Supporting others

In the beginning, this was confined to my now ex-husband and my daughter. I found married life a considerable challenge. There again so have those who took my place after he gave me the order of the boot.

One of my biggest challenges in my life was my marriage. The problem I had was that when I kissed Prince Charming he turned into a frog. Yes I know that is not the way it is supposed to happen but life does not always go the way we expect it to.

I am not perfect but I am not the one who was diagnosed with a fear-based illness. We struggled along for 26 years, each one hurting the other again and again. The strange thing is that it is only looking back just how hard life was. I was trying to live in the world of someone whose way of thinking was very different to mine. I could not thrive in that world and in the end asking me to leave it was the kindest thing that Prince Charming ever did for me.

There were many things that appeared normal then that I look back now and think I was crazy trying to cope with them. While I was in the situation struggle and turmoil seemed a normal part of life somehow. That was just how life was and I had to get on with it.

There is no wonder that when I screamed at God to get me unstuck so that I could serve Him better that the first thing that happened as a result was a divorce. Not what I wanted and I had fought against for years but sadly looking back the only option in the circumstances.

Life as a free woman

I was finally free to do other things. Our daughter was grown and at university by then so I really was free to make a fresh start. I had long kept my eyes and ears open and done what I could for others but now I had the time and energy to do more.

I started doing support work with a nationally known organisation. That opened my eyes to a wider range of problems faced by those with mental health problems. I knew about the money side of things. Job losses hit everyone but when managers have to make a choice they let the more challenging employees go first. By the time the third business had contracted and had no room left for Prince Charming I had learnt to cope better.

Seeing the needs of others

When I saw what happened to other people I realised that I was blessed always having a roof over my head. If I needed a home one turned up. Like the day I knew I needed to move and that morning I answered the door to a man who said is there anyone here looking for a new home. OK I had done all the form-filling months before but to call on the day I knew I needed to move was amazing. I saw people who lost their homes and all the things that were in them. Yet I had a home to go to and was then able to go back and collect the things I could not fit into that home and put them into storage.

It is never easy starting again on your own. Finding somewhere to live and setting up a new home can be quite challenging. Doing that when you are already not as strong as you could be only adds to the situation. However, I had it relatively easy compared to some.

I did meet a man who had ended up living in a car. Divorced, homeless and with such poor mental health that the police made sure he got into hospital. After he came out of hospital he needed support to find somewhere to live and furnish his new home as well as developing basic household skills. It is stories like that where people have lost contact with their families due to mental health issues that make you realise just how many needy people there are out there.

My response to these needs

What I was doing as a support worker just did not seem to be enough. I knew there was a spiritual dimension but there was no way that I could even admit to going to church. I had to tell people I went to a meeting on Sunday morning.

One client who found out about my church background told me how upset they were at the attitude of another member of staff. They and their daughter were at a social event we had arranged. The other member of staff had overheard them saying that they would meet each other outside a certain church. Hearing the word church provoked a response that was akin to what I would have expected if they had used a swear word.

The alternative in that atmosphere was to do something else myself. I tried putting on a series of workshops but that became a disaster zone. Some crazy things happened as misunderstandings proved remarkably difficult to unravel. One speaker had jumped to conclusions about what they had seen on my website because of the way I was allowing adverts to appear on it. I was so busy dealing with other problems that had arisen that I did not spot their email soon enough to do anything about it.

That was the start of a journey where I discovered that things that were supposed to be easy where really nowhere near as easy as they could or should be. If I managed to do enough to make it look as though I was making progress then something would go wrong. However, often it proved hard to get far enough for the additional challenges to be brought in to stop me.

I learnt many lessons such as the importance of having backups. Like the time when I thought I had booked lunch for 20 people and nothing arrived. I had forgotten to double check and had to sort something out myself that morning. Thankfully helping out at church functions had given me some useful experience.

One of these days I might write a book about some of the challenges I have faced. Some of them are related to the attitudes of others within the church. Others are due to a cocktail of unexpected situations that have arisen. Things that were completely beyond my control or even at times even beyond the control of the other people involved in the situation.

Where am I now

Moving to Wales has been the best move I could have made. There has finally been a project that I have tried that has got off the starting blocks. After 6 or 7 years of trying one thing after another, it amazed me the progress that was made in just a few weeks. If you want to know more you will have to check out the book that I wrote after we had been going a year or so called Setting up Heavenly.

Since moving I have changed my pseudonym. These days I use God’s Lily. Years ago I asked God a question i.e. “What do you want me to do?” I wrote down an answer and it included the words “my Lily”. It made a lot of sense when you think that Susan means lily.

It is not just me that needs to use a pseudonym. I have been asked not to use any term that might identify the church I attend.

You can find out more about God’s Lily at www.godslily.co.uk