THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF FACEBOOK

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Social networking? Good or bad?

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Path, Instagram, Foursquare…..I could go on…

Well, some years ago I chose to open a Facebook account. With it came a cauldron of emotion that I didn’t bargain for. It has, I have to say (somewhat feebly) been quite life-changing or perhaps more aptly, I have let it become so. Isn’t that pathetic? Is my life really so uninteresting that I have to rely on FB for the thrills and spills of my day? Well yes, I thought so or at least believed that was true when I first ‘got into it’. Now, I am clambering to get out of it!

To start with It was a good way to stay in touch with friends, follow their lives, share their holiday snaps, admire their families etc. A lot of it was positive but there are also many negatives too,  just as there are two sides to a coin. It is so easy to get hooked into the ‘Like’, ‘Comment’ and ‘Share’ routine and FB gradually becomes disproportionately prominent in one’s life and it can come quickly become a love/hate relationship. I know it did in mine and quite quickly became addictive (not helped by the fact that I have an addictive personality anyway). I got hooked….well and truly….I would get up in the morning and (in the absence of having either a partner, family or children), it was the first thing I did  – I checked Facebook for anything I might have missed or looked for messages from friends, looked to see who had ‘Liked’, ‘Commented’ on or ‘Shared’ whose posts, (a post consisting of an opinion, a feeling, a photo, an image, a quote, a recipe, a weather forecast, a status such as :) [smile], :( [frown], ;) [wink], etc or what colour pyjamas were being worn, or indeed if there were any being worn at all (no doubt accompanied by a photo!).  Everyone seemed to be on FB and if you weren’t, you were considered somewhat of an odd-bod or not ‘cool’.

However, having become a veteran of many years on FB, I’ve come to the see the other side of it (or at least in my opinion). I’m tried of all the pointless exchanging of useless information, the endless and tedious ‘selfies’. the numerous photos of people’s dinners or wonderful pets etc). I don’t like the bitchiness that sometimes goes on; I don’t like the trouble and problems it actually causes sometimes between friends, acquaintances and families. In my case, it has become a weapon of war between my children and myself (as some of you will know) whereby both my son and daughter have ‘blocked’ me meaning I am not allowed to see or know anything they might post about their lives (as in reality, sadly) and they can deny the privilege of seeing photos of my grandchildren that everyone else can see (and that hurts, believe me, that does hurt in the absence of any real life photos or visits from them.

I have to say, I am now slowly withdrawing from the all-consuming Facebook and intend to deactivate or delete my account shortly. A sorry tale in the end but maybe a case of ‘too much of a good thing’ or in my case, too much of too many bad things. Having said that, it works for a hell of a lot of people so if it’s good for you then I am genuinely pleased for you, in fact generally quite happy for you :) .  So, I guess what I am really saying is……IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT!!

LEAVING THE FLOCK (CHURCH)

Well, I’ve finally done it! ‘It’ being that I’ve finally made the decision I’ve been dithering about for months. I am leaving my church to go to a much smaller community church. Having had many happy times there in the past eight years, I now find, that my church has now got too big. It is a very rich church; in fact it is the richest church in my town. The congregation now number 400 and with that many people, you can’t possibly keep up with everybody else’s lives or to think, care and pray for each individual. It is sad to say but it has become impersonal now. They have conference rooms, an absolutely beautiful building with a stunning worship hall, run a smart cafe and numerous other functions, clubs and groups. It is a very successful church attracting people from miles around and I have to say, is wonderful in its diversity. Having said all that, I haven’t attended the Sunday or the Thursday services at my church for nearly eight weeks now due to going through a rough patch in both my mental and physical health. No-one has contacted me to see how I am or whether indeed, I’m still on the planet; not one soul and I am hurt. Should I be? Am I expecting too much? Am I being unrealistic? I don’t think so. Where is their pastoral care? Where is their Christianity? Am I indeed, developing an unchristian attitude myself?

ichthus fish

I am passionate about my faith. I know I can be passionate about my faith anywhere but I want to share this with others who feel the same. I want to express my feelings about God openly, demonstrably and sharing this with others and if I do so in my first church, It is frowned upon whereas everyone is free to worship in which ever way feels right for them in my new church. However, God is everywhere. I know I can worship and praise Him whether I be in one church or a different church, or indeed at home or in fact wherever and whenever I wish.

But I am happy now that I’ve made a decision. I have found a much smaller community church which is really friendly and personal. Everybody there comes up to me to say hello and they don’t seem at all perturbed by my trusty, blue, electric wheelchair otherwise known as ‘Charlie’! I’m getting to know people quickly, and them, me. They have a small cafe (coffee and biscuits) which is open to the public every morning and various small groups in the afternoons. But most important of all is that they are passionate about their faith and demonstrably so which I love and feel so comfortable with.

LEARNING TO DANCE IN THE RAIN

Having Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder or BPD really does make me emotionally unstable which I guess goes without saying! One minute I’m in the depths of despair and the next I’m touching the moon; I go from shovelling coals in the basement to then flying a kite.

On Tuesday night, I found myself distraught and counting out sleeping pills and paracetamol which I then overdosed on hoping for permanent oblivion. Not good. Not clever. I know that. I woke sometime Wednesday evening and was promptly sick which did no good at all as my body had already absorbed the drugs into my bloodstream. I had a pounding headache, racing heart, nausea and chronic stomach ache, all of which I realize were self-inflicted. And then was angry with myself for not ‘doing the job properly’, and angry that I was still on this planet that has brought me so much pain and heartache. It was raining…….’good’, I thought……at least there is no sunshine to mock my persistent emotional  pain. It was nearly dark now, the sun having gone down behind the silhouette of the trees.

I slept right through that night and woke Thursday morning, actually feeling clear headed and feeling more positive about my life despite the fact that all the problems are still there…..college closes it doors for the final time on Friday afternoon; I’m still torn between the two churches I’ve attended; I haven’t seen my children or grandchildren for months now; I’m in debt; Mum is getting on a bit and not in the best of health which I constantly worry about because my fear of losing her or being ‘abandoned’ is so horrifically, truly and absolutely terrifying.  I find myself thinking over my past life, full of pain and sadness, regret and sorrow, and my future which is a completely unknown entity. I wonder if there is another way out of all the chaos of my life, the past horrors, my fears and phobias. I’m daydreaming. I come to my senses. Will I be forever waiting for the storm to pass and watching the days melt into weeks, into months and into years of misery or do I begin to weather the storms and learn to dance in the rain, as the saying goes….

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Perhaps a more positive mindset, if I can maintain it, will lead to more positive experiences and a more positive outcome. At this present time, I am ready to try to dance in the rain – I have my wellies and raincoat on and am out there jumping in the puddles. I know this week, in particular, will have more than its fair share of emotional challenges but I have to keep reminding myself of this:

‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass,

It’s about learning to dance in the rain’.

THE MADNESS OF MY MIND

I am really not good today at all. I needed to write this morning. I wrote this in a Word document so please excuse its length and layout as I have copied and pasted my writing here because I am desperate to get out of the spaghetti in my head, the madness of my mind.

the madness of my mind

MY REALITY – FEELINGS

My feelings are totally out of control this morning – so much so that I needed to write them down.

I have a knot in my stomach the size of a football. I feel completely overcome by my BPD in that my impulsivity and mood changes have got totally out of control and are wreaking havoc all over the place.

I no longer know my own mind and I wake with fear in my heart because I can barely remember yesterday because I was so high. Today, I’m not – I’ve sunk like a battleship shot down out at sea. My mood is desperately low – almost at rock bottom with no cause and to the extent that I feel like taking a lot of medication and just going to sleep and not waking up because I can’t cope with everything being so out of control and the consequences of my actions.

I wear a mask, big time. I am a fraud, I am a liar, I am a trickster, I am not to be trusted, and I am evil. People think I’m this sweet natured, kind woman and I do try, genuinely to be kind to people and treat others as I would like to be treated myself. But underneath all that is this scheming, selfish, self-indulgent, irresponsible, not to be trusted person. Preferably, I am not to be touched by a bargepole. I should be locked up in a cage until the wildness in me stills a bit.

I am like a stormy day after a rainbow. Yesterday, I had the most wonderful day with church in the morning which set me up for the day. Then I had lunch with Becky, awkward at first but then we soon fell in love again as soul sisters and my thoughts and imagination soared to the unrealistic, ridiculous, impulsive, high-as-a-kite, chancing the ‘impossible’ and taking on challenges far outside my reach and yesterday, I was so convinced I was ‘me’. ‘Me’ transformed myself into Becky’s shadow and took on her characteristics and mannerisms – I blended in with her, with her enthusiasm for where we were going, what we were doing, how we ate, how we drank a cup of tea. I just wasn’t in control. I had blended into Becky’s personality. Where was I? And who is ‘me’. I don’t exist or at least I wish I didn’t. I just want to be a figment of my imagination that will float away in the breeze to nothingness.

My heart is so low this morning – it is in my belly, in my toes, leaking out of the bottom of my feet and desperately trying to evaporate into nothingness.

My carer is due any minute. I must get my ‘front’ ready to put on, my mask once again. To hear myself saying what a wonderful day I had yesterday when truly, that was not me. My spirit of reality had been flying like a kite then but that was not the real me. Who is the real me? I am a nothingness, a fake, a-should-be non-existent, failing, entity.

Now, I find myself writing this rubbish! Now, Debbie is due to come any second – can I get my mask on today? Will I see her walk through the door, smile, say good morning, and give her a long-time-no-see sort of hug although it’s only been since yesterday morning when I was someone else who I can barely recall. I am lost in my head.

I have the ‘door people’ and the shopping coming between 10 – 11am and I have to be real and ok and normal (what is normal? It doesn’t exist on my planet) when I really want to curl up and disappear inside of myself like a snail retreating into his shell after being startled and rocking in the world when really I am not there at all. I want to die. Right now, I wish I was dead so I didn’t have these wild, impulsive, desperately emotional, uncontrollable thoughts.

OMG. Debbie is here. Get the front ready. Get the armour on. Get the smile out, polished and gleaming.

SCRAMBLED EGGS

Well, firstly, I owe big apologies to so many of you because I have been absent from WordPress world and also my linked email account for weeks and I realize how many of your posts I have missed especially my friends, Mercy James and Meghan. Along with other friends, I think I’ve missed out on reading approximately 70 posts from you all and I know I’ll never catch up with the backlog so all I can offer at this time are my humble apologies :( .

As well as not being too well and therefore my mind being incapable of forming sentences long enough to write a blog, there has been so much ‘mucky’ stuff going on in my life and things have been so frenetic that I’ve hardly had time to blink, let alone string words together. Strangely enough, most of the major issues currently in my life begin with the letter ‘C‘, purely coincidentally. If this sounds like nonsense that’s because I have a brain which somewhat resembled scrambled eggs at the moment! The list goes something like this….college, Colin, church, crime, Care, children and Carole, etc, etc. and no, that’s not in alphabetical order as my brain cells aren’t quite up to that at this present moment in time. I won’t go into the details of each one for fear of boring the pants off of you but merely offer these snippets which illustrate examples of the individual issues. So here goes…

College = closing down (2 weeks), politics, mixed media, warring factions, celebration, saxophones, the press….

Colin = brother-in-law, redundancy passport, post, diabetes, aeroplane, cats, August….

Church = pastoral care (lack of), ordination, art, new pastures, brass band, friction, apartment block, cucumber….

Crime = family, trains, Marks and Spencers, blackmail, baked beans, city, money….

Care = all change, independence, scrambled eggs (again!), pyjamas, invoice, D & D….

Children = absent, car tyres, little ‘uns, grapefruit, failure, vitamin B12, heart, spots, frogspawn ……….and finally,

Carole = box of grapes, tutor, Prince Harry, music, old photographs, emails, two foot high patchwork elephant….!

patchwork elephant

So…..Interesting?…No; Relevant?…Yes; Necessary?…No; Nonsense?…Yes, certainly, but all true and all totally applicable to my life right at this moment so is it any wonder I have a ‘scrambled egg’ brain?…No, definitely and absolutely not!

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THE COURAGE TO BE REAL – WANTED: WOMEN (AND MEN)

This is a selection of excerpts from the book illustrated below. All credit goes to Holly Gerth. I was so encouraged by what I read, I just had to share a snippet of it here. I also have to put my hand up in the air and say, “yes, that’s me – I need to be real”. (I have no connection with the author other than respect).

you are loved no matter what

We don’t want to see the vacuum lines in your carpet. Instead we want to hear about what’s causing those worry lines to crease your forehead. We don’t want to be impressed by your cute shoes. We want a glimpse of your soul. We don’t want to read your “I’ve got it all together” blog post when we know that inside you’re falling apart.

In a classic children’s story called The Velveteen Rabbit, a toy bunny longs to become “real” too and asks another toy in the nursery about it.

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.

Becoming real is a lifelong process. But we can look for those who are actively pursuing it and invite them into our lives. That’s especially true when it comes to women who are further along in the journey than we are.

My friend and fellow writer Jennifer Watson said:

I would much rather hear from a 50-something, or older, who is killing it and more beautiful than she’s ever been because she knows what really matters in life, not some woman afraid of aging squeezing into skinny jeans who is terrified that she’s no longer relevant and useful. Every day is a battle and we are nothing without each other. Maybe it’s time to stop comparing and join forces.

Who are you letting speak into your life? We need peers, mentors, and encouragers. And in all of those roles, we need people who are willing to say, “I don’t have it all together. But I believe we’re better together.”

Look for these characteristics in “real” people:

  • Willing to share their struggles
  • Can laugh at themselves
  • Committed to facing fear and taking risks
  • Get back up when they fall
  • Pursue lifelong growth
  • Quick to encourage others
  • Celebrate the successes of those around them
  • Ask for help when they need it
  • Avoid gossip, criticism, and condemnation
  • Embrace their weaknesses as part of who they are
  • Don’t apologize for their strengths but instead use them
  • Love freely because they know how to freely be loved

Of course, we’re all works in progress. No one is going to fit this list completely. But if you find someone going in this direction, ask if you can walk beside them. Be open to what you can learn. Honor and respect those with more life experience rather than pretending you know it all. We need each other.

Also remember you can be one of those people for others. If people around you seem to constantly try to be perfect, it may be because in some way you’re giving off the impression they need to be. Or you may be modeling that behavior by expecting perfection from yourself. Sometimes we have to be the first one to say, “I’m struggling with this.” That takes courage, but when I’ve done so, the response usually has been a huge sigh of relief followed by, “Me too.”

There are no perfect people. We’re all mixed-up, in need of grace, learning every day people. You. Me. All of us. The good news is we’re also made new, deeply loved, extraordinary women who have so much to offer the world.

XOXO

Holley Gerth

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EMERGING FROM THE DARKNESS

Dear Friends,

Today is a better day for I am emerging from the darkness, having spent too many days buried in negativity and suffocating with my own self-pity. The character written about in my last blog, I have to confess openly, depicted the darkness and evil I feel within myself when I am sitting at the bottom of the ocean floor amongst the sea urchins, snails and the plankton that exist down there. I despise that black side of me. BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) is characterised by black and white thinking to name but a few, no, many other aspects.

bpd-wordle

I can’t say today is a completely ‘white’ day – they don’t exist in my world (and I question whether they do in other people’s’ lives too). At least I can say at this moment in time, I am experiencing a buff colour sort of day….not too bad but nevertheless beset with pain and problems, frustrations and battles but still keeping my head above water which I don’t always manage to do as those of you who know me will have witnessed on many an occasion. Today, I don’t feel that heaviness of many burdens like a lead weight around my neck and the pitch blackness of my inner turmoil. Today, I am emerging from the darkness….

out of the tunnel

Today, where I am in the world, the sun is shining. I shall go for a walk (well, wheel  in the park in my case). I shall notice the ducks on the river persevering as they swim through the duckweed, the wild rabbits hopping in and out of the hedges, a blue sky above my head only broken up with cotton wool clouds and birds in flight. All these things and more, I take for granted or in fact don’t even notice on dark days and yet the beauty of nature where I happen to live exists in abudance. I only have to open my my eyes and see the daylight. I will make the most of today. Love to you all, Ellie xxx :)

THE EVIL ONE HAS SURFACED…

hooded man

He lies; he cheats
He robs and steals
He hides it well

I’d never have guessed

He slaps; he wounds
He attacks and maligns
No thought for another

Well, he had me fooled

No regret; no apology
No sorrow nor remorse
He’s morally vacant

His approach is stealthy

No love; no care
No hug or affection
Cold-hearted indeed

I am shocked to the core.

* This character bears no relation to the individual spoken of in ‘Oh, What a Tangled Weave We Weave’