Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Daffodil

My childhood favourite flower
Bright yellow, bouncy
Bell shaped

She danced new beginnings
Arose with the Spring
Ushered in breaths of hope
Swaying joyfully in the daylight

She burnt brightly
But couldn’t stay long
It was not meant to be
Nourishment couldn’t sustain

She withered and faded
Bowed her drooped head down low
Submitted to nature
Trusting in the sky and earth
And God’s perfect creation
She lay in the ground

Her light-bulb never went out
The unseen energy source

The roots they’d laid together
Merged in the same earth
Interlocked underground
Took stronghold in the dark night

Her bulb’s inward eye remembered
The fluttering breeze
Dancing gaily with her crowd
She built her restorative energy
In the long winter of her soul-bulb

She splits and is planted anew
Rarely too far from home
At exactly the right moment
The population grows
It is time for her flower to dance again

Next spring, in time for Mother’s Day
A gift from Mother Earth
Before Easter she will awaken
The Resurrection’s eternal reminder
I shall rise again

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Light and free - happy new celtic year

During October 2018 I blogged in real time about past relationship issues.  It was a bit out of my comfort zone as it felt personal and I did it because I realised there were emotions to shift – things I needed to let go of and issues that weren’t quite resolved.

And then last week (not sure whether it was writing or something else that triggered this), I actually noticeably felt a shift happen and I genuinely feel really different as a result of it.

It was as though I finally made it to the start line of my own life with no issues left to resolve. Nothing left to delve into, nothing to sort, nothing to have angst about.  It all went – genuinely all of it.

Everything has gone. There’s nothing to sort or forgive or anything left to do where relationships are concerned.  There is complete balance for the first time in my life.  Perhaps I wrote it out or perhaps it was something else outside my control.

I feel so weirdly light and free, it’s like a miracle!

It took a while to get here (like generally in life – 40 years!), but it feels like I was carrying baggage – a lot of it, suitcases full.  And suddenly I’m not carrying that anymore.

Strangely, the pain of my endometriosis that was really terrible and crippling last month has pretty much gone along with it too.  I mean this doesn’t make sense because logically, I still have a disease growing inside me. So that’s not really something that can be explained is it?

Anyway best not overthink that because the result is, it’s all good. And like I say, we’re all on our own timescales over everything.  When it shifts, it just shifts.


Friday, 26 October 2018

Letting go of past hurts - resolve or dissolve

This is my concluding blog about relationships from this series. Thank you for bearing with me on this series. It's felt out of my comfort zone but has been an amazing process of self discovery.

So very much has shifted this month.

For those readers interested in astrology, the sun is transiting the very end of my 12th house. It’s all about endings before a new cycle begins.  The full moon is in Taurus transiting my seventh house (of relationships) and we’re going through Venus Retrograde in Scorpio - the planet of love looking backwards connecting to cycles of death and rebirth.  It's been a great time to review the past in order to move forward with a clean slate.

The words that come to me are resolve – or dissolve.

At this time of death and rebirth, the things that need to die for me are holding onto past hurts, past traumas, and staying stuck in old emotional patterns.  I thought I’d done a lot of work in that area (and I really have) so I was surprised to see some long forgotten dregs popping back up for attention.  Things I thought had long been forgotten in amongst all the reviewing of abuse.  Some true hurts from regular relationships resurfaced and demanded attention.

These old emotions need the light of day so they may be examined before respectfully leaving them behind – where they belong - firmly in the past.

This period has shone a light on where I have been stuck in emotional loops.  For example, resisting others’ silence.  I realised that silence was behaviour that came from another person.  It begged the question why was I holding onto that?  I realised I prefer good communication skills, and why wouldn’t I?  I teach communication for goodness sake!

But the period has also shone a light on where my own behaviour has been difficult or unhelpful.  Where I may have confused, irritated or hurt others.  I can easily be a mix of intense, too much and over emotional and then swing conversely to the opposite end of the scale, requiring copious amounts of space.  The push pull that I bring to the party isn’t cool and that needs to be brought back in balance.

My “dive in head first and let’s try it out” philosophy to relationships has also made me my own worst enemy – I've frequently ended up feeling that nothing’s special, nothing’s sacred, nothing lasts.  It’s time to respect myself enough to have a jolly good think before diving into relationships.
Something else that needs to go is giving away my power – that was never clever, no matter how much I might like to focus on another, it’s not worth depleting my own resources and sacrificing my own boundaries.

When we go through times of great change it’s bizarre to look back and remember the emotional loops we’d got stuck in.  But rather than criticise our former selves, I realise now the healthier thing to do is to feel a sense of gratitude at how far we’ve come away from old patterns.  It's time to forgive ourselves and others.

We all change constantly, growing and evolving, ready to meet new challenges, new adventures and new loves, whether those arrive in a love relationship or not.  There are plenty of things to love in the world.

Resolved and dissolved by the handing over to a higher power

The thing that really made a difference for me during this time period was praying.  I prayed for everyone I’ve ever been in a relationship with, whether recently or long ago.  No matter how good or bad that relationship, I mentally went through every one and handed what is past over to God.

I prayed that the individuals I’m thinking of may be on their own proper path right now, following the direction that will give them the closest thing to their own personal happiness and self-growth.  

Regardless of what has gone before.  I prayed that any vaguely remaining tie between me and them would be dissolved fully so that each person is completely free to follow their current emotional journey as fully as possible and to experience joy and love.

I did this for every person, without exception.

I believe that there is a reason for every person coming into our lives and that we don’t always get to make sense of it all.  That’s okay.

Even if we can’t make sense of it – the very thing I try to do all the time - I believe that the right thing happens at the right time.

All that matters is what is happening now.

I came to a happy realisation.  One that I feel deeply in my heart as well as in my rational mind.  That there is no score to settle and absolutely nothing I am holding onto.

Whatever has been, has been.  Whatever the future holds, we’ll find out when we get to it.  I feel that nothing at all needs sorting out.

Everyone is level.  Everyone is free.  Everyone is loved.

Thank you for reading.

Other topics in this series:
Silence following the end of a relationship 
Thursday, 25 October 2018

The role of the Higher self in relationships

Maybe you’re familiar with the term the “higher self”.  If not, in modern spirituality it’s a term used to describe the eternal, omnipotent, conscious being part of yourself.  Essentially, it’s your real self, your spirit, your divine essence.

In every moment, in every choice, we are all using more than our obvious surface level rational skills and knowledge.  There is constant communication happening inside us on an intuitive level.  Feelings are our guidance.  Feelings act as our map through life.

It’s a skill to know whether when you get a gut feeling that something is “not right” or “a bit off”, whether that relationship needs work or whether you “know” on a core level that the relationship is not going to work out in the end.

You know it because you FEEL it.

But as for explaining that knowingness that a relationship won’t ultimately work out, to let that other person know that your future doesn’t lie together, you may neither have the language nor the heart for it.

Or you may try to vocalise it and the other person can’t hear you because your truth doesn’t match theirs.

When you act on instinct, there’s a good chance your higher self is in the driving seat.  All you can do is follow it.

You may attempt to tell the other person your reasons why something is not working out in a relationship, but you may not be able to articulate it.  What if you don’t understand your own behaviour on a conscious level?

Compounding your problem, the other person may not be listening to your jumbled attempts at communicating your higher self’s needs because they are still operating on a timeline where their own ego tells them you are the right person for them.

You now have the added problem of getting through their barrier of “we’re so right together” when your intuition is screaming, “we’re so wrong”.

I focused a lot on communication skills in previous blog posts.  Skills that can be learnt and developed as we progress through life.  But, by staying in the loop of digging deeper, communicating more, working at it, etc etc, you may be missing an important piece of information. The perspective of the higher self. 

I guess many relationships end simply because you and that person are not ultimately right for each other, but what if one of you only gets to realise that 10 years later down the line?  Potentially that’s really tough on the emotions, isn’t it?

On a brighter note, perhaps this break up that you’re agonising over is a far better ending than the ending you might otherwise have if you’d stayed together.  Perhaps there’s a life path waiting for you that is so magnificent you wouldn’t believe it – and this person you’re currently with just isn’t compatible with joining you on that journey.

This particular re-framing is so powerful for me, so hugely releasing, I can hardly believe it.

The time travelling soul

My perspective is now far longer-term and wider reaching than it used to be.  I know that my soul reaches both for the past and future, my soul can (and does) travel anywhere.  We can all do this. Time and space don’t matter in the realm of the soul and the higher self.

The higher self knows what you wanted to achieve in this lifetime.  The higher self knows when it’s time to move on.  Maybe your conscious self has forgotten – and your ego is tightly holding onto what it thinks it must protect.

I do think that some people have life purposes and lessons for growth that lend themselves to having stable relationships for their whole life long, where as some of us aren’t a match for that energy this time around.  That’s okay too!

I see now from my new perspective that suspending judgement on our own and others’ relationships and moving away from fear around hanging onto relationships is the best way forward.

Have we met before?

Let’s say a person enters your life – and something about them gets to the depths of you instantly.  It might be their eyes, their voice, a slight touch of the hand, generally something that resonates (literally vibrates) and makes you feel like you’ve known them forever – or that you’d like to.

You may have not only known that person in a past life, you may have had a long happy married life together.  Maybe many times over!  Maybe meeting this time was to remind you that you’re capable of that level of deep heartfelt love.  And then something happens to prompt one of you (on an unconscious level, on a soul level) into knowing that this time around, you won’t be living out the same outcome again.

Take comfort in knowing that person is still there: they still exist.  They’re living their life, right now on this planet and doing their level best to be true to their own soul and grow in a way that’s right for them.  They did you the honour of showing up this time and making you feel special (or whatever they made you feel! Whatever it was, know that it was all part of your soul’s growth.)

It certainly makes sense that people we may have known in a previous life (and potentially had a close relationship with) would feel significant to us when we encounter them in this life.  But it doesn’t mean that they are our future.

Hand it over

Someone very wise told me that if you cannot resolve something with that person face to face, then do it from the higher self.  Ask your soul to do the work – have a conversation from one soul to another.  Those with faith would hand the task over to the ultimate creator, God.

So I thought about doing this – and immediately I realised something even more powerful.

Silence in or following the end of a relationship

It’s not just no feedback and lack of closure that gets my goat.  The biggest killer of all is my pet hate, silence, whether that’s silence during or after a relationship.

Ironically silence speaks volumes but is wide open to misinterpretation.  Silence can mean a number of things – hatred, inability to vocalise feelings, a standoff, too much pain resurfacing to want to even try, or it could be a deliberately act to hurt another.

For those who are partial to silence as their weapon of choice, know that you could be causing serious hurt to another by choosing a path of silence.  It’s not a fun game although the silence-wielding manipulator may think it is.

The recipient is left to detect the underlying emotion but the truth is they have no way of accurately telling the underlying emotion.  Whatever it is, it’s shutting someone else out.
Here’s a list of what silence may be trying to say:

·         I’m incredibly busy (in which case just let the other person know!)
·         Passive aggression
·         Manipulation
·         I’d like to come across the strong and silent type (oh piss off already)
·         Inability to communicate and move on
·         Lack of ability to process emotions therefore CANNOT speak i.e. person has become so stuck as to actually be unable to communicate
·         Fear of communicating is overwhelming
·         Mistrust of others e.g. may have opened up in the past and been betrayed, so thinks silence is safest

Crikey – glad I made a list because whichever way you look at it, silence is really not good.

Are you alive?

The other week I contacted my most recent ex to see whether he was still alive.  Genuinely.  My daughter asked after him and when I said I hadn’t heard from him whatsoever in a good while, she looked very puzzled and worried.  Her next question was genuine: “are you sure he’s still alive?”
Good grief!  She rightly couldn’t fathom that someone who she’d known to be kind and lovely would choose to inflict silence on us.  Death was the only possible explanation in her mind.  Her reaction really fired up my irritation for all things silence.  It’s not normal!

I contacted him and plainly asked him to reply to me to let me know whether he was alive.
Funnily enough, he was.

Yet his meaningless one-sentence email response produced an unexpected reaction in me – and it was quite freeing.  Don’t get me wrong, I was genuinely grateful that he was still alive (!) but his message made me remember his stilted communication style that was the least helpful thing for my own direction in life.  In a very strange way, having this reminder of this stilted, posh, half-baked, never-quite-enough communication gave me the closure I needed.  Weirdly, I felt free.

Anyone is free to choose to be silent all they like.  They can see how it pans out for their health and happiness.  It sure dulled mine.

I remembered why platitudes and common meaningless phrases anger me - because they mask truth whilst invalidating others.  Real suffering is suffering alone, in a world where others are neither speaking or actively listening.

Your silence, not mine

Conclusion?  I figure the best we can do is choose not to take someone else’s silence personally.  Silence is not mine.  Silence can go back to wherever the heck it came from.

Silence where there should be truthful communication is not my choice.

Silence is the opposite of who I am.

Thank you for reading.

Other topics in this series on relationships all written during October 2018:

Monday, 22 October 2018

Poem: Half term tonsillitis

My silent night time visitor
Comes creeping through the door
Slips into bed beside me
Like a thousand times before

Her frosty little toes
Her frosty little hands
Her bright red cheeks and fevered brow
And swollen painful glands

From her rotten tonsillitis
A sneeze comes bursting forth
She’s daggers in her throat
And snotty tissues line the floor

Mum, she asks, when will this end -
This horrible infection?
And from the street lamp’s glow I see
Her pasty white complexion

It’s scary being poorly
I need you by my side!
Yesterday it hurt so much
I woke up and I cried!

Can I just stay here awhile?
I think you’ll make me better
Can’t decide whether I’m too hot
Or if I need a sweater

Cuddle up, I’ll keep you warm
Snuggle down in mummy’s room
And I promise you, my darling
You’ll be better very soon

Short, highly subjective reviews of selected Bronte biographies

So many Bronte biographies, yet so little time in life to plough through them all.  Where to even start?

After a childhood obsessed by the Brontes, I took a 16-year break from them.  Deliberately.  My Bronte break came at precisely the same time I took a break from myself, those years being filled instead with secret depression, abuse or both.  You know, faking it.  I was in no fit state to consume the Brontes’ truthful insights.  I lost touch with me – and them.

Luckily, they didn’t take a break from me and they were right there ready for me to pick up.  Returning to this lovable famous literary family, I’ve been both grateful for such extensive biographical volumes, and simultaneously frustrated at how it might ever be possible to consume them all (or why I even think I need to?).  I’m already having to reassess the lounge furniture based on excessive book consumption, a problem seemingly common amongst Bronteites.

The sheer passion poured into the books written about the Brontes is outstanding.  Fans and authors often come across as though they ‘own’ the Brontes, rather like how the public treat the Royal Family, Marks and Spencer and The Beatles.  Am I any different, I wonder?

Viewing through our own lens

But like anything we hold dear, fans tend to view this famous 19th century Haworth-dwelling family through our own lenses: through subjective, often doggedly held opinions, our own subjective life experiences and world views.

I held back from writing reviews on Bronte books for so long: it felt wrong to undermine the sheer effort and devotion expended by these authors, dissecting their labour of love with one fell swoop of a shitty review.

But I kept going back over the same stuff, chewing it over, churning it over in my head.  That’s unhealthy.  So I told myself to write it out.

Why write a review?

Well, authors need feedback for a start.  Readers need information on which to base purchase decisions.  Who am I kidding?  It's so much more than that.  An opportunity to analyse our preferences, position ourselves, our values, our preferred ways of absorbing information and our opinions.  It feels good to let it out.  I started penning a few reviews.  Maybe I’d learn something new about my own standpoint and values in the process.

So here are the shortened versions of my Bronte biography reviews.  As a “fan” I can surely get away with these being not even faintly academic and completely subjective, right?

Highly subjective reviews of selected Bronte Biographies: -

1.       Emily Bronte, by Winifred Gerin.  I had no idea in 1998 when I read this book of what a sensitive, capable biographer Winifred Gerin was.  I was spoiled.  Terrified by Emily as a child, I became absorbed, engrossed and reassured by her poetry as a teen.  I borrowed this book from my cousin, an Emily obsessive - what I knew of Emily from my own assimilation was confirmed by Gerin.  And anyway, why was I reading this after being bereaved 3 times in close succession and about to lose my dad too?  I digress.  If this was my yardstick, all other Bronte biographies were set up to fail thereafter.  I found MY Emily on its pages – I assumed all biography rang true like this did.  (Oho - if only).  Littered with Emily’s poetry throughout, the chapter titles couldn’t have been more fitting: erratic studies, the stern power, the major, the visionary, the world without, the world within, lust of fame and the hidden ghost.  I mean, what are you waiting for?  This is everything.  Anything else is  second rate or worse.


2.       Gaskell’s The Life of Charlotte Brontefirst time through, I disliked this, especially the intro about Haworth, but on the re-read I found lots of hidden meanings. I enjoy the fact that Gaskell knew Charlotte and that so many of Charlotte’s own letters are included.  She gets points deducted for her negative portrayals of Patrick.  Brownie points are added however for her feelings about that cow Lydia Robinson, although Gaskell wasn’t able to say exactly what she felt (because abusers like to silence everyone – oh and sue them. Gaskell kept having to edit further editions because of LR).  Her muddled section on that twat Carus Wilson has also been a treat to mull over.  Her double meanings  force you to read between the lines and realise what was really going - it was bizarrely enjoyable to get into some sections.  Worth remembering the author knew Charlotte.

3.       Daphne Du Maurier’s The Infernal World of Branwell BronteOh my God.  What the hell did I just read?  I was shocked!  Kept slamming this book shut during reading.  I'd been expecting something sympathetic, I mean why go to the trouble of writing a book about someone if you actually just want to stick the knife in?  Overriding reaction: was this written by the reincarnation of Lydia Robinson’s conscience?  Feverish nonsense, oh and Daphne, we don’t call people mad anymore (maybe that was okay in 1960?).  Leave this one out unless you hate Branwell.  Reading this will do your soul no good at all.  If you do choose to read this outright privileged gossip with zero referencing, bear in mind you’ll learn more about the psychology of the writer than the subject.  In case you were in any doubt, I’m not a fan.

4.       Dr Juliet Barker – The Brontes.  A welcome relief from Daphne, the novelist, you’re in the safe hands of the academic here.  But if you’re going to compare it with the likes of Gerin, this can come over a bit cold.  For hard facts and research extraordinaire, it’s clearly the absolute bible of all things Bronte.  A tome of a book - if you want objective facts, come and get 'em here.  Barker removes all bias, a welcome treat after Gaskell and Du Maurier.  Unfortunately I missed out some of the middle section due to having a life: may return when I have a spare fortnight.

5.       Samantha Ellis’ Take Courage Anne Bronte and the Art of Life  I read this the week it was published in January 2017, which oddly chimed in with finishing Anne’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Anne’s birthday.  It was all a bit much.  Absolutely loved this book but something was up. Chapter 5 was up - for its portrayal of Charlotte. This book is partly responsible for me taking it upon myself to read excessive amounts of Bronte material if only to figure out why I had such a bad reaction to chapter 5.  On the positive side, this book is crammed full of wider contextual information.  Where there are gaps in Anne’s tale, Ellis fills in with her own narrative, which I really liked but some people have not enjoyed her style.  Overriding impression: it’s like your excessively clever friend comes for a chat and you just listen in awe and realise you’re thick as shit.

6.       Nick Holland’s in Search of Anne Bronte First flicked through this in Thornton Parsonage over a hot chocolate (now Emily's cafe) but read the full book much later. A surprising format, this is a halfway house of part biography and part fiction, although pitched as biography.  Beautifully and sensitively written once you get your head around the style.  Where Ellis has inserted her own life commentary into the gaps in Anne’s life, Holland has inserted his own commentary on behalf of Anne.  I didn’t mind this, but some reviewers appear incensed.  The book stays true to Bronte themes, did not shy away from religion and Anne's story is explained in detail.

7.       Winifred Gerin’s Charlotte Bronte - After the cold hard facts of Dr Barker and after reading too many negative portrayals of Charlotte elsewhere, I welcomed a warm and beautiful book about Charlotte, that *almost* satisfied my wholehearted love for her.  Still on with it as I can’t bear for it to finish - going slowly to savour each paragraph so I may add more to this when I’m done.

       Winifred Gerin’s Branwell Bronte - such lovely writing and devotion deserves I read the full set, so next up (not read yet) will be Gerin’s book on Branwell which I’m hoping might be an antidote to Daphne’s.  I understand the two writers were in a bit of a race with each other to complete their books.  Life’s no race, ladies, it’s eternal - just ask Emily.  Finish it too soon and you get irritating folk like me criticising it in 2018.  I did read the introduction which thankfully didn't suggest that Branwell was only worth loving up until he turned alcoholic (which is what Daphne wrote).

8.       Nick Holland’s Emily Bronte a life in 20 poemslovely format that tells the tale of Emily’s life in chronological order based on her own verse – and the book itself has a very pretty design.  Well selected verses (mind you, it’s not like Emily wrote anything naff is it?) which lead into chapters of her own life.  There are attempts here at describing Emily’s mysticism and power which have been praised by others, but truthfully, I’m not entirely sure Emily needs an explanation on this front nor that anyone ever comes close.  This book is written for the general reader and is very accessible.

9.       Claire O’Callaghan’s Emily Bronte Reappraisedhurray, this book made me feel like the author was speaking to me in 2018.  It's like I'm reading it NOW and I don't have to get stuck in a time warp to enjoy the Brontes.  Reading this is like your lovely kind friend gets a cuppa and cake and sits down for a chat about Emily.  Even sat and read it by Anne’s grave and didn’t freak out. This book successfully bridged a gap – modern, fair, well researched without bitchiness or bias.  A Bronte book I didn’t need to have a fit about.  I learnt new things from this book which I hadn’t from other far longer books.  Other than Emily’s mysticism which is again not fully addressed (the author kindly and tactfully leaves this open to the readers’ own spiritual viewpoints), this was a very good book about Emily.  In short, it was like reading a Bronte book but without the anguish.  Thank you.

     Copyright Rachel Sutcliffe 2018