Saturday, 2 August 2014

Praying into the pie and letting it pass.

In order to start today, I thought about my colours carefully.  I chose a red shirt, jeans and a big, soft, fuchsia  blanket in which to wrap myself before sitting on the sofa to write.  My toenails are pink, my earrings are red and my flip flops have red and white spots.  I am ready to begin.  Breakfast was a pot of tea and scrambled eggs on toast, all the preparations are in place, the day is now mine.

You will just have to imagine the scrambled eggs.
Dominic, my youngest brother and a Catholic priest (undergoing tough treatment for advanced cancer at the moment) told me that to love yourself enough is a struggle, and you are going to fail.  It is hard, we recognise it is hard, but the struggle to love oneself daily is a way of loving God.  Dominic is full of kindness and compassion.  It is right to accept we are going to fail, because it takes the pressure off us when even liking ourselves is hard, and gives us the space and courage to try again.  For Dominic, it comes down to doing his best, recognising the daily struggle to love himself for the greater glory of God, recognising that he sometimes - often - fails, and trying again.

I have been dealing with a son who does not love himself in any shape or form.  The struggle for him is that he has turned to drugs to find relief.  He has always looked for a way to belong, and has found life very difficult.  The nightmare in which he lives now is of his creation, for him it reflects his view of life and his place within it.  He cannot be touched, he cannot be reached, not yet, not now, and in his mind, he is not wrong.  The chaos a drug user inflicts on the people around them can be truly terrible.  It is an illness, yes, but it is destructive and cruel to all who come in contact with it, not just for the user.

For the last couple of months this treasured child has been  here after he moved out of his flat in London.  On Thursday, I told him that if he did not leave I would call the police.  He left, of course he did, he took a few things and disappeared on the Thursday morning.  He had been given a few weeks notice, but my fear at his behaviour made me call the police for advice and help.  On Thursday, they were ready to come, but my son slipped away and I didn't have to face them escorting him away from my house.  The silly, stupid thing is, he didn't say goodbye.  Considering his behaviour with his drugs, considering his paranoia, and considering his own mother had threatened the police to remove him, it is most unlikely that he would give me a cheery wave and say, "I'm off now, bye, sorry about the police thing, give them my best and tell them they won't be needed".  To be clear with you all, I have told him that when he decides to seek help, I will support him totally.  I understand that there is nothing more that I can do.  

So wrapping myself in reds and pinks today, is about loving myself.  The house has been cleaned, all of the debris, chaos, disorder and mayhem  has been dealt with, and balance, order and harmony has been restored.  We can breathe again, it feels as if there is silence everywhere.  What I have now, is a normal house, it just feels extraordinary compared to the difficulties over the last few months.  Sitting on my sofa now, feeling protected by these lovely colours, I am trying not to feel guilty that I have so much, and my son feels as if he does not.  My answer to myself here is to recognise the daily struggle to love oneself enough, and to say that my son needs time.  His struggle to love himself enough is his struggle, not mine. But I feel dreadful today.  I am fearful, tired and very sad.  I am a mum who cannot make anything right, and I am also an individual who makes choices to do the best she can for herself in order that she can be of use in the world.  Tough love, they call it.  It is tough for both of us.  

Here is my plan.  Today, I will bake the biggest pie I can.  I shall eat it all as part of the therapy. Giant Boy can have some only if he mows the lawn (the Anxious Pole is on holiday in Poland thank goodness and cannot be forced to do Giant Boy's jobs).  Tomorrow I will do a car boot sale (unless I decide not to).  Monday is a whole new world.  On Monday I will sit in the studio and think and at all times, today until the near future, I shall consider bubble baths.  My mother said of this angry confused son of mine, that he has left the table but there is still a place laid for him, and we are keeping it ready for when, if, he comes back.

So here are a few of the things that I still am doing. It is true that life goes on.  It would have suited me if the whole of  Bognor had ground to a halt recently, and had phoned for hourly updates on my situation.  I would have thought nothing of the whole world being consumed with my household - but life goes on, as it always does, without reference to us, and all the things I have to do still have to be done.
  • The "Conversations on the End of Life, finding time to think in our busy worlds" are continuing.  17 September is the next one here in Bognor, at the Salvation Army community centre.  Gail Willington, my old pal from Lancashire will be there as we are doing it together.  She runs Elizabeth Way Family Funeral Service ( ) and everything depends on whether she can get away or not.  I will be there though.
  • Dying Matters want me to write another guest blog.   
  • AGD is going to Ascot in September, Swansea in late October/early November and to Bournemouth in March 2015
  • I am doing one more painting for AGD.  I am painting and interviewing my brother Dominic.  This is about me too, when I look at Dominic, I see myself.  We have had the first interview, and we have decided how I will paint him.  This collaboration is unashamedly about me too.   
  • I have a new commission following on from the idea of God's Study, a painting of a snapshot of God's study as he pops out, and all of the books, memos, photographs and personal effects that God has on his desk and laptop.  The new commission is God's Kitchen, which will be as the study, God has popped out for a moment, and this is a snap shot of his kitchen.  That will be ready for the end of August.

God's Study, with references to the person who commissioned it. I have done a few of these, they are great fun.  God's probably amazed at how accurate I am, and is tidying his kitchen now in a hurry in case I guess correctly at that as well as his study.
I asked Dom what he did when the thoughts of dying overtook him.  He said that his fear manifests as self hate, and anger at the world and those around him.  He tries to love himself, he says, and allow himself to be depressed.  He accepts himself in the process, rests and lets it pass.  He prays into it as a form of acceptance because it always passes.  And so, with Dom's advice, I will accept myself in the process of dealing with my son, rest, eat pie, and let it pass.  

Part of the process.  Pray into the pie and let it pass.

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