Today, we have been re-united with our grandchildren who live independently in the house and from whom we have been isolated for two weeks. Bell is 8 and Zac was one on March 18th. Even Dido, who is in a state of constant heightened anxiety and finds the constant Skyping alarming, hallowed with joy to see the children back. To begin with Zac was wary, having disappeared once why should it not happen again? It could even turn out to be permanent. Who knows anything these days? How can Zac make sense of our diminishing landscape. The first thing that Bell wanted to do was to teach me how to make origami swans. Now, we have our own home-grown bevy. I am going to spend the afternoon with Bell and we have formed a film club. Our first viewing is going to be West Side Story.
Later on I want to reflect on the narcissism of writing this diary and the extraordinary Skype landscape of clinical work I witnessed last week. I think I shall begin with the ‘landscape’. No Skypes today but five tomorrow. Today has been devoted to the children; recovering Zak’s confidence that his grandparents are real and not hallucinations.
Bell was transfixed by WSS, all the while murmuring how good it was to be beside of us. I listened to her serene breathing and every breath reminded me of ‘everything’ that we have taken for granted. At the same time we would go mad or start suffering from an obsessional compulsive disorder, if we did not take most things for granted. There has to be some denial of Death but it is getting the balance right.
I am still debating whether or not to settle on Skype or Zoom and it seems some of the people who consult with me are making idiosyncratic decisions about where their session will take place. While some have private home office spaces – (One of the challenges about Skyping with adolescents, which is not my call, is that they mainly want to talk about their familial relationships and cannot find the privacy to do so.) others do not. Further more it seems that the bedroom is the favourite place. It would also be mine but I have disciplined myself to go into our home office, my home consulting room has been requisitioned by the upstairs family and I have to intrude into John’s office and sit primly at the desktop.
Last week I conducted two Skype sessions with men who chose to Skype from their beds and spontaneously wanted to include a tour of their bedrooms. It felt a bit strange at first but we soon settled in. In both cases they explained that they had opened their houses to ‘visitors’ which included cats, dogs, housekeepers, foreign travellers stranded here, children and step children and an assortment of wives/partners. Three women also choose to Skype from their beds and one person retreated to the bathroom although fortunately he decided not to bath. Another person communicated from their garden shed, another from his deserted office in Chambers. One or two people insisted they didn’t want to be seen and we spoke invisibly on the landline. There has been a violent reversal which strangely does not seem like a violation or obstacle to therapy. Historically people have had to adapt to my environment, my taste. Now, I am being exposed to, or being invited into their’s. I enter homelands but also heartlands. One thing I have left out about these changed circumstances is that Dido frequently insists on Skyping with me, anxiously forcing herself onto my lap. Once she vacates Zen tends to join. Perhaps Zoom will be a better choice as my son tells me there is even the possibility of an ethereal waiting room.
while I meditate privately on my discussion about the narcissism of writing, I am going to upload my favourite poem so far, written by my deal breaking/ Georgie Yeats style automatic poet JT.
BUILD AN ARK
When the flood of fears overwhelm
Don’t accept the difficulties
Like Noah, build your Ark
Your own mental sanctuary
A place to quiet your mind.
When problems overwhelm
Don’t accept your fate
Like Noah, overcome the flood of fears
Build a Sanctuary of positive thoughts
Achieve your rainbow.
When the difficulties arise
Don’t be frightened by them
Like Noah, look upwards
Away from your fears, seek dry land
Pray, meditate, contemplate positive solutions.
When times are tough
Don’t think it’s inevitable
Like Noah, refuse to look at the flood
Rise up in consciousness
Contemplate your Creator, be grateful.
When life is hard
Instead of running away
Like Noah, bring into your Ark two by two
Your good thoughts until the negatives fades away
Bring in love, wisdom, empathy, understanding and unselfishness.
When you have no power
Don’t be afraid
Like Noah, test for dry land
Refuse to send out a raven of dark negative thoughts.
Wait for the dove of peace to come into your soul.
By coincidence I discovered a new word today which goes well with the Ark metaphor: Phthalmo Blue.