The Wasteland ~ footsteps into the unknown

This is essentially an e-book about managing acute crisis.  Although articles are designed so that they can be read individually, they are set out to be read as a cohesive whole from the top down.  Given the constraints of the Blogger format, this means that articles appear to have been written in reverse chronological sequence!  Most articles contain multiple hyperlinks which provide access to further information and the writing of others.

My crisis was a complex mix of physical illness combined with emotional and spiritual trauma.  Those interested in my reassessment of New Age thinking and practices will find a whole section on that topic.  Those not interested in it can skip this entirely and still find  useful pointers and resources in the other sections.  

I wish all readers good health in every respect.
Leigh Christina Russell, 2010.

 
To go to the first article click this link:
About me and this chronicle ~ an introduction

About me and this chronicle ~ an introduction

When we are in the throes of crisis our lives can seem utterly desolate and ruined, yet in the long run much good may come of it.  I feel that this is true for me.  Prior to the onset of the difficulties I describe here I had got way off track, and although I didn't see it that way at the time, the hammer blows of fate that shattered that old way were necessary.  I now feel more true to myself than I was before.  New well-springs do rise up - if we let them.  Life does eventually fill the empty spaces.

I'm a thoughtful, sensitive person and always have been.  I've always been interested in how things work, both physically and spiritually.  I have a similar level of interest in how people function and relate to each other.  These have combined to provide a great deal of interest in my life in many directions, but they have also got me into a lot of strife.  I like to find things out from direct experience, which has led me to explore some dubious territory without realising it.

In my thirties I was working very hard full time and also busy exploring New Age ideas and therapies.  Looking back it is no surprise that this led to a grand crisis by the time I was reaching forty.  I've spent the last ten or so years attempting to recover and make sense of it.

It has been an exceedingly difficult time made more so by the paucity of useful information and the gross unhelpfulness of people in positions whose work it is to help.  The creation of this set of writings has been fuelled not only by my wish that others have better resources than I did but also by my anger at the negligence and mediocrity of all those 'helpers' who appeared as if they couldn't care less.  In other cases good people who did care were constrained by senseless regulations, mindless check lists and far too much to do.  Although I have been difficult to help much of what I needed, and didn't get, was at a very basic level.

Having said that, there has been a small number of professionals from whom I have had  valuable attention.  These and the generous friendship of close family and friends have got me through.  My heartfelt thanks to all of you.  

Isolation is a big issue for each of us at a time of crisis as well as in living with enduring illness and disability.  Researching this set of writings has brought me a much expanded awareness not only of factual information but also the stories of others who are or have been through similar experiences.  Reading about their emotional upheavals as well as the conclusions they've arrived at has opened my eyes - I'm not as alone as I had thought.  Many of these people are authors, doctors and highly trained individuals whose opinions and advice are based on direct personal or professional experience.  I've included lots of links to articles and book information so that you too can find them.

I will probably add to and amend the content of this chronicle from time to time.  Although some changes may take the form of new articles most will probably be made to the existing ones.  I've added an 'updates' page to the top right hand corner of the screen so  that readers can see where new material has been added in.
I wish you all a safe passage.

To go to the next article click this link:

About the T S Eliot quote in the subtitle ~

"I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God..."
This quote is from T.S.Eliot's poem "East Coker".  In that poem Eliot describes the devastation as well as the paradoxes that confront us in times of acute crisis.  Those two lines in particular summed up a lot of what was going on for me during my time in the Wasteland.

In common with many others in times of difficulty I searched for meaning in the collapse of my world.  Did my suffering have some purpose or was it simply the continued grinding of impersonal fate on a soul in torment?  

I had always taken the existence of God for granted but now forced myself to consider that this might not be so.  The emphasis of contemporary Christian teachings seems to be on God's unconditional love.  Given the quantity and variety of suffering forced on our attention at every turn this view of the Almighty seems to be incomplete to say the least.  Spiritual dilemmas were at the very core of my crisis so the question of whether or not God exists and how the greater scheme of things works came close to overwhelming me.  

I had to conclude that my questions were irrelevant.  Whatever exists or does not exist is what it is, God included.  Things are true, or not, regardless of our thoughts and beliefs.  In a similar way the Earth is round regardless of our localised perceptions of its flatness.  I pushed the weighty questions aside, which in any case I had to - all my energy was focused on surviving as best I could; what I made of my situation was up to me.  But the further unanswered question of how to go on while disintegration continued and all my best efforts were fruitless was a constant source of pain and bewilderment. 

Trying to make things better and work things out when nothing worked only served to make my sense of devastation more complete.  I had to focus on the small everyday things, of managing one small practical thing at a time.  That was the best I could achieve.  But small achievements such as these are what life is made up of and make it possible to continue on.  That is what this chronicle, and indeed each of the Rushleigh Chronicles, is all about - small steps and slow, careful, sensible thinking.

In all other respects I had to let the Darkness of God or of Fate, or whatever else might be at work, ride over my world extracting its unfathomable forfeit and weather the storm as best I could.  I surrendered - not to death but to life, which at that time was chaos. This is the nature of life in the Wasteland.  The paradoxes are part of it.

I drew comfort from T.S.Eliot's poem which describes so clearly what I was going through.  I've quoted a larger part of the poem in my article "I said to my soul be still..."  This last part of Part Three is especially relevant here:
                    You say I am repeating
Something I have said before.  I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again?  In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
     You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
      You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
     You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
     You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
That is certainly how it was for me.  It wasn't the end of the world, or even the end of my world.  Rather, it was the end of my world as I knew it then.  And it turned out to be a change for the better.  Not entirely, but in terms of what I want to achieve with my life and maybe even be remembered for, definitely hugely for the better.

While I don't want to be unrealistic or to offer false encouragement about the circumstance of readers which I can't possibly know, I do want to say firmly, that good may come of adversity, not all at once, but perhaps little by little, and in the long term possibly even a fruitfulness that may not previously have been sought or imagined.  Meanwhile, hold on to life, and take care of yourself as best you can.

To go to Part 1 click this link: