The last time I saw my Dad I told him to eat more bananas. I used to say this to him a lot, it was a running joke to try and encourage him towards better food choices. My Dad liked his food, but he always ate a big meal very late on in the day and then skipped breakfast. I was pretty sure he needed his breakfast in the morning and as he claimed he couldn’t eat at that time of day the just eat a banana mantra was born. Over time it moved away from the realm of dietary advice to a way of simply saying look after yourself, I love you.Movie Fifty Shades Darker (2017)
The last time we spoke was on the phone, we were having a lighthearted conversation during which I was reminding him of all the things he had failed to do for me as a child (the main offence being failing to get me a pin wheel so I could make a Tony the Tiger Secret Coder) . We were laughing and he said ‘Oh dear, did I get anything right?’ and I told him yes, yes you got lots right Dad.
I am so glad of that conversation now, now that there can be no more phone calls, no more advice involving fruit. I am so thankful that our last conversation was light, and fun and a bit silly. Isn’t that the stuff of life?
After he died I climbed aboard a panic train and I haven’t managed to get off it since. The panic train tells me there’s not much time left, the panic train says you need to fix your life fast. And that’s what I have been trying to do, fix my life. But the panic train missed a piece of the puzzle which I think I might finally be able to see.
Everything I have done these last few years (having a baby, doing a post grad, writing and submitting poems, moving house etc etc) have all been efforts to try and fix me. I’ve tried different ways of eating, different daily routines, different creative practices and I’ve gained from all of them. Have any of them fixed me? Nope. Not a single one.
So here I am, still feeling not fixed and the panic train is still powering along the railway line towards inevitable death. And I am sick. In my body and in my spirit I think, sick. For two years I have had chronic throat pain and no one can tell me why. I can only conclude that it’s something else, something emotional, some kind of block. My body trying to tell me something. Maybe it’s telling me to eat more bananas. By which I mean it is saying look after yourself, I love you.
But, and this is what the panic train forgot to say, I don’t love me. Not very much, if at all. And that’s the thing that’s missing. Everything I have done, every step I have taken to try and fix me has involved looking for something outside of me. If I can just get another qualification I will feel like I am good enough, if I can get a poem published maybe it will make me acceptable to the world, if I can get enough things right then maybe, just maybe, it will make me right.
And that the issue. I don’t feel right, within myself. I don’t really like me all that much. My guess is a lot of people are in a similar place but in that typical manner I feel like I am somehow a unique extra bad case of being a rubbish person, of being unacceptable, unlikeable, unloveable. And nothing I do that is outside of me is going to do a damn thing to change that. The truth is, and I don’t like this truth one bit because I’d rather I could just take a pill or something, but the truth is I need to fix me from the inside, not the outside.
For years I’ve been mowing the grass of my spirit in the hope that it’s enough to keep the weeds at bay, and of course it clears the ground but not for long. I need to dig my rubbish out from the roots, the damn stuff just grows back over and over and over. There are no weed killers, I need to get my hands dirty and start digging.
How do I do this? I have no idea, maybe I will try and find a book on gardening or perhaps there’s a skilled gardner out there who can give me some tips on how to take better care of this soil I live or maybe I’ll just start with a banana, one banana to say look after yourself, I love you.