Seeing the Same Movie Twice

“I went to a fancy french restaurant called "Deja Vu." The headwaiter said, "Don’t I know you?" – Rod Schmidt

I thank my lucky stars that they exist.

They validate and comfort me.

Two other moms, both in reunion with daughters the same age as mine. If that weren’t enough, they also have ambivalent reunions as I do.  While I am sad for them about that, I am happy for me.

See, knowing that they have similar reunions allows me to make my situation more about adoption and my daughter herself than about me.  It’s not just me. Others have this experience too.

Ambivalent reunions like mine can be especially triggering.  See, the movie appears to be the same. It feels like we have seen this show and it can be very difficult to separate the frames from a movie of yesterday from todays movie. They get all jumbled and double exposed. Am I feeling this today or did I feel this yesterday and are they different but similar?

Consider this.

An ambivalent adoptee in reunion who ignores their first mother. Contrast that against the treatment the first mother got while pregnant or following surrendered. Many of us were ignored, completely, by our parents, the babies father, the agencies. We did not exist. Enter upon reunion with an ambivalent adoptee and you are sometimes treated again, as if you don’t exist.

Ambivalent adoptee tells you “How could you do this to me? How could you give me away? How could you be so cruel?” (Lots of me me me talk and little compassion for what the other might have experienced)  Contrast that against our families who said “How could you do this to me? To us? How could you embarrass us so? How can you be so irresponsible?” (More me, me, me talk and no acknowledgement of the emotions of the pregnant mother)

See how wires and feelings can get crossed?

An adoptee who tells a mom like me (I am not suggesting I was told this) that they are not wanted, needed, valued, loved, respected strongly echoes what many of us were told when we were pregnant with those very children. This can be massively triggering to days gone by. Rage and anger that has been suppressed, intended for our parents or agency workers or boyfriends, can all too easily come spewing out at the adoptee.

Adoptees who ignore emails, requests to meet? Contrast that with boyfriends or parents who won’t take our calls, who refuse to be seen in public with us.

It is incredibly difficult to keep the situations separate. Boundaries can get blurred to the point where you don’t know who, what, why you are even upset anymore. You just know you felt this way before.

Moms like me carry a huge fear of rejection. We were thrown away before by our loved ones and we fear, expect, worry we will be thrown away by our children (I realize this mirrors many feelings adoptees have).

When I returned to my parents home following the loss of my daughter, everyone around me pretended things were just like they were before I left. No one asked about my daughter, no one asked about pictures, everyone danced around the elephant the room with glee. I wanted to scream SEE ME, HEAR ME, I NEED TO TALK TO YOU, I NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS.

I am in the same situation again – only it’s now my daughter. I want her to see me, to hear me, to talk with me. But she doesn’t. I understand (thank goodness) the root cause behind this (to some degree) but I must work very very hard not to blur the boundaries. My daughter knows I exist, so do her parents, yet they are going like I don’t. Just like parents did years ago. I am now the big elephant in the room.

The denial, ignoring of me feels exactly the same as it did twenty odd years ago. I am not good enough. I am not wanted. I am the bad girl. I deserve to be punished. My parents and the agency passed the baton to my daughter (or so it can feel).

I reminded my self daily, many times a day, that her behavior is about her. It is about how she was raised, how she feels and what support (or not) her adoptive parents gave her. She does not even know ME. How could it be about me?  How can she possibly form any real valid true opinion of me based on 24 emails over the past two years?

I am not denying my part in her adoption wounds. I have taken ownership of that and I have even apologized to her for my ignorance and naiveté and lack of self esteem.  But I cannot and will not take ownership of her morals, values, or emotional state or the way she behaves towards me and others. Those are hers and hers alone to own.

This is not an easy task. As a mother, even one that did not raise her, I feel it is my fault – completely (don’t all mothers feel that?). Coulda, woulda, shoulda talks with me daily.

I have a tee shirt from emotionalarmor that says “write your own happy ending”. I am hoping, that with time, this movie will end happier than the one I saw all those years ago.

5 Thoughts.

  1. this is an incredible post. it makes so much emotional and rational sense, the way you’ve laid it all out. thank you.

  2. Yeah, thank you. I don’t know if you have a notion how much you have validated me, helped me crawl out from my hole. OXOXOXOXO

  3. “Write your own happy ending”.
    That is BRILLIANT.
    Love you Suz. And it is about her. Know it might not feel like it, but it is. You are WONDERFUL.

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