Pain

“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that’s bullshit. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they’re afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they’re wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It’s all in how you carry it. That’s what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you’re letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.” – Jim Morrison

While I am clearly struggling with accepting the fact that the loss of my daughter from my life could or would ever been okay, I have been able to let go of some of the negative emotions and anger surrounding the loss of her. I see these as two separate things. The loss will always be there and will always hurt but the events that lead up the loss can be minimized or “let go”, at least for me.

I achieved these things in a variety of manners. They varied based upon the event, person, topic at hand. Clearly, only my approach and I share not to recommend others do the same, but to note what worked for me and worked well.

I had been angry or emotional at a few things over the years. Three of the top five:

  • My Daughters father
  • Her Birthday
  • Being interred in a maternity home

Natural Father
My daughter’s father and I had quite a relationship. To protect him, his family and even my daughter, I don’t share it. She was conceived in love. End of story as it will be shared publicly. I was deeply distraught following the loss of her not only with losing her but with losing him. The agencies tactics, the way the situation played out, left a lot of unanswered questions and unresolved grief. I needed so badly to talk with him about all the pain, torment, sadness and I could not. It was just pushed aside. He went on with his life and I went on with mine. But that anger, sadness, torment, bubbled in my soul. It affected every relationship I had following him.

When I found her, I contacted him via email. I had always kept tabs on him for her benefit. I knew where he was, that he was married, had other children, etc. I thought I should “warn” him that should she ask, I was going to give her his name and contact details. I had no idea if he had told his family (as far I knew he never did) and I wanted to give him that chance. (Note, I lived to regret the entire approach I took here but that’s an entirely different story).

Long story short: I finally got the opportunity after nearly 20 years to talk with him. We cried. We apologized. We asked and answered questions for each other. We filled in gaps. I had no idea how things had been positioned to him. My mind had blocked a lot out and talking to him brought back emotional tidal waves.  I was told a lot of lies by the agency and by others. The differing realities were startling. What he remembered versus what I remember, things he had been told (that were contrary to what I had been told). It became so obvious how he had been played, just as well as I had, by the agency and by my parents and society at large. Lacking information, you fill in your own gaps and you don’t always fill them in with healthy information.

I forgave him. I let go of that anger at him. I did not want to carry it around. He is a good man. Always was. Could he have changed things? Sure. So could a lot o others (including myself). Should my daughter ever want to meet him, or ask about him, I don’t want any weirdness. Any negative projections. I want her to feel comfortable to talk about him, develop a relationship with him – separate from me. Its not a bleeding wound anymore. If she wants to talk about him with me, she can.

Birthdays
Up until the day I found my daughter, her birthday would be torture. I would often take the day off of work, lay in bed and cry. Sometimes I would go out for a long walk and many times I would plant trees or flowers in her memory.  I would wonder what she got for her birthday, how it was celebrated, if she had a cake, did she like cake, did she have big parties, what did she look like, did she think of me, did her adoptive mother think of me,  was she even alive. Torture. Utter complete torture. Having a major wound ripped open once a year.  Emotional annihilation.

The first year in reunion with my daughter, I celebrated her birthday by driving back to the place she was conceived. I walked the shores of the beach. I brought some candles, I brought pictures of her with me.  I burnt sage. I talked to her and to myself. It was symbolic to me. I am into symbolism. To bring her back to the place where her life began.

I celebrate her birthdays now. Now I can send her presents, ecards. Gone are the days of weeping alone. Now I celebrate her. I also celebrate the day I found her again. I send her gifts and messages on that day too. Its like her second birthday to me. Her reunion anniversary birthday. She thinks I am a bit silly but she tolerates it.

Maternity Home
While some women I know thought their stay in a home was a big dorm party, I despised it. One thousand miles from my family, the father, and friends, I was terrified and alone. I cried almost non stop. I was depressed. I hated the building, the food, the monitoring of our comings and goings, scrubbing the nasty bathrooms, the chores. When I think back now, the visual I get is a lonely, fully pregnant young girl in a stark room with a window open. She is in shadow. You cannot really see her face. But then again, no one really saw her did they? Its very cold in there. Single bed, small desk. Sink and closet. Green vinyl flooring. So cold. So very cold. I wish I was an artist or painter. I could draw or paint the picture in my head.

The same year I found my daughter I went back to the maternity home. Alone. I had to. Something inside me demanded it. I flew to Chicago. Checked into a nice hotel and hopped the El up to Lincoln Park. I walked the same streets I walked then. I took pictures. The closer I got to the home the more labored my breathing became. Many times I had to stop and sit down on the steps of some fancy Lincoln Park home to catch my breath and cry.

This is where my inner child work came in handy. I felt the emotion, the tears, the terror was my 18 year old self acting up. She (I) was afraid to face the place that took her baby. She (I) was afraid to go back there. To feel the dead dying energy of a building that kept women locked up and then took their babies.  I talked to myself at those emotional times. I told myself she was back, we had her back, we knew where our baby was. She’s okay. I am okay. We will be okay.

I stood across the street from the home and my internal dialogue was one of spite. I literally talked to the building. I mocked it. I told it that it took my baby but I got her back. I was victorious.

Some might find this crazy, but to me it was symbolic. Closure. Ironing a wrinkle in time. Righting a wrong. Flattening a rippled force field. Giving back to Mother Nature what man had taken away.

Following the home, I bordered buses and trains and went to the hospital she was born at. Same thing. Same emotion. Same internal dialogue. But this time I was taking her back versus giving her away. I had a picture of her in my hand. I walked the halls of the hospital, the grounds and I held her pictures close to my heart. Its okay, I told myself.

I also went to Lake Michigan, with a plastic bottle. I had written some angry words, some thoughts. I put some pictures in there and I literally let them go. Dropped them in the lake and watched them float away. I suppose burning would have been more appropriate but for some reason I wanted to see the anger float away from me. Leave me. Not just burn in front of me.

Sure, I have more to work through. I never doubted that. But I am proud of how far I have come in managing my pain.

It’s not good.

It’s not healed.

But it’s lessened.

5 Thoughts.

  1. Very powerful very moving. It brings tears to my eyes. How I wish my mother was like you!! I want so desparately to believe that there is a little bit of you inside her. In fact I pray about it every night.

  2. wow. i wish i was in a better place to follow some of these acts. but i’m not ready, i’m still too raw.
    thank you, Suz, for the inspiration.

  3. Do you know how far the two of us have come in the last two years? I think very, very far. From the day you heard me wail to now. Healing is different for all of us. You and I have some things in common, and other things we differ widely on. Healing comes to each of us in it’s own time. I want you to know I love you, you are the sister of my heart. The sister I wish I had, had to tell me all that I should have know.
    Mary

  4. Suz,
    Thank you for sharing so much of your “backstory.” I think details are VERY important and it was really helpful to see how you dealt with all those complicated feelings you had toward the father of your daughter. As an adoptee with a comparatively inarticulate first mother, your story adds to my understanding of what she might have experienced although, I suspect, she’s led such a tough life that she’s VERY detached and shut off from her emotions. But, like Barb, I too wish my mother was more like you!

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