Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Serial rescuer

I hadn't heard the words 'serial rescuer' until recently. They rang an instant bell with me because they describe my mother very exactly. There is nothing she likes more that a really awful crisis because she can then rush in and offer comfort, salvation, practical support. She's always been like that. At her kitchen table there is always some person who is bereaved / lonely / sick. A few years ago (when I was in Shrink Mode) I used to judge my mother quite harshly. I felt (and I'm probably right) that she only helps other people in order to avoid her own problems. Now I don't really see it like that. I just think that it is good that she helps people and it really doesn't matter why she does it. But I do still have questions about 'serial rescuers' because (like mother, like daughter) I used to be one myself. And to some extent I still am. But something has changed and I'm not quite sure what. I've always known that if you are in the Rescue Business then you better not keep a balance sheet because you'll never make it add up. What you give out will not come back. The person who spends hours and hours telling you about their tragedy will happily shut the door on your need a year later. That's life, that's the rules of the game ...... But still I've got questions. I can't work it out. I'll have to write another post about it when I've thought it through ...... Any other serial rescuers out there who would like to comment?

Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Year of Magical Thinking

My husband and I went to see a play called The Year of Magical Thinking. It was written by a woman called Joan Didion who I'm sure that I should have heard of but I haven't. (Can Americans out there help me?) I really wanted to see the play because it has been quite a hit, and it is a one woman show about grief, and so I really thought that it would be interesting. But I have to say that it wasn't. Not at all. I don't want to be critical of Joan Didion who has clearly lived through terrible tragedies (the death of her husband and her daughter in one year) but her play is really dodgy. I was so disappointed. Every day I read blogs which are infinitely more thoughtful, intelligent and honest than that play. Joan Didion seems to think that she is the only person in the world who has ever had anything bad happen to them. I also had the impression that she's never had a conversation with anyone else about grief. None of this would matter except that, at the end of the play, many people stood up as they clapped. And afterwards everyone else in the audience seemed to think that the play was wonderful. For my husband and I, the whole thing was a real Emperor's New Clothes moment. I left the theatre feeling really frightened because I suddenly felt as though I'm occupying some totally different world to other people. But then I've always felt like that so perhaps I should stop worrying about it. Maybe I should be more respectful to Joan Didion. After all, she's got a right to say what she thinks about grief. But should she be able to proclaim her story from stages all over the world when actually - I've got to say it - her play is just vacuous?

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

New house

There is so much that I want to write about - but I've no time and no proper internet connection. I'm typing this in an internet cafe. My son and I have been camping at our new house for the last three days. We have no furniture except an air bed but we've loved it all the same. Yesterday evening we stood at the window and watched a deer grazing on our lawn. That happens quite often. The deer come down from the woods behind the house and occupy the lawn as though it is their own. I'm longing for the moment when I can take a photograph so you can see the house. In an hour's time the furniture van arrives. It could be quite a difficult afternoon! But at least something is happening.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

So Thomas is your only child?

I haven't met many people in our new area yet but everyone I have met has asked that question. 'So Thomas is your only child?' Of course, it's a harmless question. I don't blame the people who ask. But then I've got to explain it - again and again and again. Of course, I could just say, 'Yes, he's my only child.' I've often done that over the last three years. But I've decided that I'm not going to do it any more. My husband and I have had very difficult conversations about this. He thinks I shouldn't tell people - or not immediately. He says that people find if very off putting to be told that kind of information when they've only just met someone. I, frankly, don't care. These are the circumstances of my life. That's what it is. People either get it or they don't. The truth is that if you've had a baby that has died then there are plenty of people out there who want to silence you. For me, it's distressing to realise that one of those people is my husband. But, of course, you can decide not to be silenced. And that's what I've decided now. I refuse to participate any further in the Great Lie that says that life is always lovely, and everyone is always happy, and every story has a happy ending. This might imply that I feel desperately miserable and bitter right now. I don't actually. I just want to see things as they are and I want to be surrounded by people who are trying to do the same.