Island Blog – Fair Warning

Yesterday was dire, the whole way through to evening, when everything lifted. Sometimes I wake beneath a cloud, heavy like a cloak or a shroud that pushes me floorwards, or tries to. However, being a woman of Lift and Light by nature, I tolerate this not, even if it is a big struggle to reach my full height. I have flexible knees, strong limbs and eyes that look out, although it feels almost impossible to keep those eyes from flipping inwards. When they succeed they peer into all my private corners like snoopers in the attic, opening this old box and that in search of treasure. In other words, Reasons To Prove I’m Not Good Enough, Not Coping. Believe me, there are billions up there, in those old boxes. I know this because I lugged them up there myself. I don’t need you anymore, thanks very much for nothing. That’s what I said. I should have burned them, I know it now, but I always thought, and still do, that the old beratements have a purpose and need acknowledgement and recognition. On most days I can do this. And then yesterday comes at me full face and loaded with power.

This, apparently, is grief. It makes me furious. Why on earth am I gifted days, weeks, even, of feeling the healing, only to be cloud dumped and snooped on and to know that I have just landed on a snake and slidded back to square one? How completely cruel is that! Not only do I plod like an old cow through the minutes, which is so unlike me with my quickquick scurryings, but this cloud fills my mind too and it doesn’t have a single positive thing to say about me. A double attack. It is, was, tempting to believe the lies in my yesterday state, the criticisms and judgements in old voices and to lose sight completely of tomorrow, of hope, a future, freedom and the Springtime. I felt like Miss Haversham, even finding the cobwebs and dust and fluff to complete the scene. You should hoover, dust, clean, sneered the attic snoopers. I ignored them.

Now it is today and you would be forgiven in thinking there is a new woman in this dusty, fluffy, needing cleaned house. I had to check in the mirror myself. What changed? I have one idea. In the soggy black of yesterday I was invited to supper with my bubble family. I didn’t want to go. Wasn’t hungry. Wanted to melt into the evening with my cloud wrap and my snoopers, all chuckle and blame, the judgements and criticisms, fear, sadness, self-pity and Miss Haversham-ness. However I did go and as I walked in the door I was hit by light, music, granddaughters, the warm arms of son and daughter-in-law and the delicious smells of roast pork with all the trimmings. As I sipped the wine and crunched the crackling I looked back on the day. It was just a day, that’s all, part of the process. Perhaps the snoopers were also cold, lonely, longing for connection and interaction. Perhaps the cloud helped me allow myself to rest. Perhaps the silence, the no contact with the outside world was just what I needed. Perhaps.

I can accept that, from where I am now, inside my bouncy-happy new morning. However, I have one demand. The next time you decide to come, Heavy Cloud and Chuckling Snooping Judgemental Critics, please email me first. I want plenty of warning so that I can be out when you come.

Island Blog – Friend, Ships and Wide Open

If I was to ask you – how many true friends do you have – might you have pause for thought? Let me help you out with a definition or two…..

A true friend is always wide open. They may not be able, at the very moment of your ‘massive drama’, to speak with you on the phone, or rush over to your place. Perhaps her granny has just fallen into the wheelie bin whilst searching for her missing dentures; perhaps the kids have buried the dog in the sandpit and all she can see is a wiggling mound; or, maybe, she has just burnt the strangled eggs, is late for work, can’t find the kids, the granny or the dog and her partner has gone off with both sets of house keys. But, rest assured, this true friend will be thinking of you all the way through her own massive drama and will make contact the very first moment he or she can. Then when he/she hears of your pain, she will not compare it to hers. She might not even mention it. She will listen, respond without fixing, suggest nothing unless you ask for such, just leaning into your flow of pain, putting her hand in yours and saying – Let’s sail together on this.

This probably narrows the list down somewhat. On reflection, you might think, I wouldn’t go to this person, or that with my massive drama because it will pass and if I tell him/her I will need to follow up once the missing members of my family are re-located, returned to the upright and able, once again, to breathe. Or, perhaps this person might think you weak, or fix you with some cutthroat bright solution which will confirm she knows you’re weak. How long has she thought that about you? It gets worse, this line of thinking. It heads one way only, into the pit of all that you feared, have always feared. And now it’s the truth. You are a lame duck, a pathetic wimp of a woman and nobody likes you anyway. You can see the neon flashing sign above your head. It reads, Loser. So don’t add this one to your dwindling list. Nobody is that desperate.

This true friend might not be the first person who comes to mind. After all, not one of us is immune to self-protection. Most of us keep our true selves very private, considering what we will reveal and how we will reveal it on a moment to moment basis. There are things I have told no-one, not never, and I am sure you are not so different. But when you look at your list, pondering each name and reflecting on past history, shared moments both good and uncomfortable, you will eventually get that list down to about 2, if you are very lucky. And this, my friends, is absolutely normal. We may have hundreds of acquaintances, but the true friend, the one who just sails along with you, keeping a respectful distance when required, one who watches you fly the crests of monster waves as a purple storm approaches, or who keeps her eyes on you as you head towards jag-toothed rocks in some crazy game of Chicken, and who prays for your safe return, well, she’s the truth.

In a perfect world, this would describe a mother or a father, or both. Parents who do not load their own expectations of supreme success onto the soft-boned backs of their young, who do not reward according to achievements; who welcome you home late, under-age drunk, in suggestive clothing or with a biker boyfriend twice your age and with no space left for another tattoo; A loving mum and dad who, when you fail your exams for the third time, or when you tell them you cannot spend another day in this college, university or relationship, no matter how much of a messy split, will welcome you into loving arms and who will stand beside your decisions for all time.

I hope I have been that mum. I suspect we all do, we mums. To be a true friend and a parent is not simple, however. We want for our kids what we didn’t have for ourselves. We know, as they don’t, how tough the world is on colour, creed, race, sexuality, relational splits, career women, traditions, freedom of speech, independency. The labels live on. In fact, they are thriving. Nobody escapes the criticism, the labels, the judgement. But a true friend, one who sails beside you, who sees who you really are will make all the difference in the world. Even if this friend lives miles away she knows you without needing to own you; you don’t have to start from the beginning with her, not ever. She knows that you will fill in gaps if you want to and not if you don’t. She may well challenge you, you can be sure of that. But inside that challenge there is only heart, only love. You can tell her to truck off, as she can tell you to do the same, but she is authentic. You are authentic. Your true friendship is authentic.

Ok, so now we might be down to one. Still lucky.