"Through loyalty to the past, our mind refuses to realize that tomorrow’s joy is possible only if today’s makes way for it; that each wave owes the beauty of its line only to the withdrawal of the preceding one.â€ – Andre Gide
A dear friend of mine is retired from the army after twenty five years of service. He is a great guy, a wonderful friend, and I am happy to have him in my life.
He is also an adoptive father.
He is also a trauma survivor.
His friendship is quite valuable to me.
When I share my reunion status and challenges with him, he nearly always draws some parallel to army or military tactics. Some might find it annoying but I find it rather amusing and often incredibly accurate.
Consider this statement from him sent during my last difficult exchange with my child:
"I wish there could be some common person in your lives. It’s recon by fire without that kind of intermediary–a frightening process fraught risks. When I used to do reconnaissance in the infantry, I made it a practice to go slow. 100 meters at a time, sometimes only 5. Then hunker down, look, listen and smell. The impatient ran into more ambushes and ill-prepared fights. I wish you the sustained patience to feel your way to the goal."
I chuckled at this when I first received it but read it over and over again and realized it made a helluva lot of sense in relation to my reunion.
I found myself wanting to reach out to him today and ask him about extraction. How does the military pull back from a battle? How do we admit defeat or at least pull back to change course?
I have been working on extracting myself from my own expectations and from the state of my reunion. I have been making subtle, but impactful changes, to help minimize my pain.
I cannot control her behavior or actions but I can control my own.
I changed my passwords. My passwords to various systems were combinations of my children’s names – that includes my daughters names – both original and amended. I equate this, now, to a daily dagger in the heart. The passwords have been changed.
I have decreased, nearly ceased, looking at her flickr album. It is the only album she has left open for me to see.
I have decided to decrease – nearly stop in fact – writing her. I cut down significantly over the years but always sent the benign "hello, how are you, happy holidays" type of messages. I suspect I may just go down to the once a year Merry Christmas and maybe Happy Birthday email. I have been routinely advised that I should let her know this will be my approach. I will calendar to do that. I haven’t done it yet for I am afraid it will bring about another tirade from her and I am not yet strong enough to handle it. I don’t want her to think I am angry or ignoring her. She seems to want space but is unable to ask directly for it but rather strikes out passive aggressively. I will grant her the space and quite likely help myself in the meantime.
I pondered taking down her pictures from my family mantle and even my office. I have not done so and doubt I will. I fear this will prompt questions from her brothers and I just don’t want to explain to them what cannot be explained. How could I possibly explain to them how their sister feels about them and I when I don’t understand it myself? Better to leave it alone.
I have ceased making reference to her in general conversation or daily activities. I never did this with intent, the referencing that is. She was just always a part of our life and conversations. I easily said my daughter, your sister, etc. I am, now, however, making a conscious effort to not talk about her. That is hard. It is like I am back where I started nearly twenty three years ago. I suppose the difference is that this is a self-imposed gag order versus being shut down by my family, society or other.
I even pondered ceasing this blog. She has objected to it and it is a bit of a daily reminder of her and my situation but I decided against this. I continue to feel very strongly that regardless of whether or not my daughter ever embraces her entire identity, I cannot and will not stop fighting for the mothers of today and tomorrow. My daughter might one day give birth to a female. It is for that possible grandchild, and my sons wives and children, that I continue to fight for what is right and natural.
Mothers and children should never be separated due to poverty, religious influence, stigma, lack of resources, coercion or intimidation. It is a crime to separate them and pretend their connection does not exist. It is legalized lies and accepting the infliction of trauma on a mother and child. It must stop.
I cannot help my daughter but I do believe I can, and have, and will, help others.
I will not extract myself completely. I will relocate myself from a somewhat hostile environment and reposition myself in a more secured, safe area. As in the military, I will rescue myself from the immediate conditions that I am incapable of surviving within.
I will draw new battle lines and continue the fight against the true enemy – the American Adoption Industry.