29 July 2013

beware the moose

Ok it was a late thought but I think, significant. 

Over the weekend I had a not so good day (full, heavy head and mental lethargy.) For once I forewarned The Scotsman rather than plough on, letting the negative cycle kick in, take over and spontaneously combust some time later exploding in our faces, with an all too familiar choreography.

While brushing my teeth at the end of the day it occurred that I am finally learning to speak up more when the bad days set up camp.

Over the years having unwittingly absorbed mum's tendency to put her own needs right at the back of the queue, it is all too easily second nature to do the same and I have long relegated feelings to the end of the line. Risky when they are screaming, kicking and demanding to be addressed. 

And I'm sure this has an effect when sharing well-being (or not-well-being) with others. If a person I am telling seems disinterested, I usually register fairly quickly and don't bother carrying on. But at home disinterest is tinder to the fire and I get into a cycle of not feeling valued if I haven't been listened to. I forget The Scotsman is human too and that's where the explosive confrontations occur.

I guess it might mean gambling more often, ploughing on and sharing frailties with others. Even in the face of perceived disinterest. And even when tentative hints lead to the other person taking over the break and filling it with themselves. 

It is glorious when my convoluted clues do break through and I know a connection has been made. 

Equal space

But not everyone can deal with vulnerability face to face 

In fact they might feel more at home being faced by an angry moose...

22 July 2013

#3goodthings [21 July 2013]

17 July
BBQ-ing with home group
watching swifts swooping at dusk
getting to know our new Youth Worker

20 July
seeing my lovely brother & sister in law
seeing Chagall exhibition at Tate
Brazilan Fiesta procession


21 July
the Liverpool Museum
Liverpool Doors (a poetry on doors project)
fascinating stories of Liverpudlians with mixed Chinese/English/Irish heritage

237 gifts

18 July 2013

a letter to explain (Sat Dad)

A letter to try to explain what I seem to have been unable to explain to others for years. Not for want of trying. Maybe I have given up too easily when someone else fidgets uncomfortably while I try to talk and let the distraction of that dictate how much I say. Just possibly perhaps someone has understood but I have not registered because of reactions exploding in my head in their own little firework display.

I love my Dad. He has been through alot during the last five years, losing his wife (my mum to cancer), having treatment and life changing surgery for cancer himself and now watching his only son receive treatment, also for cancer. A lot of change and grieving to journey through, and all that pressing into the process of the natural degeneration of synapses that goes with ageing, the body slowing down and the loss of confidence. 

And this is all true, yet somehow once I go down this road of separating out his trials, giving them the greater weight, because they are somehow worse on a scale of 1-10 suffering, my side of things starts to diminish. Shoving my stuff back down because it seems less important in comparison. 

Lately things have been beginning to leak back out into the overflow car park, because the main one is full again.

Co-dependancy is a huge factor in how both my parents operated. Mum was the one who tended to everyone’s needs, leaving her own unhealthily at the bottom of the pile. And I guess too she acted as a bit of a dam stopper for Dad and a fair amount of that now rushes out in uncontrolled bursts towards me and my brother in conversations. And he seems to have absolutely no idea what he is doing. Sigh.

Melody Beattie in The New Codependency articulates the situation so well, and I am using some of her words in quote/paraphrase here:

Communication that drains energy or power from someone under the guise of “talking”  
Dad has always taken great pride in being able to navigate himself to places by looking ahead at the map and driving himself without using anyone else to direct him en route (he was a Geography teacher and it is a natural passion.) So because he feels secure in such knowledge, a common conversation thread is for him to ask what route we take when we go places and then proceed to tell us which way he would have gone and why it is better. When our daughter took a train journey over Christmas the unsolicited advice regarding her planned route came thick and fast. To each one of us, separately. I try not to engage knowingly with these types of topics to prevent the predictable direction these things take, and often I end up saying very little in phone conversations. He is firmly installed in the driving seat and in the thick of it I have little idea of how to take the steering wheel back off of him.

People may act like they want to have a conversation with us, but many people with codependency issues use conversation as a way to get us to take care of them. People segue from asking how the other person is into begging the person to tell them what to do, listen to them complain, or take care of them emotionally. If someone is “taking power” in communication, it can be detected by how the person who is robbed of power feels when the conversation ends— exhausted, drained, or depleted. 
All this keeps on happening during ‘talking’ and it feels like a never ending circle going nowhere ever. I can’t see it changing and really some days the sad thing is that I wish Dad was gone too so I didn’t have to do it. Any more.

Normally at this point in writing I would say but-God, and try to tie it with a neater bow. But the ribbon is frayed at the moment and the paper torn.

It feels like the one prayer that is just out of reach, where God is not saying much. Not to say that there are not shards of grace in there sometimes, but most of the time it is just hard going.

I am happy for this post to stay linked to Ruth's blog as it feels that this is a safe place for it to be. I would prefer it not to be posted out further, thanks people!


Linking up with Ruth & Sabrina at #LettersTo (at Ruth's place this week)

15 July 2013

#3goodthings [14 July 2013]

9 July
son's safe arrival home from USA
hearing of his experiences at Bethel Worship School
leading to weird things that go through the wash cycle #73 (plectrums or plectri?)


10 July
air conditioned trains
being able to take cool showers in warm weather
days of beautiful sunshine

13 July (all close to home)
greengrocers in village that always sells loads of brilliant produce and is always heaving with customers
sandals from an indy clothes shop in the village (heaps nicer than mass produced high street ones & a bargain)
that the gem of a Scotsman recognises and supports my need to create (music/art/writing)

228 gifts

10 July 2013

take the long way home (on parenting those who are taller than you)

Since last week I have had an accompaniment earworm of ‘Take the Long Way Home’ (that song from the iconic Breakfast in America album released by Supertramp in 1979.) We had been having a conversation at work about our favourite classic rock and pop music and since A, who sits next to me mentioned that this song was playing on his ipod, it has taken up residence in my brain.

The song came to mind during the marathon men’s singles final at Wimbledon on Sunday (from the viewpoint that the trophy was finally after 77 years leaving Fred Perry’s Stockport and heading further north to Andy Murray’s Dunblane.) It returned again today when the inflection of the squeaky office door reminded me of the song’s snake-y opening mouth organ riff (courtesy of an overactive musical imagination!)

Over the past few days I have had a few conversations/text exchanges with friends on the subject of being parents to young adults and older teens (I’m not sharing specifics because the ‘children’ are all people living their own lives and active on social media). The chats were largely about sharing successes but also pains, mental and physical health and the pressures facing both us and our beautiful young people, particularly around the time of significant exams and degree results. The offpsring are navigating their way out of education and out of our regular daily lives and we are watching, holding our collective breaths. Wondering if they will break in the process and our hearts be squeezed just too hard.

Sadly there’s still discomfort in sharing too widely, those sorts of difficulties when we 'fess up and troubles come home to roost in our front rooms, even among church people. The feeling is that some others are quick to judge. Either explicitly through unsolicited advice or implicitly when a slightly superior attitude seeps out in words or God forbid in prayers. 

It makes this particular road even more of a hard slog sometimes.

And I want to say sorry for the times over the years when I have been concomitant in this this pointing fingers thing. Not necessarily externally and in words. But even by allowing myself to indulge in internal finger pointing, inner competitive parenting and smugness that I don’t ‘have these problems’ sadly: 

I have diluted grace with another 

I have racked my brains for a paltry piece of stupid advice when I should have been listening

I have judged how marriage difficulties might have impacted on a child and diminished pain in front of me bouncing off the walls

I have determined that the rod has been spared and a child spoiled

I have concluded that a sense of entitlement has been created when families are well off and that sowing is now being reaped

I'm sorry for that ugly mess friends which has been my heart at times. 

More than anything I want to get on with having the mercy to listen well when you give me the opportunity. And to thank you for the times you have sat and listened to me say the same things in different versions and dispensed thoughtful wisdom and sent texts with pants, cr*p and sorrys.

Give us feet of friendship that will walk all or some of the way alongside each other and hands of kindness that will hold and be held. For the way home is already long enough, let’s love well and not make it any longer than it has to be.

7 July 2013

#3goodthings [7 Jul 2013]

3 July
'Loved before the dawn of time (Salvation's song)' by Stuart Townend
praying friends
booking a hotel for a weekend away


6 July
good foodbank collection
bbq weather and eating al fresco
deciding to wear Nana's imperfect engagement ring again (see blog & photo here)


7 Jul
sharing with friends challenges & difficulties of being parents to young adults
Murray winning Wimbledon
fresh seared tuna

219 gifts

6 July 2013

beautiful (not five minute friday)

Late for the #5minutefriday party, life, tennis and all. But still wrote this in the spirit of..

Five minutes on beautiful

I come from a line of fine fingered women and my wedding ring size always used to be the same as the first letter of my name J. Nana’s engagement ring was a delicate, beautiful and art deco styled ring. Fascination led me to boldly ask to her inherit it when she died.

Something about all things art deco makes my heart sing and feel their beauty. Words can’t explain it. One holiday I spent an entire film roll taking photos of Charles Rennie Mackintosh chairs in a museum. My children already know I am a bit unhinged, this was their final piece of evidence.

Once Nana died the ring came into my possession but it was consigned to in a box in a drawer. Her ring size was one bigger than mine, so fear of losing it in cold weather or when taking off gloves prevented me wearing it.

Years later and with the passing of time and collection of weight that goes with it, my finger size crept up. As my own engagement ring became too small to take off I started to display the beauty that was Nana’s ring, on my wedding finger.

Not long ago one of the diamonds fell out of the ring and it is irretrievably lost. Finances have meant it cannot be replaced for now, so I stopped wearing the defective jewel.

But today I am adorning my finger with it once again, because y’know when all is said and done it perfectly reflects my beautiful, flawed heart.

Usually I join in with the writing flash mob that is Five Minute Friday (on a Friday) at the home of the lovely Lisa Jo Baker. Writing not for comments or traffic or anyone else’s agenda. But for pure love of the written word. 
I've not linked up this week as I am late but do join in - it's a great community

1 July 2013

the tainted

Don't touch me please 
I cannot stand the way you tease 
Tainted love

We made our angled moves and shapes to the staccato synthpop sounds of the early 1980’s. Fashions and make up still flouncing through yet another androgynous cycle. My best friend and I shared many Saturday evenings and early mornings in our late teens dancing away to these sounds, shouting out the words in unison with the room and stumbling bleary eyed into church a few hours later.
We had spent our schooldays dressed in blue. It started out as a specific shade of royal blue (only stocked by the independent department store) but rules relaxed to more general shades of dark blue as we moved through the classes. Near the end permission was given to wear knee length blue socks, enabling us to dress from head to toe in blue.

Recently b/f and I went away as part of our 50th birthday celebrations for a weekend away. We also met up with two other friends who we’ve not seen since schooldays. Chatting, raising glasses, dividing pots of tea and breaking cake, we shared our stories of the years. Each of us giving space for another to speak, joys and sorrows that we have known well and sometimes worn heavily. Broken and imperfect love featured strongly in the different chapters and we gave room to hear the hard things, but we quickly cheered and applauded all the anecdotes about our dearly loved children. We laughed hard until we cried, recounting our own days in blue and wondering how the path of life and love had worked for others.

Yesterday I stood in the presence of God with His people wearing a new royal blue shirt which I had bought during that weekend away. The keyboard player led into the middle of the song, and we repeated these words before singing the whole song:

Your majesty, I can but bow
I lay my all before You now
In royal robes, I don’t deserve..
I live to serve Your majesty

Tears welled up, blurring my blue eyes and dropping on my cheeks. Overwhelmed in the moment that I don't deserve. That He holds back what I really, truly deserve, all for love and to clean my tainted heart. Not only when I’m wearing blue and not in the same way every week, but even so.

(And I think sometimes I sense just the smallest hint of a gentle tease along with an eye-twinkle, when He tells us twice). 

#concretewords prompt is the tainted over at Nacole's blog & hosted by Ruth this time. Link up, join in - go on, go on, you know you want to!