Quite often, people come to psychotherapy and say: Oh, I don’t want to talk about my childhood and my parents and all that. I know you therapists like to talk about that but I don’t think it’s relevant. I had wonderful parents and a very happy childhood.
The thing is, they’ve been working on this for months. They’ve collected enough tiny clothes for quintuplets and they have a total of 15 rattles in various guises, along with a variety of things that beep, squeak and have flashing lights. The room has been redecorated according to the expected gender, and there are shelves of toys and walls splattered with decals. There is a row of tiny but very cute shoes although the owner won’t be walking for about a year. But who can resist little leather shoes that look like they belong to an elf?
Although the song claims otherwise, having a baby is very often NOT a lovely way of saying how much you love someone. Quite often it is an accident, or an act of loneliness – the desire to be a family because that might make everything all right. It’s a push, a biological one, a cultural one, a family one. Lots of reasons which are usually complex and, for many, not really thought about.
Slow down. Calm down. Don’t worry. Don’t hurry. Trust the process. (Alexandra Stoddard)
You may or may not have noticed that worrying about things does not change the outcome. What it does do is increase your heart rate and your anxiety level (with all sorts of physical sequelae), and close down small chinks of light that may remain, as well as clouding your ability to think clearly.
OK. So here is another story. This one is called Seven Ravens. It is about not knowing what you know.
Once upon a time (well, where did you expect to begin?), many aeons before you were a glint in your father’s eye and a seed in your mother’s belly, a man and a woman lived and loved together and produced seven sons. They knew the worth of this gift, of course. Who would not? But nonetheless they longed for a daughter. Why do we always want what we do not have? Why do we not sit with joy and gratitude for the gifts we already possess?
There are many versions of this story and this one is about how women may use each other for good or ill.
A young woman had lost her mother early in life and so was raised by her father deep in the forest (as he was a hunter by trade). There came a time when she thought she would go out into the world and see how she got on. She was a pretty young woman and likeable, being friendly and not possessed of jealousy or guile.
I find I am not writing to you as often. I apologise. A blog is a difficult thing because mostly there is no response. I guess that means I am not striking a chord for you. I don’t really know who you are. Again I feel that perhaps I should…and I apologise.
If you’re not an old Trekkie (yes, I confess) that phrase will mean nothing to you. It was the command that made things happen on the Starship Enterprise and sometimes it runs through my head when I am trying to control my future. Generally I have found that, unlike the starship, my future does not swing round into the direction I have planned for it to go in. It seems there is a different plan and I am not in charge of it…or am I?
So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun
The time of reckoning is upon us again. There have been quite a few of these for me now. I look back over the last year and wonder how it went by so quickly, and then I think about what I achieved. Quite a lot really. But I don’t go there for long. I whip over into what I did not achieve and then I berate myself and begin to burden myself with promises about what I will do in the coming year. Generally I’ll hit the ground running, with those urgent goals ahead of me, like the flashing ads on google pages: the ones about 10 easy tips to a flat belly.
You’ll think I’m a bit crazy going on about this perhaps. But I saw another one today and they always make me want to give chase and give them a good dressing down. I drive around a big city and in this big city, flitting in and out of all the cars, which in turn flit in and out of the lanes, are the cyclists. Lots of them are sensible but there are lots too like the one I saw this morning, who risk their minds, or at least a large and important part of their minds.
I was out shopping recently when I witnessed two very different scenarios:
In the first, a little girl was out with her family. She was about 4, I’d say. Other siblings and her mother were exploring a shop and she was bored. So she had taken hold of the baby buggy and she was idly pushing it back and forth. Not very far. Not doing any harm. Then I noticed a man I hadn’t realised was connected to the family. He called something to the mother and indicated the little girl. The mother rushed from the shop, grabbed the little girl’s arm and yanked her away from the baby buggy. Then she snarled something into the child’s ear and stalked off back into the shop. That little girl didn’t even cry, just turned away and scuffed the floor with her shoe.
Maybe you know the story of Stone Soup. I think it comes from Eastern Europe because there is a dark and ice laden forest in it. The snow is thigh deep and it hurts to breathe. A light sleet has started to whirl through the trees and thick dark clouds are moving across the face of the moon. The man who moves through this landscape knows that he will not see the frozen morning if he does not find shelter.
“Listen – are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”
Mary Oliver (from Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?)
This is a serious and pervasive problem – this lack of breath, this lack of a life. How many of you sometimes notice that there is not enough air in your lungs; that thoughts race through your mind about what happened today, yesterday, before that; that your concern is with the future (a future that may never come, not as you imagine and worry about it)?
“Sometimes in the darkness of my own shadow I know that I could not see at all were it not for this old injury of love andgrief, this little flickering lamp that I watched beside for allthese years”. (Wendell Berry)