Own two feet


Pattern cutting
January 18, 2011, 12:04 pm
Filed under: Moving on | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I reach for my girlfriend’s hand, squeeze it tight and stare into the darkness of the hospital monitor. A flicker, a flash and then a head, a big head.

I can feel the pressure of my girlfriend’s hand and I already know she’s crying. I stare into the darkness. I see a tiny leg kick and then a bright white hand waves across the screen. I feel a thousand clichés pour out of me and I want to stand up and hold the monitor close to my chest.

I turn to my girlfriend and tears are rolling down her face. She is smiling, the midwife is smiling, and I can feel the happiness silently screaming out of me. I swallow it back down and stare back to where my baby is growing. ‘Everything is as it should be’, the midwife says.

As soon as we both get home I change into my running stuff and head back out into the night. I run harder than normal in the hope that if I can tire out my body I will also exhaust my mind. But my mind runs faster than my legs and I run to the flashes of my own childhood and the imagined childhood of the baby growing inside my girlfriend’s stomach, oblivious of what is waiting outside.

I cannot help but remember. The past more present than ever.

I remember all the spaces where my mum and dad should have been but were not there. I think of that helpless child and cannot understand how my parents let me slip away from them. My baby is not even fully formed, but I love it like crazy. This love is so pure that it doesn’t need explanation and it is the same love my parents felt for me, but yet it wasn’t enough to make them keep me.

It is when I start to think a little bit deeper and remember a little bit more that I am able to understand that what happened to me had nothing to do with how much my parents loved me. They both came from upbringings that were hard. My dad’s I know little of, but whenever I go to see him sing with his band, I can hear an echo of something darker  that lies behind the smiles and showmanship.   

My mum I know more of. I know she was abandoned by her own parents and was later picked out from a sea of faces in an orphanage to be adopted by an elderly couple. Her life from there was one of abuse, secure units, drink, drugs, exploitation and confusion. Her own parents, a drunk and a not very good bank robber, set a pattern, a pattern that she continued.

Patterns are hard to break. They link families for generations for good and for bad. When you grow up in care that pattern is deep and strong and breaking it takes a mighty effort. Sometimes you just accept it because when you hurt so much and have been through so much it is all that you know. Sometimes you reach out and there is nothing there. You come home after a bad day at school and you’re surrounded by strangers on shifts at a children’s home, or foster carers who you know are only short term.

The pattern weaves itself into your skin and your behaviour. Your parents’ problems, insecurities and bad habits become your own, and it is hard to find a way out. But chains break and we are not slaves to the blood that courses through our veins. Nor are we slaves to our childhoods. We should never forget our heritage and where we are from, but those things are not our masters, we always have choices no matter where they may hide.

I understand that for some, the weight of the past can be too much to bear and if there is not the support of others to help carry it, then people can be crushed by their pasts and all the insecurities they breed. But, as I’ve said before, if people can get a hold of their past and be able to explore it with support and guidance, that can become their ultimate strength.

My mum’s past for many years left her broken. She fell into a trap all too familiar and did not want to take me down with her. So she gave me up. She wanted more for me then she could give. I can’t say I have ever escaped living in care or the pain that it brought me, but I have got a hold of these demons and now they work for me.

Now it is my turn to become a parent, though I still feel like a child, and to help bring a new generation into the world. Now I get a chance to smash a pattern that has run through my family for many years and perhaps many generations.

I know I will make mistakes, loads of mistakes, but I will keep trying. A part of me is scared, but a bigger part of me is excited because I believe now I will truly see that my time in care was a real success.

Sometimes it is important to reflect on the past and to look through all the rubbish and the tears and the rejection and the pointless meetings and the social workers and the Christmas’s and Birthdays when you missed home and think I am still standing here after all that… now I want more.

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9 Comments so far
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This needs to be a book, i look forward to reading these and am always moved by the words. Why hasn’t a publisher snapped this up?

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Comment by carole

Amazingly written, very poignant, and beautiful. A brilliant post, as always.

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Comment by Michael

I love your blog, I work with young people in care, aiming to break that pattern you write about by offering them activities and experiences that they might not otherwise have access to, and I truly hope it helps. You have very inspiring words, but also give a good understanding of what it is like to be in care from a your own perspective. Thank you.

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Comment by Andy

What a beautifully written and thoughtful piece. These columns are always so insightful. Thank you.

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Comment by Henrietta Bond

What a brilliant blog this truly is. It really is food for thought, and always very moving.

Above all of that, though: congratulations. What beautiful news that is.

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Comment by Amy

A really interesting read and congratulations on becoming a dad. When it happens.

Your story sounded so familiar to me that at first I wondered if I knew who you were!

There are some really important points here. To pick just two.

You are absolutely right about experiencing family life in foster carer. Far to many FC try and exhibit an unnatural peaceful lie when mayhem is boiling under the surface. They are people not robots, though of course many social workers would have real issues about being natural and honest and not covering everything up.

The second is about fees,putting my hands up here I get a damn good professional fee. I worked it out once it was over 90 p an hour!!

Fostering has enabled me to be home all the time and bring up my own children alongside the ones I foster.

I don’t do it for the money, but without the money I could not do it.

Good luck and I think you should be looking at finding a publisher too.

Rhys

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Comment by Rhys

What a brilliant blog. Your work needs to be published.Congratulations on becoming a Father.

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Comment by Elad

Hello, the whole thing is going well here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s really fine, keep up writing.

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