I came across this blog post of Pradeep’s on the Inter Country Adoptee Voices (ICAV) blog, where he asked this simple question “Have you already made an appointment with yourself”? At the beginning of the flourish course we were asked who we were, in a nutshell. I answered in a rather banal way, referring to myself as a chocolate. Pradeep invited me to revisit that and see if I can connect with who Joy really is:
I am Joy, adoptee, wife, mother, sister, aunt, daughter. Better at some than others, you will have to ask others which one they think I embody best. Relinquished at birth, and only just beginning to realise how much damage and trauma that has been done. Only now realising that that one action has affected everything I do. I don’t want to sound like a victim, because I’m not, but I do need to aknowledge the truth so that I can heal from it. Everything that I do, at the moment, is filtered through the expectation, that didn’t happen.
So now that I have cleared that up in my head, I can continue my appointment with myself.
I am Joy. Healer, wounded healer, working on myself first and foremost, but helping others heal themselves too. I nursed for twenty years, but that was not healing, that was helping people stay where they were. I didn’t see the significance of symptoms and disease back then, not until I read Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Yourself”, although back then I had no idea how may layers to the onion of healing there are.
My first role in life was as a daughter and sister. How good was I? I really don’t recall. Stories are told that I was a “good” baby, in that I didn’t really cry much, although there is no memory in the Gill family prior to me being 10 days old. Did I exhaust myself with crying those first ten days of life, in the maternity hospital, only to realise that my mother wasn’t coming back, and that lying quietly, not making a fuss was ok. I could do that, and would continue to do that most of my life, until things got unbearable, and then I would erupt. I didn’t learn early on to negotiate, flatter, flirt my way to get things done, all the ways that other, non-relinquished children, do. What comes naturally to them, has to be learnt for adoptees, and often comes at a price of numerous failed relationships. And so, in my first role as daughter and sister at one minute old, my ties and bonds to biological mother and sibling were severed. My 2 roles were assigned to strangers, birds of a different feather to mine, the cuckoo in the Gill nest. I left at nineteen, and never really returned. I became a nurse, I became a traveller. Did I travel to find myself or did I travel to runaway? Possibly both.
In 1990 and again in 1996 I became a mother. My journey into auntship began in 1979, or did it. That elusive sibling, severed at birth may have an older nephew to my auntship, but we are not in contact much. We do not know each other. In 2010 I became a wife. It has been a long hard strenuous journey, but I think we are amking progress. We understand each other. I have learnt that I need to reach out sometimes, to make my husband feel valued in the relationship. I can ask, I can negotiate, I don’t always have to cut up carpets to get my feelings across. But I still struggle to buy things for myself, or ask for them to be bought for me, is probably more to the point. Buying for myself, the expecation is realised, I get what I want, leaving it to others, again the expectation things rears it’s head. I am better off with nothing than having the expectation dashed. Queue Christian Dior tissue paper memory.
Joy functions from a dorsal vagal state ie collapsed and shut down. Life is more enjoyable if you are functioning from the ventral part. This part is stimulated by laughing, singing, smiling, dancing, all the things that make life pleasurable. (I will write more on polyvagal syndrome in future posts.) So my nervous system is constantly alert, constantly fidgeting. It is not easy for me to watch anything on TV without doing something with my hands. I occupy my hands with knitting or ironing, with pen twiddling, with solitaire or with facebook. If I can contain my hands then my feet tap. My husband sits and watches relaxed whilst I am twitching and fiddling.
I have just watched the Australian Open Men’s Singles Finals. I switched the laptop off, no facebook, no solitaire. I have no ironing, I have no knitting. I sat with a pen in my hand, but fought the urge to twiddle, or flip the top. I quelled the urge to tap my foot, and I listened to my body. I noted the internal un-ease within it, the minor tremors that register on the Richter scale, the nervous energy that I am alerted to, which my body is looking to deal with. There is nothing to do but watch the tennis, and yet my body is on flight or fight response, based on my relinquishment, by which all activities are switched on to that frequency. What is the danger here, watching tennis? The worst thing that is going to happen is that my favourite player is not going to win. No big deal eh? But in the process of watching, my adrenaline levels are high and my body reflects this inwardly if not outwardly.
Did I tell you that Joy likes tennis? Watching that is, especially Andy Murray.
For now I have had enough of this appointment with myself. I have another appointment with my fellow flourish friends in an hour and I need to meditate to et myself into a ventral vagal state. To be repesent for them. I will update you with my progress in Flourish with my weekly reflective post tomorrow.
Blessings and Joy, Joy
If you are an adoptee, and would like to join the Finding Joy Community on facebook then please do. This community is one for healing and support and is for adoptees only. They are plenty of groups on facebook to support others in the adoption triad.