Seek First to Understand

“To understand everything is to forgive everything” – Buddha

If you were to meet my ex husband he would likely credit me with a few changes in his life. He will tell you it was my influence that got him to try buffalo wings, swiss cheese, get contact lenses instead of thick Doonesbury eyeglasses, and even buy his first sporty type car.

It was an Eagle Talon TSi AWD turbo. He loved it. It was a manual transmission and had a black exterior and grey interior.  Ex hubby is a speed demon and he loves to tell the story of going some crazy speed over the Sikorsky Memorial Bridge “with another gear to go”.

The only negative to the car, and I really cannot blame the car, was that I could not drive it. I have never learned how to drive a manual transmission.

Oh, ex-hubby tried to teach me. He really did.  He wanted me to not only drive that car but to learn in general so we could, in the future, purchase manual transmission vehicles. He wanted desperately to teach me.

On a cold day, on the even colder pavement of the Danbury Fair Mall, he tried.

And he yelled.

And he told me to give it more gas.

And he got out of the car after I told him he was stressing me out.

And he stood by and watched as I ground gears.

And he yelled some more “Why can’t you do this! Why can’t you give it more gas? What is wrong with you?  Can’t you hear what I am saying?”

I tried to explain that I could not “feel” it needing clutch, gas, break, shift, whatever. I couldn’t.

I asked him to draw me a picture. Maybe if I understood mechanically WHAT I was doing, I could then see it in my mind and I could do it.

I needed to understand why I was doing what I was doing.

He laughed at the suggestion. I got angry. I gave up. We went home.

This memory came to me yesterday while I was pondering TheRightThings comments about why I continue to immerse myself in potentially painful adoption books, blogs, etc. if they are so triggering. 

I realized that I am trying to understand and there are times in my reading when things finally make sense and I am able to let them go. So yes, my reading, my writing, my work does indeed over the long term with the right book or words, indeed lessen my pain.

Consider the Lucifer Effect.  The way the system worked AGAINST me and mothers like me may have been obvious to some but it wasn’t to me.   I knew it, on the surface, but I had to read it in the right context, put it in the right context and the LE book did that for me. I was able to clearly, deeply draw parallels to the heinous behavior of those in the Stanford Prison Experiment and even the Abu Ghraib trials. I was finally able to truly see systems theory at work. I could see how I was dehumanized, deindividuated, isolated, intimidated and worse.  I was able to say “HOLY FREAKING MOTHER OF YOUR GOD IT WASN’T JUST ME. I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE TO BLAME FOR THE WOUNDS ON MY DAUGHTERS SOUL!!!”

I did not see it that way before.  The author, Phil Zimbardo, essentially drew me the picture I needed my husband to draw for me 20 years prior. Only Phil’s picture showed how society and systems can make good people do really awful things like give away your child against your will.  Even better, how you can place that child in the care of utter and complete strangers with no idea where they would send her, if they would feed her, or what they would do with her.

At the core, I believe is due to the Oh Shit Moments (OS!M)  that I continue to read and do what I do. As painful as it is, it does indeed help. It makes a difference to me and even to those that I help with search and reunion.  And if its true, that the only way out is through, then I just need to push through this.

To be fair, there are some things I clearly avoid. I don’t participate on forums. I don’t read the blogs of haters – haters who rant about their natural mothers, haters who refuse to see that many mothers had no choice.  I dont fraternize with known adoption nutters.

I just don’t.  As is obvious, I can be my own worse enemy. I have no need to go into the cyber ring with some adoptee or adoptive parents who has the need to lash out and destroy all natural mothers. Those environments do me no good. That is not to suggest those ranters or angry types don’t have a right to be angry – they do, indeed. It does however suggest that I cannot draw a healthy boundary between the role of another mother who abandoned her child and myself. The lines get blurry for me. I feel too deeply, to a paralyzing level, for all of our children that have been wounded by adoption. 

It is as if, I, as a mother who did surrender her child, feel some sort of group collective burden.  It’s hard to explain. It’s like I am attached, on some energetic, psychological level to all mothers who lost their children to adoption.  I can allow myself too easily to accept the pain of others. (This may be rooted in the scapegoat role I held in my alcoholic family system) They drain me and deplete me of very valuable emotional energy that I need to use for myself and my friends that I support. 

I gain  little to nothing by trying to convince some prospective adopter that lives out where Jesus left his shoes that there is evil as well as good in adoption.  I don’t need to debate my position with adoptees who wish to use me as the whipping post stand in for the natural mother they feel abandoned them.  I used to. I don’t anymore.

I have learned my limits. I am indeed selective as to which burning buildings I run into.    When there is a need, a need that appears to have a benefit to the cause, I will refer those individuals to mothers who have a different type of strength than I do.  There are the Clauds and Nics of the world that have the ability to engage in the battles I don’t. I trust in their ability and dedication and also believe that if there is something they believe I can do, they will contact me.

For now, my energies, my dedication is into my own well being, my children (and that includes my daughter) as well as my search, reunion and family preservation efforts.

All that being said, I will continue to read, when I can, as I can, for I am confident it does indeed help me.

But I do greatly appreciate TheRightThings concern. I even appreciate that my ex attempted to teach me to drive a manual transmission. I just really wish he could have drawn me a picture of the engine.

It would have come to me eventually.

3 Thoughts.

  1. Suz,
    Thanks for answering my question. I am so glad that reading or whatever you do helps you heal and that you don’t stay stagnant in your adoption healing. I am glad you know your limits. Some days I wonder where my limits are and then I have to make myself get back on track with healing.
    Again, thanks for pondering on the question and answering it.

  2. I applaud your understanding of and commitment to following the path that is right for you. We have that bond, mothers of loss to adoption, but we are still individuals, in terms of our pregnancy and adoption experiences, our lives after, our reunion relationships or lack thereof.
    You know what to do, in your own best interest, and you are doing it.

  3. TheRightThing, is Suz stagnant in her healing? Doesn’t sound that way to me. Slow moving? Yeah, I don’t think you can push this river. Refusing to give up and settle for some more easily attained resolution? I see that, too. The continents are drifting at about 1-10 cm per year, but that isn’t stagnation. The earth is moving through space 30 km every second, but that’s impossible for us to perceive without instrumentation. Point is that I can watch a cut on my finger heal. Every day there’s a noticeable change as it scabs, edges of the wound draw together, and eventually it is a barely visible scar. That’s a little hurt, while the hurts many suffer in their adoption experiences are big; continental sized, planet sized. The movement and change is there. Don’t be fooled by your senses.

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