Monday, October 12, 2009

Being A Hyphenated Mother

As anyone can tell from our last two posts my daughter and I are having very different reactions to our latest separation. The 30 days we had together made me feel even closer to her. I realized how very much I loved seeing her every day even if it was for just a short time after work on most days. I knew I enjoyed her company but I learned how much I enjoy being part of her daily life. I am holding the memories very close and they make me smile. She is creating distance to survive. I think I have learned another reunion lesson here. Being close to your mother does not heal adoption wounds. Probably nothing will. That is hard for me to accept but I can understand it. I trust her when she says she won't disappear. That is a huge comfort. Accepting that she needs to distance herself for now is not easy and I am trying very hard not to make her feel guilty by whinning about how this is the opposite of what I want. It is one of those things where we can't both have what we want and I really believe she deserves to have her needs respected. Its about time she gets a vote.

So, being a hyphenated mother (first/birth/whatever) does mean that you can't heal the pain of adoption. It also means that you get a chance to build a unique relationship with your daughter/son that can be very close and very meaningful. It is just hard sometimes to get there. Love is the easy part. Building trust is the hard part. Maybe the hard part will get easier with time.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Being Adopted

Being adopted is hard work. It takes more effort to trust, love, accept and believe. Not to give those things, mind you, but to allow others to give them to me. I trust, love, accept and believe too intensely, too soon and without thinking it through. But to receive them from others is heart wrenching. I can list off a thousand reasons why I am simply, not good enough. If I sit down and actually think about it I AM good enough, often TOO good, but in the moment my inner strength backs down like a puppy shit kicked one too many times. This can not be the way to live, this can not be how I spend my life, angry and alone because of fear. Fear that yet another person will walk away, die, be taken or otherwise removed from my life. It cripples every personal relationship in my life, friends, family, lovers and even my children.

One of my adoptee friends, Andraya, wrote this on her facebook page. She claims she spent 5 minutes writing it. For stream-of-consciousness writing, this gets an A+ in my book. And something to chew on.

The baby in me resurfaced last week. Before my mother left, I was crying and panicked. I talked to my shrink about how to ward off the PTSD. He told me to go with my instincts and do what felt right to me. I tried to warn my mother what might happen...and it did.

Like the baby of 40 years ago, I have learned to pacify myself on my own. After spending a week crying, I became very quiet. I haven't shed a tear since before my mother left. I already knew she was gone.

I can list off a thousand reasons why I am simply, not good enough.

My mother and I are not speaking. I have asked her not to call me, and our email communication has been sporadic and chatty. She seems to have settled comfortably back into her life and with the people she loves. I don't want to take any of that away from her. I already know she is gone.

If I sit down and actually think about it I AM good enough, often TOO good, but in the moment my inner strength backs down like a puppy shit kicked one too many times.
Meanwhile, I have been spending the past week or so reconnecting with people. Reconnecting with my husband. I woke up in the middle of the night two nights ago and petted my husband's hair for an hour or so while he was sleeping. Then I had to go check on my son, like he was still a baby, to make sure he hadn't evaporated or something.

Fear that yet another person will walk away, die, be taken or otherwise removed from my life.

I'm in a weird place. Not angry, not sad, not numb. I'm not sure what to do, other than what feels right to me at the moment...which is remaining quiet, surrounding myself with people and things that comfort me, and riding this weirdness out. I am the adult pacifying my own inner baby.

Oddly, I'm better at it than I thought I would be.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Almost a year

It has been almost a year since I last posted. Ilooked back at what I had written and realized where we were when I last wrote. It was very very hard to get through the months that followed that post and too many times I felt like it was hopeless. We made it through and are closer than ever. There were a lot of fears and just a lot of baggage to get through. We did it. I'm not sure how except we just kiept talking. I have been there, she came here. On one trip I stayed a few extra days to help her through a bad time. For once, I was there when she needed me. It was a turning point I think. She and my grandson came here for a week and there was yet another positive turning point. That was a wonderful/crazy/happy/sad trip. It involved the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an iguana, dead relatives and a bridge. How much better can it get than that. She was there for me when I needed her badly. Since we were stopping by the cemetary where most of my dead relatives (I have a lot of those and very few live ones) are buried my mother asked me to get her some information about being buried there. My mother is doing well but she is 90 and has a very practicle streak. My daughter and I got into the graveyard office (they called it something dignified but I can't remember what). I choked and just looked at her. She was able to get eerything mother wanted. I couldn't have done it without her. She was there when I needed her.

I just got back from spending 32 days in the city where she lives. I travel a lot for my job and managed to get a temporary assignment near her. It was a wondeful/crazy/happy/sad trip. It involved sushi,an old friend,meeting new friends from the adoption world that I knew but had never seen, pirate radio, prunes stuffed with goat cheese wrapped in bacon, and watching a free show from a hotel window. How much better can it get. Now we know we can see each other every day for a month and still want more of each others company. Now I know I need to live close to her. We have missed too much in each others lives and I am tired of missing. Now I know what I want I just have to figure out how. Leaving was awful. Trying to figure out how to be apart is impossible. Getting on the plane was like signing those damn relinquishment papers. I am really tired of doing what other people expect of me. She thinks I will get over it or cope by drowning myself in trivia. I am tired of that. It didn't work for 35 years and I am not going to pretend it will work now. I am afraid I will go back into my bad habit of withdrawal but I know that doesn't work. The phone conversations with her help. The e-mails help. I need to be able to just have lunch with her on the spur of the moment.

One thing we have learned over the last year is talking openly and honestly about how we feel gets us through the bad times. We have learned that we love each other more than either of us ever thought possible. We have learned we can easily hurt each other because we care so much. We have learned that building trust takes time. We have learned that what we have with each other is worth the hurt feelings. It is wonderful that I miss her so badly I could scream.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Missing Her Today

My daughter and I have come a long way and we have even further to go. One of the things that really gets to her is that I am nothing if not wound tight. To say that I don't show my emotions easily is a gross understatement. I know why. After the relinquishment my family was very supportive (yes I am lucky), they really wanted me to feel better and didn't want me to hurt. So I worked at convincing them I was just fine. I thought there was nothing to gain in talking about it. My daughter was gone and no one could make that better. So I spent 35 years keeping my mouth shut and learning to keep feelings inside. It did work but I have forgotten how to let feelings show. A strange thing happened after my daughter's birthday this year. I got through the day just fine. She was off having fun and I knew it was a good day for her and she was happy. That made me happy. A couple days later it all came back like I was hit over the head. It was not remembering more about the time I had with her in the hospital and how I felt. I started feeling everything again just like it was happening all over. As usual, I stuffed it down inside and didn't talk about it. I should have talked to her about it long before I did. She did make it better. She helped me understand and gave me the emotional supprt I needed. She reassured me that it was OK to talk to her and she didn't feel like I was laying a bunch of negative crap on her. Why did it take me so long to figure out that it is OK to lean on her when I need to. I am starting to get over my fear of asking her for anything. I may even get over my fear of being a demanding clingy mother. Being honest about my feelings is good not bad. I really do need to internalize that. I want to be there for her when the world starts kicking her she wants to be able to do the same for me. Yes we both still like the good times and just being silly but this is different. She is the one that makes it better when I need to have someone put there arms around me (even if it is virtual) and just tell me I am loved. Unlike my husband who is wonderful in so many ways, she doesn't try to fix it becuse she knows it can't be fixed. She gives me the reassurance that She loves me. I hope I do the same for her.

I miss her today. Actually, I miss her every day but today I wish I could just go for a walk with her and tell her how much she has given me. Then we could hug and cry a little bit and start teasing each other and laughing. That would be a very good day indeed.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Different Birthday

Like many adoptees out there, I have always hated my birthday.

I can think of past years that were drowned in tears, alcohol, or a combination of the two plus other unmentionables perhaps. (ahem...)

I can think of past years where I tried to ignore the date altogether - unsuccessfully.

I can think of a couple of birthdays I spent waiting by the phone that never rang, and waiting for the letter that never came. Thinking that today, of all days, maybe she would think about me and call me or write to me.

I can think of many years I spent angry, lashing out at my loved ones. They didn't understand WHY I was angry - only that I was. Responses varied from "What's wrong with you?" to just a flat-out, "Oh, get OVER it."

You know how it is.

Anyway, I decided this year would be a little different. If other people said I should be celebrating, who am I to refuse a day to let myself be pampered, taken care of, and loved? I figured it was a fruitless attempt to be "normal", but I had nothing to lose by giving it a shot.

By golly, it worked.

Somewhere in the middle of the massage that followed the facial, while this woman with amazing hands was working this awful knot out of my back, I let go of the tension that had been plaguing me for years. I mean, really let go of it. I finally decided I'd had enough. I want my life back. I want my mother to have her life back. I want my family and friends to have ME back. It became more important than hanging onto this THING that had been poisoning me for years on my birthday.

Sure, it was a typical day. My adoptive parents forgot my birthday - again. My aunt (the fuzzy rat's sister) forgot it also. Instead of agonizing, I chalked it up as typical. My aunt is as bad with a calendar as I am, and my adoptive parents - well, they have other things to think about. It's okay. Should it stop me from having a good time? Hell to the no.

I got spa treatments, let my husband treat me to an outrageously expensive dinner and the best bottle of wine I've ever had, ran around some casinos drunk off my ass and giggling the whole time, and enjoyed the time with my family. I felt special, and most importantly, I felt loved. I deserve it, dammit. THEY deserve it too, after putting up with hellacious fallout for far too many years.

I'm done. Done with it, done with it, done with it. Damn, it feels good.

Even better - my mother also seems to be done with it. She actually had a nice weekend. We managed to talk for a few minutes, and she sounded positive, upbeat, and looking forward to spending time with her husband and her friends. When I spoke to her a few days later, she still sounded great. No angst. Wow. What the hell happened???

I don't care, really. I don't care what happened, or how it happened. I wish I could articulate how I got to this point. I wish my mother could articulate how she got to feeling so happy (maybe she can...I certainly can't speak for her!)

It's almost like a second coming out of the fog. I was consumed with all this pain for so many years, and it had gotten positively hellish these last few months. I was constantly battling, letting it sap my energy. I'm not in denial. I will still have my moments. Hell, I'll still have my days, my weeks. I will continue to speak out and be there for my friends out there in adoption land. I will continue to educate myself about the atrocities that exist in the adoption industry and read blogs.

But my own birthday blues? Seeya. Done. I'm over it. That's my day, and I'm taking it back.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I have been out on the blogs after reading the comments on my last post. Yes I am one of those stealth readers who seldom comments. I have been trying to understand the hurt mothers and angry adoptees and why reconcilliation is so hard. I am sure I will get plenty of disagreements with this but I think I am begining to understand at least a part of it. Mothers and adoptees are both hurt and both want that hurt to be understood. As a mother the hardest thing for me to come to terms with is that I caused the hurt. All of the reasons/excuses/justifications are really beside the point. That is not an easy conclusion to reach nor is it particularly easy to live with but it is real and I need to understand that and come to terms with it.

Before I get jumped too badly on this, I am not advocating sackcloth and ashes for all mothers. At least most of us did not intend to cause harm, usually just the opposite. As adults (or at least teenagers) we got through a lot of the pain of relinquishment by telling ourselves that we 'did the right thing for the child". We learned to cope one way or the other with that as our mantra. Lorraine Dursky said it best, "you don't stop hurting you just stop crying every day." We reasoned through it. We tried to get on with our lives as we were told to do. Our children didn't have that luxury. They were told that their mothers gave them away because their mothers loved them. What the hell kind of a message is that? How do you reason through that one when you are 5 years old? Our children did not choose to be adopted into a nice family. We made that choice for them. There is absolutly no way that you can explain relinquishment to a child so that it makes sense. The only thing that makes sense to a child is that their mother didn't want them. It is not helpful to be told you should be grateful that you weren't wanted.

I had a hard time getting to the point where I could accept responsibility for my decision and tell my daughter that I had made a horrible decision that hurt her and I was sorry. It doesn't solve everthing but it is a start. I can understand why she pushes me away sometimes. I can understand her anger. That doesn't mean I don't get hurt by it. It just means that I can undertand. I think she is starting to understand that I always did love her and always will (except on her really bad days). Our hurts are both real. It helps to face them. No sackcloth and ashes, just a dose of reality.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

When It Is Good

Since my last post my daughter and grandson have been here for my mother's 90th birthday. It was incredible. My mother didn't think they would be able to come and she was so excited. We had a small afternoon reception (about 50 people) or about half the people in town over 80. My cousin was there. He had not met my daughter until then. It was perfect. A lot of the people in the room knew our story. The rest knew that my mother's granddaughter and granson came all the way from California for the party. Before the party my daughter asked my mother if there was anyone she should be careful around or would be offended if they found out about the adoption. My mother's response was that if anyone took offense she would just show them the door. During the party my daughter realized that my mother really had been bragging about her. I wonder how many times she heard, "O you are the muscian, its so wonderful you are here." My mother's minister who does know the story and is a wonderful person walked up and hugged her. Her cousin took one look at her and got teary and said "you look just like my Uncle Aggie (my dad)". She finally began to understand how we feel about her and her son. The fact is that my mother, sister, brother-in-law, husband, and cousin see her and her son as part of the family. If anyone wants to disapprove, they may do so but they need to take it elsewhere. We love her and her son. Someone doesn't like it, thats their problem. She belongs.

My daughter is begining to really believe she is loved. It is something I wanted for her but was afraid would never happen. It scares her in some ways. I understand that. It makes me sad in some ways. It is what she should have known her whole life. Every child deserves to know that they are loved just because they belong. No child should ever have to believe that they are only loved if they 'earn' it every day.

I had a really bad day yesterday. I have been reading Birthmark by Lorraine Duskey. I saw so many parallels with myself. It all hit me. My daughter has never really felt loved and accepted because of my decision. I can never make that up to her. After a rediculous amount of birthmother guilt I finally came to my senses. I can't change the past. I can live in the present and do everything I can to show her that she is loved and does belong. I have a family who loves us. I can show my grandson that I love him. I can enjoy knowing they love me. Damn I miss her.