Our Truths

I found my daughter online not quite ten years ago.   She confirmed for me I had the correct person and we exchanged a few emails.  I believe we also once chatted via AOL instant message.  Sometime during the exchange, she shared a fear. She feared I expected her to be something she was not.  She never told me exactly what that meant. I should have asked as I presumptuously assured her I did not. I told her I wanted to know who she is today and I had no expectations.

This was an honest statement by one side of my personality – the adult, mature, educated side.  I had read my books, talked to my adoptee friends, and absorbed all the suggested do’s and do not’s of reunion. I was mindful of the name issue. I never pushed meeting face to face. I asked permission to send presents. I told her she was driving us to whatever destination might be down our reunion road. I tried to be really good and respectful and give her space. When she told me to go away, I did. Even after going away I worked to keep the doors open so that she would feel welcome to contact me in the future should she change her mind.

I was very sincere in all sentiments. I did not expect her to be anything in particular. I was blissfully happy to know she was alive.  I knew what she looked like. I knew where she was.

I have recently realized I was not completely honest with her or even myself back then.

There was (and still is) a version of me that did have expectations.

And still does.

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Since May 19, 1986 (the day I surrendered my daughter to closed stranger adoption),   I have had to deal with a certain duality, a split personality of sorts.  Inside my singular body exists two strong-minded women.  There is the young eighteen-year-old mother surrendering her child as well as the forty seven year old women I am today.  As I write this, I am the forty-seven year old professional, successful parent of two sons, volunteer, student, writer, wife and activist and yet I am simultaneously that eighteen-year old mother alone without her child. Always. At the same time.  This dual existence may not be obvious to the outside world but to me, I feel it, her, us, every day. She kicks me in the throat and stops my words from coming. She pinches me behind the eyes and causes salty tears to gather in glassy pools on my lower eyelids. She weighs me down in the morning and prevents me from getting out of bed at a decent time.

I am both of these women at all times.

The older version of me?  The today me? Curvy chick with purple hair? She is the one who spoke for us and said we did not expect anything.   She/I was wrong.  While she/I meant what we said, we did not have the right to speak for the red haired eighteen-year-old mother as well. We failed to consult her.

This eighteen year old mother has been really pissed off at the older version me for almost ten years. She did have expectations. She was promised certain things.  She believed in them and waited for the day they would arrive. She hung her sanity on their existence.

Is it any wonder she is trashing inside of me angry that none of those things have come true?

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How do I apologize?

What do I tell her?

How can I make sense of that which does not make sense and may never make sense?

10 Thoughts.

  1. *sigh* and (((((((hug)))))))

    The paradoxical state that adoption sets up in mothers and adoptees hurt and cause long-term emotional damage. Yet adoption facilitators and proponents still package it up as “getting on” with one’s life, and way too many people believe it.

    It’s bullshit, just like the notion that adoptees are fine without their birth identities. Pure bullshit.

    • Agreed Margie. As I wrote this I thought “geez, I sound like a crazy person, split personality, multiple personality”. While not obvious on the outside, inside I very much am and it is a daily struggle.

  2. OMG! I too had a facade that I believed was oh so wise and mature . Every word I exchanged with my son during our short lived reunion was carefully thought out and chosen. When he asked for no further contact I wrote what I considered to be a masterpiece of a reply. So understanding – so accepting. Meanwhile in the background was the young girl, still bleeding from being ripped from my only child. It was just a matter of time before she would take over – my internal dialogue became words on a Facebook message, full of regret, unimaginable hurt and at least a couple of really passive aggressive remarks. I regretted it as soon as I hit “send” and later apologized. The funny thing is that I feel better now, having told him how I really feel. He, of course, did not reply but that’s OK. The young wounded me got a chance to say her piece . The inner dialogue still goes on and sometimes I wonder what kind of a relationship my son and I would have had based on who I thought I should be – not who I actually am. Does this make sense?

  3. It makes sense to me Veronika. Not sure if that is a good thing. LOL.

    However, I disagree with your choice of the word facade. I believe that was likely a true part of your personality, not fake. The challenge (at least for me) is that both parts are equally real but society only acknowledges one. How to integrate the other?

    I also suspect the person you/I would be is a blending of the two however that assumes society (your son, family, etc.) accepts both sides. In my case, that is not true.

    • Thank you for explaining that Suz. I too felt like I was projecting a false front. The smiley, I’m (hahahahha) functioning front to the world… but now you make me see that yes, it is a split of two very real parts of ourselves, that society/family only acknowledge or allow one part of. Yes!! Thank you! By society not allowing the one, as Veronika so aptly put it, ”the young girl still bleeding from being ripped from my only child”, then the other part (the wise, mature, reasonable, functioning version) sometimes (often!) feels like a façade. They are truly both parts of who we are…. this blog and comments have been more helpful than a year in therapy. Blending of the two … or a healing of the split that happened at the loss of our children and ourselves.
      To be whole… again. It’s hard to know exactly what and how to say to my son (he found me) It’s like I’m still ”waiting for permission” to be a part of my own son’s existence. Not from him. He has been ..incredibly supportive.. but I have been silent now for a week.. it is like (in my mind) I’m not allowed my own son.. how sad is that. I don’t know how to be a mother, I don’t know how to be a grandmother, I don’t know how to be….. me and it’s sending me into the I have to pull back mode.
      “Thrashing inside of me angry”.. yeah, I get that too.

  4. I bleed reading this – I want so much to believe my mom could have opened her mind the way you have…but she died.
    As an adoptee, I can only hope your daughter will reach an age where she will open herself – and find these posts and contact you. Don’t give up on her Suz.

      • Thank you for your very insightful posts Suz. Just when I start feeling like a freak, you come out with words that I so very much need to hear.

  5. Pingback: Giving Up | Writing My Wrongs

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