Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Future: One Day at a Time

I have learnt not to look too far into the future.  One moment it looks sunny and bursting with promise, the next it looms like a cyclone threatening to sweep in gales and thrashing rains.  At the very moment I allow myself to bask in some relief that the trauma which stalks our family is starting to heal, something happens.  It is uncanny.  I dare to hope.  I jinx the future.  That’s what it feels like.

Heavier still is the feeling that all that prevents the cyclone from wrecking the future is my will and my energy.  I didn’t cause the trauma, I know that, but the trauma will play itself out unless I can continue to neutralise it bit by bit, therapeutic thought by therapeutic action.  There are no battalions of therapeutic warriors waiting in the wings to sweep across the battlefield and carry us all to victory.  It is me, holding a crappy umbrella.

Yesterday evening I was dealing with the slowly unravelling psychodrama which had started with a child taking a £20 note from my bag.  Half way through Act One I got the news that my Great Uncle had passed away.  I’d only met him a few times but we wrote to each other regularly.  He was my connection to a distant and complicated past.  The grief swallowed down, I continued with the delicate job of teasing out truth, holding back shame and nurturing emotional learning.  These are the times when the future is the most finely balanced and easily influenced, for good or ill.  If I pause to think about the responsibility for too long, the pressure can become overwhelming.

I pulled off a satisfactory conclusion to the psychodrama, I think.  It will be replayed again for sure, but next time it will be subtly different.  Different strategies will have to be employed, different lessons will have to be learnt.

The future is long, hard trek away from here.  For now I’ll take it one day at a time.  There may be the occasional breakdown along the way.

Innocence Lost

I wasn’t going to blog for this week’s ‘The Adoption Social’ theme ‘Loss’.  Debates in the media around loss and adoption have got rather clunky lately and are dominated by the impact of loss of birth family (for what greater loss is there than blood ties).  Adoption is coming to be equated with loss and I’m not sure where that leaves me and mine.  Frankly I’ve been feeling rather grumpy about it.

The loss that challenges our (adoptive) family every single day hasn’t been caused by the act of adoption itself but by the loss of innocence.  As a child, to know the fragility of life, to know invisibility, to have given up on being cared for and on being someone else’s number one consideration is the ultimate loss and it’s a game changer. In William Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’ seventeenth century adult pre-occupations and beliefs stamp all over childhood.  Open any newspaper on any day for evidence of our century’s version of the loss of innocence.

No, for our family at least modern-day adoption isn’t the loss.  Adoption, if it done properly, is the repair: the careful and sometimes desperate process of reclaiming and nurturing what’s left of childhood.  It isn’t blind to blood and history (it can’t be) and it isn’t sacrificing childhood on the alter of blood and history either.



This piece didn’t quite make it into No Matter What, but you might like it.  It contains swearing.

I know I shouldn’t get lured in but I am tired and pissed off with my pissy life. The magazine entraps me with pictures of previously skinny women who have new curvy figures and wow everyone, don’t they look great!  There’s hope for me yet.  They are ‘glowing’ and ‘healthy’ and curves are marvellous because skinny is so last year. Except there is an undercurrent of patronising bitchiness about the piece.  Curves it seems are great on other (lesser) people.  Under each set of pictures is a diagram comparing the pre- and post-curve weights.  The curvy weight is way more than mine which makes me, at a size 12 one of nature’s giants.

Next, an actress has shrunk down from a gross size 10 to a superior size 6.  Although it must go unsaid she clearly looks more attractive in the ‘before’ pictures.  Nevertheless we are treated to a menu plan, so we have nothing (except willpower and a hired-wired tendency towards self-preservation) standing between our fat arses and the body of a pre-pubescent boy.  The diet consists of egg whites, grilled fish, lettuce and blueberry juice.  Lest this leave one feeling a little unsatisfied the occasional treat is permitted – four almonds.

Another page, another body story.  This body, belonging to a super A lister has an unusually high metabolism which enables her to eat anything she wants.  A grainy photograph of her scoffing a burger and fries in a downtown New York eatery rams the point home.  She eats the food of the common and yet maintains a constant weight of 8 stone. The only possible explanations are that she is very short (she isn’t) or is genetically superior to the rest of us.

The centre spread, a celebrity adoption story.  Six months on and the happy family aren’t on the brink of meltdown like we are, but flying across continents to spend time at their beach house.  The nanny carries the smallest child through the airport.  The parents, glistening with serenity, hold the hands of the older children.  They are all (apart from the nanny who is not blessed with a high metabolism) a picture of supreme gorgeousness despite the long flight.  Take that plebeians.

I look at the blank expressions of the children and wonder if they ever spit out ‘I fucking hate you, you’re not my real mum’ or ‘run off and die fat loser’.  Do they ever draw pictures in biro on their Armani chinos or refuse to wash?  And if there are bad days, do their parents ever feel tempted to spend the evenings wallowing in chocolate and watching Wife Swap? No, it appears they don’t.  They float above the masses like phantoms of unobtainable perfection reminding us why we can’t even manage three hours in a car on the M6 without looking and feeling like shit afterwards.

Overleaf are the ‘red carpet horrors’ where a cracked heel and a sweaty armpit serve to remind soap stars that they will never be permitted to forget their place in the celebrity pecking order.  I gaze at a picture of a bunion squeezed into a sparkly sandal, like a gorilla in a nightdress and something drops on to the page from above making a faint sound.  I pick up the speck on the pad of my index finger and look at it closely.  It has tiny legs.  It moves.  It dropped out of my hair. It’s a head louse.  A horrible, blood-sucking, egg laying, shitting head louse.