The Journey Homewards

The Journey Homewards

By Daniel Harrison.


Well we all want to go home don’t we or at least this is the whole point of this, my writing that is, an attempt to make sense of the path that I have travelled so that I can finally make the journey homewards.


At least that is what I tell myself but dealing with this ocean is extremely difficult, it is a place of extremes, it is not a peaceful ocean, it is a place of storms and it is a place of fear and immense anger. This ocean can be calm at one moment and stirred into a raging storm in an instant. One wrong word, one slip out of place can send me into a spiral, I am triggered so easily into panic and anxiety, I really don’t understand myself at all and often I feel guilty when I fly into that space. My wife will say something and it will send me into the deepest depths of this dark space. For example, the other day she wanted me to express thanks in front of another person for a Christmas present that she had given me, I turned and said to her “I will never express gratitude or act in a manner that a person wants me to just to please them and I will never say something just because a person expects to”. I fell deep inside me, into the dark waters and longed to tell her how I felt. The evening was ruined for me. On the way home I explained that I was expected to be grateful for everything that I had been given, nothing, including love was given freely, I was expected to be grateful at all times and to act as if I was.


On the trip to America with my adopted parents did the unthinkable, I put my needs first and said that I did not want to go and check this famous hotel that was on the Highway to Vegas. And so I sat in the car doing the unthinkable while their daughters went inside, their daughters who could do anything they wanted. This marked the absolute decline in our relationship because I had dared to step forward and voice my needs, which from this time onwards became more pronounced. I would for example hide in my room in the vain hope that he would not find me and drag me off to mow the lawns at his houses; his daughters did not need to do a thing. I would sneak out early in the mornings in order to spend time at a bakery and would sit in a van driven by an older man who seemed like a suitable father figure. I was trying to find a way to escape this nightmare.


This nightmare consisted of utter powerlessness, as I sat in the lounge with my wife that night my feeling of utter powerlessness whipped itself up into a powerful storm, I felt unappreciated, unwanted, at the mercy of other peoples whims. From the very beginning I had no say in things; I was just whipped away from Mum. And not only that, from the very beginning I felt unappreciated and unwanted, I felt that the very centre of me, my very self-had been thrown away, had been rejected, had been unwanted, had been kicked to the kerb, had been judged as lacking in what a self-needed to be loved, had been seen as inferior, inadequate, not good enough, not measuring up enough, had done something unspeakably wrong, had to be punished, was to be hidden. In short my birth was a massive intake of breath as a gigantic punch to the solar plexus came swinging in and decimated all my happy yesterdays in the womb.


There was not a lot left of me as they cut that umbilical cord and wheeled me away from my Mothers outstretched arms. Apparently she asked if she could hold her first new born son just as the second was on the way. They stood there, those men and woman in their masks, white gloves, hats and blue gowns as the doctor intoned like God upon Mount Sinai “She is not to hold them”. Oh Lordly, Lordy, Lord, now your spinning my dial you really are spinning my dial, and no, don’t go telling me how I should feel, or what I should say, because I was there, I know, I know how I felt, stop it, don’t you dare tell me to take something back, to do something to calm down and hey presto it will all be healed. I don’t need your advice, take your own medicine and leave me alone.


You deny the swinging fist, the bunched fist, the blow to the centre of my solar plexus, I was newborn, covered in my mother’s blood, I was newborn, covered in my mother, I was newborn reaching for her arms, for her warmth, I was newborn. I needed her heart, her heartbeat, her reassurance that all was well, her milk, only to find that the well of life was barren, that the well of life was dry, that the breast had been stolen. I knew that she had been planning this, I could feel that I would not last long, now some would say don’t say that, it is not true, she had no choice, maybe not, baby not, I had no choice, no say in this at all but the adults did, all of them played their role, their part, mine was as the silent victim on the altar of closed adoption offered up on the arms of the nurse in her blue, blue gown with white, white gloves and a covered faced, and the bright, bright lights overhead as my first cries hit the air, welcome to the world, to the world of tears.


There was not love fest when I hit the decks, no there was only pain, a bottomless ocean like a volcano being filled through a massive eruption water rushing in, fear, anxiety, I was and still am a shattered pain of glass ushered into a world where I only fit in fragments, into a world where I will be reminded everyday of this ocean by a society that is filled with families, by a society that had no time for listening to my pain, to a society that is pro-adoption that would shout me down whenever I voiced my needs. I came to understand that love had a price, that nothing was free in this world, that I was a walking wound, a wound that would never be salved, I was a walking scream but my voice would never be heard. You can say that I knew nothing when I was born, but my eyes, my wrecked tunnel vision eyes, my aching bones, my anxiety written all over my face and body told me different.


I walk on a path of fear, of rejection, of abandonment, of not being loved, that was my first vision, my first experience of the world, the world is not a safe place for me, it is an abandoning mother, an abandoning ancestral tree, an abandoning father, an abandoning State and an abandoning adoptive family. They said that paper was thicker than blood, that the waters of jurisprudence would create a family for me that would be “as if I was born to them” but they told a lie, my adoptive mother and father want nothing to do with the twin boys that they adopted but they want everything to do with their two biological daughters. The last words he spoke to me “we don’t get along do we it is best that we do not see each other”. Those words were spoken after I had come to see him to thank my adopted parents for bring me up as best as they could. On the advice of my spiritual teacher I sat there as he attacked me in the lounge to the point that his wife, always the mediator, told him to stop. I just kept thanking him for bringing me up. He was most fascinated with the letter that I has written outlining all the pain that I had gone through dealing with my life, he found it interesting because it made him feel victorious, I had stumbled, I had fallen, I had displayed weakness, I had not led a perfect life. I had messed up my life.

But hang on; you still got a Masters with First Class Honors in spite of your breakdown, why don’t you use it then? Inside my head the thought flashes “But all I had ever wanted was to be loved”. This had not happened.
I was not exactly born into the arms of a self-appreciation society that had my best interests at heart, well okay they claimed they did, but it sure turned out that blood was thicker than paper. I have spent a life time trying to feel appreciated, trying to feel loved, trying to feel wanted, trying to remove myself from that cot, trying to get up from that damn oceanic wound, trying to rub out that wound, trying to ignore that ocean, trying to sail around it when all the time I was sailing on top of it, it also happened to be an unexploded volcano that when it went off blew to pieces all my attempts at dealing with it. There is no sailing manual on how to deal with this ocean, one manual argues that the wound below is primal and that it is inescapable, another blames me for running away from myself, and claims that I have constructed a false self. Society says that that there is no wound at all and therefore no ocean but that is a lie I sail on this ocean every day.


I have spent a lot of time doing things for other people in the hope that they might offer me love, in the hope that they might see my hurt, in the hope that they would acknowledge the brutal introduction that I had into this world, instead a lot of them have argued with me, saying that adoption is a good thing, it rescues children like myself and those poor starving babies overseas and don’t I feel lucky? This advice has not been helpful really, indeed it has left me feeling like a black and white shadow floating around the edges of society, around the edges of my pain trying to figure out exactly what to do about this, like a one legged person hopping around in a two legged party trying to act like I have two legs too when obviously I don’t.
In order to gain two legs and hopefully appreciation of myself I have searched for my birth family and have relationships with my father’s brother, his wife and his daughters. This has been very healing for me, in order to make it happen I wrote a letter to him asking why he did not stop the abuse that John and I suffered at the hands of his brother when to some extent he knew what was going on. This galvanized him into action, he welcomed me into that part of the family, apologized for not doing anything, and he was trying to deal with his own past by having a perfect family separate from his mad brother. He spoke of how his brother wanted to adopt twin boys who would play for the National Rugby team and do well academically thereby wiping out his sense of failure. He spoke of how abused his brother had been by his father. He has also spoken of how my brother was just dumped on our grandparents couch by Social Welfare several weeks after I had been adopted because my parents were away.


I am pleased to have this fragment of normalcy, this part of my adopted family I can relate to, I can also relate to my birth brothers and sister, but not my mother; she has driven me crazy too many times. Talking to her on the phone the other day she tells me that she will spend Christmas with my twin brother next year. All I can think of is the fact that once again my needs are being overlooked. She talks about his marijuana use, the fact that he has a few people looking after him, he was always great finding rescuers, and the fact that his memory is going from his years of drug and alcohol abuse. All I can think is that once again we are talking about my twin and his problems, never about mine, even when I visited him over the years there would be all these people hanging around trying to solve the mystery of my brother, of his life, of his substance abuse. Several years ago I visited him and suddenly cottoned onto how exploitative of my needs this was, I could see clearly that my role was that of social worker, I was the straight whom could be relied upon to listen as his latest rescuer talked about his problems to me in the third person. I felt soiled and resolved to never see him in the company of another friend of his ever again. brother, his wife and his daughters.

 

This has been very healing for me, in order to make it happen I wrote a letter to him asking why he did not stop the abuse that John and I suffered at the hands of his brother when to some extent he knew what was going on. This galvanized him into action, he welcomed me into that part of the family, apologized for not doing anything, and he was trying to deal with his own past by having a perfect family separate from his mad brother. He spoke of how his brother wanted to adopt twin boys who would play for the National Rugby team and do well academically thereby wiping out his sense of failure. He spoke of how abused his brother had been by his father. He has also spoken of how my brother was just dumped on our grandparents couch by Social Welfare several weeks after I had been adopted because my parents were away.


I am pleased to have this fragment of normalcy, this part of my adopted family I can relate to, I can also relate to my birth brothers and sister, but not my mother; she has driven me crazy too many times. Talking to her on the phone the other day she tells me that she will spend Christmas with my twin brother next year. All I can think of is the fact that once again my needs are being overlooked. She talks about his marijuana use, the fact that he has a few people looking after him, he was always great finding rescuers, and the fact that his memory is going from his years of drug and alcohol abuse. All I can think is that once again we are talking about my twin and his problems, never about mine, even when I visited him over the years there would be all these people hanging around trying to solve the mystery of my brother, of his life, of his substance abuse. Several years ago I visited him and suddenly cottoned onto how exploitative of my needs this was, I could see clearly that my role was that of social worker, I was the straight whom could be relied upon to listen as his latest rescuer talked about his problems to me in the third person. I felt soiled and resolved to never see him in the company of another friend of his ever again.

Some years ago I helped my brother through a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program twice, He then moved back to his old home town and relapsed when a friend of his died (he could never handle death and often became very sentimental over it). I knew that he had relapsed, even before he rang, I could feel this pain in my chest and then when he rang all over as I felt my soul tear away from him, that was it, he was now on his own, I could no longer hide my needs, problems by trying to rescue my brother, I had to be honest, I had to rescue myself not put myself through situations such as his standing over my bed in his flat whilst attacking the bed leg with an axe. He was dead drunk, he was always angry had me, I could sense that undercurrent, that he wanted to hurt me, that he saw me as the lucky, golden one, just like our father saw his brother. When I was down and out after my breakdown all those years ago, he attacked me, he did not help me, he arrived in town drank, put on dramas and did not leave, well he pretended to leave with his suitcase but would always wind up at the put. He had no intention of leaving, he had every intention of overshadowing my needs, of dragging me down in front of my University friends, back into the mud of the past, as that ship that I had hoped would sail me far away from the pain of my being adopted sank into the primal sea.
To be fair I had invited him to my town in the hope of getting rid of him, much like I had packed his bags as a child and invited him to leave via the window, Mum had sent him money so he could fly over and see her, could he get a passport given his criminal convictions, it did not matter, he had no intention of going at all, he had drunk all the money and Mum did not care

Mum sent me money years ago to go and live with her, I decided not to, and so gave the money back to my Uncle so that he could return it to her. When she deigned to get out of bed and see him she complained that the amount that I had sent was missing a few dollars.

What is it with me? I have spent years trying to be perfect, I have spent years not appreciating myself, putting my needs to one side, doing everything to please others but it is never enough, it is as if I may as well give up trying because people do not care, they take it for granted and I just become one big target. I have often wondered why people can make such a mess of their lives, of other people’s lives but they still end up being loved, I always thought that love was conditional.
In essence from my birth onwards I have always felt unappreciated, unvalued, not wanted, not needed, not good enough and I have taken this to heart. I am highly critical of myself and of others; I am never allowing myself to make a mistake because that would uncover the “unlovable failure, the unlovable self that lurks within. In my bones, in my heart I cannot grasp the thought that I am just lovable for who I am, how can that be? To believe that would be to upend the entire life that I have built that is based on my being unlovable, on the universe creating me as an unlovable failure. This is a lonely life, a life where there is no love, no self-belief, value, appreciation or worth. This is the heart of the ocean that keeps me sailing in black and white circles never daring just to be MY SELF.

Posted 27.12.2013. Within these walls Facebook group.