A little while ago, someone I’d known for a number of years, made the comment, ‘so how did you turn out the way you did’? The conversation was along the lines of having been born into a pretty good family who valued education and sent the four of us to private schools. Yet my values and actions did not seem to correspond with this ‘privileged upbringing’.
I’ve thought about this a lot – it’s only been relatively recently that I have realised I’m not so strange, not actually the ‘black sheep’, the one who didn’t belong, who didn’t turn out the way she ‘should’ have. But it’s a wonder I turned out ‘ok’ and managed as well as I did…
More recently, I found a folder that held all the documentation of the processes after my car accident in 1980, at the age of 13. I spent those years, from 13 to 18, being poked, prodded, assessed, treated and constantly observed for the effects of having been in this accident. Reading over my mother’s notes, letters from solicitors, doctors, ‘professionals’, about my ‘development’, provokes memories of a time of turmoil, but also feelings, reactions and defenses that remain a part of my character.
Funny ha ha – guess which of these was written by a man? When I say poked, prodded, questioned, cross-examined, it was always by older men, ‘professionals’ who seemed to have no empathy for how I might have been affected by their manner, their probing questions, them always trying to either find out what was ‘wrong’ with me, or trying to prove there was just nothing wrong, that I was simply a rotten person – nothing to do with the accident or its aftermath. The one (female) professional who showed any empathy recognised the person I was/could have been, the vulnerability of my situation, and tried to help by recommending “she seek a counsellor/confidant but she found the idea unappealing…”. Was it any wonder?
I wrote a journal throughout all of those years (hey, pre-internet – now I blog!) and a persistant refrain was that ‘they‘ all wanted me to be something I never wanted to be – ‘their’ version of ‘normal’.