Ok so she hated it! My new shiny Tattoo! Bizarrely that cross look appeared after a long time of not seeing it. I felt about fucking 12 again. Like I’d left my coat on the school bus again and was in for a bollocking.
How does that even happen at nearly 50? I don’t get it. I even caught her googling symbols of random shit assuming the initial to my original birth name was something totally different to the actual letter. Missed the point that her initial being in the middle was meaning she’s the centre of my adoption.
Literally the centre of my world.
I am beyond hurt. Is it a deliberate habit, to dim my shine, to quash that glimmer of happiness that I rarely feel these days?
Is it to make her feel powerful whilst leaving me powerless to defend myself?.
Her remark and sniff of “Well it’s what YOU wanted” worked to cut me again, leave me humiliated. Wounded . I had thought ,no correction, had hoped, stupidly, that she’d get it by now.
Maybe just understand me at last . See I don’t think my adoption is still the phantom elephant in the room. I say phantom because I honestly believe it should be so much more of a secondary thing when it comes to our relationship. But every move I make, every new relationship I make and every memory rehashed seems to reawaken the grief and sorry she made me feel when I initially found my BM. Its just not fair. Its not going away. She still feels threatened by it. I’m angry again. Angry and disappointed. Lets look at the facts and I will make no apology for being blunt..just how I feel right now….
Once upon a time in the late 60’s a white couple with two birth children adopt a black Jamaican blood baby. All live happily ever after…until said black child has the unshakeable need to find her truth. Answers to why, when and what ..questions I guarantee every adoptee on this fucking planet will need to ask. Fast forward to the child becoming an adult and finding birth mother and other blood relatives. Adoptive family reacts with hurtful if partly understandable, jealousy and risk losing said adopted child from their affections. ..the rest is in the lap of the gods
Every time I think my adoption is accepted by my Mother, I’m shocked by the reality. My adoption was something she chose for me, without my say-so and honestly nothing I do is in any way a ‘slight’ aimed at hurting her. It makes me more sad and more tired. Tired of her need for me to show my gratitude, tired of her need for constant reassurance. Tired of wondering if I’m a good and worthy daughter or a totally different girl to the one she wanted…a disappointment.?
To be insecure is one thing but for fucksakes, we’ve done this shit over and over…I love her, nothing has changed..despite the fact she’s making it and has made it hard to stay focused on that love. When faced with clear resentment and disrespect for my own feelings it becomes increasingly difficult to shrug off the hurt I feel at her behavior towards me and my history. If this were any other relationship, a marriage say not even mediation could mend it.Yet I keep on trying Huh!? Do I even need her approval? Or anyone’s? Many adoptees I know say the deep feeling of a need for approval is what eats them up from the inside. Maybe that’s partly true but for me, my hard shell has started to rebuild itself around my heart. It’s sad but true as I cannot allow myself to enter into my half-century with the constant guilt she wants me to feel for “putting her through the pain” of me finding my birthright. I’m more than ready to accept I’ll feel something similar when my boy seeks his truth. But I will help him, I’m prepared for it down the line. I chose to adopt him and he’s living a good and happy life.He is well loved but he has rights as do I.
My BM can’t possibly be a threat. Surely not after 6 years in what must have been an expected reunion. When will it end? The need for me to apologize for what is my god given right. The guilt trip is wearing bloody thin now. She was as hurt at my mother’s reaction to me finding her as I was. I ended up having to support both my mothers as well as myself. It’s all so tiring.
So she hated it but couldn’t help but whisper “when you come on your own we will discuss this thing you described as a “discreet little tattoo !” You see I am 12 again ..My response was “Nope, we won’t, it’s done. The conversation is over. Done.
You see it’s not an issue to me that she doesn’t approve of the tattoo. I could have had a skull and freakin crossbones on my neck if it was a test of her approval. I didn’t. and don’t need her approval for a grown-up decision.
I had a different symbol altogether, a Symbol to honor her, me, my adoption and my BM and it was entirely dismissed and totally lost on her. At that moment I knew we will welcome the adoption elephant back into the room. He’d been lonely, snoozing in the back of that attic room in my head. He is now champing at the bit to stomp through the room at every opportunity. I sense we will be seeing him a lot more now.
So a week on from “Tattoo-gate” or was it Disapproval Day? (D-Day?) I journey up North again to visit BM. Still languishing in her fourth ward within the hospital, she had forgotten I’d rung to say the date I’d be up. As I walked into her shared ward I couldn’t help wonder if she’d know me…silly I know but went through my head as I spotted her there with her head in her trusted Bible. Hearing my wheels on the tiled floor (that was, of course, my case, I’ve not had my legs replaced by wheels you understand!;-)
So she looks up as I approach her bed with a look close to relief and certainly full of love. My cheery smiley “Hiya! comes naturally. In my head I’m screaming “Why the fuck is she still here after nearly 9 months, why haven’t they fixed you!”
Her eyes are wide and watery as we hug, avoiding the white mesh neckerchief protecting her tracheostomy. So we chat…well I do and she listens and mouths words emploring me to translate and understand her. It’s hard but not impossible. Although I realized often an accurate guess of what she’s saying sometimes was enough. Either that or she gave up trying and it was easier to indulge me? On other occasions, she would get so frustrated and anxious to be understood we were both near to tears trying to converse. For a talker, she must think she is literally in hell. It’s too tragic. The tea nurses come round and she makes it clear she wants her own tea bags and instructs me to have the same…Red Bush tea. Cue a flashback to the first time I tried that at her house back in 2012. She even indicates the nurse top up my cup as its apparently not full enough.. they do as told by her and joke that she’s the boss. She turns to me seriously. Makes it clear she’s losing the will with being there. She wants the tube out, wants to go outside and wants to go home.
I explained I will ask if we can go into the garden, a walled area we can both see from her bed. With me on the bed and her in the chair, I ask if we can wheel her out. No is the short reply. Too risky with the tracheostomy. She’s upset. I gather the last time she’s felt the sunshine on her face was the morning of the day she had her Brain hemorrhage. Not breathed real fresh air for nearly 9 months. Fate is too cruel. How she’s retained her faith in Him is beyond me, I tell you. I didn’t tell her that of course.
I’d taken her biscuits and fresh mango. Hard to imagine how she copes with the boredom …she’s a neat freak now, some have said it has been the case since the brain injury, like a symptom. I suspect more out of a need to have some control over some aspect of her shrinking world..imagine a bed, a cupboard and a chair with a wheeled table. That’s her world. Far too small for such a huge personality.
So a few hours romp on broken only by regular aspirations of her tube. It’s clearly painful to cough, you can tell. She often grimaced and her hand shot to her throat to alleviate the pain from the tracheostomy. Poor woman doesn’t really understand that if it were to fall out or dislodge she can’t breathe and could easily die.
Heartbreaking not to hear her voice, having known it so animated in the past. I miss her easy gravelly laughter, her cheeky teasing, our familiar banter.
I’m just so thankful I’m not just finding her now. Imagine the cruel twist of fate that would be… so close yet so far …far from finding my answers. Wouldn’t it be tragic?
So the nurse appears yet again to relieve her throat and I escape to the loo for a little cry. Yet again.
Composed, I return to the chair beside her and realize another lady is sitting there at the end of the bed. In my haste, I think she is one particular friend of hers that I recognize and give her a hug Hello. It’s not the women I thought it was and I feel a right Twat! God only knows what she thought 😚
So it seems this is another good friend I am yet to meet. She introduces herself. I take in her warmth, the super soft grey curls, and chocolatey soft voice. She’s a calming presence at the end of the bed. I can tell they are loving long term friends, I assume wrongly that she’s from the church. “No, I’m just her friend,” she says smoothly.
As time goes on I’m realizing my BM has told very few people about me, but those she has I don’t know until I’m confronted with them face to face.
Then comes the inevitable question “So who are you to her?!” I look at my BM for inspiration. I don’t know who knows her secrets do I and sadly now she can’t tell me….she gestures to her friend by pointing at me then laying her hands on her chest..several times she does this…the friend remains confused. Well she would wouldn’t she!?
I look at my BM and offer to enlighten her before it gets even more embarrassing…I translate that shes trying to tell her “She is Mine”…not strictly true but the sentiment is clear enough. Her friend looks shocked and surprised at this revelation. Not that close a friend then eh!? Boom! She didn’t see that one coming did she!?!
I explain I was adopted as a baby and found her about 6 years back. There isn’t really anything more to say. She goes “God is Good!” I laugh inside thinking how ironic that sounds given the desperate plight he’s dealt this life long believer. If he was that sodding good none of us would be sat in a hospital ward counting the months. and reeking of antibacterial hand gel. If he were that good she wouldn’t have spent three seasons, a Christmas and a recent Birthday in a fucking hospital ward…just saying…
The lady is excited and moved by this news. For me, it’s just another person I will never see again who knows who I am. Knowing what I know now I suspect my BM will not even recall that this lady knows her innermost secret. And probably only part of it.
You see it would appear that my BM’s comprehension and her retention of memory is quite seriously impaired. You’d never know to look at her. Couldn’t even guess it even without spoken communication. So without my knowing this at that point, I am of the assumption that we are communicating just fine….to a degree. We labor away at trying to guess what she’s saying for so long, that we often fell about laughing at how taxing the simplest statement appeared to be.
The discussion takes on a serious tone, at least between me and this lady friend… I want to know how come so many visitors come and go yet seemingly make no inroads to getting my BM home or at least moving on from this facility. She seems to agree as does my BM but that’s not an answer. I ask specific questions and establish it would seem she has no appointed Social Worker or even a legal rep acting on her behalf. Her official next of kin is her addict son who currently loafs uninvited in her house (alongside her so-called confidante gentleman friend who I met the last visit and since saw off for stalking me!). The elder of the men looking after the other by all accounts….because as you’d expect a 47-year-old with a gout riddled foot and head lice needs looking after!!? Not only can he not walk without two crutches, he couldn’t treat himself for fucking nits…..Way to go half bro!….Give me freaking strength. So you can imagine how confident I am that she was being looked after and that her interests are being considered effectively. NOT!!
Her self appointed proxy Next of Kin is her dear friend, we will call her Sadie here to protect her identity. A capable elderly gentlewoman, PC savvy and by all accounts switched on so I am confident she is a good choice
Both the maternal men-children are unhelpful in the scheme of things . One again enjoying free bed and board thanks to the generous tax payers, the other wallowing in his own self pity..Yet they glean information that I do not …which will change pronto..must start using that infernal password ..the hospital knows who I am now and agree I can be privy to updates. Time to take the horn on that particular bull- shit I reckon.
So I kiss her goodbye until tomorrow and then say how nice it was to meet her friend. I leave to make my way through the 5 miles of corridor to the carpark….take a few wrong turns and at last find daylight to meet my good friend PD, my Manchester ‘man on the ground’.
We hug…its particularly welcomed as I release the tension I’ve been holding in since my arrival. We update and he asks me what I need. A large drink I reply. As luck would have it he needs to take a detour and deliver some of his specialist Prosecco to a nearby bar.
A merry chatty half hour is spent in the cozy country-style pub bar with the staff, A large Shiraz slips down like welcome nectar. We discuss the current football matches in the city that weekend along with the Chinese New Year celebrations. The fact I’d ridden on the top of a double decker at the front for the first time since my childhood..Downside of that being the heaters are blowing out hot air from there and coupled with repeated menopausal hot flashes, I thought I’d melt before I got the see my BM.
I began to relax as we chatted and laughed about other non stressful topics ….or nonsense, whichever you want to call it.
The tensions of the day gradually lift and we wend our way back to his comfortable home for the evening. Easy chat about life with my friend and his lovely gentle wife make for a much needed relaxing evening.
Tomorrow can wait.
With morning comes fresh resolve. I’m armed with a note pad and kick arse inspiration to establish just what the fuck is going on with my BM care, and her future.
As I approach her bed this time no Bible. She is plaiting her hair. The more I see her do normal things the more I can’t fathom why the hell she is becoming institutionalized within the walls of this pioneering Hospital. I say Pioneering as I was told she was in THE best neurology Hospital in Europe. Great, I’m chuffed for her but why the hell is she still here after 9 months if its that freaking
l help her with her hair and persuade her that it looks fine. Sadly it really does but not by her exacting standards and I know I am a bad liar. I start telling her my plan. I will write a letter for her to sign, to the Social Services to establish who is her key worker. She is to sign it (I am hopeful) and a nurse is to sign it to show its not from me but is from her.
An hour flies by as we put together the letter. She signs with shaking hand and the first word before her name is lash…then she writes her name almost perfectly. After she asks what the first word is…I laughed that it was what I was on the night before.
It’s sad how I am already used to the silence when I used to hear laughter.
So I then learn from the staff nurse that in actual fact my BM does have a Social Worker and has met her, attended meetings with her and is very much in the system. Not slipped through the cracks of the social system as I’d allowed myself to believe the day before.
So much for the letter. But it was a good exercise for her brain and showed she is able to write her name.
At this point I am given the name and number of the Social Worker, the Occupational Therapist and assured that the doctor will give me chapter and verse on Monday.
She had given me paperwork to photograph and read at my leisure. From these medical documents I see her vocal cords are considered paralysed. Not cheerful reading.
A tearful goodbye and a taxi driver waiting at the wrong entrance and I’m off.
Back at the airport with plenty of time, for once, I relax with a glass of wine and a healthy late lunch of cheesy chips and bacon. I’m happily lost in drama on Netflix when my daughter sends me a frantic Whatsapp to advise her grandmother, my mother in law has slipped on decking and dislocated her shoulder. Imagine the nearby woman’s face when I exclaim “For fucksakes ” like someone with tourettes….
How much more fucking drama can we take..
Anyway she’s fine thankfully, it was put back in and they sent her home for physiotherapy.
I did make contact with the Social worker who at least seems to have a clue how to move her life forward even if it’s into a specialist Trachiostomy care facility. Time will tell as to what is her future. I do hope it’s brighter than it looks from within a hospital ward for four.
Thanks for reading my ramblings 😝
Love Black Sheep xx