Treading water

Embroidery, Emotional management, Family, Stress, Uncategorized

It has been a while since my last post, frankly because I have been swamped with pain and drama.

On the pain front, I lost sensation in my right hand and have been forking out for physio and massage in order to get things working again. I was almost back to full function when there was a relapse, and I was back to being unable to turn my head to the right.  More massage, which sounds delightful but actually leaves you sore to the very touch.

On the drama front, none of it has been of my own creation but it is within my inner circle and therefore I’ve had to make some response to it. I mentioned previously that my mother had been diagnosed with cancer.  Turns out this was wrong, but on the other hand now she’s had a heart attack.  And the other involved a suicide attempt.  Fortunately unsuccessful.  The person who tried has only told me and while I appreciate the level of trust, it is at the same time a terrible burden.

So with all that, plus work and teaching, I am having a hard time keeping my head above water. I couldn’t care less about work and am wondering how I can structure my life so that I only need do as little as possible, and free up the rest of my time for what gives me energy and delight.

My hand issues have slowed down the embroidery but I am doing bits and pieces in the evenings. This photo is a simple experiment in colour and geometry, variations on circles on a background of chartreuse green wool.

I’ve attempted patchwork.  Not sure if this is really for me but I’m not shutting the door yet.  And on the weekends I have been doing textile related things but not ones that involved fine work.  I made an attempt at wax resist dyeing, but I forgot to add salt to the dye so the result is not going to be stable.  Plus I have discovered it’s a bastard getting the wax out after.

I also tried dyeing some yard with a natural dye.  Epic fail on my part.  I used the ivy trimmings from the garden, as I am constantly needing to stop the neighbours ivy jungle from taking over my place.  It turned green but despite using an alum mordant, both yarns refused to change.  If I was generous I could say that the cream wool turned from cream to a faint yellow.  Certainly there was no colour left in the pot but I am not sure where it went.

It’s probably a bit like my equanimity.

Allergic to work???

Adoption, Cancer, Diabetes, emotions, Family, Uncategorized, Work

I think I am allergic to work.  No, seriously.

I have spent the entire day forcing myself to pay attention, with my eyes skittering off the page like a toddler on too much red cordial.  The trouble is, this is the latest of a long line of jobs I have loathed.  My first job was when I was in high school.  That was decades ago.  I still feel exactly the same about work as I did then.  It’s tedious, exhausting, unrewarding and generally, a crapulous experience.  Hence, my conclusion.  I think I am allergic to work.  We’ve certainly had enough people over the centuries praising it as virtuous, character building,  blah de fucking blah.  But I have to ask myself, are they perhaps not shouting a little too loud?  It certainly seems like it to me.

It’s hard to avoid the modern rhetoric about the importance of work and career.  Indeed, I am conscious of the fact of the ongoing struggle of some women to even be able to participate in the workforce on anything like equal grounds.  I feel churlish about complaining about my lot, which has a window that opens, a door that shuts and plenty of freedom and flexibility.

Not enough freedom and flexibility, however, to be able to run with my essence.  I woke up this morning feeling like shit, and didn’t want to leave the house.  It’s nearly the end of the day, I still feel like shit and I want to be at home.  In bed.  With the cat. Period.  But I am not in any position to honour these feelings, to give them space and work with them.  One of the lessons of that I think we all need to learn is to honour our emotions, however challenging or difficult they are.  I have known too many who haven’t and in the process tend to have had more trouble, both within their own lives and with others, as a result.  Maybe if I’d stayed at home and accepted how I felt, I might have gotten through it quicker, and then when I got to the office, I’d have been ready to actually do some work.  But I’ve not been able to achieve a thing, because the urkness inside still wants its day.  So, end result is that I still feel like shit and I’ve also achieved nothing.

I do have good reason to feel this way.  My mother does indeed have cancer, in addition to heart disease and diabetes.  I’m crapping on the universe for giving me two mothers with cancer to deal with.  Such a lucky little adoptee.  But even despite this profoundly good reason for wanting to crawl under the doona and NOT COME OUT EVER AGAIN, I feel the same about work.  I felt like this before I got the news about my mother.  It has just made me feel my feelings about it even more strongly.

I wonder how many people would genuinely continue to go to their job if they didn’t need the money to pay the bills and feed themselves and their family if they have one?  Would you still do what you do if you didn’t get paid?  My answer is no.

Yet, if you were to consider my CV, you might think that it couldn’t possibly have been all that bad.  Maybe it wasn’t.  I certainly have met lots of kind, intelligent and wonderful people, some of whom have been become treasured friends.  I’ve found that I get to spend perhaps half an hour a day enjoying the company of my colleagues, and the remaining majority of the hours I’m locked to a computer screen.   Some of my work may possibly contribute to making the world a better place.  Emphasis on possibly.  Certainly that was my intent but you have no guarantees.  Did I enjoy the processes of work? No, not really.  Not enough to counter the depression and the exhaustion.  Am I in the wrong job?  Clearly the answer is yes.  What worries me is that there is no right job.  And that I have to show up here, day after day for at least the next two decades.

Oh happy thought.

 

Roses for revelation

Adoption, Diabetes, Family, Health, Roses

If only all revelations were as beautiful as this rose. Like many roses, she has multiple names. I found her by searching under the term ‘revelation’, with her full name of ‘Sweet Revelation’. She is also known as Chimene, Sue Hipkin or Hipken, and as Lady Jane Grey. She was bred by Harkness, and released in 1998. Harkness describes this rose as growing a metre high and sixty five centimetres wide, with a powerful scent and a unique bronze colour. In their catalogue, she is Sue Hipkin.

Photo by George Seguin, photographed in the Bagatelle Garden, Paris.  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Rosa_%27Chim%C3%A8ne%27#/media/File:Rose_Chimene_20070601_2.jpg

Photo by George Seguin, photographed in the Bagatelle Garden, Paris. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Rosa_%27Chim%C3%A8ne%27#/media/File:Rose_Chimene_20070601_2.jpg

This post started because I’d had an unwelcome revelation relating to my diabetes. While researching something that I thought was entirely unrelated, I discovered that my risk of developing diabetes had always been higher because I had never been breastfed. Children taken for adoption in the secret era usually weren’t.

Add another black mark to the experience of adoption.

What really astounded me was the coincidence between this rose’s names. When I was in primary school, I would often stay at my grandparent’s house where I liked to read their old books. That was how I discovered the story of Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England for a mere nine days. With ruthless manoeuvring, her parents put her on the throne following the death of Henry VIII’s son Edward in an attempt to keep Henry’s Catholic first born daughter, Mary, off the throne.

My grandparents were fiercely Protestant, or fiercely anti Catholic, and Jane’s story has been largely cast against this political background religious hatred and intolerance. This is not what struck me as a kid. I was being brought up to be irreligious, and the words Protestant and Catholic were just that, words.

Through her mother’s family, Jane had kinship with the Royal family. She and Henry VIII’s heir, Edward, were cousins. This lineage of hers turned out to be deadly. Jane might not have been beheaded if it were not for her father, in particular. His refusal to give up his ambition for power is what cost his daughter her life. It was the first time that I truly understood, with both my head and my heart, that family can indeed be dangerous.

While I was troubled and fascinated by the story of Jane all at the same time, the revelation helped me. It gave me a safe historical context to think about the purpose of families, and about how parents were supposed to behave. Not that this is a topic which I would ever have aired within my adoptive family. The subject was strictly verboten, and as the Australian research shows, those children who did not feel encouraged to talk about it, were more likely to have mental health issues later in life. So I struggled to find a way to come to terms with the knowledge that my parents had given me away. The concept that ‘family is dangerous’ that I formed after learning of Jane Grey’s fate helped me to understand that maybe the fault wasn’t with me. Just maybe, I was the innocent party instead of fault laden, defective child that I thought I was.

Was it a sweet revelation, as this rose’s name suggests? Ultimately, they both were. For the first, I feel more exonerated of the shame of having developed a chronic disease at so young an age. For the second, I remember the relief of my child self. It didn’t solve the situation I was in, and remain in, but it gave me a different, and more positive, perspective.