I have a dozen blog posts in my head I’d like to write. But right now, I am struggling to organise my thoughts. I think they have been pretty chaotic for the last fortnight or so. Job rejections have hit me hard and I feel like I have no peace.
For some reason I have been reading adoption blogs. I can’t remember what made me start reading them. Something triggered a connection. I started reading Life with Boy and Girl, and from that I discovered 2newgirls (which I binge-read last weekend). I loved reading these blogs.
What I’ve noticed about these blogs is that the parents really acknowledge and try to understand their children’s behaviour/communication. Child development, or rather knowledge about child development, has really advanced in the decades since I was a child. Or maybe it hasn’t and it is just unfortunate people in my life were not able to have these type of discussions when I was growing up. Maybe this type of information and support was only accessible to a select few. I wonder how different my life would be if I had different/more support growing up.
Support was odd in the 1980’s. Social workers just seemed to check that I wasn’t being beaten up and that I was being fed and washed. My primary teachers were useless. I wasn’t performing well at school so I was ignored and left to it. Or I was called lazy. But really I just was afraid to talk to other people. Nobody noticed this, or if they did notice they didn’t see it as something that was a problem. That’s the main difference I am seeing in childcare today – we have now acknowledged that care is more than protecting from harm, it’s giving tools to help thrive. And those tools need to be given to parents and carers as well as the child.
One of the key things I’ve learnt over the past few years is that if something isn’t bad it doesn’t mean it’s good. There is a place in between. This is hard to explain to some of the people in my life. It’s like when I explained to my Dad that he was liable for hitting a stationary car which had stopped outside the drive he was reversing out of. The car was behind a hedge so my Dad couldn’t see it. That was enough for my Dad to think he wasn’t at fault. But in these things, there is more than right and wrong. More than one or the other.
I am still learning about myself. And then feeling sad that it has taken over thirty-five years to understand things about me. I only just realised this weekend how often my sadness presents as anger and vice versa. I got a job rejection that enraged me. I wanted to ask what was wrong with me because I am sure I meet the criteria (in fact, I’m certain because I’m doing the same job in a different university) and then my mind went wandering on to how I hate people telling me how good I am at things because then I feel embarrassed that I can’t get the job, then I wonder if their words are hollow because they pity me. Then I question what’s true and what’s not. I go around in circles until I’m sick.
Shame, guilt and failure seem to be underneath everything I feel. Whenever I try to explore my emotions I find them buried underneath.
I know I am hard to be around. I sabotage good things in my life, because I worry about them ending. I’ve done it three times already this month. I don’t feel safe enough to show my genuine emotions as they happen, whatever I am feeling I am showing a different emotion. Sometimes I layer so many feelings that I confuse myself.
I wish I had an outlet for my anger growing up. Rather than burying it, or turning it inward. Whenever it started making it’s way to the surface I was then chastised. My anger was always made to feel like my fault. In a similar way, my sadness was always turned into a thing that pained others – so I ended up doing the caring, rather than be cared for. I had to console people for my sadness because it hurt them too much. Maybe that’s why I swapped anger and sadness around, or merged them.
I never wanted to show any happiness. I remember the few times I did I felt like a spectacle. My joy was always pounced upon, not to diminish but to bask in. Because it was such a treat for my loved ones to see me looking carefree. Sometimes I remember their smiles and I thought that they were gloating, sometimes I thought that they looked relieved but I am sure that they were just happy. There’s nothing wrong with that. It just wasn’t what I needed. However, it was a natural response – we feel please when we see our loved ones happy.
How can a person, especially a child, navigate these experiences? What can you do when people’s reactions (which are well-meaning, kind and full of love) hurt you? It feels horrible to point this out but just as bad to carry the pain.