Hello, everyone. Well, today has been by far the hardest yet of my week-long agoraphobia challenge. It began very pleasantly with a slow walk in a local country park with my sister. There were deer chewing the cud calmly, close to our path, and a large herd to be seen on the way back. The autumn colours and blue sky were glorious.
After lunch my sister dropped me off at my mother’s care home. As I walked toward her room, I felt the familiar burst of anxiety. She was lightly asleep, moving in the bed, and opening her eyes a little from time to time. I found it impossible to stay in the room, and repeatedly retreated to the corridor. My big fear was that she would wake up and want to relate to me. Eventually the owner-manager stopped by, and after a few pleasantries, I asked if I could talk to her in private. Without going into too much detail here, I told her about my childhood, and its effects on my mental and physical health. She was a great listener, warmly sympathetic, kind, and very understanding. I was extremely grateful for her help.
Afterwards, I settled sufficiently to sit with my mother again for a few minutes, then left. By accident, I set off the fire alarm as I let myself out, but coped without panicking.
Now, here’s a strange thing: I had to wait at a bus stop, catch a bus, then walk half a mile back to my sister’s house. I’ve only done this once before in my whole life, so you might expect it to be pretty demanding from an agoraphobic point of view. However, I made the whole journey feeling totally empty and blank, as if after a shock, with almost no thoughts in my mind, or feelings in my heart.
On paper, tomorrow is due to be the most demanding day of my trip, as it involves using trains for the first time for more years than I can count. However, just at the moment, I’m so physically and mentally drained that I have very little sense of anticipatory anxiety at all. Of course, it may well rise later, as the effects of such a stirring afternoon wear off a little.
Meanwhile, this evening brings two contrasting prayers. The first expresses the shadow side of how I feel about my mother. The second shows how I ask God to forgive her, and to spare her from suffering every day:
1. Sitting with mother
I don’t mind
Sitting at a distance, Lord,
But I don’t want my mother to stir,
Or wake, or speak.
I don’t want to hear her voice,
To touch, or kiss her.
She’s an unexploded bomb,
A sleeping tiger.
Surely she cannot live forever?
2. Please bless
Please bless, forgive,
And heal my mother.
Enfold her in your arms,
And draw her to your heart,