In my previous post, I asked my readers to share their thoughts on “giving up” on a reunion. Thank you to the many that participated and provided commentary. As I suspected, it was rather interesting. Opinions differed and yet I agreed with them all. How can this be?
The answer is that “giving up” in relation to reunion, for me, is complex and has many facets. Each of you likely responded to one or more of these facets.
How do I interpret “giving up”? Rather than telling you how I interpret it, I will share examples of living it.
Giving Up the Dream – I gave up the idea or notion that closed stranger adoption created a better child than the one I could have raised had I kept her. This was not easy. For admitting that my daughter was nothing fabulous after all, just a regular person like you and me, complete with positive and negative personality traits, was tremendously difficult for me to admit. For eighteen years, I hung my sanity on the belief hangar that the adoption was necessary, it was better, and it would result in me finding an amazing person. When I found a middle class regular young women complete with everyday problems the rest of us have? Ouch. My daughter did not get a better life. She got a different one.
Giving Up Delusions – Discarding the daily thought anxiety surrounding the notion “today might be THEE day my daughter suddenly cares about me and writes to me”. Early on after I found her, despite all indication to the opposite, I regularly thought that things would change. I frantically checked email. I sent birthday greetings and holiday hellos with the hope that the magical day of reciprocity had arrived. I set myself up for constant disappointment. Discarding this idea took some time. For me, absence did not make the heart grow fonder but it did make it grow wiser.
Very real and current example of this. My employer recognized my work recently. The recognition includes a bonus as well as a two-night, three-day stay in NYC, lodging at the Waldorf Astoria, a fancy awards gala and other perks. My daughter works in NYC. Years ago, despite not having heard from her for years, I would have written her, told her I would be in town, and asked her if she wanted to meet for a drink. I would get all worked up with hope and later disappointment when there was no response. While I still think of these things, I no longer act on them. My plus one for the event will be my mother (hubby is away on a golf trip) and it occurred to me that my mother is the only person in my family that held my daughter. My mother is aging. This might be a rare chance for my daughter to meet her first grandmother. It all sounds so touching and convenient. It is not. It is setting myself up for repeated rejection. My daughter is not to blame here. I am. She made her position clear. It just took me a few years to accept the painful truth of it.
Giving Up Still More Delusions – Accepting the reality that talking about my daughter did not guarantee my sons would not be confused by her absence. If anything, talking about her openly only confused them further. It prompted questions I could not answer. For this reason and many more, I ceased openly discussing her existence with them. In addition, I removed any pictures previously on display. I gave up the notion that I had the ability to influence how they might feel. I do not. This is not to suggest I would refuse questions. I welcome them but they must come from my children organically and not prompted by me directly or indirectly. They are welcome to contact her on their own if/when they wish. My oldest son has definite knowledge of her but my youngest is a little fuzzy on the subject. Unlike the approach I took with his brother, I have done very little to bring his view into focus. I will have to one day open the jar of emotions I sealed years ago and let them traverse his emotional landscape like ants to a picnic. I will deal with that when the time comes. Until then, I am no longer brokering/forcing/hoping for these relationships. I will not demand my sons care for an absent sister that does not care for them in return.
That Open Door
Have I “left the door open” for the future. Yes. I can confirm I have. The door will always be open. However, the door is heavier and harder to open. The hinges may creak and it may just open a little slower.
I feel different today than I did ten years ago. When I found her I was very open, joyous, and overflowing with welcoming thoughts and feelings for her. I was also a bit delusional. She had an all-access pass to every aspect of my life without reservation. Me, my immediate family, my extended family, my career contacts, whatever she wished. My heart was on a plate and I served it up with my best family silver.
I have reservations. The events of the past ten years give me pause. I will be a bit less open at first should she contact me. I know this. I may try to fight it but experience is a great teacher and ten years’ experience has taught me to be more cautious, more tentative. Have more respect for myself. Proceed with caution. Objects in the emotional rearview mirror are larger than they appear.
Some may find this reasonable. I will admit it saddens me.
My friend Psychobabbler once said this was a normal, acceptable progression. I wish I could agree with her. To me it feels wrong, like I have less love, but judging my feelings by saying they are wrong or right does little to change their existence. It is my reality. I must respect it if I ever expect anyone else to.
Would I refuse contact?
Think about it, specifically the what’s, where’s, whys and how’s of it? Set some boundaries?