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  • helen brain - 18 October: Brave Women
    to survive and fight What an amazing woman And all the while she s been holding down a high powered job and commuting around the country So then I wondered why do so many men sink into a state of despair and give up fighting Why do they need to be mothered when they re sick make a fuss about things that women take in their stride Thinking back over Luke s illness I realise that he felt entirely disempowered by the cancer He lost the things that made him feel powerful and thus valuable He lost control over his bodily functions once he had the illeostomy bag He lost his muscle tone and fitness He lost his virility with the first surgery and never got it back He couldn t earn a proper living or make money freelancing He lost all the things that defined him as a man But most women define themselves not by these things but by their relationships with other people For a woman to lose everything probably means she has lost her spouse children parents siblings and friends So when a woman is ill and the community rally round and people are there supporting her she is as powerful and important as ever So severe illness is not as psychologically debilitating as it is for most men I think this is the key to why women survive serious illnesses and live longer than men And I take my hat off to Kate and her partner They are so impressive I wish I d realised earlier what being ill meant to Luke I could have been more empathetic to his feelings More supportive to him and maybe then he would have refound some of the strength he needed to fight on But I went into

    Original URL path: http://helenbrain.co.za/blog_view.php?id=354 (2016-04-24)
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  • helen brain - 16 October Oxford
    that while newly ordained clergy were still deacons and curates they were considered to still be studying and thus exempt from national service So we came back to England when Pete was 9 months old and were sent to theological college in Grahamstown for three months to acclimatise I was glad to be back but we were very anxious about our future Finally we heard the news we were being sent to the parish of Kensington in Cape Town an industrial area and a suburb set aside for the coloured population by the Group Areas Act We moved in on Pete s first birthday to a poky flat above the church hall at the back of a sandy windswept carpark Growing up in a wealthy area with acre gardens I d never seen anything like it It was frightening to be the only white family living in a township at that stage our contact with people of other races had been very limited and I felt guilty about my background and afraid Our families were not very impressed either but they knew not to say anything to Luke And so began our journey in the church as we tried to negotiate the tricky area of cultural boundaries in a country where race had become the huge divide I was very eager to make contact to be a good clergy wife to support and nurture Luke as he nurtured the people in his care But it often seemed impossible I couldn t be myself as my attitudes my prejudices all the unconscious paraphenalia that went with being a member of the ruling class were bound to cause offence I had to guard everything I said and even so I was probably going to offend people Luke became anxious that I would

    Original URL path: http://helenbrain.co.za/blog_view.php?id=353 (2016-04-24)
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  • helen brain - 350
    anymore You have to keep drifting keep your boat afloat trusting in the tides and currents and the workmanship of your boat At some point you ll be washed up on an island or continent but you vary between panic about your boat sinking fear of the vastness of the sea stricken because you re all alone and there s no one in sight and sadness because you have lost

    Original URL path: http://helenbrain.co.za/blog_view.php?id=351 (2016-04-24)
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  • helen brain - 349 the love story continues
    farmer had set three rams into the field one with a blue bag of chalk around its neck one with a red bag and one with a green one When they tupped the ewes they left their mark as it were We hadn t been married very long so were in the first throws of passion but this was too much for Luke The thought of the sheep going at it night and day and the fact that our ardour might make the caravan rock and then the priest and parishioners would all know what we were doing made it a very long and celibate holiday Unless you got turned on by the sex lives of sheep Which we didn t So we did healthy evangelical things like took long walks and scoffed at souvenirs and averted our eyes from the sheep Then it was time for the new term to begin and for Luke to begin the certificate in theology no more interesting church history taught by world experts Now it was all how to visit the sick and how to convert the heathen and discussions about where the bishop was going to place you At a wives meeting at the end of the last term I sat with the crowd of future clergy wives as they discussed where their new parishes were At last one turned to me and said Helen what about Luke Where are you going He s a conscientious objector I said tears filling my eyes He s probably going to jail There was a hushed silence Then Pippa Gumbel married to the very fabulous Nicky said We re so lucky Nicky has a ministry to the rich This was a new genre to me Next blog entry Comments Helen the Blogger on 14 October

    Original URL path: http://helenbrain.co.za/blog_view.php?id=350 (2016-04-24)
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  • helen brain - 348
    I could guess his real name Cancer Despair Loss Death Corruption Destruction Darkness he would bring Luke back Meanwhile I feel stuck I don t want to change anything in case Luke comes back If I give away the last of his clothes it might mean the curse is fulfilled If I stop talking about we and us if I move from our common history to a new history where I am alone the goblins might take this as a sign of my infidelity and keep him forever I want him to come home I can t accept that he s gone I pretend that the beautiful antique German urn on the chest of drawers doesn t contain his ashes I think that if I go to sleep again when I wake up he ll be lying there reading glasses on his aquiline nose engrossed in his book politely resentful when I interrupt his reading to ask what the book is about and whether he loves me So I sleep too much every afternoon I am exhausted and sleep when I should be working At least when I m asleep some of the pain is numbed Next blog entry Comments

    Original URL path: http://helenbrain.co.za/blog_view.php?id=349 (2016-04-24)
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  • helen brain - 347 Front End Loader
    when we were going to sleep At the time his cancer was diagnosed a parent at the school was going through the same thing with her partner She had the same operation though luckily didn t need the colostomy and also had chemo and radiation The cancer came back into her liver at the same time as Luke s did and she had half her liver resected too She also started a new round of chemo when he did and hers was working Now the cancer is back also in her pelvis and she has to have more surgery She s lucky Luke couldn t have more because of radiation damage But when I think of the suffering she and her family are undergoing and I think if Luke had had to have more surgery more chemo more pain and feeling awful then I feel relieved that he s gone He suffered too much So what do I do about loneliness I can feel myself becoming needy When I m with people I don t want to go I miss having someone to clock into a docking station I know I m depressed and its a normal stage of grieving

    Original URL path: http://helenbrain.co.za/blog_view.php?id=348 (2016-04-24)
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  • helen brain - Integrating experiences
    her knee her mother comforts her and holds her until it stops hurting Then she cheers up forgets about it and goes off to play again When we have big hurts we need to be held psychologically while we feel the pain And then it slowly fades The point of therapy is to contain you while you feel the pain Over the last two months I ve ranted and raved about Luke my anger has built up and up and my friends my therapist and my blog readers have held me while I let the emotions wash through me Yesterday morning I woke up and I felt as though a cyst had been lanced My anger built up to a head popped and the pus ran out The pressure is relieved I can start to get better Now I m sad for him I miss him The sweetpeas he planted for me are flowering soft pink and crimson and I m picking them and thanking him He loved me He didn t want to die He didn t want to leave us And now my sadness is thick underfoot like compost Rich moist dark and full of life Not pretty

    Original URL path: http://helenbrain.co.za/blog_view.php?id=347 (2016-04-24)
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  • helen brain - Rage and Forgiveness
    so he was struck by a mudslide of rage while he was still alive He was grieving the loss of his body dignity work exercise virility strength and power He couldn t help the outpouring of rage against me anymore than I can help mine towards him He worked through it and found peace and acceptance and we parted on loving and affectionate restored terms I was very hurt by his rage towards me when I was trying my best He would be hurt now by my anger which shuts off recognition of his suffering and focuses on me and my feelings I reckon the practical definition of love is helping clean away the mud and debris after a mudslide of rage If you can still see the person under the mud you love them I feel as though I ve run him a warm bath with Badedas and he s going to soak away the mud and come out the old Luke The anger wasn t his fault He did the only thing he could do with it work it through and move on to the next stage Next blog entry Comments srj on 05 October 09 Another stunning

    Original URL path: http://helenbrain.co.za/blog_view.php?id=346 (2016-04-24)
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