I don’t really use this blog to talk about theory. Or anything useful really. It’s just a brain-splurge place. That’s good though, it gives me somewhere to unpack and leave things.
My week at the Tate has been really insightful. I finally feel secure around everyone on my course (it takes me a good six months to trust people) and I feel like a student. Meaning, I feel inspired and full of ideas – I feel like I’m growing and that makes me feel like I’m doing something right. I am finally in the mindspace I expected to be in.
Interestingly, I’m not actually a student anymore. Technically anyway. I had been getting no communications from my course since I started in October. I had been getting notifications in StudentCentral but no emails. I figured it was because I’m on an art course and we are more practical than theoretical. I raised the issue with my course leader and he sent me a test email, which I received so I thought it was all OK. I spoke to a classmate and she mentioned an email so a discussion with ServiceDesk began to take place. It went nowhere because they asked me what I was expecting to see and I was too tired to explain that I don’t know what I am expecting to see because I’m not seeing it and I’m the only person in the university doing my specific qualification. Blah blah blah. It turned out that I had been put on my modules, but not my course. It came to light that I had intermitted from my whole course, rather than the module I fell behind on. So next week is figuring out what to do next…
I’m not writing about this because I’m upset or critical – I just think it’s interesting that I finally feel like a student (rather than a lost mouse) at a time when I’m not a student. I may not be able to be a student for the rest of this academic year because it appears I cannot intermit on individual modules.
I was also informed that my private counsellor has had a change of policy at her workplace. Now, appointments need to be weekly rather than fortnightly. That means I’ll be spending over half my income on counselling. I can’t afford that. But I’m so afraid of cancelling. Mainly because I don’t want to inconvenience her – which in itself is a sign of how badly I need my counselling. I won’t be able to get counselling at university anyway because I’m no longer a student! Gah! What a mess.
Anyway, one of the things that has been playing on my mind a lot is the idea what is real. The real has been an influencing issue for me for a long time. I was adopted as a small child and my classmates in playschool and infant school knew this. It was a small town and I think their parents just liked to gossip. There’s nothing wrong with gossip – I love gossip myself. Though I do think gossip can be bad if people don’t realise their listeners do not have a full understanding of what they are saying.
My classmates often commented on my being adopted (and my teacher didn’t do anything to address that – she was a cowbag anyway for a number of reasons). My classmates were not cruel per se, but they did make me constantly question the validity of my feelings. I remember things such as my Grandad dying and being very confused and upset – I remember two classmates telling me that I had nothing to be sad about because he wasn’t my real Grandad. My Mum decided I should go to school because I was too young to understand what was happening – but I was left disorientated and I kept staring at the calendar because I didn’t understand why we had changed the weather forecast and why time was moving. Then I got told off for not working and my teacher made me sit at the front of my class and eat my lunch even though I didn’t want to. I told my parents that I hated my teacher many times but they kept telling me to go back to school and behave or whatever.
Things like this made me feel torn. Also things like my classmates not thinking my birthday was significant because I was given away (there’s a lot to unpack here – especially around the idea of a mother’s unconditional love…). I’d go to school and things that had upset me at home did not matter because I was made to feel that they weren’t real. As a small child, most things you do out of school revolve around family so my whole life outside the classroom wasn’t real. Naturally, this had an impact on my home life. I wanted to be somewhere real so I distanced myself from others and resented people coming into my space. This hurt my family who were trying to bond with me (and bonding was hard enough for them already because they had their own issues to deal with). I started having recurring nightmares about having to pick my real mother out of a line-up. I never could. Then one day my Dad played a funny trick on me by challenging me to a race home – he took a sneaky shortcut home and when I arrived and saw him I was full of fear about this man who had managed to replace my Dad without anyone but me noticing. Of course, my being upset was just me playing up.
I am not going to bash my parents. They had a very Victorian-style upbringing and they probably did not know how to handle my emotions. I still see it when they interact with other children – they seem to treat crying as random outbursts rather than something that has a trigger. It probably didn’t help that my teacher kept talking about my lack of participation – they were from a generation that would not dare question the methods of a professional! They saw my lack of participation as my bad behaviour, rather than a response to the behaviour of my classmates.
A few months ago a colleague told me that she knew someone who was adopted and it’s not uncommon. She then went on to say that it’s no big deal and nobody treats adopted people differently. At the time I packed the anger. She’s right in a way. But she says that with adult experience. I cannot spot an adopted person as I walk down the street, they don’t get singled out because of their appearance. The otherness arises in institutions. When I go to the GP and he asked about my family history with certain conditions and I say I don’t know so he marks no on the screen instead of unknown. The otherness happens when people know. Then the always predictable questions… “Have you met your real mother?”, “Do you want to?” and the one I hate the most is “Aren’t you interested where you came from?” From that moment onwards, you are different.
Since starting this course I understand my feelings are always real. Even if they stem from an impossible place. I have no reason to feel uncomfortable around people, but I do. I often use to try to push anxiety, anger and/or depression aside because I believed they weren’t real. How could they be? They aren’t physical things. They aren’t always connected to my experiences. They happen out of nowhere sometimes. But they are real.