave my brothers and me up. I eventually acquired my own juvenile (jail) record and sought drugs to ease the pain of life. That’s the condensed version anyway. Ultimately, I had to take care of myself from a very young age…and I didn’t always succeed. So as you can imagine, these experiences have shaped me. I was fortunate enough to have some good people come along in my life and I had a catalyst moment that changed my narrative. (But that’s a whole other story or two, for another time.)

So, in a nutshell, I control my surroundings to keep myself safe and to keep my anxiety at bay. Or, I do these things because I’m driven by my anxiety? Hmmm, it’s a conundrum. And It’s probably only natural that my parenting style and general “adult-ing” would very much be a by-product of the life I’ve had and survived thus far. Everything in it’s box.

Again, not exactly a tale many people identify with, ergo, no “Me Too”. Every characteristic or trait I have is for a reason and consequently has a split personality. #TheGood and #TheBad. Luckily, I have recognized this and those VERY FEW (I’m an introvert remember) people close to me have as well. It’s a classic case of your strength is also your greatest weakness and vise versa.

All that to say, I’ve had a revelation about this “me too” business…

It might not always be possible for us to say “me too”. Our experiences in life can differ so greatly from one another that we may find it hard to connect or to find that common ground, and that’s ok, because I also realised that we CAN ALWAYS say “me too”. “Me too”, to the mere fact that we are fellow humans, that we are fellow humans with untold stories and backgrounds, with flaws AND with downright beautiful strengths (and a whole plethora of stuff in between).

And I just wonder ever so quietly if “celebrating” (too much) of each other’s mistakes or perceived failures is all too easy sometimes. I mean it’s an awfully big challenge to celebrate someone’s brilliance instead, isn’t it? Especially, if it’s in an area we ourselves may struggle to come up top trumps, but can you imagine what will emerge when we put our insecurities aside to lift up another? Not just for the other person’s sake, but for our own sake too.

So, today (and hopefully everyday) I say “me too”, but in a different way, and I promise to celebrate with you, not just commiserate. I promise to praise you even when it’s difficult for me to do so, because that is where my heart really is. 

And the next time I find myself unable to say “me too”, because I may not have been there yet, I will listen, I will be present and I will be real. I will keep my promise. Whatever that may be, I hope I can do the right and just thing for that very moment.

healing, hope and Jesus.

Its been a while since I last wrote something …

In fact over a year, and part of me has wondered over the last few months whether or not I have lost the ability to write. Or whether I’ve just lost confidence.

You can let me know after you’ve read this maybe?

I’ve been working on some thoughts for quite some time now and have never actually managed to feel like I had sorted them enough to publish for people to read – thats if I still have any readers! Anyone still out there?

And then I realised over the last few days especially, that perhaps I am never going to have them ‘sorted’.

I’ve also struggled with pressuring myself about the fact that I felt this stuff should be/needed to be ‘deep’, and theological and and and … but maybe they don’t need to be, and maybe they are just simple ideas and maybe some simple truths that don’t need over complicating right now, if ever?

So, healing … why has healing been on my mind ALOT lately? Good question! And where to start? Those of you who were regular readers or who know me will know that my health has been difficult lately.

I had no idea when my respiratory system first went kaput that it would have such a big impact … I mean, don’t get me wrong, asthma is asthma, and brittle asthma can be really cruel, and I’ve nearly seen Jesus much quicker than planned on a few occasions, but I thought it was liveable with, that it didn’t need to change my life too much.

I had no idea what was to come (story of my life eh?) …
I had no idea that 4/5 years down the line my health would have gotten worse in so many other ways.

See, the thing is, the day I had my very first full on asthma attack I didn’t know at that point that some kind of switch clicked in my body, and that a few years later it would have gone into full autoimmune mode where I am allergic to the world and where lots of different things don’t and won’t work properly in various difficult and dehabilitating ways.

I definitely didn’t know that I would end up on 21 tablets a day, taking them four times a day, before pain relief and that life would become a constant merry go round of hospitals, doctors, treatment and long term toxic medication to try and get on top of it and get my immune system to stop attacking itself/my body.

I didn’t know I would have lost my job, and 18 months later still be unable to work, because some days I can’t get out of bed, or some nights I can’t sleep for one of a hundred reasons making mornings a nightmare, and that I would need a cleaner (a godsend!) because some weeks my body is so sore just hoovering or washing up is hard work. I didn’t know my brain which could be sharp at times would often descend into a haze where I couldn’t remember what I  was doing, or saying, to the point of stopping mid sentence sometimes and forgetting where I was at.

I didn’t know that all of this was going to impact my mental health so significantly, so much that sometimes I don’t go anywhere because I cant make my brain believe I should leave the house.

I didn’t know how much I valued my health until suddenly I didn’t have it anymore.

And then I had to think about healing in a different context. In the context of physical healing. I had to start thinking about and acknowledging the concept of God healing or not healing physically because so far my journey has been FULL to the brim of healing mentally and emotionally. But now I need physical healing.

I’ve had to search hard. Far and wide. To the depths of my soul to try and work out what I believe about healing, and the idea that God can heal physical ailments.

Does He? Well, I know the bible says He does, but does He?

And if He does then why does He heal some people, and not others …

And why do some Christians and the church make it so complicated … with statements such as ‘well you just need enough faith’ and ‘well, you need to claim your healing’ and so on …

And why do some people insist on ‘running after Jesus’ for healing, as if the only place Jesus can heal you is at some big event with some big speaker with a big crowd instead of believing that if God had it on His heart to cure you He would whether you were at some rally or at home, in the bath, or laid on the sofa flat out watching crap day time TV (it really IS crap huh?)

And … well, there are many ands, I could be here all night writing about them …

Where does it end  …?

Well, I think, and this is by no means explaining my whole thought process whatsoever, because again I would be here all night trying to do that, and you would be reading for the next two hours, that it has to end by simply  believing God can heal, and acknowledge that sometimes He doesn’t, and make the conscious choice to not get blinded by the ‘ands …’.

Which leads me to hope …

That big word. That big thing. HOPE.

We use the word ‘hope’ a lot today don’t we?

‘I hope I’ll get that new iPhone for Christmas’
‘I hope the boiler man comes to fix it soon’
And so on …

The dictionary says that hope means a ‘feeling of expectation and desire for a particular  thing to happen’ and that sounds about right doesn’t it? We hope for good things for our lives don’t we, be it materially or other wise?

I have to be honest about it, (it’s my nature to be be a realist, right?) and acknowledge thats whilst I can have some HOPE Jesus does supernaturally heal me, or through my doctors and medications that maybe He won’t …

And then where does that leave me?

I’ve been ‘told off’ a few times over the last few years by well meaning people who feel like I am not trusting Jesus enough for my healing. Or that I should just not ‘claim it’ as mentioned above … but as my good friend Wendy Beechward says ‘its not a lottery ticket where you can just pop along to the shop and claim the prize’.

I’ve stopped asking people to just pray for my healing now.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, please do pray for it if you feel inclined, and I know I have trusted people who pray often for me to be well, and would, like myself love nothing more than to see it happen, and I am SO thankful for that, and occasionally I might seek prayer myself solely for healing BUT I also need more than anything right now prayer for managing. Learning to live with my illnesses and the life changing  effect they have on me. Learning to accept my limitations and a different way of life. Learning to accept that this is long term unless God does do a miracle (which I totally believe and know God can do, but lets face it, they are not every day occurrences are they?) …

So where is my hope you may ask? It makes me sound pretty pessimistic eh? Sure …
I get it, it doesn’t sound very hopeful does it? It perhaps doesn’t sound like I have much hope that God will heal me … well the thing is I KNOW He will.

Eventually.

I KNOW GOD WILL HEAL ME.

EVENTUALLY. It just might not be in my earthly life time.

See, my hope is in Jesus.

My hope is not in Jesus healing me. Or Jesus making me well again.

My hope is in Jesus.

In Him alone.

Just Him.

Not what He can do for me.

My hope is in Jesus and that when I die, be it sooner rather than later, or as a 90 year old I will go to glory with Him, and be seated at His right hand, spotless. Clean. Healed.
For there will be no sickness or pain. There will be no tears or sadness. Or anguish.
Or confusion. Or any of the other things that sometimes this journey brings with it.

My HOPE IS IN JESUS, the One and only who has redeemed my soul, and given me a NEW life, and bought me back from the brink of darkness and death emotionally, because despite my current black days because life is a challenge, and the depression I seem to currently be struggling with,  compared to 9 years ago when I had just left London …. well, wow! I am not the same person. And that is because of Jesus.

My hope is in Jesus, the one who loves me, and sees me as His child, and who I see as my Father, who can do immeasurably more than I can even imagine, in this life time and the next.

See, I see hope as this thing, this thing that is so huge, so gigantic that I cannot even properly explain, and that actually when I spend time reflecting on it or writing about it as I am doing right now it makes my body tingle and excitement rise.

I cant tell you what it fully feels like.
Or what it looks like.
Or how big it is.

Just that its this thing which is infinitely bigger than myself and anything else I can imagine.

And its a pretty damn fine thing to have.

But it really is just Jesus.

So the next time someone tells me I don’t have hope or enough of it, or that I should hope more especially when it comes to my health, I will direct them to this blog maybe …

I’ve come to the end of what I want to say, and I’m aware it probably comes across as a ramble and that I could have put it so much more succinctly than I have but … this is it. 
For now anyway.

If you have managed to read this through to the end, thank you for taking the time to listen to me, and feel free to drop me a line – would be lovely to hear from you!!

Dear Junior Dr’s …

Dear Junior Dr’s and medics out there …

You often end up saying sorry to me.

Usually its when tears start to fall, even though I desperately try not to cry, when you insert the 6/7th needle into my arms/hands desperately trying to find an access point because my veins are not playing ball, as usual. OR if that hasn’t got me, it will be when you have tried to get my blood gas for maybe the 3/4 time. Or when a Consultant has come to do it, but still they struggle. Or when you’ve had to numb my wrist so you can just dig around a bit.

You say sorry to me when it all just gets a bit much and I can’t help but cry.

You say sorry to me when you have to come and talk to me about HDU or intensive care, and the possibilities of ventilation. Something I’m starting to understand and get more and more used to, however each and every time my respiratory system goes into close/melt down it still feels just as scary as the time before.

It seems like you say sorry to me a lot.

At the same time as working quickly, tirelessly and wisely to save my life.

Because thats what you do.

You save my life.

This time last year I was in hospital (a regular occurrence at the moment) but I was not responding to medications. You were making phone calls to move me to ITU. My OBS were insane, and my oxygen levels crazy. Things were going badly, fast. You called out the consultant who was covering the entire hospital that night. And you stayed with me a lot.

You were calm, cool and collected. Even when I asked if you needed my Pastors phone number because if I was going to die it would be important for me to see him.

You were calm, cool and collected when with the Consultant who came pretty quickly you explained the options. The option of a medication that I’ve once had a severe reaction, but which once I’ve responded to.
You were calm, cool and collected when tears silently fell (I was too tired, and too unable to actually breathe to cry properly) as you explained the risks. The risks of having this medication. And the risks of not having it. Neither looked good at that point.

And just before I lost consciousness for a moment or two I told you to do what you thought was best. Because I was too poorly to know or care right then.

And you did. You did what you thought was best. In that moment. That emergency life/death moment.

For me. You did what you thought was best, for me.

A couple of hours later I came round enough to realise I was still alive. I had an ITU nurse with me. And you. You were there. Apparently you hadn’t gone far at all.

You saved my life. 

Thank you.

Thank you for that time, and the times before, and the times since. There has been a few times you have saved my life.

And a few times where things have not gotten quite so serious but have still needed time in hospital, medications and you.

I can not do this thing called ‘living’ with out you.

I can not do this thing called living with out you, you the junior Dr who treats me when I rock up at the hospital, either by ambulance, myself, or via my GP who has admitted me directly onto the emergency assessment ward.

I can not do this thing called living without you, you the one who has trained and is training for years to be that emergency medic who helps me in a crises. Or you who has trained for even MORE years and become that Consultant who also gives me the care I need which so far has always got me back to a point where I can walk (slowly) OUT of the hospital and carry on for a bit longer.

I can not do this thing called living without you who has decided to specialise and become a GP, my Gp, who makes sure that on the days I am ‘well’ ish I can keep on. The GP who gives me half an hour appointments when I’ve needed to just sit and cry. Or when he has needed that time to explain where things are at and where to go next.

I can not do this thing called living without you, the junior Dr who has specialised in Respiratory medicine who see’s me on a very regular basis and who also makes sure that on the whole, apart from the crises moments I can have some quality of life. And I do. I have a quality life. Accepting I am chronically ill is hard, but I am alive.

I have good days. But I am alive. I have bad days, but I am alive.

Because of you.

I never find out much about you, really.

As I sit writing this I realise that I never find out much about you, your life, your family, what you have going on outside of that moment, that moment where you are a ‘DR’.

My Dr.

Sometimes I don’t even remember your names, especially you who have been my emergency ‘crises moment’ medics.

I don’t know about how many hours you have worked that week, or how long you have been on shift without a coffee, or a meal break, or even a loo one.

I never get to find out just how tough your day has been, how many difficult decisions you have had to make, how many lives you have already saved, or how many lives that day that no matter what you or anyone else could do it has not been enough.
I never get to see the tears you might sometimes shed over that one person.

You never complain to me. You never moan to me. You never yawn, or look tired to me. You never get frustrated or short fused with me even though you are probably more tired than you have ever felt in your entire life.

I never get to see that side. But I know about it, because I have friends who are Dr’s.

And because I am not stupid.

I never get to see it because I am your patient, and you are a professional. And your focus is on me.

For which I am grateful. So so grateful.

 

And now I want the focus to be on you.

Which is why I am writing to you.

I want to say thank you to you.

Thank you for all you do.

Thank you for the hours you put in, for the blood, the sweat, and the tears (and if anyone tells me they don’t exist, I don’t believe them).

Thank you for the price you pay to save my life.

 

You deserve so much more.

You deserve fair hours.

Better pay

And I support you.

And so should everyone else.

 

With much love from a very grateful patient,

Helen x

Guest Post – ‘The story I never tell’

When I first started blogging many years ago it was because I felt like I had no where to go to express or speak what I needed to. So I started to write, under a pen name. I was able to get my story out. And in doing that I started to find, and have found a voice again. My voice. 

And so today, it is such a privilege to be able to give someone else a voice and to publish a guest post by them.

This is the story they never tell. 

‘I’m not one for small talk. I despise pleasantries. I’d much rather jump right in and get to know someone on a deep level. That means asking personal questions that some people get taken aback by. I’m quite a direct person and people can take offence at my abruptness. I don’t mean to be rude. I just can’t be bothered talking about the weather when we could be talking about their hopes and dreams instead. I’m also quite an open person. I over share and I’m not private at all. I don’t mind people knowing about me. I’d rather be vulnerable if it helps other people to know that they are not alone. That is the reason why I’m writing this, but for once I’m not using my real name. This is only the second time I’ve shared a personal story publicly and anonymously. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to guest post because I’m not a blogger myself.

The thing is, there are two very common questions that I get asked in return which, although I’m very good at hiding it, make my heart ache.

“Are you married? Do you have kids?”

For most single and childless women approaching 30, this is a tough couplet. For me it feels even tougher, since the answers to both are loaded with secrecy and heartache.

I fell head over heels in love once. It was a glorious time but it was short lived. One of the biggest regrets I have is never having the courage to tell this person just how much I loved them; that I wanted to marry them. I lived with them, I said I love you and got the same in reply. Then just like that, there was someone else and our relationship was lost forever. You see this person was a woman. We shared the same bed, wore each other’s clothes and went for romantic walks along the river. Then she left me for a man. It’s a great fear for some gay women that their bisexual partner will leave them for a man. Being left at all is hard but when it’s for a man it feels even worse. We met in church and it was easier for her to be with a man. She had a choice. I didn’t.

She used to say she would marry me when it became properly legal. I often wonder if she would have kept her promise until March last year when it could’ve become a reality. Civil partnership didn’t feel real enough at the time. I admit to recently stalking her on social media after having enough self-discipline to block her for years. I kept a couple of mutual friends with the sole purpose of seeing tagged photos every so often. She is still with the same guy. They are very happy together. No relationship I’ve had since has ever come close to what we had. I sometimes wonder if I will ever marry because I will always compare people to her and everyone else will seem like second best next to perfection.

On top of this I have marriage after marriage to attend. The vast majority of them are straight, although I’ve been to more same-sex than different sex weddings this year. I’m at the age when there’s a conveyor belt of weddings. I’ve spent more on dresses this summer than I care to acknowledge. Every time without fail the inevitable question comes, “So when are you getting married then?” However jokingly spoken these words never cease to cut me deep. Innocently asked, mostly by people who have no clue that I would never marry a man even if you gave me a million pounds!

A few years passed. I had one casual relationship, then I met the second woman to whom I had a deep attachment. We worked together. I told her I got over being a lesbian and that Jesus had saved me but I was in so much denial. She was separated from her husband and had a toddler. I began to spend more and more time with her outside of work. I slept over at her house. I got to know her child. I grew to love them both deeply. At one point I spent more time with her daughter than she did and she started calling me mummy. At first I thought this was weird and I discouraged it but after a while I felt honoured. We joked about being lesbian mummies, but it wasn’t really a joke, so we began to discuss adoption. Her husband wasn’t really around; he barely saw his daughter and his idea of supporting her financially was to give her 10p in pocket money.

What does it mean to be a parent; is it just biology? Is it the one who brings a child up, wipes their mouth, changes their nappies, kisses them goodnight, reads them stories, takes them to nursery, and pushes them around in the buggy pointing out everything from aeroplanes to daisies? I believe it can be one or the other but it can also be both. Had I adopted her as was the plan, I would have had exactly the same rights and responsibilities as her biological mother. Had I been her biological mother’s male partner, despite not being her ‘real’ father, raising her as my own I would have also gained respect.

Then something happened. Something really bad happened. Then lots of really bad things happened all at once. Suddenly we were no longer a happy little family. Our plans turned to dust. I will never see her again. I will never see her daughter, our daughter, again. They are not dead, but for very complicated reasons that I cannot explain here, it is not possible for me to see them ever again.

Earlier this year, I heard about a charity called the Mariposa Trust who run services called Saying Goodbye for parents who have lost their children through miscarriage, stillbirth or in early childhood. When I heard about the work that this charity does I had all sorts of emotions going on. I’ve never been pregnant. I’ve never even had sex with a man. I’ve got no idea how it feels to carry a baby, although one day I hope to. I cannot explain to you the depth of the emotional bond that I had with this little girl. I saw her as my very own daughter and it breaks my heart that I will never see her again. It may sound dramatic to you but it feels as though she is dead. I feel like a part of me has died. I wonder if she still remembers me, still thinks of me, or still asks her other mummy what happened to me. I wonder if she’s got another parent now, male or female. I wonder if she’s got brothers and sisters. I wonder how she’s doing at school.

It’s approaching her birthday. I remember the last birthday I got to spend with her, how her face lit up with all her friends on her special day, seeing her beautiful smile break across her face. That is how I will remember her: in her birthday princess dress, jumping on a bouncy castle, with a huge grin, stuffing her face with chocolate cake, and lying next to me at the end of the day, falling asleep in my arms. I don’t even have many of the photographs I took of her because my camera got stolen and my phone died. That’s another huge regret. I ask myself over and over again why on earth did I not back up my phone or make copies or print the photos? Why was I irresponsible enough to leave my camera somewhere where it could be taken?

I feel guilty writing this. I think what justification do I have to write about how my heart feels like it was ripped from my chest? I’ve never been pregnant, never carried a child or a given birth. My child hasn’t died and yet I feel this inconsolable ache. I’m going to a Saying Goodbye service soon. I’ve wanted to attend one for quite some time now but felt like I didn’t deserve to go. I felt unworthy. I’d be called out as an imposter. I’m going to go because I have lost a child. She may not be dead, but she is lost and gone for ever to me.’