mother grief…gotta grieve it.

Tree-of-Life

When I married my husband a little over 2 years ago, he was extremely concerned about my health.  Actually, more accurately, I could see on his face and hear in his voice he was scared that he’d married a terminally ill woman.  So was I.  I didn’t dwell on it, but it’s like I could feel some life-sucking force taking over my body.  I was suffering, like I had learned to suffer – and had suffered my whole life: In silence.  I did not seek medical attention for it, but I didn’t shy away from my doctor either.  There wasn’t enough of one specific acute symptom or set of symptoms to try and get his input into the malady.  It was just a well-being thing – or complete lack thereof – that I really wouldn’t have been able to describe to any kind of healthcare professional.  If I had sought him about it, my doctor would probably have referred me to a mental health professional for prescription management of depression and anxiety and/or whatever else could be conjured up to write prescriptions for (prescriptions for therapy included).

Now that I’m where I am, it’s become clear that’s not what was needed.  I think I’d known for some time what was needed.  My body had simply just reached a point it could no longer bear the grief I had been stifling.  I hadn’t necessarily been stifling it on purpose as I knew it wasn’t healthy that I had not been able to let myself grieve.  I just had too much going on.  The grieving I needed to do was an all-consuming, 24-hour-a-day thing that a job and other things were not compatible with.  And there was the thing that I knew all too well: It felt as though it would kill me if I really let it happen, and I knew it would go on for a long time if I ever did let the process start.  When I could finally let it out, if felt like it was killing me, but, actually, it was quite the opposite.  It was a pretty intense, good 2 years of deep, deep, exhausting, grievous, gut-wrenching, back-breaking grieving.  I think that part of what kept me from going there before, too, was not having a support system and a safe place to go through it.  My precious husband provided that safe place…HE is a safe place, the safest I’ve experienced in all of my 48 years.  Our home is a safe place.  Our house is a ghetto, foreclosed on former rental unit with 20 people living hard in it at one time with human pee in the corners, oozing dripping stuff that had to be scrubbed from the walls along with rips, tears, holes, you name it.  It was NASTY when I first moved in – and Steve had already spent countless hours scrubbing away the nastiness and repairing the disrepair before bringing me in as his wife to help…and, in spite of all that it was in its former life and all that it still lacks, it has become our home.  We’ve made it our home.  And it has sheltered me through the hardest thing imaginable.

I’m still very much going through that process of grieving – and my son is 21 now, so I had a LOT of catching up to do.  Now that I’ve been through the initial breaking forth of it and have gotten what was dammed up mostly out of my system, I have started to notice the things that I do to be and stay healthy actually contributing to a feeling of health.  I’m starting to feel vitality and life in my body again.

A recommendation: Whatever it is you have to let go of and grieve, you are your only you, and you are incalculably valuable, so give yourself permission to find your safe place, permission to pray for your safe place – whatever it is you need to let what needs to happen happen – and grieve(!) it(!) OUT!!!  It is not the purpose of the human body to be equipped to hold that stuff in.  I almost let grief kill me, and, of this I am certain: There are far better ways to die…(!!!).

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gimme some skin!

Perhaps, to those who’ve been following this blog since the beginning, it may seem as if I have gone soft in the political part of family preservation and adoptee rights.  What I have found about political causes, as with any “war” waged, it’s very easy to get caught up in the politics, and as soon as we do that, the humanity that brought the issue to light in the beginning gets lost in the battle as one side takes up arms to enforce change and another side takes up arms to resist change.

And when it comes to our kids, battling each other over them is rarely a good thing, and usually not a healthy thing.  And that is the essence of what must come back to adoption: it must, once again, be about what is best for posterity.  The last thing I want is for children, be they my own or anyone else’s, to become collateral damage – especially in a fight that will only be won when all involved, be they mothers, fathers, babies, or would-be adoptive parents, are given a chance to take a step back from their immediate crises and step into their true human forms and get connected and/or re-connected with their true human hearts so as to facilitate really thinking this all the way through.  The understanding human mind and compassionate human heart is where solutions will be found – and how children who are already born who truly have no families, for whatever reason, will finally be the focus of adoption, and they can have families too.

And so, my goal is to continue to put a human face on adoption.  I’m putting my face before anyone who’ll be brave enough to see it as one of many representing the heartbreak of a family that got shot down before it ever got a chance to take flight.  I represent one side of the adoption triad.  I will take up my banner at times and cry out for change, but, by God’s help and grace, I will fight my battle the way my conscience allows and will not allow my humanity to be taken from me in the process.  My humanity eluded me for far too long to toss it away now – to any entity, any thing, any cause, or even anyone.  I gave permission for that to happen and had no idea if I would ever experience my true humanity again.  For the past 2-3 years, little-by-little, I have been reclaiming it, and I am going to be very vigilant in making sure it isn’t taken from me again.

This humanity now has gashes, has scars, and rust, and deformities, and some things about it that just aren’t that pretty.  But you know?  When I was prettier, I was also much more shallow, much more judgmental, and far less capable of giving a pass or anything like a real chance to others.  I don’t have that kind of luxury anymore.  And you know what?  I am completely okay with that.

happier happenings

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In the era of the early-to-mid 1980’s, I was a young adult, just finding my way, spreading my wings.  I was very excited about the possibilities before me, and, I daresay, quite the little fashion diva.  I was a hairdresser and loved fashion.  My original intention, in fact, was to work as a hairdresser for a few years, make lots of money, and save up to go to the Parson’s School of Design in New York.  I really took to fashion in those days.  That all got destroyed during an unfortunate marriage and subsequent divorce.  I just got caught up in other things and got off course and forgot all about it.

Then after pregnancy and relinquishment, I lost myself – so much so, in fact, that I remember looking in the mirror within 2 years of becoming a birth mother and searching earnestly within my own eyes.  The words of this thought reverberated not just through my head but throughout my whole being, ‘There used to be someone living in here…I wonder where she went…’  So, in losing myself, I lost the ability to connect with my own sense of style for many years.  And then, eventually, as the years dragged on and on being separated from the person who became the single most important person in my life, I completely lost my give a rip.

That bothered me.  I would dress up, but there never was a connection with it the way there was before getting tossed to and fro from one crisis to another.  I used to care.  And it bothered me that I didn’t care and that I couldn’t find it within myself to connect with the ability to care.  And I prayed, earnestly, that I could care again.  Caring about the way I looked may sound superficial, but there’s something in it for me, something within my identity, that was lost.  I don’t really know how to explain it other than I just liked the girl I was when I truly cared.  I cared – passionately – about a great many things that I somehow lost connection with.  In my early 20’s, the way I looked was part of my art, a part of the art of me, and that art was – or at least it felt – vital…alive...

Well, something’s happened in the last couple of weeks.  I’ve been hitting the thrift shops – hard!  And I’ve been buying clothes – lots and lots of beautiful clothes.  They look beautiful.  They feel beautiful.  I’ve been washing these garments, and concerning myself with how they are dried and shaped.  And you know something?  It feels really good!!!

And we have a new pope – from Argentina (the beautiful Argentineans)!  And he asked us to pray for him!  And he smiled!  I just found his unveiling so beautiful…and so hopeful…!

That must be it: The beauty and hope had been missing from my life – or perhaps it had just been in hiding or in exile.  In any case, Hello beauty!  Hello hope!  I have missed you so…so, so, so…!  I’m ecstatic to see you again!!  You are very happily welcomed!!!

i’ve said all to say this

I’ve shared some of my secrets here.  I’ve shared some of my pain.  I had to do something with it all because I was being crushed underneath the weight and the magnitude of it such that denial was no longer an option.  I’m not out of the water in terms of the grieving.  I love my son.  I told him every day, many times a day in the days I kept him with me before relinquishing him.  What I am facing is the prospect of coming to terms with the fact that the choice I made may have caused it to be such that I may never get to tell him again, and that is a hard thing, harder than anything I can possibly imagine.  I did not heal like I somehow thought I would after giving him up.  I have not healed yet.  I don’t know how much to expect in the way of healing in looking toward the future, but it’s clear enough that I have not arrived.  I am actively seeking to heal.  I hope I can heal.  At times throughout these near 21 years I have not wanted to go on living, but I choose not to take the choice of that upon myself and allow the breath that is in me to continue.  I must find a way to go on with the rest of my life.

What I am is what I am.  What I’ve done is what I’ve done.  I alone must deal with the consequences, and there is nothing to be done about it now, really, but just let life continue on the course that has been set.  What I would ask of you, dear reader, is this:  If you are a man making love to a woman who is not your wife, I would ask you to think before you bed her again if you would not be willing to raise a child with her.  It is, after all, procreation when you break it all down.  If you are a woman making love to a man who is not your husband and find yourself cast off, please know that you are not obligated to carry on that man’s tradition of tossing you out as if you were trash.  Just because he can treat you like trash, doesn’t make it so; it doesn’t make you trash.  All his actions have proven is that he doesn’t respect himself enough to take care of what he’s taken on in procreating with you.  If he doesn’t respect himself, how can he respect you or anyone else – including, perhaps, even his own child?  It’s not your fault anymore than it is your child’s fault, so do not feel obligated to conduct your life as there is a fault that demands recompense.  A child is one’s greatest blessing, if the man who helped bring this child about does not get that, you’ve no obligation to seek a means of letting him off the hook.  He will never be off the hook anyway.  He’ll always know he has a child in this world, and how he chooses to handle that will be his reward – or his reproach.  If he goes the way of reproach, you are not obligated to go down that road with him – especially if he’s gone his own way and left you behind to handle it all.  They say it takes a village.  I live in the village.  If I know you, I’ll help you in anyway that I can.  There are others who feel this way too.  It will not be easy, but you’ll have your child, and your child will have you, and that’s all that really matters when all’s said and done.

If you are a citizen who knows someone talking of breaking up her family by means of adoption, please be a part of the community that embraces it’s member with a new member on the way.  If a woman is thinking of such desperate means there is a desperate need.  You as a member of her community are not obligated to leave her alone, drowning in her fears.  You’ve got more resources than you think with which to comfort her fears.  Do what you can to just help her let herself be pregnant and really let it sink in what that means: it means she is an expectant mother – emphasis on the word, mother.  You are not obligated to watch her destroy who she became when she became pregnant.  Though we do not like to think of women who relinquish as mothers, it does not make them any less mothers: that is what a pregnant woman is, an expectant mother.  It is not self-indulgent for a woman to think of herself as what she is when she is an expectant mother; it is reality.  If she is considering adoption for her child, there has been a disconnect in her link with reality…know that!  Count on it!  It wouldn’t take much and it wouldn’t take long to bring her around to reality.  Let her indulge in imagining herself as who she is: her child’s mother.  Seriously.  What can that hurt?

If you are a couple seeking a child to adopt, do not seek it from a woman who has found herself alone, scared, and with child.  She is not an object for you to take advantage of anymore than she was an object to be taken advantage of by the man who fathered her child.  Realize where this practice came about…it came about when we scorned women for having sex outside of marriage and sent them out in the cover of night off to homes for unwed mothers before the neighbors found out.  This isn’t the 1950’s.  Women no longer have to be hidden away if they become pregnant.  The woman whose child you are hoping for is not a commodity for you anymore than she is for a pimp; she is a human being.  Don’t seek an agent or agency who would make her a commodity.  You are not obligated to perpetuate a predatory practice.  And also, keep in mind, that child inside her is not motherless yet.  If she has it in her to think of her child’s welfare – especially to the extreme of considering adoption – then she is capable of being her child’s mother.  Give her that chance.  Blowing up her family to create your own will not take away the pain of whatever it is that has caused you to have to look toward adoption.  What about the children already here who truly are motherless?  What about them?  You are not obligated to sit by and watch another generation grow up without someone there to say, “You are part of us.  You are not alone in this world.”

All I am asking is for us all to stop and really think about the people around us.  We are social creatures for a reason, and we are interconnected whether we like it or not.  As a society, we are starting to take on bullying.  That is so good because in this we are learning that every person has value, and no person has a right to take another’s self-worth away.  A man who is allowed to come into his own and find his self-worth without the interference of someone violently stealing it away with bullying may be allowed to let himself be the father he procreates himself into being instead of running away like he had to try and run away from the bullies and the pain they were inflicting.  Maybe that sense of self-worth that he’ll be allowed to grow into will be the difference between doing the right thing and not.  Maybe that sense of self-worth will even allow him to wait until he actually finds the person he would want to have a family with instead of trying to cram the empty holes of his stolen self-worth with the first thing that comes along.  Maybe that first thing will no longer be a thing.  Maybe she will actually be allowed to be a human being who can find and know her true worth.  If she is allowed this, then a better world is already being created for our children – who are, after all, the future.

And that is all I am saying in even starting this blog to begin with.  None of us are objects to be cast aside when no longer of use, so let’s not treat each other as such.  Each of us has value, each has something to contribute if we’ll just give a little mercy, a little room to grow, a little kindness, a little understanding, a little compassion.  Little is much with such grace in our midst.

adoption is…

The biggest thing that struck me about what Nancy shared was how adoption, so often, seems to be one lifelong, inescapable life interruption.  From the very moment of separation, so begins the interruption, and the interruption continues and often increases in frequency and intensity.  I have fractured myself.  I have fractured my family.  I cannot escape it.

So maybe it’s time to go back, have a talk with that pregnant woman, and tell her…I’m sorry…I love you.  Maybe this will finally be the start of the healing of these fractures.

1992

coming out party, overall, a success!

Well…I did it.  Most of my Fayetteville and Cali friends already knew about my son and the adoption.  I’ve been the most nervous about the people from my hometown finding out.  Isn’t that strange?  I mean, who of us has led a perfect life, really.

I was hoping to have already connected with my son and that we’d have already met and gotten it all behind us, and he’d already know what a loud-mouthed, opinionated weirdo I really am before making a public announcement on facebook like I did, but it didn’t turn out that way.  I hope if he sees any of this it doesn’t scare or embarrass him.  I just could no longer handle the pressure of leading what felt like a double life.  The pressure had been mounting, and I HATE having secrets!  I can take someone else’s secrets to the grave, but I cannot handle having secrets of my own.  When I come face-to-face with someone, I like being able to look them straight in the eye knowing there is nothing I’m hiding, knowing that what they’re seeing is really who and what I am, and I like knowing where I stand with people.  The only way I’ve found that I can truly know where I stand is by just being honest and putting it all out there, and people either accept it or they don’t.

Everybody was really great!  And it feel as though the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders to just finally get it all out there.

into the light

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You’re only as sick as your secrets.  I first heard this statement in addiction recovery and was thinking about it earlier in the evening and decided it was time to confront the fear that haunts me absolutely to the bone: What if my son hates me for what I did?  Of course, how I am tempted to answer this question is, he has a right to it, and, he cannot hate me anymore than I hate myself for it.

I decided to bring that deep, dark secret out of the dank place it’s been hiding and bring it to air out in the light.  So I asked my husband, ‘What if he hates me?’  He answered, “I’m sure he doesn’t hate you.  It’s just going to take time.”  And you know what?  Right then and there I knew this about what my husband was saying: I believe him.  And it was liberating to hear it.  His answer had a ring of truth to it that I needed to hear more than I could even know or have any objectivity to see.

I still cry every day, sometimes several times a day.  But since I started this blog and started bringing all these secrets to the surface, the tears don’t feel like they are coming from a place of destruction as much any more, or like they’re going to drown me, but, rather, the tears are starting to feel like healing is coming with them.  This is a change.  I know this blog has been hard to read for many who know me and who’ve loved me.  Even though it’s hard, it is doing some good.  It’s helping me climb out of this dark place I’ve been in with it all.

All sucking it up and putting on a brave face ever did for me was lead me down a road of ever-increasing anger.  It’s not worth it.  Is it fun to have to come clean and tell people I’m not as together as I tried to present myself to be?  No.  But I’m not doing myself or anyone else any favors by trying to keep it together when, clearly, I’ve been falling apart for so long.  I am what I am, I’ve done what I’ve done, and all I can do about it is be honest, be open, stop giving the toxins a free ride, and give myself with complete abandon to the very, very uncomfortable but necessary process of change.

Freedom

I have found a certain freedom in finally allowing myself to admit to myself and to others that I clearly made a mistake in choosing to give my son up for adoption.  I have thought many times about what I would say to him if he ever asks the question he has every right to ask: Why?  I can finally freely admit that I made a mistake, and now that I can, I can give him a truthful answer.  It is somewhat of a relief because I no longer have to live under the shadow of the illusion that it will all get better somehow “magically” by osmosis.  I have finally come to realize that if it is going to get better, it will get better only because I finally decided to stop being a chickensh** and face the cold, hard truth of it all.  It’ll come because I took ownership of what’s mine.

When I say there is freedom in this I say it because, for years, I felt I had to justify it to myself and to others.  There had to be a reason, after all.  Of all those reasons, some were smokescreens and the rest were just straight-out lies.  I never even allowed myself to consider the possibility of becoming a mother.  As soon as it became clear that I could not, with any kind of clear conscience, terminate the pregnancy, I immediately looked to adoption.  Looking back, had I told no one about the pregnancy and just let it be what it was – me pregnant and contemplating the reality of a child on the way – who knows…

Jesus said, the truth shall make you free.  The truth is, I made a decision based on flimsy logic.  Now that I can freely admit that, from that place of freedom, i.e., of no longer hiding from the truth, I can start, perhaps, to learn from it.  I have said for quite some time that I really would like for there to be some kind of purpose to all the pain I have endured with this.  And from this place of being able to own what is mine, the responsibility of there being a purpose in it is mine as well.  A higher purpose will not happen by osmosis either.  If there is to be a higher cause then I am to be the champion of that cause.  I cannot just sit back and expect meaning to come from this.  I must put forth the effort to ensure that it is not meaningless.

I do not deny that my son probably had some advantages to being raised where he was that will be beneficial throughout the remainder of his life, and I’m not just talking about financial advantages.  The stability they provided, the perspectives, all sorts of things that I saw in them will be assets to him, I’m sure.  They are good people, and I know they did a good job of raising him.  That doesn’t do away with all the nights, with his head upon his pillow, when he wondered about me and wondered why.  I put him in the position of having to, as a little kid, try and comprehend and make sense of what I did – when there just is no making sense of it.  did that, no one else!  My actions brought about those times when he had to grapple with why his mommy didn’t want him, and I wasn’t there to tell him that I did want him, I just believed that I didn’t deserve him.  It’s not to say that he didn’t love his parents and that he didn’t have a happy childhood.  I got the pictures, every year around his birthday, and they all clearly showed that he was having a happy childhood.  It’s just that, there was another mommy out there that he couldn’t get away from the reality of, and he was not allowed to know her.  That mommy was alive and walking around under the same sun and moon, but all he could do about it was go through his young life, wondering, with no real answers.  How can a person ask that of another human being, especially a little child?  Yet…I did…just that.