Tag Archive | parents

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…

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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 Madness, Misery & Mourning of Motherhood

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

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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

What I Have Known

So, I’ve got a new article for you.  It was written by an acquaintance of mine who I do not know well enough to comment on his life and all the things he’s obviously been through on account of mental health and depression, but I will say that on a day when I myself have been feeling pretty low and worthless, reading what Daniel has written made me feel a lot better.  I hope it will have the same effect on you too!

P. Mistry-Norman


It’s a fact that 1 in 4 people have a mental illness…sometimes it’s said to be 1 in 3 people. When you think about it, that is a pretty staggering number and as I ponder this thought which is screwing with my head, as well as the fact that I may have had some alcohol to drink and a few pills, I have decided to write an article for this page. It should be hopefully an easy read.

So what does depression feel like? What does it make you do? Well, sadly depression has such a huge spectrum of reactions. Some sufferers feel lethargic and not reactive, others may well scream at the slightest provocation. In my case, I would describe it as a feeling of heaviness and despair as if I am trapped in a pit, chained to the wall. One can hardly move, stuck in the darkness and ultimately there is no escape. So why do people feel like this?

I would say from a personal experience that the reason we react in such ways is due to these factors (there may well be more):

  1. Stress of everyday life
  2. Loss
  3. Hatred of oneself
  4. Loneliness

I shall explain these in the order above in a sort of pop psychology way (just let me get my glasses and let me prepare my best Sigmund Freud accent!).

In terms of the stress of everyday life, this is very much a personal theory, and please do not take anything I say for gospel. I am not a trained psychologist, merely a human being with – possibly stupid – thoughts. But anyway, I digress. How do we get depressed? Part of it may well be genetic. My family has had its fair share of alcoholics and manic depressives for generations, each coping in varying degrees of success (or cleverly hidden up by family members ashamed of the stigma… we’ll get to this later). However I do believe life’s experience can be a reason, such as traumatic and extreme experiences such as the loss of loved ones, bullying or witnessing a horrific event, to name but a few. But when it comes to all the depressed teenagers, I am going to put this forward.

We have so much stress on our shoulders…think about it. Our grandparents and parents were some of the most fortunate generations in history. When they were around money was (for the most part) in abundance; people could get jobs by working their way up from an untrained bank clerk to the head of a massive corporation, many parents were easily employed and earned good money, and paid for their kids to survive, eat well, study and be comfortable. Then they turn around and say “Well, time for you to go to the best university ever, get the best degree, the best job and make loads of money!”

I beg your pardon…

Now, not all parents do this. But, and no offence to anyone of an older generation, they kind of mucked things up. Even Jeremy Paxman has admitted this. They screwed up the planet, through their foolish choices and due to greed, they made a recession and thus made jobs harder to find, the amount of salaries less, and also, there’s a lot more people in our generation than theirs! We are all fighting for placements at universities which may not even be of good quality and not even guarantee us a job!

Now if you have a predisposition to depression, tell me, did you just go to DEFCON 1? I have been there. Life out there is not easy and our generation has so much to put up with and endure. But we can do it. Do you really need to make billions? Or do you just want to be happy?! Don’t delude yourself and let your parents’ expectations control your own! You want to be a doctor, be a doctor! You want to go to art school even though you may not be a famous painter, go to art school! Don’t get into anything for the money, because money doesn’t necessarily make you happy. Consider what makes you happy, and be realistic. You may not make millions with what makes you happy, but as a hobby or way to keep you sane or even a low paying job, as long as you can survive and be happy, do it. Who knows, you may even surprise yourself!

However the above may be hard to swallow, because depressed people hate ourselves. This is a problem as this means we lock ourselves away, believing no one wants to help us. And being alone with our thoughts is dangerous. Second bit of imagery here, but imagine a gremlin continuously pulling your hair and biting you as he screams in your ear “You are possibly the most pathetic creature alive! You are stupid! You are talentless! And nobody loves you!” Wouldn’t you love to kill that gremlin? Just stab him? Throw him from the rooftop of a skyscraper? Shoot him? Now remember that this gremlin is living in you…

These are the thoughts that I, and many others, have had to deal with. They drive us away from people; make us prisoners in our own houses, our own rooms and our own minds. We feel that we are hated but also misunderstood, as if we must be mad or crazy. “We should be away from people!” we say to ourselves. “I am a piece of shit to whom people don’t want to talk and not only do I think this, but everyone else does too! Everyone is better than me.” We end up making ourselves alone, and sometimes saying horrid things to people or doing stupid things in order to separate ourselves from others, to punish ourselves, or find a way to feel good.

In my family, a young man did commit suicide but everyone kept it secret, because they were worried what people would think. Some people will think that you are just being lazy or just miserable and you should just shake it off, and that hiding is just a sign of being introverted. Hearing this must make you feel confirmed in your idea that maybe being alone is better.

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But please, and I know how hard it is as I’ve been there, you must not feel ashamed. 1 in 3 people feel the way you do and ultimately you need to talk to the people you feel safest with. Even if it’s just a text, a letter or not even any words, just a brief moment of silence and watching a film or a phone call. The people you feel safest with, like your friends or parents, are probably people who love you deeply (insert Community “Gay!” here). They might not understand, but if you can talk to them, and they are willing to listen, maybe they can help you as people who love you and do not want to see you hurt. Don’t feel guilty for finding it hard to talk to them or feeling like locking yourself away, maybe at least let them know so maybe they could come over for a cuppa and a hug.

If alone, do some work, listen to a song that makes you happy, watch a film, express yourself by writing a poem, a story, a song or a short film! Who knows maybe you could make millions, like that git Morrissey! Or most songwriters! And please, please, get help. It could be medication or an hour with a therapist, just don’t let yourself get into a place so dark that you really do feel like it’s the end. Be safe, since someone out there does love you and would do anything to make you feel safe.

“For now, I just want all things safe and familiar.  My life may not be perfect, but it is what I have known.” ~ Ann M. Martin, A Corner of the Universe

For those of you who have read this, and do not have depression, then may I say this: do not judge. Mental illnesses are awful and painful. Please support these people you know, do not assume it is just a bad day, sometimes all it takes is one bad day (yes, Batman quote!). If you love them, make sure you let them know that you will be there for them. I was very fortunate to have many friends and my parents support me. Now gradually, although I may always have some horrid thoughts, I’m getting through life (sometimes in tears, sometimes silent and sometimes because of their love) and laughing like a complete and utter fool. Your support and love and willingness to get them somewhere safe where they can be help could well be what saves them.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

D. Mason

13-11-2014

Let it Go

I am about to attempt something completely new and different (can you tell that’s the theme over the past week or so?).  I am going to attempt to communicate the way I feel about depression and social anxiety and coping with the aforementioned through music and a video blog.  So, this post is less wordy than my others but I hope you will play the video below and listen and see what it is I want to say but often am unable to.  Otherwise, stick around and the next post in my guest series will be up presently!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

12-11-2014

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

O Godbrother, Where Art Thou?

This post has been a long time coming but it’s one that I felt truly compelled to get spot on, so I’ve waited for the right mood to strike, the most opportune moment and the most creative inspiration to come to me.  I realise in the early hours of this morning as I sit writing this introductory paragraph that I’ll be waiting forever if I languish about just waiting for the right words to appear to me – I’m not Shakespeare, after all.  What I am going to write about today will involve my godbrother, my old school, regret, the desire to create something in this world and passion.  I will just say that while you are perusing this article, I would press play on the clip above and listen to my godbrother speak as you read.  It will make the article come alive much more than just breathing in my two-dimensional words.  Anyway, I’ll stop procrastinating and let you get on reading – I’d probably better get on writing this article too – and I really hope you’ll appreciate this article for the labour of love that I feel it is not only for my godbrother and his family, including the best godparents a problem person like me could wish for, but also for the school that helped us be the people we are.

Before I get down to the knitty-gritty, I just ought to give an incredibly brief bio of my godbrother, the speaker, Michael Pruss.  He attended Chigwell School in Essex before going to university at Royal Holloway, London where he attained a 1st class degree.  That achievement led him to cross the pond and study for a Masters at Chapman University.  He has worked for numerous production companies and directors, including Spielberg and Indian Paintbrush, but he is currently employed by Sir Ridley Scott in his production company,  Scott Free, living in Pasadena with his wife and their two precious daughters.

Sitting in the church and the marquee at Chigwell School Speech Day is always a hugely moving experience for me as I truly miss being a pupil there and being immersed in the fast-paced life of the school that became my home almost instantly.  Each time I have taken my place in the pews at the front of St. Mary’s Church, Chigwell since I left school in 2011 and watch as the choir forms up and the brass group tunes up, I have to work hard to staunch the tears that beg to be let free.  I feel in those moments that I am still sitting on the wrong side of the church and that where I used to be entrenched on the inside looking outwards, now I am merely an observer and a has-been in every sense of the word witnessing sadly as others leave behind what I had and the staff (some of whom I consider family) who taught us all.  It is my hope that one day I will teach at Chigwell School and be home again but even though  people mock me for being unable to fly the Chigwell coop and disparage my need to persistently return to the school and see my true home and family again, I will never apologise for wanting to end my story where it truly began.

“Recognition of a shared history…the reverberations of a past that had – I think – led to two different presents.” –

Mike talks about living with curiosity and passion for your career or a particular hobby that might be ‘your thing’ and how a friend of his from Chigwell School gave up his vocation.  In his speech, I recall that this was the first moment when tears came to my eyes.  It wasn’t the concept of meeting an old friend again after a long separation or realising that one iota of difference in a person’s upbringing can make or break their dreams that brought me to tears.  Instead, it was how suddenly it dawned on me that I am that other person, the person who is serendipitously met by O.C.’s and pitied for not having the naus to succeed in life or be loyal to your passions and live life curiously.  Due to my depression, I often feel too sad to venture out and infect the rest of the unexpecting populace with my affliction.  On account of the mythomania, I alienate people through lying that I cannot control.  Thirdly, thanks to the overwhelming social anxiety, not only do I find it nigh on impossible to connect with people and appeal to them, but I have also discerned that this makes others find me tiresome and unapproachable.  I am not particularly led by my family’s wishes in anything if I am quite honest but ‘my thing’ is nonexistent.  I am not sure that I have one thing or a series of things that I am sufficiently passionate about or excel at to be considered successful in life.  I suppose that’s why a lot of people who suffer from depression, myself included, kill themselves or at the very least attempt to – because they believe themselves incapable and undeserving of a good future and the passion of a curious life.

Maybe as a depressed person who missed out on the excitements and usual hype of childhood, all I really covet is familiarity and the stable sense of love that has eluded me my whole life and that is precisely what I found in Mike’s speech that caused me to cry.  The Clan Pruss as a unit has always been that for me: a family that loves each other through thick and thin and has such stability in the love of Mary and Tony that the love in the subsequent two generations is strong and unwavering and something that more than anything else I wish I was part of.  Despite losing an integral and irreplaceable member far too early on, the bond that keeps them close across a vast ocean is still adamantium-strong.  In fact, I’ll share a brief anecdote with you all, since Speech Day at Chigwell, I have been to stay with my godparents and during the sojourn, Mike and his family video called his parents.  It was great seeing them again but all too soon, I found myself overcome by tears again and I couldn’t bear to be in the room to witness anymore of the unwaning love that is shared around the Pruss family.  I will never stop hoping – a pipe dream though it indubitably is – that my own group of relatives (for I’ll never feel that we can share the same noun as the Prusses) will get to experience that kind of beautiful love before it’s too late.

Myself and Michael Pruss

The 'God-Family' (Michael,  Hilary, Tony, Mary and the children)

The ‘God-Family’ (Michael, Hilary, Tony, Mary and the children)

I will finish by asking the first question I asked: O Godbrother, Where Art Thou?  The answer that I give to that question is: in Los Angeles, with an amazing family and a luminous career, living my dream.  The last part in particular is the best answer to the question I can imagine.  If I could live my dream and be so lucky as to get even a small portion of what I want from life, I would never let it go.  Initially, I thought I was green with jealousy but upon reflection, I’m not.  I am staunchly proud that someone I know can have that kind of future because as a sufferer from mental health issues and a few physical ailments, not to mention constantly feeling hopeless and utterly overwrought, it brightens my most miserable moments to think that somewhere across the pond (or for that matter wherever he is!) Mike is succeeding in life.  It is that that provides the hope for the future, not pipe dreams or wishful thinking, but a real person doing real things and getting real achievements.  That is how you reinvigorate someone like me: you get on with your life and show us – even though we don’t want to admit or see it most of the time – that the world can be lived in and great things can happen to people in it.  So, thank you, Mike for being my friend, my godbrother, for receiving and replying to my emails at God knows when (time differences baffle me!) and for talking with me about films and TV and art.  Thank you for making my story more interesting by starring in it!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

05-08-2014