Monthly Archives: August 2009

Repeating myself

(eta: I was re reading my past posts and realized they are somewhat repetitive.  I may think I’m writing something new, only to discover I’m simply rediscovering an old pattern.) I’m reminded of the (AA?) story about crazy being doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.  I am easily amused. I discover the same things over and over, spiralling around, hopefully getting a bit higher with each spin.

A dear departed friend used to answer the phone with “What’s new and different?”  I love that. I want to be new and different all the time.  I like to order something different each time I go out to dinner.

Sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other is all the new and different I can take. The core of my life is asking myself to step forward, into the Light one more time, to see everything new.

One thing I’ve experienced a lot in reunion was feeling hurt and reactive about failing to meet my daughter’s expectations.  She has a perfect right to be angry with me and has detailed her reasons.  I gave her to strangers. I have been very fallible from the get go, short sighted and selfish.  I let her down. I am her mother and not an ideal one.

Wish I could fix things up, but wishing doesn’t make it so. It seems that screwing up is more regular than fixing, which led to me being a bit of a sad sack character — not much use. Whatever I’m doing I seem to be getting the same results over and over…

So lately I’ve been working on watching my reactions more closely.  Observing the triggers and embracing my feelings instead of judging myself as unsatisfactory.  It’s kind of like “Wow, that’s a lot of energy flowing through my body all of a sudden.”  or “Here I go again! I wonder how many times  that remark will get a rise out of me?”

I also requested that we leave her being angry with me out of our relationship, because as the object of her anger, I haven’t been able to be a neutral observer. I wanted to be noble and helpful and assist her to work through the powerful sadness, to be her witness–but so far it hasn’t worked.

I’ve reacted rather than responded.

I heard from someone that my blog feels uncomfortable to her.  It feels pretty uncomfortable to me a lot of the time too, because I’m using it to pick apart the stuffed up emotions that have overrun me.  Which part is me? Which part is BS?

I just noticed last night that Suz has a further exploration of expectations which is important to me.  I hope to come back to that soon.

Juggling Mothers

I’m one of those “first moms” that thought it would be peachy if everyone could just get along. At reunion’s first blush, the enormous gratitude towards Joy’s parents for clothing and feeding her and enabling her to contact me inspired me to write them a thank you note!  She was alive and she knew my name and I was thrilled. Their awesome ability to “have” her when I could not, gave them a special glow.

Joy pointed out it would have been more meaningful if I actually knew how they had raised her, starting to reveal my naivete. That she had been given her original birth certificate, tempted me to anticipate more good and open things in reuniting.

Meeting her parents early in our long distance reunion was  a-w-k-w-a-r-d.  Apparently I had intimated that I wanted to meet them.  It was December. I remember wearing my cute red plaid Xmas jumper and thinking I looked wholesome.  Her amom and adad and I sat in their family room, forming a triangle; me in an upholstered chair, amom on a small sofa (?) and adad on a barstool.  Joy slipped through the sliding glass door (to smoke on the patio) where she could likely still here our conversation, mostly me talking.  Her amom was polite and showed me her recent craftwork and hugged me goodbye.  I don’t think her adad said a  word.

Wow.  If I knew then… Mmmm- I would have shut my mouth sooner.

Well that was our one and likely only meeting.

I followed the thank you note up with a Christmas card our that first  year.  I was  looking up to them as the ones that were graced with the responsibility of raising my daughter, the ones that had experience and knowledge and success in the world. They made no response to my cards.  I think they wished I would go away and acted as if I had.

Fantasizing that our common interest in Joy and her well being would lead naturally to an interest in each other — just so that we could be supportive of Joy and her family was my personal delusion, that we could share in doing our best for our daughter.  I was interested in everything about her and I thought they would be too. I thought that would include me since Joy was interested in me.

18 years later, I have finally become disabused of that notion.

Any discomfort Joy has with us individually is magnified with us in proximity to each other.  Our visit last spring illustrated that.  At first I felt hurt that Joy hadn’t told me her amom was coming the day after me– I should have been warned.   If I had known I probably would have excused myself and taken the pressure off.  Instead I got the pleasure and wonder of Joy juggling  way too much mothers. I got to witness some of the hurt that accompanied our convergence.

Unaware I was the opening act to her amom’s visit, I was baffled at Joy’s ambivalence about seeing me.  I thought we had planned it to accomodate her work and family schedule.  But, oops we did it again…

What a fiasco.

The adoptee situation of two mothers is more powerful than having a stepmother and a mother — or than having your mother die and getting a step mother– or even being raised by an overbearing grandmother with your mom in the background. An amom that is there for you (or not) through your growing and developing. Later, adding an original mom that mirrors your physical reality is a lot to integrate.

I wish the two moms could ease the way instead of putting more thorns in the passage.

How did things go so wrong?  Wrong? Idk. Maybe not.  Definitely provocative, provoking examination.

Is my value of openness real?  Am I really open with Joy? I don’t need to know why her aparents don’t want anything to do with me. I know insuring we don’t overlap puts a greater strain on Joy. Where is the source of that strain? What can I do to ease it?

Openness, willingness on the part of the parents, all the parents, to put loving their child first still seems like the appropriate approach. But I suppose what that looks like differs from each perspective.

I am learning about loving Joy in the midst of her dilemmas instead of trying to change them.  They are out of my control.  I don’t need to limit or define our relationship by them either.

Together we are building a new and unique experience, a tremendous blessing.

Thanks to God, not anyone else.

“adoption language”

What did I do?  Signing “termination of parental rights” papers is the legal term I learned decades later.

At the time I think I was “signing adoption papers”. It didn’t feel like terminating something.  It felt like I was relinquishing, so that she could start being cared for properly, by people more worthy of her.  Relinquishing is a fancy word for giving up.  Somehow “giving up” your child for adoption sounds to others that your child is a “gift”, as though the person is a possession, which is an unconscionable notion in our modern society. My personal experience of “giving up” was  losing, quitting, resigning, abandoning all hope for myself — without extending that hopelessness to my child.  I held hope that she would be loved, cherished and cared for the way I had been convinced I was incapable of.

The way I described it at first was that I “didn’t get to keep my baby”. She was “adopted”.  She went out into the big big world that I was not to be a part of, where capable, successful people lived.

I tried experimenting with terms – “gave her up for adoption” sounds like I put her on an auction block. Too crude.  “Placed her for adoption” sounds like placing a book on a shelf as if it was a casual tidying up.  After I started blogging I tried “lost her to adoption”, which makes me the victim.

The word that fits for me right now is “sacrificed”.  I tried that word out years ago with Joy. When she responded that she was the one that was sacrificed, it felt quite brutal.  And yet that still feels like what happened.  She was the victim, sacrificed to the gods of opinion.  The flesh of my flesh, sacrificed.

It gets rationalized by the worthlessness of the mother.  I turned  away from the world that declared me lacking.  And now I’m coming back, because there’s really no other world.  We’re all in this together, where sacrificing one’s children to “superior beings” is a huge step above infanticide.  But it’s still inhumane!

Answering Rejection

Joy asked me some questions repeatedly, questions I didn’t have answers for.  When “I don’t know” didn’t get me off the hook I started taking a stab at something else.  I can make stuff up, but I don’t like to.  I like to take what I have and see how it works, noodle around with it. Exploring.

Why is a question I felt very unqualified to answer.  Why didn’t I know better?  Why is she the one that has to deal with being an adoptee, being abandoned by her mother, feeling rejected?

I heard that as, why her and not someone else?  Why her and not me? I don’t know, because that’s the way it is?  Not a satisfactory answer.  I felt pressured to come up with an answer that would satisfy her questioning (yearning?), that would make a difference, that would be useful to her.  All I came up with was a “logical deduction”, based on my premise that we are all here to learn and grow.  If her lot in life is to experience rejection then it’s so she can learn about it. WRONG ANSWER!!!

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP=STOP=BACK UP  Where is the reset button?

What nonsense!?!

She was telling me she already knew rejection.

What good is rejection?  Anybody got an answer on that one?

Everybody deals with rejection on one level or another.  What’s it good for?  How can we use it?

I was feeling rejected myself when she asked me. Feeling sorry for myself or defending myself have been familiar responses when I feel rejected.  Generally it’s a feeling of powerlessness, because I’m basing my value on someone else’s perception or critique of me.

I don’t need to learn about rejection. I need to learn to trust myself.

I’m not saying my experiences of rejection equals Joy’s.  We haven’t had the same experiences. I doubt I have any business trying to answer her questions myself because I don’t have her experience.

But as human beings we’ve got the same operating equipment: bodies, emotions, minds, personalities to deal with each other.  Looking at the essence of all our issues they seem to come down to abandonment and control, two sides of the same coin.  We try to control ourselves, our environment, other people so that we won’t be abandoned.

Currently, my revised answer is, the purpose of rejection is to teach us to trust our True selves.  Trusting, knowing and behaving as my True self is the most valuable experience I know.

And being the darkest place I’ve known is also the safest.  When I go to nothing left to lose, when there’s just breathing left, it’s just me. It’s peaceful. That’s acceptance.

I know I’ve got it easy.  I’m healthy. I live in the land of milk and honey.  Why do I have such a great life? I don’t know.

I am grateful for all that I have.

Rejection teaches me to let go of my ego demands, my entrenched positions of personality, my opinions and points of view, to give up everything.  Giving up all that gives me a glimpse of the  awareness that I am loved by Spirit and by God. That is where my safety lies.