Betraying Me

Betrayal is the only truth that ever sticks – Arthur Miller

Over the past few months, I have been approached on a number of fronts to contribute articles to known adoption magazines, anthologies to be published, websites or other channels.

In nearly all cases, I have declined. I opted out of the Origins video shoot. I put off responding to an editor from a well known adoption magazine regarding an article I was asked to contribute to. Recently several friends approached me regarding an anthology that is being published.

It should be no surprise that my hesitation to follow through on any of these opportunities is my daughter, her view of me, my work and writing and also the state of our reunion.

I still have hopes that some day she will want to know me. Someday she will care that she has two brothers that want to know her. Someday she will sit down and share coffee with me in some quiet funky coffee shop. Someday she might be emotionally strong enough to tell me how much adoption sucks and how it complicated her life and how angry she is at me for being too weak to fight the forces that that lead to her being surrendered to a baby broker. I hope for all this and more.

And while I am hoping for this I am still trying to live my life without her, trying to accept that she may never want to know me and while I sit hoping I might be wasting very valuable time that could be used elsewhere, as in writing for any number of publications that have approached me. 

I am simultaneously thrilled and terrified. Being a Gemini, one might think I could handle the intense duality. Yet I cannot. I am literally frozen.

Do I or don't I?

In discussing this recently with a friend, she suggested I consider writing under a pseudonym.

At first, I thought "WHOA! What a great idea!". I could write and my daughter would never know it was me that was writing. I could preserve whatever chances I might have of truly reuniting with her and also write.

And then, something icky crawled up inside me and I found the idea quite unappealing.

A pseudonym feels oddly like, oh, I don't know, being put back in the barfmother closet. It feels like hiding. It feels like I am ashamed to be who I am. It feels like I am once again catering to the needs of others and ignoring my own. It feels like I would be selling my soul again to the closed adoption devil. It feels like this time I would be sending myself away to a maternity home and picking a different name or mother label for myself.

It feels like a betrayal of self. 

Do I or don't I?

Me as Helicopter

Seated to my left was my oldest son, the fifth grader. On his left was his younger brother and farther left my ex husband.

We were seated in a large secondary school theater listening to the principal as he shared all the reasons why we should consider applying for admission to his superior magnet school, recently listed in US News and World Report as one of the top schools in the United States.

My son fidgeted next to me, intermittently interested and most often bored.  Principal Sullivan continued on and reached the slide that indicated the importance and inclusion of family in the school.  One of the bullets on the slide referred to Connect Ed, an on-line service that allowed parents to monitor their child's daily activities. Parents could see if their children arrived to class on time, handed in homework, and many other details.

My son snickered next to me. I suspected he, like me, found that level of involvement to be a bit too intrusive. I questioned if I would ever have the time or desire to monitor every minute of my child's school day.

At the sound of my sons snicker, I turned to him.

"That seems a bit obnoxious, no? Having your parents able to check every minute of your school day?" I suggested

"Yeah, huh…and then some." he responded from behind his long Mitchell Musso-esque bangs.

"Those hovering helicopter parents the principal references would make me nuts" I responded.

"You mean like you, mom?" my son responded.

I winced.  Like me?  what did he mean by that? I kept my thoughts to myself but made a mental note to talk to him later about it.

On our way to dinner a short while later I asked him if he really thought I was one of those hovering mothers.

"Yeah, mom. I do.  You need to lighten up. Chill out, you know" he responded.

"Like what? Give me an example of what I do that makes you feel that way. I am open to change. I don't want to be like that Nik." I responded.

"well, you know…" he said with a quiver in his voice.

I knew this was gonna make him uncomfortable. My son is not the type to criticize anyone. He does not like to tell anyone something bad or problematic about them. He doesn't like to hurt anyone's feelings.

"No, Nik really. I want to know. Its okay." I implore.

He gave me some sort of explanation that seemed lame, avoidant and  made no sense to me. I failed to see how that was considered hovering or smothering. I dropped it for later follow up and additional thought.

I am still startled by this. I really don't think I am a smothering mother. But would I really know? Do mothers who overprotect their children know they are doing it?  Do we justify it as saying we are being the best mother possible?

I am very aware that mothers who have lost their children to the adoption machine have the propensity to be overly protective or incredibly distant. We either try too hard to prove how worthy we are (and always were) of our children or we remain unattached to avoid the possibility of attachment and losing them. I have tried to find a comfortable middleground there.

Have I failed?

Back?

"How frail the human heart must be —a mirrored pool of thought. " – Sylvia Plath

Dan welcomed me back. I am not sure I am "back" per se. Frankly, I still don't know where I am.

I reopened the blog for a number of reasons but I am not necessarily posting. I am still trying to avoid certain topics and look inside for the answers to others.

I wrote my daughter a holiday note and did not get a response. I am kinda okay with that. I have learned to expect it. I told her I would write her again for her birthday next year. She has left a few of her on-line sites public so I am able to peek in and see she is still alive and breathing. I have also had the benefit of google alerts and I regularly get updates on her professional work. I guess I am managing. Her avoidance of me makes me deeply sad of course but even that I have started to accept. Mothers who lose their children become accustomed to having our needs, feelings, desires, etc. avoided, neglected, minimized, dismissed or misunderstood.

My task is to not internalize it. I must not become bitter or angry or allow her avoidance of me to erode my own self-esteem. It is about her – not me.

This is actually one of the topics I am working on with my therapist. How to resolve my feelings of sadness and anger and more when I am ignored by my child. I don't understand that. Correction, my heart doesn't understand it. Of course I can understand from a textbook perspective. I understand primal wound, adoptee anger, abandonment from a clinical perspective. My heart just cannot get it. I feel like my heart HAS to get it. If my heart can find some sort of peace it wont hurt so much. Why doesn't she want to know me? my heart asks.  My head will respond with adoptee psychology textbook answers but my heart is not happy with them. It needs something more. My heart isn't logical. My heart screams and yells and shakes its fist to the sky and stomps around like an angry toddler. My heart refuses to accept the textbook, cold, official answers. It wants more.

Why don't I even get a "hello" or "thank you" or "I am doing okay, thanks". Yes, yes, again I KNOW (or my head knows) there are adoptee issues and reasons for this. This statement is not about persecuting her or her choices it is about ME and how they make me feel and how I wrestle with understanding them. Lacking any feedback from her, I torture myself with wild thoughts.

I swing out of control between my head and my heart. I really want to land somewhere.  I want that place to be comfy and soft and safe and happy and I want to stay there, in that magical land, until the day she feels comfortable to know me.

On and on and on the feelings go.

I am pummeled with them daily, most often at night when my room is dark and my children are asleep. Laying in my bed, I roll on my right side, tuck my hand under my pillow and allow the ache to lay down beside me. It comes slowly at first. I push it away. I tell it that it is not welcome on my fine white sheets. I demand it leave my room. It is not welcome.

And yet it overpowers me. Like a lover it reclines next to me and reaches into my wounded heart and begins to squeeze.  Long nails pierce heart muscle and cause me to cry out in pain.

It is in those darkened evening hours that I cry alone for the daughter I was not permitted to raise but have loved since the day she was born.