Six or so years ago, my therapist attempted to get me to talk about my mother. He was implying, not so subtly I might add, that my mother was not a very good mother to me.  I was defensive and protective of her at every turn.  Any questioning or her, any judgement, any challenge, would result in me explaining her behavior, rationalizing it (see this post as proof), and in general trying to make it “okay”. He was unrelenting.  I became annoyed. Finally he pointed out to me that every time I explained away my mothers poor behavior I disregarded my own feelings. Essentially, I was saying “it is okay she hurt me, she was hurt first, she was never taught love so how could she love me, my feelings dont matter, etc. “  Never in those statements or sessions did I admit, express, my pain, my very valid feelings. Every session was a game of attack and defend (or so I thought).  Therapist finally got me to realize that admitting my mother did something that hurt me did not mean she was a bad person or even that she did it intentionally. It was admitting my feelings, my own reactions to her behavior, it was getting me more in touch with my feelings and less in touch with my mothers.

I still struggle with this.

Ask my husband. I can, and regularly do, explain away the piss poor behavior of everyone. (Recall this guy?)  Just yesterday my husband made a remark about a male friend of mine husband feels is being disrepectful to me. Male friend was flippant, okay, crass about aspects of his own life. I shared the conversation with husband.  Husband later told me he found the conversation offensive and does not like that person speaking to me, his wife, that way.  I was befuddled. I defended friends state of mind, his personality, our friendship, told him it did not bother me, told him I could handle it. I even went so far as to tell hubby he was offending ME by questioning my handling of friends crass behavior.

Yet it bothered him, greatly, and that sort of juxtaposition always makes me think.  Should it have bothered me? Was I once again squashing my own feelings and self-respect to preserve someone elses?

The past few weeks, maybe even months, I have noticed a general malaise taking root inside me.  I find it difficult to leave the house, struggle to get out of bed to go to work, find myself constantly fighting the need to cry, yet completely unaware of what I want to cry over. My energy level has been down, sleep has been restless and nightmares have been increasing. (Most recent ones starring a former boss and another reunion dream of my daughter, which always makes me wake up crying). I noticed this. I have been stewing on it for weeks, quietly, trying to conduct my own emotional root cause analysis. I have attributed it to illness, change of seasons, lack of vitamins, even peri-menopause.

Late last week, my husband gave me the usual kiss goodbye before I went to work and hugged me hard, a little harder than usual.  I walked away a bit curious about the hug and whilst getting in my car, I am reminded of my malaise. I wonder to myself if he senses it. He is quite intuitive. I decide not to talk to him about it. He is a worrier, far more than me. There are times when his worrying nature makes my life more challenging.  It is more “noise” for me to deal with so at times I keep things to myself, till I have sorted them out on my own. Only after I have come to some resting place inside me, do I find the strength to discuss with him. This had been my plan for this recent malaise.

What is that saying about the best laid plans?  No surprise, really, my intuitive husband finally approached me and said he was concerned with a noticeable change in my attitude. Nothing super serious, just a bit of a saddness. He wondered if he was correct in this assumption and asked to talk to me about it.

And so we talked.

Back to That Therapist
Yesterday I emailed my therapist (same guy I have been seeing for over six years, he is pretty much on a retainer for me. LOL). My feeling is I need to once again participate in some talk therapy.  This growing uneasiness that I cannot identify, cannot sort out, would surely benefit from one on one with my old friend who has served me so well through the years.  We made plans to get together in a week or so once he is back from a trip out West.  I have two topics to start with and they go back to that long ago conversation of admitting my feelings.

I have known since May that I am angry at my daughter. I am angry at two separate things but they relate to each other. The most recent incident being the acccusation of harassment. I am annoyed that I get no contact, no consideration, except when some asshat on the internet decides to harass her. I am annoyed that while she does not care about our feelings (“our” being me, my children, my family) we are expected to care about hers.  I am further annoyed again that she can contact me (after telling me not to ever contact her) and accuse me of this yet she cannot (and did not) respond to me when I told her my father, her grandfather had died. Strangers offered me condolences, strangers said “oh, so sad, sorry to hear. peace be with you” and other such things. My own daughter? Nothing.

Yes, I could go into my normal habit here. I could defend her, I can quote all that adoptee trauma (that she says she has none of), I can say it is okay, its understandable, I dont mind, no really, I am good.  I can quote Verrier, Lifton and any other number of experts.  Every time I defend her feelings, I flick mine to the curb and squash them as if snubbing out a lit cigarette.  I twist my toe back and forth on those feelings while I explain very calmly why she might be the way she is. The emotional cigarette smolders.

It has now gotten hot beneath my feet. I am done with this behavior of mine. I need to find a way to let out the anger, the sadness, the tears and stop explaining it away. These two most recent incidents, combined with many others, shall be my starting point, or perhaps better said, my flashpoint.

24 Thoughts.

  1. “I am annoyed that while she does not care about our feelings (“our” being me, my children, my family) we are expected to care about hers.”

    Would she react at all if she knew you stopped trying to care about her and her existence in this world?

    Is she blatantly disrespectful to you? Or is she simply just… not at all interested? Like complete disinterest, except it comes across as “does not care” instead?

    • Mei Ling – Only she can really answer your question. My personal belief is – not at all interested, prefers I not alter her reality (where we dont exist) by showing her we do. “Blatantly disrespectful” is very subjective. What one may consider disrespectful another may consider uninterested, ykwim?

    • Allow me to add that I dont believe it is possible – I am not wired that way – to stop caring or forget her existence. (If I were, I likely would not be where I am today, would I? An HA! Let me blame my own mother for that wiring. I have watched my mother stand by for YEARS while a sibling of mine/child of hers, was wretched to her. No matter what happens, what sibling does, mom is there. I have mixed feelings on that. Clearly, my own are in that mixture).

      • What I mean is that maybe she doesn’t want you to care about her and she finds this blogging adoption thing disrespectful?

        I’m not saying you should stop blogging, lord no. But it could be that the very mention of adopion being a “bad” or “tragic” thing sounds disrespectful to her. :/

        • Anything is possible With so little to go on, I do what I feel is right. I dont know if she reads here. She does know I blog, am active in reform, etc. If she were to ever discuss her feelings on any of it with me, I would consider changing, but lacking any feedback what so ever, I do what I am comfortable with and what I can confidently stand behind. I realize the risk.

  2. I’m sorry your daughter is being this way. I don’t always understand my fellow adoptees because I would jump at the chance to meet my mother. I would do nearly anything for that opportunity so I can’t understand when others throw that away. I hope she changes her mind someday. And I hope you start to feel better soon!

  3. Jenn :I don’t always understand my fellow adoptees because I would jump at the chance to meet my mother.

    Thanks Jenn, as you know personally, this goes both ways. While you dont understand some adoptees, I will never be able to wrap my brain around mothers who are able to keep their adult child at arms length. Makes me sad for all concerned. How adoption damages the most natural, primal relationship and makes us treat each other so.

  4. Have you ever read “The Body Doesn’t Lie” by Alice Miller? I don’t agree with everything in it but it addresses the issue that you are talking about with your mother and your resistance to experience your own hurt in regard to her behavior.

    I think it is good that you can acknowledge your anger and your daughter. I think my mother has been very angry at me before but refuses to acknowledge it and you know it comes out anyway. It is better to be aware and make more conscious decisions.

    • No, I havent read that Joy. Thanks for recommend. I will look it up. I agree that anger comes out regardless. I believe it is a normal, acceptable emotion. However, adoption and reunion changes that for us. We are often too afraid to express it for fear that we will alienate that person we so desparately want in our lives. So we stuff it..yet it does come out or is sensed. This is doubly hard for me in relation to my daughter as in other relationships, you have dialogue, two way conversations, a back and forth so to speak (even if painful). I dont have the luxury due to the limitations of my reunion so stuff it even further. Where do I go with that when you cannot go towards the person/object that made you angry? No where good (at least not to date). Forever a work in progress.

    • Back again to thank you Joy. I looked it up and ordered it. Definitely interested. I read Drama of the Gifted Child. Not sure how I missed this one. Anxious for it to arrive.

  5. YUPPPP on being intuitive, : )
    Worriers worry, mea culpa mi amore…
    In the end I believe my heart was in the right place. I think this comes down to perspective and viewpoint. Your friend perhaps views you as ‘one of the guys’ & speaks to you in that way/regard, as your partner/husband I of course have a different viewpoint of you, trying to balance out not being over-protective but still being supportive is a tough job. One’s heart can be in the right place but it might not be construed that way.
    Alas, there’s no guidebooks here, sometimes frank & open discourse is the only pathway IMHO.
    I a curious what others have to say.

  6. I am done with this behavior of mine. I need to find a way to let out the anger, the sadness, the tears and stop explaining it away.

    Bravo, Suz! I too refused to think/talk realistically about my mother in therapy. But once I did, I began to heal. It’s a long road, but well worth it. YOU are worth it!

  7. I am off to my “personal Advisor” this morning. I wrestle with this mother issue all the time. I wonder about the contemptuous behaviour of some adoptees all the time. I wonder at mothers who won’t connect with their children.

    We all have the vice of adoption pressing in on us. What a great catch 22 system.

  8. I agree – Denise is right on. I had to acknowledge that my mother not only failed me when I needed her most by making me surrender her 1st grandchild, but that she just plain doesn’t like me. I remind her of my big mouth, opinionated father (who divorced her years ago and is since deceased) I had a wonderful Jungian therapist tell me that my mother mentally ill, actually she said “she’s crazy – no normal mother treats their child the way she has treated you”. Somehow that was major validation for me.
    I don’t want to wallow in anger at her or anyone, but I just plain don’t like my mother as a human being. I didn’t deserve to be treated the way I did and neither did you, Suz. Nor do you deserve this treatment by your daughter but we can’t change people. Thanks also for the Alice Miller book suggestion by Joy – I’m ordering it as well…

    Hope I find a “Rich” of my own some day… <3

  9. I hope you like it. After this discussion I dug out my own copy and started rereading it. It is a very challenging notion.

    It seems to be the default to want to protect and nurture our own parents. I think it is possible to have compassion for our parents and ourselves in the same situation. It is kind of hard work but there are moments that I achieve it. It isn’t static of course, but there are moments.

    I have to say that I have benefitted from reading Miller tremendously, I hope she resonates in the same way for you.

  10. Haven’t visited your blog in a long time Suz and sorry to hear things are still crappy regarding contact with your daughter :(. That’s really shit about no condolences over your father! Thinking of you xo

  11. Carol – I think we had the same therapists lol. Actually I can even speak to my mother nowadays when she calls. I never initiate the calls, she calls. My RKs call her, and she calls them, that’s good why should this affect them. Neither of them did anything to the other. I have to say however that basically my mother was abusive physically and verbally to me when I was pregnant at 15. She also still believes surrender was the righ thing to do. I think I will stay forever angry about that, and yes I can also ‘excuse’ her because she herself had a horrendous childhood. Nowadays if I think about that, I think so why wasn’t she different towards me (us, my sister too). I was to my RKs, I realized I was becoming abusive and STOPPED it. These things run in cycles and if not stopped at the begining I think can be the ‘norm’. I wish you luck Suz with getting your anger out about this. There is no reason to excuse bad behaviour whoever it is. JMHO of course……….Sharon

  12. I just read this, my Suz. I’ve been ‘off’ myself, so I haven’t been around much. (And, just fyi, I didn’t read anyone else’s reply above.)

    I think that you feeling anger and annoyance at your daughter is AMAZING. I think that this is a really huge step for you and I am really glad that you’re admitting that, which will allow yourself to process that and move through it. Your honest feelings, that is. That’s the only way you can find some healing and moving through it (I don’t mean complete healing) is a step forward.

    No wonder you’ve been dealing with blah-ness – anyone would feel shitty in this position. It makes sense.

    As an adoptee…seriously…and I’ve thought about this a bit, but not a lot, but I think that adoptees can be kinda selfish and controlling. (Now that I think of it…I was thinking…ok, did I give Marg the ‘ok’ to have feelings, too? Tbh, sadly, I didn’t give her much room.) I know that in my head and heart…I thought, SHE’S the one that gave me up…so…I get to have the control now. Mind you, when I felt that way, I was still in high school and was still a kid. For the most part, Marg let me take control. She also sent hand written letter after letter…which I only once replied to.

    Hmmm. *thinks*

    Since I found out she was ill and through her passing, I’ve been able to step back and consider how hard the adoption process was for her. How the reunion felt to her…how it REALLY felt. (She always said she just wanted to know that I had a good life, was healthy and happy…that was ALL – I doubt that, now.)

    I imagine your daughter may be in a similar mindset…and really, it’s a very selfish place to be and sometimes I think that adoptees assume the permission to act in a selfish, disrespectful, self-loathing, woe-is-me, uncaring and insensitive. way simply because they were placed.

    I’m kinda rambling. Adoption steals so much…from everyone.


    • laurel – you allude to something I think about a lot (not a bit, but a lot – hee hee). That is, do we take on the feelings of others in reunion, do we allow the other party to tell us how we should feel? Do some mothers do that? I believe the answer is yes, they try to do it, try to follow what their child is telling them to feel (and the same is likely true in reverse..mothers who tell their children not to feel anything and just move on).

      It is something that interests me largely becuase I believe that is one of the many challenges my daughter has with me. I have feelings, I share them, i say them outloud, I write about them on the internets (OH MY!). Since she doesnt, she would prefer I follow suit. I havent and therefore I am a constant irritation to her. Maybe she is fine with her adoption and as such wants me to be as well. Well, I cannot be. I will not be. I will not pretend otherwise. Her reality is not mine.

      More to come on this as I am likely rambling but you prompted a few thoughts inside me.

  13. “How the reunion felt to her…how it REALLY felt. (She always said she just wanted to know that I had a good life, was healthy and happy…that was ALL – I doubt that, now.) ”

    i doubt that too. i know that i wanted much more. i wanted to touch her, hug her, kiss her, look into her eyes and tell her how much i loved her and how sorry i was for the decision that was forced upon me. i have been able to do that. but is that enough? it certainly isn’t ALL that i wanted.

    i also want the close relationship i have with my kept daughter. i want the adoption never to have happened. i want all those years apart back. i want to raise my girls together like sisters should be. i want them to have a shared history. i want a “do over”.

    but it is not to be.

    • I think there is much to be learned by all in your statements, Didda. I believe too many of us (mothers and our surrendred children) get stuck in what could or should have been and as a result we prevent ourselves from moving forward into what could be.

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