Shedding snakeskins

For Rachel, Chateau Duffy is a place of retreat and reflection – which can lead to some big decisions…

Last week, I changed my surname on Facebook.

This decision was a long time coming. During the first Chateau Duffy, I was in an abusive marriage. The trip was a perfect retreat for me – surrounded by a caring, non-judgemental community, peaceful, luscious countryside, and very little responsibility. I wrestled with the idea that my marriage was nearly on the verge of killing me. I wanted it to last a lifetime and I was scared that a divorce meant I had failed, and I would be judged by the people I respected most.

That first trip convinced me that I needed counselling and medication, that I was not a failure and that there were people who might judge me – but those who truly loved me would not. This, through Matryoshka Haus, was the start of my healing.

Fast forward two years. Now divorced and frankly very happy, spending another wonderful Chateau Duffy with my beloved friends.

However, I became a little grumpy that the community still hadn’t learned to distinguish me from the ‘other’ Rachel – or was it me who was the ‘other’ Rachel? This needled me right in the insecurities. I insisted my friends call me not Rachel but my married name, Nunson, to distinguish us. Annoyingly, they all seemed reluctant.

Much later on, away from the community bustle, I considered why this might have been. Part of me thought I wanted to preserve my battle scars – a name I felt proud of. I liked the fact that it was rare.

But on the other hand, perhaps my church knew I was keeping that name as a last defence against facing the fact that I had failed in my ambition to have a lifelong marriage. Perhaps dropping that name was a final admission that I didn’t want to make. A removal of clothing that resulted in shame.

Then I remembered that the lovely Carl Gordon found a discarded snake skin in the farmhouse, and showed it to us all before throwing it away. Why would anybody hold on to an old snakeskin? It’s served its purpose. The snake is happily snaking away somewhere else with a shiny new one.

A snakeskin from the 'snakeskin loft'

 Snakeskins are discovered in the house every time we visit Chateau Duffy…

Easter time is good for resurrecting things. Coming back to life. So here friends, is the old me that I thought had died, and is now alive.

– Rachel Collinson

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