Unravelling to re-knit to a truer pattern.

 At the moment, I’m just skirting around parts of my story…in the early hours thoughts, memories and words tumble through my head, only to seep out again with all the “Have To’s” of the morning…
My new rescue cat Rasta is already the Boss in this house, I’ve developed a high-stepping walk as he’s a real ankle-weaver, with attitude, but he’s small enough to get trodden on; and Osh the dog, having being painfully abused and starved in early life, is hilarious in his twice daily amazement at “Food! Again! Oh Wow! My favourite thing!”

I sleep really well, I could sleep for Ireland! but I wake early, sometimes after weird, wonderful, unsettling or scary dreams… research has shown that the heart neurons react to stimulae before the brain and send messages to the brain,  and the stomach can affect the brain too….maybe nightmares are my gut’s way of  saying <em>”Bathroom! Now!”. </em>

Then I doze away, “writing”, or dreaming again.
(Just sometimes, I dream of Francis, or my sons, and those dreams can be like an aura of warm blankets for the whole day. Except the ‘sometimes’ when my sons are expressing their “Oh MUTHerr!!” tendencies!)
So where was I? Wanting to write about being adopted, feeling insecure, not belonging, an Outsider, and unloved. I made my peace with my adoptive mother many years ago…but I was just thinking recently that my early experience of losing my parents and my older sisters, may well have caused a perennial “Fight or Flight” default mode in me…defensive and untrusting, critical, ready to run, they are unloveable tendencies!
When I was fostering children in Scotland, many years later, I sometimes had a placement of such a child, and here’s a statement that may well be challenged! I believe that one can ACT being loving, patient and caring…it takes self-awareness, but it can work to turn a child around…maybe it is a true form of loving? I did feel a lack of love from my adoptive mother, but heaven knows, she had a helluva lot on her plate!
Looking back over my life, I can see how the fight or flight mode came up in many situations…I’ve always been unable to fight, “it’s just too dangerous to get angry or people will leave, again”…so I reject before I can be rejected again, I abandon people and places…always in search of what I will never find. Hey Ho!

Also, with the Fight or Flight mechanism, one lives in the moment. Now, ‘Living In The Day’ can be a wonderful thing, but not if it’s because of a state of underlying nerves or fear. It can also lead to not remembering things….my adoptive father always said I had a very good Forgettery! Now that I’m older, there’s less time stretching ahead of me, and trying to sort out the multitude of papers and photo’s, letters and writings, that I’ve built like a cocoon around me, reminds me of long forgotten things, and times. Patterns begin to emerge…not all of them comfortable! But if one doesn’t consider one’s pathologies, one may be forced to repeat them…Heaven Forfend!

Rasta is at the door.

Rasta and Molly DSCF8008

I don’t have fixed beliefs on an afterlife, but the first time I met Rasta at the rescue centre, I felt he’d been sent by Molly…a very Zen cat that I loved more than any before, and used to think of as a Spirit Guide. Her death devastated me, as do all the deaths I’ve had in my life…they all trigger that confusion and grief of an early-age orphan. Rasta is very like Molly, but male, feisty, and far more affectionate than the Zen Molly was…in the photo you can see a photo of Molly, up on the right, in the same clinging to the door pose…long leggedy cats, eh?!
I want to write of my beloved sons, of the children I fostered in Scotland after Frank died, of obsessions and work and addictions and salvations (ahem!). But this morning I have D.B.M again, (Dishevelled Brain Mode), so I’ll end with a quotation from the man I wrote my thesis on, which relates to the title of this blog,…a wonderful artist called Nigel Henderson, who I exchanged letters with for three years or so, back in the ’70’s.

” Instead of Happy New Year I could wish some people a nervous breakdown. I am quite serious. I believe that to survive it is to experience Rebirth and that some people need badly to come apart so as to have the opportunity to re-knit to a truer pattern. This is a dangerous doctrine but I believe most of us (certainly I) were thrown together like clay battered in a pug mill and given the most approximate shape by the most insensitive hands. I mean the shape of the personality hammered into you by the blind will of others raping your weak defences. All that has to be vomited up again later and a fresh start made…”


Must walk dog.

Seeking order from a dishevelled life.

An old friend, Dee, came to help me sort through my chaotic house last week, which was a blessing indeed! I had vowed last year to start sorting through all my shtuff, and she really kickstarted the process….shaming me with ancient foodstuffs in the nether reaches of the fridge, and doing what nobody has achieved before, helping me learn HOW to keep order, in my advancing years!
The photo on the right is from before her visit…”after” photos may follow….
In the process of sorting, I came across so much stuff from the past, and I want to attempt to make order of all that….photos, letters, writings and drawings….My bi-polar personality veers between abject perfectionism and impatient slapdashery, so to do it chronologically would addle my brain…. it’ll be a jigsaw self portrait.
Almost the beginning.
The next two photos are so poignant for me, I had never seen a picture of me and my sisters all together until I was 52…I’m the wee one second left.Image
This photo was taken around the time our parents died, our mother when I was two and a quarter, and our father a year later. Looking out to sea, as if wondering what the future held.
My three eldest sisters were then shipped off to relatives in NZ, which might as well have been Heaven, for all I understood either. They weren’t even brought to say goodbye to me and my twin as “It would only upset them”.Nowadays there’s far more understanding of what early bereavement can do to children, in those days it was assumed that small children would forget….now it’s recognised that the psychological after effects can last a lifetime.My twin and I were adopted, and we had to learn to speak English, instead of Mancunian! After quite a few carers between my parents dying and our adoption, when someone from ‘home’ came to visit us six months later, I reportedly wrapped myself around my Dad’s knees, and said “They’ve not coom tae tek us back, ‘ave they? “.Learning a new way of speaking, learning new ‘accepted behaviours’, can make one feel an Outsider,  and by internalising that feeling one then unwittingly behaves like an outsider, compounding that identity.
And for all that I’ve always felt like an outsider, I’ve also spent a lifetime trying to belong, with all the fruitless people-pleasing that that entailed, and the resulting resentments when people just weren’t pleased…. it’s perhaps no wonder that I became an artist!
us five
This second photo…again not seen by me until I was 52, when the youngest of my three sisters who went to NZ came to meet me for the first time.
I’m the serious, (if not pouting!), wee thing being held on the right. When I asked my older sister who the lassie was, it was a mother’s help, who had been with us from before my mother died until after my father died.
Nobody remembers her name, which I regret SO much, only that she was from Ireland.

Which set me thinking….I’ve always been a bit of a nomad, ricocheting up through England, and then to live in Scotland where my birth father originally came from. Was my move to live in Ireland caused by some distant resonance from this lass? Certainly, I will never ‘belong’ here…but in building my own house I do now have roots of a kind. Perhaps this blog stems from a deep craving to be known, to be understood….the quest of an adoptee?None of this is written for sympathy, Heaven forbid! What has happened to me has made me who I am, fascinated by human psychology,  always an outsider, always a champion of outsiders and underdogs, and hopefully an empathetic friend to the unique individuals I’ve met along the way. I’ll finish with a cartoon from Michael Leunig…who speaks to my soul!

the sea inside