Category Archives: family

Spring Cleaning

Posting on this blog feels like coming home. This was where I poured out my soul, where I could be open and honest, where I shamed the devil. I moved to a new blog because this one was getting rickety, but I wasn’t comfortable with sharing my secrets there – or perhaps, at the time, I was just too hurt and angry to feel I could speak rationally.

Yesterday a kind (and handsome) surgeon took possession of my gall bladder. The gall bladder exists to store bile. It’s not an essential organ – it just crouches in the gut, storing up all that bitter stuff, dispersing it as it sees fit. Mine was full of stones which crunched against each other making me hurt. I’m glad to be rid of the seat of anger, and I’m ready for some Spring cleaning.

I need to empty that cluttered box my attic. I thought that if I left the box tucked away in a dark corner it might crumble to dust and blow away, instead of which it has continued to pulse, emitting an unhealthy ochre glow. I can ignore it in the daytime, when a variety of activities and healthy obsessions keep my mind occupied, but the evenings are difficult. If I watch a movie on Netflix I relax, and that’s when the box makes itself known to me, the memory of its contents making me weep. If I try to write, I find myself writing about the box. If I try to read blog posts, the box flashes between each read. As long as I’m doing Japanese puzzles online I can only see it through the corner of my eye, so that’s how I spend every evening. I don’t go to bed until I’m exhausted, and then I read a book until the words blur.

Some of you might have correctly guessed that the box is a metaphor for my son, Paul. In January, after suffering long years of abuse from him – abuse of many types, from financial through to physical – the police recommended that I seek help from North Devon Against Domestic Abuse, who helped me, and also referred me to Splitz – an organisation that assists people in breaking away from harmful relationships. My risk assessment showed that I was in real physical danger and I accepted their advice to apply for a restraining order. The restraining order forbids him to approach or contact me for a year.

This is the son I bore, raised, loved dearly. He’s charming, plausable, and he’s a monster. He doesn’t see himself as such, but that is how I see him. No matter what the background cause, no matter what the addiction; no matter what turns a man into a monster, a monster is a monster. To deny that would be to deny that a face, once hacked to pieces with a blunt knife, is not defaced.

Perhaps he will revert. I don’t know, but meanwhile he is what he is, and because I slapped a restraining order on him, he has disowned me – or rather, since he cannot bully money out of me, come to my home for protection whenever he does something stupid, or take it out of me whenever he is angry, he has disowned me.

He knows how well I loved him, how accessible I was, how caring, how tolerant. He knows he abused me, over and over, and in very many ways. He knows that I have cause to be frightened of him. He knows that many loving parents have cut off their children for far less. He knows, deep down, that I have taken the only action left to me in order to be safe and secure, and that I should have done so long before I did.

All the same, he’s disowned me.

So he says. I say it’s just another dirty little trick to make me go running to him. I’ve seen it all before.

But it doesn’t stop me hurting.

There. I’ve tipped him out of the box. Now maybe I can get back to writing, and catch up with my blogging friends.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Serving my Time

My childless friends said eighteen years
was steep for such a crime,
while I grinned back and said the tears
were few, and that my time
would pass too quickly; all too fast
my son would reach my height
and days of needing me would pass –
I wish that I’d been right.

I nursed him through the broken nights
and through his growing days.
I taught him all the wrongs and rights,
and cherished all his ways.
I slavered salve on every pain
of body and of mind;
so many cures that have no name
a mother seeks to find.

And now those years are past and gone,
and a lesson I have learned –
my jesting friends were all quite wrong,
where my child was concerned;
Those eighteen years were just the start –
the nurturing and tears –
they added muscle to my heart,
and strength to fight my fears.

My thirty-year old son has grown
but still he is a child.
He’s lost, confused and all alone,
his inner core defiled,
so now I find my mother’s role
has only just begun;
I’ll work with body, mind and soul,
until success is won.

One day he’ll stand up brave and tall,
his wants and needs aligned;
he will not falter, trip or fall,
his future redesigned.
He’ll come to me with his own plan
and lay it on the floor,
drawn up by his manly hands,
how could I ask for more?


OK, so the poem is a bit cheesy, but it’s sincere…

©Jane Paterson Basil

My Cup Runneth Over

In a quiet village not far from here, a modest church waits expectantly, its ancient stones imbibed with the breath of those who went before, grooms who faced the alter, bravely restraining an urge to pace the floor, brides who carefully swept down the aisle, eyes shining as a shy smile landed like a kiss on the groom’s lips.

Today, the church is again filled with fragrant flowers, in preparation for the joining of another two lovers in joyful matrimony

Never have I attended a ceremony so infused with excitement, and I –  I am the mother of the bride – the slightly eccentric mother of the miraculous bride. I feel my smile widening as I greet the other guests. I am at my best today, carrying myself with something akin to dignity. I won’t be climbing trees in this dress. For once it will be easy to resist the urge to walk along the top of the church wall.

A woman stands behind a window at the front of a house, watching us in all our finery. I turn towards her, and am treated to an enthusiastic wave. I grin and wave back.

I want to call out “Just wait until you see the bride. You have a real treat coming.”

I want to tell her how important this wedding is.

The air fills with fresh possibilities as my family is finally re-united by the love tha Laura and Dave have for each other.

The bells ring to call in the guests. I enter the church sit down at the front, happy that this event will be witnessed by those I love the most. I’m trying to send a psychic message to Dave, the groom, to calm him, but my mind is too focused on the door, knowing it is almost time. The bells stop ringing. The moment has come.

The chatter subsides as we all stand to await the bride.
The door opens, and she arrives.
Stepping down the aisle, she takes her place beside the groom.

This is my amazing daughter, no longer my poor unhappy baby, my confused child, my damaged teenager, my dying young woman. This is my extraordinary Laura, grown into herself, finally healed, walking gracefully into her future.

The ceremony is beautiful.

At the reception, everyone is infected by Laura’s sparkly euphoria. We are all thrilled that Laura and Dave are married.

While Laura and Dave perform the ritual of cutting the cake,  I prepare to divide it into slices. Since I decorated it, it seems only fair that I should be the one to destroy it…

Mr and Mrs Galliford are currently in Cornwall, at the start of their honeymoon tour of the UK. They were going to travel around Europe, but they changed their minds. There’s so much variety in this country, and Laura hasn’t seen enough of She sent me a photo of her lying on a lounger – sunbathing!


I guess she’s got her love to keep her warm.


Enjoy your honeymoon, Laura – and the rest of your life. Your courage and strength has paid off. I’m proud of you, and grateful to Dave, for all the support he has given.


I love you, Laura.


With enormous thanks to all my online friends who helped to make this possible, by praying for, and sending positive thoughts to Laura and I. Your messages of support picked Laura up when she was at her lowest, encouraging her, making her feel nurtured, and helping her to  believe that she could change her life. You also restored my faith in her, giving me the strength to do the things which needed to be done. These are no small acts, since you kick-started the miracle. Without you, I don’t believe she would be where she is today. I doubt that she would even be alive.

Does anybody have a tissue…?


©Jane Paterson Basil

A Thought

You can’t reach
prunish age without a few
cracks and bruises,
and you can’t
protect your children.

We tell our tales,
then cheerfully say,
“the breakages
shaped who I became.”

This is true,
yet who among us
wants our children to
suffer the pain
that we went through
on the way
to where we are today?

I think of you,
an extended picture of youth,
yet I
see the wounds.

I could say
my arms were full
of food for the hungry,
of balm for the lame.
I could say there
were too many places,
too few of me
but you needed me too.

While I know
you don’t blame me;
don’t even know
that you’re broken,
I wish that I’d
held you more carefully,
and when you fell, mended you
more skilfully.


©Jane Paterson Basil

I Ran out of Space

Saw her from my window,
arms crossed
against every remembered
and forgotten loss,
her shadow, practicing
self-defence, envisioning
black scribbles
on the unwritten
pages of her book,
all hope stolen
by tenacious history
that still physically

Her walk is like yours,
her hair –
and not so long ago,
you, too, were closed,
hugging despair to
your ribs,
but you shared
every ache with me,
venting your rage,
cutting me with your pain,
locking me into
your danger, enabling me
to lead you to safety.

I loved all of you equally,
but, in midst of the melee,
I ran out of space
and, without complaint,
she silently fell away.


©Jane Paterson Basil

Charred remains


You delivered him in pain,
yet with his emergence, pain eased
and love took its place.

His innocent face,
his little boy’s embrace –
they were sweet life to you,
and you trusted that nothing he would do
could take that away.

Slowly he grew.
You heard rumours,
but you didn’t think they were true;
each time he looked at you,
you got lost in his eyes;
taken in by his lies.

When deceit comes easy to a child,
danger can ensue,
and though he later rues his wayward ways,
he is not wired for change.

Thrills burn bright, making sparks fly;
they alight on those he claims to love the most.
When storms rage, the fire dies
leaving a lonely hole,
dusted with the charred remains of all your hopes.

You delivered him in pain,
and through the tender, loving years,
you tried to teach a better way to be,
yet failed to keep him safe.

Blackened by the flames,
flattened by the falling rain,
still you would willingly risk any pain
if you could only make him well again,
but you have no potency to deliver him
from the grip of his sickness.


The Daily Post #Delivery

©Jane Paterson Basil