Some thoughts about Fathers Day 2015 (& God)

In July 2014 I turned 30.
I hadn’t been in touch with him since a few years prior. I didn’t even know he knew how to get hold of me. As far as I was aware he didn’t. But he found me – on my 30th birthday.
And instead of celebrating during the day I was thrown into a meltdown of ‘he knows where I am’ and ‘WHY?’
Why now? Why not the many birthdays or Christmases before as he flitted in and out of my late teens/twenties?
We ended up having one or two text messages. He hasn’t been in touch since. But I knew he wouldn’t. He never does until its convenient for him.

And I’ve accepted that.

I’ve also accepted that it’s been painful.
It’s been painful to know he chose to abandon us as young children.
It’s been painful to know that subsequently the times I HAD to go and stay with him during school holidays he was abusive.
It’s been painful to know that I was and am not important enough.
It’s been painful to know that I am and never have been, and never will be good enough for him.

 

Its been painful to know that the dream you have as a little girl of your ‘Daddy’ being someone who would love and protect you was broken early on.
Its been painful to know growing up that the one who is supposed to shield you from the atrocities of life was one of the ones perpetrating some of them against you.
It’s been painful over the years to try so hard to be what I simply can’t be, in order to ‘win’ his love. Or to ‘win’ that relationship that would be functional, loving, and ‘normal’.

It’s been painful in many more ways. It’s been painful. It really has.

And yet today, Fathers Day 2015 I will choose to go to church, and worship God, who is ‘Father’. MY FATHER.

Last year during a seminar series my church run each term, I was challenged to my core, not long before I was due to be baptised. The person speaking said ‘who gave you permission to view your heavenly father in the same way as your earthly father’.
I went to bed crying that night. It hit me that I had spent many years comparing God to my biological father. And if I’m comparing God to him, then am I saying God is an abuser? I used to call God a sadistic Nazi bastard especially when I was being told/was starting to believe He ‘orchestrates all things so good will happen’ (I’ve subsequently learnt God actually weaves all things into good, which is different to saying He makes things happen so good will come of them) because I thought that meant God deliberately makes the horrendous moments exist (He doesn’t)

I couldn’t and still cannot see God as an abuser.
And so I had to separate God and my biological father.
It hasn’t been been easy. It has involved dealing with stuff. It still involves walking through some stuff. And sometimes it’s still painful. But this year, for me it feels like the sting is not quite as harsh.

A few weeks ago, in church I had a teary eyed/lump in throat moment watching a child being embraced by an adult in the service. Being embraced by someone who is a father. A grandfather.
He wasn’t this child’s father/grandfather but this child went to him.
I watched as she held on to him.
I watched as she sought comfort.
I watched as she sat on his knee, as she stayed still.
Loved. Safe.

Its all some of us ever long for isn’t it?
In a world that is often very hard and unkind.
To feel loved. And safe.

It’s all I’ve ever longed for, actually.

But I know I’m never going to find that with my biological father. So I’ve stopped striving for it.

I have to lift my eyes towards my heavenly one.
My God.
Who is safe.
There is no other.

He won’t abuse me. He won’t hurt me. He won’t leave me.
He won’t abuse you. He won’t hurt you. He won’t leave you.

As I wrote in my blog on Fathers Day last year
‘I don’t have an earthly father who loves me. In fact I have an earthly father who has caused untold pain and damage.

But I have a Godly one who does love and is love’

IF today is a day of rejoicing, celebration, happiness and gladness, I am really glad. If you have a Dad, a biological one, or one who takes on the role, as a step, or as a role model, or as a male figure in your life, I hope you are able to enjoy spending time with them/or celebrating them in some way. I join you in wishing those people Happy Fathers Day.

IF today is a day of remembering loved and lost ones, then I hope in your grief you are able to remember the good times.

 IF today is a day of pain, hurt, sadness, anger, darkness or any other negative emotion and IF today does nothing but remind of someone you have never had, or of someone who has hurt you beyond your wildest dreams then I am sorry.

I have am and will be thinking of you today.

Advertisements

Planning my funeral before my wedding, and fighting on.

I always imagined walking down the aisle, with my Grandad, to ‘Gabriels Oboe’.

My most favourite piece of music.

I never imagined at the age of 30 I would have planned my funeral and that instead of planning for walking towards someone who felt I was worthy of marrying, I would be thinking about the fact that I want my coffin taking in and out of church to that same piece of music.

At the moment it feels like death might come before marriage.

And I never imagined that.

Well, maybe I did, once before. 7/8 years ago when my world felt very black … but since then I’ve started to live life again.

I rediscovered hope. I rediscovered faith. I rediscovered what it means to wake up in the morning and be glad to be alive. I rediscovered what it is to smile again. Properly smile, not the fake ‘through gritted teeth’ or ‘pretend’ smile. And to laugh again.

So at the moment it is all a bit weird – because I’m finding myself in a place where to be alive feels too good and too precious to give up on, but yet I have had to spend time wondering if eventually I’ll have no choice.

Sometimes when I start my day I wonder if this is going to be the day that I die.

I wonder if It’ll be the day I have an asthma attack that they actually cant get on top of.

I’ve more than a few now that have gotten pretty close …

I wonder if this will be the day when my body is allergic to something that closes my airways or that I react so badly to, I just die.

I wonder if there is something more serious going on that no one has been able to identify which is why I am now seeing more consultsants, and facing even more tests.

I wonder if, when a few weeks ago one of my Consultants told me about mast cell disorder and that there are indicators that could suggest something much more serious than that if I have cancer. And if I’m going to die.

I’m not sure if I have ever thought about dying so much.

I was never really conscious of breathing. You know, that thing we all do, thousands of times a day. We breathe in. We breathe out. We take absolutely no notice. Well, most of us don’t. I never did. Until the first day I found myself unable to breathe.

Then I became pretty conscious of it.

Someone from recently told me I am like a cat with ‘9 lives’. I think I’m pretty close to that now … and then what …?

What happens when the nine lives have been used up – is that death?

I don’t know. At the moment I don’t know a lot.

But I do know I don’t want to die.

 

I do know, that despite the scars of a life before turning 30 that I am glad to be alive. And I don’t want to die.

 

I also know that I am a fighter.

On those days when I don’t want to get up and face the world, somehow I have to keep fighting.

On the days when I have absolutely no energy and I wake up and bury my head under the pillow for a few extra minutes that I somehow I have to keep fighting.

On the days when yet another hospital appointment feels like it might tip me over the edge, I have to keep on fighting.

I have to keep on fighting. Because if I don’t, then I might as well be dead.

 

Some days the fight looks like crying.

Some days the fight looks like wanting to have a tantrum.

Some days the fight looks like allowing myself to be looked after by other people.

Some days the fight looks like looking quite well and being able to go out.

Some days the fight looks like sleeping all day because I have no energy for anything else.

Some days the fight looks like writing.

Some days the fight looks like being the positive, strong and resisilent Helen lots of you know.

Some days the fight looks like reading my bible, praying, worshipping God.

Some days the fight looks like asking God why.

Some days the fight looks like being surrounded by my church family and friends and being together corporately to praise and learn about the One who has given us life.

Some days the fight looks easier than other days.

Some days the fight looks harder than other days.

 

Each day is different. But I know with each sun rise in the morning, comes a new day.

A new breath. For that moment, for that minute, for that hour. For that day.

And I am thankful for that.

 

 

Some thoughts on being a bit sick, being in control and God.

This morning I woke up and within minutes I had burst into tears.

Because I had a blocked nose and so I thought that maybe I had the starts of a cold. Yep, a cold. A bit of an over reaction I hear you say … yep.

But the last time I woke up and felt like I might have the starts of a cold, by the end of the day I was in hospital. Because between waking up and ending the day I had an asthma attack. And then it turned out the ‘starts’ of a cold was pneumonia.

Ive been hospitalised again since then. Not that long ago. That was a straight forwards asthma attack, except it wasn’t very straight forward. It never is.  I don’t respond to drugs well and usually after hours of struggling to breathe and many drugs I end up at the critical point.

I came out of that hospital stay feeling like it was time to plan my funeral. Which I did.

Yesterday I travelled to the hospital almost 90 minutes away which I visit regularly. And spent the afternoon in what felt like a ‘House’ scenario, where lots of Consultants came in and out (up to 12, I think, but to be honest, we lost count – at one point there were 5 in the room).

My body isn’t working. The symptoms are wide and varied and I could be here all night writing about the various issues, the various blood tests, the various things that have come up, and the fact that as yet no one seems to know what is going on except that I am sick.

This makes treatment pretty hard. And it means for the last 18 months I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of being set on a treatment path, stopped, started on new ones, stopped and so on. Being told one thing, or another, then something else.

Its meant side effects like before last Christmas 2013 my hair started to fall out. It means that if I take medication to help me sleep at night I can’t function properly, or be on the ball enough to work the next day, BUT if I don’t take those tablets I get 90 minutes (if that) of sleep because my body goes into overdrive and I can’t sleep because of crazy reactions or pain.

Its meant days before going away to run the additional needs team/work at a family church conference I had to pull out because I was not well enough. Its meant bailing out of plans on a regular basis, cancelling going to day events, dates with friends, and other things.

Its meant time off work. A lot of time of work, and at the moment its meaning not working.   I like to be a busy person. I’ve always worked, and worked hard. And so for the last 18 months/2 years each time I get sick, I go back to work as quickly as possible, as if nothing has happened. Because thats what I do. And because I am already on a low wage, and have no other income.

And also because I haven’t wanted to accept my body cannot keep up. And that it does not function at 100%.

Because accepting its sick is hard.

Accepting my GP told me the other week that I need to start considering this all may be classed as ‘chronic’ and that life will be about ‘managing’ instead of finding that one treatment that would sort it all out.

Accepting its sick and may never be fully healthy again means accepting life has to change. is changing.

And its meant accepting, once again that I don’t understand what is going on. I really don’t. And I would like to. As would my Mum. And my friends. And and and. But we don’t.

Its meant having to think about physical ‘healing’ and how God works, and does not work in that sense. Its meant avoiding conversation with the trigger happy ‘Jesus WILL heal’ you people because I just want to say ‘what if He doesn’t?’ or scream at them, and its meant having those gentle, but painful conversations with friends and tissues, and with people wiser than I am.

The conversations that go ‘Does God heal, Yes, but sometimes He doesn’t. Why?’. The kind of conversation there isn’t any answers to. And thats OK because I prefer the ‘there are no answers’ answers to a load of crap. Important but painful conversations that will have to continue to happen for the foreseeable future.

The other thing its meant, which actually makes me teary eyed just typing out now, is accepting I am not in control.

I am not in control of my body.

I am not in control of what it is doing, not doing, when it is doing it/not doing it.

I am not in control when I can’t breathe. I am not in control when its gone into stupid allergy mode in the middle of the night and my skin is red raw. I am not in control when I am in pain and I can’t stop it.

I am not in control when I end up having to go into hospital. And I am not in control of what they do to me whilst I am there.

I like to be in control. Its important to me. And I know some of you will be reading this going ‘of course, its important to everyone’. It is. I agree.

But having survived things being done to my body over the years in which I had absolutely no control over, over the years, especially the last 8 I work harder than maybe some people do at maintaining some kind of control. I hold it tightly. People don’t always ‘get’ it. But thats ok. Because I manage it. I control it. Pretty well actually. I choose who I let touch/hug me. I choose who can do that without even asking now. I am in control of it.

But when I am sick and in hospital I am not in control.

In fact I am not in control of anything.

I am not in control of yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

I am not in control of the days, months and years to come.

So where does leave me right now?

Well, right now it leaves me clinging on to the One who is in control.

It leaves me clinging on to the God who I know is faithful, and has my life in His hands, even if I don’t know what that means.

It leaves me having to look at the tattoo on my wrist every day and remembering I am clothed with His strength, and dignity and that I can and will laugh at my future days to come. Whatever those future days to come look like.

Because He is control. And has ‘got this’.

I don’t talk about ‘spiritual battle’ often. In fact I’m not sure I ever have. Yet something someone said at the weekend (although I’ve heard it all before, many a times in different contexts and usually switch off) which I actually heard. And it made sense.

I’ve realised over the last few months, in fact more and more so over the last 18 months since re engaging with God that He is in control.

But I’m realising with that comes the ‘enemy’. Who also wants to be in control.

I text a few people Wednesday night before yesterdays appointment – amongst other stuff I wrote I said this

‘… I’m not letting/refusing to let the bastard drag me down totally. I know that God has got it, whatever ‘got it looks like’.

And so tonight, after someone rung me and asked me how I am, I sit here, still with all sorts of emotions, but refusing to let this get the better of me.

And refusing to ‘spit my dummy out’. Which I’ve done a few times in the last few weeks.

Ive decided that on Sunday instead of going in to church late to avoid people, and sitting alone to avoid talking to people, and trying to be shield myself from difficult conversations and instead of sitting and asking God why why why? I will go to church with my head and heart held high.

I will go to church, and choose to worship Him for who He is. And for what He is doing in my life. And for what He has already done. And for what He is going to do, even if I don’t know what that looks like.

I’m not saying I’m not gong to continue asking the questions. Sure I will. I’m not saying I’m not going to cry. Sure I will. I’m not saying I’m never going to ask why? again, sure I will.

But I feel like the battle line is drawn. And for the first time in my life I am giving up control.

I am choosing to choose to let God be in control.

Posted in God

#MHAW

#MHAW – Mental Health Awareness Week 

Its Mental Health Awareness Week this week. I will be blogging on a couple of things throughout the week (I hope) but felt like I wanted to re share something I wrote last year. I wrote it on World Mental Health Day after an exchange with someone on twitter. 

Stigma against people with mental health issues is well and truly alive. And it also exists within faith communities. For me that is the Christian community/church. 

There is some amazing work being done out there to address this – something I will write more about in my next blog, but there is still a way to go. 

This is what I wrote about having PTSD and depression, and not being demon possessed or a freak. 

‘Its been a while since I’ve written, but today is World Mental Health Day – a day in which millions of people have been tweeting using the #worldmentalhealthday hashtag, and under many others too – and I felt compelled to put a few thoughts down.

There have been some amazing blogs written today and I am under no illusion that this is going to be one of them. It isn’t.

This morning, on a rare day off I spent a few hours on the sofa, listening to music and catching up on the online world – on Facebook, twitter, emails, blogs etc. I saw a few tweets and then got into a conversation with some friends/people I’ve been connected with for a long time. And we were talking about it being World Mental Health Day.

And I got thinking about my experience. My experiences. Of mental health issues, and specifically of having mental health issues and being in a church on and off over the years.

I tweeted under the hashtag myself. A tweet that celebrated the amazing CPN I had involved in my life for 18 months, who I learnt to trust and like, without whom I’d have been dead (literally – he broke into my flat when I didn’t turn up for an appt and found me unconscious having OD’d).

And a couple of tweets that acknowledged the pain of churches that have gotten it SO wrong over the years whilst acknowledging that there are some that do get it right.

Then I wrote and tweeted this –

‘My name is Helen. I have PTSD & struggle with depression. I am not a freak and I am not demon possessed. #WorldMentalHealthDay #EndTheStigma’

Why?

Because I am not a freak.

And because my experience over the years has been of being told if I just prayed more, had more faith, or trusted God then I would not struggle with depression, or the issues surrounding the PTSD.

I’ve been told many times that I have demons. I’ve been told I am demon possessed. I’ve been told if I honoured God more/was more in love with Him then He would ‘take away’ the blackness.

I’ve been told by a Pastor that if I was truly a Christian my story would be erased from my mind, and I would not suffer because of it, therefor depression should not be a part of my life.

I’ve been told by another one that I was too much for him, their church, and probably God because the ‘Devil’ really had hold of me.

I’ve been told many things.

And we wonder why people fear being open and honest about mental health issues they face.

We wonder why the last place a person would think about going when in mental health distress is a church.

And we wonder why people end up more hurt and damaged by the responses of people, who not only misunderstand but who are often wilfully ignorant of the wider issues.

Not long after I posted the ‘my name is Helen. I have …’ tweet I got a reply.

From a ‘well meaning’ Christian, who firstly started off by joking. It wasn’t massively funny, and I spent a couple of minutes before I replied trying to work out if they were being totally stupid or if behind their words were deeper meaning.

It didn’t take long to find out.

To find out that they believe I need ‘deliverance’.

It didn’t take long for them to tell me I am not experiencing freedom and victory (because they know me oh so well right? As if).

It took a matter of minutes for them to become another one of the very many people I’ve had in my life speaking dangerous untruths. Thankfully I am strong enough to respond/respond/answer back now. A few years ago I was not.

A few years ago, for me personally, someone coming at me with those views were damaging. Damaging to me, to my life, and to my relationship with God, and the church. It contributed to making it non existent.

After our little exchange, and after being told I don’t live in victory I got thinking about what ‘victory’ means. And what it looks like. And how it looks different and unique to every single person.

Victory to me is waking up every morning and being OK that I am alive.

Victory to me is putting one step in front of another and keeping on walking.

Victory to me is not self harming for 4.5 years, and not trying to kill myself.

Victory to me is being 7 years on from the day I was raped.

Victory to me is overcoming each and every battle as and when they come to confront me.

Victory to me is when someone (I know) touches me/gives me a hug and I don’t flinch, freeze, want to cry, or hit them.

Victory to me is in the overcoming of big things, but also in the very small, tiny day to day things too.

Victory to me is looking the world in the eyes, holding my head up high and knowing I have survived.

So how dare someone tell me I am not experiencing victory, because I do. I experience victory every single damn day.

And thankfully too, God is now in that victory too.

Mental Health Issues are so misunderstood and stigmatised in society generally, and that is no different within the church.

Whether its deliberate or just pure ignorance its not good enough.

And we cannot continue to brush the topic under the carpet.

People like me are everywhere. We are next to you on the bus, in the shops, in your work places. In your schools, your hospitals, your libraries, your Dr’s. Everywhere there are people, are people with mental health battles happening. And that includes in the church. My church. And your church.

If you are reading this I urge you to, if you haven’t already, begin to educate yourself. Begin to assess how you respond and support someone with mental health issues, especially within your faith community.

And I beg of you to consider spending time on working out how you effectively support someone.

Because believing we are demon possessed is wrong. And damaging, as I said above.

Learn to love. Learn to accept. Learn to walk along side us.

Learn what we need. And for each and every one of us it will be different. What I do guarantee though is that it won’t be being told we have demons.

We don’t.

My name IS Helen. I have PTSD & struggle with depression. I am NOT a freak. AND I AM NOT DEMON POSSESSED’

a health update

Dear friends, 

I was going to blog this but then realised I could attempt to succinctly just post it on Facebook.

I’m always so thankful for all the love and support you all give me and I’m sorry if I don’t always manage to respond to social media messages at the moment. 

I’m also always so thankful for the prayers a lot of you put up there especially over the last 18 months/2 years since the health dramas kicked in. 

The last 6 weeks have been tough with a really serious asthma attack a month ago, passing out in church, and various other issues. I’ve had several appointments with my medical people since too. 

Last week, on Tuesday one of those appointments was quite tough. 

And I (we – glad my Mum was here) was told by my GP to expect my next appointment in Nottingham which is a multidisciplinary to be one where they tell me they have exhausted all treatments. 

My body is completely autoimmune which is attributing to various issues and it’s unlikely any will ever ‘go’. 

It needs to be managed. 

And I’ve been told I need to face the reality this is going to be considered chronic. 

It will change and impact how life looks for me massively in weeks and months to come. 
Today in church we sang – 

‘We believe in God the Father

We believe in Jesus Christ

We believe in the Holy Spirit

And He’s given us new life

We believe in the crucifixion

We believe that He conquered death

We believe in the resurrection

And He’s coming’ back again’

and another song about Him being the lifter of our heads which moved me because of bible verses I’ve read on that theme this week. 

I believe in those things above. And I believe and know He is faithful.

I believe He heals but I know he doesn’t too. I don’t know why. But that’s OK for now.

So my point of this long update is? I wanted you to know where things are at health wise BUT I also want to affirm my trust and faith in God.

He has done good things in my life. 

And despite the hardness/difficulties/emotions all this stuff brings right now I know He IS good and doing good things. I am holding on to that. 

Thank you to the people who’ve journeyed this with me since Tuesday and continue to do so.
You are amazing

Thank you to the people who are not so close but who still often cheerlead me. You are amazing too.

An Easter Poem

A baby sent.
A life lived.
A miracle maker.
Grace giver.
Leader.
Gatherer of people.
Lover of the lowly.

Mocked.
Nails in hands.
Raised up on wood.
A crown of thorns.
Blood.
Pain.
Agony.
Death.

Waiting.
Tears.
Questioning.
Silence.
Stillness.
Confusion.
Wondering.
Darkness.
Mourning.

Shaking ground.
Rolled away stone.
Light bursting.
Violent hope.
Breakthrough.
Death defeated.

RISEN!
ALIVE!

Stop, just for a minute …

Part 1

Stop … just for a minute …

When did you last say ‘I love you’ to someone?

Anyone ? … a friend? Your family? Jesus?
When did you last say ‘I love You to Jesus’

When did you last speak to Him?

When you last pour out your soul to Him?

When did you last tell Him whats on your mind?
Why not try it now …

He loves You! He is waiting …

He is waiting to hear from you … He wants you to talk to Him … He wants you to pour out your heart to Him

He longs for the day when all is surrendered

He longs for you to stand before Him, in prayer, in worship. He longs for you to come to Him.

He is stood with His arms open wide, waiting to embrace you … To surround you with Love, Grace and Mercy. He wants to shower you with blessings after blessings.

Stop …

Praise Him,

Worship Him,

tell Him how much You Love Him!

 

Part 2

When was the last time someone said to you ‘I love You?’

Stop ….

Listen …

Hear the voice
Maybe it’s the smallest, faintest sound.

Maybe it’s a whisper, blowing in the wind,

Maybe it’s a loud bang, so loud it hurts your ears,

Or maybe, just maybe it surrounds you in the every day noise.
Have You ever stopped to listen? … to hear …?

Try it now …

What do you hear? What do you want to hear?

Don’t be scared, or afraid.

Listen to Him say ‘I love YOU’

Surround yourself in the whisper, the wind, the loud bang, the everyday noise. Listen to Him saying ‘I LOVE YOU’

YOU are LOVED

YOU are PRECIOUS

YOU are VALUABLE

YOU are FORGIVEN

YOU ARE HIS CHILD!

Whoever you are, wherever life has taken you, whatever you’ve done …

Just stop, and listen …

Listen to Him saying

‘ I LOVE YOU’!

Rise Up.

Today I felt God challenge me to participate in the church prayer meeting tonight. I lost all confidence in praying out loud years ago and am *just* starting to explore that again but with my very small close network of friends so reasonable sized groups of people who I don’t know everyone in doesn’t work for me. But went because I felt God telling me I should (I know that probably sounds a bit weird, it feels it too!).  I ended up sitting in a spare space, praying myself, and having a little chat with a beautiful person I’ve never properly chatted to before which left me encouraged massively. I wondered what God meant by ‘participating’ because I didn’t feel like I was going to be able to. And then I wrote this. And was asked to share it – which I did (eek!) – have been asked by a few people to share it online/on Facebook so here it is …

Rise Up

Rise up, rise up
broken, ashamed, abandoned.
Rise up.
Lift up your head.
Open your eyes, look into His.
Rise up, rise up
be healed, be pieced together again .
You belong
To Him.
You are His.
He is yours.
He knows your name.
You know His.
Rise up.

Rise up and take your place
as the Prince or Princess He calls you to be,
and knows you as.
Rise up.
Do not fear.
He is love.
He has come .
He is amazing grace.
Rise up.

 

Come to the table.

Come
Come to the table, you who are weary and tired.
Come to the table, you whose tears fall night and day
Come to the table, you who can’t see the smallest flicker of light
Come

Come
Come to the table, you who feel a failure and worthless
Come to the table, you who feel isolated and alone
Come to the table, you who feel the deep open wounds of pain of life
Come

Come
Come to the table, you who can’t lift your head up high
Come to the table, you who can’t look people in the eyes out of shame
Come to the table, you who does not know who they are any longer
Come

Come
Come to the table, you who longs for acceptance but has never found it
Come to the table, you who lost all the hope you once had
Come to the table, you who has hidden behind your fear built walls
Come

Come
Come to the table, you who is broken beyond broken.
Come to the table, you who is desperate.
Come to the table, you who is at the end of yourself
Come.

Come to the table where He is
Come to the table where His arms are open wide.
Come to the table, you.
Yes you.
Come.

Come to His table.

Come to His table of grace.
Come to His table of mercy
Come to His table of peace
Come to His table of forgiveness
Come to His table of hope
Come to His table of love
Come to His table of freedom
Come to His table of healing

Come to His table of blood stained redemption.
Come
Come to His table.
Come to the table where He is
Come to the table where His arms are open wide
Come to His table who ever you are
Come to His table, you are welcome.
Come to His table, for it is for you.

Yes you.
Come to His table.
Come.

Abortion – my 13 year secret.

Her name would have been Sophie.
His name would been Jack.

She/he would have been 13 now. A teenager.
A teenager who would probably have been grounded a few times by now, if they had taken after me anyway. A teenager who probably had a girlfriend or boyfriend. A teenager who would have started secondary school and hopefully be thinking about what subjects to take for GCSE’S. A teenager who hopefully wouldn’t be making the same mistakes as I did.

I often wonder what Sophie or Jack would have looked like. Would they have looked me? Would they have looked like him? Would they have had blue eyes, brown eyes, blond hair, brown hair, black hair. Would they have been tall, short, slightly built or more well built like me?
Would they have been quiet and calm, or loud and boisterous? Would they have been activists at heart like their mother and father were?

I often wonder what they would have been like.

And I, especially most recently regret massively the fact that Sophie or Jack only lived for a very short amount of weeks, inside my body.

And that I made the decision to not continue their life.

I made the decision to have an early abortion. Distinguishing the life that was starting to grow inside of me.
Why am I writing this blog? Why am I telling you this?
Why after 13 years of total silence am I breaking that silence and speaking out?
Why after years of pro choice believing am I about to probably upset some people off by saying out loud that I cannot think anything other now than that life is precious, life starts at conception, and the life I carried did not deserve to be aborted.
Why after years of silence am I writing about the abortion that I had that will probably upset some of you reading this who have faithfully followed my writing and blogs online over the years and feel like you know me?
Why after years of silence am I sharing this that will probably get the Pro Life tweeters online condemning me and my actions because in their seemingly graceless world that is what they feel they should do (with the exception of a couple of people I’ve recently tweeted with whose brutal grace put tears into my eyes)

Why after years of silence am I telling you this?

The simplest answer is because it feels like I have come full circle.
When I first started blogging years ago it was a space to write about the things I could not vocalise. It was a space to write the things that my head was screaming but that I could not express whilst sitting in front of someone. And as life changed, so did I, and as I battled life, I wrote about it. ‘Fragmentz’ the identity was created, as a blog and as a tweeter. And I talked/wrote about life. And was grateful for the support I gained and received through that season from people I didnt know as I often went to places that were uncomfortable for folks, and where there were ‘no holds barred’ so to speak.

When I became a Christian again in October 2013 life changed. So did the need to write anonymously about absolutely everything in my life that had and was happening. And I started to explore life as a more ‘cohesive’ person, joining together the ‘Fragmentz’ who could only discuss the horrors of the past online with strangers (and a very small handful of people offline who didn’t live locally to me) with ‘Helen’ who had found a community safe enough/close enough offline to start exploring them properly face to face with people.
Blogging took a back seat a bit, and I started to write much less about what was going on and what I was experiencing. I remember some of you (people I’ve connected with solely online over the years) being quite hurt when I chose not to record/blog/publish transcripts of my baptism last year. I got to a place where whilst I love and need my online relationships I also needed privacy and space to explore and ‘do life’ in relationship with people offline. Something that was a different experience for me, and at times VERY challenging. I discovered it is one thing being ‘vulnerable’ online via twitter and a blog and a totally different thing being totally vulnerable face to face with people offline.
To look people, people I was learning to trust and can say I do trust now, in the eyes and be vulnerable with. It was tough.

But its what has happened. And it has been life changing. Life giving.

A few months ago during one of my many hospital stays which seem to be frequent at the moment I remember spending most of the time reading my Bible and praying. And felt a real sense of needing to ‘complete’ what had been started in terms of vocalising my story.
A real need to complete what had been started by God in terms of accepting who I am as a person and my past.
I felt like God was saying to me that if I was going to die then I needed to have made my peace fully with Him. And in that moment realised that IF I was going to die that I didn’t want to die with out having ‘become’ right with Him. Fully.

And that my ‘story’ was largely about what people had done to me. It was about the abuse as a child. The rape as an adult. And other stuff in-between, like the self harming, down ward spirals of depression and the overdose. The consequences of what happened to me.

But what I also realised was that my ‘story’ needed to become about things that I have done too.
I’ve needed to forgive much over the years, but I have also needed to be forgiven of much too.

My ‘story’ needed to include the realisation and acceptance that I have made mistakes. Huge massive big deep profound heart ripping mistakes that have held me condemned for many years.

A mistake that some people who identity as ‘pro life’ would call murder.
A mistake my pro choice friends and people I’ve identified with for years would call a choice I had every right to make.

But as I’ve journeyed life with people, offline, I’ve journeyed what it means. Life. What ‘life’ means. And being part of the lives of people who have become pregnant and carried their babies until they have been born, and seeing that process made me reevaluate my thinking. I remember the day when someone who has become an amazing friend showed me her first scan picture of the baby they longed for for so long. I could have cried. And just kept looking at it going ‘oh my God, theres its nose, feet, toes’ etc. It was so clear.

I realised in that moment, that very moment, in the pub over lunch that day looking at that scan picture, that having always been a pro life thinker (life in every shape or form, including the life of animals which was my big activist heart back then) I had become ‘pro choice’ in order to live with what I had done. Because by having an abortion I had gone against everything I believed in.
I had gone against the fact that I once believed life is life and is so from the moment it is conceived. I had gone against believing that all life, including the life of animals deserved to live.
And to live with myself I made myself believe that the baby I had aborted was not a baby. Just a mass of cells. Just a thing. Just a fetous. With no heart beat. With no feelings. With nothing. I made myself believe it was not life.
And I closed my heart and my head down. In order to survive. Which is what I’ve had to do numerous times over the years.

In order to be the ‘survivor’ that my twitter profile says I am, I had to close my heart and head down many many times to the horrors of life, in order to just keep on going. In order to take that one more step in front of another. In order to just make the day through. In order to live.

My baby has always been called Jack or Sophie though. So perhaps I didn’t close my head and my heart completely. Just enough to survive. Because if I believed what I had done was perhaps not the best thing back then I don’t know how I would/could have carried on.

But I also know, back then I didn’t know how I could/would have carried on when I discovered I was pregnant.
My living situation was volatile and difficult. The situation with my ‘boyfriend’ difficult. He didn’t care. I remember the day I told him, and he told me he didn’t care. I could do what I liked. I could have an abortion. He did not want to know. I could have the baby. He did not care or want to know. A week later he text me and told me to not contact him again, changed his phone number and ‘moved on’. (He lived from house to house with friends). He disappeared from my life. I’ve never seen or heard from him again.
I felt if I had gone to some of the Christians I knew at that time that they would have been more concerned about my ‘sin’ than anything. And shocked that Helen had got herself pregnant. Whether or not that would have happened I don’t know. But I felt it would.

I was alone. Totally alone. I was drinking a lot. Self harming. And still battling with other peoples behaviour towards me.
I had no money. No support. No where to go.
I was alone.
I felt like I simply could not bring a child into the chaotic world I lived in. Into the chaotic world my mind was. Into chaos.
I went alone to the clinic that day.
I went alone into the room to see the Dr’s, with just the nurse whose name I don’t even know alongside to get the medication I needed to take. I went back the day after, alone.
I walked in alone. And I walked out alone. I walked the next few days alone.

And I’ve continued to walk this particular walk alone. I’ve held this secret, alone. For 13 years.
And as I’ve come to value life more and more over the last 12 months the more painful the choice I made that day has become.
The more the condemnation and shame has hit.

The stronger I’ve got especially over the last year, the more I’ve come to realise life can be lived fully, the more Ive journeyed with people offline in community, the more I’ve become part of peoples lives, and the more they’ve become part of my life the more I’ve come to realise I don’t want to carry secrets. Because with those secrets come shame. And the condemnation. And the feeling that what I did could never possibly be forgiven by anyone. And if you read the tweets from pro life tweeters online you would be led to believe that it can’t be forgiven.

But thats not the case.
One of my favourites quotes is by Brene Brown. It is ‘shame cannot survive being spoken and met with empathy’.
And I discovered I needed to speak my shame.
And so I did. At the end of last year.
I spoke my shame.
I spoke my shame to the handful of close friends who have journeyed with my over the the years who I simply could not do life without. I spoke my shame to them fearful that this might be the ‘last straw’ in what they could cope with – having thrown lots at them.
I spoke my shame to my immediate church leaders, who have journeyed the last 18 months with me, whose baby girl changed so much of my thinking, fearful that this might the ‘one’ thing that would make them think ‘that Helen, she is too much’.
I spoke my shame to my church Pastor fearful that this would change his thinking of me, that he would treat me differently, that he would tell me this was the one thing that God could not forgive. That he would not want me in his church any more.
I spoke my shame to God.
I spoke my shame, to them all. Fearful of rejection.

But in that speaking of my shame, I discovered freedom. It wasn’t instant. But I found it.
I discovered I was wrong. Wrong to expect rejection which has been such a big part of my life, from the people I love. And who I have discovered and finally(!) accepted love from. I discovered that in speaking my shame to them, they were able to respond with love. And empathy. And its changed me.
I have discovered that despite there being absolutely nothing left to hide now, no part of my ‘story’ unspoken that these people, these friends that have become my family still love me. Still accept me. And still want to walk with me.

And I discovered I could speak my shame to God, who already knew it anyway, and still come to Him.

The last few months have been a painful journey.

The last few weeks have been a revolutionary journey.

With experiences of God that I simply cannot put into a blog, so personal and profound, that have made me fully realise and accept that I have been forgiven. And if I am gong to die, tomorrow because I’m hit by a bus or if I’m going to die because my respiratory system shuts down during an asthma attack and I can’t breathe any more, or if i’m going to die because my immune system is not working properly and my white blood cells are so high there could be something much more serious going on than we know about then actually that is OK.
It IS OK in as much as I am at peace now. I am at peace with my story. All of it. I am at peace with the people who have hurt me. I am at peace with the decisions and mistakes I have made.
If I am to die, I am at peace with God.

I have forgiven much. I have been forgiven much.

And so as I said above, we have come full circle. Having journeyed this journey over the last fews months, offline, it feels right to journey it with people online now. It feels right to speak out to people who have followed and supported me via twitter and fragmentz/helenblogs and to be fully open and transparent. Honest. About who I am as a person.

If you have shared my blogs/tweets over the year’s I’d be grateful if you were able to share this one. Because I want as many people as possible who have had contact with me to know who I am. What I have done and where I am at.

It feels especially right to be sharing this now because more recently I’ve had an influx of ‘pro choice’ and ‘pro life’ tweets being put into my timeline due to the political status in the States, and some big pro life marches that have recently taken place there.
It feels especially right to publish this blog, a blog I’ve actually written over quite a few times over months now because I am desperate to see more grace, especially within the pro life movement. A movement that seems to forget the life of the mother. A movement that online especially comes across as far more concerned with condemnation than anything else.
I beg you, if you, like I am now, are a pro life thinker that you consider love, and grace and mercy as you tweet what you tweet and say what you say.
Remember as well as the life of a baby you are ‘protecting’ you have the life of a woman to think about too.
And she deserves more than being shamed and condemned.

If you are reading this having had an abortion, there is no condemnation. you are loved.

Thank you for reading.

This is it.
This is me.
This is my story.