Friday, 17 April 2009

Letters....or not?

Whilst growing up as an only child, I never had any desperate desire for siblings. I was sociable and able to make friends easily and, as a child, it seemed that my friends blessed with siblings only spent their time together fighting or arguing! Maybe as an adult, though, it might be nice to have an extended family? We are a very small family, and spread fairly widely in the UK and abroad, but then I would come back to the old saying ‘you can choose your friends, but not your family’ and think that maybe good friends were better than a big family. It was still peculiar to think that there were three people out there in the world who were my half-siblings, related to me by blood, and of course the possibility of other relatives too. However, I’d discovered the information that I needed and so that should be the end of the matter. I prepared myself to close the book in my mind and move forward in my life.

I was therefore surprised to receive a letter a few days later, forwarded to me by Maria from Wyn. The letter had been written to Maria, with Wyn saying that she had received a very nice note from me, thanking her for the information and photograph, but stating that I obviously didn’t want to keep in touch because I hadn’t given my address. Now, I know that Wyn didn’t specifically say that she wanted to continue our contact in the form of correspondence, but Maria and I both read between the lines and drew the same conclusion – that Wyn wasn’t closing the door on me. Once again, I made it quite clear to Maria that I wasn’t seeking (or expecting) a meeting with Wyn, but it might be rather nice to just keep in touch as friends. So this is what happened between myself and Wyn; we wrote to each other every few weeks and I even took a bit of a gamble by sending her a photograph of myself. In her next letter, she said that I certainly looked like her. I also received a Christmas card from Wyn and, soon after, another (unprompted) photograph of Wyn at her retirement party. I had sent her both a retirement and a birthday card. This pleasant exchange had lulled me into a false sense of security, so that I was shocked when I received Wyn’s next letter in which she informed me that my appearance had made her ill (this was the first I’d heard of any illness), that she was now on medication and having counselling thanks to me (again, something else that hadn’t been mentioned before), and finally that she didn’t want to hear from me again so that she could enjoy her retirement.

This is not a criticism of Norcap, but I hadn’t been warned at any point about the possibility of both acceptance and rejection – I had assumed that it would either be one or the other. I still tried very hard to see my appearance from my birth mother’s perspective, but it was becoming increasingly difficult. My being hypersensitive and over-emotional compounded this – I take everything very personally. My birth mother wasn’t getting at the baby she gave up; she was getting at me. It was at this point that I did the one thing that I will always bitterly regret – surprised and upset by this unexpected rejection, I rang her on impulse and left a very tearful message on her answer phone. I didn’t go so far as to ‘beg’ her to keep in touch, but I did let her know that I was very hurt and would she please reconsider? I still didn’t want to meet her, or have an intense relationship but would it really hurt her to keep in touch? Couldn’t we just carry on writing the odd card and letter every so often? How could she possibly not want to keep up a form of contact with the child she had carried? Why couldn’t we be friends? So many questions going over and over in my mind.

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