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The constant and relentless pressure to perform and achieve to another’s unrealistic standards and expectations takes its toll. A bitter parent with a strong personality and bullying mentality who lives their life vicariously through their child can feel like a steamroller out of control. Trampling over adolescent emotions without care or empathy, then asking her 32-year old daughter to terminate her pregnancy on a daily basis for 4 months before the threat of cutting off all ties stops the onslaught is not conducive to forgiveness in my book and the resentment and anger still fester inside.
Strong words and deeply-felt sentiments and yes, they are mine.
Ironically my mother, the target of this vitriol died suddenly when I was 6 months pregnant with my son William. So whilst I won the Battle of the Termination, she won the war in that she didn’t survive to see me with my child. She got what she wanted in the end and I can’t say that I am sorry after all that was said.
Which brings me fifteen years later, to my dilemma. To forgive, or not to forgive. That is the question.
Because it appears that unless I can forgive her for her behaviour and often callous, caustic and barbed comments drip-fed over a number of years, I will forever remain haunted by her criticism. I allow her a front-row seat and I acknowledge that and I guess that there are a number of reasons why I do. But it has to stop and stop soon.
I realise now that to forgive is not to hand her the victory. It will not change the past, but it will enable me to have a future in which I will finally fulfill my ambitions and potential without constantly looking over my shoulder for the inevitable put-down.
Am I strong enough?
I’ll let you know.
I have spent the last few weeks living out of a suitcase and seemingly doing nothing at the weekend apart from washing, ironing and preparing for the next week away. It’s a double-edged sword. I like visiting different offices, every team, every business unit is different and has their own people dynamics and it is this variety that keeps me enthused and passionate about my job. But, everyone needs a break and after a few weeks of being constantly on the move I have come to see my big sister and her family who live on the East Coast for some quality R&R.
After only a few hours I already feel more relaxed, at ease and at peace.
Perhaps I need to do this more often.
After the excitement of the family celebrations over the weekend, the second Monday of our stay in Iran was a public holiday and, with no one working, we all de-camped to the family orchard across town to relax and enjoy a family day out. I was told that we were to have a picnic and stay for the whole day. At first, it all seemed rather familiar and reminiscent of picnics at home as I watched food, baskets laden with goodies and utensils, blankets and last but not least 16 people cram into the cars for the short drive there.
I grew up in a rural area where there were plenty of orchards and I thought that I was heading back 40 years to familiar territory. As the roads narrowed we had to fold back the car wing mirrors so that they wouldn’t scrape the ever-encroaching walls. A white donkey tethered in the road hardly gave us a glance as we passed the double-gated entrances and 7 foot high walls of the neighbour’s orchards. Only then did I begin to wonder just what was waiting for me. It all seemed on a much grander and remote scale than I had imagined and it was clear that we were heading for a hidden garden gem. The anticipation grew and when we reached our gated entrance, I saw exactly what Feri takes for granted and just hadn’t thought to explain. The orchard is in fact 2 large separate pieces of land full of apricot, apple, pear, walnut, fig and sour cherry trees interspersed with grape vines clinging to the trunks, boughs and frames made to accommodate the branches heaving with fruit.
In amongst the trees however and suddenly making sense of the sheer amount of stuff brought with us is a small house; Surely, every man’s perfect retreat. This “garden shed” comes complete with fridge and cooking facilities, running water, toilet, cool stone terrace and BBQs galore. Now this is what I call a picnic.
After the men had unloaded the cars, and the girls organised proceedings, we all set about picking the ripe fruit both to eat there and to take home and store. Everyone joined in carrying baskets, boxes, climbing up ladders and using anything else that they found lying about to stand on. I was walking around the perimeter of the orchard when I came across Akbar digging a hole by a tree-root and, like a squirrel, he was burying pears wrapped in dried leaves and twigs in the hollow. Apparently the fruit keeps perfectly well protected like this and all he has to do is remember where he has buried his treasure when he wishes to retrieve it later. All this was great fun and it so reminded me of happy childhood days scrambling up trees to pick Victoria plums, damsons and greengages; Simple pleasures.
The fruit and vegetables picked, attention was turned to preparing the meals for the day. Everyone helps out but, in line with tradition, the girls sit together aside from the men and both groups carry out their communal chores in collective harmony. I joined the girls helping to clean and prepare the herbs whilst the men took charge of the kebabs, and meat for the BBQ.
Lunch was eventually served, which was as delicious as expected but, with all the ripe fruit about, we were inundated with wasps. I don’t like wasps very much and tried very hard not to make a fuss but I only managed to eat most of my meal before having to excuse myself from the group to find refuge from these “zanbours”. For some reason, perhaps even to them I looked and maybe tasted different, they were buzzing around me more than anyone else. With everyone now on wasp-watch, swatting the little beasties with shoes, scarves, whatever was at hand, I was able to return to the proceedings which had, by t is time, resumed outside. As the day cooled, I settled down to read my book thinking that the immediate threat of wasp-attack had receded. Not so. One persistent stinger managed to creep under my loose shirt and stung me 3 times before I could shake it out. I have to say that this has been the only unfriendly Iranian I came across during my two week stay, but even then I was assured by everyone that the wasp was also being friendly and giving me a “kiss”! Mmmmm….not too sure about that but next time wasps, beware, I will come prepared.
Although remaining warm, the evenings draw in very quickly in October and it is completely dark by 6pm. However, this is not a problem, and outside-living continues just as it would if it were daylight. More BBQs were lit, dinner served and eaten and it was after 9pm when we packed up the cars and went home. If only we had this balmy weather in the UK. Life would be so much more pleasant and family-friendly.
Dad, you gave me life,
I have you to thank
My hero, so strong.
Ahead of your times, always.
I looked up to you.
Stern but fair. Understanding.
Smart suit, polished shoes.
Me safe overseas,
protected from the evil
My country assumed.
Missing your brave sons,
Hope for change disappears.
Shield your loved ones.
But how to explain?
Forward thirty years.
Surprised? Not if you know me.
I’m at peace at last
Legacy lives on
Through you and your son.
Be strong. Be proud. Be
Live on for me son
Success, happiness await.
Weep no more, no more.
I have often wondered how so many people seem to sail through the festive season in a waft of present buying, entertaining, endless visiting, relentless smiling, effortlessly sprinkling all in their path with the Season’s Glad Tidings. I honestly have no idea, but this year I have decided to challenge myself one last time in 2010 and enjoy a happy and harmonious Christmas.
This is not easy for me. I like my peace and quiet, I’m not good in crowds, I prefer routine and home comforts and I don’t enjoy the false, commercial, ringing-of-the-tills financially and emotionally demanding 12 days or so which saps the soul.
So how am I going to turn Christmas from being a right pain in the arse, to the enjoyable, family-friendly, relaxing and reflective period it should be? I’m not sure but perhaps these tips will help me cope with the onslaught.
Don’t overspend– a difficult one especially if you, like me, have children. There is no absolute answer to this dilemma but I am determined to keep to a pre-determined budget.
Shop online– Hurray for Amazon and Tesco I say. Gone are the days when I get up at 3am on Christmas Eve to do the food shopping. Order early and watch the weather forecast like a hawk. If it snows, you may be disappointed and end up eating fish fingers for Christmas Dinner.
Keep it simple-Christmas may not be the best time to experiment in the kitchen. Even the best-loved chocolate soufflé can collapse if nurtured by the drunken chef. If I can manage a traditional roast dinner so can you so stick with what you know rather than putting yourself under unneccesary pressure.
Alcohol-It’s just too tempting isn’t it? Don’t fall into the trap of self-medication to get through Christmas. Chances are it will loosen both the tongue and the willpower both with disastrous results! And remember, it is a depressant.
Lists- You can never have enough lists at Christmas. Food list, present list and the dreaded Christmas card list. How about a kitchen duty list to help spread the workload over the holiday? This is not the time to prove you are Superman or Superwoman…..try and organise some rest time into your arrangements.
Families- If you are lucky enough to have a harmonious family count your blessings. But don’t forget that Christmas can test the very best of family relationships. If, on the other hand, you consider your family to be dysfunctional and argumentative, chances are it will be no different at Christmas. Avoid contentious topics such as politics and football and try to avoid competitive or combative games if they have caused arguments previously.
Back to basics-peace and quiet, log fires, appreciating friends and family, walking the dog, listening to music, generally taking “time-out” should be a priority. Try it.
Communicate-don’t stew in the corner. Keep talking and discuss your feelings and concerns. After drinking Snowballs for the last 20 years, this may be the year to confess that you don’t like advocaat.
So bearing all this in mind, I hope that you are able to make your Chrsistmas a very happy and healthy one and we can all look forward to a wonderful 2011. In the words of the Ministry of Information during WWII, “Keep Calm and Carry on”.
If all else fails, join us on the Depression Alliance Facebook page on Christmas day for some chat, banter, support and much needed friendship from those who know just how you feel!