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  • Perhaps the time has come to grasp the nettle. Not that it is a nettle really. My mother (either of them) my self is not, finally and thankfully, a mantra I subscribe to. (Also, I have not read that book – should I?)

    Birth mother, from what I can piece together, was fragile before falling pregnant and madder than a sack of onions afterwards. Now I come to think of it, she reminds me a little of husband’s oldest sister who creates what she most fears through her own avoiding tactics. I digress.

    I have no idea if her pregnancy was a difficult one or whether my hydrocephalus was discovered antenatally. I can well imagine that birthing a baby with a big head would be traumatic – perhaps she had a c-section – and, then, having a child that required immediate surgery would have made the bonding process more fraught than it would otherwise be.

    One of the little cats I work with has a son who was born (prematurely) with hydrocephalus – and he’s now a normal, healthy adult (yay! Another survivor) – she tells us stories of the days and nights in intensive care watching over the incubator. She also recounts how difficult coming home was and trusting herself with the little sickie. Perhaps my first month was like that.

    What I do know is that after being discharged from hospital, birth mother took us to a mother-and-baby home (in the 1970s these places existed). At some point they asked her to leave. I don’t know where she went next or how long it took her to call social services. I have no idea what happened to me in the interim. Perhaps there was no interim and she was encouraged to call for help by the nurses at the M&B home. It is a mystery.

    The process with the social services is also something of a mystery. I suppose there are records somewhere, or were at some point; I suppose I could dig and delve if I really wanted to. I know that the grandparents were approached about giving me a home, but they declined. Actually, said they’d only just decorated their spare room and, well, they were too old to be looking after a baby (they were in their 40s, just like my adopted parents). I’ll admit the spare room bit rankles. A lucky escape there, for them and me. Fuckers.

    There was the fostering. Then, as the regulation amount of time was almost done, there was going to be a straightforward adoption. Ha! But we’re in pantomime land – oh no there isn’t; she’s beeeehiiiind you! Birth mother contested and represented herself in court. Stuff was said, obviously, uncomfortable hearing and I’m not sure how much I absorbed, how much I’ve blocked out.

    Throughout childhood she was considered an abduction threat. In my case stranger danger came in the form of a woman wearing my face. She phoned sometimes; once she pretended to be a friend from school so that she could chat to me with a little girl voice. Perplexing and unsettling.

    So it was, at 18, that I had no interest in tracking her down and – after the grandparents debacle – an active wish to have nothing to do with her or her parents.

    Husband and I were in the throes of moving to Sydney when the letter came. We had six weeks to get passports for small (at that point baby) boy, get our own paperwork in order, pack up the flat, get the dog shipped, find a tenant and all the other hoopla that attends emigrating at short notice. The letter was from a social worker in Havant – birth mother wanted contact and there were a sack of letters from her to me. Could the social worker send them on?

    I was reluctant to accept this burden, but felt backed into a corner. Social worker went on about how my birth mother had been known to them for years and how she was now in a good place with an older husband who cared for her. Okay – send the letters. They arrived and I wrote a letter to birth mother in return. I’ve got a good life. I’m married. I’m happy. I’m educated. I have a good job. Thank you for calling for help when you did. I’ve met the grandparents and that didn’t work out. I don’t want to take this any further. Thank you and goodbye. I sent it via email to the social worker.

    I didn’t open the letters.

    My dad, family historian to the last, implored me: you must read them.

    I opened the letters. Madness tumbled out along with some photos of the woman with my face, but worse hair and terrible clothes. There were short rants written in pencil about the vet and her cats. Puzzlingly, one of them was my cat who slept on my bed in my room. She would meet me from the bus stop when I came to stay. There were notes written in caps about the evil nurses in the home refusing to give me the (I assume formula, but who knows) milk she’d brought for me. There were attacks on her parents – that I could understand. In a later letter I learned that my cat had died, but that the room was still ready.

    I looked up with despair at husband. This is all madness. And then he asked me the question that cut through all the noise like a whistling blade. Does she tell you who your father is? No, she hadn’t. And it hadn’t occurred to me that I might want to know. However, having not long ago become one, clearly fathers were of vital import to husband.

    The social worker emailed back and suggested that my attached letter really wasn’t enough. Birth mother would not believe it was really from me. I should handwrite a letter. I inserted a digital signature and re-sent it, telling the social worker that it was not her job to advocate for my mother and I would construe any further contact from her as harassment.

    I told Dad that the letters were full of crazy and that they had gone in the bin. No, really, Dad, they are madness.

    And then we left the country.

    I keep the photos in an envelope in a drawer – one day small boy can have them.
    Last edited by badgergirl; 04-01-2013, 06:21 PM. Reason: commas of course
    I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by badgergirl View Post
      My mother (either of them) my self is not, finally and thankfully, a mantra I subscribe to. (Also, I have not read that book – should I?)
      I read it at about 19 or 20. Definitely interesting reading back then, but I don't know how I would respond to it today. It did give me a lot to think about, tho. I read a lot of Friday books at that age, but quit at the one about sexual fantasies - just too much weirdness for me in that one.

      The social worker emailed back and suggested that my attached letter really wasn’t enough. Birth mother would not believe it was really from me. I should handwrite a letter. I inserted a digital signature and re-sent it, telling the social worker that it was not her job to advocate for my mother and I would construe any further contact from her as harassment.
      GOOD FOR YOU! I have had a social worker in my past, and she was MY advocate, in word and deed, not the other party's. Bitch.

      I keep the photos in an envelope in a drawer – one day small boy can have them.
      I think that is very balanced. Small boy can be spared the crazy words - some things don't need to be passed on. At some point they will be doing family trees and stuff in school (they always do here some time during elementary school), and that will help.

      Story - I have a huge family, four aunts and three uncles on one side alone, but the story concerns Aunt M and Aunt D. Aunt M wasn't able to conceive. Aunt D gave birth to two daughters, but was diagnosed with schizophrenia around the time of their births. The daughters were picked up by the state and put up for adoption at ages 2 and 4 or 5. As luck would have it, Aunt M was already approved in the same state system to adopt, and took the daughters. All their growing-up years they had to field schizophrenic telephone calls, and sometimes my Aunt M would have to lay down the law to her own sister about who was actually the legal boss in that relationship. Family gets complicated sometimes, as you have always known.
      I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Crabbcakes View Post
        I read it at about 19 or 20. Definitely interesting reading back then, but I don't know how I would respond to it today. It did give me a lot to think about, tho. I read a lot of Friday books at that age, but quit at the one about sexual fantasies - just too much weirdness for me in that one.



        GOOD FOR YOU! I have had a social worker in my past, and she was MY advocate, in word and deed, not the other party's. Bitch.



        I think that is very balanced. Small boy can be spared the crazy words - some things don't need to be passed on. At some point they will be doing family trees and stuff in school (they always do here some time during elementary school), and that will help.

        Story - I have a huge family, four aunts and three uncles on one side alone, but the story concerns Aunt M and Aunt D. Aunt M wasn't able to conceive. Aunt D gave birth to two daughters, but was diagnosed with schizophrenia around the time of their births. The daughters were picked up by the state and put up for adoption at ages 2 and 4 or 5. As luck would have it, Aunt M was already approved in the same state system to adopt, and took the daughters. All their growing-up years they had to field schizophrenic telephone calls, and sometimes my Aunt M would have to lay down the law to her own sister about who was actually the legal boss in that relationship. Family gets complicated sometimes, as you have always known.
        I started with the Secret Garden one and couldn't get on with it - borrowed from my mother, as I remember, I would have been about 15 or so. My mother = my self is a thing I had worried about for years (given that I have two archetypal mothers to deal with, neither of them spectacularly sane, this was a BIG worry). Having small boy has cured me of that concern. The mistakes I make, and there are plenty, are my own.

        There is a thing with the photos and small boy that is a post on its own. The family resemblance between him and me has been profoundly healing for me. Finally, a positive association for a lookalike.

        Re story - ugh that is hard, hard, hard. For everyone.
        I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

        Comment


        • Frank Turner - a review of sorts

          I did it. I went to a concert by myself. And I had fun! But it was not without its scary challenges. I've learned some lessons, too, I think.

          I left work after changing out of my usual dress and boots into jeans and boots. Although I jettisoned everything I could, I still needed to carry my Cath Kidston (don't judge - yes it's floral, but it's useful) satchel as I'm reading Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety (an enormous brick of a book) and I also needed my wallet, keys, phone and so forth. However, a satchel is not ideal for moshing so I perhaps should have sacrificed the book...

          I strolled leisurely through the city enjoying my freedom (usually I am literally running for a train and the bedlam that awaits at home). I picked up some hair gunk and mooched around the shops. Simple things that remind me I used to be an independent adult. Having skipped lunch, I bought some cold cuts and a bottle of water. There's a reasonably nice waiting room at Southern Cross so, with 90 minutes to fill, I settled down, read my book and, er, ate my salty meat.

          I contemplated jumping on a train and going home. After all, I'd already had some fun (sad that an hour of freedom constitutes fun) and I was getting increasingly nervous at the prospect of sketchy venue surrounded by sketchy strangers.

          Fortune favours the brave.

          I started walking in the general direction of the Festival Hall. I spotted three rough-looking gents, one was wearing a kilt all three had impressive facial hair. Two lassies were in front of me - standard-issue grunge girls...but wait, that's a Dropkick Murphys tee-shirt. The penny dropped - kilt guys are going where I'm going, as are the grunge girls. I put the map back in my voluminous bag (I have a thick phone rather than a smart phone so cannot Google map on the move). I followed them and considered making conversation with lads, but since they detoured to a pub, I missed my opportunity and retrospectively felt relieved. As I felt dangerous, which is never good and often leads to unfortunate entanglements.

          I arrived a few minutes after the time on the ticket and a band was already playing. They sounded as though they were from Essex and looked like a bunch of White supremacists. Surely not, but with screaming and howling, who can tell what the lyrics are? I stood towards the back and nursed my plastic beaker of lager (I haven't drunk lager in 15 or more years. My drinking progression went something like this: whiskey mac, sherry/wine, cider, White Lightning, lager, Black Velvet, stout, cocktails and settled on red wine). Lager is revolting, but it was either that or a G&T and I like gin...

          A second band came on: the Swinging Utters. I kept my place at the back and watched with mounting amusement. The lead singer contorted himself with syncopated physical jerks. When he got very excited he tapped his head with his mike. I scanned the crowd and spotted two FT tee-shirts in a sea of Dropkick Murphy merch. Kilts! Facial hair! Tatts! It was as if the dockworkers of Baltimore (I've seen The Wire) had descended on Melbourne...and that was just the laydeez. Speaking of the lassies, they were outnumbered 10:1 by the lads.

          Every time I spotted a check shirt I thought: I wonder if that person is a Frank Turner fan?

          Frank came on and the check shirts shuffled to the front. I positioned myself right at the front and watched the proceedings with great glee. I even pogo'd for a while, A Place of Greater Safety leaving bruises where it hit my spine. The bass player posed and gurned; they all did. It was brilliant. I like the music, but the theatre and the comedy were almost as much fun. It was a mid-length set - eight or ten songs, some banter. Frank said he'd be around after the Dropkick Murphy set to meet and greet.

          I looked around the crowd, which was already getting quite rambunctious with its moshing, and made a tactical retreat. Getting a bit confused, I stumbled across the Swinging Utters round the back of the Festival Hall (which is a tiny fleapit), but they were unable to give me directions to North Melbourne. A five-minute walk along an unlit lane and I was at my train station.

          However, there were no trains to my far-flung suburb. I climbed aboard the bus replacement service and settled back into the French revolution.

          In bed before the Cinderella hour with my ears ringing, my feet were attacked by cramp that felt like it lasted a good hour. At 4am the small boy joined us. At 5am the alarm went off.

          It was worth it.
          Last edited by badgergirl; 04-02-2013, 08:45 PM.
          I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

          Comment


          • Doing a fellow lurk Love hearing your story.
            "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

            In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

            - Ray Peat

            Comment


            • Originally posted by YogaBare View Post
              Doing a fellow lurk Love hearing your story.
              I love delurkers. *Hugs* (And hugs to all the lurkers too - I'm easy like that.)

              Hilary Mantel; she's sly. You think you're reading a historical, mainly factual, re-animated story (and you are, brilliantly so) and then she sticks in an authorial stiletto dagger:
              Impatiently she hitched her chair away from the window. All her life she has been a spectator, an onlooker; the role has brought her nothing, not even the gift of philosophical detachment. And study has not brought it, nor self-analysis, nor even, she thought wryly, gardening. Some would think that it ought to come in the course of nature to a woman of thirty-six, a wife and mother. A little calm, a little quiet within – little chance. Even after childbearing, there is blood in your veins, not milk. I am not passive in the face of life, and I do not think I ever will be, and – considering recent events – why should I be?

              Notice the subtle shift in tenses, bringing the denouement to the fore. Notice the forced collusion there; the shift from she to you to I. Now, luckily, I'm not living through the French revolution, but plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

              So it is that I've been allowing pillow princess syndrome to seep into every aspect of my life, expecting husband to lay on my pleasures for me. Make my friends for me - after all this is his life we've moved to. No more. I need to take responsibility for making a life for myself. And it is a responsibility, it is work. Going to a concert solo is brave, but not drowning nerves in gin is responsible. As is leaving at an hour that will allow me to get home.

              I've not got a good track record with sensible precautions. It's time to learn.

              I'm home alone for the next four days. This could either be brilliant or a disaster. Send me the strength to make the right choices now no one is watching.
              Last edited by badgergirl; 04-03-2013, 02:07 PM.
              I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

              Comment


              • I'm lurking too badger - and hugs back to you..........
                G x
                "never let the truth get in the way of a good story "

                ...small steps....

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                • I was a submariner..... we lurk ALOT..... on purpose...... it's our job! lol

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                  • Originally posted by ssn679doc View Post
                    I was a submariner..... we lurk ALOT..... on purpose...... it's our job! lol
                    Hey doc - how do you pronounce that? Is it sub MARE' iner, or is it sub ma REE' ner?

                    And don't laugh - my daddy's background is Army...
                    I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Crabbcakes View Post
                      Hey doc - how do you pronounce that? Is it sub MARE' iner, or is it sub ma REE' ner?

                      And don't laugh - my daddy's background is Army...
                      I say sub MARE iner...... because nothin is lower than a Marine! j/k...... I served with Marines and have a son that is a former Marine.... I have nothing but respect for Marines

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by ssn679doc View Post
                        I say sub MARE iner...... because nothin is lower than a Marine! j/k...... I served with Marines and have a son that is a former Marine.... I have nothing but respect for Marines
                        Lol - Thanks!
                        In the end, all branches get shot at somehow, whether flying, swimming, floating, or marching, so the rest of us don't have to be in the line of fire, so you won't ever hear me badmouth none of them. But that doesn't preclude a good joke here and there...!
                        I have a mantra that I have spouted for years... "If I eat right, I feel right. If I feel right, I exercise right. If I exercise right, I think right. If I think right, I eat right..." Phil-SC

                        Comment


                        • Oh dear, I say sub-ma-rin-a. There's no hope for me, is there? Also, very happy to hear you're lurking, Doc I'm sure you do it with dash.
                          Last edited by badgergirl; 04-04-2013, 12:58 AM.
                          I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                          Comment


                          • Childbirth - the story you were going to get - can wait. Tonight I feel moved to mention the Buddhist co-worker. Now, her faith is not at issue here - atheist myself, faith in general is alien to me, however, whichever flavour a believer chooses is equal to me so long as they don't try to convert me or allow their faith to shape their interactions with others - in fact, I'm not sure what the issue is.

                            So, 'Buddhist co-worker' is just a descriptive tag, m'kay?

                            I have never, ever met a person so blissfully ignorant. So oblivious. So sheltered. She's so sweet that she gives me a sugar crash - I seem to miss out on the high. She's 30 years old, but presents with all the guile and sophistication of a, let's be generous, 15-year-old Plymouth Brethren. How did this happen?

                            The parent in me wants to know so that I can avoid making my own child fundamentally clueless.

                            Buddhist co-worker offended someone on the Easter retreat by asking for more information on their family background when they revealed they were partially Aboriginal. Now, I am just another ignorant Brit, but I've learned enough to know to tread extremely carefully in all Indigenous issues.

                            The discussion between Buddhist, the little cats and me ebbed and flowed. Buddhist was offended that partial Aboriginal had been offended and was seeking validation from us.

                            Eventually, I said: co-worker, it is evident, after even a short acquaintance, that you were the beneficiary of an extremely close, secure family and a happy home when you were growing up. This is a very privileged position and it shapes your world view. It's incredibly difficult to identify privilege in one's own position, but believe me when I tell you that not many people have that same experience and they are operating under a completely different set of assumptions than you are. Personal questions, when one has a challenging background, can trigger far more than you could ever imagine.

                            When learning that my brother and I are not genetically connected, people, children, used to ask me/tell me that I could/should marry my brother. That one went down like a lead balloon, let me tell you.
                            Last edited by badgergirl; 04-04-2013, 04:29 PM. Reason: typo
                            I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                            Comment


                            • Assault culture (warning: contains mild triggers)

                              Most of the time I will tell people, women, when it comes up in conversation (because it does with semi regularity), that I've never been sexually assaulted and how lucky I am in that regard (because I don't do victim blaming, there's no reason to think that I might not be the next one). However, pondering it in the dark insomniac hours of the night, I remembered that this is not exactly true. What I mean is I have never been raped (to my knowledge, though there was that one time I woke up in a half-built hotel lying next to a stranger - I was fully clothed and he was far more scared than I was, make of that what you will). However, I have been a victim of sex crime, albeit on the mild end of the spectrum. And then the brain started to fizz, as it does in the witching hour, and tried to join the various dots. I'm not sure what the picture's meant to be, but it sure is ugly.

                              I was 14 or 15, but I think 14. Beauty therapist (for she was always a beauty therapist, even then) and I somehow - I forget how this came about - got a job share on a market stall. Billy sold net curtains off the roll, chintzy cushion covers and the pads to stuff them as well as taking orders for slip covers for three-piece suites. Our job was to help him set up the stall, help him serve customers and write the signs - I got the feeling he was illiterate. I quite liked the work - putting the stall together was a bit like setting up a tent - the market was quite lively and I have no problem writing signs.

                              Beauty therapist began to tell me about the odd things Billy did on her days. Asking her questions about her virginity and bra size. It gradually escalated as the weeks went by, but for some reason no one took her seriously; not me, not her mum, not my mum. And then it started with me. Rubbing my back to see if I was wearing a bra. Nothing too untoward, but certainly not appropriate.

                              It was raining. The stall was under its tarpaulin covers. Billy sat on a stool at one end, I was standing at the other. I looked over and he was tossing himself off while looking at me. I was, as you would be, very freaked out. Beauty had been telling me this for weeks, but now it was real and it was really happening. Later, he gave me some money and asked me to get him some cigarettes. I used the time to also find a payphone (no mobiles back then) and call home. I spoke to my mother and asked her to come and get me. I did not want to ride home in the lorry cab with Billy. I did not feel safe.

                              This is the bit that has adult me saying what the effing eff? MY MOTHER TOLD ME TO STAY THERE AND PRETEND NOTHING HAD HAPPENED. So I did. At the end of the drive home, Billy gave me an extra tenner 'for not complaining...about the weather.'

                              I went straight into the corner-shop and spent the extra money on chocolate. I then went and sat in the bath and ate my chocolate. And cried.

                              My father went to the market the next day and had polite words with Billy. I never went back.

                              The messaging I got from my parents was that he was a rather sad man - still living with his mum in a caravan - rather poor and should be pitied. To which the adult me, again, says what...the effing...eff?

                              Two disconnected, until last night, memories also floated to the surface.

                              First. Sitting with my female relatives in our living room and each of them - mother, aunts, grandmother - recounting with grim humour stories of the flashers, gropers and fiddlers they had met as young women. It was presented, by them, as a sort of necessary rite of passage - akin to menstrual cramps or any other unpleasant side effect of XX chromosomes.

                              Second. My father telling me of a female staff member, he was working on the ferries at the time, who was working with the men (instead of in the girly clerical office) who was being 'hazed' or whatever the English word for this would be. Harassment sounded closer to the truth to me. His story culminated with one of the men tapping her shoulder (she must have been crouched down to get something out of a cupboard or similar) with his penis. All power to teenage me: 'Dad, that's sexual assault. Dad, that's completely and utterly wrong. You'd be horrified if someone did that to me.' Thinking back now, perhaps he was trying to get a sense of just how uneasy he should be; he must have been uneasy or why discuss it with me? That's the hopeful interpretation. I wonder now how he responded to the men and the woman when he went to work - did my words, my physical revulsion, make any difference? Did he have a quiet word with the perpetrator of this 'joke'? Or was he simply trying to wise me up a little and warn me away from 'men's jobs'? The mind reels. Penis man should have been sacked. On the spot. Gross misconduct. And then the police should have been called.

                              What kind of world do we live in? No, I haven't been assaulted. I'm lucky. Where does the push-back begin? How can we make a difference? I'll tell you, I'm pushing back, but I've not seen it make the blindest bit of difference.
                              Last edited by badgergirl; 04-04-2013, 03:45 PM.
                              I like badgers, books and booze, more or less in that order.

                              Comment


                              • I love how when a man behaves "inappropriately" to varying degrees, there is always some form of blame placed on the woman. "She shouldnt have walked home along", "She shouldn't have had those tequilas", "She shouldn't have fallen asleep".

                                Society has a long, long way to go.
                                "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

                                In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

                                - Ray Peat

                                Comment

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