In Flanders fields…

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. – Rupert Brooke, 1914

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Image: Copyright Chiromancer 2017

If you read my earlier post Adventures in Benglish…you will know that I have set myself the task of adventuring across the A-Z of Belgium.  It’s a sort of therapy for me.  A way to kill my inner conflict about living here, by being a tourist and acclimatising simultaneously.

I’m not doing it in any kind of chronological order, the only requirements are:  #1 that I hit all 26 letters, and… #2 that I try to visit places that are a bit off the beaten track.

Visiting Ypres (Ieper) probably breaks condition #2, but it does cross off the letter ‘Y’ which I thought might be problematic.  As I headed out of Bruges for an appointment I spotted it on the periphery of my satnav… ‘I’ll give it a go’ I thought, as the sombre stanzas of several War Poets began running through my head…

Two things I had certainly not anticipated. #1 As a town, Ypres is a lot bigger than you think, and…#2 there are war graves everywhere. And, I mean e-v-e-r-ywhere. In fields outside of town, in the middle of residential areas, and of course at the emblematic Menin Gate (Menenpoort).   In the 1920s the Commonwealth War Graves Commission built 150 military cemeteries in and around Ypres in the honour of all those who gave their lives during WW1. I must have missed that part of the history lesson…

What I found so moving today was the realisation that it wasn’t just Germans, French, British and Belgians, who made the ultimate sacrifice, but South Africans, Algerians, Senegalese, Chinese, Indians and loads of other nationalities. A conflict to end all others… It’s estimated that half a million people died between 1914 and 1918.

Which got me thinking…it’s time I started my own inner peace talks. Sacrificing the best of who I am to bend my current world to my will isn’t working. It’s not the way forward. George Orwell wrote that ‘happiness can exist only in acceptance’.  I think he was right…

 

Rinse, repeat…rinse, repeat!

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Image: © Picstudio | Dreamstime

Ever get deja vu?  Feeling that you know what happens next because you’ve been here before?  Or as in my case, deja-poo? The point at which you notice it’s the same old crap makings it’s debut – complete with the same old feelings.   Knowing that you’ve hit the exact moment where the stuff you suppress, floats to the surface like a rotting corpse. ‘Out, damned spot…! ‘as Lady MacBeth would say.

Facebook has a nifty (or not so nifty) feature which prompts you with memories of a year…or three…or five ago.  There are days when I can look back on these reminders and smile, and others (like today) where I still remember how I felt and how I actually was when I wrote those posts.  In any event, today’s musings were not prompted by carefully curated social media posts, they were prompted by a paperwork spring clean. Rinse, repeat!  Tidiness is probably next to holiness in my own particular dictionary of karma, but that is the story for another blog.

So back to the past-present-past. In 2009, the wheels fell off for me.  In a serious way.  House, heart, health and work were tanking. My immediate family were far away, and being isolated in thought and location, I was able to hide from most of my close friends just how hideous life had become for me.  Cue more carefully curated social media posts!  As if this wasn’t enough of a ‘growth experience’, my soul was sinking silently into the murk of long and very deep despair. If I could have washed it all away, I would have.  Rinse, repeat! My recovery was just as long, but eventually the bad times became bad memories which faded as the good stuff started coming back.

Fast forward to 2017.  Today.  I’m in a study, where I’m renting space, sorting out (and shredding) paperwork as part of my ‘the girl who finally got her sh*t together’ self-improvement project. And then…it happens… I turn to a file which is full of paperwork from 2009. It’s pretty annoying when the universe bops you upside your head, even more annoying when you suddenly realise that this is going to keep happening unless you let the genie out of the bottle, and deal with the deja vu. Again.

I felt my tears begin as suddenly I was taken right back to the person I was at that time.  I felt my fear rise at the thought that I never want this to happen ever again, even though I’m terrified it might. I felt angry that I hadn’t dealt with it sufficiently to make it go away and that current circumstances were triggering all sorts of renewed negative charges inside me. Rinse, repeat! Rinse, repeat! 

And then…Something curious…

I was reminded that emotions are just that. Emotions.  It’s our feelings about those emotions that give them context and power. Negative or positive. You may not be able to wash them away with soul soap, but you can distance yourself from the feeling by acknowledging the emotion.  So I did.  I sat looking at the papers and just let myself feel the anger, the hurt and the fear.  And then I wiped my cheeks, and shredded the file.

Rinse, do not repeat! I feel lighter and cleaner somehow. So much that I was actually able to hit my blog and write it all down, something which has not happened in a while.  It’s been a day for soul expansion and growth. And for that I’m grateful.