Giving Up Wishes

""But I can’t give up wishing," said Philip, impatiently. "It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are thoroughly alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger after them. How can we ever be satisfied without them until our feelings are deadened?" – George Eliiot, Mill on the Floss

Her Burberry handbag fell off her lap as she started to sob. I leaned over to help her retreive the contents that had spilled over onto the dirty linoleum floor.

It felt odd to be picking up the contents of strangers purse but it was clear she was in no shape to do it herself.

The Coach wallet, green Clinique compact, and Dior Black Out mascara items amused me. They could have come from my own purse. As I placed them back into her bag and handed it to her, I also reached for a tissue and gave it to her.

The support group leader, a elderly woman with an MSW and years of experience treating families of divorce, continued on.

My Burberry purse friend, a surgeons wife (or more appropriately, ex wife), whimpered softly beside me. I scooted my chair closer to her and put my hand on her knee. She looked up and offered a weak smile of thanks.

"Many survivors of divorce often cite the hardest part of grieving is in what I call giving up the wish" she said.

"What this means is that during the year or years following your divorce you will experience moments of painful grief. You will be celebrating a holiday and find yourself missing your spouse. You may then find yourself crumpled on the bathroom floor aching for things to be as they were supposed to be, as they should be, as they are currently happening in your neighbors’ house across the cul-de-sac. You may spend time fantasizing about reconciliation. You may even take steps towards it. You may work too hard at getting your ex to come back home, to love you again. This is the wish. The wishes for things to be that simply are not and will not be again."

Burberry person friend emits a fairly loud groan. I am startled and quickly retract my hand from her knee.

Noticing the state Burberry purse lady is in; the support group leader suggests a bio-break. I gladly accept.

As an unfortunate number of ex-wives and two soon-to-be ex-husbands wander around in search of coffee, a bathroom or a nicotine fix, I wander outside and ponder leaving.

The support group leader is annoying me. Her voice and accompanying appearance remind me of Edna "E" Mode from The Incredibles. Her glasses are a bit too large for her small head and even smaller frame. The bob hairdo doesn’t help matters. Each time she talks about surviving divorce I find myself wanting to stand up and scream "Go! Confront the problem! Fight! Win! And call me when you get back, dahhhling,…"

I ponder the concept of "Giving Up the Wish" and it reminds me, as so much in my life does, of adoption reunion.

That is exactly where I am at.

Giving up the wish for what could have, should have, and might have been and learning to accept what is.

It isn’t easy.

Motherhood does not come with an off switch. I cannot stop caring about my child simply because she or others tell me too. However, I suppose I could find a different way to care. I could also lower my expectations.

Burberry Purse approaches me and smiles.

"Thanks for picking up my purse and giving me the tissue. Sweet of you" she says.

"No worries. It seemed you needed to cry a bit. I understand" I respond.

"Yeah, I did. I think I still do. I am not so sure I can give up that wish but I think I have to try." Burberry says.

Me too, Burberry, me too.

9 Thoughts.

  1. Oh Suz.
    Once again you write what I need to hear.
    Can I just insert some different words here – for my own situation –
    “Daughterhood does not come with an off switch. I cannot stop caring about my mother simply because she or others tell me too. However, I suppose I could find a different way to care. I could also lower my expectations.”
    Apparently we both have higher expectations than we should have had.
    Thank you for your writing.
    As painful as it is sometimes – for you the writer and for me the reader – thank you.
    Poss. xxxxx

  2. Hey Suz 🙂 Do you remember the portrait family eh painted for us of the family our child needed to have? The wonderful “never get divorced, jungle gym buying, perfectly perfect” family that we could not be? When I went through my divorce (my at home kid’s dad) I totally broke down. I sometimes wonder if the biggest part of that was an aftershock of adoption. I wasn’t “perfectly perfect” for R & J. I have to tell you my 1st marriage was awful. I stayed way to long, I think what I wished it was or what I thought it was and had to be was totally shaped by that “perfectly perfect” family eh convinced me a child had to had. Had I looked at things through clearer eyes I would have seen that I should have walked and taken my children years before.
    Hugs & Love,

  3. I second the motion. I also need to lower my expectations, and I am unable to turn off my feelings.
    I am currently reeling from my crash and burn reunion with my 1st mom. I come to your blog to convince myself that it doesn’t have to be that way. That not every 1st mom wants space and distance. I think of the irony– how much I would love to have this kind of connection.
    I am so sad for your pain and mine as well. Life isn’t fair, is it?
    Thank you for sharing your story with us. You are a firefly in the darkness of adoption. I hope that you do not give up, but I understand that at some point you must find a way to heal…

  4. Giving up the dream. Yep, pretty much sucks. BUT, once I realized it WAS just a dream and not reality (thus something I had to do) it was like a ton of bricks being lifted off of my back. Does it still hurt? Hell YES! But now I don’t have all of that pressure on me of trying to manifest the dream alone. Very one sided that wishful image turned out to be.

  5. Even a “good” reunion involves giving up the dream…thanks for writing this great blog for everyone “touched” by adoption/amputation/adaption/smaption.

  6. Hey Suz,
    I understand your feelings. I can’t help feel that it will all fall into place someday. A favorite quote:
    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul.
    And sings the tune
    Without the words,
    and never stops at all.
    Emily Dickinson
    US poet (1830 – 1886)

  7. Well written and thought evoking.
    However, why should we call what should be or should have been, a ‘dream’? And how can one switch off or let go of something that is primal deep within your soul? To do that would be like switching off a part of yourself. I do not think it is possible to switch this off. Afterall, we are talking about a person from within us that is stamped on our heart, dna, soul, everywhere.
    I do not dream about what I would like my reunion to be, but I have ideals to what I would like it to be and can let go of those if needs be. As for the rest, it is a biological impossibility…

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