Go big or do nothing at all

I pop in to see Bakerman after work to cheer him up and to check on how sick he really is. Het is not going well at all, temperature running high and a vague expression on his face. His body and his entire being is clearing his energy field of all the negativity that has accumulated. What I am about to hear is going to call the beginning of a brand-new era in our lives.

“Oh hi,” I greet him as I bustle into his bakery atelier. “My conf call turned out to be postponed. And I’m a bit late.”

“Better than never,” Bakerman smiles meekly, happy to see me.

“So my mother, positive evolution?” I ask him cutting straight to the chase.

“I am going to have a slice of cake and a big cup of tea now,” Bakerman skuttles around his workplace slowly gathering deliciously smelling items. “Do you want some?”

“Yesss please. Chocolate cake?” I am looking around at all the tempting things he has concocted. “Wim is going to start a blog too now. Fun huh.”

“I don’t know,” Bakerman has his back to me as he is shaking and trying carefully to prepare two big mugs of fresh tea. “My job is to help you look at alternatives instead of a single point of view that may or may not be correct.”

“Mmmm lost me,” I sigh as I take a big bite of the chocolate creamy cake he just placed in front of me. “Great cake though.”

“What was the whole reading for your mom?” Bakerman turns to face me now holding out a hot steamy mug of tea. I accept his offer quickly afraid he might spill half of the hot brew in his clumsy sickness.

“She’s financially well off but can’t see it,” I start recounting what the story of my wild unknown tarot cards. “She reaps what she sows with me and my brother. Too much in control. A big change is coming, sudden. And she’ll be upset. But it’s a blessing in disguise. In two years she will meet a new love interest. I told her to do AirBnB for extra income. Or English conversation. Or cake workshops. How to make a blue cake for instance. Hope renewed. Connect to the force within.”

“Was she not an accountant or something?” Bakerman asks as he slowly stirs his tea with a small dainty spoon.

“No she was an administrative assistant at the army,” I tell him. That translates into less than a secretary. “She liked to pretend she was very important.”

“Oh,” Bakerman shrugs as he takes a first sip of his tea.

“And she liked to copy the military,” I could go on forever on details regarding my mother. “She said she never saved for her pension. Can anybody really be so reckless?”

“Yes sure,” Bakerman nods at me unblinkingly.

“She says she only has one income,” I go over the inconsistencies with my best friend. “Does this mean my brother doesn’t contribute to paying the costs of living at home?”

“Of course not,” Bakerman laughs. “Your mother should have put him in a special nursing home years ago.”

“Haha,” I enjoy a good laugh. “Yes she should. I think he only works part time. Lazy sod.”

“The best way to treat your brother is to get him help in finding a job and keeping it then throw him out,” Bakerman eyes me coolly from his puffy red face.

“My mother will never throw him out,” I shake my head looking down at the tea mug resting in my lap. “I told her she should get him to move on. But always excuses.”

“She knows he can’t survive on his own,” Bakerman mocks.

“Yup,” I sigh.

“Make sure you teach your kids the value in achievement,” Bakerman warns me.

“I do all the time,” I smile back at him. “And they do chores.”

“Discipline is very good for kids,” Bakerman confirms.

“Yes I dont want morons like my brother,” I pull a funny face as I think of that genetic failure.

“Does he know he is the village idiot in Turnpoint Mountains?” Bakerman hears all the gossip in town as people come and go in his bakery. “There is another one very similar in Emelo Woods too. Guy is 40 and never worked a day in his life. Lived at home from birth.”

“I don’t think so,” I go on thinking deeply. My mother would have said something if it were the case. “Some call him ‘bambi’. My mother thinks that’s endearing somehow.”

“You should tell him,” Bakerman urges me. his fever clearly rising inside of him. “The whole village knows about him and laughs at him.”

“The village thinks he’s a little old man,” I tell him about the rumours I have heard. “They think he’s my mom’s boyfriend. Nobody believes me when I tell them he’s my brother. They laugh when I say he’s my younger brother. Incredible.”

“It was suggested once that I should offer free treatment for him,” Bakerman is holding my gaze. I remember him offering to talk to my brother last year, but that was the other brother.

“Yes you should,” I push him a little. I’m starting to wonder how much of the fever is actually doing the talking.

“No,” Bakerman shakes his head resolutely. “Incest cases are not my thing.”

“How is he involved in incest?” I am shocked to my core. Is there a simple way to talk to a man delirious with fever? “You mean with my mother? Now it is weird how they live together. Go on vacation together.”

“Who knows the truth,” Bakerman shrugs. “Such is the rumour.”

“Sleep in same bed on vacation,” I go over the weird evidence accumulating under my unbelieving eyes. “It is the rumour, I know. But it can’t be true.”

“Why not? I had a case like this long ago,” Bakerman remembers sourly. “Father and son were fighting all the time. Fist fighting and father couldn’t figure it out. Son was fucking mother and became possessive. Mother preferred fucking son. Son is now living in a mental institution as he is screwed up from this. Both parents are dead now. He has been a basket case for years. Hated having to submit a report to the authorities.”

“Oh my that sounds bad,” I shake my head. I know I can’t cope with even hearing about such things. I’d rather live in my peaceful little world, without drama and terrible stories only my birth family could come up with. “I couldn’t cope with cases like that.”

“Yes,” Bakerman nods solemnly. “Who is your brothers father?”

“I can’t even read the newspaper without getting upset,” my head is spinning now and I’ve lost track of the plot. Are we talking about my brother in the UK and the abuse he put up with from Graham? Or my brother here in Belgium? “My stepdad? Fwa-fwaaah.”

“Yes I know,” Bakerman nods mysteriously.

“Frank is his real name,” I go on. “He looks the spitting image of him.”

“Is he in touch with your brother?” Bakerman asks inquisitively.

“Yes but not often now,” I tell him only what I have heard. “He’s drinking again. And very involved with his new Philippino wife and her lot. He never bothers with me and my kids. Sometimes my brothers but not often.”

“Sounds good,” Bakerman smiles.

“Does it?” I pull up my eyebrow at him.

“You don’t need the added aggravation,” Bakerman points out.

“I don’t,” I sigh.

“Your brother just needs to meet a bitch like his mother and he will be off,” Bakerman lets me know it will all be okay.

“Hasn’t happened yet,” I point out the obvious flaw in his statement. “Don’t think he ever will.”

“There must be loads of them in Belgium,” Bakerman has told me before that there are a million more fish in the sea.

“Mother won’t allow it,” I snort. “There are. But what, come home, be quiet for mom?”

“I understand my elder sister is also crazy,” Bakerman reveals part of his story. “She has a boyfriend who is 30 years her junior. He is a paid companion. A gigolo I guess. Fat and useless. Worked six months in his life so far. Yet she hangs onto him as though butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. Maybe women go crazy when they hit menopause or 60. Maybe they think it will dry up. Even a dog that likes to lick is an option.”

“But he’s her son!” I am starting to feel defensive now. I hate horrible talk and even though I don’t like the lot of them, I won’t stand for nasty talk. “I don’t understand this. I want my children to live full lives. Adventures of their own. Not extensions of myself. Ugh my mom has cats. This is all very dirty, very scary and not healthy.”

“Ah but your autism is different from hers,” Bakerman continues in the same monotone voice. “She see things as possessions. If she can’t own you then you are the problem.”

“I am the problem,” I repeat for myself. “Oh dear, that’s psychopathic.”

“If you blog this please make up names and cities that protect your family,” Bakerman looks at me alarmed.

“Haha,” I laugh as I can’t for the life of me imagine to ever repeat what I have just heard. “Yes true. Like which names? Tweedledum is pretty good.”

“Sure it’s always the same pattern,” Bakerman nods. “Your mother needs to own everyone she is close to. The concept if love is very distant to her. Sex equals love.”

“And the Old-Woman-in-a-Shoe,” I burst out in hysterics now. This conversation has clearly gotten under my skin.

“Yes something like that,” Bakerman is eyeing me with growing concern.

“Ugh disgusting,” I curl my nose. “Now I know where my weird behaviour comes from.”

“Yes,” Bakerman confirms.

“Or how I thought I had to do,” I go on seeing the light. “And it never felt right. So she is doing it with him. Yuk disgusting.”

“My next point. You can change it,” Bakerman always offers options.

“That will never stop,” I give up before I have even started. “I can? That’s the death card. How?”

“Yes you can change your behaviour only,” Bakerman explains the rules to me.

“Ah but I’m fine,” I say firmly. “How do I save my mother and my brother?”

“Fiona you must not put your filters in when reading tarot,” Bakerman scolds me. “You don’t know what’s in her future. You can’t.”

“What do you mean?” I ask him desperately.

“You can’t save them only they can,” Bakerman looks at me with sorry eyes. “You can help them achieve the desire to change.”

“So my blog will expose them and force them to change?” I ponder as anxiety creeps further up my spine.

“No it will just bring a new law suite,” Bakerman sighs looking into his empty tea mug.

“Public shaming does work,” I speak up. “Will it? Even if I talk about Tweedledum?”

“You need proof,” Bakerman puts his cup down and moves over in a conspiratorial fashion. “Have a few mini bugs placed in their house and record them for a month. Then you will have evidence.”

“Okay sounds fun,” I wink at him. “I’ll get their place bugged next time I’m in there. Or get the kids to do it. Or I know people who know people.”

“I am going shopping now,” Bakerman gets up slowly. “You could just ask her to clarify the rumour which she will deny but might think about.”

“Ok will do,” I say reluctantly as I can’t see myself ever having this conversation ever again.

“Ok have fun,” Bakerman waves after me as I make my way out of his atelier, back into the fresh spring air outside. I will always marvel at Bakerman’s ability to match his coaching strategies to each client for maximum success. His fever seems to have left together with the negativity he just spun out. I could almost visually see him releasing it all as he exhaled. I inhale the fresh spring air and take in the fresh energy of the sun, allowing it to light the way to a brand-new era.

* Disclaimer : Any resemblance between the fictional characters in this story and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle by chance more than by choice.

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Bringing bread to life

People are understandably confused about what friendship is for these days. The average school doesn’t teach trust, the average adult doesn’t understand vulnerability, and the whole subject of confiding in someone can seem scary, strange and kind of unnecessary. That’s a real pity, because in fact, friendship and trust are cornerstone to healing all of us.

“Good afternoon,” I force a smile on my face but fail miserably. So I tell him the real reason for my impromptu visit to the bakery. “Can I tell you about ongoing stuff with my mother? It’s getting under my skin now. She came to see me Monday last week, I think it was Monday last week. Whatever.”

I stall to take a deep breath. “She said she wanted a better relationship with me but no therapy or anyone to help in between. I asked her what would change and she said ‘nothing’. Just a warmer feeling. She said no hidden agenda, nothing to win or to get the kids. I smiled and said ‘yes’. Although the ‘nothing changes’ means just that, nothing changes. The very next day she sends me a mail that I was right about the 200 Euro and that I only owe her 89 Euro now.”

I give him a quick look to see if he’s still engaged and following. His calm gaze encouraged me to continue. “I cancelled our tarot reading on Thursday as I was dead tired and under the weather. Now I receive another message from her and she still wants a tarot reading because she’s weary of the Ides of March. WTF? Caesar died backstabbed and as a settling of debts. Show me where the good stuff is here. Please.”

“Oh honey,” Bakerman puts a hand on my forearm. The contact is unusually calming. At the same time the physical contact unsettles me. “Trust is a difficult thing. I think your mother is realizing she might die sooner than later. Mortality is catching up with her. Cut her a little slack. Be patient with her. She needs to be of value to someone. For those who are superstitious the Ides of March just mean bad luck. Pay her what she asks. Don’t give in too much. Still be wary and let her know trust needs to be rebuilt. Nothing changes means she recognizes your authority over your kids. She will learn to adjust slowly but she will adjust. Your brother will be nice to her but not as a caregiver when she is not able to look after herself. Manipulate the situation to suit yourself without being cruel. Use tarot for this. More I can’t say.”

“Thanks. This helps,” I sigh with certain relief. His explanation makes sense. It calms my panic and soothes my paranoia. “I don’t want to take care of her. Yuk.”

“I know that and so do you but she doesn’t,” Bakerman susses me. “Don’t burst her bubble.”

“Ok. Are you seriously thinking of coming back?” I unconsciously attempt to change the subject. “The idea is slightly comforting.”

“Use it to your advantage. Try not to be to insincere or transparent,” Bakerman won’t be deferred by my obvious escapism. “Yes. I have a cut off by end April. No success I cut it all dead.”

“Insincere and transparent are opposites,” I point out smugly.

“No fool. They can be linked,” Bakerman scolds me peering at my over the brim of his glasses. “You don’t want to exhibit either.”

“Ah really… like how?” I question him. “It can’t be too obvious that I don’t want to take care of her?”

“See there is a link,” he throws back at me defiantly.

“Ok I see it now,” I smile enlightened. “What are you going to cut dead?”

“That will not come up for some time yet,” Bakerman goes on with his predictions. Tea is required for such talks and he promptly starts brewing a pot. “Maybe not in years but she will hope you don’t dump her in an old age home but let her die in her bed. I hope Lilly does that for you.”

“Not till May?” I go down that road again.

“No not till May,” Bakerman confirms and marks a pause to bring me back to the real discussion.

“I am different with Lilly than she was,” I point out defensively. “Lilly wants me to live in her attic.”

“Yes but things change as kids grow up and we get old,” Bakerman warns me.

“I was going to dump her in the cheapest home available,” I confess. “So I should just forget about all her lies? All the big whopping lies she told everyone and turned everyone against me? That was nothing? She disinherited me. No way am I paying for her. Stingy cow.”

“Stop it,” Bakerman’s voice sounds harsh, yet forewarning. As if my bad words may have a real effect. “Truthfully you are not innocent here either. Feuds are either settled or never resolved.”

“I am not innocent… no,” I reply hesitantly. “But I didn’t go telling lies. I didn’t try to get her put away in prison. And all of that because my huge, fat, ugly brother smacked Winston and I wasn’t allowed to speak up for that. Uh… she took me to court, not the other way round. She’s the nasty, stupid idiot.”

“Right,” Bakerman states shortly. With that I know he means that if I think I’m right, and she thinks she’s right, how come then we’re both wrong?

“She is,” I insist ignoring valuable life lessons. “What did I do then?”

“We know that,” Bakerman humours me. “Question is, are you both going to continue this or calm it down a bit?”

“I don’t fucking well do anything,” I say feeling all defensive and getting rather angry in the process. Why doesn’t he understand? “She’s the one who continues all the time. I just want peace and quiet but that’s not possible.”

“I think you should tell her calmly that you wish her dead as soon as possible,” Bakerman says calmly pulling up an eyebrow at me in the process.

“She sits at home all day thinking up little plans,” I go on, my anger clearly festering beneath the surface. Then it hits me: “I do and I don’t. I dont wish anybody dead.”

“Why not?” Bakerman teases me sweetly.

“She could move to the UK, that would be nice for everyone,” I love thinking outside of the box. I think I’m pretty good at that.

“Honey you are a big softy,” Bakerman is now openly getting under my skin and he knows it.

“She’s my mother and a human being,” I sigh. My eyes are starting to sting and I find my reaction rather strange.

“Oh,” Bakerman looks at me with played surprise. “I thought she was neither of those things.”

“I wish she would realize she’s not a 16 year old fire breathing whore, and that she finally starts behaving like a sweet little old lady,” I let out my anger, my frustration, my childhood disappointments. “Cooking, baking cakes and knitting. Sweet stuff. Maybe some painting and meditation too. But she doesn’t do any of that. Well yes, she is human and she did give birth to me.”

“I assumed she had been abducted and turned into something rotten,” Bakerman points out the unreal image I have been portraying. “I think her soul is badly burnt. Maybe it’s your thing to rehabilitate her and save her from hell.”

“Satan’s got a nice, hot spot for her,” I love this part. “Graham must have raped her anally and she thinks that’s my fault. Something like that. Or she didn’t protect me as a baby from him and she can’t live with the guilt.”

“Perhaps,” Bakerman nonchalantly lifts his shoulders and takes a sip from his tea cup. “Who knows what’s in her warped mind.”

“She’s anorexic,” I think I can give him an idea of what’s in there. “So no food or cake. Food is functional, not to be enjoyed.”

“You are still a marshmallow,” Bakerman is turning me into the things my mother despises. And she does. “She is autistic.”

“I am and I don’t want to be anything else,” I know I’m a softie. Don’t you just hate the English slags who run around acting all tough, as if that’s the only way you’re supposed to go through life? “I like being soft. That helps a lot you know, realizing she’s autistic. Very autistic. A whole bunch of aspergus.”

“So cut her a little slack,” Bakerman urges me softly again. “She will either become a granny type sort if or the bitch will rise and you then explain nicely that you can’t  have toxic people around you or your kids. Wrong set of values for your kids etc.”

“Sigh… I dont want to put up with yet another one of her nasty episodes,” the thought alone makes me shudder. “She’s bitter. She tastes bitter. Ugh spit it out.”

“But if she really is your mother, God requires you to show her some respect just the same,” Bakerman is now going down the religious road. “Love is not required.”

“I do… I am still putting up with her, arent I?” I point out, as if that is enough to show respect. “I am always polite at least. Okay my blog is a little disrespectful… But it’s not untrue.”

“Good,” Bakerman smiles at me. “Then I won’t have to come and save you from hell.”

“I just write about the facts,” I still find myself justifying myself. “No you won’t.”

“Really?” Bakerman questions my statement. “Just the facts or your perception of the facts? You are not in hell yet.”

“And I know that if my kids would not want me around it would all be my own doing,” I say wisely. “The woman doesn’t think. No responsibility for her actions.” I stop to take a sip of my tea too. And to win some time. To ponder on what Bakerman just said. To question myself. “My perception of course. My perception is valid. It’s not an interpretation. There is a difference.”

“Sure,” Bakerman isn’t buying it. “It takes a good soul to recognize her own responsibility in the situation. But ok. If you say there is a difference, so be it. I believe you even though thousands of others don’t.”

“Hey, I stood up for myself after years of abuse from that woman. Don’t go telling me off,” that’ it. I’ve let the touchy subject get to me again. When will I ever learn to talk about this issue dispassionately. “Thousands of others don’t believe what?”

“No I am not. But you are carrying such bad toxic thoughts over this which will be come part of your karma if you don’t let it go,” Bakerman reassures me that he is trying to keep me straight, not telling me off. “They don’t believe Picasso was gay.”

“I realize that. Each time I try to let it go, she’s back. Her message today started with ‘hallo fiona’ again. She’s doing it on purpose to get at me,” I tell him showing him the text message on my mobile. “What makes you think Picasso was gay?”

“How? You said he was gay!” Bakerman bellows with laughter. Then in a neutral tone: “How does ‘hallo Fiona’ get your goat?

“Oh him… he is,” I defend my cause again, yet this time with less frustration. “Let’s look at the facts: he finds it hard to sleep with women, he has dabbled with men… He’s either gay or his dominating Italian mama won’t let him have sex. Either way, he’s tormented.” I rest my case. I don’t think anything else can or should be added to prove my point. “’Hallo fiona’ is in Dutch and we speak English.”

“Much like mama, no?” Bakerman points out another pattern.

“I don’t know why she does it,” I am attributing to malice what can easily be attributed to stupidity again.

“’Hallo’ is Dutch?” Bakerman leans back in his chair.

“My mama you mean? Yes my mum won’t let my fatty brother have a relationship either,” I now see a larger picture in the pattern. “Yes it is. It would be ‘hello’ in English.”

“Ah she forgot how to spell it out of habit,” Bakerman finds a simpler explanation. “Seriously Fiona?”

“Noooo, she knows damn well,” I insist.

“I always spell it ‘hallo’. Damn now I have to change that too,” Bakerman fumbles with his phone.

“It’s like the time she answered a mail I had sent to my stepdad out of his account,” I want to emphasize this point. Continuous misspelling is not an excuse here. “She just answered me ‘oh grow up Fiona, mum’. She transgresses boundaries.” Why won’t he understand? It’s so blatantly obvious. “No you don’t. She does it on purpose. Stupid old cow.”

“Yes she does,” Bakerman is now going in my direction again, as that’s the only way to bring me back into his vision of the world.

“Ha told you,” I shout triumphantly.

“I think when Lilly sends a childish email you might do the same,” Bakerman points out the humaneness of the reaction which shocked me to date. “I would.”

“You would go into Debbie’s account?” I ask incredulously. “That’s bad.”

“No. I don’t do that unless I think I need to,” Bakerman justifies the statement. “But I don’t think I need to. Your mum has big trust issues it seems. Psychopath perhaps or psychotic.”

“Psychotic more like,” I know my mother isn’t a psychopath. They are charming.

“Maybe she just wants anal sex only and can’t get it,” Bakerman wants me to laugh it off again. “She could be very frustrated. Buy her a vibrator with fresh batteries.”

“Well it’s not for lack of the number of men who sleep over,” I tell him. “Haha I should.”

“Now now,” Bakerman wants me on the straight again, and I keep diverging.

“It’s true,” I emphasize again. “How many boyfriends have I known her to have over the past few years?”

“Someone needs to service older men,” Bakerman informs me of the secret workings of the third age population. “Her sex drive will be high. How many have you had? Let’s not judge shall we?”

“And the Dormouse told me there are more and that they sleep over immediately, even when the little girl is there,” I find it important that I am not the only source of bad talk. “How many have I had?”

“It’s her fanny and she can do what she likes with it,” Bakerman is still defending my mother. I decide I might as well give up.

“Okay… Okay well there was Wim. And Marc obviously,” I count out loud on my fingers.

“That’s one to many already,” Bakerman replies cheekily.

“And before Wim, Jonathan,” I continue counting. “Yes well… my clock was ticking.”

“I understand,” Bakerman finally gives into me. “I am not judging you nor blaming you. You made a nice baby.”

“I did,” I smile broadly. “And I manage to treat all my children well.”

“I know,” Bakerman nods needing no further explanation on that point.

“Hmmm okay I won’t argue this anymore,” I say hoping to close the discussion. “Though I don’t agree.”

“Don’t judge her,” Bakerman warns me again. “Maybe this is her thing. Maybe she has a high sex drive like you do. Or sex eliminates her loneliness. Who knows.”

“Or she thinks that’s what you’re supposed to do,” I think along the same lines.

“Yes,” Bakerman nods.

“Or she thinks her fanny is special,” I head off in the wrong direction again.

“Yes. Is it?” Bakerman looks at me all smiles and big eyes. “Am I missing out?”

“Or she thinks she is so much better than other women,” I continue. “It might be made of gold. Are you a gold digger?”

“Ooh that would be painful,” Bakerman allows me this bit of naughty fun at least.

“That’s very bad pun,” I correct myself.

“Indeed,” Bakerman agrees.

“It probably is,” I confirm the painful thought. “She’s so skinny I can’t imagine it to be very pleasant. So I’ll just be nice. Very well then. Just smile and wave.”

“Nice but careful,” Bakerman leans forward, his blue eyes gazing at me.

“Super,” I cheer falsely. “Careful for what?”

“No martyrdom needed,” Bakerman knows me a little too well.

“What should I look out for?” I ask in a whisper of conspiracy.

“Careful not to create situations that repeat,” Bakerman’s warning continues.

“Well here we go…,” I sigh annoyed. “You won’t let me speak up or defend myself, but now no martyrdom. Like what repeat situations?”

“You must speak up and defend yourself at the appropriate time,” Bakerman interrupts me. “Not years later.”

“Pfff… So ‘hallo fiona’ is pestering but I’ll just ignore that,” I tell him the stupidity of the entire situation.

“I am wondering if you are channeling this toxic stuff when you do Reiki or tarot,” Bakerman ponders. “Write back in Dutch.”

“I hope not,” I answer in alarm. “I do a protection prayer before. I ask for the good of all.”

“Walk the talk madam,” Bakerman coaches me.

“I don’t feel this toxic shit until she shows herself again,” I tell him. “I’ll write back in Dutch next time. That’s obviously what she wants.”

“Meditate so you can rise above it,” Bakerman advises me. “This toxic shit stays in your aura. Do a Reiki cleansing on yourself for this and clean your aura.”

“I should meditate more,” I tell myself more than I tell him. “I normally send her lots of love and light. But it doesn’t work.” Another sip of tea. “Oh yes, good idea.”

“Keep doing it,” Bakerman pushes me lightly.

“From now on, only positive thoughts,” my face lights up as I jump to my feet. Time to go. Time to pick up my darlings from school. “I will.”

“Keep sending love and light,” Bakerman reminds me. “Each time it bounces back much stronger. Sleep tight.”

* Disclaimer : Any resemblance between the fictional characters in this story and any persons, living or dead, is a miracle by chance more than by choice.