false start

i’m sure to any other aspiring author, it comes as no shock that this is not my first attempt to begin.  with the number of times i’ve been encouraged to write my story…  it’s almost pathetic that i’ve only managed to actually sit down and start – and isn’t that the most difficult part anyway?   starting?  no, this is definitely not the first.  i’d love to tell you that this is my 2nd, or 3rd attempt, even, but the reality is more along the lines of oh, about 7 or 8 billion…?  by that, i mean, i think i’ve always been telling my story in some way, shape or form.

as a teen, i kept an online journal – now we call these blogs, or whatever, but that word had no relevance in my teen years and is a more recent production our technologically progressive youth/hipsters.  i kept several actually.

my first one was probably the most prominent and the pivotal moment that i became hooked on writing.  when i was around 16 (maybe?), my mum and i went on vacation to huatulco, mexico.  it was one of those all inclusive resorts that had an activity program for teens to keep us busy – it was a pretty incredible vacation and to this day, there is at least one person i met on that trip STILL in existence on my facebook “friend” list.

on that trip, i connected with many other teens, and for a significant period of my teen years, i maintained an intense and passionate connection with one, of whom “gave” my my first online journal as a section of his website.  the concept of his site immediately appealed to me: teens connecting with other teens, discussing issues of sexuality, image, family, drugs and alcohol, peer pressures and daily stresses, in a completely judgement free and open forum.
i accepted my moderator position and began journaling and reaching out to connect with lost teens seeking help, understanding and hope (yes, i realize the irony in all of it – but truly, i feel there are moments in which simply having someone else “get it” is the most important thing; the element of knowing you’re not alone in itself brings a ray of light into the darkest situations).

While the friendships I made on that trip have all but dissolved – with the exception of my sole remaining facebook connection, whom – by the way – sought me out over a decade later – those born on that site have lasted me even to this day.  the site itself was dismantled, oh shit, i don’t even know how long ago now, and we were given digital copies of our journals before the server was erased.  if you check out it’s address now, it’s a site for penis enlargement… i have no words for this.

unfortunately, this was the era of desktop computers and floppy discs.  those files are long gone, and those words, lost forever.

after the site went down, i continued to journal on several other sites: livejournal, kiwibox… carrying this effort over to my geocities and myspace pages.  i truly lived every moment through my writing, and my natural self was engrained within the relationships and connections it provided me.  i’d like to say that this is the world that our youth today exist within, and then maybe i’d understand the social media generation a bit more fluidly, but as with anything that’s progressively changing, the online world is also a far darker and more dangerous place than it was 20 years ago.

it’s only just occurring to me as my fingers dance across the keys, pushing out these words, how long it’s been since i’ve thought about any of this stuff.  i used to live, eat, breeeeeeeathe my writing.  i can’t seem to pinpoint when i stopped either.  i remember the colour of my nan’s dog when i was 3, but i cannot form even a simplistic guess at when i altogether stopped – gave up on – a huge piece of ME.

i’m currently trying to reset my email password on my kiwibox account, which i’m certain contains several thousand entries; however, i guessed immediately my old livejournal password.

have you ever gotten goosebumps so intensely that your skin literally aches and burns with the sudden shift?

that.

the final entry in my livejournal is regarding the day i found out that i have siblings.  people that share my blood, that are born of the same people.  people that literally carry a piece of me – how fucking surreal that moment felt, and how really fucking significant that of all the entries, of thousands – i’d love to tell you this is an understatement – that this entry should be the first of my past writings that i find.

there are 377 entries in this journal.  i’m going to take some time tomorrow and print them all out, so i can read through it slowly, carefully taking in this younger version of myself.

maybe this first entry…maybe, maybe this was the beginning of the end.


i’ve decided to address my writing by allotting days in which this is my primary focus of energy expenditure for that day.  since my first entry yesterday, the aforementioned thoughts have been swirling around in my mind – although everything i looked up during its writing was completely true.  as difficult as it is to admit, i find more frequently that my time limit on remembering to get these thoughts down is fleeting – and if it were not for that pathetic attempt at providing a excuse for falling outside my scheduled writing – i just fucking needed to tonight, end of story.

tomorrow is my writing day, although i’ve had to be flexible in the morning to a few clients, and have a plumber expected early afternoon.  tomorrow i will delve further in my past false starts, and explore the innermost thoughts of a young woman i’ve all but forgotten…

…and it begins

it happened almost a year ago.  the date escapes me now – it’s importance to the story is irrelevant.  the greatest challenge: how to begin.  resolution came unexpectedly, in the form of a woman, a client – not mine – sitting next to me at the wedding of a friend.  funny how what we seek most finds us when we are ready.  not a moment sooner.

she told me a story.  the story focused on a concept known to the social workers arena as “red dress syndrome”.  new parents, parents who are absorbed and engrossed within the adoption process, often enter their journey filled with idealistic ideas and expectations of what they “want” in a child:

“we want a girl.”

“she must be tall, because my grandfather was tall.”

“brown eyes please.”

“can you ensure she’s good at mathematics and science?”

“blonde is preferred – we’re both blonde.”

the task, it would seem, is akin to ordering a new car, a new bedroom set, or a fancy new BLUE DRESS online.  submit all your preferred criteria, and out pops the perfect addition to your family.  “yes, i’d really love a blue dress please.”

“blue dress”

“blue dress”

“blue dress”

“blue dress”

months may pass, and the anticipation of waiting for their blue dress to arrive has them anxious, excited, and the ideal panoramic they’ve created in their mind’s eye grows, expands, takes on a living breathing existence of its own – it has become their mantra.

what an incredible expectation for a baby to live up to.

one day, their moment will arrive.  their “package” – addressed and sealed only for them – is awaiting their acceptance, envelopment, and love.

only – wait….what’s this?  a RED DRESS?!!

yes indeed.  what an incredible, overwhelming, and dare i say it, ridiculous expectation for a baby to live up to.

to spend the rest of their life trying to sustain and fulfill their parent’s dream of a blue dress that cannot possibly ever come to fruition.

just think of the psychological consequences that could potentially ensue from the off-putting introduction of expecting parents to a child that in no way fit their carefully selected and adamantly communicated criteria.  the devastation, the grief, the mourning – over a baby they’ll never meet, never have.  in complete disregard to the devastation, the grief, the mourning – that this poor innocent child is born into; no one ever takes the loss the infant experiences into their long daunting considerations.  those are reserved for selfish tendencies.

it is the set up for a tragedy.  it is the self-fulfilling prophecy of failure.

what should be a happy time turns into an occasion marked by selfish disappointment.

seriously fucking tragic.

i digress…

in listening to this story, it was as though the beginning was handed to me.  a special moment in time, that only i could recognize as anything of significance – isn’t that always the way – that opened a doorway to my own history; a story that never had a beginning and therefore was resting silently, waiting.

although my parents always accepted me as i am, isn’t there always the little nuances of suggestion that they had wished i’d be “this”, or do “that”?  although they’ve always loved me unconditionally, isn’t there always that gnawing feeling that i could do better, be better, achieve more, succeed greater – make them love me more?  make them less likely to discard me?  make them love the RED DRESS they received instead of the BLUE DRESS they wanted.

i must take a moment to clarify that i do not truly believe my parents fall into the example of these idealistic individuals assuming they have any control at all over the gifts they may receive – not from their perspective anyway, and maybe – more realistically and likely – any expectations that i’ve failed to meet were those laid out by no one other than myself.  regardless of that small, minute, miniscule detail – there was something in this story i heard, at that wedding, almost a whole year ago today – which spoke to me.  invited me to begin.  and this is my beginning.

this is my story.

i am the red dress girl.