The beautiful Mom2one reposted something from a couple years ago ~ living life with no regrets. Is that like an admirable life, of always doing the right thing? If one has no regrets does that mean no need of forgiveness? How does one live a life without regrets? My mind has also been stimulated by several recent references on other blogs re forgiving first mothers. I saw Life Unexpected episode re Cate being unforgivable last night.
Can mothers that relinquish be forgiven? By their relinquished children? By themselves? For what exactly do we need to be forgiven?
God/Love+biology/lust created a blessing/mistake that we saintedly/depravedly sacrificed to adoption.
People have opinions about the right/wrongness of that.
My blog has been woven with the struggle to free myself from shame. Familiarity breeds contempt. Contempt for my shame bred more shame which expressed as caring way too much about me in a depressive way.
Accepting/forgiving myself frees me from shame. It takes the focus off me. It frees me from trying to fix/change our reunion/relationship so that I can see other people’s cutting/angry remarks are about their feelings (and not about me). Then I can listen better.
I am still working with acknowledging that my first daughter and I really are v-e-r-y different. Remembering our differences is valuable. It makes our relationship lively and interesting instead of provoking.
Our sometimes eerily similar communication styles and excitability get me thinking we’re alike. Similarities that we didn’t learn from each other, just jump out to me. Are they innate? It is simply handwriting to incredible similarities of knowing, of connectedness, of loving. The handwriting is particular to us. The connectedness may surpass us? She is always in my thoughts, no matter whether we’re in communication or not.
A week or two ago, Joy talked about mothering her son and asked me how I felt about mothering my raised kids. I doubted my worthiness of my raised kids as soon as they were born and feared them being taken from me or being told I wasn’t good enough for them. In reality I got lots of reassurance that I was a good mother and no criticism.
It took me awhile to figure out when my self doubt changed. When Joy and I reunited Buster and Ezzy were 8 and 5 years old. I don’t know how much of it may have been the years of experience or their developmental stage or reunion. But from the time I started learning what a failure I was as a mother to Joy, I stopped worrying about how I was mothering Buster and Ezzy. The worry and self doubt melted. I was just grateful for the opportunity to mother at all. There wasn’t time to worry about worthiness.
Mom2one was talking about the regrets and sorrow of first moms. I know the sorrow so well, as part of my foundation. I face the world from a foundation of sorrow. Knowing I survived surrender is part of my strength.
I want to tussle with the word regret, because it reeks of wishing I hadn’t lost my baby. And that is such a loaded issue for me. It sets off an inner alarm. Of course I’ve regretted many things in my life. The grief of relinquishing my baby has ricocheted through much of Joy’s and my reunion as a corrupting fear of losing her again. Most of my regret is for not working through a lot of the pain and anguish of relinquishing before reunion. I’m still working on forgiving myself for not knowing about reunion and not being “ready”.
It’s been hard to accept that I wasn’t ready when she came to me as a teenager. I had two young school age kids at home and was substitute teaching teenagers. Big, loud, gangly and rebellious teenagers were my bread and butter. She was soft, demure, independent and elusive, so elusive. 2000 miles away was the most obvious distance. But even though we were raised in the same county, the difference in our background and orientation was more to overcome than the 2000 miles, simply because we were looking out of different pairs of eyes, different positions. We both were dealing with adoption loss etc. ~ overcome with emotion, fears, hopes etc., from very different angles. It would have been awesome to have the reference of Life Unexpected then. All my reference points were that everybody else was just fine with adoption…
I regret my brokenness and my ignorance.
I had “gotten on with my life” as instructed. I moved from the homogeneity of middle class Southern California to the biggest town in 5 counties ~ with a population of 60,000 people! From anonymity to nowhere to hide. Everyone, every education level, economic level and race bumped up against each other all the time. I loved that place, learning to function and enjoy the open friendliness of a small Midwestern university town.
In this new geography, I learned the term reunion and the word birth mother. At the same time my four year old daughter was informing our new neighbor’s Barbie and Ken dolls how babies are made.
The first hurdle in reunion, was to tell my raised kids that they had a sister. I hadn’t wanted to tell them they had a sister with no assurance I’d ever see again. I thought they were too young to have to face that fact. It was like tearing off a scab that hadn’t healed. When she called me, she became real. She had found me. That must mean she wanted to know me, that she wanted me in her life. So it was imperative that her siblings know. Once they knew; I wrote to the rest of my extended family, to people that hadn’t known about her previously, people that hadn’t been important enough to know about what was most important to me, people that I had not wanted to have to explain to before she acknowledged me.
Reunion opened up a part of me that had been shut off. Anger, hurt, resentments etc were uncapped.
At the same time a part of me began living in new regret and judgment, as adoption was revealed to not be all roses and sunshine for my now grown baby girl.
For twenty years we have struggled with confusions and fears and aggravations about reuniting, coming back together. I’ve struggled, trying to control our reunion, to make it meet my expectations, to make it nice, harmonious and easy. I could regret that ~ that I thought I knew how things should be. But it kind of makes me laugh. I thought I knew how things should be. I thought things should be different than they are! That kind of explains why I got so hurt and angry and frustrated. Reunion did not proceed according to my expectations. How rude!
There’s one of our differences. I feel a tremor of fear anticipating redress for my irreverence/insensitivity. Facing the trauma we’ve been through, I step back. My experience of being caught up in it has been disabling. From a little distance I see my failings and foibles and rejoice at my mistakes because seeing my mistake shows me a glimpse of something better, that there is an alternative. Reunion doesn’t have to be nice, harmonious and easy for it to be good and worthwhile. The old saw, “it is what it is” is relief, my Balm of Gilead.
Whew! That is a process of forgiveness. Recognizing that the fears, aggravations and confusions of life offer me opportunities to learn and share and grow. I am learning to ask to see these differences and conflicts as opportunities for revelation, to learn who I am and who Joy is, who we are in relationship together and apart. Accepting what is, what our relationship is outwardly, gives me an opportunity to look inwardly and receive clarity. I can look at what’s happening and respond with loving when I’m not trying to make things be different than they are, when I forgive myself for being an imperfect mother. Ahhhhh…