Today I wanted to tell you about an important resource I've had since early childhood — an invisible supply of extra humans — that I thought might also be useful to you.
My family and friends, and the people in my church, are the most kind and loving tribe imaginable, but even so there are times when I need more support than they can offer me, and this is when my secret supply of extra humans comes in handy.
I began making up stories with imaginary friends when I was a very small child, and peopled my hours and days with their company. My first set of characters (at about four years old) was derivative — 'Melia, Pip and Roundy, lifted from Enid Blyton's Amelia Jane stories. Aged around seven, I moved on to people of my own creating, at that age a cowboy called Bob with a sinister antagonist who went by the name of Mr Beesley. I severed deliberately from Bob in my early teens and went on to a new set of friends, wild gangsters about whom I wrote my first (thirteen-year-old), attempt at a novel. I left them all behind, and tossed adrift on life's turbulent waves all on my own, until I had just turned thirty, a young mother, somewhat marooned and isolated from adult company by the daily responsibility of five small children to care for.
I imagined, for the consolation of their company, the monastic community of St Alcuin brought into the wider world in my Hawk & Dove series of novels.
I completed that series of nine books a few years ago, but the community continues to travel with me through everyday life. We still share our problems just as we did when I was writing the stories, and find solutions together. All kinds of things have happened to them since the events stopped being written down.
During this last year I've been working hard (and successfully) to address health challenges, and my supply of extra humans has helped me. For example, I know I should walk and exercise more than I do, but for reasons beyond the scope of this post that's not always easy. Recently I hit upon the solution of walking with Abbot John. He's quiet and calm and cheerful, nice to be with. He walks slowly enough for me. He makes an excellent companion. One day I think I will go for a walk with Father Theodore, because although he doesn't say much his insights are always worth hearing. I think I might learn from him as we walk along.
They are always willing to go with me when I have steep challenges to face like preaching or taking funerals. Sometimes they will even do it for me, which is restful.
Father William helps me with finance and Brother Cormac is very practical — and honest. Brother Conradus is always willing to listen and has a cheerful outlook on life. I think if I ever have to go to a party (this rarely happens, I am very reclusive) I might stealthily send Father Francis instead of myself; no one will know I have done it, but the event might more smoothly proceed.
For you, to understand your particular life challenges, a woman may be a better companion than a man. My story called The Clear Light of Day has Esme and Seer Ember in it, and they are interesting friends to walk with; but I still find Jabez gentler company — more helpful really — though Ember is certainly brisk and bracing!
I'm telling you all this in case you too are HSP, or an anxious or low-energy person, and find life momentous and hard to do. If that's you, then either you may be able to find some extra humans to come alongside you in my stories, or if those don't work for you then you may be able to people your inner world from the resources of your own imagination. It helps, and is handily quiet and invisible so that people don't think you have gone mad, as they might if they found you in a corner muttering to yourself, "It's okay. Keep calm. You're doing fine", etc..