‘Deliverance – the action of being rescued or set free’
Every morning I wake early. As my little swiss alarm clock froze at 08.23 some weeks back, I am never sure how early, and I no longer mind. When it first stopped, confounding all efforts to kick start it, I felt slightly alarmed (sorry) on retiring, because I might wake, and how would I know the hour? For two nights, I had my mobile on the bedside table, feeling safer for its reasurring presence until I saw myself being fearfully controlled. Now I just guess, and lie there watching the birds and the sea-loch whilst my thoughts flow softly in and out of my mind.
My thoughts are on my current reading. At the moment, Alice Miller is telling me that what happened to me in my childhood was not right and that I have spent all my life making a pretty tale of what was not pretty at all. We all do it to varying degrees. Although I have no sensational story of cruelty, I know I was misunderstood and dominated and that the wounds inflicted still show as scars. I consider motherhood, my own mother, my own mothering of five little people. It’s a huge subject and not one any of us would like to take an exam in. One day we look large but fetching, struggle a bit to get comfortable or sleep, have a bit of indigestion and some lower back pain. The next day we are handed a screaming, squirming, sticky infant who never shuts up, and who makes us bleed, cry, despair and fight the urge to run every other moment for years and years. However, that is the way it is, and always was, and always will be. Perhaps that complete lack of preparation is the best way to undertake the huge responsibility of walking as guide beside an equally unprepared, vulnerable, and easily damaged child.. Note I use the word ‘guide’ A guide is ‘ a person who shows the way to another’. Unfortunately, and in the main, we dominate and define a child. How they behave reflects on us, after all. Mostly we make the child fit into our house of ideas, our shape, our ways of behaviour and, in doing so, we are not listening, not paying attention to the child’s own personality to his development beyond her ability to conform. Many of us unconsciously play out a re-enactment of our own childhood, which probably didn’t do us any favours, but about which we know a great deal, and about which we rarely ask questions. Others of us make conscious decisions to parent differently and for all the mistakes we made, it wasn’t not listening to our children.
I read books too on religion – usually quirky ‘out there’ ones that speak with a voice of challenge – challenge of authority, of dogma, of the appalling control religion has applied over the years, the abuse, the outrageous inhumanities in the name of God. I do not believe in that God, nor the one who brings destruction and disaster, nor the pious one who appears only on Sundays, nor the one who says one thing and does another. My God is sacred, a mystery, avoidance of human definition however much the scholars try. I don’t need to explain God nor defend Him. Nor do I need to persuade anyone else to believe in Him. I just know He is always there and more constant than any other being or non-being for that matter. However, these books I read are about religion not about God, and there’s a whopping big difference between the two, unfortunately. Man got in the way, man and his/her need to dominate and control.
The thing about reading over a wide area of subjects, is that my mind is hungry to learn more. I simply find a book or a book finds me and I dive in, as I used to as a little girl, immersing myself in a new adventure. As this little girl, I was ticked off for reading too much. It was considered an idleness. I laugh now at such nonsense, but at the time, it stopped me being me. I made myself conform, run in teams (loathsome) and join in games (even more loathsome) to appear ‘active’ and ‘un-idle’. It was never natural, never comfortable, never fun. Even through marriage I could hurry to hide a book under a cushion and return to the stewpot if my mother-in-law arrived at the door. It has taken me years to be openly honest about ‘me’ – even longer to brave reading Alice Miller. Knowledge requires action and I know this well. So, avoidance is good until it isn’t, until it needs, demands to be born, comes out screaming for milk and comfort and guidance.
Life is as it is. It was as it was. But I know now that painting a pretty picture of childhood doesn’t set me free, doesn’t deliver me at all. It might look and sound good to the world, to say ‘it didn’t do me any harm’ but it did. If we invested more time in such idleness as reading, we might just change the world.
Or just the life of one child. That would be a grand start.