Monday, 13 February 2017

A Tiger in a Doll's House

Our recollections of our early childhood are always hazy and of we will naturally have absolutely no idea of what we put our parents through.  Like the cuckoo in the blackbird's nest, our demands can be outrageous, selfish, high volume, perhaps even cruel and we just expect  a response.  But we are no imposter chick, and our parents respond out of love as best they can, and family life struggles on. Hopefully we gradually learn what is reasonable and what is not and we learn to give and take, we lean to find pleasure in generosity and perhaps one day, we even learn to appreciate the massive sacrifices our parents made for us.

I am the eldest of three.  Apparently I was a delightful child. My nanny is still alive and still dotes on me, and I feel utterly unworthy of her unconditional love for me. Her own children are in their late sixties and keep in contact with me, they are not jealous, they know she struck up a bond with me that is special and they wish to honour that.  Again, this is humbling. My parents also took great delight in me.  I could happily sit in adult company and behave and not be bored. I could be taken to classical concerts, ballets and to restaurants form a very early age.  I'd always behave impeccably and I can remember the adulation I'd get off complete strangers.

And so the hagiography is already written!  I can't for one moment believe it is anything like the reality.

Then two things happened to change life forever; one natural, one supernatural.  The natural one was the arrival of my middle sister.  She was a kicker, a screamer and a tomboy.  She had no interest in the refined world that I was inhabiting.  I was thrust into childhood, my parents could no longer treat me like a mini adult.  I was now just a big sister.  It made me a little withdrawn, but that was no bad thing.

The other thing that happened was altogether stranger.  I was cursed.  A poor unfortunate boy in the dinner queue at school spoke in a voice that was not his own and uttered this curse: from now on, I'd never be able to have anything I wanted. And he pointed at me and said there would be a mark on my body to act as a permanent reminder of this.  I had no idea that this was not a normal thing to happen and I remember being very calm, going to the bathroom and noticing that I'd developed a mole where he'd pointed.  I still have it.  I told my mum, but it seemed all so ordinary, and I got on with life. Mum did make me change schools.  I loathed my education from then on.  I was a whole series of reading books behind the other children and never caught up.  I was struggling to write and never caught up.  I was struggling to do arithmetic and never caught up.  I could however shine at things nobody else could do so although each year I'd only have a handful of stars on the star chart, whilst every other pupil's star column reached the ceiling (and is some cases even the light fittings), I did enough and was quiet enough that nobody really bothered with me.  And I liked that.

I couldn't quite forget about the curse.  Indeed it seemed to carry some truth so I half decided that it would be best if I didn't want anything.  Besides, minima was screaming the place down, nobody would hear me anyway.

Anyway the upshot of this is I have gone through life not wanting anything.  Not REALLY wanting anything.  I can pretend and that is OK.  I get what I pretend to want.  But what I really want, if I do ever do this, is always taken from me, and it is simply too painful and is best to back away.

Finding priests who understand has been a massive help.  Lightheartedly we work together to ensure the curse becomes a blessing, revoking it would not work.  My total consecration to Our Lady was the main part of this.  I do feel somewhat impervious to the curse, though it is still there.  It still reminds me of its presence and I just have to praise God and not sink into a mire of self-pity.

We can't live in a world without desire, it kills us.  We are meant to desire and we are all broken individuals whose desires are disordered to some extent.  I'm left hanging is some limbo, now nearly pathologically unable to want things for myself but desiring things nevertheless. Knowing also that the curse cannot touch God's desires for me.

I am walking a very strange path, but I would not have it any other way. God's love shines through it all.

The title of the post is the last thing I wanted and got prior to the curse: a tiger in a doll's house. One Christmas Mum obliged and my sister got the rest of the set of plastic zoo animals to chew.  I can picture it very clearly even now and I think the tiger may be me.

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