Monthly Archives: July 2009

Help

Today’s horoscope by Jacqueline Bigar says, “A red flag pops, and you know to back off.  Use your sixth sense when dealing with partners. Reach out for those at a distance, an look to the bigger picture. Ask for help. Ask for advice.”

I’m asking for help and advice.  I don’t know how good I am at taking it.  I just know I’m not doing much good on my own.

Gift of Sight

O wad some Power the giftie give us        To see ourselves as others see us!    It wad frae monie a blunder free us,      An’ foolish notion                    To a Louse ……By Robert Burns

Truly,  to be able to see through another’s eyes is a gift that heals.  The funny bit is that so much of what hurts is worrying about what others think of us or how they see us instead of really looking at what they see.

For much of my reunion with Joy I struggled with my image of myself.  I was so stuck on conditioned images I simply could not accept the way Joy saw me. I was locked in illusions of the teenage mother forced relinquishment.

It was incomprehensible to me that she saw herself as unwanted.  My lust was so that I couldn’t see her position at all.  All I saw was her power to leave me again.  She exercised control over her life out of self preservation as she confronted me; her real physical genetic and mysterious mother. I was no longer just some abstract incompetent.

I was a real, tangible, confusing incompetent.  People asked me what she wanted, why did she contact me? I hadn’t stopped to question why she contacted me.  She told me she wanted medical information which seemed like a nice clean answer. Who wondered what I wanted from contact with her?  She was the first to ask me what I wanted, many years into reunion.

Initially I just wanted her in my life.  I was desperate to keep in contact with her even though it was fraught with pain and misunderstanding.  One of the constants was fear that she would walk out of my life, that I truly wasn’t worthy of her.

That all came to a head about 5 years ago(?).  As executor and trustee, I was in possession of a family heirloom with instructions to pass it on to my uncle, the “rightful owner”.  But it was something that I wanted for myself and I procrastinated returning it to him, thinking I’d wait until he asked for it.

One night Joy called up and asked me to give it to her.  I was surprised and threatened.  She stated that she had never asked me for a thing before this. It felt like an ultimatum, as though our relationship rested on whether I turned this item over to her.  Essentially all our relationship was for the following year was quarreling while I rested on a two pronged pitchfork. She demanded that I do this one thing for her, or else.  There was nothing more to talk about. I felt guilty for hanging onto something that wasn’t mine to begin with. I felt manipulated by her position that the heirloom  was more important than our relationship.

I held a position that no material item could resolve the ongoing conflict between us.  She claimed it would make her happy. I didn’t trust that it would.  Eventually I capitulated.

I didn’t tell her.  I just decided to put an end to this particular quarrel and see what happened.  It took at least three weeks to get it packaged and posted. I actually  expected her to end up angrier than ever.

ETA: When I unpacked the painting I discovered there was a yellowed coat of lacquer over the face that looked heartbreakingly awful. So I took it to a photographer to have it reproduced and color corrected. A beautiful full size copy was made and sent.

I waited another three weeks to hear from her.  I didn’t know she was going abroad about that time.  So I had three weeks to worry and imagine and wonder what she thought.  And wonder why she didn’t  respond.  When she finally got home and did call me it was almost anticlimactic.

Except she seemed really happy.  Grateful even.

I had been ready to cash it all in, give up on our relationship for good, because I didn’t think this family memorabilia could really make an improvement in our lives.  It symbolized her control over me and I had enough.  I was going to send it to her and walk away, quit trying.

But she was happy.  I started to see ME trying to control her, trying to force her to love me the way I wanted her to love me, instead of listening to her.

She invited me to come up for her birthday that spring. I saw the treasure displayed proudly in her living room and it was beautiful. It was a symbol of a new beginning.

It was a start for me to see her for herself, instead of as my long lost baby.

What’s next?

Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.~ Rumi

This blog is  for me to talk about me mostly.  It’s very self centered.  Once in a while I feel challenged to explain something. Today I feel like I’ve been called out.  Whoo hoo am I going to need a shower after this post!

IN her blog my daughter wrote,“’I have no obligation to those people who have treated me like shit, no obligation to expose myself to them again’ …My mother never blogs about that, she has blogged about me being “manipulative and needy” although omits that I have been to her house maybe 3 or 4 times in my entire life. Despite the fact that she doesn’t live that far from me. It is kind of awkward as her husband will lock himself in his room and not even say hello, I guess due to my “neediness” ha! I was there having breakfast once with Tomtom, he was little, and well that is how we were treated. No more”.

(There is much more to her post than the part about me).

I guess she thinks it appropriate for me to blog on the above subject, the horrible treatment she has received from “those people”/my people.

In my first ever blog post I said my husband saw her as “manipulative and needy”.  She has held that against me as a cruel thing to have revealed into the blogosphere.   I am also manipulative and needy sometimes.  So is my husband.  It can be a problem. People who think they are above manipulative and needy behavior can be annoying too.

Regretting that I did not have the wisdom and maturity to see through her adolescent posturing when she first called me doesn’t change it.  Shame and guilt dominated my behavior.
I have to accept and work with
these things, now.

So, as for her visits to my home — Joy visited my parents home once.  It was quite stressful for all.  She said she planned to visit her grandmother before she died but Grandma died sooner than Joy expected I guess.  Or maybe she changed her mind. IDK.

She’s visited me, in my home twice, maybe three times.  Two times, quite close together.  One time we were expecting her for dinner.  I was trying to be as relaxed as I could and pretend it was a normal occurrence.  Hum te tum tum

She didn’t show up until the next morning, so I planned a quick breakfast.  Now, eight years later, she expresses once again that she was affronted when my husband chose to follow his regular routine that morning instead of joining us for breakfast. We didn’t really know when she was coming and he doesn’t like breakfast anyway.

We live a little bit differently than most I believe.  He treasures his alone time.   Weekend mornings were especially precious to him.  When Buster and Ezzy were little, he and I used to take turns giving each other time alone.  They had issues with it as teens.

That weekend morning I spent with Joy and Tomtom, happy to have them to myself and for him to have his time to himself.  I didn’t realize Joy’s tension was wrapped up with his absence.

To me, he wasn’t locked away.  He was doing his usual thing.

So that’s that.

I hadn’t got the rhythm of Joytime yet– something to not plan on.

I have invited her to come again.  She doesn’t want to. A couple years ago she said she wanted to see me when she came through. I invited her for dinner. She declined, saying she didn’t know what time they would arrive. I said I’d make spaghetti, something that could be held till they arrived.  Uh, no we don’t know when we’ll get there.  But whenever you get here you’ll be hungry.  Oh, no I don’t want you to go to the trouble. So I waited for her to call me from her hotel.  Then I came a running to meet her at the restaurant where she was having her dinner.

My  tendency to drop whatever I am doing to meet Joy has confounded and offended my family and friends.   But it’s not really her fault.  She never says, “I will be there.”  She avoids making commitments.  When I try to pin her down, she kind of agrees to a time.  But she doesn’t mean it.

She has more to deal with than fits neatly into her life. I don’t fit neatly into her life. Last time we saw each other I thought I had anticipated her concerns. I asked which of the three days I was going to be in town would work best for her.  I double checked that.  I made all my other plans around her. It didn’t work out very well.  We got quite worked up before she let me know her amom was scheduled to arrive the next day!

Oh. my.

OK.  Excuse me.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t know.  Joy didn’t grow up with me. She doesn’t get the idiosyncratic way we do things.  Her siblings and my husband don’t get her idiosyncrasies either.

Joy’s sensitivity is such that she is hurt because my husband doesn’t behave the way she wants. His sensitivity is such that he will continue to take care of himself, even if it flies in the face of her sense of right and wrong.

So right now I’m wondering, what’s next?  We’ll see.


Who I am

This discussion about  “coming out” as “a mother who surrendered/abandoned/relinquished/insert your own politically correct word here,” is revealing something to me.  I was out from the get go. My old life was over and I had to make new friends. The world didn’t make sense to me.  I told everyone my story in hopes that they could help me figure things out.

I’ve gradually come to realize the world just isn’t what I thought it was going to be.  It makes a certain limited kind of sense.  But it’s full of pain and confusion and illusions.

I am learning that I am coming to terms with myself more than coming out to the public.  The more I learn to trust myself, the easier everything is.  And that’s the way the world works!  Mastering the world, success in career and society  and relationships etc was an illusion I perpetrated on myself, fooling myself.  I am the master of myself only.  I can love and attend to others.

But it’s only in trusting myself that I can really succeed.

False Pride=Shame

I’m trying to unpack my defenses, figure out what they are or where they came from.   The first time I told my raised children about Joy they were 5 and 7.  We had moved 2000 miles from California to  make new friends and learn that sunny days don’t mean shorts in the winter and you don’t hose the frost off your windshield in the morning.  We’d moved from a three bedroom house to a two bedroom apartment.  Ezzy was in childcare for the first time ever.  She was ok.  I cried discretely.

The thing was I was trying my damnedest to make good — to love and care for these children — to deserve them — to be good for them — to be sure they were getting what was best for them.  I had pretty much blocked adoption out of my thoughts after they were born.

The first couple years after losing my baby I told everyone.  It was part of getting to know me, you had to show compassion for me and listen to my sad story.   Very few thought I’d ever see her again.  It was near the end of the BSE.  A few suggested that someday my daughter would want to meet me.   I treasured the implication that I was worth knowing.

A few told me I’d go on to have other kids as though I would be a worthy mother.  I wanted that very much, IF I was in a committed relationship with their father.

So nearly eighteen years later there I was; with my “snug little family”, my security, my pride and joy — and I had to break the news to these children that my I have another, older, child; my firstborn had been given away to strangers at birth.  Shit.  That was not what I wanted to tell them.  I don’t think we’d ever talked about adoption apart from the animal shelter.

When I got married I dove deep into the fog.  I loved it there.  I kept my sweet thoughts of loving my mystery child private.  I didn’t want to burden anyone with sorrow and explanations they could do nothing to change.

When relatives campaigned against abortion clinics, I suggested their energy would be more useful in helping pregnant women get the supplies and support they need to take care of their babies– as if it had nothing to do with me.

When I told Buster and Ezzy that I had another daughter, a grown daughter with a child of her own, I was still slightly in shock.  They must have felt it.  Once they understood the bare facts of the matter they were silent.   Would they wonder if I could give them away as well?  They were just learning that I was the kind of mother that could walk away from her baby.  They didn’t ask me any questions, probably waiting for me to recover my equilibrium.

Meanwhile I was baffled by the unfolding realities of reunion.   Up to then I had buried my thoughts and feelings.   Suddenly I was obsessed and mystified by our budding relationship.  For years when we talked on the phone  I shook.

It got more complicated.  So much hurt and shame surfaced.  Joy’s anguish scared me.  I tried to keep the ugliness of adoption from Buster and Ezzy, from anyone else actually.  It seems foolish now, trying to look like I was handling everything just fine, convince everyone around me that it was just fine.  Oh yeah, I can handle this.  There were always plenty of issues to redirect people’s attention away from  what I was going through.

The shame that I had abandoned my first child grew.  The first addition was hearing that it hadn’t worked out the way it was supposed to.  She left her forever home in her midteens?  WTF?  It seemed to me that everything went wrong and it was my fault.  I was her mother.  I was the one that signed the papers and went on like everything was taken care of.  I’d done my part, right?  It hurt like hell but I’d done what I was” supposed to do”.

Hell no.  Everything was not taken care of.  She was hurt, wounded and abandoned over and over and over.  And there I was pretending everything was going to be ok.  Oh, yeah, just fine.  Yes we’re going to see each other.  Well no things didn’t go the way I expected.  Oh, well yes she seems to blame me for abandoning her of all things.  No.  I know.  I put her up for adoption.  I placed her carefully with a public agency that selected an ideal home for her.  Well things went a little rough, there were some problems.  She tells me she’s an adult.  Yeah, I guess she’s grown isn’t she?  I mean she has a son of her own.

I kept my image, the impression I was making on my “smug little family”, foremost.  I didn’t want them to see me falling apart.  I didn’t want them to see her pain, the pain I created, the pain that was a reflection of my own.  And I kept repeating it and repeating it because just like when I signed the papers;  I didn’t know any better.

The shame of relinquishing her in the first place stung deeply.  The shame of being abandoned by my boyfriend and by my parents was in there too.  My raised children were an answer to that.  I remember meeting the church pastor who hadn’t seen me since my first pregnancy.  He had just performed my brother’s wedding and I was holding my baby on my hip.  He said, “I never thought you’d turn out this well.”  A real conversation stopper for me.

I did turn out this well.  I turned out this damaged and this well.  Acknowledging that this is how I turned out has been hella hard.  I’ve seen myself get defensive so many times because I thought I was being blamed/shamed.  Every time I get defensive I’ve perpetuated the shame.  This is how well I’ve turned out.  I’ve hurt the ones I loved.

A while back Joy blogged that I sent her This is to Mother You by Sinead O’Connor.  I sent her Bird on the Wire by Leonard Cohen at the same time.  

This one is for me.  If I have been untrue, it was to me.

Facing My Creations

Caring for children, raising children is great creative  expression.  My daughter gave me an idea about creativity being a spiritual expression, that by creating we are emulating our creator.

Raising children can be contributing to the positive growth of a loving human being.

Looking at how this works as a natural but missing mother, I have to go past my own misunderstanding to loving myself.  I have to nurture awareness in myself. Awareness of me and my daughter and everyone else in our families. Before I can do that I have to love myself enough to bear the awareness.  If I had known at the time of relinquishment what I know now…

Many times I have not been able to bear awareness.  I have not had the courage, the heart to face the trauma.  So we have been over and over and over the frightening bits .

I wanted Joy to know I loved her.  I wanted her to feel it and know it, for it to be her reality that she was/is loved.  There have been so many times and ways that it obviously wasn’t getting through.

She did not know that I loved her for a long time.  Nothing in her formative years indicated that I loved her or that I was capable of loving her.  Then we met and were caught in our lies of self sufficiency.  Those lies led to a lot more misunderstanding.

As many times as it takes, as many times as I have to face rejection, as many times as I have to face hurt feelings, as many times as I have to forgive myself and the world I know; for what I have created, is how many times I have to do it.  I have to do it.  There isn’t any other alternative but to go forward.  When she feels rejected I do too.

I go down and touch the sadness that sits next to the old conditioning telling  me I was not good enough for her–that I was undeserving to be her mother.  Then the defensiveness is triggered and I’m fighting to justify myself, to prove that I have a right to hold my head up and breathe the air everyone else that has ever been born has the right to breathe. I have to breathe no matter what, no matter how unconscious I may be.  Breathing my way back to the present, through the pain, until I’m watching myself from an inner distance.  Then I know that I don’t know.  I don’t know how to work this except to keep looking for the good.

And asking.  I am learning to ask for help and for clarification, and that I have the strength to face whatever is in front of me and be whoever I am.

As many touches, as many words, as many hugs, it will be worth it. I am involved in one of the most creative acts possible on Earth.  I am growing myself up to be the most loving momma I can be.   Falling short is part of what I do.  I come to places I can’t bear.  Sometimes I turn away to find a safe place to breathe and rest and come to know the terror and pain can’t last.  They don’t endure.  I do.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.         Whoever lives in love lives in God, and god in him. [1 John 4:16]