Wicklow Town, Thank you

From a certain angle, with favourable lighting I can pass for quite sane and sorted. From over there, where you can’t really see me, I can appear as a strong independent woman who knows her own mind and does as she pleases. But I’m not. There’s something missing.

My family hang no pictures of me on their walls. My parents to not have a photograph of all their children and grand children together. I do not know what sort of women my sisters turned into. I was branded weird and difficult in adolescence and have been mostly ignored since.

I was reading Ursula Kerrigan’s various articles and interviews. Her story just hit home. The tears flowed.  I was also flicking to and from @YesWicklow’s Twitter feed. When the Rathnew result came in I was in bits. It happened, in front of my eyes – an ex nun was proposed to by her American wife. You could watch that forever.

The Church indoctrination led me to believe I was sent from God to punish my mother for crimes unmentionable.  I attended the early Sunday Mass, alone, to pray for my evil soul. It’s only very recently I began to understand why I never questioned the inequality at home. After a sleepless night thinking of all those lesbians in Dublin Castle,  it’s only this morning I have asked why my sisters are treated so differently to me.

We were all led to believe there was something so fundamentally and inherently wrong with us that being ignored was the best we could hope for. No, not all of us. But I was. And ye changed that. That was a very clear message ye sent yesterday. We’ll have to wait and see how parents like mine react.

Wicklow, thank you.

And I’m still balling crying.

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Venus—by Sappho

Originally posted on The Bogman's Cannon:

Venus, evening star—
you bring back all

that was scattered
by the bright dawn

You bring the sheep
you bring the goat

You bring the child
back to mother


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Buddhism anyone?

Two weeks ago Tony said his friend the nun was coming to stay, to do a retreat. We were chatting over lunch in the shed at Roseisle Farm. There’s no reason why I would find this interesting. I’m not usually interested in conversations about nuns. But I did. I asked him about his friend, and what it was about, this ultimate healing thing. He told me very briefly. I asked him how I could possibly go on that course. He said he’d speak to Margo. Margo said yes. Stephanie said she’s mind my daughter. It was all planned. I was going on a weekend retreat with Buddhists.

The venerable Angie Muir is from Stirling. She’s a Tibetan nun, with shaved head and robes. She’s tiny. She lives in a Buddhist theme park and travels the world teaching Buddhism. She came to Findhorn last week to offer a healing retreat in dedication the the medicine Buddha.

I may have seen a Tibetan text before. I have a vague recollection of something. I have been in a few temples. I do like incense. The music is gorgeous. I own a meditation cushion and like to meditate, but have never participated in a group meditation, especially not with a bunch of Buddhists. I had no previous inclination that I would, ever in my life, find myself in exactly this predicament. i tried to talk myself out of it several times but it didn’t work. I was definitely going to go.

I didn’t know about the bowing. That was the first surprise.

Venerable Angie Muir is extraordinarily patient. She explains, over and over again. She explains everything. I  had no knowing that there was an entire religion based on doing the kindest thing. I understood buddhism to be the knowledge I have always held, revealed.

May all sentient beings have happiness and the root of happiness.

I taught this to my daughter as her first prayer, albeit in different words.

The venerable Angie Muir taught how to clear the subtle winds of the body, with gentle nose-blowing exercises. She taught how to make the mind like the sky, thoughts like clouds. she taught how to make the sky bigger, deeper, wider. She showed how to decorate the inside of your head with rainbows and invite in the love and compassion and healing of a Buddha.

She taught why kindness to all sentient beings must be taught to all sentient beings and then she healed the hearts of everyone in that room.

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chances in life

Originally posted on swallowthefrog:

When opportunity knocks

They say opportunity may not knock twice – so it may be a recommendation to open the door the first time and invite in the unknown to change something in your life.

The first time I encountered such an opportune knock was when a handsome seasoned sailor asked me to marry him and offered me a trip with my two children around the world – aboard a 30 ft double-ender yacht. At first I refused for various reasons and with an obvious pang of regret.

A good  friend however urged me to accept, as ‘proposals such as these do not happen too often in a life time’.  And so I did marry the sailor and set off from Cape Town across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. The crossing seemed never ending, I home-schooled my young children and wrote a comprehensive logbook but eventually gave up on the dream of reaching that idyllic Pacific island returning…

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Writing and healing

Talking it out, drawing it, writing it down – creating something else from suffering. I am lucky, I have always made up stories from the stuff of life. I suggested to the staff at the various centres that it could be possible to offer creative writing classes. They told me how therapeutic that would be, how they had long wondered how to go about organising such a thing. They told me they had no budget. They told me they had no remit to even spend time researching the idea. They told me creativity is cathartic. Last week I made one small comment on a twitter thread and almost immediately someone responded. I did not, do not know her, do not know her work, but somewhere in my heart I knew she was what they were looking for. And then another woman offered, and then another….Women’s Aid centres in Elgin, Ross-shire and Skye will have creative writing classes.

Often health care professionals, police and even friends will not, can not hear your cries for help. Your abuser may manipulate anyone to their own advantage. This is my experience. I asked my doctor for help. I spoke to my abuser. I was clear in what I was saying. The name calling, the insults, the gas lighting, the control, the lies, the blaming were all destructive and abusive. No one could help. I became ill. I lost any sense of self.  I felt I was dying.

It never gets better. It never stops. It only gets worse. When someone begins to abuse another, they will continue. They will increase their attacks in both intensity and regularity. They will not apologise. They do not want to know that their behaviour is harmful. They do not care about the damage they cause. This is what I learned. Do not wait for it to get better. Do not wait for your love to see sense. Get out, get safe, before you are destroyed completely.

The first validation I had was from Lesley Jagger of Skye Women’s Aid. She was the catalyst. She saw and heard my situation for what it was. I had been writing down everything. Every conversation, every argument, every nuance of my nightmare and making fiction of it. That was the only way I could cope. I had to make sense of it all, had to get it out of my head. I began to take the bones of my truth and create stories from it. I could see how huge the whole thing had become – how my home life had seeped into every other area of my living. It was only then I could share what I had written with others. One dear wonderful friend heard my heart in those typed words. He sent me a Knight with a van to get us out.

We needed food parcels. We needed toiletries. We still need counselling. Those services are provided by Women’s Aid. Women’s Aid exists to support vulnerable women and children. They do whatever it takes to keep us safe. Year on year they build their range of services to help women and children in difficult situations. This year there will be another service offered to vulnerable women via Women’s Aid. Plans are now underway to offer creative writing classes to women who have escaped domestic abuse. I am proud to tell you that esteemed poets and authors have offered to donate their time and expertise to travel to Scotland to help get the hurt out and on to paper.

Books heal. Writing heals.
If you can, please keep sending books.
Skye Women’s Aid, 3 Douglas Row, The Harbour, Portree, Isle of Skye, Scotland, IV51 9DD
Ross-shire Women’s Aid, The Square, George Street, Dingwall, Scotland, IV15 9SA

57A Marleon Field, Silvercrest, Elgin, Moray, Scotland, IV30 4GB

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Shelf stacking has begun

pic 2-e mail

This is the first photo of the books sent to Elgin Women’s Aid refuge. Many thanks from all.

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