Tag Archives: isolation

Expecting

24 Sep

I don’t know how to start this blog post.

So I will simply begin with how I feel.

I feel very happy! I am 18 weeks pregnant. And utterly overjoyed at this new life growing within me.

It still, at times, feels somewhat surreal. Me. Pregnant. Me. Soon-to-be-a-mama. Us. On the path to parenthood.

It hasn’t been an easy road. Or a straightforward one.

Month after month of disappointment.

And the won’t-go-away questions: will it ever happen? Is there something wrong? Should we do something about it? The doubts. The maybe’s. Maybe we won’t ever have our own (biological) child. Maybe we just need to come to terms with that. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

We had talked about adoption. Talked seriously. And we still talk about adoption now. Another maybe. And yet, staggeringly, we made our own baby. It took time, but I can now look down at my growing bump and know this is not just a dream.

Earlier today, I read an article about adoption that was so shocking, it left me lost for words (it’s well worth a read, if you have a few spare minutes). It talks of the emerging “rehoming” industry in the US – where adopted children no longer wanted by their new parents put them up for “transfer” online. This black market in child swapping sounds unreal, like a Grimm’s fairy tale, but it is not fiction. And yet, within the horror – the hard-to-imagine desire to give up a child you had so desperately wanted – I see the utter desperation of humans out of their depth. Desperation at an overly bureaucratic system, at the expense involved in adoption (particularly internationally). I glimpsed the isolation these parents must feel when their longer-for adoption seems like one big mistake.

Whilst not in any way condoning the actions of those illegally and irresponsibly “passing on” their child to a new home, I do wonder whether such horror stories are some of the symptoms of a system-gone-wrong.

It has often amazed me that those-who-fall-pregnant are treated so differently from those-who-want-to-adopt. Potential adopters have the minutiae of the lives publicly analysed. They spend much time (and often much money) hoping they will perceived as “parent material”. They have to prove their potential-parent qualities.

What about the rest of us? With 22 weeks to go, I don’t really have a clue what lies ahead. I still can’t quite believe that, in just a few months time, my hubster and I will be wholly responsible for a precious little life. It is a gift and a delight. An incredible privilege. And just a bit scary too.

As we prepare to bring a new life into the world, I want to remember too the children whose lives begin very differently – who are not wanted, not cared for, not loved. I don’t want to cut myself off – in a little “new parent” bubble – from these realities. And I don’t want our child to be cut off from them either. I don’t ever want to stop thinking about adoption. Or fostering. Or supporting families in need so that they can stay together.

I don’t want to become a self-satisfied, middle-class parent, immune from the realities faced by the majority in our world.  A world where some parents are so desperate they give up their longed-for child, not even knowing where he or she will end up. That is true desperation. True isolation. This system needs to be fixed.

Under the cloud

9 Nov

It’s been one of those weeks.

I saw the dark cloud approaching, hovering on the horizon, probably about ten days ago. I spotted it and I ignored it.

For some reason, I thought that denial might work – this time.

And as the cloud approached, I remained naively optimistic. It will be different this time. I can do this. I can win this battle.

I started feeling slightly disconnected – from those around me, from conversations, from life. And I still carried on thinking I would be ok.

Then. Then – the crash. Unable to get out of bed. Unable to answer my phone. Unable to connect – with anyone, anything.

The cloud had enveloped me. I could no longer deny its presence. I could not fight, I had no resources or strength. Nothing.

I felt so sad. Overwhelmed by disappointment. A sense of loss. A sadness at the world we live in, at the suffering of those I love. A sadness and a questioning – of the path I am on, the world I occupy.

I could no longer see, enveloped by blackness. Bleakness.

I have been under the cloud before. And it is horrible. Awful. It is lonely, isolating, enveloping, all-consuming.

No-one should ever have to live under the cloud.

And today? Today, the cloud is still there but there are some rays of light too.

So please don’t worry. I write these words not to alarm anyone, but in the pursuit of honesty and truth. Of vulnerability.

For I spend many years pretending I was strong. And I am not.

I cannot do this on my own.

And I cannot pretend anymore. It’s been one of those weeks.

Moving up, moving down

1 Nov

I often hear talk, amongst Christians, of the desire to “be countercultural”, articulating an attempt to live differently in a world that is, in the West at least, marked by individualism, independence and financial aspiration.

And yet, the more I think about it, the more clearly I see: how little difference there is – in terms of every-day, nitty-gritty living – between those of faith and those of none.

For many middle-class Christians have embraced a middle-class faith.

A faith that allows for upward mobility, financial security and “confort zone living”.

A faith that, it would seem, talks about “going the extra mile” – yet rarely leads to worn out shoes.

A faith that ticks the “giving box” through impersonal direct debits, and avoids the command to “give away an extra coat”.

A faith exhibiting a reluctance to give-til-it-hurts.

A faith that has failed to truly cross the boundaries of wealth, class and background – so the rich get richer, the poor stay poor and we inhabit two separate worlds.

I write this not to judge, but as a confession. An admission that I, a fully signed-up Christian, am comfortable  in my comfort zone. I make choices that benefit me (and those I love) and I get caught up – day by day, week by week – in an aspirational, “upwards” mindset – bigger salary, bigger house, bigger cupboards. More. More. More.

Recently, though, my hubster and I made a different choice. You could, I guess, call it a “downward decision”. We had to move house – and so we left our lovely home with a big garden and moved into our friend’s spare room. We stepped off the up escalator and started exploring a different path. We are students of an alternative trail.

I know that some of our friends find it weird. After all – who would choose shared space instead of privacy? Which married couple would move in with others, except in an emergency? In a country obsessed with land ownership, why would anyone aspire to “shared space” over “my space”?

Then, this morning, I read these words:

“The rampant individualism of Western society is a relatively new thing, and its emptiness is increasingly evident … We are wealthy and lonely…”

We are lonely. We live in a world that is more “connected” than ever before. Facebook, Twitter, email, texting, BBM. Instant access to others. And – if the phone doesn’t buzz or beep – instant loneliness.

We are wealthy. And the more money we have, the more we isolate ourselves from others.

We are strangers. We bump into others, for we share the same public space, yet we rarely know each other’s names.

We are upwardly mobile, educated, financially secure and full of aspiration. We are middle-class Christians.

And we are missing out.

Missing out on the wonder of hearing the life-stories of those with journeys very different to ours, and the indescribable joy of the friendships that can emerge. Missing out on the laughter, and tears, of living-entwined-lives, and not solely with “people like us”. Missing out on the reward and challenge inherent in a risky “no” to cultural norms and a “yes” to downward mobility.

A guy called Shane Claiborne said, “we live in community and among the suffering because it is what we are made for”.

I love that. For it is truly counter-cultural. And it doesn’t sound very middle-class to me.

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