Questionable Healing

“You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose” – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross


1. The action of the verb to heal.
2. The process where the cells in the body regenerate and repair themselves.

I have a problem, a challenge, a barrier in truly accepting the concept of adoption healing. I just don’t see it as possible, as realistic. It might be semantics. I don’t know.

I just cannot grasp it. I find myself weary to trust it. The very words “adoption healing” seems like an oxymoron to me. It’s laughable to me.

For me, at this point, its adoption acceptance. Acceptance of the pain, horror, trauma, and damage done. Learning to live with it like you would a troublesome mother in law. It’s always there, always annoying but you find ways to work around it. You cannot change it. You can only change your reaction to it.

Consider my usual analogy of an amputee victim. Wound, surgery, prosthetic. You learn to walk again with the aid of a prosthetic device but you never forget you once had a leg there. You should have a leg there. You are supposed to have a leg there. According to Phantoms in the Brain, you might even still FEEL your leg there.

It’s the same for me with the loss of my daughter. She is there. I expect her to be there. By the laws of nature she IS there … yet she is not. The laws of man removed her from my arms but the laws of nature left her in my mind, heart and soul. Those phantoms in my brain look for her, expect her and then my mind remembers adoption and we make our conscious adjustments.

Perhaps I take too literal of an approach to healing. To me, healing implies something doesn’t hurt anymore. That you were wounded, you hurt, it stopped hurting and you went on with life. Maybe a scar formed over the wound, maybe not. Regardless, I cannot imagine the day when the loss of my daughter, the damage done to her and my souls by adoption will ever be okay, or not hurting. It’s destroyed me for over twenty years and suddenly it’s going go away?

Even with all the banter in my brain, I am aware of an enormous distrust of the healing concept. After all, twenty years ago I was lied to. I was told I would get over it. I was told it was no big deal and a wonderful thing.

It wasn’t. It was an enormous deception. A crime against my soul.

If it’s so great why did I end up with nightmares, terrors, screaming, hunting apartments for a baby crying, years of therapy, constant anxiety? Is that how I was supposed to “get over it”. Is that how you forget? Do you consider that healing?

And you want me NOW to believe, again, that I can get over it and heal? Why should I believe you this time around?

I must also admit that part of me doesn’t ever want to get over it. I don’t want to prove them right. I don’t want to ever be able to say “Meh, nooo problem, easy squeezy. Give you kid away. You will get over it”.

For some reason Kubler-Ross comes to mind as I write. I read “On Death and Dying” a few years after I lost my daughter. I don’t recall why. I just recall being consumed with death.

I can map the  stages of grief to my adoption trauma. I suspect I am somewhere within Testing and Acceptance.

• Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.
• Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
• Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
• Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
• Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
• Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
• Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.

Acceptance is typically visible by people taking ownership both for themselves and  their actions. They start to do things and take note of the results, and then changing their actions in response. They will appear increasingly happier and more content as they find their way forward.

I get that. I use acceptance as a synonym for healing.  But others tell me that is wrong.

I am not sure I should care. I should probably just do what feels best for me.

9 Thoughts.

  1. I think acceptance is huge. You get acceptance you get it all. I want that.

  2. Injuries caused by separation of mother and child can, in time and with work, be dealt with effectively to the point where the loss will not interfere daily in our lives. Instead, the pain might rear it’s head a few times a year. We may need to cry–get a hug and perhaps vent our anger–but the pain will pass more quickly each time.
    The above is very possible but one has to take the risk of doing the work. .Inner child work, works. Have you tried the full routine? I think telling people that they cannot heal is not ok! Just because you haven’t done enough to heal, there is no reason to take hope from others

  3. K pointed me to your blog, and this entry specifically. I’ve missed you on LJ!!
    Something struck me as I read your entry here.
    You don’t believe that healing from the wounds of adoption can happen. What struck me as I read was that you don’t seem to want it to be possible to heal. If healing is possible, then it would be counter-productive to avoid the work required to heal, no matter how long it took. But if you deny that healing is possible, you never have to do the work because there’s no point. Is it possible that you’re avoiding the pain of the work by denying that there’s any point to the work?
    A point to remember about Kubler-Ross’s work is that she made it very clear that moving through the stages of grief and loss is a dynamic process and that you can be in any or all of the stages at any time. There is no linear progression. Even after you’ve reached acceptance there can be times when you get depressed about the loss or angry about the loss.

  4. John and Joe – Wow. look at all the attention i get now? hee hee. hi john and joe. welcome. welcome. and yes, you have both told me the same thing over and over again. clearly, still not there. Maybe some day. Maybe not. Maybe in your way. Maybe in my own.

  5. John – Miss you guys on LJ too. I am sure K told you the story there. Speaking of K, tell her I thank her for sicking her man army on me. 🙂 LOL.
    Joe I wasnt suggestng others cannot “heal”. I believe I was suggesting I debate the concept, word, in relation to MYSELF. Remember, its all about me. Isnt everything? (My inner child says says so) Hahaha.

  6. Suz, I for one, think you are very supportive of other people trying to heal. (There is more to you than just you blog, anyway.) If you thought it was hopeless, I don’t think you would have sent me Joe’s book to read. (Ahem.) In fact, you have gone out of your way to help me and have never seemed fatalistic. Not once have you said “Rebecca, don’t bother, just wallow”. That is so absurd. When I felt like I was moving into acceptance, you didn’t begrudge me that. You’ve continued to encourage me. Keep being you. I remain one of your biggest fans. Much love, Rebecca

  7. Rebecca – Bahaha. Thats hysterical. I forgot I mailed you Joes book. Note to all my friends who sent me all those lovely emails about my anti adoption healing position. Ha ha. Must be the gemini in me.

  8. i wanted to let you know that i appreciate your writing and read your blog regularly.
    the post on your blog that generated so much “junk” really struck a cord with me. i happen to be in full agreement with you. i do not believe that any mother ever heals from the loss of a child, whether that loss come by adoption, death, miscarriage or even infertility. we certainly can learn to cope with life and start from wherever and go forward. but heal?
    IMO, healing implies wholeness, lack of pain, wellness. i am sorry, but even after 27 years, i am not “healed”. even after nearly 6 years of reunion, i am not “healed”. i am able to function, i am able to enjoy my life as it is. but there is still a hole that cannot be “healed”. there is no way to get back those lost years, those lost experiences. that hole is forever in my soul. i can cover it up and hide it from the world so that no one knows but me. but that doesn’t make me “healed”, i am forever un-whole. i lost a piece of my “self”, and that piece will never fit back in the place from which it was removed.
    know that i will continue to read your blog, and that i feel much as you do. thanks again for continuing to write.

  9. Didadee – Thanks for your comments. I am glad you were able to feel validated. As noted, thats my point in sharing. Its nice to know I have company.

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