I came into this world in London in August 1957. My birth mother was an Australian traveller. I was given little information about my birth father but I understand that he was a New Zealander, also a traveller and en route to the United States. As far as I am aware, he was unaware of my existence. My mother was in a hurry to have me put up for adoption, so I was placed in foster care very soon after my birth and then into an adoption.
I was adopted by a very affluent family living on the outskirts of London. This consisted of my adoptive father and mother and my brother who was 32 months older than me and also adopted.
My relationship with my adoptive family was unhappy, especially with my adoptive mother, who suffered from a personality disorder and was all too often, hostile, violent and negative towards me.
Before my life started to change – I was sent to an all-girls boarding school at the age of 12, where I received a patchy education. Despite being an able child, I was not encouraged or nurtured at this school, nor by my parents. My parents were wealthy, living a glamorous, jet-setting lifestyle, a life most people could only imagine; they chose to share very little of this with me, as they viewed me more as an unpaid assistant or poor relative than a daughter. My father did not really believe this but would not contradict my mother.
Thus, my childhood was a catalogue of disasters, which left me feeling null and void, as though I was invisible, meaningless and certainly devoid of value.
The catalyst for change occurred for me in 1969, when I temporarily died and I experienced a near-death experience (NDE). This experience cannot be fully explained in words but, let us just say, it was life-changing. I saw myself in a tunnel wearing a coat of a specific design (I was later given this same coat 4 or 5 years later). When I saw the Light, I realised that I was not completely alone, as I had thought, and that however dark or bad life had become, it was important to hang on in there with faith and the knowledge that we are always loved. I realised that the material world, as we perceive it, is not all that exists.
Following the NDE, I have had many other spiritual experiences that have proven valuable to me. I will always feel grateful for these experiences; it is kind of weird to think that my death has given me so much life!
Another catalyst for change occurred for me at the age of 18, when I hired a private English tutor to enable me to get back into the education system. I had wanted to continue to further my education after leaving boarding school but my parents refused to allow it because, they believed that, as I was only a girl, I existed only for the purpose of childbearing. (My life had some things in common with June’s in The Hand Maid’s Tale).
How I changed is an interesting subject. I have had to adapt to the world as I found it. I did go on to get a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (a teaching qualification) in Art and Design; both have helped me with my professional career as an Art and Design teacher and as a professional artist. (It may be interesting to note that the design of the coat that I saw during the NDE, frequently crops up in my artworks even to this day, and conveying a sense of The Light has become an integral part of my work).
What I learned about myself – I think I learned to never give up, however bad I may feel.
I have also come to realise that the adoption of a child into a loving family is a very good thing; in my particular case, I was just unlucky.
The positive way it has impacted my life – well, I’m still here and I’m still moving forward (even if progress does seem a little slow at times) so, I view myself as a survivor.
The positive ways that my transformation has affected others’ lives - I do not know how I have affected the lives of others. I do know that I have encouraged people younger than me to continue with their education, when they have wished to do so, but I do not know whether my NDE has affected other people; it has certainly affected how I view others and what qualities in them I value.