Category Archives: It hurts!

Ideas shake up..

ALERT – this is me thinking out loud, which may not be  a good idea, as I can go round in circles, and confuse myself and others. This post may also get deleted, or I may not react well to comments! You have been warned.

After a long, somewhat depressing conversation with a best friend last night, I am horrified to discover a few things I am deeply not happy about.

One of the things I’ve been finding most difficult over the last couple or years or so is the treatment I’ve been getting  as a single person in the churches I’ve gone to. It would seem that people turning up on their own to church are deeply confusing. I’ve got a long, long list of some pretty inept comments, and attitudes from churches who do pride themselves on being inclusive and welcoming.  I don’t think I go in with a bad attitude, but I’ve often got one by the time I’ve left. I used to be very confident about walking into a strange church and settling in. In fact, I’ve never had to go round churches to find one, wherever I’ve moved to, and I’ve moved a lot. I was always welcomed, and made part of the “family” . But, then in those days, I could do much voluntarily, and when I couldn’t it was understood why I couldn’t.  Now, I work long hours, and commute quite a distance, and have neither time nor energy to offer, I’m brushed to one side and ignored. When I do have time, things have ground to a halt, (I’m horrified at how tied to school terms churches are, and how anything I could get to or do stops in the school holidays.) So, now I’m very wary, and keep myself to myself. From preferring small friendly congregations I can be a part of and contribute to, I’m finding  large ones I can hide in, and slip in and out at either end of services without being noticed far preferable.

My friend suggested to me that what I’ve been experiencing is nothing other than she had been getting all her life in church as a single, competent woman. I was deeply puzzled, as  I have always regarded myself as single for my whole adult life, so why this sudden change of attitude that I’ve been encountering. I’d been blaming myself totally, (for I freely admit I was not at my best for the first year or so) and beating myself up for not being more sociable, more out-going. It could only be my fault I was finding church so hard because churches had not changed, had they?… BUT… After further conversation with best friend, however, it would appear others have not regarded me as single apart from for the last 2.5 years. (when the difficulties started) OK, so I’ve not been married, or in the kind of committed relationship with anyone else that would cause others to regard me as unavailable but I have spent  20 years as a  member of a religious community, 14 of those in life vows. No, I did not regard myself as available if the right man happened by, but I didn’t regard myself as married either.

It’s a sad fact but I’m not that keen on revealing the fact I’ve just revealed. I’m mostly hoping people skim past it, and  move onto more interesting things. But no, they grind to a mental halt, and insist on interrogating me… What, why and how.  As they did for those 20 years. Then the question were about why I chose that way of life. now they are about why did I leave….

A quick ring round of various single friends confirmed my suspicions.  As a member of a religious community, I did not count as single. I was safely part of a group, and therefore not a problem I was clearly identifiable from the moment I stepped into the church. As a single person now, who is much more anonymous, I am a Problem to be solved, a person to be watched, someone to be given Things to Do because I have time, as a single person has no responsibilities. (So, just who exactly does my housework/gardening/finances/shopping if I don’t?) I am a dangerous person who might be after any single man or woman. Or I might be in need of introducing to someone because I don’t want to be single, do I? (Um… yes, I do. If the right person was to arrive in my life, I would change my mind, but for now single suits me fine…)

Or I might be like Adoha, in Rev, fixated on the vicar. Please, I’ve spent way too much time around the church and seen the worst.

Children are to be avoided now, because I might be grooming them, or preying on them. I occasionally ponder bringing my vast collection of enhanced CRB or Disclosure Scotland pieces of paper with me to church every week. Whereas, once upon a time, I’d be surrounded by them in church, because as Sister Japes, I was a safe adult. To be fair, I also don’t want to be involved with children’s or youth work, as I spend my working week with teenagers who are draining. But, it hurts that I have concluded I don’t get involved any more with the odd stray child wandering past, as I used to.

Then, turning up to most services to pray is also regarded as odd for a single, lay person. I’m used to praying with people every day, twice on Sunday and occasionally in the week is not a lot after 20 years 4/5 times a day, 6 days a week. I’ve got a reasonable routine on my own, but it’s not the same.

Sighs… not sure where I go from here. I need to think about it all more. I do think I’ve found somewhere that will be OK, but if it gets too family orientated I may need to slip out for a while. I have found a kind of alternative prayer group which I can slot in and out of. Hopefully, just acknowledging it all may help shift things mentally.

An Awkward, In-between Weekend.

In that term has ended, but I still have to go in for three days before my holidays start….

So, I’m sort of demob happy, but not quite.

It’s been One Of Those Weeks. Partly due to me being really, really tired, and not up for being the calm, patient, cope with anything persona who normally inhabits my working world. Still, we have all reached the end of the term in one piece, more or less. Some good work has been done, as well, along with some steep learning curves.

All in one piece apart from my knee, which is currently causing me angst, and pain. I’ll do the exercises that help, and see how it is after a couple of weeks of not lugging around a heavy work bag, and standing on concrete floors for hours…. I think the battle for space to keep stuff at work is about to begin again. I need to have my boots and overalls available at work all the time, (I may not need them according to my timetable for the day, but I may be asked to cover sessions where I do need them) my paper work load is huge, I’m a walking stationery store (according to groups PVE3,  MC, BP and VRM!) and I need my lunch and snacks. Oh, and the travel mug and coffee. There just is nowhere to keep any of it, except with me. Those with cars store most of their extraneous stuff in their vehicles, I travel to work by train and walking!!

Then there has been the Sibling Situation, which accounted for a fair amount of the extra tiredness. I’m getting quite exasperated at the deeply mixed messages, and the “I’m only joking, you should know that” response, when I challenge her on some inappropriate remarks. Ah well, that’s unlikely to change, so I’ve had my say, reminded her we have different senses of humour, and hopefully that’ll be that until the next time. For, there will be a next time!

Still, I have some lovely books to read, no need to venture out to shops today, the sun is shining, and the chores are done. I think I shall just gently ease into holiday mode now, even though I’m not really officially there, yet.

Pascal’s Law, problems and ponderings

If I didn’t understand Pascal’s Law before, I most certainly do now.  From nursing frozen pipes, I’ve now turned into a mopper up of water from, until now, unsuspected leaks in the utility room/lean-to roof. Still, the condensate pipe did not freeze up over Christmas, and the one pipe that did freeze unfroze pretty quickly and wasn’t an essential pipe. I was going to have a grand housework day, but I’ll wait until things are less soggy! It’s still all far less soggy than last year’s dramatic terminal explosion of the boiler, though. And, I am cautiously checking the state of the (now becoming less numerous) icicles at regular intervals!

Looking back over this blog, my journal, and other blogging endeavours, I don’t think I’ve had trouble-free Christmas for more years than I want to think about. For the last two years have had

  • serious work related issues rumbling in the background
  • house maintenance issues, (um, me reaping the results of minimal maintenance for far too long prior to me living here – I am, apparently, a tolerant and model tenant, but I’m not entirely sure how much longer my tolerance is going to last!)
  • an on-going church related issue (can’t live with it, but can’t live without it either, it would seem.)

Included in the last few years have been

  • illness
  • sheer exhaustion from overwork on the church front, (though this year was the first time for many I’ve not been playing for church services or carol singing/playing)
  • this year – sheer exhaustion, full-stop!
  • life changing stuff

I’m not someone with huge expectations of Christmas, either. I have lived with others with such expectations, and as a result have enjoyed the lack of them these last two years on my own. Certainly, I’ve enjoyed eating food I’ve wanted to eat, not that which has been forced on me because it’s traditional. Explaining to one of my students, who has been very worried about what a vegetarian who is also allergic to alcohol does in the way of having a “proper” Christmas, food and drink-wise, has been one of the mini-themes of life for a few weeks. I’ve also enjoyed the solitude, even if it seems to have worried a good number of people that I’m isolating myself unnecessarily. (Actually, folks, if you want me to be functioning in my main job from 4th January, I desperately need the mental and emotional space. Plus more sleep.)

Thing is, this big life changing stuff has taken it all out of me far, far more than I’ve been prepared to admit until now, and my capacity for many things just isn’t what it once was, mostly because almost all my emotional energy is spent in ways I wasn’t expecting. Annoying really, because in many ways, until the summer, it looked as if I was managing the changes remarkably smoothly. So, no, I don’t have the energy to maintain relationships and friendships that have long been dependent on me being the lively, cheerful, reliably supportive person others have come to know – that side of me is still there, just in hibernation for most of the time.  I haven’t the energy to establish new friendships, either.

And, um, actually, the least helpful folk are those who all have suggestions for how I could be regaining that energy –

  • “You need Christian fellowship” yes, I’m aware of that. Unfortunately, I’m a bit emotionally battered by the experiences of living in a Christian environment over the last 20 or so years, and am adjusting to living differently. As a result I am deeply wary and suspicious of it all at the moment. I’m not really up for being someone’s pet rehabilitation project, or being gossiped about (all for prayer, of course) or being made to feel guilty that I’m not using all my gifts and talents to their fullest extent in the service of the church at the moment.  Or being made to feel guilty that my ability to be sociable seems to have shrunk to virtually nil. The best I can manage is getting myself to church for the service, hoping I don’t spend it in floods of tears, and escaping rapidly.  God understands, I hope.
  • “You need friends”. I do. Oh, I do. However, the aforementioned ability to cry easily, a hitherto unsuspected gift and talent, has been blossoming of late, and I see no reason to inflict it all on people I don’t really know and unfortunately my best friends all live too far away.
  • “You need to…. “Well, there’s a never ending list of all the things various well-meaning people seem to think I need to do. Some of which I agree with, and others, quite frankly, I do not. I do need to live closer to my work place, or change my job. (After the shocker of just before Christmas, that may well be on the cards sooner rather than later.) I do need to finish this qualification I’m working on, despite my suspicions it’s not really worth doing. I do need a better balance of work/social life.

Somewhere, somehow, just taking tiny baby steps, it will work out – in God’s time.

An ancient conundrum

The God and church stuff has been going through a major blip again… honestly, just when I thought it was on an even keel, at last, back it all went into roller-coaster mode. Which, as work proceeded to do exactly the same more or less at the same time, meant the Japes’ coping mechanism of hiding in a back corner, preferably under a duvet, activated with great speed.

So, I tried going to church only every two or three weeks, stopped saying the Morning Office before going to work, Compline before going to bed, stopped reading theology, stopped playing the piano and singing along to whatever I chose out of my 50+ hymnbook collection, only prayed in intercession for others.

I have finally realised it just isn’t going to work! Pah. God is devious… and has even produced a cast iron reason for me not to abandon the church I’ve been going to, for now at least. I even have company in my back corner, very unexpectedly.

I always seem to have a very fine balancing act constantly going in my life as to whether I find being with other people exhausting or energising, through all this last few weeks it’s been totally unbalanced to the exhausting end of the scale. Which then leads to a lonely, isolated, exhausted me, who has no time for the really important people or activities in my life, and basically is just not nice to know.

So, today, I have reconnected myself to my prayer routine, tomorrow, as well as the work list from hell… I need to re-connect to my life, as I need to live it. I may have to do some grovelling, and will probably get at least one justified telling off for isolating myself to no good purpose…

I’m glad I watched “Whale Rider” again last night – even if it made me cry!

More Redefining of Japes’ Life

It’s been a week away from work, at the end of a pretty exhausting seven weeks of new tasks, and what I really needed was a week’s sleep. So, what did I do? That’s right, go and help some friends with a major clearing out and packing and downsizing process, that was due to finish today. (I did from Monday until Friday.)

I helped fill two skips, (probably more like three, but some stuff vanished in the process… odd that.) loaded up a large van load  and large car load of items for recycling, was seen to be wandering with several lists attached to me, and praying fervently that the right stuff got to the right place, found some things that had remained hidden for more years than any of us want to think about, and helped eat up copious amounts of food!!! Meals were filling, but occasionally rather unusual.

It’s the end of many, many eras, for me, for my friends, for the locality in which they lived.

For me, I’m hopeful that the horridness of the last few weeks in my own life were mostly related to some unfinished stuff around all this process, which has taken a very long time … partly, it has to be acknowledged, through my own dragging my heels. I need not have done any of what I did, either this week or in August , but as I said then, a lot of emotional rubbish got put in the skip then, and even more went this time. It’s been a peculiarly Japes’ way of moving forwards.

It also meant that I had no energy for more than one shopping expedition today! I used it all up on the major restock of the larder and freezer.. a second trip, for t-shirts, socks and shoes was Foolish. I realised when I was losing the will to live in the third purveyor of t-shirts that persisting in this was going to end badly. I am grateful I was Domestic Goddess par excellence last weekend, and am very organised in the laundry and housework departments. Ah, apart from the Losing My Favourite Chopping Knife Episode in the black hole under the sink unit, (which is what prompted the second expedition, as I couldn’t get a replacement on the first trip).

So, I will be very lazy from now until 5.30 a.m. on Monday morning, and revive my soul with food of my choosing, gentle reading, pleasant music, and moving no further from the settee than other rooms in the house as required.

Brain ache

(Japes emerges from her month long mental lie down in a darkened corner, having hoped it would all go away and leave her alone. It didn’t, so a stern talking to was administered, and normal-ish service has been resumed.)

Oh me oh my, my poor, poor brain.

On the plus side,

  • My ancient O Level in Mathematics has been getting dusted down, and used again. Skills in geometry and trigonometry have been dragged out and re-used.
  • I know more about the internal combustion engine, braking and suspension systems than I did a week ago!
  • I am the proud possessor of a boiler suit, which has been suitably adapted for a Japes’ shape. (Or rather, will be by the end of this weekend, some sleeve adjustments are now needed in the light of a week’s experience!) It goes splendidly with the steel toe capped boots.
  • My inner 8 year old, who yearned to be an electrician or a motor mechanic or both has been getting very, very excited about the recent timetabling at work.
  • My inner 14 year old is shrieking, however, that Physics were given up pre-O Level for good reason.

On the negative side, there has been a lot of stress, and there is more to come.

This weekend, however, has been declared a lazy, do nothing two days.

I take it all back

About feeling more settled!

I’ve been feeling thoroughly out of sorts for weeks now, and disinclined to write, or talk, or be with people. When I have been, I’ve ended up apologising for nasty comments, or misplaced anger. I’ve reverted to silence, and keeping myself to myself in the hopes this phase will pass soon.

Some of it I know will settle soon – I just have to possess my soul in patience to see what will happen at work. This week should at least clear some of that up.

Another bit of it, in theory, is settled all bar the last vital piece of paperwork. But, waiting for that is being so frustrating. It could be stuck on two different desks or in-trays, or just not yet have made it’s way to the top of two piles of work. I could make noises about it all, but know that now isn’t a good time for either of the owners of the desks/in-trays , and waiting for another two or three weeks would be better.

Some of it has been changing work patterns. Some of my work is liable to change, and I know that. It doesn’t mean I find it easy, much as I’ve enjoyed the new challenges of this week, and will enjoy the next four weeks until the next set of changes.

Some of it is acknowledging to myself that, despite all my efforts to pretend otherwise, I am very angry with God, very angry with myself, and don’t like it being this way. But, I feel better for admitting it all – just got to do something about it now.

Foot is fine, knee not so, emotional state remarkably calm.

After moments of genius, (combination of new trainers, strapping on the bit of foot that was hurting most, and a day’s rest) the foot is no longer hurting, though I’m aware this may only be whilst I’m not walking much!

The knee however, is determined to sulk for a bit longer. I’m also aware it’s not liking the cold and the damp.

However, considering I have written a monumentally important letter this afternoon, I am feeling remarkably calm, and content. It made me cry a little in the writing of it, but only a little. Once it was done, and the back-up e-mail sent, I felt much more able to look a bit more clearly at the next steps work-wise, and what the rest of my life might contain.

Which is not as clear as it was, but I still think Plan A for finishing this in a couple of months is the better plan for me.

Mystery solved, meltdowns sorted, and feet

It’s been a very mixed day!

I solved the on-going mystery of Who Keeps Moving the Chairs, despite the “Please do not take the chairs out of this room” notices. It’s not the way I would’ve chosen to solve the mystery, but out of a horrendous situation, which has nothing to do with the chairs, has come a very little good.

I sorted my line manager’s momentary meltdown over matters technological. Well, I do that pretty regularly, but today’s was a pretty spectacular meltdown, albeit brief.

I solved my own feet and knees dilemma by going and buying new trainers for me to wear for the the walking part of the commute. (It’s about an hour of my travelling time!) If they are still sore and achy after the weekend, then I promise to take myself off to the doctor.

I also arrived home to my polling card, to my huge relief. After the last few weeks of persuading teenagers to take an interest in politics (a successful campaign! Several have shifted from “Why should I bother” to “I’m addicted to this!”) I would’ve been mortified to have to tell them I hadn’t voted because something had gone wrong with the getting me added to the electoral roll process.