Falling Through Instead of Apart or Down

Lynn mentioned in a recent comment of hers that she feels if she “lets go she will completely fall apart”.

Her comment, at least to me, can be interpreted in two different ways.  There is letting go, releaseing, opening up acknowledging the pain of adoption and reunion in our lives and there is letting go of the expectations (think along the terms of codependency and letting go).

I can relate to, and struggle with, both.  For the purposes of this blog post, think of “letting go” as the former. Letting go of emotions, letting go of a potentially loose grip on our perceived reality.

This is the thought that came to my mind when I read Lynn’s comment. While the post she was commenting on referred to my idea of letting go of expectations, her comment made me think of something different, of what I personally refer to as “The Fessler Effect”.

I have written about this before so I wont go into too much detail again.  Very simply, the term I coined for myself, The Fessler Effect, refers to an experience I had some years ago whilst attending an Adoption Crossroads conference in NYC. Ann Fessler presented pieces of her amazing body of work captured in the book titled The Girls Who Went Away and  her art installation titled Everlasting.  I was seated in the auditorium, alone in the sense that my conference companion was elsewhere. There was no one seated next to me. The room as filled with adoption effected individuals.  Ann’s presentation began and we were literally plunged into the dark. The lights were turned off. There were no visuals at first, just the voices of the mothers Ann had interviewed for her book.  Voices of mothers like me expressing their experiences with adoption surrender and the resulting trauma, trauma they were completely unaware would happen, trauma society never acknowledged, trauma that effected their entire lives.

My first response was and intellectual one, perhaps even a super-ego influenced one.

“Wow, this is cool. Very effective presentation.”

That response very quickly turned to an overwhelming desire to run, to  hide, to get out of there as soon as possible. I couldn’t move. My legs were stuck. I was paralyzed. The emotions swirling inside me came to the surface at an alarming pace. My usual attempts to catch and quash them failed. Images, my own life images flashed before my eyes..Chicago, gehring hall, my daughters birth, my Easter house case worker, my daughters father, me getting on a plane in CT and getting off in IL, me alone in a cold empty room fully pregnant, my mother, my father, my sister, my infant daughter crying, my daughter at my breast, the paperwork, the promissory notes, faster, louder, faster, louder.

I struggled to keep my wits about me.  I reached for the reality of the conference auditorium.  I looked around.  I saw the people but I could not reach them. They were pulling away from me (or I from them) I was floating above them. They could not hear me. They did not see me.

My ears were ringing, epic tinnitus. In my head, I started to fall. I felt myself falling into a deep, dark, tarry abyss.  I could see it in front of me, below me, not far enough away from me. Too close.

My heart was racing, green eyes pounding in their sockets. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I did not. I was still conscious enough to know that if I uttered a sound everyone in the auditorium would hear me. Everyone was silenced, in awe of Ann’s Work.  I choked back the desire to scream.

And then, suddenly, with all my efforts working so hard for it not to happen, something erupted out of me.  A guttural moan, somewhat of a cry yet not a cry.  This sound came from somewhere deep inside me, somewhere out of my conscious control.  It was primal, almost animal like.

And then, inside my head, I started to fall into that dark place. I had lost my grip on the reality I had created for myself.  I knew I wasn’t coming back from that place. I knew the world as I knew it was gone. More images..my husband, my son, my friends, my job…petty objects I would never see again. Sounds I would never hear. Flying faster and faster at me and then through me.


Fast. Incredibly fast.

Two white hot objects touch each of my shoulders, the heated objects clamp down on me and pull me forcibly backwards, away from the auditorium floor that I was about to fall onto and back towards, something, or someone, behind me.

And I was in control again.

My eyes cleared and I realized my conference companion, Sandy, a first mom and reiki therapist had been sitting behind me the entire time. She heard my moan, she saw me falling over and into, and she pulled me back.  Her arms wrapped around me, the conference chair between us, I whaled in pain and emotional agony.

THAT was my version of letting go. I let go that day, let go of my tight grip on my partial reality, and I could not come back.

What would have happened to me if Sandy had not pulled me up and out of that abyss in my mind? Would I have recovered or would the conference organizers have carried me on a stretcher in a catatonic state?

I don’t know.

I do know I have seen that place, felt what is in there, AND I DONT WANT TO GO THERE.

Two friends, J &J, both therapists once told me that the way to survive a traumatic experience is to relive it in a safe environment. I think about that statement when I toy with going back THERE, that dark place of intense greif and anger and trauma. Could I go to that place if I was in a safe environment? If I had a skilled therapist I trusted, completely,  would I go there if I believed, without a doubht, that he or she could BRING ME BACK?

I don’t know.

So yeah, Lynn, I get that fear of falling apart, of totally letting go. (Assuminng that is what you were referring to)

I have no words of comfort, no sage advice.

Just the same outright terror.

And yet I must admit that as much as that place terrifies me, it also intrigues me. I cannot help but wonder WHAT might be at the bottom, or perhaps on the other side.  If “the only way out is through” might I actually be able to “let go” in the sense of letting go of these pains, expecations and more. Might there be a better, brighter, happier life for me on the other side of that dark hole? If I went in through the out door would I come out through the in door?

The journey continues.

8 Thoughts.

  1. This was painful to read. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was to be in the moment for you. Thanks for sharing and being so vulnerable, Suz. Love you!

  2. Wow, you’ve really got me thinking about what I meant so that I can put it into words. I was thinking visually – no words. I was picturing fabric and thinking about all of the different threads that make up that fabric. Those threads include both the emotions and expectations, the positive, and the negative and the venomously negative. Each time I try to write it out it gets too long and I go back to the visual of the fabric that represents the whole tangled, horrible, beautiful, complicated, mess. There are pieces that I want to let go. There are pieces that, for my own health and spiritual wholeness, I need to let go of. And, like I said, they include both emotions and expectations. However, if I start to mess with them, to pull at them, I may just come undone. I’m not sure that that is a really bad thing. But, it’s intimidating or like you said, terrifying.
    OK. Must keep thinking. And have to re-read your post about 10 times because I think what you said, so eloquently, is what I’m picturing.

    • Lynn – Great visual. I can see it and feel it myself. Kinda reminds me of a book I read by Clive Barker “Weaveworld” This entire world existed in a carpet.

      I get the feeling that if you take the threads apart – your world falls apart..your carpet is now more.

  3. In comparison, I feel like a cripple, so far removed from the ability to let go (through, down, apart, whatever). I have had similar experiences during presentations and have always left when it get too hard… retreated. Suz, I applaud your ability to hang in, and thanks to the support of Sandy. What a life saver she was! I applaud the bravery of both of you. I hope that someday I can get there. Right now, I have retreated, not dealing, just trying to reclaim the normalcy I once had. Maybe because I have been in reunion, instead of waiting and wondering as you are. It hasn’t worked well for me or my son. But that isn’t the end all be all for everyone. I hope that yours, when it happens (and I believe it will because time is the great healer) that you will have a better result than I have.

    (((HUGS))) Suz

  4. Reading your experience took my breath away. That falling apart, the “falling into a deep, dark, tarry abyss”, is what I am so scared of. I’m afraid that if I allow myself to face the full extent of the grief, I won’t have anyone to pull me back into reality.

  5. Pingback: Reunion Dreams and Nightmares « Writing My Wrongs

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