The pain is unrelenting; one does not abandon, even briefly, one’s bed of nails, but is attached to it wherever one goes.” – William Styron
In 1995, prior to getting married, I had several conversations with my fiancé about my daughter’s existence. One of the many topics I urged him to consider was sharing my daughter’s birth and surrender to adoption with his mother.
He chose not to.
I never pushed the topic but I felt it was a mistake. I really felt, deep in my soul, that it was a bad idea not to tell his mother that her future daughter in law had a child out of wedlock.
I don’t know what I was hoping to prove back then or why it mattered to me so much but I do know now that his decision NOT to was interpreted by me as a shame based response. Perhaps it was my usual litmus test. Prove to me that you can handle this. Prove to me that you really are okay with this. Stand up for me. Show the world you believe in me.
His decision was to not share it with her. I took it that he was indeed embarrassed by me and that he did not want to have to deal with his mothers reactions.
I have no idea if any of this is true and I am not intending to speak for him. What I am intending to do is highlight one of the many ways that adoption trauma wove itself into every life defining moment for me.
In reflecting on that time today, I realized perhaps for the first time, that it wasn’t just my fear that was urging him to tell his mother but I was also hoping, for once in my life, someone, ANYONE, would stand up publicly for me and say I did an okay thing and they were not ashamed of me, that I was not evil, rotten, wrong or bad. I wanted someone, anyone, to say it was okay, that I was okay and that they stood by me.
I just wanted someone to please stand in the fire with me and not shrink back.
Inadvertently, intentionally or not, the decision not to inform my mother in law – at that time – of my daughters existence pound another nail into my coffin of shame.
I really hate those nails.