Better here? Or Better Here?

"and I have the sense to recognize that
I don’t know how to let you go
every moment marked
with apparitions of your soul
I’m ever swiftly moving
trying to escape this desire
the yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do
the yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do
but I have the sense to recognize

that I don’t know how
to let you go
I don’t know how
to let you go"
Sarah MacLachlan, Do What You Have to Do

“Is it harder pre or post reunion?”, she asked me.

I paused.

I am not sure it’s a matter of harder. But different.  What used to destroy me daily no longer does – but different things do.  The intensity is probably the same. Its like I traded in one color object for another but it’s still the same size and shape object.

It’s a matter of quality, quantity, intensity, frequency.

Pre reunion:
I was filled for 20 years with a general sense of dis-ease. A sickness. A pain. A torment.  Worry. Chronic Anxiety. Nightmares. Flashbacks. Shame. Even survivor guilt (Meaning, I should not be having a good life, I should be punished for giving away my daughter. I could not enjoy anything.) I suffered from low self esteem and shattered self confidence. Always a socially anxious person, I became even more introverted. I was always afraid. Afraid of people, places, new experiences. (OMG, someone might find out what I did!). I became hypervigilant. I struggled in crowds. I worked best alone. I was suspicious of everyone.  I had a small circle of friends. I focused on my work and built a good career. Hours upon hours I would spend alone, in the office, writing, working, developing. My private sanatorium.

I was good at putting on fronts, facades, making things appear as if I was “okay”. No one knew I often went home and laid in bed for days and did not shower or eat. The only thing, and I mean only thing that kept me going and moving was the need to pay for housing and food. I am quite confident if I could have mooched off of someone, I would have done so. But there was no one there. Just me. It was do or die. And I did (do that is).

I thought of her daily. I woke in the morning and the anxiety was there. The knowledge that she was out there, somewhere, with someone. The physical pain of her not being with me. The worry.  I pushed the anxiety and fear away and functioned.  I would retire at night and she would be there again. Ghostly apparitions of her soul.

She changed over the years. I would imagine what she might look like. With each passing year, the apparition grew. Height, weight. I guesstimated what she would look like and act like.

But I could not allow those thoughts for long. They would cripple me.  I would forget to eat. I wouldn’t want to go to work. Reactive depression would prevail.

I thought, early on, that finding her would help with much of this. I thought, good god, just finding that my child was still alive, well, happy would make me feel better. It kind of did but it kind of didn’t. Again, it changed things.

Post Reunion:
Nowadays, I know where she is. I know what she looks like. That ghostly apparition I think of in the morning and at night? It now has a face. And it’s her face. Her real face. Her hair, Her jewelry. Her style. It doesn’t have a voice yet. Its height and weight fluctuates. She is somewhat opaque to me now.

I have come to some better terms with the guilt, shame, embarrassment, anxiety. But the pain, the deep, soul searing, blood curdling, angst? That is still there. As of today, I don’t expect it to go away. I expect to find ways to manage it. To live with it.

I retire at night and I can lay in my bed, for hours, left side, arm snuggled under my pillow, head resting softly. I stare out my window, at the stars and I wonder where she is. If she is looking at the stars too. I often spend hours, days, thinking of her. Wondering if I will hear from her. If I will ever meet her.

I wonder if she thinks of me at all. It appears to me that she doesn’t – or cannot allow herself too. I feel, deep inside, that we could have a very good relationship. But that’s me and my feelings. I have no idea what hers are – not really. I feel she is ambivalent, afraid, unsure, suppressing anger. I could be totally wrong. She has never told me this. I am just assuming based on what little she has shared.

Even though I have found her, I still feel as if something HUGE is missing. I wonder if I will always feel that. Is that the rift of loss? The vacant gaping hole that is caused by losing your child?  Or is that feeling of wanting, aching, grasping for something rooted in the fact that we have not yet met? Does that change once you meet? Is that hole even related to her?  Is it something else in my life that is missing or wrong? Will it ever change?

I am reminded of a commercial on television right now. I don’t recall what product it is for. But there are images of food items and each item has a hole in it, a missing piece. That’s what my life has been like for twenty something years.  A piece of my body and soul is missing.

I know where the piece is but I cannot really ever, truly integrate it.

Not better or worse. Just different.

Just like adoption itself.

My daughter did not get a better life without me.

She got a different one.

6 Thoughts.

  1. My daughter did not get a better life without me.
    She got a different one.

    that says it all doesn’t it??? hugs to you

  2. Absolutely. It’s NOT better. It’s DIFFERENT.
    People who throw the better life nonsense at me are not in my life long. I have a better life without them.
    Suz I’m sorry. This is really sad.

  3. Wow. I’m reunited adoptee and I cry just wondering if my mom had those feelings. I’m so sorry you have suffered so much.

  4. Suz,
    I know this feeling, even though it is coming from the other side of the fence. Its what I think about before bed, and when I awake. I know the face but not the voice. How do I come to terms with this?

  5. So often in the 11+ years that I’ve known my son, even during the hard times, I’ve insisted that knowing is better. And it still is… I think. I’ve had ugly feelings lately, that I can’t do this anymore, that it’s too hard, I want out. He has so much anger, is so demanding and manipulative, some days I want my old life back — the pitiful, empty, false-front 26 years I spent without him. How weird is that? I won’t act on these feelings, at least I don’t think I will. He’s my only child. He has my only grandchildren. I come to my senses and realize that I have to work harder at setting boundaries and not allowing myself to be abused. If I walk away, he will still be in my heart, haunting me until the day I die.

  6. Thank you for your letter. I am going through the pain of recently reconnecting with my daughter.Painful because I want to see her and be there for her so bad. I never wanted to be apart from her. I am reading how common the, “It would be a Better life for her pressure”. My daughter said she was interested in connecting, getting to know me and my sons and meet this vacation. She has blown me off completely. I had e-mail contact with her but she was angered by some things I said.(Misunderstood) I have a feeling that it wouldn’t matter. I am cursed if I do cursed if I don’t. She seems to be unforgiving and selfish. She did express that this was very hard for her and she has been very angry and troubled. I thought that she was wanting to forgive. I wrote her a 5 page letter expressing all the love I have for her etc. It came from my soul. My letter was ignored.I made a special photo album for her. Ignored. Her Adopted mother had written a few times and really wanted us to have a relationship. She said be patient and that she has had a tough journey. I sent my daughter Christmas gifts and my children were angered because they think she is cold and heartless. She has been nothing but rude to me and does not care about me. I had such hopes for us. I look at her Facebook everyday. My son and sister are friends with her on it. Even though they don’t communicate. She is trashy, smokes pot, drinks, tattoos, piercings, self absorbed & vain. Nothing I wanted for her. Her parents got a divorce when she was 8. The whole reason I gave her up. A stable home.
    I can write on and on. A lot of what you wrote hit home for me. I wish I knew what to expect and what she is thinking. My heart hurts worse than ever.
    Thank you.

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