But as I poured out my thoughts quite by accident it became much more. I wanted to share my reflections with you here, so excuse this indulgence.
Rather happier now I have had the opportunity to say goodbye, as it were, to Nan.
As an Atheist graveyards are strange places for me. I know once we are gone, we are gone. I know there is nothing after, we return to dust and our memory is carried on by our family. Eventually we will return to the stars and become at one at an atomic level with the universe – quite beautiful really.
Life is like energy really, it never really stops it just changes.
When the matriarch of any family passes away a huge whole is left and families can fall in to disarray. I hope my children and grandchildren realise how important family is and make the effort to stay close.To me family has always been important. You realise that when yours is gone and take pains to ensure that your own family treasures their relationship with each other.
I am thankful for my Wife for her loving support, and grateful I have the opportunity to educate my children without the confines, constraints and nonsense that any organized religion imposes. My children question everything, are encouraged to research everything for themselves and are richer for it!
Critical thinking is so lacking in this modern world it is becoming a rarity. Perhaps this is the next form of mental evolution for mankind? Those that have knowledge through research and mental dexterity, and those that choose not to trouble themselves with it and therefore embrace ignorance by blindly believing everything they are told, either from the pulpit or the many forms of filtered media.
It saddens me, which is why I speak out. After a lifetime of controlled blind obedience I feel obligated! I know it is unpleasant for some to hear and see, which is why 5 years ago I had over 600 friends on Facebook and today I have 133!!
For whatever reason, I have very few real friends, but those that I do call close friends I view as my family. They know who they are and know I value their companionship greatly. I confess I am a very lonely person and have a huge whole in my life, not because I have removed ‘God’ from it but because a religion chosen by my family requires them to be totally removed from mine. So all of the friends I ever had and all of the family I was so closely attached to are gone. Their choice killed off a part of me, and left a gaping hole.
Can you even imagine how hard it is to rebuild that?
Can you imagine how hard it is to socialise when you are disabled and wheelchair bound, unable to work any more?
Add in to the equation you have two autistic children who have three siblings. All polite and well behaved children – but looking after 5 kids is daunting.
You also only have a loving and willing father-in-law as the only person you can rely on to look after the children to enable you and your Wife the opportunity to go out and perhaps you begin to see the struggle we have.
BUT, I am not moaning, I don’t think people realise how much Emmajay and I have been through in the relatively short time we have been together, and what we go through on a daily basis.
We almost lost Jacob at 6 weeks. Micah is a very poorly boy with dysfunctional kidneys, he will also face a lifetime of awkwardness from his vitiligo. Autism is an incredibly difficult mental illness and we regularly face meltdowns from both Jacob and Reuben. Imagine a child throwing themselves in to the road or smacking their head on a brick wall because they face a change in routine, a strong smell, a new flavour they haven’t tried etc.
If we were advertising this as a job it would have to come with one hell of a salary and benefits package!
I doubt even then many would cope,
Which makes Emmajay even more amazing.
She does all this AND has to cope with a husband not coping with a recent and permanent disability.
My life is nothing like I envisioned at 18 when I was fed up and bored.
I’d love to have my youth back, and equally I am grateful for the journeys I have taken since then that have shaped me to become the man, husband and father I am today.
There is truth in the saying that life is a journey, just make sure you’re not sat on the bus looking out and watching it pass by! I did that for too long and when I got off at a stop, I found out it was fucking amazing.
Disfellowshipping or excommuniation –
Jehovah’s Witnesses practice something they refer to as ‘disfellowshipping’ this is something they use to control their congregations by fear. As someone who was a Jehovah’s Witness and who has been disfellowshipped allow me to please explain what happens to you once you are disfellowshipped.
I was brought up as a Witness* and left when I was in my early thirties. Unlike many ex-JW’s I didn’t walk away from it, despite many seemingly unanswerable questions, I was excommunicated and treated like a criminal. This meant that all of the friends that I had grown up with over the years of being a JW were now no longer permitted to have any contact with me. I couldn’t contact them and explain my side of the story (they wouldn’t take my calls). It meant my immediate family were to no longer have any communication with me (not even via email or text message).
*you can read my story in full here
Now credit to my folks, they allowed me to stay in their house as, due to a divorce I had lost my own along with everything I owned after 6/7 years of marriage to an upright christian sister (yeah right).
Now unless you’ve been through a divorce you cannot understand what it is like, you go through a mourning process as if someone close to you has died. In my case my ex had two kids from a previous marriage who lived with their biological father, but I still loved them as my own.
I mention this as I want you to appreciate how depressed I would have been. I had lost my house and my marriage. I was still working but was obviously not in the best frame of mind. I had a friend and his name was Vodka.
Then I met someone. I could talk and she would listen, we became friends and the rest is history. I was getting on with my life. But this wasn’t what the Jehovah’s Witness plan allowed. Oh hell no, you can’t be happy after you’ve left them! I had had many accusations thrown at me by my ex so they had to act on them, she was of course out for blood. Plus the ‘committee’ were on a witch hunt and I was the target. I never got on with any of them really and none of them knew the real me. I attended the first meeting as I was misled but refused the second one as I knew the outcome already.
(Note; none of the buffoons had any legal or educational qualifications so were never in a position to help – which is surely what Jeebus instructed them to do right?).
So that was that.
My family, my friends, everyone I knew were erased in that moment. Imagine falling from an aircraft a mile up without a parachute that’s kind of how it felt. That inevitable feeling of imminent death.
But it doesn’t come. Well it didn’t for me because I had someone who cared for me. Who encouraged me and helped me to find the answers to those unanswerable queries I mentioned before.
But that isn’t the end of the story. Despite moving on, being social awkward, making a few friends but none I am really close with. I have moments of dark depression and loneliness. These appear at random times and vary in veracity. Sometimes I can mentally kick my ass and get on with it, but when I am low because of illness or whatever, it gets harder. Being disabled doesn’t help much either.
These moments are when you need to speak to a parent, sibling, or mate over the phone or over a pint down the Dock and Duck. But you have no one. I don’t anyhow. I am a social outcast who lacks the skill to befriend. Don’t get me wrong, I have over 100 friends on Facebook! But aside from my wife none I am close to. I’ve put it out there a few times about meeting up for a coffee or a beer. But no one ever responds. I know folks have their own lives and are busy. I know too I am a very vocal Atheist, perhaps too vocal. But I care. Why should anyone have their heart ripped out twice?
So I admit it here (though I doubt anyone reads this blog anymore) I am 42 years old. I am married to a woman whom I love very much. I have five lovely children and……..I am painfully lonely.
I watch those films where a guy meets up with 4 of his buddies who he’s known since school and they go on a road trip and get drunk have a right laugh, gamble, drink, sky dive etc.
I’ve wanted that since I left school! I couldn’t then because of the cult’s restrictions so lost all contact. I couldn’t befriend workmates, because of the cult’s restrictions. Then they took all that away from me (though I am glad to be out trust me).
But they left behind a dysfunctional social outcast. Not that I have a social life.
I get up, I take my medication, some days I can leave the house. Most days I stay in my bed.
I sit and wonder what is the point?
I read to keep my sanity.
There’s that big question mark. What’s the point?
Honestly, if my Wife and kids weren’t here I wouldn’t be.
Even then I have my moments.
Because for all eternity we hold the hand of the person who brought us in to this world, who loved and cared for us, sacrificed much and yet will no longer have any contact with you.
So the wound is an open one, and the pain continues. The anger rises, the frustration takes a grip, but overall that feeling of utter rejection and self loathing permeates your very being.
All because a printing company decided that this control method, never mentioned in their bibles, should be adopted in 1952.
I am thankful for my wife, best friend and soul mate for being there.
Learn more about the Jehovah’s Witness practice of disfellowshipping here:
Christmas can be a stressful time
The expense of buying gifts, the pressure of last minute shopping and the heightened expectations of family togetherness can all combine to undermine our best intentions. Some practical suggestions can help you reduce your ‘Christmas stress’
Budgeting for Christmas
For all of us, the Christmas aftermath includes massive credit card bills that can take months to clear, unless you had the fortune to bag the £131,000,000 Euromillions prize. But, Christmas doesn’t have to be a financial headache if you plan ahead. Stress reduction strategies include:
- Work out a rough budget of expected Christmas costs as early as possible. This includes ‘hidden’ expenses such as food bills and overseas telephone charges.
- Calculate how much disposable income you have between now and Christmas. A certain percentage of this can be dedicated each week (or fortnight or month) to covering your expected Christmas costs. Don’t be discouraged if the amount seems small. If you save £5, £10, or £20 per week over a year, it can provide you with a decent nest egg.
- If your nest egg isn’t enough to cover your estimated expenses, consider recalculating your Christmas budget to a more realistic amount.
- If you have trouble keeping your hands off your Christmas nest egg, consider opening an account with a Christmas Saver type club.
If you have a large circle of extended family or friends to buy gifts for, it can be very costly. You might be able to reduce the stress and cost of Christmas for everyone if you suggest a change in the way your family and friends give presents. For example, you could suggest that your group:
- Buy presents only for the children.
- Have a Secret Santa, where everyone draws a name out of a hat and buys a present only for that person.
- Set a limit on the cost of presents for each person.
Stress reduction strategies for successful Christmas shopping include:
- Make a list of all the gifts you wish to buy before you go shopping. If you wait for inspiration to strike, you could be wandering aimlessly around the shopping centre for hours. Perhaps you could get to know the interests of family and friends to help you when choosing gifts (remember money is also a great gift as it allows people to choose what they want).
- Cross people off the list as you buy to avoid any duplication – easily done!
- Buy a few extras, such as chocolates, just in case you forget somebody or you have unexpected guests bearing gifts.
- If possible, do your Christmas shopping early – in the first week of December or even in November. Some well-organised people do their Christmas shopping gradually over the course of the year, starting with the post-Christmas sales.
- Buy your gifts by mail catalogue or over the Internet. Some companies will also gift-wrap and post your presents for a small additional fee.
The Christmas lunch (or dinner)
Preparing a meal for family and friends can be enjoyable but tiring and stressful at the same time.
Some tips to reduce the stress of Christmas cooking include:
- If you are cooking lunch at home, delegate tasks. You don’t need to do everything yourself.
- Consider keeping it simple – for instance, you could always arrange for a ‘buffet’ lunch, where everybody brings a platter.
- Make a list of food and ingredients needed. Buy as many non-perishable food items as you can in advance – supermarkets on Christmas Eve are generally extremely busy.
- Write a Christmas Day timetable. For example, 11.30am – put turkey in the oven.
- You may need to order particular food items (such as turkeys) from your supermarket by a certain date. Check to avoid disappointment.
- Consider doing your food shopping online. The store will deliver your groceries to your door. (Keep in mind this option is more expensive than visiting the supermarket yourself.)
- Book well in advance if you plan to have lunch at a restaurant. Some restaurants may be fully booked for months before Christmas, so don’t wait till the last minute.
Stress, anxiety, and depression are common during the festive season. If nothing else, reassure yourself that these feelings are normal. Stress reduction strategies include:
- Don’t expect miracles. If you and certain family members fight all year long, you can be sure there’ll be tension at Christmas gatherings.
- Avoid known triggers. For example, if politics is a touchy subject in your family, don’t talk about it. If someone brings up the topic, use distraction and quickly move on to something else to talk about.
- Use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or focusing on your breath to cope with anxiety or tension.
- Family members involved in after-lunch activities (such as cricket on the back lawn) are less likely to get into arguments. Plan for something to do as a group after lunch if necessary.
- People under stress tend to ‘self-medicate’ with alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs. Try to remember that drugs can’t solve problems or alleviate stress in the long term.
The little extras
Other ways you might be able to reduce the stress include:
- Write up a Christmas card list and keep it in a safe place so that you can refer to it (and add or delete names) year after year.
- Plan to write your Christmas cards in early December. Book a date in your diary so you don’t forget.
- Christmas cards with ‘Card only’ marked on the envelope can be posted at a reduced rate during November and December.
- Overseas mail at Christmas time takes longer to arrive. Arrange to send cards or presents in the first half of December to avoid disappointments (and long queues at the post office).
- For great savings, buy Christmas necessities (such as cards, wrapping paper, ribbons and decorations) at post-Christmas sales.
General health and wellbeing
Some other ways to keep your stress levels down include:
- Moderation – it may be the season to be jolly, but too much food and alcohol is harmful. Drink driving is a real danger, unacceptable, and illegal. If you can’t (or don’t want to) step off the social merry-go-round, at least try to eat and drink in moderation.
- Sleep – plan for as many early nights as you can.
- Fitness – keeping up your regular exercise routine can give you the fitness and stamina to make it through the demands of the festive season.
Where to get help
- Your Family
- Your GP
- Financial planner
- Your local community health centre
Things to remember
- Save a percentage of your disposable income throughout the year to provide a nest egg for Christmas expenses.
- Make a list of all the gifts and food you wish to buy and shop early.
- Don’t expect miracles – if you and certain family members bicker all year long, you can be sure there’ll be tension at Christmas gatherings.
“Merry Bloomin Christmas”
I for one have a chuckle and allow myself a little eye roll at all of these folks moaning about how much earlier retailers begin their pre-christmas sales pitch each and every year. I mean for a start it signals the start of a season of jolly happy smiling materialism! But seriously, Xmas is for kids! It’s really not about religion, it’s not about how much you spend, it’s about spoiling your children, having fun as a family, and regaining a bit of our own lost innocence from youth.
Sure the retailers are there just to empty our pockets and then bleed us of a little more money, what do you expect they’ve had a shit 24 months! But without wishing to state the bloody obvious minus these money grabbing bastards you’d be up crap street without a paddle! I mean you’d have to sit down each evening with the kids in bed and actually spend time away from the TV and use your grey cells to creatively dream up something your kids actually wanted! Let’s face it that’s nigh on impossible. Even in our house where TV is strictly monitored and the Disney channel and CBeebies rule, there are the odd times one of the god of toys adverts is on and at least one little voice pipes up “I wish I could have that!” despite the fact that the ever growing mountain of toys has most of the house in its domain!
Actually my eldest pleasantly surprised me by packing up a black bin bag full of toys she felt were good enough to donate to the local charity shop. He reasoning was that other children may not get anything so she wanted to make space for her new toys and also help other less fortunate kids. My heart swells with pride. Admittedly some of them were a little worse for wear, but most will fetch £2-5 each.
So back to the plot.
Life is what you make it and so is Xmas. It can be a pain in the arse, or an absolute pleasure. You won’t avoid the expense, you won’t avoid the odd mishap or argument. But if you go at it in the right spirit you’ll come out with a broad smile upon your face.
So don’t be a Scrooge, get the decorations out, treat yourself to a new bauble or two and get in the spirit!
Here’s to Xmas, the 3 month long season of excess!
I can’t wait…so my list starts below:
Hopefully this will cause a bit of a stir amongst the community and get people talking!
In 1997 Richard Lee Norris (37 yrs) was horrifically injured in a gun accident. He was then treated by 100-strong team of skilled Doctors at the University of Maryland in March 2012. The pictures below show an incredible transformation and are testiment to the skill of the Doctors, and the power of human will to get better. Thank you science and medicine!
These are the incredible before-and-after pictures of 37-year-old Richard Lee Norris who was given the most extensive face transplant ever performed.
|This case is an amazing example of what we can achieve with science and technology.
For 15 years, Mr Norris lived as a recluse in Hillsville, Virginia, hiding behind a mask and only coming out at night time. He can now feel his face and is able to brush his teeth and shave. He’s also regained his sense of smell, which he had lost after the accident. Mr Norris said: ‘I am now able to walk past people and no one even gives me a second look’
When he shot himself in the face, Mr Norris lost his nose, lips and most movement in his mouth. He has had multiple life-saving, reconstructive surgeries which also replaced underlying nerve and muscle tissue from scalp to neck. Motor function is now 80 per cent on the right side of the face and 40 per cent on the left.
‘I am now able to walk past people and no one even gives me a second look. My friends have moved on with their lives, starting families and careers. I can now start working on the new life given back to me,’ he said.
He received his new face from an anonymous donor in March whose organs saved five other patients’ lives on the same day.
Mr Norris opened his eyes on the third day after the surgery with his family around him. ‘He put the mirror down and thanked me and hugged me,’ said Dr Rodriguez. ‘We concealed all the lines so it would give him the most immediate best appearance with minimal touch-ups down the road.’
To ensure Mr Norris would retain maximum function of his facial expressions and movements, doctors gave him a new tongue for proper speech, eating, and chewing, normally aligned teeth, and connected his nerves to allow for smiling.
Norris’s transplant comes on the heels of successful face transplants in Forth Worth, Texas, and Boston, Massachusetts, last year. He is the first full face transplant recipient in the United States to retain his eyesight.
A virtual army of 100 doctors, scientists and other university medical staff ranging from plastic surgeons to craniofacial specialists teamed up for the operation.
The surgery involved ten years of research funded by the Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research, and will serve as a model for helping war veterans injured by improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.
Rodriguez saluted the work of the teams around the world that had conducted the 22 face transplants to date, without which, he said, this operation would not have been possible.
The Department of Defense has been funding some face and hand surgeries with the goal of helping wounded soldiers. More than 1,000 troops have lost an arm or leg in Afghanistan or Iraq, and the government estimates that 200 troops might be eligible for face transplants.
The University of Maryland’s research on transplants was funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research, and doctors said they hope to begin operating soon on military patients. Officials provided little detail on Norris or the circumstances of the accident.
‘This accidental injury just destroyed everything. The rest of his friends and colleagues went on to start getting married, having children, owning homes,’ Dr Rodriguez said.
‘He wants to make up for all of that.’
Clever men and women did this. Not ‘god’ not religion. Nope it was Science, Medicine, and Technology, along with very clever men and women.
All religion did this week was get a 14 year old girl shot because she wanted to learn.
Discuss – Chris
What’s it like living with type 2 diabetes, afterall, lots of people have it?
Well for me its been a shock to the system. Where I used to take walking, cycling and driving for granted, they’re gone or vastly reduced now. Neuropathic pain brought on by the diabetes means I can only walk a short distance even with the aid of a stick. I miss driving. If I could afford a car with an automatic ‘box I’d get one, but holding the clutch is a pain after a while.
I lay awake most nights waiting for the drugs to kick in. I miss going to the gym.
I fall asleep during the day, and some days I can’t get out of bed at all, either because of then pain in my legs and feet or because I am exhausted because I did some vacuuming or mowed the lawn the day before.
But I am most grateful to my wife and kiddies, without them I couldn’t carry on.