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Walking Through the Pain

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My sister headed off last week to walk the Camino, she’s started in the south of France and is walking to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. For her, it really is a pilgrimage and not just a chance to post a selfie on social media.  Five years ago, this week, she lost her sixteen year old son Jude, to a brain tumour and is struggling with the loss more this year, than when he died.  The truth is, she hasn't fully grieved her loss and is trying to find some way to work through it and so, she thought that walking the Camino would help, and something she felt she had to do.

Around the time he died, I was going through a very rough patch too which went on for some time.  It was the culmination of all the traumatic events that had happened in my life and they came back to haunt me in one crashing blow.  One day, I was sitting thinking about all that had happened and feeling sorry for myself and asking the usual, 'Why me?' 'Why did I have to go through so much?', wallowing in self-pity and then, another thought struck me. I thought, 'Well, why not me? Yes, why not me? What is so special about me that I should I be exempt from suffering?  And, if not me, then, who?’ Could I point a finger at anyone and say, 'No, give my suffering and pain to them'. And I couldn't because as much as we might feel there are some who do deserve to suffer, (like the Tories) no-one really knows what is going on in anyone else’s life or what burdens they may have to carry so, why not me? And that was a big turning point.

There is a lot written on the subject of trauma and forgiveness and it is often said that, in order to move on from past traumas, we have to forgive. I’ll be honest, I always had difficulty with this and I know others who think the same. I’ve forgiven no one for what they have done to me but what I have come to realise is that it is not those who have injured us that we have to forgive, it is ourselves.  This was another step forward for me, to forgive myself for having allowed myself to be vulnerable or for putting myself into a situation where others could use or take advantage of me.  I did not always have control over the events or situations and often, my biggest fault was naivety, believing people to be friends when they were anything but.  In forgiving myself however, I have been able to make peace with the past and move on and the days or sitting feeling sorry for myself or ruminating on the why’s and wherefores are now over. 

They say, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and I have to admit, it was touch and go with that one for a while but in watching my nephew and my sister struggle and fight for his life, how could I throw my life away so, I soldiered on through the pain, like my sister is doing now, soldiering on across northern Spain.  And that is all you can do with that kind of pain and sorrow.  If it is something that happened in the past, there is absolutely nothing we can do to change it.  All we can do is sit with the pain, grieve our losses and eventually, we move on or at least, find a way to live with it.

I now have a full understanding of how and why things happened the way they did and the part I played in it.  That is another important step on the road to making peace with myself, being able to look back and admit to how I contributed to some of those events. I don’t mean that I consciously sought pain or suffering but because I wasn’t acting with full consciousness, it was almost inevitable that I would attract the wrong type of person into my life.  I had a victim mentality and may as well have been walking around with a large sign above me saying, ‘use and abuse’. 

Growing up in Northern Ireland and being brought up Catholic, didn’t help either as both those things feed into the victim mentality. 

I’m reading a book at the moment by Dr Gabor Maté. It’s called When the Body Says No and it is about pyschoneuroimmuno(endocrino)logy(try saying that after a few beers!) It details how stress is linked to cancer and how there are similar patterns of personality/behaviour in a lot of cancer patients. They are usually people who can’t say no and who insist in taking care of everybody and everything.  Then, they end up ill with cancer and when their past is delved into, there is usually a history of abuse of some kind, usually in childhood, where they were unable to express their emotions in a healthy way, especially anger and remained that way into adulthood and so they are still operating from a place of sub-consciousness. 

I thought this was interesting, especially this week, when it was announced that Willie Frazer had died from cancer which he had been battling for some time. Willie Frazer was the founder of FAIR – Families Acting for Innocent Relatives – and was full of hate and anger. His anger was understandable; he lost not only his father but several other family members at the hands of the IRA.  He could not make peace with the past or let it go, and it may have cost him his health and his life.

Also, on the news this week, was the result of a government consultation on plans to deal with the legacy of the Troubles where it was revealed that a majority opposed an amnesty for veterans.  I have to say, I was very disappointed to hear this.  There has been a lot of suffering in Northern Ireland and anyone who lost a family member or friend in the Troubles has my deepest sympathy. But, you cannot change the past and if you have lost someone, how can you ever really get justice? You can’t bring them back.

But, there are still a lot of people here with the victim mentality who won’t let the past go.  They wear their suffering where everyone can see it, they are victims, they keep dragging it up, like the scab on an old wound, they can’t or won’t leave it alone, picking at it and picking at it, never giving it time to heal. Each side, claiming victimhood, at the hands of the other.

There are very few of us who get a free pass through life and don’t have challenges, pain or loss to deal with at some point. We can piss and moan about it forever and a day but it won’t change anything.  In the end, there is little that can be done other than to sit with the pain, face it and deal with it, cry, go for a long walk, find a way that works for you to get through it because you have to go through it, there is no way around and if you don’t deal with it, it may be waiting for you further down the road or it may be quietly eating at you, in other ways.

Thankfully, I have now come out the other side of my ‘pain’, and while it was a tough road, I can look back now and see that it was both a learning experience and a period of great personal and spiritual growth and I would never have fully grown up without facing that pain and dealing with it.  I still have no forgiveness for those who were instrumental in contributing to my suffering but I can see now how nasty, weak and pathetic they really are. I’m not angry at them because I don’t have the energy to sustain that kind of anger and they’ve taken up enough of my time and energy and they’re not getting any more.  Actually, not only am I not angry, I don’t really feel much of anything for them, they just don’t really matter and maybe that’s the best place to be.  Maybe that is forgiveness?

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La, la land

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Wednesday, 30 Aug 2017, 23:26

I really feel, I should send out a warm and hearty congratulations, to our local politicians for a job well done.  I caught the news headlines tonight, floods in Houston, missiles over Japan and WW3 looming large on the horizon but meanwhile over here in the political imaginarium of la,la land, there has been a coming together of parties (all say, awwwh!) to (wait for it!!) press for an Irish language Act (now don’t it just warm the cockles of your ‘eart) and according to Sinn Fein et al, there will be no assembly until they get it.  (Ya boo sucks to you!  So, there!)

I live in a socially (among other things) deprived area where we have always had higher unemployment rates than the rest of the UK, and back in the 70's, I think we even held the No 1 position for unemployment black-spot for the whole of Europe!  Not forgetting, the most bombed town outside of Belfast!!  Ta da!  Beat that Damascus!

Unemployment is only one of the issues needing addressing around here and I was sitting a few months ago counting how many people I knew who had died either by suicide or from alcoholism, and the total came to almost 40.  This was one of the reasons why I deferred my final OU year to get involved with the Waving Not Drowning show.  When the show played in our local theatre, not one, and I will repeat that -




And up in Stormont, they're demanding an Irish Language Act before any political movement on anything because that really is where the priorities are around here.  In the midst of the fire of unemployment, alcoholism, suicide and let’s not forget that other old remnant from the ‘trouble’s’ PTSD; our politicians fiddle around with an Irish Language Act because it so necessary to the well-being of the population and demonstrates just how concerned they are about us. They really do have our best interests at heart and those fingers are right on the pulse of the nation.  Not to mention how necessary it is to show how welcoming, culturally diverse and accepting we all are.

So stand up, all you NI politicians and take a bow!  Take a large bow for being so completely up yourself, not to mention, deluded, with your big overblown ego and totally distorted sense of proportion.  Take a bow for all those languishing on the dole, for all those who are drinking themselves into an early grave or those who have sunk so low into the pit of despair that they feel their only option is to hang, overdose, shoot or drown themselves. 

And take a really big bow for those who are crippled with anxiety and depression!  The nervous wrecks left behind from having to grow up in a war zone and who have to, day and daily, face the murals and monuments to death and destruction.  Those constant reminders of just how totally fecking miserable it was here, throughout that whole rotten period.   

Yes!  Take a great big bow!  For God knows, how hard you must be working to take home that 50 grand a year plus expenses, not forgetting the other 60 grand for Parliament (and this is especially to Sinn Fein who don't even have to bother taking their seats!)  Well done to you all!!  Congratulate yourselves on your blind arrogance and self-righteous grand-standing!

Because, at the end of the day, just think how important it is to be able to demonstrate your patriotic credentials by writing your suicide note in Irish...slan abhaile!


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Riots in Belfast (did they ever stop??)

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Edited by Aideen Devine, Friday, 2 Sept 2022, 14:41

As you may, or may not, have seen on the news this week, we had the 'Glorious Twelfth'. This is where sections of the Unionist and Loyalist community come out to march and celebrate the victory of the Protestant King, William of Orange over the Catholic King, James. This all happened several hundred years ago but you couldn't beat the Norn (Ire)landers for their long memories!  They make elephants envious!!

Anyway, back in the day, when NI was ruled by Unionists, they could pretty much march wherever they wanted but since we've had 'peace', the nationalist community has decided it doesn't want a load of Orangemen marching down their streets and they can now object and refuse. So, in Ardoyne, in Belfast, the two sides live in quite close proximity so, every year, one side wants to march and the other side objects. And every year, as usual, it ends in rioting with the police stuck somewhere in the middle and bearing the brunt of the abuse, not to mention, of course, the thousands of pounds it costs the public purse! (this is a very simplified out-line, there are numerous sub-texts to all of this, which I really don't want to bore you all with, I've been bored by it for years).

By the way, did you know that there are more 'peace lines' in Belfast now than there were throughout the Troubles!  The politics of NI is like a child with a scab on their knee that they keep picking at!  This was one area the Good Friday agreement seriously missed out on. They should have banned all commemorations, marches and all other demonstrations that related to Republican or Unionist politics for a period of at least 50 years to really give us all some peace. 

Do you remember this same debacle, at Drumcree near Portadown that dominated the news several years ago. Unbelievably, or not, they're still whinging about it. What always amazes me about these situations is how people that thick-skinned can all be so easily offended. 

I think they should tear down all the peace walls and keep the police out of it and let them knock blue blazes out of each other until they finally realise that these people are always going to be here and they are going to have to learn to live with them.

Here's another ironic fact about NI. Throughout the troubles, the rate of mixed marriages in NI (ie: between Protestant and Catholic) was one in three!  There isn't a family here that doesn't have a relative or two who have married into the other side. 

Another big step to finally ending all this nonsense would be to integrate all the schools unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen as the Catholic Church has a strong grip on the education of Catholic children which is even more amazing considering all the paedophile scandals of the last few years!  But we're nothing if not forgiving (blind) to the sins of our own side. Urrgghhh! (sorry almost choked writing that last bit!)

Anyway, and so it rumbles on, and on, year after year, after...zzzzzzzzzzz!!  Sorry, dropped off there for a minute!

'Can't the politicians sort it out', I hear you say, 'don't they have their own parliament over there now, like Scotland and Wales??'

Aha ha aha aha ahh ha ha ahahahhahha!! 

Sorry.....yes we do, our very own wee political meeting house up in Stormont where they get to argue about how to spend the pocket money from London. Tis a joy to behold, the oul enemies of yore, all dressed up in their best suits playing at being proper politicians and trying to act like the grown-ups in the House of Commons.

AAAHHH HA AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Sorry, or should that have been LOL LOL LOL!!

Sorry, about that, I'm a bit giddy tonight! Oh, I've just realized, LOL over here, also stands for Loyal Orange Lodge, lol, lol, lol, AGAIN!! 

Och, ye cuddent mick it up!  That's Ulster Scots, by the way!  You didn't know I was an Ulster Scots speaker did you, I didn't either but there you go!  Ulster Scots is a language now too!  Well, if the Fenian's (Irish Catholics) have a language, the other side have to have one too. 

'If yer gan awa' hame, mick sure the dooog is a'right.'  That translates to, 'If you are going home please check that the dog is ok'.

I know it sounds like English spoken with a thick Scottish accent but what do I know and there isn't one registered speaker of this language either. Maybe I should register, I might be able to get a grant from the Ulster Scots Coouncil. Och aye, they get thoosands o' poounds a year fer the promotion o' the 'Ulster Scots Culture and Language'. They have a big shiny office up in Belfast, it's on Great Victoria Street, not far from the Bus Centre, it wid be easy te find. Who knows, maybe a cud git a jawb there, I could be a translator for English tourists who don't speak the lingo...wat de ye think, eh?

Well, isn't it good to know that while we're all watching the pennies in this time of austerity, that our taxes are doing so much good, and being directed to those areas of greatest need over here in NI!!



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