Saying Goodbye To Fragmentz – The Final Post.

I’m saying goodbye … goodbye to ‘Fragz’.

Because most of you know me as ‘Fragmentz’ but, actually, my name is Helen.

It always has been.

After writing ‘Saying Goodbye to Fragmentz – Part 1’ I had so many ideas on a Part 2, and probably a 3/4 as the final ones, but as it happens I don’t have those thoughts any more. I think the first one has done a good enough job of trying to explain a bit of of why its time to move on. I had planned to write this sooner – but a bit of illness got in the way – so its taken longer than expected, however I’m now feeling a deep sense of ‘now is the time’.

So this is it. The last ‘Fragmentz’ post.

Now is the time, to say goodbye. To an identity. A persona. Something that to begin with gave me a place to speak out about things I couldn’t vocalise. A thing that then became a place to be louder as my confidence increased. A space to connect and ‘be with’ others and feel less alone. To be part of the collective voice speaking out against and writing about particular issues.

Over the last year, a couple of people have asked me ‘so, how did Fragz come about’ – and for a while I had intended on writing a blog/about me page that explained, and that also talked about the merging of two identities. Because, increasingly overly the last 12 months, thats what it has felt like … that Helen and Fragz have, instead of being separate, have merged and become one. Because for a time, they were two different beings. One who on the face of it could not express openly in front of people the torture of mind and life, but who could write about it. As life has changed and moved, and I’ve grown and gotten stronger, so has that voice that could not speak. I have a voice now. As Helen. But I kept the voice as Fragz too. As I wrote in Part 1 – I then became defined. Defined by Fragmentz, and the stuff Fragz writes about/talks about/tweets about. And, don’t get me wrong, I know who did the defining. Me. I felt needed. Wanted. Part of something.

But I also became defined by the abuse. By the past. By my story.

Read Part 1 for more on that – saying good-bye to fragmentz-part 1

Most of you know me as ‘Fragmentz’ but, actually, my name is Helen.

When I started a new little journey 18 months ago, to seek out a healthier and happier life, I had no idea where it would take me, or that it would bring me to the place I’m at right now. I’m definitely not healthier, thats for sure. But I started the journey of trying to seek more happiness. More settled-ness, healing, restoration, wholeness. Big asks huh?

My GP wanted me to do EMDR (for Post Trauma Stress Disorder) therapy. My heart didn’t/doesn’t. Still didn’t/doesn’t even though it remains on the table as an option …

Because despite making great strides forwards in learning to live again, compared to how things were 5/6 years ago, my mind was/is still raging in battle. Battling nightmares that persistently persue me and don’t leave alone, flashbacks, anxiety, and a never ending fight with God.

God.

We fell out. Big time. When I left London, moved back to Lincolnshire, I felt I had lost absolutely everything. I had my spent my life fighting to survive and thrive, and to be strong, and to ‘serve’ and do everything I thought God had wanted of me, incl going to London, and yet it wasn’t enough. London, at the same time as being the best two  years of my life, also became the worst two, especially when in the last few weeks of my time there, what happened happened. In an instant – life went from being quite tough already/difficult to being life changing for the worse and intolerable. London will always be a reminder of ‘that day’ – which is why its so hard to go back.

So, God. Yeah, we fell out. Well, I fell out with him is probably fairer to say. And maybe ‘fell out’ is quite a light expression to what really happened? Because what really happened was I spent weeks and weeks and months screaming at Him. Screaming obscenities and anything and everything that was in my mind. My favourite name for Him was ‘sadistic Nazi bastard’. I call God every name I could come with. If He, or anyone in fact had physically been present in those days of rage- well, I dread to think.

But God wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept flooding my mind. But at the same time as the dark. There were times when I felt schizophrenic. Seriously. And then one day, laying on my bed, in a drunken haze, smoking, I had a bit of a ‘moment’. A weird moment. But a moment all the same, that made me make a decision I now regret.  I’d been awake over 28 hours, and I was hallucinating. But in the ceiling I saw the face of Jesus (if you’ve been following my tweets the last few days, I’ve been rethinking about this and asking about other peoples experiences of this). Staring down at me, was the face of Jesus. And to begin with his eyes, were bright, but I couldn’t look Him in the eyes. How could I look at Him, in the eyes. Those eyes. Those eyes, turned red. Burning red, staring into me, into my soul. Beating down on me, scorching red. And then they turned to black. The face remained the same, but the eyes, they changed from kind, to burning red, to black. And they never left me.

As your probably thinking – and I was definitely thinking, this was all a bit mental right?

I had to move, jumped off my bed, left the room, paced the flat screaming for Him to leave me alone. For God to leave me alone. To go away. That I hated Him. And in that instant the face left my mind. And I drunk myself into more drunkenness and finally fell asleep on the floor in my dining room.

That was the moment I decided I could not bring myself to believe in a Jesus that would torment me so much any more. That I could not believe in a Jesus who apparently is light, and love, and peace and mercy, justice, and love. Because that wasn’t what I was getting. When I tried to look at God all I got and felt was pain, hurt, torment, anger, fear.

So I walked away. I then spent the next 6 months holed up, away from a lot of people and not engaging with anything or anyone. Except the people who were paid to be in my life, and I had no choice about otherwise I’d have been sectioned.

As time progressed, things started to change. I started to learn to live again. Started to learn a bit of normality again, in terms of functioning as a human. And ever so slowly I got swept back up into going to church again. Swept back into being part of the community I lived in, made friends again, started to venture out/work and generally work on this thing called ‘life’ again. And thats whats been happening over 5 years. Slowly, and often painfully, but things started to change. And those years have bought me to this place, where I am today where I can completely say, despite the difficult days that still arise, I am glad to be alive.

But this thing with God. Well, I never sorted it. Properly. I started going back to church, sure. I started trying to pray again, sure. I started trying to sing the songs again. I started helping with the youth again, trying to be the person everyone once knew me as/expected (or that I expected them to expect). I even re embarked on the journey of discovering whether ‘ordination’ was for me. Which was the reason I’d gone to London in the first place. To spend time ‘serving’/working for churches to explore if that was what I was being called to. Turns out it isn’t. But it was by starting that particular journey again, and the one I had embarked on 18 months ago, to seek out better health and happiness that got me to a point of revelation.

Several things happened – and I’ll leave writing about those in detail for now. But several things happened, big things, that got me to the point of realising that I had NEVER gone fully back to God and said sorry. I had turned my back but I had never turned back around towards Him. Properly. And through some random incidences got a sense of ‘now is the time’. Someone challenged me quite recently as whether I was a Christian or not. I was a bit surprised and taken aback, even though it was something I often wondered about. How dare they ask me outright. Of course I’m a Christian. Or was I? I think deep down, I was. Always have been. But there was this sense of needing to repair my relationship with God. And turn my focus back toward Him. Turn my body back in His direction. Start again, with trying to look up at heavens and seeing God. To turn my eyes back to His.

And through some real moments of weirdness, that I can ONLY describe as being those ‘God type moments’ that usually want to make me cringe and puke when people mention, God has bought me to a place of being able to come back.

I fell out with God. But He never fell out with me. I walked away and turned my back on Him. But he never did me. And that has been so evident. So evident in the fight. Because He has never let go of me.

Part of the journey I embarked on 18 months ago, that I keep mentioning was about this. And its led me to a new church. I had spent a bit of time last year, seeking, searching. As some of you may remember from my tweets/blogging of it, it was not overly successful. In fact it wasn’t successful at all, incl me having a go at one of them during the service, getting my stuff and walking out in a rage (do this new church really know what they’ve let themselves in for?!) …

I’d stopped looking to be honest. Couldn’t be bothered any more. Couldn’t be bothered going to any more churches that were completely off key and where I wanted to punch the Pastor. Couldn’t be bothered to visit another church that I’d been to four times and no one spoke. Or where you felt the eyes of everyone stare into when you walked into the service. Or where the coffee at the end is in a coffee shop where everyone goes into their little clique and your stood there, alone, like a div OR any more churches where their ‘ministry’ times consisted of you being pushed to the front and forced into having hands laid on you (two of my worst nightmares – being touched by strangers or people I don’t like/trust (if you know me or I trust you, its fine, you’ll know if its not!) and having to go to the front for any kind of prayer  – whats that about? Why isn’t the back just as good?)

So, I’d given up, but by accident discovered this new church. I’d been working a few days a week away from my home town, and that week I had to cover some shifts in the town of this church, about 20 miles away. It was a client who told me about it. Because of the food bank they run. So we went one evening. And visited. And then I decided that if I was going to be working in that town, and visit the evening stuff a bit, I wanted to check out a morning. Check out that the mornings were as authentic as the evenings. That the mornings were not a complete contrast. So I went in a morning. And I’ve never stopped going (aren’t they lucky).

That was about 3 months ago … and its been revelationary. And life changing.

And I’ve not walked out. I’m hoping that If I was going to I would have by now. I’m learning to try and resist the temptation to deliberately annoy them so they reject me. I’m learning to try and accept the kindness, love and warmth they have extended out to me. I’m learning that they have stocks in ‘Kleenex’ as there is alway someone there with the box when needed, which so far has been most weeks. The flood gates have opened. I’m learning to accept the email sent the other day from the Prayer Coordinator woman, who has been praying for me about the health stuff, is genuine when she say’s they’ll stand with me whatever it takes.  Soon after starting, and after speaking to a friend who also knew of the church and its leadership, at her advice, I met with the Pastor. I needed to try and tell him my story. Who I was. Who I am. Where I have been, but also where I want to be. Because other wise, if I had not, if no one knew, it would have got too difficult. Too easy to walk away. To easy to not cope with their love, and welcome and to run – even though I would have kicked myself forever. But I knew I would leg it when it got tough. So I made a conscious and deliberate effort to open myself up, be vulnerable, and trust that this was and is a safe place and space to do so. To maybe find and explore and seek some of that healing, restoration, wholeness. And so far it has been. It is.

And through a random set of  coincidences, which I’ll have to write about another day, over on the new blog, I got to a point where a sense of ‘now is the time’ that I’ve been feeling about everything, incl ending ‘Fragz’ overwhelmed. And so on the 20th October I gave my life back to God. And I don’t know who is reading this, some of you might be cynical, some of you might be sighing, some of you might be happy, like the one or two people I told immediately after screamed with joy. I don’t know what your reaction is, and to be honest, I don’t care any more. Because I’m done with the fighting. The battling. Please know this was not some hyped dramatically crazy scene. Nothing that happened that day was hype. And I would be the first to shout it out if it had been (if you know me well, you would know this is not the sort of stuff I normally go in for). It was just deep. because that day, through several sets of things happening, I truly believe God was calling me back to him, again. Again again again. Because He has been for years. And that the sense of ‘now is the time’ overwhelmed me, alongside the several other things that happened.

So, what has this got to do with Fragmentz I hear you ask? Good question.

What its got to do with Fragz is this: through that experience on the 20th October, and the thing that happened earlier on that morning/at the beginning of the service, I feel as though the thoughts and dilemma’s I was having regarding my identity, and who I am, including my ‘name’ were boldly taken on. See, on the way to church the week before and that day I had been quite cocky with God. And given Him a challenge. A really stupid one. One that would actually be my worst nightmare, and one that I assumed would never ever happen, in a church full of other people. But, it did. I simply cannot explain it. I also can’t explain the song that was sung in the service by the preacher before he preached. And I cant explain the stuff he preached. Because it was all stuff I had challenged God about, and said something on the lines of ‘Look here mate…’. I had a conversation/non conversation that kinda went like this ‘if your listening, I’m challenging you to this … actually no I’m not, because that would be stupid, and would never happen, and I’d hate it/be cross/whatever if it did anyway) and so on. Then I got to the point where I said, literally, ‘Right, actually, fuck it God, if you are listening (which I don’t think you are) that IS what I’m asking for’. I never imagined that it would. But it did.

And it’s not very often I’m not able to explain away some thing, especially when its comes to God stuff. I can always find an explanation. But this … this was/felt/is different … And it addressed everything I had been thinking/battling with regarding who I am. My name. My real name. My ‘Fragmentz’ name and my ‘Helen’ name.

So back to what this has to do with Fragz. This is the thing. That day/that moment I knew, properly knew my name is Helen. I am Helen. He has called me by name. He has, and He did, forever and a day, and He did again on the 20th October. He didn’t call me by Fragmentz. He didn’t use Fragz. But He used Helen. Which was an important detail to me when I was doing that convo/non convo thing I mentioned above, because lots of people call me Fragz. Or H, or Ellie, or other nicknames. Which is fine, but my challenge to God was about Helen.

Because most of you know me as ‘Fragmentz’ but, actually, my name is Helen.

So, I’ve been challenged. Am being challenged. About who I am. Who I really am. My identity. My name. And about taking that back, and living in it. And moving forwards in and with it.

And that is not ‘Fragmentz’, because actually Fragz has served its purpose. I am not the same fragmented person I was back then when Fragz was born. Hell yeah, I’m still battling. I’m still journeying, processing, and this is the VERY beginning of a new journey. One I’m not sure I’ve ever been on before, and I wont lie, its a bit scary. But I’m wanting to, am going to continue the journey, the process, and move on from the start again as me.

As Helen.

I want to, and am learning to reconnect and re engage with God again. As Helen. I am learning to love, and be loved again. As Helen. I want to continue to seek after healing, restoration and wholeness. As Helen. As the person I am. No more Helen and Fragz. Just Helen.

I want to learn to trust, laugh love, live, hope, dream, shine and strive fully again. As Helen.

And I’m back on that journey again … but this time its with God. Properly with God. Deeply with God.

I’m making changes. Changes by saying Goodbye to Fragz, and focussing on other things and withdrawing from some conversations. Not totally, but not being so involved as I was. I’m making lifestyle changes. I’ve made the decision to make this new church ‘my church’ – and seriously, it really has fast become my church (what did they do wrong I hear you ask?!) – I’m committing to focussing on myself, and God. My relationship with God. And so thats meant pulling back and withdrawing from some of the things I’ve been volunteering with. Because ‘now is the time’. I’m committing myself to continuing to seek this healing, restoration and wholeness I’ve talked about. I have no idea how or what shape that is going to take, but I’m opening myself up to it. Because now is the time.

I went to a prayer meeting a few weeks ago, in the evening. They have these nights every now and then that focus on something, like prayer or worship or whatever. So this was a prayer night. And after people had time to pray and reflect, they were asked to share if they had anything. The Pastor, Chris got up, and talked about the church corporately, but also people individually, and the he was sensing God saying this –

‘We cannot alter the past BUT we can bring the past to altar’.

It made me cry (no surprise there) and took me away a bit actually. Because, for the first time in my life I’ve gotten to the point where I’m realising/have realised that I cannot change the past. I cannot remove it. I cannot erase it and make it go away. And I cant continue ‘living in it’. But I can bring it and give it to God. I CAN bring it and give it to God.

And thats what I’m wanting to do. I cant alter the past, but I want to bring it to the altar. Of God. Every time. Each and every time something comes up, trips me up, haunts me, plagues me. The nightmares, the memories, the flashbacks, the overwhelming senses of darkness that overcome at times, the person I was, I am, and going to be. Everything. I’ve given my life back to God, but life is still tough. Theres no quick fix to any of this. My health is still crap too, and seemingly getting worse right now. BUT I want to look to God. I want to learn to be able to be before the altar of God as I am, with everything I have to bring and know that I am OK. And OK in Gods eyes. I want to learn, in time to fully bring the past to His altar. I took communion, in church, on Sunday just gone, and having not been able to for several years, it felt like another huge significant moment of coming before God and His altar. This is the start. Of a new journey …

As Helen.

And so that is why we end up here. I have so much more to write. So much more I could say, I could be here all night, and this blog would be EVEN longer than it already is. So I’m bringing it to a proper end now …

The end of an era has come, and the start of a new one has begun.

I’ll still be writing. I’ll still be tweeting. Just not here, and not as Fragz.

I’ll still be exploring all things such as life, and faith and how it affects the every day … but the most important thing in all of that is that I’ll be doing it as Helen.

Because you all mostly know me as Fragmentz.

But actually, my name is Helen.

You can connect with me on Twitter – ‘@helen_a13’ or my new writing space which is at www.helenblogs.com (nothing on/done to it yet, but it will over the next week or so).

So, this is it.

After 5 years, all I’m left with to say right now, is thank you. Thank you for being part of the ‘Fragmentz’ journey, at whatever point you have been. Some of you through it all, some of you the last few years, and some the last few months. Whoever you are, and however long you have been part of this – thank you.

You’ve all known me as Fragmentz.

But actually my name is Helen.

And thats who I’m claiming back.

x

The day I got into a fight with a street Preacher …

I was reminded the other evening about the day, a few years ago, when I got into an eyes red rage fight with a street preacher. Actually, maybe it is unfair to say that we had a fight, because I never gave him the chance to speak. I’m amazed actually that I didn’t punch the guy.

It was in the middle of a city centre. That I was visiting. And waiting for a friend to arrive for coffee.

A few minutes earlier, as I was arriving at our meeting place, I could see the crowd gathered, so being the nosey that I am decided to go and see what was going on.  I stood at the back of the circled crowd of about 60 people, with shopping bags in one hand and a smoke in the other. And I watched. And I listened.

I was starting to get a bit bored, but decided to stick it out a bit longer because my friend had text to say they would be 5/10 minutes as they were running late.

So I stuck around and continued to watch and listen. And that’s when it got a little bit more interesting.

Because that was when someone else, who had also been watching and listening decided to have their say too.  Someone who looked like maybe he had been sleeping rough. Someone who looked like maybe he could do with a good wash, a shave, some clean/non ripped clothes and a good meal or five. Someone who maybe looked as though he had been in a few scraps.  Someone whose words were slightly slurred, because they’d perhaps had a little bit too much of whatever cheap alcohol he had been able to lay his hands on.

Someone who looked like they just needed some love and care.

Someone who felt that he needed to respond to what the guy on the stool was shouting.  Someone who felt that life’s darkness and pain was better dulled with alcohol and drugs, and someone who felt that we could find our own happiness. He was someone who needed to tell the crowd to just be happy being who you are.

This guy made me smile. Because despite his obvious dishevelled-ness and alcohol induced merriness he had a beautiful twinkle in his eye (the eye that was not black and healing from wounds) and an apparent desire, however big or small to cling on to whatever life was offering him.

I’ll never forget seeing the shock in his face, and I’ll never forget the horrified feelings I felt when, whilst addressing the crowd with his own ‘be happy’ message, the preacher guy, having stepped down from his stool grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him backwards, so he could get back up on his stool, and tower above the merry man, whilst still having a grip on the merry mans shoulders.

And with one hand gripped on his shoulder, which appeared to make the merry man powerless to move, with the other hand he started waving and pointing at the merry man below him.

And then it started. The preacher man, holding and pointing started shouting at the gathered crowd, which was getting bigger as each second went by.

Addressing the crowd, pointing at the merry man he was shouting at the top of voice –

‘do YOU want to be like this’, ‘do YOU want to end up looking like THAT because if you don’t follow God you will’

and a couple of other things I don’t recall. I simply could not comprehend or believe what I was witnessing. And then he yelled

‘do you want to be like him? a nothing, worthless, a no one’

What? Did I just hear that right? Well I didn’t have to question long because a second after he said it the first time, he repeated it again, pointing at the merry man and asking the crowd if they wanted to end up like him, a nothing, worthless, a no one.

The look of bemusement and bewilderment in the merry mans face will never leave me.

It was at that point I saw red. It flashed across my eyes.

I grabbed my bags, stormed through the crowd, up to these two men, one on a stool with a firm hold on a vulnerable merry man and intervened. And when I say intervened I got hold of the merry man and moved him out of the way, and put myself in his place, but instead of facing the crowd and having this guy looking down on me and berate me, I got my finger in face and started shouting back as loudly as he had been shouting at the crowd.

As I said at the beginning, I’m amazed I didn’t punch the guy. Or swear. But I didn’t. However, my mouth ran away with me (what a surprise I hear you say) …

I shouted at him how dare he. How dare he speak to someone like that, how dare he lay his fingers on someone, how dare he pass judgement on someone. How dare he abuse and mistreat the vulnerable. How dare he suggest that someone was not worth anything? How dare he?

I shouted at him that the Jesus I knew would love a person like this. That the Jesus I know and I have read about in the Bible would love, cherish and care for a merry man like him, that the Jesus I know about is a Jesus who believes in people, all people, including this merry man being worthwhile, precious, valuable and definitely not a no body. That the Jesus I knew about was a Jesus of grace and mercy and kindness. And on I went, for about 5 minutes, telling him and the crowd about the Jesus I believed in which was everything opposite to what he had been preaching.

I ended by shouting at him that the Jesus I knew about would LOVE this man.

At this point, the merry man had wondered off. I stopped to draw breath and realised I had run out of things to say, so I picked up my bags, turned on my heels, leaving the street preacher speechless, and a crowd clapping and shouting as I stormed back out of the circle and back down the street we were in.

Why am I writing about this now? Well, simply because I have been thinking about it. Every now and then over the last few years I’ve thought about the merry man, wondered where he is now, and hoping he is ok. I hope that he knew he was/is loved by someone. And I’ve thought about the street preacher and the continued untold damage he is doing in ‘Gods name’ and hoping those that he affects negatively are being scooped up by gentle souls who can whisper the real truths into their lives.

I think about the anger it stirred in my soul. The red rage that flashed because someone in front of my very eyes was being told they were not worth anything. That person could have been anyone.  It could have been me.

It has been me, over the years.

I don’t believe anyone, who ever they are, where ever they have come from, wherever they have been, whatever they have done is worthless.

This is what stirs my soul into action, to speak out against injustices when I can/when I see it, such as this time, or other times when I speak out loudly on behalf of other people.

Its what stirs my soul to work with vulnerable people, be it young people, the dying, people with mental health issues, people with learning disabilities, people on the fringes of society for whatever reason.

I believe that Jesus loves people, including this merry man. That He is full of grace, and mercy, and that He cherishes and sees all as worthwhile.

I just hope/long for the day when l fully believe that that includes me too.

Fragmentz @ Spring Harvest 2012 (Part 1)

I had the real privilege of being able to attend Spring Harvest 2012. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve become a proper Spring Harvester (whatever one of them is – I was recently informed by a ‘regular’ that this is what I’ve become) … I’ve been converted to Christian conferences. Well, this one at least.

You may have read some of my blog, written last year about my experience at SH 2011. It was interesting, and one I was not expecting whatsoever. I had gone on the back of a drunken bet, ready for a fight, and ready to find it mind blowingly frustating and annoying. In fact, I actually had secretly hoped it was, because it meant I could spend the next few months moaning about ‘typical’ Christians, who like to spend a week in a bubble wrap and spend time exploring everything that is not relevant to life today. So, believe me how surprised I was to find myself experiencing something so very different. To read more about last years SH do check out this link, where you’ll find the relevant part midway through that blog – another year has gone-goodbye-2011-hello-2012

So, anyway, back to 2012. I went to Spring Harvest at Skegness again. This time, it was not on the back of a bet, drunken or sober. No bet at all. I actually wanted to go. Really wanted to. I remember tweeting someone the week before sometime, while I was washing up one day, standing at the sink reflecting on how the same time last year I was dreading it, whereas this time round I was actively looking forwards to going.

What a surprise eh? Well, it sure was for me!

One of the things I had hoped to do, while at Spring Harvest was blog. And I did. Twice. Not quite as many times as planned.

See the links for the two blogs I did manage to publish while there … its been exactly 4-years since i tried to die and a few thoughts on church labels and 18-30s

Thing is, when I am writing I can sometimes spend hours typing, and then going over what I’ve written, and then wondering if its ‘good enough’ before I publish. The other thing is, I always write from what I have going on inside my head. Inside of me. And so, what I write about tend to be things that I could talk about naturally, or that I’m passionate about, or have got laid on my heart to put into words. I often write about things I have been thinking about for sometime. I often write about things that have affected me, or that do affect me, my life, the lives of people around me, and issues that affect our world. But they have to be things that I have processed.

And so, I quickly decided that actually, although I really wanted to blog about my Spring Harvest 2012 experience, it would have to be done after the event. Maybe months after (like this post in fact). Because, I needed to be able to just spend the week there. Experience the meetings, the teaching, the seminars, meet people, have those coffees, sit on the beach, chill and do all the things that people do when they are away for the week at a Christian conference.

And then, most importantly I needed to go away, and process. Think about the stuff I heard. Think about the stuff I saw, felt and experienced. Think about the people I met, and the things they said to me. The things we talked about. Think about my experience of God that week, and life in general.

Having laid all the above out, brings me to the point now, where I’m starting to be able to put down in blogs about the week.

The week of huge privilege meeting some amazing people. Hearing some amazing stuff. And spending some amazing time with God.

Early on in the week, in fact the very first full day of Spring Harvest, I wrote the blog ‘its been exactly 4 years sinceI tried to die …’. It was quite emotional actually, sitting in the coffee shop, on site, writing a blog about how 4 years ago to the very day, I took an overdose with the full intention of wanting to die. Some people think it is a bit morbid to think about it. But I see it as a celebration of life. Because although things did not immediately get better, it was that day that life, my life hung in the balance, and for some reason it was meant to be kept going. I was kept going. I did not die. And, now, 4 years on I am so glad I didn’t. So that is what I mark. That is what I celebrate.

But it is important to me to remember where I was. Those days when I could not get out of bed. When I could not get showered, or dressed, or go to work. Or do anything. The days when all I sit was sit and smoke, self harm or dream about the day when I died. Because remembering those days keeps it real. It does not mean I ‘dwell’ on it as such, but it just means I can recognise how life was back then, and then how different it is today.

Its important to remember those days, and then think about the fact that 4 years on, I have been so so blessed to have had some amazing people put into my life, who have loved me, cared for, and who still do love and care for me. If only I can be even half the blessing to other people that these folks have been in my life, then that’d be cool. They are immense people that I am so thankful for. And that, even now, amazing people, who really inspire me, are being put into my life. And I’m thankful for that too!

My week at Spring Harvest 2012 was so varied, from dropping hot chocolate and swearing loudly in front of the coffee shop staff (who found it firstly astonishing a Christian at SH would swear, but then ending up in a great convo) to bumping randomly into a woman I know from my town, who burst in tears on me, and then spent 3 hours in said coffee shop (I became a regular that week) talking about life and the entire universe, where we both laugh, and cried. From meeting people who were leading seminars and main stage talks who inspired me immensely, to sitting in the Skyline at midnight chatting to an old time friend I’d managed to catch up with. From sitting in lectures that were so relevant to life in 2012 (so much so I ordered the entire teaching on USB – I know, I know, that really IS keen isn’t it?!) to supping wine late at night with my lovely chalet buddy who I had never met before SH. From upsetting old ladies in the toilet queue by talking about my habit of using the mens when the Q’s are too long and tattoo’s to experiencing God in a huge huge quiet and gentle but immense way. And so much more.

One of the many things I came away with from SH 2012 was this:

Despite my weirdness, and my quirks, and I have plenty of those. Despite my mess. Despite the screw up that my life has been and often is, despite my inadequateness and my insecurities I can be me. I can be who I am, and still belong and be loved by God and His people. And that however unworthy and small it is, I can and do play a part in His Kingdom.

I dont quite know how that plays out … right now, but I am assured that somehow I am playing a part in His Kingdom. I am His child. He does love me. And that even though I still have some working out to do, I do love Him.

Maybe my faith is ‘child-like’. But thats ok. I might not be good at the ‘deep’ theology, or the big facts. My bible knowledge may be poor. I might not be as clever as some of the people I have met, but thats ok, because I am me. Not them. And thats good. The world needs them. But perhaps it needs me too.

I am reminded of Jeremiah 29, verse 11. Where it talks about the hope and the future God has for us. For each and every one of us. Including me. So although, I don’t know what the future holds right now, what I do know is, I have one. And that excites me.

And thats how I left Spring Harvest 2012, after a few days, with excitement. About God, life and the future.

(I’m leaving this there for now, as I have said all I want to, but I’m hoping to write more about some of the things I’ve touched on in this blog and some of the experiences at SH more in depth, so they will come in time )

Childhood memories, God and I.

Spent some time last night reading my old blogs, something I do occasionally. And I also read an old journal, that I kept, mostly in 2008, and around the months when I was at the bottom of the bottom. Below is an entry I found and read. I spent a long time chatting to my beautiful Godfather on the phone yesterday, and he is only one of two people I know in my life now, who knew/knows my biological father. Its always thought provoking to discuss my biological father. Below is an entry I wrote, in 2008 about an incident when I was young. In fact, one of the tamer times really. My father was an abusive bully, who ultimately broke the lives of the people around him, and the lives of his children. Sadly my brother was to then take on the traits of him, as he grew up, and only knew how to deal with the pain with anger himself. That left me being being in the position of being abused by father, many different times, and in very many different ways,  but then as I grew up, also by my brother. 

Life really is like a box of chocolates isn’t it? You never know what your going to get, or be given. 

Most of the time we were at house ‘on holiday’. I dont really remember exactly how old we were but one week we spent most of the time in the garage with the babysitter, playing games. Or my stepmm would look after us. I think I was perhaps 10 years old and remember missing my mum so much. We were the other side of the country from her. I would cry. At some point I must have done this in front of my step mum, for her to simply say ‘wait until your Dad gets homes’.

When he got home, I was hiding upstairs. I dont know where my brother was. I remember him shouting my name whilst he sat on the the double bed in the spare room. He has taken off his belt and shoes, and I knew I had to go and endure the beating. It was better to go, and get it over with then endure ‘the chase’ so to speak, because then it would only have been worse.

Apparently I had upset my stepmum and disrespected her by missing my real mum. While being beaten reasonably black and blue with his belt and steel capped military shoes he kept telling me to never dare to cry again.

Maybe thats why over the years, crying became such a problem. I never dared to cry in front of them again, and in fact for many years never dared to cry again in front of anyone. In fact I never really cried at all full stop.

That same week my brother and I went skating around the base my father lived on. At the top of this huge hill were the armed guarded gates, and we’d always go to the top to say hello to the soldiers and show off our passes that said we were allowed to be on the site. Maybe we broke the boredom in their day, I hope so, but I know we enjoyed those moments. We would then skate down the hill as fast as we possibly could. Being a child at the time, the hill felt huge (it probably wasnt that good) and it was great fun.

Except for this one time, when I fell. Just by accident, it was no ones fault. Least of all my brothers. But he got the blame. He was made to sit on a chair, when we got back home, in the middle of garden whilst my father towered over him, shouting and berating him. This huge man standing over a very young, skinny, pale faced and scared child. I remember watching what happened, and yelling at the window, even banging at it. But I had been locked inside the house. What could I do? I dont know, but I should have done something.

I had dinner with my mum tonight, and during the conversation I asked her if my Dad had ever hit her. She said no. So I asked her why she thought he did us. Her reply was ‘because you couldn’t hit back’.

I believe my father did what he did to us, because exactly as my mum said, we couldnt fight back. Whatever he did to us, whatever type of abuse he endured on us, he was always the stronger person. 

But I am an adult now too. And I can have the ability to be strong too. I loved a quote by Gibbs from NCIS the other night where someone said ‘I am not a victim’, he replied ‘No, your not, Your a survivor’. 

And so through it all, I am starting to learn and believe that actually, despite his abuse, the bullying at school, the pain inflicted on my by my brother, the subsequents depression/selfharm and pain I inflicted on myself and then the assault in London which finally finished me off and led to what some would say a bit of a breakdown, that I am surviving. And I can survive. 

One of the most important lessons over the last few years I have learned, with regards to faith and God, was given to me by someone who I love dearly, and whose family have accepted me, and love me as I am. Not long after trying to kill myself, I spent some time staying with them, and we sat in the garden one evening and their garden table, talking about the universe. I was so so angry with everything and everyone, and my view at that point of God was that he was a sadistic Nazi (I know I know, I was very angry at that time!) … and I was also frustrated and fed up with people/Christians who would say ‘well, you know God has intended all of this for good to come out of it’. Honestly? Well if you look at it that way, or think off it that way, then how can you not think God is cruel? He isnt this kind loving thing if he deliberately causes alsorts of unknown pain on someone just so good can eventually come out of it can he. 

Anyway, Andrew told me this … God never intended the bad to happen. It was not His plan. In the world, or in people lives. But what He can do, and does so is somehow weave the chaos and the hurt, and eventually make something good out of it. 

I was so profoundly affected by that, and its stayed with me for a long time, and been a huge part in bringing me back to a real sense of God in my life. 

When I first started blogging, years and years ago, my very first blog was quite a faith blinded one. So full of life and a love for God – who was to know at that point my world would be turned upside down, and the very things then I knew i believe in would be broken. I for sure didnt. 

But right now, it feels like I’m coming back full circle, but as a very different person. My faith is growing. Deepening. Through it all, even the times when I could barely utter a word to God, or when I did they were just screaming profanities, I never didnt believe in God. 

So here I am. A survivor. A survivor who can now cry (a lot at times) but who is learning to live and love life, and God, again. 

Mandela and Merton

Below is a quote that was read out yesterday at a day I attended which was about exploring our future vocations. I found it incredibly powerful. It was used by Nelson Mandela in a speech he made, his inauguaration I think. I dont know who actually wrote it – do let me know if you do.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

also read out was the Thomas Merton prayer I have blogged once before, but will post again, because even through my unbelieving times and my ‘angry at God’ years, I have had this prayer on my wall for years and years.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. 

I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. 

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. 

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. 

And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road although I may know nothing about it. 

Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone

its been exactly 4 years since i tried to die …

Its quite a strange feeling … being alive when your not supposed to be.

I guess some folk would say I am meant to be but the way I see it is I’m not.

Four years ago I took an overdose. People would say that people who take overdoses are not serious, and are only crying out for help. Maybe that is so for others but it isn’t for me. I truly wanted to die. And as far as I was concerned I had taken enough stuff, in a big enough cocktail to ensure that I did die. I didn’t plan on surviving. Its fair to say my state of mind was a bit irrational. Thinking back now, my mind was screwed (it still is) but back then it was screwed in a much bigger way.

It is really hard to describe the day, four years ago. In fact a lot of it is blurry. I just remember being so desperate for the pain to go, that I could not see any other way out. My life was never meant to have worked out the way it had.

Stuff that had happened was never meant to happen. When I was a very small child, I could never have imagined what was going to be ahead of me. When I was a child the things that happened to me that were wrong were normal. Wasn’t everyone abused? (It wasn’t until I got older did I realize the answer to that is no).

I have written before, a few times about the darkness, the pain, the hurt, the desperation. The no way out and no where to go feeling. The heart wrenching all hope is lost feeling. Because that is how is felt. I had nothing. I was nothing.

So what was the point in being alive?  I didn’t see any …

So I tried to kill myself.

Imagine the feeling of waking up, a bit hazy, dazy and realizing that instead of being somewhere else (I had no idea where I was going to end up, I think my head thought it would be a hotter kind of hell than living, because that would be what I deserved) however even that was the better option than actually being alive (does not make much sense really when you think about it does it, but then I didn’t (still don’t often) make much sense) …

I was devastated to be alive.

 But that was four years ago.

I keep saying four, because I cant quite believe it to be honest. Four years! It feels like it has been a long long four years, yet it also feels like it has flown by.

The biggest thing I cant quite believe, and would never have imagined in a million days would be the change since then … how life has moved on.

Yesterday I tweeted something on the lines of ‘it’s the day before the day I tried to kill myself four years ago and instead of smoking, drinking and self harming I’m getting ready to go to Spring Harvest – a Christian conference’ – (obviously it was a bit shorter on twitter!)

I have the honour and privilege of being at Spring Harvest this year, and I’m really thankful to the people who have made it happen. And as I was getting packed to come, I was thinking about the fact its been over a year since I last cut, I don’t smoke any more, and I have the odd drink, but that’s it.

Last year I arrived at Spring Harvest on the back of a bet with someone who reckoned I wouldn’t survive a week at a Christian conference, despite having already been to a few. Not only did I survive the week, I think I survived it quite well.

Everything I thought it was going to be, it wasn’t. The fights I was looking for didn’t happen, and I went away from the week realizing that actually, despite my protests and issues sometimes I am a Christian. Yes, I am a Christian.

I am still trying to work my way round, understand the true meaning of Gods love, and really get to a place of belonging. There is a heck of a lot that I don’t understand – a heck of a lot … but I am firmly on the journey of trying to understand.  I still need to learn more about why I am here, what the meaning of my life is and why the stuff that has happened happened. I know that there are no easy answers to any of these questions, and that they are things that I am going to have to explore.

This afternoon, instead of going to the seminar that I had planned on going to, I went and spent an hour chatting to someone from the Pastoral Team here at SH. It was something I was a bit hesistant about, but something that I felt my soul stir into doing and I’m pleased I did. I felt like I was given a little clarity to my thoughts and feelings about today. And how God fits in to it all. Because He does.

I know that process isn’t going to suddenly become easy, but then I’m used to not easy.

But it’s a process that has now started.

One of my new years resolutions for 2012 was to spend more time concentrating and focusing on the future. Thinking about where it is heading, trying to ascertain the pathway I’m meant to be on, career wise, spiritually and personally.

And so, I supposed you might read this blog and think it is not doing that. Which is true, kind of.

I want to keep moving on wards, forwards, and part of that process is to process the past. I know I have spent some time talking about the past, four years ago in fact, I feel I have to. I have to mark it somehow. And the marking it somehow is more about celebrating the fact that I am alive . Its about remembering where I was, thinking about the years and the journey I have been on because that’s all so important when it comes to thinking about the future, my future.

I feel like I am marking it by writing this blog. Short of shouting out to everyone here, at Spring Harvest that It has been four years and I want to celebrate life right now the only way I know how to mark it is to write.

 IT HAS BEEN FOUR YEARS, AND I AM ALIVE, AND THAT IS GOOD!

What has happened is a part of me. I can not erase the past. I can not erase the scars that my body bares, and I can not erase the torture that sometimes haunts my mind.

But I can use some of those experiences, exactly how I don’t know yet.

But I want to look to the future.

I want to talk about it. I want to share my story.

I want people to know my story because more importantly I want others to know they can survive too, and that can happen by me sharing my story.

goodbye 2011, hello 2012 (a belated Part 2)

I guess it is fair to say that 2012 is now in full swing, being the middle of January. My end of year review has been quite late this year, usually its at the end of a year, as it should be, not the beginning of the next one. Hey ho … I am also quite late in writing a Part 2, as i felt Part 1 had gone on long enough so I though I would split it into two parts.

so, below is the last thing I want to mention about 2011 …

* I was just back reading a blog which had something written in it that has stunned me. Alot actually. In Feb 2011, I wrote ‘It has been 10 months since I last self harmed’. That in itself was massive. To now be able to sit here and write that its been over 20 months is even more massive. I dont know who reads this blog, and its fair to say I dont know your experience and your thoughts on things like self harm, however for me, it has been a very big part of my life. For a long time a very secret part of my life, something I never wanted anyone to know about, and was  very careful to make sure no one did/could see. Once or twice in a few crises moments would ‘seen’ places such as my arms be affected, but on the whole I self harmed in places no one could see. It was not about attention. It was not about people knowing. It was a personal private thing. And so very hard to try and explain the release, physically and emotionally self harming gave to me. Its fair to say it hasnt been easy. Theres been some close moments! It still isnt easy, because when things get tough its often the first thought that comes into my head … maybe because it was a coping mechanism for so long … and dont get me wrong I’m not saying i’ll never go back to it. I hope i dont though. So, as to how that relates to 2011 … I’ve gone a whole date wise year without self harming. Wow.

I wanted to share the above with you because i see as being something that reflects how 2011 has been for me. There seems to have been very little ‘drama’ throughout the year, which is unusual, but what there has been in a steady continuation of the journey that I guess i could call recovery, or moving on, or whatever phrase you want to use to be honest.

Its fair to say, and I am sure I have written this before somewhere either on here or twitter, that 10 years ago I could have never imagined in my wildest dreams that life would turn out how it has done so far. I could never have imagine how tough it would/was going to get. Dont get me wrong, I was not stupid, or naieve, I knew life wasn’t a bed of roses from an early age, but equally so, I didnt think that when things were already tough, they would get even tougher, and more tougher on top of that.

I never imagined that once id been crushed into tiny little pieces, that Id then get trampled on, and turned into even smaller bits. Fragments into more fragments until there was nothing left. Who does? But it happened …

however, here I still am. And somehow surviving, and dare i say it … almost thriving?

I am on a road, a long road which i am sure is going to throw out more blows no doubt, but a road which has some sunshine on it too … i am starting to enjoy life, enjoying learning how to live again, how to laugh, how to love.

And i cant not say thank you to everyone who has been involved in my journey. People as i mentioned in my previous blog whom I dont think I could ever express truly how grateful i am to, for their love.

as for 2012 … who knows what it will bring? I dont for sure …

however, as i think about the year ahead, i think about the three new years resolutions I have made (something i never normally do )  …

they are :

1) to lose weight ( see my blog titled My name is fragmentz and I’m fat (no really I am) to see why this is SO important to me! It is something that I am going to spend alot of 2012 focussing on. My first goal is to lose 2 stone by Easter, which is roughly 2 pounds a week, and by eating sensibly, going to the gym and execising more and the help of Slimming World, I am sure i can achieve this. The bigger goal is way to huge to think about all in one go … as ideally its about 6/7 stone … i dont think i’ll reach that by the end of the year but If i could be well on the way, id be pleased.

2) to continue moving forwards … to spend more time looking into the present and forwards instead of backwards. this one is simple in words, but maybe not to simple in actual practice. My past is part of who I am . Its part of who everyone is. And i disagree hugely with the pastor who once told me that if i became a Christian my past would be erased and i’d forget it. Unless you took my brain away, or erased my memory entirely, then that aint going to happen. And why would I want that … because despite some of the horrific memories, and the things that have happened that haunt me, and even to this day appear in my sleep sometimes, why would I want to erase some of the happy memories? I dont want to erase my past. and some of the experiences are shaping who i am becoming now … shaping how I am able to support other people in their lives. For example, there is a situation with someone who I chat with regularly to, who I would not be able to walk along side and support in the way I do, if i had not experienced what I have (if that makes any sense). So, although i dont want to ‘forget’ my past i also dont want to spend more time dwelling on than living in the present or looking towards the future. I want to spend more time focussing on the here and now, and the things to come, then what has been and gone. Its something i am going to try anyway!

3) to somehow get closer to God/to learn more about God (I have no idea in what shape or form this will happen). This is a biggie. For me anyway. As I wrote before, I had some interesting experiences in 2011, including Spring Harvest. Those experiences have made me come to terms with the fact I am a Christian. Yep. I am. Even on the dark days. I am. And actually I have been for some time. But Ive just chosen to sway between good and bad days and ‘yes i believe today’ and ‘ no i dont’ … so, for 2012 I want to be more committed. To God. I dont know how this is going to look. What shape or form this will play out. But I am going to give it a go. I want to learn more about God. I want to get to know more about Him, and more of Him. I want to understand more of His will, and why He came to die, and forgive. I want to learn more about his nature. I want to continue my relationship with Him … and deepen what I already know. This is tied in with Number 2, about looking forwards and not backwards too. I want to do the same with God. I want to try and come to terms with my past and the role god has played in it, but also then to look forwards more. As i said, who knows how this will play out … maybe it wont at all. But I hope it will.

So, thats me done for now … thinking about 2012 and what its going to look like.

love

Fragz x