I want to find a way to do that, just breathe…breathe and trust the process. I need to find my way back to some gratitude – and not the false advertising kind of gratitude, but gratitude that comes from a place of rest, rest in the knowledge that everything will work out for the best.
I gave birth in my native Northwest Arkansas but moved to California just before my son’s 2nd birthday and was there until he was almost 18. The last 10 years while there, I had a pastor who, upon many attempts to escape, discouraged me from coming back to the area I’m from and where my son lives. I valued his input, so I heeded his words though I desperately didn’t want to. But, I tell you, if just one word had come my way even hinting that my son needed me here, I’d have crawled on my hands and knees the 2,000 miles if I had to – even if the pastor would have strictly forbidden it. My son is a part of me where I will not be deterred, and I will not be moved.
I went to rehab after moving to Cali and sobered up. And when I say I sobered up, I mean, it really scared the piss out of me when I stopped drinking and doing the things I was doing long enough to realize how incredibly, insanely, unnaturally lucky I was to be alive and how close death’s door was to swallowing me whole. It would have come so quickly I’d have never known what hit me and eaten me up without remorse and without a moment’s thought or hesitation. While I was in my addiction, I didn’t really care if it did come. But when I started coming out of the fog, and started waking up to reality, I found a very ferocious desire to live all of a sudden. After a few years of getting my head screwed back on straight, of course, I was devastated at what it had cost me. My choices had cost me my son…my beautiful, beautiful son…
Once I decided that I was going to let the pregnancy come to term, I did quit drinking and smoking cigarettes, and everything else. I took really good care of myself, in fact. But I didn’t do any kind of program or anything then. I just quit to focus on something else. Even though I wasn’t drinking or using any other intoxicants, I wouldn’t call myself sober because I definitely wasn’t thinking like a sober person…and I do know the difference now. One must reprogram one’s mind to think like a sober person in order to stay sober. For me, this is an irrefutable fact. So when my thinking started functioning more soberly, I really wanted nothing else but to go back and choose to raise my son. I spent a good 2 years in nothing but mourning over that, to the point I could do little else.
I knew I couldn’t rip him from the only parents he’d ever known by that point, but I did start to seriously regret having not insisted on the possibility of having contact with him in some form or another. So, finally, when my son was around age 9, I worked up the courage to write to his adoptive parents and express my regret at having shut myself completely out of his life. I asked if it might be possible to have some kind of contact with him. They wrote back to me fairly quickly and very politely shut that down.
There was nothing else to do but persevere. It was like trudging through sludge. I look back on that time, that very lonely, lonely and very hard time…it is amazing the things we can endure that necessity dictates. If one chooses not to end her life, then living through these things becomes a non-option. Don’t tell me there isn’t grace!!! If there wasn’t grace, the anguish would have vaporized me. For me, that is another one of those irrefutable facts.
I don’t know what I expected when he turned 18, but I wasn’t about to not be close by if he did express that he wanted to meet me. Coming back to the place of his birth and the place where he grew up was like visiting the scene of the crime. I had to drive through the town where he was raised twice a day to get to work for over a year. I was hit with wave after wave of pure grief for the first few months, and then the old familiar and faithful perseverance kicked in. Didn’t mean it didn’t hurt. It just means I learned to cope.
I still don’t know what I expect, and I’ve actually put forth considerable effort into letting my only expectation be to meet him and let things unfold very naturally as they will. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a relationship to develop from that meeting, but I am also very aware that I have no control over the outcome. Want and expectation are 2 different things to me. Expectation, to me, carries with it an air of entitlement that I find very ugly. It is not always easy to avoid the pitfall of expectation, but the hand I’ve been dealt in this life has helped me learn a thing or two about avoiding it (ironic laugh). Want is a completely different – and, I feel, a necessary – thing for ensuring any kind of quality of life. The things I want in life help inspire me to get out of bed and put forth the effort required to get from day to day and find my place in this world. I want a relationship with my son, so much more than I can express with words. I expect nothing except what he will decide and do where I am concerned. People will only give you what they are willing to give wholeheartedly, and if they are willing to give you anything at all from the true value and beauty of who they are, then that is a gift and certainly not something to be taken lightly or for granted.
I acknowledge that the potential for having my heart broken exists. I’ve been aware of this potential for over 20 years. But, then, that is the risk one takes in bringing a human being into this world. Humans come into this world endowed with fully functioning wills of their own, and they will make choices throughout the courses of their lives according to those wills (those pesky, pesky wills…). Some of those choices will break people’s hearts…some of the people whose hearts might get broken might happen to be their own parents, a mom, a dad, natural or otherwise. I’ve come to accept that heartbreak is just part of the risky business of living in the skin of humanity…