Tag Archives: loving

shaken and stirred

My DD took offense at an impersonal pronoun in my last post. I screwed up. I was tired when I read her comment and should have left it alone. But I was going to be offline for at least five days and didn’t want to ignore her. So I jumped in and said something really stupid and hurtful.  I’ve been re looking at it for the past 5 days.

That would be HER, not IT, thank-you.

At first I didn’t read carefully enough to distinguish between her comment (above) and my own words (below) which were posted along with her comment.

“Or if they really loved their first grandchild they sure had a strange way of showing it, huh? If they loved that baby unconditionally they would have clung to it and kept it safe themselves rather than cast it out to the unknown world of people in better circumstances, better able to provide for this healthy white infant. That’s what some people say.”

It was late and I was shaken by the  capitalized pronouns, (representing a frequent accusation that I’m thoughtless and lack empathy).  I reacted foolishly. In the morning I quickly edited the post without grasping what I was doing before leaving town.

In a rush and feeling awkward and misunderstood, I had changed that paragraph from talking about my parents and an abstract baby, to be more directly about her. I hadn’t intended to be that personal.  Becoming more personally about her, I took it personally too, which can be quite troublesome. I hadn’t wanted to touch into the rawness of my reunion.

That is exactly what I was  looking at when I started the previous post. How to love unconditionally and personally? How do I love what is just the way it is? DD, just the way she is? Can I love my whole family unconditionally? Without getting confused trying to suit other people’s desires or distracted by conflicting requests?

I know from long experience feeling *guilty* is more disabling than motivating. The burning regret that I had misunderstood her and reacted inappropriately again was overshadowed by getting my feelings hurt too, feeling ignored and  insulted when I thought reaching out to her would be easier than it is.  I keep moving to find the sweet spot where I can see what’s going on and interact with compassion rather than guilt.

It takes a lot of attention. I have to stop comparing myself to any measure of reasonableness – stop  justifying choices made out of fear, jealousy or greed. Being afraid of losing her means I’m losing myself. She will always be a part of me. I just have to be open to who she is, whether she *likes* me or not.

When I am secure with myself, I see her with compassion. When I’m out of balance, the shaking wakes me up to how far I’ve drifted. I have to steady myself to look and see who my daughter is, to accept our reunion as raw and awesome and changing. Our differences, our similarities are all valuable. The beauty of who we are stirs me. And I can see her more clearly.

Reaching out and touching no matter what, that’s part of it. There is something about shaking it off and getting up and getting going that is refreshing too.


What am I trying to prove?

Three years after Joy was born my best friend shocked me by asking me, “What are you trying to prove?”  I had no idea what she was talking about.  Moi?  Trying to prove anything?  Looking back from here, I’d been trying to prove I was worthwhile, trying to earn a place in the world.  Theme of my youth.

Relinquishing my baby to adoption was the greatest trauma of my life.  I lost both my baby and my fragile sense of worth.  I had been convinced I couldn’t care for her and told not to speak of her again, when my parents  took me home from the hospital.

I insisted my mother take pictures of me holding my baby girl before signing the termination of parental rights.  Holding her again was similar to her birth, a sense of heaven, suspended in joyful knowing beyond anything slse.    Then she was taken from my arms and I was ushered into a small office to sign the prepared paperwork. I couldn’t see what I was signing for the tears.

There was no discussion of “feelings”.  There was a lot of silence.  I cried in my room for a couple weeks or so…  The opinion of the world as I knew it was that my baby and I did not deserve each other.  She was pure and good.  I was unworthy of her.  The world hadn’t made much sense to me before that.  Giving my baby to strangers stood my sense of right and wrong on its head.  At this point I really didn’t care to live in the world I’d known so far.  Losing my firstborn daughter to adoption through submitting to the idea that I wasn’t good enough to be her mother devastated my self esteem.  I was supposed to suppress my grief in favor of shame.  Finding myself waking up alive day after day was a bit of a surprise.

It shifted to seem I was playing Rapunzel, waiting to be rescued from my parents’ protection.  I realized it was time to leave my parents home and find my way in the world, to make a new life.  The next move was up to me, to get up and go back out in the world to see what I could find.  For about a year, I told everyone I met about losing my baby, until a young man looked at me with a shocked expression and told me my baby needed me and that it was wrong to leave my own flesh and blood behind.

I started trying to push this significant point in my life story back as far as I could.  Sex, drugs and rock were no replacement.

Inwardly I was both at war with and worshipping the god of opinion.  Others opinions and even my own, conflicted with my true inner goal of living as a divine creation of God. Jesus was my secret role model.  I grew up in the sixties and attended Love-Ins with the youth minister from my family church. “Hippies”, free love and the “spiritual” aspects of the popular culture appealed to me.  I was both baffled and curious at discussions about “the purpose of life”.  People were studying meditation and experimenting with psychedelic drugs to uncover life’s meaning.  My sense of spirituality was that it was way more mysterious than I was.  Privately I contemplated  and processed these messages.  My personal answer to “What is the purpose of life?”  was “To have fun.”  It sounded too simple and maybe sacrilegious, so I kept quiet.

It was beginning to discover my purpose, expressing my worthiness as a child of God.  Just like everyone else.  I am.  That’s what I was trying to prove.

Trying to prove it is counterproductive. It’s something to be experienced, not proven. Trying to prove my worth indicates  I’m not experiencing it. Trying to prove my worth is siding with the devil of separation.

I want to fulfill my purpose of living and loving who I am.

First Contact

I’ve botched  answering my daughter’s questions in the past.  It is harder than asking and has greater responsibility.    I’d like to start at the beginning, but I’m not sure where it is.  That  could be several posts.

Birthing Joy was the highest point of my teenage life.  It seemed like the room filled with  delicately pulsing gold and white light.  It was transcendent.  The lowest point in my life was relinquishing her.  No question.  Nothing has impacted me like that.  I learned that emotional devastation isn’t going to kill me by itself.  I’m not going to waste away in a quiet room waiting to die.  I  get up and take another step.  I took a lot of missteps and wrong turns.  I tried sex drugs and rockandroll. They didn’t replace anything.  I came back to me.  Alone.

Searching to make sense of living I made lots of choices.  Some choices  strengthened me and provided a loving feeling.  I didn’t bounce back from losing my firstborn the way it had been predicted.  I crawled.

Twelve years later I gave birth to my son.  It was not a magical experience like hers had been.  This time the magic was that I got to take him home.  His father changed his first diaper while I watched with my head in the pillows.  Three weeks later, when I left the house for the first time, my baby was strapped to me.  The longest I left him for the first year was two hours — in the next room.

I only wanted to be a good enough mother.  Everything I did was trying to be that or to prove that I was.

We lived in sunny So Cal.   only a few miles from Joy.  A third baby, a little sister was born, who worshipped her older brother.

Then we  moved 2000 miles away, two weeks before Joy’s son was born.

My idyllic domestic bubble was popped by the move.  For the first time I had to leave my youngest, at four years old, in daycare.  I went back to teaching school, started getting to know the kids new friends parents, find new sources for the special foods to prevent the ear infections and learn how to live in the snow and ice.

In the middle of my first Midwestern winter, in the evening, my husband brought me the phone. Joy had the info on me for a while before she used it.  I think new motherhood was her impetus.

I wish I had a recording of that first phone call.  I was shaken physically as well as emotionally.  Lying on the bed I grabbed a pen and started writing on the back of some paper.  Her name.  The town she grew up in.  She told me she left home and got married when she was 15!  Trying to imagine how that could have  occurred in the conservative and upright adoptive family I assumed she had been raised in I asked her how her parents handled  an elopement to Mexico.  My guess was they would have had it annulled.  She said they threw a very nice wedding reception for her and her 16 year old husband .  She assured me they were very nice people.  There were a couple other life stories that felt like bombs dropped into my ignorant fantasy, which I wrote down without commenting.

She told me she was put into a special program in elementary school because of her gift of creativity.  She is very creative.

I was confused, feeling chided for hinting disapproval of her aparents, like a ball of confusion exploded with thoughts and feelings flying.

Later I learned  she perceived my lack of questioning her as lack of interest.  The irony was I thrilled with every bit of contact we had.  I perceived her as uncomfortable with questions.  My efforts to be sensitive and grateful for what I got were read as lack of interest.

We were both in the midst of more upheaval than we acknowledged — aside from reunion.  I knew she was a new mom.  I didn’t know she needed a place to live.   I was supposed to be “together”, the mom, the adult — which I was, to an extent.  I thought I was a good mother to my two raised children.   I was also stressed emotionally and financially while my husband started a PhD program.

Buried emotions from the most painful experience of my life erupted along with the sense that no one would, could or should help me.  I wasn’t deserving of assistance when she was born.  Unfortunately,  I still didn’t believe I deserved assistance.  I felt I was cheating the system to have contact with the daughter that I had let go. If I wanted  reunion  I had better handle it on my own, as an adult, in addition to being a good wife and mother.  I was desperately trying to prove I was worthwhile and didn’t dare ask for help.

She told me she wasn’t angry which barely scared me into realizing she might have reason to be angry.

I was unwavering in my commitment to  communicating with Joy.  I craved the sound of her voice as though she had awakened me, brought me out of a cave of denial.  I had a firstborn daughter.

She told me she was a grown woman (teen mother)  herself — out of her parents’ home for years.  She was independent and didn’t need me.  She didn’t want me to be a mother.

I was anxious to be whatever she did want me to be.

Sometimes I still flounder in a dilemma of not living up to expectations. She is always in my mind.  Sometimes more in the background than now.  But always, whatever I am doing, and wherever I am, I carry her around with me.

I was revisiting the traumas of our reunion recently and my deodorant wasn’t working.  Life goes on and people put up with my stink. Everyone that gets near me will appreciate it when I get through this.

Dear Abby

I’ve read these advice columns all my life. My first questions about sex sprang from reading about unwed mothers in Ann Landers when I was in fourth grade. “If God planted a baby in someone’s stomach, how could it be a mistake?” Oh, well it’s all about how God did that planting. Hmmmmm….

This morning Jeanne Phillips aka the new Dear Abby had a fabulous response to a want to be Grandma. If Dear Abby can get it for grandparents it fosters hope that caring and nurturing children can be viewed as an ever present option. If you love children, if you have so much to give, there are children all around! There are SO many children in need of loving. You can add to that child’s life without taking anything away. If you really love a child, wouldn’t you want that child to have it’s mother and family? You don’t have to get the title to them in order to love them. Children don’t really belong to anyone but themselves. Another quote I remember from my own mother’s bookshelf,

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself
.” Kahlil Gibran

Life/God put children with specific mothers. That’s how they get born. To paraphrase an old religious ceremony, “Let not man put that asunder.”

We as humans do sunder our relationships with our children at times. Some, who have not grown fully and wholly, have abused children emotionally or physically. In some cases it is appropriate for society to step in to insure that children are in safe and loving homes. I do ask that we look carefully though that we are not the ones to separate a child from its family, that we only step in to fill the gaps. Too often desire creates the gaps. Examine our desires. Distinguish desire from loving. Desire is wanting.  Succumbing to ‘needing’ can turn to grasping. Loving is an expression, an outflow, giving.