Saturday, May 08, 2010

I stopped blogging last year, for various reasons.

The main one was that a member of my family became suddenly and seriously ill. They did not want their illness made generally well-known and public. Since this blog at one time had a lot of readers, including people who know, or who know of my family, that meant I could not mention what was happening to my family here.

As I have always been honest and open in my blog, I found that I couldn't write without wanting to mention it, how present it was in my thoughts all the time, how terrifying it was. Writing about politics, or current affairs jarred. My heart and my head was elsewhere.

So I stopped. It was a strange kind of relief to pull down the shutters. When I thought about it, I had noticed a strong urge for increased privacy building up in me, even before the family illness. Writing this blog had started to feel like a chore. I was becoming more and more guarded, holding back more than I shared.

And I realised, that desire to turn inwards and focus on my family, my private life; that was okay, that was me healing. The raw shock, anger, puzzlement, the furious drive to understand, amend, rebuild, which had so animated me, forced those hundreds of thousands of words tumbling out of me, left me too wired to sleep, shaking with tiredness as well as passionate urgency - all that had faded away. I no longer had PTSD. I was out of the tunnel. I gave myself permission to stop, to say no, to close the door and exhale. It felt good.

I remembered the King's Cross United new year blessing, 'I wish you an ordinary year'. I was suddenly jonesing for ordinariness. I went back to work in an office, working nine to six, surrounded by cheerful colleagues, and the old, familiar rhythm of daily office life, getting the bus to work, stopping by the gym on the way home, having a monthly pay packet - all these ordinary things were suddenly wonderful to me.

I found I still cared about the things that I had spent so much time and money campaigning about, fighting for - all those hundreds of hours over several years - but I was no longer willing to spend all my spare time sitting at a computer, writing, or looking through documents, or going out and talking to people about terror, horror, justice, freedom, fear. The cost was too high.

So I stopped being Rachel North, the 7/7 blogger, and I did other things instead. I am glad that I stopped; it was the right time, the right thing for me to do. I am still involved in some campaigning work, but I won't be updating people about it via this website. A few months ago I was about to delete this blog permanently, but thought that I might regret it one day, so I switched it to 'private', with no invited readers instead. Then I started to get some emails from people who thought I had started writing again but deliberately chosen not to invite them to read it. And I realised that just stopping looked a bit rude. Hence today's update.

Thank you to all those who used to read the blog of Rachel from North London.
Thank you for the kindness, the comradeship, the advice, the support, the inspiration, and everything else you so generously shared with me, and my family and friends. There were times when you kept me from going under. The hope you gave me was the antidote to the despair. I was grateful, I always will be grateful.

My family member has their bone marrow transplant booked in next month. If it is successful, they will be cured. There is much to hope for. There is always much to hope for.

If the last few years have taught me anything, they have taught me that.


Over and out.


Blogger JonnyB said...

Good luck, and best wishes for your family next month.

I've never written 'personal' stuff, largely because I'm not brave enough. Drawing a line under it seems very understandable. Don't forget you can always come back and visit the blogosphere under a different guise and post pictures of amusing cats (etc).

All the best, and here's to 'ordinary.'

May 08, 2010 9:06 pm  
Blogger Henry North London 2.0 said...

Blessings indeed Rachel

We'll meet again.
wv stands

May 09, 2010 6:42 am  
Blogger Brenda said...

Rachel: thank you for all you have done, it has been very much appreciated.

May 10, 2010 9:25 am  
Blogger Rammi said...

Thank you for sharing your life with us for the past few years. I hope you finally get the ordinariness you want.

May 11, 2010 5:09 pm  
Blogger Sarah said...

Best wishes to you and your family, Rachel, and thank you for everything you've blogged and everything you've done.
Here's to ordinariness!

May 13, 2010 11:42 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Rachel
I used to read your blog regularly, and noticed when you stopped, and then went private, (or at least I thought you'd gone private). Thanks so much for the update, and I wish you and all your family all the love in the world for the future. Personally I hope you don't delete the blog, but leave it as it is now, a lasting tribute to you, and a life that you have obviously moved on from.

With much love, and please take care,

May 14, 2010 9:15 pm  
Blogger Frank Fletcher said...


Best of Luck hope you find years of ordinariness.


May 21, 2010 12:34 pm  
Blogger Style Police said...

May you have years of ordinariness Rachel. I learnt so much from your blog & I miss it terribly x

May 22, 2010 7:54 pm  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

Hi Rachel, I think the time comes when your priorities change regarding blogging. I know exactly what you mean, you need that "me" time to enjoy pleasures in life that have taken a back seat while you were glued to the screen, and that particularly includes quality time with family and loved ones without itching to check on comments you need to respond to. I'm glad you didn't delete your blog, that would have been too harsh.

May 25, 2010 5:27 pm  
Blogger Graham the Funky Aardvark said...

May you always live in ordinary times

Goodbye, and good luck

May 31, 2010 11:31 am  
Blogger kris said...

Thank you for sharing, Rachel - and I'm glad you've left the blog up.

I am delighted to read of your new routine and happiness.

It reminds me of advice I received from Katie Fforde re a little project I've been working on.

She said:

"We must have a happy ending, darling!"

June 01, 2010 8:01 am  
Blogger Karol Cross said...

Thank you Rachel, for so much.
Initially your words moved me so, you made an unimaginable horror, real and personal and human.

In the years since then I've learnt so much from you and the other writers you've introduced me to. You've opened my eyes to so much.

Take care and I truly wish you the contentment you richly deserve.

Karol x

June 05, 2010 6:05 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

I just started blogging again, went looking for yours, and found this! It seems a long time ago when we used to communicate, but I hope you go on to bigger and better things! Come and visit my blog though.....

June 07, 2010 6:11 pm  
Blogger MarkF said...

Rachel, thanks for sharing the good and bad times with us. My every best wish for you and yours in the years ahead and here's to a very ordinary life.

Take care


June 09, 2010 8:10 pm  
Blogger deborah said...

Thanks for everything you've written, Rachel. I totally understand your decision to stop. My very best wishes to you and your family... may there be lots of wonderfully ordinary times ahead.
Deborah xxx

July 07, 2010 1:25 pm  
Blogger DAVE BONES said...

Cheers Rachel and all the best to you and yours XXX

August 19, 2010 11:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear, lovely Rachel,

I stopped reading over a year ago when I got sick myself. I checked in today to see if you'd written about the beginning of the Inquest, after 5 years of delay and excuses. Perhaps you'll write another entry at some time; I am glad you no longer have the driving impulse to be on top of it all and updating us. I hope the inquest is successful in giving answers and bringing some resolution or closure to the victims, even if the answers are unsatisfactory or maddening.

I have so much respect and admiration for your courage and strength and am glad you are past the PTSD stage. I hope your relative has done well after the bone marrow transplant, and that your live is ordinary and happy.

When the bombings happened, I was desperate to find out the details. As an American junior-year-abroad in the 80s, I lived in a hall on Taviston St., within the debris shower from the bus bomb. I found your blog through the BBC and its immediacy helped me feel I knew what was really happening.

Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us. You are an amazing writer; your blog has been so smart and well-written while being human and passionate but not maudlin.

Many blessings for your future!

October 11, 2010 6:18 pm  
Blogger Penny Pincher said...

I too only called in to send you a message as you were in my thoughts with the inquest so much in the news. I hope you do not have too many unhapy memories stirred up by it all.

Thanks for not pulling your blog from the site when you stopped blogging. It is horrible when one finds a 'blog unavailable' message. It's like the
death of an acquaintance - sad.

I hope all goes well for you and your family.

October 13, 2010 10:16 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Dear commenters

Thank you for thinking of me. I'm really touched.

I am glad to report that J and I are both very well, and that the member of my family who had the transplant is making a good recovery. I hope that you are all well too.

I am following the inquests, but not attending court, writing about it or doing anything public-facing. To be honest, I find it almost unbearable to read the transcripts, and if it is hard for me, then it must be a million times more appalling for the families. My heart goes out to them, and to all whose lives were touched by the horrors of 7/7/2005.

One thing I’ve always been especially proud of was standing with my fellow passengers and drawing strength from them as a group, and later, teaming up with some of the families bereaved by 7/7's murderous violence to try to get answers, and draw out useful lessons that we hoped would save lives and spare suffering in future. In this we were helped by the support of members of the public, lawyers working pro bono, and also by members of the media giving us coverage and keeping the campaign in the public eye.

I was, and am, proud we achieved so much.

What makes it easier to walk away from the public campaigning platform is that the thing I promised other survivors and families that I would fight for has largely come to pass. An independent inquiry into what happened, how it happened and whether it could have been prevented, conducted by a person independent of the government, police, security services and everyone directly involved, with the power to compel witnesses, and documents, [cross] examine them and make recommendations.

Because the Coroner is a senior judge who has widened the inquest's scope into preventability, I am content that I can now step back and silently applaud other survivors and families as they continue to speak out and face the glare of the media and public interest.

I still think it is a bit of a shame that survivors are not designated as 'interested persons' and able to see documents and ask questions themselves - but I am hopeful their questions will be answered nonetheless over the next 5 months, since so many of the families have the same questions as us about preventability, and the wider public safety aspect.

In the end, it doesn't matter who asks the important questions, as long as the answer is finally given, publicly, honestly and completely, not self-servingly or partially.

I hope the next few months are bearable for those who have suffered so much and that there is not only fairness and justice, but also some peace at the end of these inquests for everyone who remains touched by the long shadow of that day five years ago.

I will end with some wonderful, wonderful personal news.
J and I are expecting a baby. He will be born in December.

J and I are so very happy. My whole family, all my friends, are thrilled.

I can't wait to be a mother. J can't wait to be a father.
I truly feel like I have stepped out of the tunnel, out of the darkness, and into the light.

My thoughts increasingly turn to what is, and what will be, not what was. The beautiful, ordinary life I always wanted has come to pass and I feel at peace.

I know how important it is to look after myself and my baby now, and that has made it easier to turn away from the horror and sadness of the past and focus on the future.

I know that I have done enough, and I can let go now. There are others who will continue to speak out, others who will fight on. And as I said, much of what I and others strove for has come to pass, so it is a good time for me to stop.

So, here I am, in a new place. I hope you understand why I don't want to be labelled as 'Rachel North, victim', or 'survivor' any more.

I carry with me all I have learned and everyone I love, like and have learned from.

With thanks, and wishing you many blessings


October 13, 2010 1:56 pm  
Blogger Laban said...

What very good news - you couldn't have left blogging on a better note than that. Good luck to all of you.

October 16, 2010 11:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here it is, December. I hope the last few months of your pregnancy have gone well, you have a safe and easy delivery, and your baby is healthy and a good sleeper. Many blessings on your entry to motherhood.


December 05, 2010 6:02 pm  
Blogger Adrian said...

Happy New Year, Rachel - to you and your loved ones! May Mom and baby be happy and healthy, J and all around you :)

A musician/photographer friend in Scotland, Shona, has put together some home movies, with Allison's version of Phil Ochs' When I'm Gone - seems celebratory, now:
Home Reflections

peace, Adrian

January 02, 2011 9:36 am  
Blogger Antipo Déesse said...

Dear Rachel,

Happy New Year to you and your family! I have read and re-read your book many times and often wonder how you are enjoying your new life as a mother.

Best wishes,

January 20, 2013 5:25 pm  
Blogger submetropolis said...

Rachel you rock! I run a podcast called The Generation Why Podcast. We cover 911 and the truther movement. I've been accused of being everything from a government plant to a Monsanto spy. I feel ya and love what you did. I just heard the NPR story about you and now you're my new hero.

January 03, 2014 5:10 pm  

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