Monday, June 28, 2021

Nuns and other random thoughts

Strange how word association will lead your thoughts down a rabbit warren, I guess that is why it is used by psychologists. I have been receiving physical therapy for an injury to my shoulder. You could be excused for saying it was self inflicted in so far as it was a result of the severe stress experienced over the final few months of my working life. See this blog for details.

I was so stressed that apparently I kept my shoulders hunched up and tensed, literally for months. I suppose normal activities with this posture caused damage, and the damage consisted of a displacement of the muscle. Physical therapy involves the expert manipulation of the humerus muscle back into its correct location - a somewhat painful procedure (for me, not for the therapist) and a series of exercises and stretching to retrain and strengthen that and other supporting muscles; and of course, stop hunching and tensing my shoulders. 

The latter is a whole lot easier now that the source of the stress has been almost completely removed. I say almost, because I still worry about the team I abandoned to be continuously bullied by the person who drove me into retirement.

So, you might ask, where do nuns fit into this? That is where the word association comes in. The injury was the result of my posture, which was something that I remembered was very important to nuns; though not exactly. They constantly berated us for our 'deportment' which, as a child, I assumed meant posture. I am still not sure if they knew the difference but I expect they did. 

To be fair, my grandmother was also very fussy about standing and sitting straight, particularly keeping shoulders straight - now I see why.

I hated the nuns and because I went to a convent school, I hated school by association. The first bad experience I had with nuns was when I was four years old; my first day of school. I was seated at the front of the classroom, unfortunately for me, a bamboo cane distance from the nun perched, like a buzzard, at the rostrum in front of me. The girl beside me was chatting and I was listening; suddenly a sharp pain shot through my tiny hand. The nun looked at me with a fierce frown and told me to stop talking. She had brought the bamboo cane down on the tip of my thumb - hard. Apart from the shock and pain, I was furious at the injustice, I was not talking, I was listening.

The second stored up reason for hating nuns was when I was seven, preparing for my first communion, learning the ten commandments and what was a mortal sin. The nun told us that if we didn't go to mass on Sunday, every Sunday, that was a mortal sin; and if you die with a mortal sin on your soul you will go straight to hell, no questions asked. My mother didn't go to mass on Sunday. I worried desperately about her going to hell and had frequent nightmares about it - until I realized that was clearly not true. 

My mother was a really good person and either there was no hell, no heaven and no god or she would definitely go to heaven. The conclusion was that nuns were liars and could not be trusted. 

As those nightmares subsided the nuns found another way to scare the shite out of a small child. Towards the end of the year one of the nuns died; the convent had their own private graveyard and the funeral procession consisted of the all of the nuns and all of the schoolgirls, smallest to the front. I am small now, and was most definitely the smallest girl in the school then - I was to lead the procession to the graveside where all of the girls were arranged around the grave, smallest to the front. My nightmares for months after that were of watching the coffin being lowered into the deep hole in the ground; I teetered on the edge, as I discovered for the first time what happens to you when you die - presumably the next stop was hell.

Nuns eventually turned me against religion totally.

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