Monthly Archives: November 2007

changing

I started blogging at Joy’s urging. It helped me find my voice, and to own my feelings in spite of other’s objections/judgments. I was so ashamed I wouldn’t admit to the hurt and pain for fear of scaring people off. The curse of having to be ‘better than that’ and protecting myself from other’s condemnation ran my life for too long. It finally broke.

What’s the worst that can happen? Abandonment. My spouse could abandon me. Joy could abandon me. But I don’t deserve to fear abandonment — because I was the abandoner.

It turned out I was abandoning myself, denying my feelings in favor of other’s opinions. Risking my spouse’s rejection by demanding to be heard finally rose to necessity. That worked out well. Sharing how I felt instead of trying to make things ok, was the missing ingredient all along. I look back and see, yeah it was scary when he saw how upset I was,  but I wouldn’t share the context.

The most remarkable thing has been forgiving myself. I’d tried it in the past. But I hadn’t really owned how severely I had judged myself, how horrible I really believed I was, despite all the ‘reasons’ and coercion. I had always held the hurt of doing the ‘wrong’ thing in my own mind. It went against my vision of myself as a ‘good person’. I was/am a good person. I did something that seared my sense of self. My ego fought that reality. Relinquishing my daughter was an unacceptable hypocrisy. I really couldn’t stand that I’d done that.

So every time she was angry with me I collapsed inside. How could I? How could I? How could I leave her alone? How could I have been so blind as to think that was ok? How could I have not seen that there had to be alternatives? How could I not have had the faith in myself and the world that she and I could have survived and thrived on our own?

When she was angry with me, I was angry too, angry at me. In my anger I was absent. I was busy being hurt and angry and unable to be present with her.

Last month a friend said, “At least you haven’t eaten any of your children.” That may sound sick, but it started to help me put it in perspective. I started to see how my self judgment was in fact making things worse, not better. I have to honor what I did. I lost hope and walked away. I failed to meet my daughter’s needs. I was not responsible. I did not meet my expectations. My what a big ego I have!!! I would find compassion for nearly anyone or any situation, but not for me, not for the failure to my firstborn. I was putting that failure between her and me. I was relating to her from that place of failing and continuing to fail. Continuing to sidestep in shame and helplessness.

Stepping up to the present. I am feeling more at peace with the past, with myself and what I did and didn’t do. More important is what I am doing now. What am I going to do next time she gets angry. What I am doing with my feelings now.

Coming alive gradually. Aware of my fragility where before I expected strength. Becoming conscious of my weakness. Letting go of my pride.

Yes it will probably hurt if/when she gets angry again, when she despairs or feels hurt and alone. But I am learning to put it in perspective and let her have her feelings, just as I allow my other children theirs. When Ezzy or Buster feel sad, frustrated, whatever, I feel it too and I feel concern. But I know it’s not mine. I support them and know that they have to work it out. And I have faith that they will.

Allowing my feelings allows fluidity and change. It allows things to get better. Things are better inside me. They are startlingly better with Joy and me. Her voice seems stronger and truer than ever.

Is it me hearing her with different ears? Or is she freer to be herself when I stop trying to fix/cover things up? Lately things have been going so well it seems almost unreal, as in too good to be true.

What Is

Well, I just found this written last summer, after the last time I saw Joy. Things were good. The fall has been challenging. The funny thing is that this morning I was again working with owning it instead of denying it. Getting over the shame and guilt that I laid upon myself seems to be a repetitive activity. Forgiving myself for not keeping her safe, for not healing her. I have to keep forgiving myself to keep going forward.

I had a fantastic weekend a week ago (actually July), attending my uncle’s memorial service with my first daughter. My aunt and cousins all welcomed her warmly. They asked me questions about the adoption before she arrived. They were eager to meet her. They were just open. Sitting in the church next to her was very healing for me. I’d been at the church before, visiting my cousins sporadically over the past 40 some years. The same denomination I was raised in. Familiar. But this time it was different. This time my daughter that had been hidden and a secret, was sitting near the front WITH me. I cried through most of the service and only a little bit was for our loss of our dear uncle. It was mostly joy at the wonder of our family accepting and including me with Joy.

Letting go of my parents’ loss. They were both gone before I was ready to talk about most of what happened with my first pregnancy and the tragedy of the adoption. They never let down their efforts to protect me, never seemed to see that I actually felt hurt by their “protection”. It was separation,  not loving. I know they loved me to the best of their ability. They meant well. But they were stuck and couldn’t see that separation corrupted us. I wasn’t able to accept the truth of my experience until I found the blogs of other first mothers and of adoptees. Reading of others experiences that were so similar, validated me, assisted me to see my own damages and to accept them.

Then I read a blog about shame and adoption reminding me of last Tuesday’s encounter with a newish friend. She assured me that what I’d told her about Joy, would be kept in confidence. I hadn’t asked for that. But I didn’t clarify that I don’t want it to be a secret. That’s something I really want to correct. I was never good with secrets. And the main thing I’ve learned with all this revealing blogging is that I am DONE with secrets. (Tact is another thing. I am working on developing greater tact, sensitivity etc.) But my aim is to accept myself no matter what I do or say. I want to correct the mistakes I make. And I know I have to accept them in order to correct them. Denial is a big mistake. I know that one. I’m confronted by it regularly in wanting others to think well of me, worshiping the God of Opinion.