In Remission?

“Some people confuse acceptance with apathy, but there's all the difference in the world. Apathy fails to distinguish between what can and what cannot be helped; acceptance makes that distinction. Apathy paralyzes the will-to-action; acceptance frees it by relieving it of impossible burdens.” – Arthur Gordon

I recently expressed concern to my therapist that I seem to care less and less about the absence of my daughter from my life.

Is this normal? Is this good? Is this healing? Avoidance? Or might it be, as Cedar suggests in a related post comment, dissociation?

I will admit it bothers me. I fear that my lack of chronic pain will result in a lack of feeling completely. It is often said that the opposite of love is not hate but apathy. Have I become apathetic? Is that possible?  If you are not agonizing over the absence of your child nor enjoying a relationship with them, what are you?

My therapist tells me I am being ridiculous (well, he did not use those words but that is what I took away from it). He asked me if I really truly felt it was possible for a mother NOT to care about her child. Of course I don't.

He asked me to reflect on the many years I have worried about her – even before I knew where she was, how she was and what she was now called.

I got his point – sort of.

Yet I still worry. I had so much love in my heart when I first found her. So much excitement. I had a huge desire to run to her and meet her and smell her and hear her laugh. I frantically, regularly checked out her myspace, her flickr, her facebook when it was public. These days I have forgotten the URLs of many of them.

Is this good, bad or neither?  Is this a new normal? Am I caring less because I am hurting less? Does a lack of hurt equate to a lack of love? Is my therapy, my self work, contributing to this? Or is it that as I approach the fourth year in reunion with a daughter that I have not met or spoken to since the third day of her birth, I have finally found a way to live peacefully without her?

Have I accepted what is?

Is this healing?

Adoption trauma remission?

And what does the future hold? If the day should come that she chooses to meet me, does the pain start again ? Will I be lackadaisical or something else entirely?

11 Thoughts.

  1. I think it’s absolutely possible to care about/for a person but not to need or want anything from them. That is what I am actually striving for IRT my birthmother. I wish her well, I care for her, and that will always be true, but if I never hear from her again or she never treats me the way I want, will be less and less important.

  2. Suz,
    I have been worried by the same thing lately. It’s less painful for me lately, it’s less weighing, it’s less sharp, it’s less all-encompassing even.
    Scared the crap out of me for a while because like you I worried (and still sometimes do, honestly) that it’s F-ed up. BUT, the longer it goes on, the less worried I’m getting. Because the longer it goes on, the more compassionate and stronger I’m feeling, too. Even potential aparent posts dripping with entitlement aren’t (generally speaking) triggering me the way they used to. I figure that’s a sign of healing, not apathy. Other little signs, too.

  3. Suz: The further the time, the less the pain. Although, it will never go away, it is just less.
    Must not feel guilt because you think you are not caring about her as much. You will always think and care about her, it’s just further away.

  4. Suz, I don’t think it’s personally possible for a soul to continue to experience mind-wrenching pain, on and on and on, indefinitely. Your body and mind would burn out.
    The pain isn’t gone, you haven’t stopped loving her. My theory is that as a survival mechanism, the pain has to be changed, set back a little, so you can go about the daily business of living without her. I don’t mean that to sound cold at all. I think the same kind of thing happens with most major losses/grief. We don’t “get over it”, but we do have to keep sane.
    Thinking of you this New Year’s Eve.

  5. Suz–I really don’t have anything profound to add here, but I think this is normal. It’s a positive move. I don’t think you are caring less. It’s just an unconscious acceptance of what is. You’ve done what you can and you can’t continue to walk around bleeding. You can’t put your life on hold for something you have no control over. It might work out later, but maybe not, but you’ve done what you can.

  6. As weird and even dysfunctional as this sounds, I feel better when my son is silent as opposed to overly communicative regarding his problems. Burn-out? i guess. Remission? Very likely.
    Yes, everything will change when your daughter agrees to meet you. Your world will be rocked in whole new ways. Maybe enjoy the peace while you have it.
    Just speaking from experience. But every reunion is different…
    XO D.

  7. I have also experienced this; although more often earlier in my reunion. I have been reunited for over seven years. I had these feelings or the periodic absence of the intense feelings. I observed them to be kind of cyclical. And, it always scared me to death! I wondered what was wrong in that I didn’t feel the intense pain in missing my son during some periods of time.
    Gradually, I came to view these periods as a short reprieve from the grief/pain. Like, you wrote, “adoption trauma remission”. A reprieve of sorts. I wonder if our bodies and minds and souls go into this out of self preservation. I know that we can ever stop loving our children.

  8. It sounds like your current state is allowing you to look more objectively at you and your daughter. It will change.
    “If you are not agonizing over the absence of your child nor enjoying a relationship with them, what are you?”
    Maybe you’re watching. You can probably learn more by watching than by agonizing. Maybe you’re catching your breath before a new phase in reunion.
    Maybe you’ve done as much as you can in one direction and pausing, maybe lifting, to see another direction.
    Keep moving…
    I always consider the opposite of love to be fear.

  9. Suz,
    I lied. Well not exactly–it WAS true that I was feeling more acceptance and compassion, even for the sickeningly entitled APs out in the world–but it just crashed around me this weekend.
    After months of acceptance, I am back at angry.
    Someone tell me–does the roller coaster ever stop? How do you get off?

  10. Nicole – I saw your post. I wish I had words. I dont. I am still suspecting its avoidance on my part and not any sort of remission or healing. I think I have something good blocking my view of the bad so I am focused on the good while avoiding looking at the bad. A future post will explain what I mean. Hugs to you.

  11. Looking forward to the new post, Suz.
    I guess it’s silly to hope for things to ever stay the same. Things always change. Maybe the goal is to have longer periods of acceptance and focusing on the positives, and shorter and shorter periods of the anger.

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