Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Metamorphisis of a Blank Blog Page

This post started out in my head being about my new car, then I changed my mind because I didn't want to write an advertorial for Mazda.  Then it morphed into a post about my mother in law who is responsible for my new car, but I couldn't get that to come out right.  I wanted to thank her for giving us the means to buy a new car and to say how much I missed her since she passed away.  I guess I've done that now and it didn't take a whole blog post to do it in.  I then thought I'd write about a place I used to visit on Mt Glorious where I would sit and think, way back when I was trying to work out who I was.  But, then I didn't really know what to say about that.  Who I thought I was or wanted to be thirteen years ago is really not that relevant to the right now. 

So here I am with a blank blog page, some random thoughts and still no idea.   I've been reading a lot of really moving blog posts lately about people going through some really tough times.  There's Tiff and Ivy at My Three Ring Circus and Kim and Oscar at All Consuming.  There is also the amazing Eden at Edenland who has recently been to the famine in Niger, Africa and is now going through a whole lot of realisations that will most likely change life as she currently knows it. 

As fate would have it, I was just directed to another blog post via Twitter written by Cate Bolt.  Generally I don't think Cate and I are particularly alike, she is far more philanthropic than I am.   However, today I felt like Cate was speaking for me.  I felt my words spilling onto her blog page.  I wanted to scoop those words up and throw them on this blank page. 

I too am adopted.  I too am not a fan of adoption.  I too struggle with who I am.  When I look back at my life I feel like I've always been trying to "find" myself.  Give myself a true identity.  There are specific times where I can pinpoint going through a "phase" of wanting to work out who I was.  I've recently been going through such a phase and I have come to the realisation that it is time to start being who I am right now, instead of pontificating over who I might be or might have been. 

I am who I am.  Just me.  Imperfect and perfect all rolled into one.  I get things right and I also make mistakes.  Sometimes I make monumental mistakes.  But throughout it all I am still me.   Over the years I change, I evolve, I grow, but I don't think this happens because I consciously sit and plan it.  Change happens because of circumstances ... life.  It is what it is.  I am who I am.

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about belonging and put down my feeling of not belonging to being adopted.   So many people commented and emailed me saying they felt the same way and they weren't adopted.  It was enlightening for me to see that we all struggle with belonging, even if we always have belonged somewhere and with someone.

After I read Cate's post I also wanted to write that the reason I can't "find myself" is because I'm adopted.   Because being adopted meant I never was myself.  I don't know who I am.  But the funny thing was, as I started to write these words I realised this is not what I think anymore.  The words no longer rang true.  When I read Cate's blog I was nodding and saying "yes, yes, yes" in my head.  However, over the last little while I've come to the conclusion that this is not necessarily the case and as I wrote the words down it really hit home just how much.  

I've spent most of my life blaming the fact that I'm adopted on why I feel disconnected from people.   Why I've never belonged anywhere.  If I take a long honest look back over my life I have always belonged somewhere.  Not necessarily with my adoptive family, in fact mostly not with them.  Not with my birth mother, how could I belong to her when I was never really hers?   However I have still belonged.  I've always belonged somewhere.  There has always been a person or persons who have been there for me.  Someone who has my back.  A friend or a family to take me in as one of theirs.  Never, ever have I been totally alone. 

Yet, if you asked me about the time I left my husband I would tell you how totally alone I was.  No one cared.  I was an island.  It was just me.  The reality is, it wasn't like this at all.  I had a fabulous circle of friends who held my hand throughout that first awful year.  No matter what, they were there for me.  There was never a time I was totally alone.  Yet in my mind I was alone because I didn't have a family. 

I have a family now.  I have my two boys and a wonderful husband.  I have two beautiful step daughters.  I even have a dog.  I have extended family.  I belong somewhere, yet up until recently, I have still felt the need to "find" myself.  I've always blamed this need on being adopted.

I do believe there is a certain disconnect from being adopted that others can never understand.  I personally don't understand the love children have for their parents as I've never had this type of love.  Of course I feel it in reverse for my boys so I have a better understanding than I used to.  I sometimes feel cheated that I don't have the bond that many of my friends have with their parents, but I know many people who were brought up by their biological parents who don't have a close relationship with them either. 

What I have learned in recent times is the disconnect I feel doesn't give me an excuse to feel sorry for myself and it doesn't mean I've been cheated of love and belonging.  It just means I'm different.  We are all different. There is no longer a standard "normal".  

Getting older doesn't just mean grey hair and incontinence pads ... it means getting comfortable in our own skin.  It means blaming our circumstances and other people less and taking full responsibility for our own happiness.  A life well lived doesn't depend on where we originally came from, it depends on where we've been and who we've shared it with. 

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Belonging ... a basic need?

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When I think of basic human needs I automatically think love, food, water, air.  I don't think about belonging.  Do you?  

For most of my life I had been desperately looking for somewhere to belong.  I'd forgotten about this, because for the last 10 years I have belonged and felt safe and secure and wanted.  Over these ten years I stopped worrying so intensely about what people thought of me and I've learnt to be comfortable in my own skin.  I've grown so much as a person during that time.  


I was shocked this week at how easily I was drawn back to old feelings.  


Very recently I wasn't invited to an event.  Now this event isn't even that important to me in the scheme of things.  It was not a family thing or anything to do with close friends.  It was a public function that my peers and some friends were invited to.  I was not.  I'm perplexed at how strongly this exclusion has affected me.  


To place this power back into the hands of others really has me rattled. 


When I'm thinking rationally, no one should feel under any obligation to invite me to anything and I should not have an expectation that I will be invited.  In saying that, I don't believe it is unusual to feel a bit slighted if we are left off an invite list, but the feeling should pass.


This has not been a passing sadness at being excluded, but something that has eaten deep into the core of me.  I'm embarrassed to admit that it has reduced me to tears, made me question who I am.  It has thrust me back to my past. 
 

When I was growing up I didn't belong anywhere.  I was adopted into a family that I never felt part of.  Not because they didn't care for me, but because they had no idea about love and belonging.  This might sound harsh and I might sound ungrateful.  I'm not.  He (being my adoptive father) was a 
paedophile.   She (being my adoptive mother) did nothing about this.  I'm not judging her, I don't believe her life was easy and I don't begin to unravel what makes her who she is.  I can only say how their actions made me feel.  

Friends and school were where I had to obtain my love and sense of belonging.  I placed so much importance on my friendships.  I was never truly popular, but always had friends.  Looking back I can see how I spread myself over many different groups so I always had somewhere to belong if anything happened in another group.  Girls were very fickle and it wasn't unusual for friendships to wax and wane with the moon cycles.  I was very easily hurt and spent so much time crying in my room over things that possibly didn't happen or weren't meant to be anything against me.


I did have one best friend and spent a lot of time with her family.  In a way I was trying to make her family my family.  In fact I have spent so much time jealously wanting to be a part of a loving family.  To this day I covet strong family relationships.  When I hear women talk about their strong relationship with their mums I secretly wish that was me.  For the most part now, the feeling is fleeting.    I don't dwell on it like I used to.  At times it used to consume me.


It is a fundamental human need to belong.  We need to belong to our tribe.  Our people.  Our families.  


When a person has always belonged somewhere I wonder whether their need to be accepted, liked and wanted is any less?  Are they less concerned with what people think and more comfortable in their own skin?  Do they always feel loved and cared for?  I'm sure they can be hurt by exclusion, but do they move on and get over it?  Do they actually care that much?


The last few years I have been more popular than I've ever been in my life.  I'm sure it has something to do with my confidence levels being higher, my anxiety being under control and knowing I belong somewhere.  Knowing there is a safety net to catch me when I fall means I can put myself out there a bit more.  I don't need to hold back for fear of rejection.  Rejection happens and it doesn't hit as hard as it used to ... until now.


I have no concrete explanation for why now is different.  It could be a range of things.  My work life has been a bit all over the place and right now I don't really belong anywhere in a work sense.  Since school, work was always my safety net. It was the place I belonged.  I made myself 
indispensable at work so I would always be wanted.  

Perhaps the fact I was recently made redundant has made my sense of belonging a little shaky.  I've never been fired or put off before. This was new.  This was possibly the ultimate act of rejection from a work perspective.  


The Digital Parents Blogging Conference was on last week.  I didn't attend this year, by my own choice.  I thought I was okay with this.  It wasn't until I saw how it brings everyone together and friendships are cemented even further that all of a sudden I felt excluded.  Left out.  Not part of the group.  Again, not through anyone's doing, but my own insecurities.


It looks like I still have some work to do on this.  I might have my safety net in my wonderful husband, my two loving boys and very close friends, but when it comes to my own value on myself as a worthy person, I'm still lacking in conviction.


Thank you for not inviting me, my thanks is genuine.  I needed this to ensure I don't take things for granted - I believe I have been doing this a lot lately.  It was time to go back inside for a deeper look.  


Why am I writing this, putting myself out there?   Am I looking for soothing comments and a sense of belonging to my tribe again.  Yes there is a little bit of that - I'm only a mere mortal.  However the driving factor behind all of my writing is this.


One day someone asked me what I wanted to write about, why I wanted to write? My answer was quick and clear.  


"I want to write to help others."   Nothing more.  Nothing less. 


If I'm feeling like this, chances are so are many other people.  If I can write my thoughts down and help someone else, then for me, feeling this way and having lived the life I have, has purpose.  


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Friday, February 25, 2011

It's not my place to judge ...



Last week I attended a funeral.  As far as funerals go it wasn't overly sad.  The gentleman who passed away was in his 70's and was suffering Parkinson's Disease, so his passing was probably welcome by him.  He had lived a full life.

I met this man a while back, he's a relative of my Fianc矇.  He started coming to visit me on Tuesdays while I was caring for my Mother In Law (who has Alzheimer's).  He was incredibly lonely.  Living with his 9 year old German Shepherd, who was also aging and not well.  The last time he came to visit me, before Christmas, he was looking tired.  He was sad that he might have to put his beloved dog down.  He was sad because he was so lonely.  He was sad because he didn't have any grand children, nor a close relationship with his only daughter. He was tired of being alive.He was desperate to find a woman to spend the rest of his years with.  Sadly that was not to happen.

Two weeks ago he passed away.  Alone, save for his dog.  He was found by a friend, 2 days later.  He suffered a heart attack.  One week later his beloved dog was also put down.

At the funeral I saw his daughter for the first time.  She was up at the pulpit talking about her father.  She described a man who was a loving father, a hard worker, a kind man.  She would cry every so often.  At first I felt annoyed by this.  Where was she while her dad was dying from loneliness?  Why didn't she ever call him, other than when she wanted money?  Why didn't she hug him and make him feel loved?  I wanted to call her a fake, a fraud.

Then something happened.

I started thinking about regrets.  I wondered if she regretted that she wasn't a better daughter to him.  I wondered if she was crying, not because he died, but because she regretted not being there for him?  I then started thinking about what I knew about her family.  I hardly know them.  I don't know what he was like when he was a vibrant man.  I only knew him as a frail, lonely old man.  I didn't know why she wasn't there for him.  I didn't know the dynamics of their relationship.  I really didn't know anything.  I had no right to judge this woman crying in the pulpit for her father.   Whether she was crying because she loved this man who died and would genuinely miss having a father or whether she was crying because of what she didn't have with him really doesn't matter.  This was her grief and I, nor anyone else there, had the right to judge her.

I've been thinking all week about regrets.  The regrets we all naturally feel when we lose someone.  I wish I was there for them more.  I wish I never said those cruel words.  I wish I let that silly argument go.  I wish I told them I loved them more.

Life is so very fragile, the Christchurch earthquake is a stark reminder of this.  How many people went to work on the day of the earthquake having fought with their parter, child, parent?  How many people left behind have regrets?

Do something for me today.  Tell the people you love how much you love them. If you are having an argument with a loved one, let it go.  Hug your kids.  Call your mum or dad.  Do something.  You will feel good about it and you will most likely make their day.

Your biggest regrets aren't the things you did, but the things you didn't do.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

No More Pretending to be Happy


On Sunday my baby turned 17.  Those 17 years have brought me much joy and much angst, but most of all they have brought me much love.  I love both my boys with all my heart, there is no favourite.  However, there are always people who you connect with in life and it is almost like you can see into their soul.  My baby is one of these people.

For most of his life he has been extremely loving.  I have many love notes and cards and he has always been able to express his love through hugs and kisses, (other than a period of time during his early teens when most boys don't show affection).  He is also very good at expressing his feelings verbally.  He senses things about me and others that I don't even realise.  We have had conversations that I would have with a friend of my own age.  He is so very knowing, so very intuitive and so very caring.

As you know from my Mum I'm stuck on the Grass post, my baby has had some problems recently which totally broke my heart.  Watching him suffer through this difficult time was so painful.

We are now into a new year, his 18th year, and I am so happy to say that he is no longer abusing substances.  He is working out, caring about his health, caring about his body, eating healthily and exercising daily.  He has a fulltime job and never misses a day and is never late.  He is a different person.  His moods are more stable (well as stable as a 17 year old can be) and he has joy in his eyes, again, finally.  After many months of trying to give up his "habit" (he didn't go cold turkey) and many months of him questioning why he wanted to give up, he has finally discovered that a life with a clear head and healthy body is a win for him.  It has taken time and it hasn't been easy - for him or I.  However I am so proud that he has persevered and is now where he should be.

Many of his friends from that time are unfortunately still stuck on the grass, and he wishes they could feel how he does now.  He told me this morning, after we saw one of them at the bus stop in his school uniform totally stoned, that he is so glad he doesn't feel that way any longer.  He said that when you are stoned all the time you have to pretend to look happy because you don't really feel anything other than stoned.  I asked him if he misses it.  I got the "are you serious?" look.  I guess not.

I still worry that he can easily slip back into this life.  He has an addictive personality, which he is also aware of.  As a mum I feel it is my responsibility to keep a close eye on him, but not fence him in.  To constrain his freedom and time spent with friends would do him more harm that letting him go out and learn to live life without giving in to the temptation.  It has now been 1 month since he has had any substance at all and this is a huge win.  I absolutely know he is being honest with me because as he was weaning himself off it he would tell me when he had it. He knows if he does slip up, he can tell me and I won't go postal.  Sure I'll be disappointed, but the fact he will be honest with me means I can help him and be there for him.   I've had to trust he was doing this the best way he could.  I went with my instincts and am so glad I did.  He  has done this on his own, but with my support.  Now that he has achieved his goal, he is so happy with himself.  His self esteem has risen and he feels a sense of achievement.  Something he was sadly lacking before.  He also knows how much this means to me and he now knows how much better life is when he's not stoned.

I don't doubt that as he makes his way through his life he will be lured by other temptations, we all are.  However, for a 17 year old, he has the emotional intelligence of someone much older and understands his personality type.  When he senses he is becoming addicted to something, be it chocolate, coffee or a playstation game, he stops.  He goes cold turkey and walks away.  He is determined not to let addictions rule his life.  I truly hope he succeeds.

I've learnt a lot about parenting teenagers throughout this experience and if I look back to the mother I was when my boys were little, to the mother I am now - I am chalk and cheese.  The way I believed I would be when my boys grew up back then is nothing like my reality.  Those lovely innocent babies I had who were so compliant and reliant on me for direction one day grew up and all bets were suddenly off.

I am not a perfect mother and I'm sure I could have done so many things differently, however I did learn some important lessons from this experience.  They are:

  • Teenagers will always do things you don't like (you did the same to your parents). Keep the communication lines open by not judging and yelling at them when they do something wrong.  They are no longer little children.  Talk to them and tell them how you feel but understand that sometimes you need to let your teenagers do things their way.  If you do this, they will allow you into their life.
  • Dropping out of school does not make your child a failure.  For some teenagers school can contribute to problems.  I am not advocating dropping out of school to bum around - there should be a clear choice of school or work.  Let them make the decision.  It makes such a difference.
  • Don't wait for the "standard" things to happen to show your children how proud you are of them - life is more than sporting and academic achievements - showing your teenagers how proud you are of them just for making good decisions and for being themselves goes a long way.
  • Some teenagers go off the rails despite how they have been raised. It isn't your fault, it just happens.  I believe that whatever is meant to happen in life always does. It's how you deal with it when it happens that affects the outcome.
  • No matter what is going on - tell your teenager every single day that you love them and mean it.


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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Taking a Break

I am currently smack bang in the middle of my end of year break.  Every December M & I go away, just the two  of us (and the doggie).  We don't take my teenage boys, this is our time.  We are a blended family and believe it is extremely important to take some time out, sans children.

We stay just outside of Kingscliff  in Northern NSW at Casuarina.  It is quiet, peaceful, and so relaxing.   We always go before the Christmas Holiday rush to ensure we experience it at its most peaceful time.

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