Resilience

“‎Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you.
Never excuse yourself.
Never pity yourself.
Be a hard master to yourself-and be lenient to everybody else.”

― Henry Ward Beecher

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(a cut sunflower / Julie Cook / 2016)

Some of us are…

And some of us are not…

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What is it that makes us resilient to this thing we call life?
That uncanny ability to hold up and even withstand the often excessive plummeting experienced throughout this journey of living?

For some of us it seems to be a hidden innate, hardwired mechanism comprised of moxie, hutzpah, determination and an odd aligning of the universe producing pure stupid luck.

It is the ability to go on and on despite the assault of physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual forces.

For so many of us, it is life’s cruel and unkind events that render us senseless, dropping us to our knees…

Yet for a few seemingly invincible souls, it matters not the hardship, the heartache, the exhaustion of mind, body and soul—these are the able bodied souls who can take a licking of insurmountable proportion and keep on ticking….

Those who have survived kidnappings, beatings, rapes, tortures, years in death camps, the loss of limbs, excruciating illness and even the tragic separation from loved ones…
those who have witnessed atrocities unbearable to most human beings…
And yet these hardy souls, for good or bad, muster on…
often time not merely surviving, but actually thriving…

Have they been gifted…
or perhaps even cursed?
Are they stronger than the average person?
Are they immune from resulting miseries?

Or is there a subconscious awareness…
a drawing down into a place a great depth that reaches farther and wider….
touching upon that deeply buried remnant piece of the Divine…

The righteous keep moving forward,
and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.

Job 17:9

infestation

…but they do not realize
that I remember all their evil deeds.
Their sins engulf them;
they are always before me.

Hosea 7:2

“Some day the soft Ideal that we wooed confronts us fiercely, foe-beset, pursued, and cries reproachful: ‘Was it then my praise, and not myself was loved? Prove now thy truth; I claim of thee the promise of thy youth.’”
James Russell Lowell

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(chives infested with black aphids / Julie Cook / 2016)

The innocent chive is laid claim by a myriad of tiny pests,
far too many for the eye to number…
Which is all but too similar to the same dark irksomeness which befalls man’s very soul.

They cover the poor buds and blooms…
feasting on the very life juices which coarse through the plant…
All the while an insidious darkness, which vies to blanket man’s soul,
leaches forth all that is decent and good.

The ants have arrived in order to protect the mindless aphids, farming them as it were,
all for their own selfish pleasures and symbiotic delight…
Just as the master of darkness soothingly whispers that it shall all be well…
longing to hold on to one more soul in his ever collusive world…

Spray as one must, vainly attempting to rid the plant of these pests,
the seemingly endless siege momentarily abates…
only to return, growing exponentially more fierce.
As our own trials of the will dip in and out of sight.

With the chives survival ever insight…
A total ridding and annihilation of each tiny black pest is the only true solution…
While man, in turn, labors to waylay his own invasive scourge

It may seem drastic at best, if the chive is to live,
but total eradication is the only option should the plant be spared…
just as the total yielding of the will of man is the one and only hope…
for the eternal life free from sin’s deadly infestation

“Now acquaint yourself with Him, and be at peace;
Thereby good will come to you.
Receive, please, instruction from His mouth,
And lay up His words in your heart.
If you return to the Almighty, you will be built up;

Job 22:21-23

Exhale

“Prayer is exhaling the spirit of man and inhaling the spirit of God.”
Edwin Keith

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(daisies at the garden center / Julie Cook / 2015)

wwwwwooohhhhhhhhhhhhh
The sound of a long awaited exhaled release of self
The sound of a 3 week crisis multiplied by 3. . .released
The sound of a soul that has lived to tell about it
The sound of a flu ridden, angst ridden, worried sick,
worse for the wear, wounded soul
The sound of the end of a day
The sound of the end of a week
The sound of the easing of a trauma
The sound of a 2.5 hour traffic filled journey home
A settling
A smoothing out
Headed upward, verses downward
A cease fire,
An uncontested truce
Worn down
Beat down
Down
You can breathe now
You can finally let go
You can rest
You can exhale

Breathe out, exhaling my Beloved
Let it go
Close your eyes
Rest
I will breathe for you
For my Spirit will sustain you
and see you to the morrow. . .
Sleep well my Beloved,
sleep well

“The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Job 33:4

Who in the heck is Sylvia Kay and what have you done with her?!

Ok, so the other day I shared with you my story about my brother.
His was a convoluted story of mental illness, adoption, ending with the eventual taking of a life.
And please, you must not ever think that since an adoption was thrown into that mix,
that adoption is ever a bad thing.
It was just one piece to his very sad story.
On the other hand, there is me… 🙂

I was adopted in 1959.
I was always told that I had come from a Florence Crittenden Home in Atlanta,
eventually making my way through the now defunct Atlanta Adoption Agency.
The Florence Crittenden “homes” were all part of a national organization that aided young single woman
who were pregnant–those having little or no resources or safe places to go.
Sent by their families to these “homes”,
many of these young pregnant women were not bearing the best of news.
A single pregnant woman in the 1950’s carried all sorts of taboos and connotations.

Now whether or not I actually took this route is a bit of that “gray” area surrounding my past.
However, this was my story and I was sticking to it!

I was almost 3 months old when I was adopted.
My parents told me all about being adopted when I turned 5 years old.
I suppose 5 is as good an age as any.
I remember my Dad sitting me down and reading me a book.
A book I came to be ashamed of and loathed—
I didn’t like to acknowledge its existence in the house after the day he read me the story.

It was a nice enough story I suppose…
all about mommies and daddies not being able to have children of their own but having
the opportunity of being able to “adopt” a baby who had no parents.
I was “special” because I was chosen.
Hummmmm…
Really?…special!?
‘Special’ because I was “abandoned” and this poor couple couldn’t have their own child,
so they had to come “pick me” like a piece of fruit…
Hummmmm…
What kind of happy story this was proving to be!”…or so thought my young mind.

I do vaguely remember having to go down to what I know now was a social worker’s office and sit around
“playing” so the social worker could monitor if I was turning out to be “well adjusted”
(had they stopped this little practice by the time Ed, my adopted brother rolled around, as anyone could have seen his adjustment levels were slightly off, we wouldn’t be talking about Ed).

My parents had some friends who had also adopted a little girl at the same time.
We played together and our parents hung out together a good bit.
I hated spending time with these people because they constantly talked about this adoption business
like it was cutting edge material.
They even acknowledged the Adoption day for their daughter like it was another kind of birthday.
Oh my Lord, what was wrong with these people I wondered.

I didn’t like to talk about it.
I didn’t want my parents reminded that they had “something” wrong with them.
I felt sorry for my parents and I didn’t want people reminding them things weren’t as they should be.

Little did I realize that things were indeed as they should be because we were a family—–
(but then they wanted another baby and got Ed and it was downhill after that,
but I digress again—–the moral of that story,
maybe it’s best to be happy with the one).

Never ever did anyone in my family ever make me feel as if I was anything but a part of the family.
My grandparents loved and doted on me just as they doted on my older cousins.
Dad had ruined my life by giving me the “nick-name” of Julie (see the post on passports),
which, at the time, seemed fine
(again see the post on the whole passport fiasco to understand my sarcasm here)…and so life rocked along.

We never talked about it, that being the whole adoption topic, because remember,
I was “protecting” their sad feelings—or so I always rationalized.
Crazy I know, but what can I say.
Always the old soul in the young body
(now it’s just an old soul whose body had finally caught up—but I digress again).

One day, while I was in college, I found myself in UGA’s massive library working on a paper.
I can’t recall what course or paper it was that I was writing at the time,
but as I was digging around amongst the books, buried in the back on one of the myriads of shelves,
I found some books on adoption.
Curious, I pulled all of them off the shelf,
carrying them back to the table, and begin pouring over what they had to say on the subject.

The next time I was home I found myself asking Mom some questions.
She had limited information as that was how it was done back then.
My “legal” birth certificate listed Mary Julia and my parents as my parents—–
there was no mention about any adoption.
The only thing missing was time of birth…hummmmm.
It’s as if life started for me the day they brought me home—
those missing months prior was a time non-existence.

Mother told me what she had been told by the Agency at the time they got me.
My biological parents had been older…not young teens but rather late 20s.
They were in love but for some reason, could not marry.
My biological mother was petite (I’m short but a far cry for “petite”),
she was popular, a cheerleader (oh dear Lord, a far cry from my tomboy self) and loved art…hummmmmm….
I was an art major at the time, interesting.

After reading a good bit on the subject and talking to various folks,
I understand a few things about adopted kids.
One tidbit I found interesting was that most of the time when a woman is pregnant with a child,
a child she most likely either resents or knows that she is immediately giving up, those feelings
are somehow transferred through the womb—

I also know that many adopted folks deal with the concept of rejection, more so than “regular” folks.

It’s that whole abandonment issue.
All of which now makes tremendous sense to me.

Also, there may be issues with anger and/or simply establishing solid relationships in general,
as all of these deep-seated feelings tend to act as defense mechanisms in an adopted individual.
It all makes sense to me, as I’ve lived it but I’m certain there are those scientific among us
who would disagree—but that’s ok.
I just know what my life has been like…

I love history.
You may realize that by now if you’ve read any of my previous posts.
But the funny thing is that I don’t really know my own history—and that is frustrating.

I love the whole genealogy thing, as one of my grandmothers did extensive research.
She was a Daughter of the Revolutionary War, the Confederacy, the Huguenot Society, etc…
she’s on the freaking Mayflower for heaven’s sake…but I am not, not really.
My spot on her “tree” is not real—
I’m supposed to be on someone else’s tree.

This is what bothers me.
Terribly.
I don’t like gaps—things should be filled in.

It also bothered me when I was pregnant with my son.
The doctors always begin asking about all of my medical histories.
My response is always the same “Who knows??—I’m adopted.”
Is there a history of cancer, heart disease, some other odd malady??—
It’s anybody’s guess.

My son is taller than my husband and myself—he’s built differently.
Big strong, broad shoulders. Very handsome.
Where did all of that come from?
He suffers from migraines. I do too…
But where did I get that from?

He has struggled with a learning disability and dyslexia. I’m pretty sure I did too.
Where did that come from?
I look in a mirror and wonder who it is I look like.
As I age, how will that be?

All of my little medical ups and downs…who gave me all of that?
I pass people on the street and find myself often wondering if I’ve not passed my parents,
maybe a brother or a sister…

When mother died and I was just 25, and yet to be a mother myself, I found myself at times,
so desperately wanting a mother…
someone who I could confide in, someone who could understand me, someone who could offer advice,
someone who knew the road I was traveling and could tell me what to expect.
When I finally did become a mother myself—boy did I miss having a mom’s help!
It was all solo.
No instruction manual and no mother—Good Lord!!

But people never believed it when I told them I was adopted.
I looked a great deal like mom and dad.
Mother and I both had that oh so southern drawl.
Mother’s, however, was much prettier.
They were my parents and I always knew that to be so—
but I always had the nagging holes, the questions, and the missing pieces to the puzzle.
And of course the obviously painful question—
I always thought I was a cute, good kid, why would someone give that up???!!
Just walk away?

I have several long time, dear friends who wonder much of the same things about me as I do.
They have been very encouraging if I ever wanted to go on the quest to “find out”
but I’ve also always heard that if the biological parent(s) wanted to find you,
they would have done so on monumental occasions—a 16th or 21st birthday, etc.
I also have heard horror stories of other adopted adults locating biological families,
regretting the whole ordeal.
I certainly don’t want that.
I want an Oprah moment.
Who doesn’t?

As long as my dad is alive, I’ve decided that I would not go on this quest.
I think it would hurt his heart.
He lived through, barely may I add, the ordeal with my brother—
losing the same child basically twice—first through the annulment and then by the suicide.
I just didn’t/don’t think I could let him know I was on a quest….

I did however, do a little research and found a site for the state of Georgia—
a place for those wanting to adopt, or those who had been adopted—Families First.
For $35 I could send off for some non-identifying information.
“Ok” I thought, what harm could/ would that be.
What exactly would non-identifying information mean?

I send a check, filled out some forms, and proceeded to wait.

A few weeks passed, I began to forget about my mini-quest…
until one sunny spring afternoon, a packet arrives.
Oh, Lord—this is it—this is “me”
A history of me…
Hummmmm…
My name. My name!!!
Would it be…Katherine?
Elizabeth?
Something beautiful, pretty—and not a nickname that has proven difficult.

I poured over the paperwork.
I read the facts.
Birth weight, size, time of birth.
Hospital. Hospital??
My “official birth certificate” states I was born at Piedmont.
Not so on this now original certificate.
What the heck??? Why is that I wonder—and how very odd.

I read the story given by the social worker who worked with the hospital and that of my “my mother”.

The mother’s, my mother’s story, seems really sad.
It’s a long story, one I’ll save for another post.
More questions than indeed answers.

The parents, my parents it seems, did love one another.
One came from a well to do family, one not so much.
It appears the families may have known one another–or at least her brother-n-law knew my “father”.
She moved from somewhere, in what I’m assuming to be south Georgia, living alone,
with no one ever knowing she was pregnant.
There were two states involved.
Something tragic occurred and there was a separation.

She was a nurse, living alone in Atlanta.
She had no prenatal care. (Idiot!!)
She gave birth and immediately left the hospital, all the same day.
Just walked away.
Wow!
Why?
There was a foster home, then the adoption agency.
More questions, with very few answers.

Sylvia Kay.
Are you kidding me??!!
No offense to any Sylvias or Kays out there, but I just knew I was a Katherine or an Elizabeth…
a Katie or a Beth.

I suppose it’s that southern fascination of our love of Katie Scarlet O’Hara (to be said in a very southern accent).
Oh well, I suppose I’m sticking with my adopted Mary Julia!

And so yes, there are more questions than answers.
I will, I suppose, one day investigate further, but that shall wait—that will be later.
I do know that time is running out I suppose, as my biological parents, if they are still alive,
are aging, just as we all are aging.
Do I want to establish a relationship—no, not especially?
I have a family.
I do have questions however and curiosities, as that is to be expected.
But all of that is, I suppose, for another Scarlet!
And so it shall be…..