“Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misconceptions.”-Gerald G Jampolsky
So there I am waiting at the station for my delayed train to Bristol. Heading to neutral ground to meet my Birth Mother. Its fair to say I am nervous. Not only because we haven’t actually spoken verbally in nearly two years, but also because I have a mind full of questions in my head which may peel back some painful layers. Things I have to ask. Subjects most people wouldn’t ever need to raise. Isn’t her history all part of my history ? Don’t I need to know how I came to have certain traits and habits. Nature and Nurture again…..
I want to know about my biological grandparents so I need to ask her about her childhood….much I already know but wanted to clarify feelings she had towards her parents . Build up a picture of a youngster back in the 1950’s and 60’s in Jamaica.
So as I sit on the station taking thoughtful looking selfies of my bone straight hair for Instagram, with my heart already racing. The train is delayed..by only 12 minutes but that may as well have been an hour. I knew from early texts that BM was en-route to our meeting place. A kind Cabbie friend of hers was driving her down to see me! I figured she was as nervous and apprehensive as I was. I mean we literally have communicated, well only by text and how much can you say?…the odd pic doesn’t really ‘speak’ does it. I text her from the train when nearing Bristol. Not been into Bristol for years, and they have redeveloped the station…just for me? It certainly felt like it when I arrived.
I say this because, although I admit my sense of direction is appalling , I can usually manage to find the way out of a railway station without too much trouble. Not today. Was it stupidity, poor signage, excitement or just nerves? Jumping off the train and texting Ok I’m here I head towards WAY OUT. So far so good. I know she arrived already as she was asking if I was in fact enjoying a cuppa in the cafe we agreed to meet in. NO I was lost in the bloody station actually. Why would they put Way Out on a platform?? All I saw was : I left one train on platform 7 , tried to get out and found myself on platform 13 ready to jump on another train?? What? So I turned to the nearest High Viz jacket and appealed to him to point me in the direction of day light! Finally she is there in front of me. Looks exactly the same as she did that Christmas. Greeting me with a Hug I thank her friend for bringing her to see me. Very charming (and more than a bit hot he is too;-) In a rugged Carib butch way, you know?! Anyway with smiles and a promise of him being in the exact same spot to take her home we stroll away from the station.
It is so easy and natural , both our nerves vanish right away. In fact we chatter all the way to the nearest pub . Now I’ve told you before my BM rarely drinks. She happily said she would have a red wine with me and nipped off to the loo. I grabbed menus and sat down with our wines and water. I wasn’t hungry yet and decided the menu pretty uninspiring so a drink and move on would be a plan.
As soon as we were sat facing each other it was like a weight lifted . We were two of only four in the whole place. Apart from a clearly hung-over barmaid with a ring in her nose, the other two patrons sat on a low level table. White haired gents reading the sports page, determinedly ignoring us as we sat down nearby. It was odd though as it was a huge place , suited me, as a busy bustling cafe wouldn’t lend itself well to the type of conversation we were likely to be having anyway.
She opened by saying it made her glow with love for me when I checked that her friend was a careful , safe and experienced driver! She was heartened by the way we had developed a relationship as it made up for the non-relationship she had now with my half-sister. I learned that she did still live at the same address (useful as I do intend to write…watch that space!). She had sent numerous letters and gifts despite being told in not so vague terms that she actually didn’t want to know. She had now been told 3 times by my Half-sister that she didn’t want any kind of relationship with her. She was visibly upset and I comforted her but in fairness I didn’t get why she kept pushing it. I did say “Well you know how determined you are and it might not fit well with her?” I pointed out that sometimes what you might desire is too far from what the other person wants and she was hurting herself . I said Stop now! She’s making it clear but its hurtful the way she is doing it. I cant judge her and wont be drawn into taking a side. I don’t know the girl do I? I am curious and might find shes an utter Tit but I will find out in my own time for me, not for her or anyone else.
I changed the subject as it was too sad for her. As we sipped our wine we chatted openly about her family. Without going into too much detail I learned that the most unlikely person of all my characters was on the way up. My BN has a job and is sorting herself out. Who knew? Keen to regain custody of one of her children (yes, one!) and trying to turn her life around…this was good news for sure. The other family members were in various states of drama but not going to elaborate. I will say however that we agreed that my resolve to have a relationship JUST with my BM has been 100% accepted and proves that digging my heels in has worked. I am confident in saying that the drama of her life now is her Normal. For me it is all too much for me to take on…my own life is a Comedy come Soap opera and that’s enough for me to manage! Most of her family are reliant on her strength and on her resilience and hearing of her life’s highs and lows I cant help but feel deep sorrow for her. Sorrow that is seems she really has no one for HER to lean on. No one who she can rely on? Which of course brings me to the Friendly Cabbie. I open with ‘OK , so you know I’m gonna ask…What’s with your gentleman friend? We laugh and establish hes a good friend but anything romantic is old news. ‘Shame’ I said, ‘hes nice! We giggle like school kids at the thought of her fling..But he was and is a really nice guy I protest. I tell you this as her response was poignant to me.
She said ‘ I know he’s nice but I need someone reliable, I want stability’ . She went quiet. You see from where I am standing I can sense this has never been something she’s enjoyed for very long in her life. No one has ever said to her Just you sit back and let me look after you. I felt sad. She deserved more. I broke the dip in the mood by giving her the gift I brought for her. I sat eagerly waiting for her to rip it open. She pops it in her bag stating a fact. ‘Why?, you know what it is, i’ll open it later! This was very true, I did but wanted to see her reaction. I found a little local pottery dish with the Lords Prayer on it, shopping in an Antique centre last week with Earth Angel. I also gave her a number of pieces of Rose Quartz including a mini carved Angel. I knew she would love those gifts as she has all my others. I was promised yet another huge bag of gifts from the car before my train home.
I asked her about her health. No major concerns for now, but forewarned is forearmed and all that right?. No more guess work.
We discussed her family, I do want to know but am certain I’ve made the right decision to keep it strictly between her and I. She does respect this now and is happy with this going forward. We talked about E and the impending funeral…and how she was bearing up. We mentioned Bad Soup lady and other characters in her life. Some news not so great, some encouraging. We both agreed BN and her job is positive but that she is not capable of raising either of her children. After all she is still really a child herself.
Now something I can always count on my BM for. A good belly laugh..sometime ago, she was explaining a new ingenious way she has of losing weight. Her and her friend wear bin liners under their clothes and walk until they sweat.She told me again how this works and tells me its important to strip off the plastic when you get home or you get cold. Said she’s seen people in her local steam room wearing them with the neck and arm holes cut out . I explained it was a Bin bag and didn’t actually have neck and arm holes but she just laughed. We imagined (god forbid) something happening to her in the park and ending up in Hospital. How would you explain that? With a serious voice she said You cannot use it in the Sauna though, in case it catches fire on the coals and melts!! Good point!Ha!
Which lead me to ask that if something did ever happen to her, did her sons know to contact and tell me..She assured me nothing was going to happen to her but said Yes they would do. That’s good then!Phew. There would be nothing sadder than if something happened and I never knew about it now we have come this far.
Deciding to stay put and not venture further into town, I suggested some nibbles to soak up the wine (and water FYI!!) . I have been on a fruit and detox for as long as I can remember so was throwing caution to the wind and opting for Cheesy Chips. “Not very healthy” she remarked..”And?” was my laughing reply..Good point, we would both have Cheesy chips and offset that with a bowl of healthy olives each! I went to order and it was soon delivered to our high table. Starving I grabbed my fork as the server went to get the vinegar.
Now as you know my BM is religious and I am not BUT I can afford to be respectful of her and her views as she is learning to be of mine. However, a tad embarrassing as the server approached I had to shake my head and wink to indicate ‘please wait’ as my BM blessed our offering. I wasn’t sure a measly bowl of cheesy chips and olives needed a blessing but hey , who am I to say!? So she blessed the cheesy chips (sure they were very flattered) thanked God for bringing me and keeping me safe and in her life. Now I took a look at this scenario from a different angle…You see it summed up exactly how I feel about her now. I RESPECT her dedication to her faith. I ENJOY her company now we have come to a deeper understanding. I SENSE that we have so much more in common than I realised,not just a shared humour, but our values and foresight when it comes to ‘what might happen if’ scenarios. For example I am constantly thinking about my dear Dad and trying to put preventative measures in place ‘to avoid crisis’ Most of these plans are refused but they are effective at least in my head. I TRUST her now. It took some time and a great deal of inward thinking. I do now forgive her for her actions and mistakes towards me….
Hang on…Now would you look at that!? R.E.S.T . Yep, I am finally at peace and my turmoil fuelled mind can finally REST. Comfort only comes from such a peace and I honestly feel now I have found exactly what I set out to find over 3 years ago.
You know something else … These points also apply towards my Mother. Finally I can lay to REST the ghosts of our issues. What’s the point in holding onto the pain?, the real pain comes from keeping it close. It’s under the dustsheet and that’s where it needs to stay.
Let me take you back to 1969. As a tiny bundle, one of these women travelled the most painful journey and handed me over to the other (via the authorities) . The first one had so little that my clothes had to be borrowed from the Social Services. Letters suggested that a baby grow and cardigan would need to be found for me to make the exchange. My kindly Social Worker provided me with this information. It hurt me at the time but actually now I see it as going some way to shaping who I am today. Thanks go to my Social Worker for his patience and his understanding of how I really did need him on the day he furnished me with the ‘facts’
Perhaps all those years ago, had these ladies met face to face, the reaction to my seeking out the answers would have been quite different. The second woman would not have seen the first as such a threat at this point? And furthermore the first woman would have gained closure and relief in knowing how well I would be cared for. Who knows?
The second of these women and her husband collected me and welcomed me into their family of 4 with open hearts and open arms. My Dad brought up the ‘exchange’ in his speech at my first wedding. He told the tale of how he was handed this bundle in a yellow knitted cardigan and asked ‘Will this one do?’ to which he replied ‘Yes, she will do just perfectly , thanks! . There wasn’t a dry eye in the house of course and many were astonished to hear my Dad tell this tale, as he rarely gets to express his side of things. I am well loved and have been all my life. Nothing has been as successful as my adoption. If you like I am my parents ‘life-time achievement’. I truly mean this.
If one day either of these amazing ladies were to read this, I truly hope the positive message of my Journey is loud and clear. My story is to share the ups and downs of this dramatic change in your life. If it helps only a handful of people to realise the potential they have to enrich their lives with the answers they are so rightly entitled to. Don’t be afraid to take a risk. It might turn to hell in a handcart OR it might just bring a new dimension to an already fulfilling life? Who knows?
It is also a sort of ‘self-help therapy’to enable me to make sense of it all. I make mistakes, I know I am only human but I hope those around me make allowances for me from time to time.
OK so we may spark off each other but basically I love two Mothers. One as a dear friend who I need as a major player in my life. But only her (for now).
The other is my MUM. It’s that simple. She makes me cry, makes me flare up and she knows every Black Sheep Button there is. But hey , I guess most Mums do the same. She is aware of her mistake and how she’s hurt me. She cannot take it back. Its done. She is too proud or scared to venture into an apology that would make sense. I tell her we need to put it to bed, let it lie. Leave it be as it will blow up in our faces again. I cannot mentally go back there again for the sake of all those I hold dear. I know many who no longer have a Mum and then there’s me …with two?. I sometimes feel guilty for not just accepting things as they are. To these friends , who know who they are, I hope you understand me.
Don’t get me wrong they are two totally different people so I cannot and would never compare the two. I never discuss one with the other in terms other than day to day mundane stuff…certainly not since the reaction of both at the point of me finding my BM. My Mum and I are working on regaining the closeness we once had, and hopefully one day we will again dance to the same tune without feeling the new dimension of my life is a threat to the music?
However one thing they both have in common, whether they know it or not.
This is my message to them now…its simple really and even though I am at peace with them both, I still feel emotional over the realisation , as I don’t say it to them directly…..
I LOVE YOU BOTH…………..
Thanks for reading ….
A new chapter to my life story will introduce you to a new Character? Watch this space…..the journey certainly isn’t over by a long shot!!