Black & White Circles


Black and White Circles 

                                                By Daniel Harrison

A person stated the other day that adoption is a political issue, it had nothing to do with my self-worth and as such I should not blame myself. Objectively speaking this is this is true on another level though for myself it makes no sense, Now I am not saying that I want to not love myself, that would also make no sense, instead what I am saying to ct a long story short is that a seed was planted inside me at birth that grew into a massive tree whose roods start within my centre, picture the branches of this tree as my life. This seed is the pain, the trauma, the unspoken grief at the heart of me over the loss of my mother. This grief was voiceless and from it this seed was born and from that seed grew all the trunk and branches of all my actions that can be seen as an attempt to deal with the cards that life had given me. An attempt to heal or get rid of this pain, my life was built on this foundation; my life was structured by this foundation. What I am trying to do is understand why I built my life in the way that I have so that I can live a life that is not based on pain and fear. You may call this tree my ancestral tree, my tree of history and I am taking to it with an axe.
This tree has cast black and white circles all over my life for so long now, it has blocked out, shaded out the ocean of pain, I have spent much time in, or rather out of my tree of shame, of sadness, of self-blame. It is not a tree that I hold in high self-esteem. Most of my life I have tried to hide my roots, hide the trunk, hide where I come from. I have been ashamed of my pain, of how I feel and there was silence around the seed that had given birth to me. Even though there was silence, the seed of pain did not fade way, it could not be denied. This seed in the underground heart of who I am drove me onwards, always onwards, and upwards away from myself, out into the world in the hope that I could find love through others , In the subconscious hope that I would once again be reunited with the ocean of my mother, with ocean of her love,
I did not know what drove me, I just knew that I did not belong anywhere; my sadness was palpable, a young child searching the creeks for answers, lost in the long grass, unwilling to read or communicate even as his new mother sat with coloured wooden blocks in a bid to help me communicate with the world. But I was lost at sea, lost within, and convinced that there was something wrong with me. My low self-esteem was paralysing, I could not move from the corner of the classroom because the other kids were better than me, they were lovable and I was not, this was even before I was told that I was adopted. Standing behind the wooden divide in the lounge room with my twin by my side wondering how I could form a relationship with this violent and scary man as he play wrestled with his two daughters, he is gesticulating, asking me to join in, wisely I hold back.

Love, the life of the mind, of the abstract picture, of the book, of the distance, of the sky, gripped my heart; I could read, read and read again, take cover in my room, cover my head, my thoughts with another world away from them. Once I discovered reading could win me love, a special needs teacher taught me to read when I was eight, I had brought in books from my brothers special needs school which he was busily trying to burn down, she urged me on as I stared reading them, thrilled the wall fell. She took me out into the classroom next door to read to the children there, they cheered and clapped. I had found my road to Damascus, my road to love, everyone in life needs one. I could not stop reading. Books from the library, hidden behind the school door, they were too hard for me to read, but I had to read them. I was in the land of black white circles, in the land of the dream, far away from the pain that hid myself, I was in the land of make believe literally and figuratively playing a game that pleased others, brought me praise and attention and at the same time gave me distance from the nightmare that was home.

I was sent to a Christian Camp while my parents were in Fiji, my grandparents were horrified by my talk of wanting to be a missionary, on and on I went, my father soon got rid of that idea in me. Indeed he hated God, he hated spirituality because no God in his right mind would have allowed his father to bash, terrorise, yell and verbally abuse him like he did. Atheism was the game, a game with no consequences that he could play with me at will. I had added another string to my bow in a bid to curry favour, I had taken up rugby, the national game and religion in New Zealand, my father was a devotee and because he was never very good at it he had adopted us, so he told his brother, so we could make up for his failure by becoming All Blacks, players in the world mighty national team.

The local family team at this point was not doing so well. A vote had been taken by the family that had resulted in my brother becoming a ward of the state, I had participated in this vote, which was only right because it made me feel like a real member of the family, Trouble was, however, brewing, my father and mother had taken their daughters to see the Clint Eastwood move called “Any Way But Loose”. The loosest thing about this movie was the fact that they claimed that we had come with them when we had not. They would play with our reality again by telling me to lie to my brother about our trip to America by saying that he had come too. I played along; in our family nothing was real.

In fact our family was an elaborate stage act, my parents, especially my father had little or no self-esteem and therefore self-love so he spent his time trying to get rid of that problem onto the boys that he adopted while doting on his daughters. A facade had to be build, of wealth, a swimming pool, trips away, owning rental houses, full Santa sacks, money and success was the commodity that would open the key to the temple of heaven for him, that temple was called love from the outside world in the form of admirers of which there were few. For he was an angry and scary man who was prone to random acts of violence that he was prone to bragging about, punching a Pacific Island tenant in the head as he exited the toilet and being proud of this when he was just scared and the man meant him no harm “I never felt a white man punch so hard he said”. Fighting with his nemesis on the street in front of an audience, punching a man out because he dared say that he did not like the way that I was being treated by him, this was years later, when he told me he also wanted me to acknowledge that “he did not treat me badly did he” Being punched over by a gang member at a gang pad when in search of our stolen car which I was supposed to have run out and stopped from happening “why did you not get up of bed and stop them”, he arrived back with his nose streaming blood down his chest.

My father had unique schemes also to help us build self-esteem and self-love. Putting my brother on top of a mailbox and burning his hands with matches after catching him trying to light a fire under the house. Urging me to beat up my brother in his presence for breaking my pickup sticks, and beating us both with a piece of wood for interfering with a vehicle on our ill-fated South Island holiday where it finally became apparent that our rights were not the same as their girls who had open access to everything, including food. There we were in the caravan, hungry, so hungry, urged on to eat, eat more meat, eat more, under the watchful eye of my parents, and so we kept eating, we were hungry, always hungry, “Have you had enough”? Here comes the shaming, you are such greedy little pigs. We were too scared to tell them that we had worms, those strange wriggly white things that kept coming out of one end of us; we thought that it must have been our fault.

I learnt that my self-esteem, my self-love depended on performance, performance was necessary on the rugby field and in the classroom if I was to earn love. At the age of thirteen I was flying high playing for my cities rugby team, but puberty was about to hit. Strangeness was about to hit, more cruelty was about to hit as I failed to make the requisite rugby team in High School and lost interest in my schoolwork because home was so terrifying. He was no longer my rugby coach; he took on a new role head tyrant. Now that I was no longer meeting his ego needs, I was not going to be an All Black, I was not making up for his lack of academic success, it was obvious now I was him and he could not bear the weight of his own reflection, that of the sports and academic failure that he was in the eyes of his father who loved his brother so much more because he was a success.

I dreamed of escape, I dreamed of a life where I could have kind people and masses of presents like my brother seemed to have in his foster homes, he was going through so many. It was like a permanent Christmas. My self-esteem was through the floor, I had nothing left to hang onto, I dreaded walking through the door, in fact it scared the hell out of me as I walked into the mocking disapproval of my sister who was allowed to do whatever the hell she wanted, except sleep with boys in her room which my father took a morbid interest in. Who the hell would want to sleep in there, it was so bloody untidy. The other sister was the academic success, well to some extent, except for gong of the rails a bit and pot smoking.

I am scared, can you see it, this seed, growing, growing, I am just acting out the circles of my life, I have no centre, I am a puppet on a string, desperately trying to please others, I do not fit anywhere, I do not belong anywhere, I do not have any family belonging to give me love and self-esteem, I am a loner, a lonely old sun making black and white circles over the ocean. I am a tree with no roots going anywhere. I am paralysed by a lack of self-esteem, of self-love; I blame myself for this, for having to deal with this situation with all the situations that I have arrived in. I am scared of annihilation, he is so strong, the world is, as he said a scary place, a vicious place, a rough and tumble there is no grace place. How the hell could I not know that, I was born into a desert, my mother just got up and left, don’t go round saying I don’t know what the world is like, I know, I know that the world can deny me, can abandon me, can ditch me, can hurt me, can abandon me, can get up and just about kill me with pain, with pain in my bones, pain in my stomach, pain in my eyes and just ignore me, leave me, no please don’t leave me alone.

I took refuge in the Baptist Church, not much of a refuge and got mocked accordingly by my sister for my baby steps, youth camps, bible studies over Yorkshire puddings she would mock me as I walked through the door, just waiting at the door, the beautiful one, the chosen one, the biological one to remind me that I was dust under her heel, her lolly buyer, nothing more. Strange thing is she wrote on the photo album when I left, or rather scrawled, she can barely write “when we were family”. It touched me in an appropriate manner. The church in the end did not live up to my expectations even though I had at the camp placed a note on the tree of life in the centre of the hall pledging my life to Christ, at last I belonged! Applause, just like I had when I had learnt to read. Well they must like me, I went to the Pastor of the church and asked him for help to leave home, all these people had after all signed my copy of the Good News Bible, no good news was forthcoming, and I was told to go home to my family where I belonged.

This did not put me off the church straight away; I did after all need some form of solace to help me through the dark night of the soul as things went from bad to worse. Mostly worse, I have a nightmare at this time of all the parrots escaping from their cages, I cannot work out if it was real or not, so much of my life was so surreal. The parrot did, however, manage to escape from his cage and flew out into the wide world only to find that the seed that he was trying to escape could never be flown away from.

It was an egg in the centre of the nest that kept growing and driving my behavior regardless, a cuckoo in the nest that drove me in endless black and white circles in an attempt to weave a life that others, not myself would love. I had no esteem for myself; indeed I hated the self that had led to my mother abandoning me. My vicious baby drove me in all my actions and indeed could not understand why, when I finally found the perfect abandoning mother, that she could not love me on the basis of my fine academic achievements. This threw me into absolute chaos, what have I done? This person is refusing to love me on the basis of my academic achievement, if I can’t be loved on the basis of this then how the hell will I ever be loved on the basis of this defective self inside of me that had caused my mother to leave. There is no way that I can be me. MY self love, myself deception, suddenly plummeted thought the floor only to reach new heights of powerlessness and mania. How can one go anywhere or do anything without self-esteem, my means of locomotion had been taken from me. And so I turned inwards, into a terrifying journey to the centre of the self in a bid to understand what had happened, in a bid to understand why I had arrived at this point and how I had become so broken. In a bid to come to terms with my-self, that lies hidden beneath the seed within.



Posted 23.12.2013. Within these walls Facebook group.