My family never told me I was adopted but I always felt something didn’t quite fit when it came to my place in the family. It’s not because they treated me in a way that made me feel at odds, on the contrary, I can only suggest the feeling was either innate or perhaps something I overheard as a young child. I suspect the later to be the case because of an incident that occurred when I was around 4.
I was happily playing in a sandbox with kids visiting with their parents when I overheard someone talking about me. I don’t recall what was said and I don’t know who by, but whatever was said that day disturbed me and forever left me with a feeling of detachment.
That detached feeling would surface in one way or another at various times throughout my life.
Consider yourself one of the family
My aunty took me to see the movie Oliver in 1969, I was 8. I recall throughout the movie feeling distraught that he was an unwanted child. Why didn’t anyone want him? Where was his family? Why was he treated badly? It wasn’t his fault he was an orphan.
I understood that this movie, although a musical and set in a by-gone era, wasn’t entirely fictional as many children the same age as me and living within Australia didn’t have a family – I saw it on the news and documentaries.
For months afterwards I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I could wake up one morning and be an orphan just like Oliver. It disturbed me so much that every night I’d wake up in a cold sweat, sobbing. Mum or dad would come into my room each night to console me back to sleep. If they didn’t wake and come in to my room, I’d crawl in between them as they slept feeling safe surrounded by my parents.
One day at school, I was called into the principles office. The principle, a nun, said my parents were worried about me and asked if I would share with her what was troubling me. I felt uncomfortable and embarrassed and I wasn’t about to tell a nun about my fears and worries, besides I was too young to articulate what they were. She told me that if the nightmares continued, I would have to talk to a priest. Needless to say the nightmares disappeared soon after.
For the next 22 years I avoided watching the movie and when I finally did, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the little girl who was terrified she’d end up a poor little orphan.
PS: I haven’t watched the remake of Oliver and I don’t intend to.