(though not necessarily in that order)

(though not necessarily in that order)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Now... I'm stubborn. Most of you would probably agree with this adjective, when describing me. I'm stubborn, stubbornly determined, stubbornly daft...

I know lots of stubborn people. My grandmother, who was one of the most amazing people I have ever been fortunate enough to meet, let alone be related to, was stubborn. Stubbornly brilliant. Stubborn minded, stubbornly kind. Took many people under her wings, opened her house to them, fed them, loved them - from the runaways to the lost to the struggling.

A dear friend M, who is currently stuck in one room in a nursing home and on constant oxygen, is stubborn. Everyone thought she'd die a year ago, but she didn't. In fact, she returned home after that hospital admission. And made it to church on my final Sunday in my dearly beloved former parish. Wearing a huge hat my mother had bought in a charity shop, as M was concerned about her forming bald patch, and the most cheeky grin I think I've been privileged to see. The amount of effort, planning and stubbornness that got M to the door of church that Sunday morning in July 2012 was phenomenal (and was kept completely secret from me, so the surprise made it even more special).

I know quite a few elderly stubborn (interestingly enough all spinster or long-term-widowed) fiercely independent Christian women. I always have, and I hope always will. They outpour love, outpour hope and pore over their bibles and texts with a scholarly and inquisitive mind. They accept people for who they are - in their own ways. Maybe not with quite the PC language some might hope for, but with a love that is evident.

I feel very indebted to these stubborn souls who have given me love - often tough, sometimes argumentative, love.

So... no surprise I'm stubborn. Not by any stretch am I amongst the saints I have mentioned above, that's something I aspire to rather than achieve today.

But I am stubborn. For better or for worse.

A flight of stairs might be a challenge, but I've a plentiful derrière and whilst gravity proves a challenge for climbing flights in the conventional way, I can bottom-shuffle contently if I must. (though Victoria tube station tends to get my trousers a wee bit dirty)

Both my brain and my body are stubborn, not necessarily with the same end in mind. 

I was determined to go to every lecture this term, I succeeded. But I'm now paying for that. My body isn't cooperating, or behaving, or functioning. Brain 1, body nil. ish.

I was too fat/weak to climb over the barrier on that bridge to jump off very nearly 4 years ago (celebrations of that day's anniversary shall involve cake, I'm sure). Body 1, brain nil.

I do a lot of fighting with my body. But at the moment, I've got the next 4 months sorted - I've got an MSc to complete/succeed in - and then...


I was going to do a PhD. But then my brain decided against that, saying actually I wasn't being called to do that, I was being called to teach in further education.


I was then going to do a PGCE in Post-Compulsory Education. But then my physical health nose-dived. I'm regularly needing to just have a little break lying on the floor to try and kick my heart back to sensible again. In September, I could walk with 1 walking stick. Now, with 2 sticks, I'm rather limited - most days 20 metres is too far in one go.
And I've just fainted in the kitchen whilst trying to make a simple meal of quick-cook pasta and a courgette, with shop-brought sauce (NB: I'm embarrassed to admit to using a jar of pasta sauce. I've always enjoyed making my own pasta sauces but it is something I've been too poorly to do in the last 4 months).

So... I'm stuck. As a stubborn 'un, I'm not good at being stuck. There is always an end goal, even if it disappears out of sight occasionally.

I'm stuck, struggling to live independently, but not wanting to relinquish the independence.
Stuck without a plan for paying the rent, or a flat to pay the rent for, or a job, or, or...

Stubbornly, I go on. After all, there's an MSc to flourish in, a congregation to love yet more, a world to discover, a life to live, tastes to be tasted, sounds to be listened to, people to be helped, music to be immersed in...

I'm stubborn. Some people see my stubbornness as young/immature naïvety, unfortunately. Some people see it as misguided optimism. Some people see it as bloody annoying cheerfulness. Some people see it as being out of touch with reality.

I'm just stubborn. Stubborn enough to prove all those who see me as all those things wrong.

My grandmother was always more than just stubborn, but I think it was always at her core. When setting up a meals-on-wheels charity, or whatever; someone, somewhere, sometime, would have told her it was too difficult to do. She was stubborn, however...

I trust the right thing will happen. Whether that be my life, or buying a meal for a hungry person, or giving cake to someone looking stressed, or love resisting everything else, or death, or life, or music, or maths, or anything. Maybe I'm stupidly optimistic, rather than realistically pessimistic as I've always said, but the right thing does happen quite often. However much the b**gers try and get us down.

Today marks 5 years since I was admitted to hospital, following over a week long overdose. Mum found me throwing up, and someone who never will realise he saved my life had being trying to tell me to tell someone, so she was told the truth. I then spent a week attached to drips being very poorly, with doctors not sure whether my body would recover, then in the 4 hours I was free before my psychiatric assessment I managed to overdose again (and attend 2 hours of maths classes, being the stubborn and studious being I am). Because at the time it seemed rational to do so. 
Since then, several suicide attempts included, I've just been stubborn.
Today, stubbornly, I'm just glad to be here. Even with the unknown future, the fainting, the dislocations, the pain etc.. I ate cake, I bought a stranger cake, I zoomed around campus up/down hills on my mobility scooter to feel "alive", I spent hours lying flat on the floor recovering, hours working, but hours smiling too.

So, here's to stubbornness. Here's to the lovely fantastic stubborn ladies whom I owe my life to. To the friend who listened and persuaded me to tell the truth 5 years ago this evening. To the people I love now, and the people I loved then, and the people I loved before then too. Here's to stubbornly living. To stubborn livers, stubborn hearts, stubborn heads.

Stubbornness has got me here and in stubbornness I know I can go on. Sorry world, I'm here to stay. Stubbornly, for sure.
(and sorry kitchen surfaces, I hope I didn't hurt you when I fell)
((and by the way, how on earth does one eat a cupcake whilst maintaining dignity?!))