Tag Archive | motherhood

Holiday Blues

I am about to go to the United States with Contiki on Wednesday on what will be one of the biggest – and longest – adventures I’ve ever done.  That is my summer vacation (see, I’m already mastering the lingo!), but one holiday planned and approaching only makes me begin to think about my next one, which of course, for a British girl is Christmas 2015.

Christmas is a strange holiday, one about which I have mixed feelings.  When I was a younger girl I adored it.  Not because of the gifts or the great meal or because it was a time when family made the effort not to bicker and bite, but because it was a time when I was part of something…something great, memorable and important.  Ever since my paternal grandparents passed (my grandfather died quite some time ago, a nonagenarian and my nana died years after him in her 100s), Christmas has never been the same.  For a few years after, we still went up – as was tradition – to Whitnash in Warwickshire and had Christmas with my father’s sister and her family, but that did not last.  After that, the adults of the family (I was still at school and about 13 years old, I reckon) decided that presents would no longer be shared among everyone but that instead my father would give to his niece and nephew and my aunt and uncle would give to me.  Though, seeing as my cousins are closed in age to my mother and father than I am to anyone else, I was still the baby of the family and it still feels, as we haven’t had a ‘proper’ Christmas since that Christmas was another thing I loved that got taken away from me undeservingly and unwillingly.  I don’t get the wrapped gifts anymore, I don’t get to sit round a decorated tree and listen to the Queen’s speech (though admittedly that might be the thing I miss least!), I don’t feel the spirit of Christmas anymore.

My dad always says that Christmas is for children, so maybe as an adult I shouldn’t care or I should feel that it was only natural that Christmas should be cancelled as there’s no one younger in the family that celebrated Christmas together than me and I’m all growed up.  I disagree with my father.  Christmas isn’t for children.  It’s for family.  It’s for togetherness.  It is for home.  Just because members of the family who died naturally first are gone does not mean the world shuts down and what makes the living happy dies along with them.  If it did, wouldn’t the world be a depressing place?

I may sound callous, but I am one of the most unfeeling people, so I’ve been told, concerning death and sympathy for bereaved.  My motto is that people die and that’s the natural order of things.  I’ve felt grief but I have not the constitution or the mindset to let it claim me or take things away from me.  The most I have ever felt and constantly feel to this day concerning grief and the death of someone loved is that my godbrother died when he was only just out of school close to Christmas and I never met him but if he had not died I doubt my godparents would be my godparents.  So, the only thing I ever think is that if I could I would swap with him.  I never met him but the amount I love my godparents and their son and his family, I would do anything to spare them from losing such a valued member of their family, whereas if I could, I would gladly sell my wretched soul to the devil if he sent Tim back to his family.  You can tell from all the photos and painting of him that there was brightness and happiness in his soul, and he was taken before his time, whereas my soul is black as pitch and I’m still here to miss Christmas and lose my sanity bit by bit.  Why should I be here suffering when I so wish sometimes that I could be put out of my misery and many people could benefit from someone much better and much more loved than me taking my place on an earth that to him, I’m sure, would have been full of glee and unknown contentment?  And Christmases with his family…

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked!  The point was that I feel things so differently from others because somewhere along my brain broke, that my feelings about the dead are so warped and confused that I hold the unknown dead so dear in my heart but cannot wrap my head around how the death of my grandparents resulted in the death of Christmas.

At Christmas time, the world is bombarded through social media with photos of happy celebrations and times spent with the family.  There are, naturally, instances where Christmas is a time of sadness and grief and loneliness as it has become for me, but usually pictorial evidence of that state of mind during the Yuletide rarely makes it onto the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  Actually, though the idea of suicides being more common in the Christmas holidays is shown to be a myth (see the links to the CDC report), as it has been found that the summer months actually see higher rates of suicide and suicide attempts than the winter.  However, for Christmas to be no more a time when I wonder why the hell I’m on this planet, traditional Christmases like I remember when I was in my formative years would have to resume.  I tried to make a go of it and force it myself, for who can you blame if you don’t make an effort yourself, yet I having Christmas in a student property in Exeter was almost twice as depressing because I actually plucked up the courage to invest my heart in it.  That was the last time I even contemplated trying to resuscitate the Ghost of Christmas Past and accept that what my Ghost of Christmas Future was showing me was a lifetime’s supply of Christmases travelling and forgetting that December 25th has any significance whatsoever.

Last year, I went to Morocco for the Christmas holidays on an Explore tour and as an Islamic country I saw maybe two Christmas trees maximum.  There was no atmosphere of the holiday at all and weirdly I loved it.  On Christmas Day itself, we arrived in Rabat and the Holiday Blues were starting to get to me a bit so I left the group for a day and explored the city on my own in my “Frozen” t-shirt with Olaf on the front saying “I like warm hugs”.  That was the only Christmassy element of that trip but I thought about what other families back home were doing and enjoying together and it made me realise I will never stop looking for that.  One day, I won’t have to save up to go travelling the Silk Road or Jordan or Ethiopia.  One day, the only thing I’ll have to save up for is turkey with the fixings for a family of my own.  That is a day I’ll love, but it still gets me down that I’m about as close to getting that day as I am to getting to hold my son in my arms.

Just for information’s sake, here are some useful links to articles and reports concerning Christmas holiday suicide and suicide epidemiology in general:

http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/holiday.html

http://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/branches/branch-96/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2015.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2040383/

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/taxonomy/index.html?nscl=Suicide+Rates

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

24-07-2015

Contemplating Single Motherhood

As listing makes me feel better and calms me down exponentially, but I keep running out of novel things to list because I have to do it so much, I tried to find something valid and interesting to make a list of and stumbled onto the topic of single mothers.  Now, I have said before that I have no doubt that I will be a single mother by choice because I need children but cannot bear to envision a life with another adult.  However, it got me to thinking, seeing as this blog is about the media and how it can help and hinder a medium mind like mine, about how many single mothers appear and have extremely positive roles in television.  Now, you may observe that there are some controversial additions to this list of positively characterised single mothers, for example, Ellis Grey and Lettie Mae Thornton, but to me even they are good examples of mothers.  This is simply because they did their best.  They may have succumbed to obsessive working and alcoholism respectively, and throughout the TV series that feature their characters their daughters hate their mothers, but even characters whom the audience is supposed to view as villains are redeemed by the realisation of their children (though sometimes it comes all the way in season 11) that their mothers worked with what they had and did their best in the given circumstances.  There are times when I empathise heavily with Meredith or Tara Mae, both scarred and having died and attempted suicide by life, but knowing my luck my life will pan out quite like a TV show and it won’t be until the last season that my mother and I call a ceasefire.  Either that, or one of us will end up killing the other…

IMG_1687

Anyway, this post was meant to be cheerier than the last one and here I am talking about homicidal tendencies!  So, I present to you the – by no means exhaustive – list of single mothers that I consider to be good examples of both the triumphs and mistakes of single motherhood on television.

The Single Mothers of TV

  • Martha Rodgers (Castle)
  • Shelby Corcoran (Glee)
  • Jackie Tyler (Doctor Who)
  • Ellis Grey (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Shirley Bennett (Community)
  • Vala Mal Doran (Stargate SG-1)
  • Patty Halliwell (Charmed)
  • Liz Forbes (Vampire Diaries)
  • Lettie Mae Thornton (True Blood)
  • Catherine Bordey (Death in Paradise)
  • Carrie Mathison (Homeland)
  • Rachel Green (Friends)
  • Edith Crawley (Downton Abbey)
  • Regina Mills (Once Upon a Time)
  • Eleanor Waldorf (Gossip Girl)
  • Norma Bates (Bates Motel)
  • Joyce Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Darla (Angel)
  • Claire Littleton (LOST)
  • Karen Roe (One Tree Hill)
  • Vy Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

04-03-2015

The Day My Heart Broke

As you will have realised by now, this is the place where I share my darkest and innermost secrets and memories and experiences.  I have written of my virginity, my mental health illnesses, and the demise of my family and the dashing of the majority of my dreams.  So now I am going to share a very poignant and traumatic memory as I have currently gone off my pills in a social experiment to prove – somewhat self-destructively – to my mother that every time she takes away my tablets or chides me for taking them or the like, she is more or less instructing me or relegating me to suicidal tendencies and periods of severe and excruciatingly painful depression.  This memory came to mind particularly as I am getting a tattoo on the day after my birthday which has the date when my heart was broken irreparably.  29th May 2013.

Basic Hand of Fatima with Heart design by Ellie Hall

Basic Hand of Fatima with Heart tattoo design by Ellie Hall

So, as you can see from that date I survived it and have resigned myself to an unhealed heart and a life without the love of a partner.  People have called me weak, lazy, sensitive, crazy and a plethora of other negative and hurtful things over the years, but I may be all of those things (from time-to-time!) but my one redeeming aspect is that I am still here, I’m still fighting and I try every day to convince myself that driving a knife through my ugly body (seriously, I could be a study on physiognomy!) is a bad idea.

Many people with depression and other mental health difficulties fall when conversations like the one I’m about to share with all of you – and I hope you’ll read it with an open mind, as usual – occur, but I put myself out there and opened my breast to the dagger that was thrust into it.  I asked for it and though before I was dealt an almost fatal blow (I won’t lie, my emotions in the aftermath of the final part were all over the place and in the time directly after I read it all, my death was not far off) I am now glad I was told the truth so candidly.  For, although the 29th was one of the worst days of my life, in the beginning of June ’13 I had no false hope where the love of my life was concerned.  Yes, I still call him the love of my life because he is and will always be but now I do not live in the expectation of my feelings being mutual or reciprocated in any way.  I am content just still to be as much a part of his life as he’ll permit me to be.  So, when in films and television shows and books, some hero or heroine professes that they’ll be content just to be friends or a part of each other’s lives (Angel and Cordelia spring to mind initially…), most of them end up giving in to their feelings or someone inevitably will come round, the reality is that sometimes that just doesn’t happen and the heroine is left on her own and the hero finds his true love.  David Copperfield in this way is a fairytale, for in real life, Agnes would never get her David and the family she has with him.

Now, I guess I should stop stalling and writing about age-old books and Cordelia again and actually speak about Pippa.  This blog, after all, is called LaBellaBorgia Speaks and that’s me.  So please dig in to the following online conversation (so don’t worry about me recalling it all accurately or with exaggeration).


I know I’ve been distant lately and I feel I owe you an explanation, one which I am ashamed to admit I am too much of a coward to give you in person.  Please do read this in its entirety though I fear it will be lengthy because I do, more than anything and with no melodrama, wish you to know everything I have been feeling for years, which I have kept hidden, but I can’t anymore because to put it quite simply, it’s killing me.
I have always had few friends and God knows I can’t keep a new friend to save my life and understand me fully when I tell you that I seldom leave my house or flat if it is not with family or you.  To me you are my family and that fact has plagued me more than it has consoled me, for it has been apparent to me for some time (and I do not intend to be harsh, I merely say what is true) that I see you as vital to my existence, whereas I am not as important to you, which is the result of either you simply having more friends or it is because I am not the kind of person who can be needed to carry on each day, as you are to me.
I know my shortcomings.  I am difficult to know, needy, intolerant, deceitful and a whole host of other things and I know I exasperate you, but know that I could and would give anything for you and some of the most frightening night terrors I have are ones in which you leave me and I can do nothing to stop it.  That is the thing that frightens me most and so I hope you can grasp how hard it is for me to make this confession.
Recently I had lost my faith in the God who has kept me alive so far, yet when it seemed that something supplanted that faith I was confused.  It was the realisation that I believe in something much more powerful and much more personal than God and that is the power of you, me & x.  The belief I had that our friendship would be the strength of my life and the love that I clung to above all others was misguided, I see that now, because I expected too much.  I hoped you would be as devoted to me as I am to you two, but I overlooked a few things:  I am a woman and my nature is to be devoted (I did not get Materfamilias tattooed on my right arm for my own enjoyment); you two have so much more to live for than do I; as a woman, I am inclined to see others’ feelings and you two have never truly been privy to my own.
What I am about to say here has the potential to shake our friendship to its core and possibly to tear it down, but I am willing at this point to risk all (yes, I have been watching The Borgias too much!).  It pertains particularly to you.  I have never been particularly discreet about the fact that I love you and as more than a friend, but I don’t believe I’ve ever actually said that to you.  I do not confess this with any spirit of hope that my feeling are returned or may ever be, in fact it would please me greatly if you never loved me ever.  I would never want to ruin your kind, trusting and lovely soul, which is what I would do to it were you ever to allow me to and that would break my heart and spirit.  I feel so much for you that when you hurt and your nature doesn’t permit you to hold a grudge or bear ill will then I hate for the breaking of my own heart and then for yours.  The months after you and Lily hurt me in a way more than the months when you wanted her and that – believe me – is saying something.  The only and I mean the only reason I tell you this now is so that you understand the very heart of me and why I have done what I have.  When I couldn’t have you, I went after someone else and now I have terrifying flashbacks that have on occasion led to sedation and I’m not pinning blame, it was above all my own fault, but I settled and in doing so I made sure I would never be able to love anyone else but you.  I have spent years of my life learning you: what you eat, what you drink, how you feel and think, so that I can feel as though I am the one person who knows you above all even though I know that’s not true.  When you tell me that we can’t hang out, the thought that immediately falls into my paranoid mind is that I have done something wrong and I am hurt much like a girlfriend would be.  I know I’ll never be that to you, but I would ask that you don’t shut me out because of what I’ve just told you and know that every time you do my heart sort of breaks.


Well that certainly is a lot to go through, and I’m not going to lie, it takes a lot of guts to say all of that, it really does, and I respect that very much honestly. I don’t think I could do the same.

I guess I don’t really know exactly how to respond, I’m no expert at this stuff, but here goes. First off, I must admit I’ve known that you liked me as more than a friend for some time, and I do think, through nobody’s fault, it has caused something of a wedge between the two of us. This is not your fault, I know that when you like someone, no matter who they are or how ridiculous it seems, you can’t help it. You just do. And that’s totally fine. And I am only sorry that I don’t feel the same way. In a way, I do partially blame myself for this, perhaps it would have been the mature thing to tell you I didn’t feel the same way years ago, but for whatever reason, I didn’t, and I’m sorry for that. I love you like a sister, and that is God’s honest truth.
I also feel partially responsible for how, and it does feel this way, that we’ve drifted apart in recent times. I can’t make excuses, I think it is just, unlike both you and x, I am not someone to who emotion comes easily. I’m not good at expressing emotions, in fact I’m rather embarrassed by it, and so it is true that I sometimes choose to hang out with people who, like me, do not deal with things emotionally. Call it a cheap move, it’s just the way I feel sometimes, I’d rather avoid issues than solve them, and that isn’t fair. I feel I owe you an apology for several years of that.
But there’s one other thing you need to know, and that is that none of this will force us apart. I think this stream of confessions, bearing the soul and all that, will help bring us back to a kind of harmony that seems to have gone missing. We’ll all know where we stand, as such. Pippa, you are the older sister I never had, and though I’m afraid I do not see you in a different light, and that isn’t going to change, I would not want to be without you. I would say to you, and I accept how empty the words can sound, that you shouldn’t shut yourself off from people. You can make friends, I have seen it, even if you do find it hard, and you deserve to find someone special more than anyone I know. I accept it’s hard, and I do not expect you to change that overnight, but there’s a whole world for you out there, you just need to explore it, and I only wish you could. And now we’ve all laid our cards on the table, I have every faith that it’ll clear things up. There’ll be no more need to feel awkward or smoke and mirrors. We know how all three of us feels, in all honestly, and we can accept that as the way things are. I have every faith it’ll only make the three of us better friends.
So uh, I guess, that is me, doing my best at talking about stuff. I hope everything made sense. And hope to see you both soon


I’m now crying so hard I can barely see through my glasses, but it’s so worth me reading all that again.  It’s so cathartic for me.  I will just say that I know most of you readers will have no clue who this is, but I fear, that despite my preventative efforts, some of my acquaintances will surmise to whom I was talking, so please – for ME – keep the confidence of LaBellaBorgia Speaks, as he doesn’t read it and I doubt he ever will, but it’s where my soul and heart lies now.  It’s a broken heart but it beats here and thrives in the honesty and true life I can’t find away from the blogosphere.

I will say this final thing…I took some of his advice that day.  I have travelled and will carry on travelling the world searching for something to fill the void that is in my heart.  To name but the most memorable: I have seen the ruins of Carthage, inhaled the tanneries of Fes, glimpsed the Misty Mountains, felt Apollo’s sun beating down on me in Delphi, drunk Jack Daniel’s in Piazza San Pietro and watched the sunrise where the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea meet.  That was good advice and when I spend the summer in the USA and January ’16 in Tuscany, I’ll be following orders, but one thing I would say now again is that to wish me on someone else and to want me to spend my life unhappy trying to love someone else with a heart that is not mine to give away is worse than what my mother does when she tells me to stop taking the tablets that keep knives in the kitchen and out of my bedroom.  What my mother does is condemn me to a painful, self-inflicted death, but what the love of my life does – unwittingly, as ever – is condemn me to a painful, living death that would be drawn out and have not one…but two victims.

That is something I’m not strong enough or malicious enough to survive or inflict on someone else and I’m so glad of that.  It means that tomorrow will be better and that I’m keeping someone else’s heart safe even when mine has been so amicably crucified.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

25-02-2015

The Madness, Misery & Mourning of Motherhood

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/charlotte-bevan-mum-found-dead-4758275

charlotte-bevan-mi_3126028c


In the light of this article and having written a lot about how I have to be a mother, not to mention a single mother with mental health issues, I would just like to put this out there as a memoriam to this poor young lady and her child.  All it would have taken was one human to remember that they were one to save her life.  To me, Charlotte Bevan’s tragic death is more of a national crisis than all of the poor souls in the world wars (and I’m not diminishing their sacrifice) put together, as the deaths from 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 had an entire nation to mourn them and remember their sacrifice for democracy, their country and their families, but Ms Bevan’s death will most likely fall into oblivion or recalled in part and pithily as a story that people who suffer from mental health issues recall when they have children.

She deserves better than that.  Her daughter deserves better than that.  Her family and friends deserve better than that.

I won’t forget and this I will remember.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

08-12-2014

Father Dracula

In the year of our lord 1442, the Turkish Sultan enslaved one thousand Transylvanian boys to fill the ranks of his army. These child slaves were beaten without mercy, trained to kill without conscience, to crave blood of all who defied them – the Turks. From among these boys, one grew into a warrior so fierce that entire armies would retreat in terror at the mention of his name, Vlad the Impaler, Son of the Dragon.  Sickened by his monstrous acts, Vlad came to bury his past with the dead and return to Transylvania to rule in peace. His subjects called him prince, I called him father, but the world would come to know him as Dracula.

The legend of Vlad Țepeș has been many things throughout the years: a horror story, a legend of atonement and sin, a vampire chronicle, a story of romance and loss.  However one aspect of the fact-based narrative that has rarely – if ever – been explored is the role of Vlad Dracula as a father.  As I sat today watching the new Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures release, Dracula Untold, I found myself utterly enchanted until the epilogue section which will henceforth be unmentioned, with the movie that saw Luke Evans play Vlad Dracula the Father.

Vladimir Dracula (Evans) with his son, Ingeras (Parkinson)

Vladimir Dracula (Evans) with his son, Ingeras (Parkinson)

I sat down to this film with my best friend as one of our traditional Matt-Pippa movie excursions and so I was by no means depressed or morose when the film commenced.  A happier and less depressed person would have grasped onto the historical or west vs. east themes of the film, which I did eventually, but for me, it was the sheer raw emotion displayed that caused my poor old ticker to palpitate in my breast.  With the initial voiceover by the Impaler’s son (see block quote), it felt crystal clear to me as a slightly deranged and basket case of a viewer that fatherhood and the father-son relationship was the crux (no pun intended!) and the heart of the movie.  It is – in short – what sets it apart and bears it aloft from the commonplace and slightly boring modern vampire films that have reformed the image we have in the 21st century of the vampire.

As a daughter of a delightful father, whom I adore to the ends of the earth, I am incredibly drawn to the father figure as painted onscreen, but as the daughter of a father who often did not raise arms and try to move heaven and earth to protect me, I was taken in heart and soul by the powerful and sacrificial father image that Dracula Untold created.  I have no desire to detract from your enjoyment of the film and all its wondrous surprises and positives by illuminating its plot too much so I’ll endeavour as best I can not to divulge too much as I write now.  That having been promised, the story about the drive of the royal prince who has to fight the Turkish threat and offer up his soul, his kingdom, his subjects and his reputation in order to safeguard his child is too enchanting for someone in my position not to elucidate.

Vlad the former Impaler who occupies the screen for the first section of the film reminds me of my father: at home in Castle Dracula during a ten year peace and happy with his queen and son having suffered extensively during his own formative years.  It is the Vlad who refuses the Turks what they demand as the cost of peace that made me smile and almost weep in my seat.  He defies the greater threat, a threat that has the potential to wipe out everything and everyone he holds dear, when the price of peace grows too dear.  It is his love for his family, his respect for his wife and his unconditional love for his son that drives him from this point forward despite his underlying yearning for peace.  The ultimate draw of the character is that his paternal and visceral need to protect his offspring outweighed and conquered his preference for peace in his land.  I can only say that I would be very different now if in the 21st century and without the magic and the devil and a pressing Turkish invasion, my father had valued my sanity, my unscarred body and what my future might be above serenity in Theydon Bois.

So, you see during this film instead of feeling for and finding myself in the shoes of the mother, unusually and refreshingly for me, I felt more kinship with young Ingeras.  This certainly put things in a different perspective than usual and instead of feeling the force of a natural maternal love, as I did in Brave, The Borgias and Angel (to name but a few!) I found myself in a role of vulnerability and the unconditional love of a child and feeling as a child does as my mind flew into the media and put down roots there.  That is not to say that the feelings of Mirena never took rest in my mind – they did – but it was ever linked to the child and a child’s link with his father.

The questions that floated around my mind during the film were: what will my children do without a father to protect them?  How can I possibly hope or think it’s possible for me to protect them by myself?  Will I be enough?  Is it selfish and heartless and unbelievably evil of me to knowingly bring a child – or children – into this world to face it without the love and pride and protection of a father?  Understand that if during a movie that is essentially about a vampire prince in Wallachia, I can be ruminating those questions, precisely how unstable and mental I am and why I need this blog to get some of the crazy out of my brain.  What is especially troubling still is that a piece of media can still get into my head and lay all its babies there and turn me into a blithering, blubbering, bawling shell of a person just because a vampire is a daddy!

So you see how the maternal-paternal-filial feelings have all come together in the aftermath of me watching this film to a head.  My children – I know and promise to every higher power and the cosmos – will have all the love I can give and will never have cause to doubt their mother’s love, but what plagues me now is that although I will give them the best godfathers, uncles and grandfather I can, I want them to know that if anything should happen to me, then a father on this earth will fight to its ends for them.  I say that knowing and being certain that I cannot ask nor expect their godfathers to do that for my children.  That frightens me more than anything; that something will take me away from my children and they’ll end up living the same life I do, not knowing if anyone really loves me or if the world is really against me or I just have that kind of luck.  Then, what I have sworn never to do and have often said to my mother, that I would die before I created another me, I will have failed dismally and utterly and it’ll be infinitely worse than failing myself or my parents or my friends because I’ll have created through my own means and by my own will, tortured children who will never be whole, all because I wanted a family of my own and then failed to protect them and ensure their secure future.  That is what Dracula Untold revolves around: the legacy of leaving a safe life for your children no matter the cost or what stands in your way.

That’s why, I guess, I invest so much heart and mind in these sci-fi & fantasy shows, books, and films that have these awesome father figures that possess magical powers or vast armies or some superhuman (or all of the above!).  Angel is the vampire with a soul father to Connor, John Crichton is father to baby D’Argo with the knowledge a whole galaxy wants in his brain, Noah Bennet adopts Claire and exercises his influence to protect her and that’s just fathers in Angel, Farscape and Heroes for you to consider.  Vladimir Dracula as played by Evans, like Angel, other than being a vampire, alternates between being good and bad, light and darkness and right and wrong, illustrated ever so clearly in his final showdown with Mehmed II (played – vexingly, I might add – by Dominic Cooper) where the adage, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” (Harry’s Game, G. Seymour, 1975) has never been so apt.  This is not least due in part to the fact that they symbolise a clash between east and west and Christianity and Islam, which I found a bit on the head due to the threat from ISIS currently experienced by the world, but nevertheless, it presented me with an interesting conundrum.  Although Vlad is undeniably set up as the protagonist and Mehmed as the “cardboard” (Matt’s word) villain, in the final fight where perhaps conventionally. we would usually side with the man who didn’t sell his soul and his eternity to the devil, oddly, we find ourselves rooting for Vlad as he fights for his son’s future and to keep the promise he made to his wife.  Much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer is ironic as it is now the pretty (meh) blonde girl chasing the monsters with a knife, the inversion of a supernatural heroic villain fighting a foreign threat who is – in this film, if not in history – represented as a bit of an arsehole for his family made me ask the question: can – and should – a father simply be good?  Mine certainly was and is, but I don’t know if I would have the mental and physical and psychosomatic problems I do now if my father had had a bit of evil or darkness in him enough to wage a bit of a war for me against the arseholes (myself included!) that turned my life into the circus it is today.  I know that Mirena is portrayed in the gothic setting of Dracula Untold as the stereotypical mother and damsel in distress and therefore, she is not characterised or shown, at least, to have any flaws or darkness within her – it’s all in her husband!  So, the question of whether a mother can be innately good and sin-free never really entered my mind during the feature film, for Mirena does appear to be the perfect, almost fairytale if in an Angela Carter setting, mother.  Vlad, however, in order to be a good father to his son (and, indirectly a good husband to his wife) is required to turn a bit evil, if initially temporarily and with the potential for redemption, so I just wonder if when a mother has a pristine soul, a father has to be bad, or if a father just has to have that hint of darkness in order to be the strong, virile protector he has to be.  Needless to say, it’s something I’ll be thinking about for a while and I doubt I’ll ever reach a cast iron decision on my opinion on the matter, but I will say this: the darkness within my mother has never in my life been a darkness used to protect me and the light within my father has not protected me from her darkness either so as a future single parent, I aim to be a light shade of grey and thus tone down the darkness from how strong its pigment is at the moment.  That is all I can do for my children: not be my mother and not be my father, but have the darkness of my mother and use it the way a father like Dracula did in the film for their good and to have my father’s light and accept it as the good in my soul the way the mother in Mirena does to counteract the strong and masculine darkness in Vlad.

I hope this article hasn’t bored you to death as I skirted around the plot of Dracula Untold and that I haven’t dissuaded any of you from seeing it, if you haven’t already!  I will conclude by saying that we all have monsters residing within us but it is whether we allow them to have the active or passive role in our lives that defines us as people and as children and as parents.  The right kind of darkness can be a force of light and the wrong kind of light can be detrimental.  Don’t judge someone’s darkness because it is not an obvious asset to them – it may be the only thing keeping them alive because that’s certainly what the darkness in my soul is to me.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P.Mistry-Norman

15-10-2014

Unhappy Marriages Make Unhappy Children

Weddings and getting married are things that I have been thinking about recently, and when I say recently, what I really mean is since about 4am as I’ve been up all night.  People who have managed to get me to speak honestly about the subject of marriage and its role and importance in my life will be well aware of what I believe it is and how I approach it, but I’m going to lay it out for them more clearly and all the rest of you lovely lot.

To begin with, I have to remind you that I told you a few posts ago that I do not see myself ever entering into another romantic, adult relationship ever again in my life.  This might prompt you to ask why marriage matters at all then, but let me assure you that it does, especially as I intend to have children later in life and I come (at least half of me does anyway!) from a traditional Indian family, so with children in mind, the concept of marriage will be present in my future.  In this post, not only do I wish to expound on my opinions on marriage as a real notion but I am also going to explore how I feel and what happens in my mind when I watch acted weddings and fictional weddings onscreen and in literature.

I have long since abandoned all belief that I am a romantic at heart, which I do think I used to be when I was a lot younger and still thought that Disney princesses could be real women and that happy endings were possible in life.  That part of me was decimated violently while I was in my first and only proper, somewhat steady relationship and I have no desire to return to that incarnation of myself who felt she had to jump through countless hoops and give away pieces of myself and sacrifice who I was and what I believed in and thought right to be in a relationship and not to be laughed at for a few months.  That will never happen to me again, I am resolved on that!  From that educational experience, I have learned my limits and I now know that if I ever got some poor bugger to tie the knot with me, I would destroy that person’s soul because in some ways, I am the most mature person I know, but I am also the first to admit that where relationships are concerned, I am one of the most immature people I know.

I have watched my parents’ marriage from just outside the heart of it and I know what an unhappy marriage is, an unhappy marriage is my old friend and longtime companion…  I know what it is to go to bed listening to my parents arguing and not knowing when they would stop, I know what it is to wake up and have the first thing I hear be a domestic and I know what it is to see the looks on other adults’ face when you happen to mention in polite conversation that your parents have slept apart since before you can remember.  Needless to say, my parents’ unhappy married life has affected me and while I can say that I know maybe a handful of married couple, it is not a majority, not in the least.

Something that has affected my life probably more is the fact that I believe my parents should have applied for divorce while I was still young.  It is likely that I will never forgive either my mother or my father for being too stubborn and too incapable of living without the other (only on a practical level!) to leave, as my father could not keep house without my mother and my mother would not ever be/remain solvent for long enough to live without The Bank of Dad.  My perception of their marriage is that neither are made better by it and both are made significantly worse.  Another result of the marriage is that it (sort of…more on this later) produced me and I am a mess, a problem and if the world was right and just, I would not be here to suck the life and destroy the souls of anyone who gets close to me.

Ironically, maybe it could be said that I am the personification of my parents’ marriage: I am silent, I am unhappy, I should never have been, I sleep alone and I cannot live without my father and I am a liar.  That has just occurred me, so forgive me if it’s a little overly English Literature A-levelesque!

I only found this out while I was applying for my first adult passport – if you can believe it – that I was born out of wedlock and that my parents were wed only after I was born.  Words cannot adequately describe how deceived and wrong it made me feel at a time in my life when I was constantly walking on the edge of the cliff of life and death.  Whilst I do not believe that people have to be married to have children, the relationship between the parents-to-be has to be firm and steady enough to bring a child into its folds and discovering that my parents most likely only married because I was born and so they would not have to lie to their families and me, turned me into a lie in turn. Finding out the way I did also changed my life into something out of a bad soap plot and when your life appears comical to you, there’s nothing more worthless in the world…

Having a child for me is going to be (I just know it is because it simply has to be) my breath of fresh air and my reason for living through all of this crap.  It is what I am due from the world and the universe and the cosmos and I am well aware that life is not fair and God acts in mysterious ways but it is that fragment of my dreams that I cling to in order to get through the nights of tears and the days of grief.  One of my greatest fears is that I will turn into my mother and most of my friends know that that usual compliment, “you look like your mother”, is like a punch to the abdomen for me and results in me asking firmly with tears in my eyes for its giver to take their words back.  If I subjected a child of mine to an unhappy marriage that turned them into me, I would never, ever forgive myself.  It would be a crime against motherhood and life and God to make another human being like me just through bad parenting and I am still convinced that my life experiences and knowledge will help me become a good mother.  I’ll have to be as I am going to be walking the path of parenthood alone.

The Ancient Greek word for soul-destroyer is ψυχολέτησ – something I found while I was looking for something to use in a new tattoo, but I thought better of it as both of my tattoos represent hope and what I am aiming for in life, not what I am going to try to leave behind me once I have my family.  As I have proffered the opinion that I am the personification of my parents’ marriage, maybe it is truly marriage that I see that has destroyed my parents’ and my souls.  I know (to paraphrase one of the most annoyingly coined phrases of the 21st century) institutions don’t destroy souls, people do, so I cannot truly find marriage ultimately culpable, but the human part of me rather than the logical and sensible part of me does.

Now, enough said about that I think, so on to how I see it in media…but first please, let me know what your opinions are on TV weddings in this little poll I’ve set up.

I cry during weddings on TV.  I cry a lot!  It really is obscene and one occasion where I really wept and wept and wept was the “Sherlock” season 3 wedding of John and Mary.  It wasn’t even the fact that this danger-loving war veteran managed to get his fiancee to say “I do”, it was the title character’s reaction because nine times out of ten, that is precisely my reaction.  I do apologise now if I give anything from the episode away, but it really did span the gap between reality and delusion for me on how I am during weddings on TV and in life.  It was eerie actually because I was feeling completely in sync with Sherlock Holmes and while I was in the emotions, I was watching him be in his (if that makes any sense?) and react on television.  Of course, I’m not a “high-functioning sociopath” but there were elements of Sherlock’s best man speech that made me think, “yeah, I’m like that too”.

Particularly the part where he insults everyone and says some truly awful things but then admits that he is the worst and most awful man alive but he adores John and would do anything for him through his marriage along with his wife.  That – to me – is what a marriage is: it’s doing anything for the one you love.  Sherlock is a great example as he would not really change anything about himself.  Along the way, he makes sacrifices for and compromises with John and Mary but he never concedes any part of his essence.  Marriage should make people better and then people can be better in pairs, not worse together.

And on that cheery and slightly pedagogic note, I’ll say goodbye for today.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

07-02-2014

Me, Myself and Cordelia

I have previously stated that I have a “medium mind” but I haven’t really gone into that much detail about it and what it has the power to do. Firstly, I want to caution readers against starting to read this post with a closed mind as it really does involve the delusions that make me appear entirely crazy.  It might seem overly descriptive of some TV shows and possibly movies but I want you to truly understand what makes the characters the ideal vessels in which my mind erects temples almost without my consent and awareness.

Cordelia Chase is a character from the popular 90s show, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, played by the stunning Charisma Carpenter.  Her character in Buffy was a spoiled, vapid and cruel cheerleader and though this is where I first encountered her, it is her character in the spin-off show, “Angel”, that started to gradually leak into my mind and become the real P. Mistry-Norman.

From "Angel" season five, episode: "You're Welcome"

Cordelia Chase played by C. Carpenter from “Angel” season five, episode: “You’re Welcome”

She is a brilliantly constructed character, marrying all the callousness you expect from the stereotypical popular cheerleader in a cult show with the grounding and plausible honesty and straight-talking.  The changes that her character undergoes from the original to the spin-off series made me fall in love with her, which is how it always starts.  I fall head-over-heels in love with the character and it doesn’t matter if they are male or female…it is not that kind of love!  Then, before I am really aware what is happening in my twisted, little mind, I have stopped calling myself by my given name and am answering to imagined figures of Angel calling me Cordelia.

I have done this same routine with so many characters over the years ranging from Susan Pevensie from the “Chronicles of Narnia” to Lucrezia Borgia as seen in “The Borgias”.  I will expand on how these delusions all start to come together and I eventually lose the ability to distinguish between where one begins and where another ends later but I just want/need to concentrate on Cordelia for today’s post.  She lies at the very heart of my current cocktail of delusions and thus, she, Charisma Carpenter, Joss Whedon and everyone else who had a hand in making her into the main character that I use to survive are to be thanked right here, right now.

“Angel” is one of my top five favourite TV shows of all time.  It has more edge and bite (and it should considering its lead is a vampire!) than “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, plus it doesn’t have Sarah Michelle Gellar whining about something or other and how someone done her wrong in every single episode.  As a tangent, with modern media concerning vampires, I find that I am always thinking that the lead female is an atrocious character (Elena from “The Vampire Diaries”, Buffy, Bella Swan from “Twilight”), though Sookie from “True Blood” is an exception – that girl has balls!  I instead end up thinking the shows would be much more entertaining if one of the supporting female characters replaced them, like Caroline Forbes from “The Vampire Diaries”, Cordelia (who in fairness does end up as the female lead) and Rosalie from “Twilight”. These characters are all the better women and should be the recipients of more attention, but who am I to suggest that most of the producers of these shows are idiots?

Returning to the David Boreanaz hit show, I adored it from the premiere to the moment just before Darla got pregnant.  Really, the arrival of Connor, the human progeny of two vampires, was ludicrous and turned the show which I deemed as brilliant into a farce.  Usually, I adore the work of Joss Whedon, but this really made me wish I could pound his ginger head into the floor.  The only redeemable aspect of the plot was that once Darla killed herself, Cordelia took on a maternal role to Angel’s son.  When that happened, she became the ideal character for me to adopt.  She became the perfect epitome of motherhood combined with a selfless saviour of the disenfranchised of LA and someone who would do anything for her friends and had the power to sacrifice everything.  As Angel falls in love with her, she ends up being the female partner in one of the most beautiful love stories ever shown on television, for just as she realises she loves the reclusive vampire and chooses to act on it, she is swept up to a higher plain and Angel is sent to the bottom of the sea by his pubescent son who blames him – wrongly – for a series of crimes.  It is the perfect case of waiting too long and then fate separating you.

When Cordelia returns, she has been possessed by a higher power that uses her body to have sex with Connor while Angel looks on and by this point I had stopped watching once it was inevitable.  I have never been more disappointed in a TV show before and not even the cancellation of “The Borgias” got me as riled up as I was on the day I stopped midway into season 4 of “Angel”.  A powerful, steady, motherly woman was turned into a despicable character that made me hide my face in my hands.

That there rounds off the character of Cordelia Chase nicely for you, but in my head she is the ultimate mother figure, the ultimate lover, the ultimate wife, the ultimate higher power.  If I can use an aromatherapy allusion that my mother would love to explain clearly what she truly means to me that would be easier I think.  Cordelia is the almond oil in the mixture, she provides the base for all the other lovely and gorgeous essential oils – the other characters – that are poured into it and meld together to create the perfect relaxation and healing unguent.  The base matrix plot I have given to Cordelia to ensure that I am always going to be her, always going to speak with her voice, always going to be as strong as she was, is complex and twisted.

Firstly, she is the Great Mother, a divine figure who feels the births and deaths of every unborn child and mother in the world.  Part of her powers also involve being able to have children and put them into play in any time, dimension, world, space (you get the picture?).  This is how I manage to be Cordelia and yet still include other fictional and sometimes historical figures in my delusions at the same time.  It’s made quite the family for me and I don’t feel alone so much anymore, not with the crowds of faces that I see around me in the dark and in my solitary, medium mind.

That’s it for today, but I hope you enjoyed this jaunt into my mind and found the further exposition of my medium mind as intriguing as I find it…as least when I’m writing about it anway!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

05-02-2014