Its a Pull Not Push

"The courage to speak your own truth always frees someone else" –  Oprah

I have a number of family members that are alcoholics and addicts. I have some that are both – dual diagnosis.

I found it interesting at one time that the individuals that were both addicts and alcoholics could easily admit to the drug addiction but not the alcohol problem.

It should have made sense to me at the time.

It didn’t.

Not having suffered the diseases, of course I wouldn’t understand. It just stumped me. Isn’t being an addict worse than an alcoholic? Better yet, does it really matter? (Clearly, I was pretty ignorant at that time).

The Dual Diagnosis (DD) family member later told me it was harder to admit they were an alcoholic because they had told themselves for years “that would never happen to me”. They had looked with disgust at our other alcohol family members. DD would NEVER be a drunk, wino, an alkie. The drug addiction took them by surprise, was “new” in our family, it was easier to accept. It wasn’t expected.

Interestingly, during DDs  early recovery DD avoided the alcoholics in the family. DD talked freely about addiction but avoided the alcohol component. They didn’t have a problem.

We talked about this in later years and DD informed me that being around the family known alcoholic was too painful. It was like looking in the mirror. As long as they did not see that family member, they did not see the alcoholic in themselves.

Duh.

Of course I get that now.

What the heck does this story have to do with adoption?

Someone suggested a similar concept to me today.

In discussing my daughters resistance to reunion with a friend, the friend asked if I had considered that one of the reasons my daughter avoids me, it, is well, me and my involvement in adoption.

(Yes, I have considered it and believe there is probably some truth).

Meaning, if she wants to avoid dealing with adoption, and she comes from an adoptive family that denies it, does she REALLY want to deal with me? The poster child for all that is wrong in adoption? Me? That writes publicly, shares on taped radio shows, runs support groups, websites, etc. Its quite probable, I am, the physical manifestation of what she wants to avoid. Maybe her worst nightmare.

Yes, yes. I get that. I really do.

This friend went further to suggest that perhaps I should NOT do what I do and that would make my daughter more comfortable. Friend suggested I should stop expressing myself…to make her more comfortable. To well, join her in her possible denial.

Um.
Err.
No.

My daughter and I have lightly discussed this. When she expressed discomfort at this very blog, I told her I understood, but that I worked hard to leave her out of it, I don’t publish her name, location, school, pictures, etc. I respect her privacy.

“Yeah, but its about me” she said
“Um, yeah, but its also about me”.

I told her I would think about it. I told her I felt uncomfortable changing myself into someone/something I wasn’t to make her comfortable. (Enabling comes to mind). I told her that triggered memories of why she was surrendered in the first place. (To make my parents, her adopters, the agency…all more comfortable and fat and happy).  I really couldn’t do that.

Equally important (but what I did not say to her), is that this stuff is Me. Not All of me, but part of me. And I want her to know ME..not some fairy tale, comfortable version of me.

I can respect boundaries. I don’t expect her to support my cause, my thoughts. She doesn’t want to talk this stuff, I understand. So I don’t talk this stuff with her. However, should she ever change her mind, I am happy to do so. Consider it a pull and not a push.

She asks questions now and then. I answer them. Simply. Directly. Only what was asked. Kinda like what you do with all children. Sure, she is an adult but our relationship is an immature one.  Technical, in contact years, she is a 2.5 year old. I take the approach I take with my other children. I answer only what is asked and don’t push more. I leave it up to her to decide when, what, if she wants more.

Does this possibility make me sad?

Sure. But what options do I have?

An adoptive mom friend of mine says I have patience of a saint. No. Not really. I just treat her the way I would want to be treated.  Hopefully, since she is my child, she appreciates that.

Only time will tell.

11 Thoughts.

  1. Suz, The things friends say! They mean well, but sometimes, it just makes one feel more lonely and isolated because the suggestions are so off base. Was glad to read that you didn’t entertain the notion because voices like yours are critical in adoption reform. I can’t help but think your daughter, one day, will want to ask lots and lots of questions and, until then, it sounds like you are talking with her in the most sensitive way possible. I can’t imagine, pre-therapy and pre-admitting-that-adoption-sucks-and-I-want-to-explore-its-impact-on-my-life epiphany, how I might have reacted to a smart mother who is reflective and smart and relatively anti-industry/establishment. Not ver well, I suspect. Stay true so you can be true to your evolving daughter.

  2. Ahhh be true to yourself.
    I think about the day, when after over 5 years of patiently waiting, it was like a switch went off in my son and our reunion really started. When I asked him why, he said “I just felt like it was time” It has never gone back to the way it was before that day. I keep hoping for the same with you and your daughter.
    MSP

  3. Suz I admire your courage and strength to stay true to yourself.
    It is very validating because sometimes I second guess my decision to be so candid in my Blog.
    Thank you.
    Thank you for helping me continue on my path of “healing” (for lack of a better word).

  4. Suz, I respectfully disagree with your friend. I think M needs to know that you will be consistant and keep being you. Love you just the way you, Rebecca

  5. Hey Suz,
    You’re doing good. You are so awsome. You’re ability to be true and real and to explore these issues has personally, directly, helped me to do the same! And exploring these issues, is what I need to do to be me and to create a real and a strong bond with all of my family.
    Many would think we’re torturing ourselves, generating unhappyness, obsessing, but I beg to differ.
    I think we’re on the way to self-actualisation.
    What your daughter may or may not think of you, because you choose to explore these issues, is exactly what my birth-grandmother thought/thinks of me… but as you stated, what are we meant to do, deny who and what we are as people. I think not!
    Keep up the awsome work and thanks for reading my blog :).

  6. Honey, your doing the right thing for both of you – being you. When she finally comes to terms with everything and she WILL, she’ll know the real you, an honest, loving and somewhat crazy lady!
    Then and only then will she fully understand just how lucky she is to have a mom like you.
    Keep doing what your doing, it will pay off in the long run!
    Mo xoxoxo

  7. I am too glad that you didn’t take friend’s suggestion to heart.
    I think your daughter will come around, I think she has got too much you in her not to.
    I don’t think going backwards run is helpful for anyone.

  8. It certainly isn’t all that you are but it’s such a huge part that to deny or ignore it would be to not know you. No solid relationship can be established based on half truths.
    You are doing well Suz. xoxo

  9. Suz…I have to believe, with you, that your daughter does or will appreciate at sometime and some level the approach you are taking with her. Yeah, its slow in developing. I think there was a song once about, “You can’t hurry love”. It blossums in its own time and way. I only hope we are all here to read about it and share with you that moment.

  10. What your friend suggested is what I believe society in general would suggest. You have been violated by a system that gave you no support when you needed it most. Society’s response to that should be to correct the practices and laws that allowed to happen, not to suggest that you should sit down and be quiet.

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