I received a phonecall last week, from one of the women in our adoption community here in Greece. We call each other fairly frequenty at the moment, mainly to offer support, or to exchange any news. As I have mentioned in other posts, it is a big help to be able to talk to someone who is going through the same things, as opposed to some people who have no idea (and, it seems, very little empathy) and make statements like: "Don't worry, if this adoption doesn't work out, you can have mine"... and other such useful comments, without realising the importance of this decision.
And so this lady, let's call her Mary for simplicity's sake, called me up quite late at night to have a chat. Only, it turns out she did not just want to chat. It became quite clear fairly early on that what she wanted to do was lecture me on my "attitude".
As it turns out a few nights before that, I had spent quite some time on the phone to yet another prospective adoptive mother (let's call her Helen) sharing my distress upon learning that the Minister for Women's Affairs had called a press conference, to announce that Ethiopia will soon put an end to intercountry adoption. On top of that, I was having a whinge about various other things, including simply, that I had had the week from hell. I was worried, worn out, sad and quite simply fed up.
I know, I know, it is not often that people admit to all of these emotions in public and I thought I wasn't when I shared them with Helen. Yet, Helen spoke to Mary about it, and Mary, I guess with every good intention in mind, called me to tell me that "I should pull myself together" and (the other helpful phrase) "I should not worry".
I gave her a piece of my mind, but very gently, but I went to bed furious. I felt judged and I also felt that someone, who hardly knew me, or in fact my circumstances was criticising my attitude, or thinking less of me for worrying.
Well, here is what I think:
I believe in all emotions, not just the positive ones. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) our lives will be full of all of it, happines and grief, sadness and joy, frustration and calm, worry and jubilation. It'sonly natural. And life is all the better for it.
Worrying is normal. Without worrying you will be eaten by the tiger, or fall down a cliff. Without worrying you will not do well in the exam, or prepare for the marathon. Excessive worrying, well, that is called an anxiety disorder and I completely understand if you don't want one of those.
But no worrying, that too is abnormal. It is called apathy and it's a sign of many bad things. So please, don't tell me not to worry!
Same goes for a lot of other so called negative feelings: anger, sadness. I have news for some of you: those too can be normal responses to stimuli!
I went to a funeral last week- it is normal for me to feel sad. Not feeling sad would be abnormal. I have also been waiting for two children that I have met, felt, played with, hugged and fed for over five months and on top of that I hear that the process might fall apart any day now. How can I not be worried? And I am tired. I have worked over 60 hours this week, plus kept a home, four dogs and a husband happy.
So, dear Mary, excuse me if, once in a while, I indulge in a little whining session, over a glass of wine. And, please, do not judge me. I have a full rainbow of emotions, thank you very much!