Sunday, January 14, 2007

Images of the Artificial Self

Images of The Artificial Self

These are paintings of paper dolls. I adored paper dolls when I was young, but today they take on a different meaning in regards to adoption and my search for authenticity.

I Am

I am the abandoned child
The one left in a bus station
Not in a pretty basket with caring note
I am left with my brother and sister on a cold bench
All the strangers stare at us as they quickly walk by
They glance at us and continue on their way
Not letting our truth touch them

I am the unwanted child
Spun from slaps and inappropriate touches
Forced acts and deep soul screams
Locked in small places looking at my siblings scared faces
My hunger grips me and I beg for the uneasiness to go away

I am the foster child
Swept into the system
The giver of relief upon my placement
The answer to someone else’s need
These strangers want me to call them mom and dad
In the end they send me away
Because my tears won’t stop flowing

I am the adopted child
After awaiting my acceptance of people who will choose me
I travel to my new home
Here I have learned is where happiness lies
My “specialness” replaces my calling to my real mommy
My fairy tales are spun of gold
And my forgetting pouch is full of old memories
It hides all the horror from me.

I am the child whose gone away
To private schools
To life alone
I’ve given the gift of going away to my adopted mother
I learned long ago to do this
And now it seems an easy gift to give
To the one I’ve learned to love and call my mom

I am the child woman
All alone in my pain and confusion
It is only through inebriation now
That talk of my life’s truth is spoken
My forgetting pouch emptied that way only once
Carefully I put the pieces back and tied the strings tightly closed

I am the child stepmother
Creating the family I could never have
And the family that I lost
The family that couldn’t be
I am left with fractured families
I am left with the knowledge that it is too late
For that dream family

I am the woman standing on my own horizon
I am unsure if the sun is rising or setting
There is hope here
And there are blood red colors of pain and abuse
Yet blues and purples promise things to come
It seems as though my journey
Through the ashes of my childhood
Has yet to be fully traveled
I await with trepidation the emptying of my forgetting pouch

Gwendolyn (Ray) Natusch
(I wrote this poem in 1992 immediately post reunion)

The artificial self rises with the red pheonix to become from those ashes the authentic one who embraces and melds the one who was false.

Paper dolls, costumes, and masks have all been donned as a means to survive and as a means to protect my authentic self. Both my inner self and my outer self have developed in strong ways and in parallel to each other. Now, in my late 40s, I realize that I am fully integrated. I have embraced both the secret self, the adoptee, and the unwanted one. I have let go of the mask and the costumes and the false self in exchange for my own authenticity. I am no longer a paper doll made of cardboard bits and bobs decorated in fanciful colors, nor the mannequin that I have costumed for decades. I no longer need these tools as I no longer need to live in a one dimensional cardboard created world where all those I love are kept from my whole self, my real self. In seeing and living inside my own wholeness and authenticity I have become available to see who others are and to interact from a place that is not motivated by the fantasy paper doll I called my self. I’d love to know how other adoptees have experienced this sort of thing in their lives.

In my adoptive family they were intellectuals in many ways and education was a large focus. I did the college thing and am still doing the college thing after several degrees. They were also teachers. This was a big thing for the women in my adopted family. So, I became a teacher, but while I was teaching I became an artist underground. My birth parents are very different than my adopted family. My mother is a writer and artist. My birth father has a huge passion for theatre. The artificial self blossoming.

As a professional I became a teacher and “after hours” I became an artist, costume designer, and writer. The secret self claiming her space.

As a professional I am both a teacher and an artist. I am no longer teaching full time in the public school system. I teach art at a Charter School and do some tutoring. I create art around healing and am moving into being active in the adoption arena.

My heart and my professional life have blended. I am no longer compartmentalized, but living every aspect of my life out loud. No secrets…none….no shame in being who I am completely. It has been a long road to this place and I still am practicing staying here…but the view from this vantage point is indeed lovely.


Blogger elizabeth said...

Your poem gave me chills. Wow.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Mia said...

The poem made me feel like I was looking at something so painful that I wanted to run away - yet so beautiful that there was no way I could.

2:26 PM  

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