For the Sake of Flicking Strawberries

I used a wheelchair today in the supermarket. Although I used a mobility scooter when we were in the Peaks, this was the first time I have used an actual wheelchair during this phase of illness. The last time was 20 years ago, more or less.

I guess it’s good that they provide them for customers. And it was good to have such a helpful child pushing me round and doing all the physical stuff. What a blessing a helpful child can be! But I didn’t like it – the stares, the comments. Not rude comments, mind you, it’s just that people who might usually ignore you feel obliged to say something, at least I think that’s what is happening. I think they’re wondering why someone who doesn’t look particularly ill or infirm requires a wheelchair. It’s not everyone, of course, just a few perhaps ill-mannered folk who never learned that it’s rude to stare. But even if the vast majority ignore you, it’s the handful who don’t who make it awkward. I felt ashamed of my illness. Ashamed that my 11-year-old daughter is taking on the role, albeit temporarily, of caregiver. That’s my job. And if I don’t have the role of caregiver, what do I have? I really don’t like to be the centre of attention, least of all when I’m feeling low. Which I was, by virtue of needing the bloody wheelchair in the first place. There’s no doubt about it: people look at you differently if you’re in a wheelchair :-/

I felt petty and childish when I asked God, later, when I will get to live my life. Illness has to be one of the loneliest ways to go through life. In my teens I spent a lot of time alone because of this illness and because I missed so much school. I was also depressed and very wary of pretty much everyone, so it was hard to maintain friendships. Then in my twenties, although physically I was healthy, I was deliberately isolated by my controlling, much older and abusive (so-called) husband. It’s one of the things that abusers do. They isolate their victims so that they can maintain the high level of control (and get away with it).

Eventually I divorced him and later met my dear Frank. Last year I went through EMDR and although it unlocked many barriers that trauma had created, I’m still unwell and probably worse, physically, than a year ago. I turn 40 next year and I am still waiting to be well enough to have a proper job, for the sake of flicking strawberries (tried to come up with something less rude than the usual…)


A flickable strawberry. From

Dear God, I know they say life begins at 40 but I never thought anyone meant it literally. I felt like crying earlier, which is progress, because usually I’m so detached I don’t feel much at all, but I still didn’t actually cry. How pathetic – to feel like crying but not even being able to do that.

If I were a twitterer I’d probably create a new hashtag: #effinguseless

Still, the great thing about reading your bible every day is that you can bring to mind appropriate verses. So here are a few words from the Psalms that remind us that struggle is universal, to some degree, and that we’re never alone, however much it feels like it (thank you, God, for Your Word):

These things I remember as I pour out my soul…

Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you disquieted within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my help and my God.

 From Psalm 42:4,5 (NRSVA)


10 thoughts on “For the Sake of Flicking Strawberries

  1. I’ve ‘liked’ this blog post – not because I ‘like’ what you’re going through, but because I ‘like’ this post as an expression of your thoughts and emotions. You’re very articulate as you struggle and surely a gift to your family and your church. Blessings, Sandy.

    • Actually, church is part of the problem. The church where I am a member is a 30 minute drive away and at the moment that’s too much (Frank doesn’t drive). There are quite a few churches locally, and we’ve tried four of them, but the only one where they were friendly and the teaching was good was the Pentecostal and I am just not a Pentecostal. None of the churches locally has a decent youth group, either, which is the one thing I wish my children could go to. I dunno. Maybe we’ll revisit the Pentecostals. I quite liked the Anglican church but no one else in the family did. Maybe I’ll be well enough to go to our ‘home’ church. Anyway, thank you for commenting; it means a lot to me when people take the time to comment. Maybe I should be asking God what this illness is meant to teach me, rather than fighting against it all the time. Maybe this is my very own thorn in the flesh. One thing, though, I would like to know what is the point in giving a person a brain and talents that they cannot use. But that just sounds petty again. Meh.

      • I’m not sure it’s ideal, but I do know of families that worship in different locations – my son’s godparents being a case in point. The godfather – an English Protestant by ‘birth churchmanship’ (if that makes sense) – worships in a middle-class evangelical Anglican church and the godmother – a Northern Irish Roman Catholic by ‘birth churchmanship’ – worships in a sort of Pentecostal church (I say ‘sort of’, because I’ve not attended it and so I’m not sure it’s officially a Pentecostal church – it might be more akin to Hillsong or similar churches). They have three primary-school-age children who (I think) mainly go with their dad to the Anglican church – which, as a card-carrying Anglican myself, is obviously the correct choice. 😉 Would such ‘split’ worship work for you and your family? As I say, I’m not convinced it’s an ideal situation, but your personal situation is far from ideal anyway, and circumstances might necessitate such a ‘split’.

        But regarding your brain, Sandy: I do think you write engagingly and with no small amount of insight. I ask this ignorant of the finer details of your life, but have you ever considered writing a book? Something that could be classed as ‘Christian spiritual’ reading, perhaps?

        • I am almost inclined to start our own little house church.

          I did have an idea about smallness, but not enough for a book. Not yet, anyway. What I’d really like to write is fiction. I already have a plot. A good plot. Science fiction. I guess the question then is why have I not done it. Hmm. Thanks, Terry.

  2. Thank you for writing so honestly about things that must be so painful.

    Coincidentally or not, I’ve just been looking up lots of websites about codependency because I grew up with all sorts of unhealthy patterns of relating that I’m only just starting to become aware of and seeking ways to overcome.

    And at 43 I’m still asking God when I’m going to start fully living, while also becoming increasingly aware that it’s mostly things within myself that are holding me back, things that I need to face up to or let go of – but which I really, really don’t want to. And that’s after several years of counselling and many years of prayer!!

    And may I echo Terry’s comment and encourage you to write that book!

  3. My (amazing) book will be coming out when I’ve got over my midlife spiritual/existential crisis, my parents aren’t needing full-on care and we’ve got Joel into a secondary school! Oh, and when I’ve decided what to write about and found someone who’s prepared to publish. 😉

    Barely even finding time to update my blog at the moment…

    Yes, I’ve got ‘Boundaries’ and a few others by Cloud/Townsend, and I do think they’re very wise – though like you Terry, I find them a lot easier to read than to put into practice!

Comments are closed.