“I cut myself again and again to remind myself of you.” –Scream of the Butterfly, Acid Bath
When I told my eldest son about the existence of his half sister, I focused in on two areas, or root causes, of my loss. I told him:
- I did not have a job
- I did not have a place to live.
I did not make a big deal about not having a husband. I did that intentionally. My belief is that families come in all shapes and sizes and colors and qualities and that the Husband-Wife combo is but one of those possible configurations. I have (and my son knows them) gay friends with children. I have single mom friends with children. I have divorced dad friends with custody of their children. You don’t HAVE to have an opposite sex partner to raise children.
I intentionally steered away from the lack of husband as it conflicted with my own desires for my children. I want to teach them openness, and tolerance and respect for all types of families.
So, I landed with the lack of job explanation and housing. I could not feed her and I had no place to live. My son was 7 when I told him this. Really, what option or other explanation could I have reasonably given him?
I did not tell him the awful things my father said to me. I did not tell him how my mother ignored me and gleefully whisked me away to the maternity home one thousand miles away. I did not tell him about the baby broker who lied to me, threatened to sue me, intimidated me. I didn’t. Would you tell a seven year old those types of things?
I wanted to protect him and well, yeah, even my parents. And even my daughter’s father. (Translate: I don’t want to hold others responsible. It’s my entire fault. Blame me.)
I have recently been advised that I may want to correct myself.
Huh? The truth is that I was coerced and lied to and deceived and used and manipulated. Why am I hiding that fact from my child?
It was suggested to me that my explanations to my son appear to make the loss of my daughter to be MY FAULT. I wasn’t smart enough to find/get/keep a job. I wasn’t savvy or lovable enough to have someone allow me and my child to live with them. I am still, even with my subsequent children making the situation my fault.
When the day comes (if it already hasn’t) that my son is angry and grief stricken about the sister he may never know, do I want him to lash out and be angry at me or do I want him to be angry at the system that soul raped his mother and his older sister?
I never looked at it that way.
Does my son see it that way? Will he some day understand the welfare system and ask me why I did not go on welfare to keep his sister with me? Will he wonder why I did not find a place to live? If does, what will I say then? Will I tell him the truth or will I find someway to twist it to make it look like, well, my fault? What do I gain by making it my fault? What old learned behavior am I perpetuating by making it all my fault?
I was reminded that thousands of women the world over have and KEEP babies WITHOUT HAVING A JOB.
I was reminded that an equal number of women have babies without having a place to live. They live with family, friends, shelters etc.
It was suggested that I tell my son the truth. Tell him that there are people in this world who do horrible things to vulnerable young woman. Horrible people who think rich people deserve babies and poor people dont. People who punish young mothers for doing nothing wrong than loving the father of their eventual child.
Tell him that some bad people did bad things to me. Tell him that people who said they loved me did not support me. Stop telling him, if even subtly, that his mother was bad and wrong. Stop making it my fault.
I agree with the concept. I see their point but I am not prepared to explain that. At least not yet. I question his ability to understand (or is it my own ability to handle the explanation?).
My oldest son is a deeply insightful, intuitive, caring child. Do I want him to think it was my fault his sister was lost to adoption or do I want him to have empathy for me? Do I want him to think that his mother is a bad woman who willy nilly gives babies away or do I want him to know that I was a victim? Do I want him to blame me just like my parents, society, and others have done in the past? When will I cut myself a break? When will I stop the insanity?
Truth is I believe my son can and someday will understand this. My delay in telling him the truth is likely due not to his limitations or inabilities but to my own.
That much I do know. For some reason I still want to (although to a much lesser degree than year past) to flagellate myself.
I am an emotional cutter.