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Thursday, 17 October 2013

'All things dark and ugly'

WARNING: The following ramble includes some mild (non explicit) references to self harm. Please read with caution if you are feeling particularly vulnerable at the moment. 
All things dark and ugly. Mental health. mental illness. WARNING: The following ramble includes some mild (non explicit) references to self harm. Please read with caution if you are feeling particularly vulnerable at the moment.

In my own experience fear, shame and paranoia have resulted in a life time of 'hiding', and I find it almost impossible to open up to anyone (away from blogger) with complete honesty.

When the same fear and shame interferes with my ability to talk to GOD, isolation reaches a whole new level! 

Belief isn't an issue (If I didn't believe there’d be no need for this ramble!) but, I do struggle (really struggle) in my relationship with God.
My prayers are almost always interrupted by intrusive thoughts, obscenities, day-mares or random muddle and as I can’t hide the ‘me behind the mask’ from God, I find prayer incredibly stressful.

Here’s what usually happens when I attempt to pray (lets give the ‘Lords prayer’ as an example)
It goes a bit like this - “Our father who art in heaven’, hallowed be”….  that’s usually about as far as I get before a random obscenity pops into my head (sometimes aimed at God which exacerbates shame!) if not blaspheme, it’s appalling thoughts/images - intrusions that are always unwelcome but never more so than when I'm praying.

Often, in my attempt to block unwanted thoughts, I'll recite ‘Ten green bottles' (or similar) while continuing at the same time with prayer.
So now one area of my mind is reciting ’Ten green bottles’, while another struggles with the words I should be saying. If this isn't sufficient to suppress unwanted thoughts, I resort to actually picturing each of my illusory green bottles as they fall off the wall!
If I come away from common pray and attempt to pray in my own words, I've usually given up before the fourth bottle hits the ground.

There is no peace in this prayer time fiasco, it’s stressful, it hurts me, I dread it! 
And yet at the same time I’m compelled to pray, I need to pray (I've a lot that needs forgiving and a million and one people I want to pray for!)  

I imagine (if you don’t believe in God) you’re by now raising your eyebrows at the mentally ill bible basher (if you haven’t buggered off already) but for those of you who get this, have perhaps experienced similar (and for myself) I will continue.

So how do I get around my ‘praying with a head full of crap’ problem?!

How do I ask forgiveness for (appalling) thoughts if I’m still experiencing them as I pray - forgiveness for hurting myself when the urge to cross the room (despite God’s presence) and take the scissors from the draw is so strong! 

How - when my mind thinks it's appropriate to throw random swear words into prayer, do I say, "I'm sorry God", knowing seconds later it will happen again?!

Today (with fruit loop pooch bouncing around my ankles) in the time it took me to transport a pair of scissors from lounge to kitchen, and (shaking my head in horror) throw them into a draw, my mind had played out extremely vivid 'mutilate the dog' scenes!
How do I ask forgiveness for such thoughts when it's not the first time I've had them and it's unlikely to be the last?!
(Though I do thank God that the dogs actual experience was - 'human at drawer (boring) - human at treat cupboard (Yah!) - gobble - slobber - beg for more)

How do I say "I'm sorry I'm not able to picture Jesus as I pray Lord - the people I care about or 'All things bright and beautiful" - "I'm sorry that in order to get through ten minutes in your presence without having a breakdown I'm watching illusory bottles smash to the ground or picturing illusory kids buying illusory currant buns from an illusory bloody bakers shop!"

How do I do that?!

Truth is I can't, and for now at least, I have given up trying to be alone in my head with God!

However (Thanks to God) there is something I can do....I can (though some may disagree) write, and as when I'm writing I'm usually relatively free from intrusive thoughts (those that aren't blocked by my 'key board bashing' are often relevant) a while ago I thought - 'why not write to God!'

And that's what I did - I started writing my prayers down, and it helped; It really helped!

I felt no pressure to read my prayers to God after writing - If God can see into my heart I'm pretty sure he can see into my lap top!

Funny isn't it (or not as the case may be) that the answer to a problem (a prayer) can be right there under your nose, and it takes a life time to notice!

Anyway, we muddled along relatively well God and I, until one day, after reading a particularly beautiful prayer on a friend's blog, it occurred to me that though I've read lots of prayer books/blogs in my time, I've never read prayers quite like my own (other than my own obviously)

Increasingly, I found myself comparing my prayers with those of other writers.
Theirs were full of beautiful, fluffy, seemingly God given words;  mine were not!
Theirs sang 'All things bright and beautiful', while mine (more often than not) screamed 'All things dark and ugly'!
I went looking for prayers more like my own - I found none.
I was filled with such shame that after initially attempting (and failing) to write to God using other peoples words, I gave up altogether.

I was stranded - AGAIN!

Then one night, around 3am (more commonly known as 'stupid o'clock') after a particularly bad (Intrusive thought/self-harm) day - agitated, afraid, and crying out for God, I suddenly remembered a message that another blogger had left on one of my blog posts.

"You are far from being a disappointment to God. He loves you beyond words"

I got out of bed, and I spoke to God (through my keyboard) My way!
No fluffiness, no beating around the bush, no hiding!

Here's what came out....
‘LORD, I hurt myself today, I was so angry at 'me' - ashamed of,  and terrified by my thoughts - filled with overwhelming self hatred. 
I wanted to (needed to) scream, cry, rage, but that would have hurt my child.  
I meant to hurt myself, I knew what I was doing, I craved the relief I knew the pain would bring. Please forgive me. I'm sorry.

I’m ashamed of my weakness, I’m sorry for my actions, and I’m now terrified (as always) that the wound will become infected, please help me and heal me Lord, in body, mind and spirit. I'm sorry. 

I can’t promise you it won’t happen again, Iv'e made you the same promise so many times before that now it would just feel like a lie. I’m sorry.

I pray for your help in controlling my urge to self-harm. Help me to be kinder to myself, help me to accept (all of the time) that intrusive thoughts are a symptom of my illness and not a reflection of who I am.... Lord, hear my prayer. Amen.’

Not your average share with the world prayer, but one that brings me to the point of this (rather long) ramble.

While sipping post prayer coffee I got to thinking (not for the first time) 'What if I'm not the only one'!
What if other mental health sufferers are struggling to recite 'All things bright and beautiful' with a head full of 'All things dark and ugly' !

So my friends - I'm going to (attempt) to write a book.

I'm going to attempt to write a prayer book that might enable other sufferers whose heads are full of 'All things dark and ugly' to open up honestly to God! - To just let go, and 'Pray it how it is'!

Wish me luck! :O)

POSITIVE THOUGHT                                 
He will not let go of me!

LORD, If it’s meant to be written let it be written. In the meantime, I pray that in sharing my story’, I might help other sufferers feel a little less isolated! Amen. 

Thank you for allowing me to share 

God bless you and all those you love 

Kimmie x 


  1. I can understand your intrusive thoughts Kimmie & I know that they stem from your awful sense that you are not worthy to be loved. I don't know why you feel this so strongly. You could probably trace it back to one or more awful traumas but you may have also buried these memories so deeply that you can never retrieve them. Being rude to God, imagining murdering your dog, who I know you love so much, is all part of self harming & punishment isn't it. You imagine that you are so rotten to the core that you should be banished from Heaven. Harming your doggy would only be like killing yourself I imagine.

    You have to try to forgive yourself Kimmie. Whatever it is you have done or imagine you have done, remember, God has forgiven you already. He knows you're poorly. He only wants you better. Maybe he wants you to wake up one day and realise this deep within your heart. Whatever you have done, or imagine you have done, you are already forgiven. You are worthy to live your life and feel happy & free.

    The horrible thoughts you have sound very very scary. They're that part of you you fear so very much aren't they. That wicked part that you feel you might not be able to control. Maybe there was a time or times when you were angry or violent. Or maybe someone has been angry or violent towards you and it's frightened you beyond measure. What is shocking or violent is a personal thing I think, because we are all different. The things that happened might not seem so bad to someone else, but you may be very sensitive.

    I'm not a psychologist, but I think I completely understand you & what you're going through. I've gone through very similar states of mind. I used to say the Lord's Prayer a lot. This would shock anyone who knows me because I'm not a church-goer. I used to say it more out of superstition, like an "incantation". Then I would pray for all the people I loved, imagining if I didn't, bad things would happen to them. Then, I started to forget the Lord's Prayer & would have to say it over & over again until I got it perfectly right. Now, I recognise this as OCD.

    I too don't know why I go in and out of this kind of anxious thought process. I've got alot better with age, also, like you, writing, & just being honest with a couple of people about how I truly feel.

    I wish you good luck with your lovely prayer book Kimmie. It sounds like a very healing activity. You are brave and kind. Please write that on a piece of paper & stick it on a wall near where you pray as a reminder !

    I believe all people have the potential to be good and bad and that this is what makes us human. The daily struggle with it is not often talked about. I think, however, you will find many saints also struggled mentally and this was often described as a crisis of faith. You and others area acutely aware of this potential. Something has made you acutely aware of it. Now, you are bravely confronting this truth. Thank you. Much love. May you be well and may you know happiness and peace. X

    1. Jan, Thank you so much for your empathy, In truth I have worried all night over this post and was anticipating criticism/judgement!
      You respond to me here as if you know and understand me and that means an awful lot.
      I am moved to tears by your kindness.

      Of course my rational side tells me that intrusive thoughts are a symptom
      of OCD but the nature/severity of them fills me with shame and incredible anxiety. Intrusive thoughts in my case are not always related to thoughts of my doing something bad, more often they relay to something bad happening to me or mine. death (in particular my own) being a life long and ongoing fear/obsession.

      I do (and always have) struggled with my relationship with god - not because I don't love God (I do) but rather that I am so ashamed of 'me' and terrified that there is badness is me.

      I can relate (and empathize) with your own experiences outlined in your comment,

      Thank you for reading and for responding so kindly, you have comforted me, I'm sure your response will bring relief and comfort to other readers too..

      God bless you and all those you love

      Kimmie x

  2. Thank you Kimmie. It's very brave & generous of you to write about these things & I think it will be helpful to you in the long run. It certainly helped me. Thank you. Much love to you and Yours. Jan xxx

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Sidratul, thank you for commenting.
      I already have assisted living - my husband is with me all of the time, we have a disabled daughter as well - I care for her with his help and he cares for us both :) x

  4. Kimmie you shouldn't worry because God sees right into your heart past all the rubbish clogging your brain & what you are trying to pray/say. Yes it's upsetting for you but don't be put off. He knows you don't want to kill the dog, swear or anything else that you or anyone else reading this is thinking of!! If you want to pray, pray! Babble on it doesn't matter God will have heard worse than what you can ever think up!! You've found a solution writing them down so stop worrying just write & pray! Looking forward to the book!! Judith xx

  5. Judith (Molly moo') You have no idea how much your support and frendship means to me!

    Thank you for your kind words

    God bless you and yours hun

    Kimmie x

  6. Thank you for writing this Sarah.
    Your writing is your prayer.
    It is for many.
    Also you are not alone or isolated. We are all in the same boat looking for each other.
    ((hugs)) To a super new writing day xxxx
    Love Peachy x

    1. Thank you for reading Emma, - ("Your writing is your prayer") comforting, encouraging words!

      God bless you and all those you love

      Kimmie x

  7. I meant Kimmie and not Sarah!
    apologies. Im not sure how Sarah got in there :)

    1. No worries Emma, I knew who you meant :) x