Tapping Nails

The pain is unrelenting; one does not abandon, even briefly, one’s bed of nails, but is attached to it wherever one goes.” – William Styron

In 1995, prior to getting married, I had several conversations with my fiancé about my daughter’s existence.  One of the many topics I urged him to consider was sharing my daughter’s birth and surrender to adoption with his mother.

He chose not to.

I never pushed the topic but I felt it was a mistake. I really felt, deep in my soul, that it was a bad idea not to tell his mother that her future daughter in law had a child out of wedlock.

I don’t know what I was hoping to prove back then or why it mattered to me so much but I do know now that his decision NOT to was interpreted by me as a shame based response. Perhaps it was my usual litmus test. Prove to me that you can handle this. Prove to me that you really are okay with this.  Stand up for me. Show the world you believe in me.

His decision was to not share it with her.  I took it that he was indeed embarrassed by me and that he did not want to have to deal with his mothers reactions.

I have no idea if any of this is true and I am not intending to speak for him. What I am intending to do is highlight one of the many ways that adoption trauma wove itself into every life defining moment for me.

In reflecting on that time today, I realized perhaps for the first time, that it wasn’t just my fear that was urging him to tell his mother but I was also hoping, for once in my life, someone, ANYONE, would stand up publicly for me and say I did an okay thing and they were not ashamed of me, that I was not evil, rotten, wrong or bad. I wanted someone, anyone, to say it was okay, that I was okay and that they stood by me.

I just wanted someone to please stand in the fire with me and not shrink back.

Inadvertently, intentionally or not, the decision not to inform  my mother in law – at that time – of my daughters existence pound another nail into my coffin of shame.

I really hate those nails.

7 Thoughts.

  1. Throw those damn nails away honey, you have NOTHING to be ashamed, or embarrassed about.
    I’ll stand in the fire with you any day!
    Mo xoxo

  2. Kippa – I am sure if you asked my husband he would have said the same. But the point wasnt really if it was her business or not…it was that my shame felt the need to make it her business. Some self-fulfilling prophecy..

  3. I wonder why you weren’t able to tell her yourself?
    My own experience is much different, I was quite angry at my husband (at the time we wre newlyweds) for sharing my experience with a family member who was facing an unplanned pregnancy, it’s not his story to tell. Hard for me to wrap my mind around you asking/wanting him (your fiance) to speak about it.

  4. Wanting him to tell her makes a lot of sense to me. It seems to fit with the way you’ve handled your relationship with your daughter, always keeping her in the family to the greatest extent that you can.
    I wish I’d had the good sense to honor my own feelings that way. So that people know and have the chance to understand you. Cooperating with the mindset of not telling, not acknowledging, complicated my reunion.

  5. Maybe the truth should be printed that your husband tell his mother because it was part of their relationship and not kept from the family because of embarassment – because your spouse accepted it (maybe didn’t fully understand it) and his family should respect that. Maybe the people on this site would like to know what it’s like from the spouse’s point of view of what it means to learn of your partner having a child with another person and then circumstances cause that child to no longer be in the daily life of that spouse? There’s more but why bother…it will most likely be deleted like the blatant censorship that has become the modus operandi of our family fabric today in this country…don’t agree? Just delete…Have a different opinion? Just delete…

  6. “I do know now that his decision NOT to was interpreted by me as a shame based response.”
    This is exactly what I was talking about in my comment on your post from the 21st. And I think when shame motivates our actions, they’re skewed toward a short-term solution. Shame makes us want to fix the problem quick, get past it, and forget about it.
    And at the end of the day, I also believe that men play the shame game to their advantage. It’s the ultimate paradox, I think, that men are often the cause of AND the loudest voices crying against a woman’s “shame.”
    We women have to start standing up for ourselves and reminding society at every opportunity that there is no shame in being human, and certainly no shame in bringing a life into the world. We also need to start welcoming those lives with open hearts and arms, in our families most of all.

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