A small brown spider crawled across the damp lino in the bathroom. I picked it up. It wouldn’t have made it otherwise. It would have been crushed underfoot by an unwitting toed foe. I put it out the window. It may go on to spin a hundred webs. It may get eaten by sparrows.
Then there was the wood pigeon. It’s lovely living in a rambling old house with half a dozen open fireplaces, but there are drawbacks. We use chimney pillows to prevent draughts (helpful hint: they have probably already paid for themselves several times over in terms of energy savings). This pigeon had somehow fallen down the chimney onto the chimney pillow so that when we were attempting to play a game, Chip and I were startled by a loud scrabbling and movement of the chimney pillow. We’d heard birds in the chimney before, but not like this. I called Frank and we attempted to remove the balloon and capture the bird with a blanket. It didn’t work. The bird panicked, flapped and flew back up, settling on a ledge just behind the fireplace.
We were flummoxed. After some discussion we opened the window, left the room and shut the door. We made sure we were quiet in the vicinity of the room, hoping the pigeon would find its own way down into the room and out of the window. Four hours later, as night was drawing in, we tentatively opened the door and peered under the fireplace. The bird was gone. It didn’t need to be rescued. It just needed to be left alone. The only evidence that it had even been there was a solitary grey feather.
Last Friday was the most intense session of EMDR that I have had so far. It affected me for the best part of a week and left me functioning well below par. Even FlyLady-ing was a serious challenge and I didn’t manage much most days. I have had nightmares and panic attacks and… well, it was not good. But did I allow myself the time to ‘go with the flow’ and let myself feel whatever I needed to feel? No, in good old Sandy King style I ploughed through and tried to be everything I thought I ought to be. In some ways I had to: Fluff had a Guides camp and I had to drop her off on the Friday and pick her up on the Monday, plus poor Frank had terrible toothache which wasn’t fixed until Wednesday, so I couldn’t step back and ‘rest’, I had to continue; I have a family.
The trouble was, instead of beginning to feel better after a couple of days, I still felt horrible. I started worrying that this was how it was going to be for me from now on – horrible, like it always used to be I prayed and said, “God, you are always good, even when life is not. I am so sorry for when I have let you down. Please forgive me. Thank you that your love remains. May it all be for your glory.” I continued praying this prayer as my mind brought all its horribleness up over and over. It was the most difficult phase of EMDR because it related to a period of my life where I felt guilty. I felt as if I should have been a better parent, despite being under enough pressure to make a normal person implode… I believed I was a bad mother and this belief was worse than any abuse I experienced at the hands of others. So I prayed and prayed for forgiveness and praised God for His grace.
But God said (once I was listening), “Hang on a minute! What was your immediate reaction on seeing that tiny wee spider on the floor the other day? Did you tread on it? Did you flush it down the toilet?”
Me: “Well, no, but…”
“No buts! Now, you know that pigeon, right?”
“What did you instinctively do when you realised it had fallen down the chimney? Did you swear and shout? Did you plan how to trap it and break its neck?”
Me: “No! The poor thing was frightened. I knew it needed to be left alone to make its own way out. I was worried that it might have broken a wing and we’d have to rescue it.”
God: “So if your reaction – without thinking – to something as tiny as a spider is to protect it, do you think you’re likely to not protect your own children? Do you think you’re probably a bad mother?”
“Well… I suppose not.”
God: “Do you think that, whatever happened, you probably did your best under enormous pressure?”
Me, hesitant: “Er… Well… I suppose. If You say so…”
God: “Hmm. What did the pigeon need to feel safe and be able to fly again?”
Me: “It needed to be left alone.”
God, softly: “Do you think that might apply to you, too?”
Thank you, Lord.