Saturday, 27 October 2012

Day 40: This sort of angst is embarrassing when you're over 25

Day 40 of the Atheist Prayer Experiment was yesterday, on Friday 26th.

After two weeks of more of the same, I decided to give the last day a special effort.  I got on my knees in front of an armchair, with my face in the cat's blanket.  (The blanket bit wasn't planned - it just happened to be there.)

I'm nervous about sharing what I prayed after the request for revelation, as it's personal and talking about it makes me feel vulnerable.  It also makes me feel foolish.

Me and food.  We have a love-hate relationship.  I was bulimic in my twenties and occasionally it comes back.  I think about food, eating and calories far more than is healthy.  It's also really bloody boring. 

Having found the "Be thankful" advice helpful, I thought I'd ask the wise-voice-who-I-think-is-me-but-you-might-think-is-God to help me with this.  Wise-voice-[etc] said:

"What do you want, above all?"

I thought about it.  "I want to have a normal relationship with food.  But I also really want to be thin."

I hate writing this.  At size 8 (UK), I'm not exactly fat, but that's beside the point.  The fact is, I'm super-annoyed with myself for being so in thrall to stupid societal expectations of what women should look like.

The voice came back: "Why don't you meditate on that?"

I've been in therapy so, on an intellectual level, I know what's going on here.  Control issues, fear of letting go, fear that I can't trust myself and, underneath it all, the belief that I have to be a certain way in order to be acceptable.  Or lovable.

I felt tearful down there in front of the cat's blanket.  It's frustrating still to have these issues in middle age.  Nonetheless, I'll take the advice on board.  I've been tightening this knot for most of my life and it's not going to dissolve if I keep ignoring it.  I'm just aware that it may take a long time to work loose.


  1. I wanted to say thank you for sharing your journey through the prayer experiment. You have a lot of courage!

    I also wanted to say I have a 21 year old daughter with two auto-immune diseases, one of which is a kidney disease. She doesn't have a transplant, but takes a transplant drug to keep her immune system in check. Being chronically ill (or the parent of someone who is) most certainly makes one question God.

    I hope you are able to loosen up the knot you have, and thank you again for sharing your story so beautifully.

    1. Thank you Kristie. I'm so sorry to hear about your daughter. Being chronically ill is a swine and immunosuppression can leave you tired and never quite well. I hope she manages to live a full life despite her illnesses.

      I sometimes think my illness was worse for my mother than it was for me. When you're ill, you just get on with it, but when it's your beloved child and you can't make it better, it must be soul-crushing.

    2. You are right. It is soul crushing. But she is managing to live a full life in spite of her chronic illness. She sometimes has to put her life on hold for a few days or weeks, but then she carries on.

      Do you plan to keep blogging now that the prayer experiment is finished?

    3. I'd like to keep blogging, but it's a case of knowing what to blog about. I could continue with my experiences with meditation etc.

    4. You wouldn't have to blog about one specific topic. I write an eclectic blog and I like the freedom it gives me to tackle whatever topic I want. I do have some themes I keep coming back to like, knitting, family, my West Highland Terrier, and travel, but on occasion I throw in a book review or essay about some topic.

  2. Dear McGingersnap:

    I thoroughly salute you for what you are doing here. I relate to everything you're saying here, especially the wise-voice-who-I-think-is-me-but-you-might-think-is-God thing. What a funny yet accurate and articulate way to put it.

    For the last 10 years I've been on a journey of learning to listen to God too. If you'd like a slice of that story, you can read it at - being in a situation first where God spoke to me through other people, then feeling prompted to learn to hear God for myself; then doing an exercise of hearing God FOR other people (which was downright scary).

    What I discovered was:

    1) God's voice sounds *almost* like my own, but not quite. God says things to me that I wouldn't ever think of myself. I can sometimes tell - "I would have never thought of looking at it that way." And sometimes it's something about a person or situation that I obviously have no way of knowing, but God showed it to me.

    2) In my experience you can't hear God's voice (most of the time, anyway) until you first are clear enough on the inside to hear your own voice and listen to your own intuition and your own spirit.

    Only after that do you begin to be able to tell the difference.

    I have a friend who had a serious eating disorder named Angel and she got healed. The way she got healed was by journaling and listening to God. Just exactly what you've been doing here, but X100 for an extended period of time. (I believe you have my email address inside your blog software, so you can email me and I'll send you an MP3 of a talk she gave if you want.)

    It was only when she slowed down and started listening to both God and herself that she began to be able to hear past the other voices inside her head that were screaming at her and accusing her of being fat. (She was NOT fat.) That's how she got rid of her bulimia for good.

    So actually I think you're on the right track. In fact there is a certain sense in which it is less important right now whether that voice you are hearing is YOU or if it's God. I suspect it's God but I don't actually know. What I do know is, even if it's only you, it's a weaker but wiser part of yourself, and if you're going to commune with God, it's probably that part of you that's going to make the personal, emotional an spiritual connection with God. Not the part that's been tugging you in directions you know are unhealthy.

    I would like to salute you for making this brave and vulnerable blog post. This type of vulnerability is rare and priceless and I think it's essential to becoming a healthy, living, loving, open human being. God bless you for telling your story.

    1. Hi Perry,

      Thanks for your comment and thoughts. I'll scoot over to your blog in the week.

      I'm still an atheist, but as some of my practices from the experiment have been useful and uplifting, I'll continue with them. I'd be interested in hearing your friend's talk, so I'll see if I can work my way around the techie stuff and find your email address! I'm really pleased for her that she has broken free of her bulimia.

      Best wishes,


    2. I've failed to work out how to get your email address from my blog software. I'm now going to STALK you to send you an email. ;-)

  3. Bless you and thank you so much for sharing x It takes alot of courage to be this honest and open - you have really challenged me with your blog today as I mostly blog the lovely stuff and rarely share the past or the stuff that happens that I still struggle with in middle age.

    It takes courage to face issues and I pray that you experience freedom from it all.


    1. Thank you! Being honest is difficult - I've tried not to consider the possibility that my employers will stumble onto my blog. (Actually, I suspect they know me well enough not to be fazed by it.)

      I'd like to thank you for offering your thoughts to me throughout the experiment. As I said before, I've felt touched that you've wanted to follow my story. Not sure what I'll blog about now, but I'm sure I'll find something!

      Go be brave on your blog. I'll be hanging round. :)

      Rachel xx

  4. :) I hope that you will continue to blog! Mine seems really dull in comparison but I have been challenged by your honesty so I will try and give it a go too xx

  5. Hi McGingersnap! just dropped by - hope all is well xxx

  6. What you say about gratitude reminds me of the wonderful quote by Maya Angelou:

    “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”

  7. P.S as a 19 yr chronic illness sufferer/survivor I'd like to give you high five!

  8. Replies
    1. Oops - only just seen this! I hope 2013 is going well for you so far! xx