I was born in Annecy, France, at 4:25 am on the 11th of December 1976.
My parents lived in town back then but they didn't want to raise their children in an apartment, so six months after my birth they bought a house in the countryside, 10 miles from Annecy.
My very first years have been happy, as far as I can remember. The photos of that time show it as well: I looked like a happy mischievous child.
My mom had left the bank she had always been working for to take care of her daughters (my sister was born in 78) and my dad worked as an electrician/heating engineer. She would work inside or outside the house, doing what moms do in the garden or in the kitchen with us playing around, she would take us for walks and sometimes play us the few pieces of music she remembered on the piano. When my dad was at home he would spend time fixing stuff or gardening, making us participate if we were interested and sometimes taking us for rides on his bike. On Sundays, we would invite or be invited by friends, have a big dinner and go for a long walk. On Wednesdays and during holidays my sister and I would play (and fight) together or with our neighbours' kids. For Christmas and Easter we would also have the common family gatherings...All very "normal" stuff.
My most painful memory from this period is the death of our first cat in 81.
Early in 83, my dad quit his job for reasons of his own and therefore my mom had to return to her former job. From then on, during several years, our dad would be the one to stay at home. I have this memory of my sister and I coming back from school and often finding him ironing, a Ray Charles' album on.
Let's say that because my parents were who they were, the situation started to rot without anyone noticing it. My mom had quite a stressful job and my dad was more and more interested in being helpful outside the house, with neighbours or for the city hall, always for free.
I was not aware of the tension growing in the house but my behaviour showed signs that I felt it. In 86 I started getting "school anxiety", I had always been a conscientious pupil eager to do well as I was told and had never had major difficulties doing so. But I became aware of the competition going on and the stress to get good marks appeared which probably blocked parts of my abilities; school simply became a terrifying place to go and stay at.
It was also the year that my dad hit me, for the first and only time in my life, which shocked, pained and angered me very deeply. I buried my feelings and emotions as any child can do so well and life just went on.
I entered junior high school and things there went really bad for three years. I was extremely shy and withdrawn, I had no real friend (was often the other kids' scapegoat) and felt so uncomfortable about my level (which was not good but not dramatic neither, it was much a question of perception) that I personally insisted to repeat my third year. The consequence was that my fourth and fifth years became the best of all: I met a bunch of good friends and easily remained the best pupil of my class all along. A sort of escape from the situation at home that was worsening.
Slowly, my dad had started to drink more and more. He was back to work through part time jobs which could have been a move towards a more healthy situation but when not at work he would spend more and more time away from home, at friends', where he would come back from more or less drunk.
In 92 I entered a big private high school in town where I knew no one, a huge stress reappeared and I just "cracked open" in November. My mom decided it was time to act: she asked my dad to do something about his alcohol problem or leave. Well, he left four days before my birthday.
I finished my school year on my knees: very often too tired and depressed to work, braking down in tears at the moment to leave to go to class and developing an eating disorder. I saw a way out of this hell when I heard of correspondence lessons, my sister even supported me in front of my mom so that she would let me give it a try, which she did.
In 94, as I enjoyed taking photos, my mom bought me a camera and I started seeing the possibility to make something serious out of my pleasure to use it. Then in December (I had just given a try to regular school again but had only held out three months), I saw "Interview with the Vampire", then read the first two of the vampire chronicles by Anne Rice, and all of these -for some reasons- awakened my imagination and stimulated my taste for writing that had surfaced about three years before.
I graduated at the same time as my ex-school mates in 95 and continued my home studying with graphology lectures. Of course, I thought that going to college, like school before, would make a hell out of my life and I didn't want that to happen, I thought I could do it on my own: I would study something that would allow me to become self employed... at home.
But I quit before the end of the program in 97: the perspective of soon having to go out to get a job was nothing attractive to me. Besides, I really felt like exploring more deeply all the things I was interested in, especially Jungian psychology, astrology, "spirituality". And I wanted to have plenty of time to write... So I "officially" took a sabbatical year, a year that lasted longer than planned.
Since then, my interests developed and settled.
I became aware that I love music more than average, love it in a weird way that allows me to appreciate fully a wide range of styles: I can say I love Metallica as well as Enya and Alanis Morissette.
My imaginary universe grew, feeding on books (essentially those of Anne Rice, Jane Austen and Tolkien), on movies and on the use of this Jungian technique called "active imagination" (also called "creative visualization"?) that I started practicing in 97. My collection of photos and horoscopes thickened.
In 98 I got the opportunity to spend my first week abroad, in Prague, with a friend of my mother. It allowed me to see that I don't only dream of travelling: I enjoy it.
At the end of the same year I spent three months taking care of my grandmother who was going senile: I started happy to be helpful and ended on my knees, knowing that that kind of job was not for me.
In 1999 I intensified my use of Internet. It's since then that I read a lot less, almost not anymore: I realize that the all web became my book.
In late 2000, after the beginning of my psychotherapy, it also became the way through which I started having a social life again: by getting in touch with an American woman on a spiritual forum, being invited by her shortly after and spending two nice months at her house in early 2001, I discovered the net is really a place for me where I can meet people.
On the family side, I've seen my dad 4 times since he left home: 4 times since 96, the year he moved back to his home town where lives his family, 500 miles from here. It seems he materialized the distance that existed -and still exists- between us and to see him, I have to travel all the way. That's how it's been so far.
With my mom, we get on almost too much well: we still live together in the house where I grew up. The two of us look like an old couple!
My sister and I almost don't fight anymore: we've discovered ways to appreciate our antagonism.
Well, the conclusion will be that after 8 years of a recluse life, I start to turn towards the world again and work at building myself an outer life. I feel that the fact of having made friends with cyber buddies helped me regain confidence in my ability to handle relationships, while expressing myself on forums, even just a bit, helped me see I can be in the middle of a bunch of people without freaking out too much. I observe my evolution, go on with my explorations and appreciate it all fully.
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© 1998-2017 Wendy Chapman