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(i)

not
linen
sheets
or folds of opaque ice
a trill chorus
of robins at dawn

not stacked wood -
unfamiliar hunger.

not fresh splinters or
seldom seen wool.

I do not bring to mind blue skin
strangled by laces
or the futile windows
of the old cabin.

nor the feel of
the breath
of kingdoms;
when new things arrive
they seldom choose
winter

not
a cracked axe handle - last years flint
gone to rust.

silence – stillness.

(ii)

signals of life;

distant campfire smoke
small motions of
coats through pines

gunshot of a falling
oak branch


a new path to the road.
Under charcoal painted
pagan skies
the full and shining moon is the iris-eye
of the Cyclops God
slowly watching -
and blinking,
as clouds ponder their way
through the web of the night
across the line of his one-eyed sight.

His gaze lands soft and silver
upon the green earth,
where purple anemone
and dulling bluebells
turn crayon-pastel
and lurch away,

longing to speak again
the days lost language of light.

Be quiet!
there are echoes of truth
in our Cyclops moonlight vision
if you sit for long enough
you will feel;

soft turmoil upon the forest floor -
the drumming beat of
vibrant liquids
agreeing as one
to dry the soaking hearth, come morning.

And He will sleep then
through the light of the day
when diurnal heart-beats patter
and frolic;

where reflections rise
and a sharp glint falls
across the eagle eyes
and the elks soft crimson skin.

Upon those first warm rays of dawn
he will have retreated
to be
the shadow of the great elm tree
and the great Sun in the sky
will dispel rumours of him
the Cyclops God -
laughing at the stories
of a one-eyed, night-time King,
calling him a myth
and a legend.
Judgement Day(s)

There is only one thing worse than facing your fears and that is Waiting to face your fears. My judgement day would take two months.

My first experience of the shadow that would rule my life was after 7 blissful months hibernating in-utero. A mans voice, cold and deep arrived through my mothers skin, into my body/mind.  Its tone at once cold and unnatural, its message - though not understood - turned and hurt me with unseen force as I nestled inside the womb. I hold the frozen memory of that voice in my bones and in my flesh, the chill of it's flat pitch sits festering in the cartilage of my heart, even now.

His words washed my mother and I with a sickness and a fear.  I could feel it seeping through her skin into her core.  Him asking her question in the considered voice of a wraith. Her mumbling answers, weak, young, tepid. I could feel the power of his words reverberating through the womb - my mothers muscles tightening -  the contraction of her heart, the strange ebbing of her youthful energy, the disappearance of her love, overridden by doubt and self loathing.

We would take better care of the child than you could....the baby needs a family, you are unwed, you are poor, you cannot do this, let us help you, we can take him, we can find someone to look after him...there are good families who cannot have children.

I felt her pain like the branding of a calf and instinctively, I shrivelled and clutched, hugging myself in an attempt to heal an unknown wound. I became weary, aware that something was coming and not knowing exactly what.... preparing for a fate my mother had telegraphed to me through her anxiety.  

After the visit the fear remained like the shadow of black tar. Still in the womb, I slept less, became more vigilant. Later the doctors would call it hyper-vigilance. Though I stayed in the womb for another two months, my mother had psychologically separated from me from that time on, we had become other people, where previously we were one.  Unconsciously I wondered if I had made some mistake inside her. Had I erred?, Was I somehow fractured and faulty?

So came the waiting and even worse, the fear of another day of waiting and then another. Of knowing something was coming. A judgement day that you know you have already somehow failed.


Birth

Into the light and I was ripped from between her legs, breach, bloodied, I must have grabbed and grappled at my mothers inner thigh, searching for some hard flesh to anchor to. Frantically waving my arms, lashing out to leave a bloodied handprint on her skin, an identifying fingerprint, in the hope she could use it to find me again.

I am sure she was sobbing, then screaming, then sobbing again as her energy peaked and waned. I am sure I could hear a final wailing as I was wiped clean in a near room and wrapped quickly into blanked. Then a final wail - not from any physical pain.

The author J. Chilton Pearce tells us that is takes around 45 minutes of separation of the birth mother from the newborn for the newborn to go into shock. This manifestation of immediate trauma hard wires the brain from point zero in the child's life and effects cognition, emotions and physical health. It also creates hyper-arousal and a constant lifelong need for vigilance. Why am I alone now? What is coming? How can I protect myself?  

In the room with the other lost and frightened children, I screamed for what felt to me, like the eternity of all eternities. Searching for my mother still, no choice of fight or flight, with me being so small, so helpless. The only thing is to numb the body and disassociate the mind. I began floating, floating, not being me, not the infant, not the pain of that body, the fear is back there in the flesh, I must find a place to get away - so off and into the pure mind, into the ether.


Orphanage

My history shows two months in a Catholic Adoption Orphanage, where I was bottle fed, (apparently bad on the bottle as most abandoned children are) and I suffered from a series of chronic stomach problems.  I cried and cried when the nurses left me alone and sat well below the growth and weight curve for the 8 weeks.

What history wont show is the death that I felt there, and the overwhelming loss. The guilt, shame and utter confusion.  Had I killed my mother? Was she dead? Was it my fault? Why are we not together? What has happened?

With the post traumatic stress of the separated child, the levels of serotonin reduce dangerously, adrenalin skyrockets and the child feels uncomfortable and even fearful of its own skin.  

I was not alone in the orphanage, we were all at once restless and lost.  A crying chorus of the frozen, the broken and the vigilant.


Taken

The Catholic Adoption Agencies of the '70's did very little in the way mental heath reviews on adopting parents.

Any real work here may have hindered the adoption process and therefore the transactional opportunity for the Church. As there was limited choices for medically induced fertility at that time, any careful psychological digging would have uncovered a very real and deep trauma hidden in adoptive parents. Simply put many of these "would be" parents are only in the position of having to adopt because they have recently learnt that they can never naturally conceive children of their own.

The strongest grief here is reserved for the adoptive Mother, wether she cannot conceive or her husband can never give her children of their own, she arrives at an adoption agency in the 1970's already a troubled and deflated Woman. Such was the case with my adoptive Mother.

My adoptive Father, a good man, had apparently contracted a rather spirited case of the Mumps at 15 years of age that had rendered him unable to father children. I was unsure if my Mother knew this at the time of their marriage but by the time she sat in front of the Nuns of the orphanage she had 2 years of grieving and crying and feeling at a loss herself. This internal grief at the loss of a specific part of her womanhood had led to a deep depression and she was now desperate to fill a void in her heart and fix her mental state by adopting a child. A secondary and not ideal option that was never acknowledged by the Catholic Agents.


Home?

Adoption should never be seen as a fix for infertility and it will never replace the real and obvious connection of mother and child built through conception but it was this very fix my new mother had expected.

A short, fastidious woman, in hindsight she was obviously deeply wounded. She would clean the whole house daily - obsessively,  she would cry, she would sob at night. She was angry and melodramatic. She would tell us that she had feelings she was going to die at the start of a New Year, that she wouldn’t see the year out. She told us that she should have listened to God and never had children at all. She would scream out at night, feigning breathing difficulties in the hallway, sending my Father and I out into the hall to pick her up off the floor and ensure she could take air into her lungs. Only in adult hindsight do we see she was possibly bipolar.

At an unknown age, they both sit me down and tell me I am adopted - that I am Special, I am loved. Your mother loved me so much she gave you away.  Its a loving gesture and one of transparency, but to the child it can never add up.  I now try to equate the relinquishment of myself by my birth mother to the emotion of love. From there things get complicated.

The conscious observations begin to arise; I don't have my parents eyes, I don't have my cousins smiles, I don't share their passions, I cannot find mine.

My adoptive Father buries himself in work and goes missing from my Mothers moods. My Mother continues her daily screaming matches and her negative, paranoid thinking. All of this of course was borne of grief but the child in me further blamed myself. The hyper-vigilance remained and even gained momentum.

Like many teenagers, I spent my early adolescent time obsessing about my sense of self, my sexuality, my value and my worth. But on top of this, huge waves of guilt came in from unknown places, attaching itself to ridiculous events and from there a shame festered underneath my pimply skin, trapped and acidic, sitting silent beneath my changing body.

I felt terror at every turn, real terror, that led to a further sense of disconnection to my inner self. I adopted an attitude of a short life with death just around the corner. I was always only just alive, under the gigantic shadow of an unremembered loss.

Sometimes I hear adoptees refer to themselves as the walking aborted, It's a terrible but adequate description.


Older

As a young adult, I developed a mild Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, enough to cause obsessions and issues but a small challenge compared to some who are cursed with this insipid nightmare on a big scale. From there it turned to debilitating guilt and shame that flows through the mind and body like a swollen brown river.

My cross to carry now is that guilt and the shame. I spent twenty years linking these two powerful emotions to external actions or events, or events I imagined into crimes that left a trail of hurting and dead behind me.  Now I am older, I have the clarity to look into my "self" and see the links of these emotions to the separation at birth from my Natural Mother and the adoption process itself.

The guilt sucks you in, pushes you into a crumple of psychic paper. The shame strips you of self esteem and your worth. The fear of what trauma is next is always there and the fear becomes a terror in the dark night that you can never, ever escape from.

The shadow is always coming.

One way of treating victims of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (which almost every adoptee has) is to consistently refer back to the time before the trauma, to give the patient a sense of perspective and a chance to root themselves back to a period before their lives were turned upside-down. For the adoptee that is not possible. There is no pre-trauma self to relate to and as the event is pre-verbal, it is often hard to express in words.

Now

I have a great life so far. Many of the people I speak to or hear from have had it tough, really tough, with mental or physical challenges, cultural or professional setbacks.

So I have written the above not as a complaint, but with love and compassion, in the hope that other adoptees, or others in the adoptive triad, can feel that they are not alone and that there plight and fate is not there’s to live through by themselves.

I have kids now and can see myself for the first time, in an external sense. What a miracle that is! I can grapple a sense of self from them and they help heal my inner child.

I am not a victim. This is not the statement of a victim, happiness remains a choice for all of us. This is a message the adopted child or adult. You are not alone.

As an adoptee, the hatred, anger and frustration you feel are yours, but they are not yours alone, many of us feel them.
As an adoptee, the fear, guilt and shame that you feel are yours, but they are not yours alone, many of us feel them.

I am not against adoption - it is still necessary in our world but it must be conscious.

There are paths to healing and there are paths to light, and sometimes, deep in the lost forest of your own mind, the best guides you can find are simply all the others, travelling through the lost forest beside you.

Reach out if you can.

Thanks for reading.

Chris.


Recommended reading:
Coming Home to Self - Nancy Newton Verrier
Journey of the Adopted Self - Betty Jean Lifton
Being Adopted, The Lifelong Search For Self - Brodzinsky, Schecter and Henig
6 deviations
        time dissolves material things for you.
for me it scrapes at the tight heartbeats of childhood
it patterns the senses
and carves new synapse for my sorrows.

fear not though my dear - we will together
roll in other waves, on other days


ii. Sleeping (dreaming/coping)

sometimes I wake to the hidden nocturnes – rustling
sometimes to the day’s first birds – high in the willows
the dawn births their silhouettes from the darkness.

mostly I am here, thick in the silence – stagnant and still like a loch
swollen to the memory of things  
faded teacups, the bare wire of the washing-line

iii. Economy (of daily memory)

dusk, me. the old granite-quarry workers day is complete.
Fords throw up ochre dust along the roads
back to town
to neon bars  - they herd in like tired sheep

to moan away the relics of the day
but since the Note - all actions are altered - something lost
along that slow corrugated way – my rusty old work shirt
the tired, lonely day
(this quiet somber night.)

iv. Message from the her in Spirit (slumbering earth)

I watched, one with the wind,  where he could feel me -
he wore a new path from the barn through the snow
and into the woods – he walked it daily, like a message.

fallen pine gathered slowly by the side of the house
in tiny barrels - the splitting block wore smooth
with long metal scars
the days shortened.

he wondered how much deeper the world could fall
before it pulled itself back to light – recalled itself,
remembered to produce itself again.

v. Dreaming (of the living)

I didn’t come
appearing to you in your dream tonight.
you, my love –
you came appearing in mine.

vi. Dusting off (silver bed pans)

we never had the time for children
makes for a lonely room in the end
the night nurse rushing
with her clipboard-care smile

I notice my bodies – irregular.
a sense of senses expanding,  
cells detaching from auras,
one-by one. discarding. I am leaving
 – smells of a newborn in the room next door,

the laughter of a child running along the corridor
a new moon,
far different than the one I lived with -
and to her.

i. The End (the note from Her)

time doesn’t dissolve all material things for me
like
samsara
samsara: A wandering through - The cycle of death and rebirth - the clinging of the material world...
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brassteeth
Christopher M
Artist
The willows are thinking again about thickness,
slowness, lizard skin on hot rock,
and day by day this imagining transforms them
into what we see: dragons in leaf, draped scales
alongside the river of harried, spring-stirred silt.

Summer Grass

Roo Borson


Short Journey Upriver
Toward Oishida

Current Residence: Annahoriasticin
Favourite genre of music: Country or Western
Favourite style of art: Literature
Favourite cartoon character: God
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Quotes from the Masters

"Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery."

— Cormac McCarthy

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Scarlettletters Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2015  Professional Writer
Thanks very much for faving my work. I greatly appreciate it.
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hell-on-a-stick Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2015  Professional Writer
shiny smiling devil. 
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thetaoofchaos Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2015   Writer
Thanks for the support!
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FrodoK Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2015  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you
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LancelotPrice Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2015
Thank you, Christopher, for adding me to your watchlist and for faving 'foggy headlights'. :)
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thetaoofchaos Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2015   Writer
Cheers!  Hope you're going well.
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:heart:
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Thank you very much!
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Thanks for faving my work. I appreciate the support.
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