Thursday, 11 September 2014

Life under a bus (guest blog)

The following letter was written by a friend and fellow wordsmith, following a marriage breakup.  My response will follow in another post.

Buses are big, smelly, noisy things but sometimes you just don't see them coming. Seriously, In spite of the tremors and the unrefined noise they make, they can still sneak up on you and catch you unawares.

And when you're pushed under it from behind, the impact is even greater, You're left dazed and confused, numbed and bewildered, gasping for breath. The impact has winded you, and you feel nauseous. Sometimes the will to go on is knocked out of you, along with the air out of your lungs. You feel that you want to die - right there under the bus, hidden from view and in the dark. It's also a confined space - there's little room to move or to assess the damage done. You certainly can't stand up, and you're at best forced to your knees; sometimes you're just forced face down into the coarseness of the road, and made to endure all the abrasions, grazes, and cuts that ensue

 It's a disorienting place to be. With all the confusion and chaos that goes with it, you can't really tell which way is up any more, or left from right. Your view and memory of the 'outside' world becomes distorted, along with your view of yourself. It doesn't help when you're being assailed with false accusations that imply that you deserve to be under there. The lies are insidious; they can take hold in your mind and in your heart and you start to believe them. All the time the bus is parked over top of you, and shows no intention of moving off any time soon. And it stinks being under there. It's dirty and uncomfortable, After a while you start to think that perhaps this is actually normal, and you need to adapt to this new life under a bus.

But the new 'normal' is not normal. It's not right. It's not justifiable. Or just. It's just plain shite. And you need to realise this and not become inured to it. Don't accept it as being an alright place to be. That's when you need to stick an arm (or a leg) out and ask for help. That's when you need your friends to rally around you, pull you out, and dust you off. To wipe your cuts and bruises, and to sit with you, because you probably won't be able to stand, not for a while anyway. They need to sit with you, and not necessarily say much. Just being, and being present with you is enough. Because sometimes there are no words that will assuage the pain that you are feeling. And words, even when spoken with the best of intentions and utmost thought, can seem empty and hollow.

It will take time to find your bearings again - to rediscover which way is up, left, and right. To see yourself in the mirror as you really are, not the distorted mishapen person that others think and have made you out to be. It's not easy recovering from the all out assault that is "the bus" - but it will happen. We don't have to stay under the bus - that's just not normal. But it's essential that we have friends that we can call upon to help us in our hour (and days and months) of need. And it's essential that we be honest and open with those friends - even if it does hurt to lay bare our woundedness and our frailties. It's in doing this that our strength is rebuilt, and our sense of value and of worth re-established. We start to see ourselves again for who we are, and start working on the ugly bits along with strengthening our weaknesses.

 I would say pray lots - but that in itself can be fraught with peril depending on how and what we pray. Sometimes, it's just better to sit, and wait quietly. Say nothing. Just be. It's easy and understandable to be really pissed with God at times like this. I know I have been, and I suspect I'm not the only one. Yet, strangely, in  spite of all my ranting and raving, my railing against God, my accusing and challenging, I felt like he knew that I didn't really mean it - that I was not much more than a small child having a massive tantrum, and beating my fists furiously against him - the solid, immoveable, wilderness that is God. And when I was spent, and had nothing more left to scream, there started to come the peace. The Pax Christi - the peace of Christ. Quietly it came, unannounced and uninvited, but still it came. We become part of the "slow and inefficient work of God".

So my friends (you know who you all are!), I thank you - for the coffee, the beer; the late nights, the listening ears and the understanding hearts. For being there - even if you haven't said much, your presence alone has made it all the more bearable. Just the knowledge that you have my back has helped me, little by little, to crawl out, dishevelled and bloodied, from under that bus. It has taken time to start getting my bearings again, but I am making sense of things now. There are still unanswered questions, and things I want closure on. There are things that sometimes keep me awake at night (sometimes it's passing trains that keep me awake but I digress) but I will no longer be held to ransom by them. I feel as though I have turned a corner. There are days when I'm still a bit wobbly on my legs, and days when things conspire to set me back and drag me down. But they are getting fewer now, and the impact of them is lessened. I'm not so naive to think that I am over it all - it will go on for some time to come yet. But I know that I am, at present, better equipped to handle this now.

You have helped me tremendously, but your work (and mine) is not yet done. There are still hurdles and obstacles that will need to be cleared, and each one of those will be a challenge of varying degrees, but again, let me offer you a resounding thank you.

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