“There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home.â€ – John Stuart Mill
Okay, another what would you do.
I cannot speak from experience here (you will understand why in a moment) and ask mothers (or adoptees) that have been in real, face to face, voice, same room, same sandwich eating environments toÂ comment.
A friend (you know who you are and you are free to out yourself) wrote me today. She was reunited recently with her son and is in the midst of a three-dayÂ face to face visit. The first in many years.
She is a flurry of overwhelming emotions. She wrote me a lengthy email (really needed an outlet and someone safe to share her thoughts with) and I responded with what I could. But I feel as if I fell flat and was frustrated in my ability to really comfort or counsel her.
I havent had that luxury.Â I don’tÂ know what it is like, what it feels like, smells like, to be in the same room with your adult child (well, not really, because THIS isn’t really the same).Â I have only dreamed about it, written about it, and cried about it. I have never done it.Â My emotional street cred is highly limited.
If you have been in reunion and have had that first face to face, that flurry, that surreal feeling of being but not being, how did you handle it? How did you manage the tidal wave of often conflicting emotions that would roll over you at any moment?
My simplisticÂ advice to my friend was that she should be kind to herself, keep her loved ones and support structure close at hand. I suggested that face to face meetings, while glorious, can be equally wretched, for they reopen wounds that may have scarred over years ago.Â It can be tough to emotionally bleed in front of your child or mother while simultaneously wanting to be calm, cool and collected and oh yeah, LOVEABLE. But again, I don’tÂ have personal experience. I just imagine that is what it would be like for me. I would be so terrified I would might breathe the wrong way and my daughter would stomp out the back door while she screamed that her adoptive mother breathed better than I did. While trying to breathe correctly, I would be internally tending to theÂ hematoma that would be exploding in my heart and trying to parent my sons, and keep a job and be a loving partner and not totally screw up a chance to reconnect with my child.
So, what advice do you offer my friend?