Saturday, August 26, 2006

Losing fear

I'm still figuring out how it is. In a way I have her back now. When she first called me I shook while talking to her. That lasted most of the next 13-14 years. And a lot of that time I had a fear of losing her again. I wasn't prepared to meet her needs. I expected her to have had a happy fulfilled doted on childhood.

I thought of my adopted cousin, an only child and doted on by his adopted parents and his (our) grandparents in Michigan. He seemed happy enough to be in the family he was raised in. My brother and I were very aware that he was completely different than the rest of the family, foreign. By not talking about it we convinced ourselves that he was unaware of it. I felt like we were wrong for noticing. And I thought my aunt and uncle were remarkably accepting and tolerant about the differences. I didn't realize the loss involved in the adoptive parents regarding their infertility. I blocked out the loss my cousin had experienced in being taken from his first family.

Anyway it wasn't what I had expected. She was not happy and hadn't been for a long time. The weird thing was we both went back to the state we were in when we'd parted. I was a teenage emotional betrayed grieving "mom" and she was an abandoned infant emotionally. There were now seventeen intervening years and family members that had needs, complications. I had thought finding each other would be only good. I would love her and she would feel loved. Not that simple.

The way the fear of loss seems to have motivated me is still being revealed. I was afraid of losing her again and tried to fulfill her needs to prevent that. I felt horrible that I was unable to do that, that I was failing her. I was equally fearful of endangering my marriage and B&G in any way. And I wanted to protect my parents who were trying to protect me. I felt that I didn't have any right to be her mother. When I signed the adoption papers, I believed I was freeing her from me, from failure, from disgrace. I wanted her life to be good. When she found me I was torn between desire and feeling unworthy. No right to contact with her, no right to disturb my  husband or raised children with my desire and confusion. And then out of her grief she was asking me how I could be so cold as to give my own flesh and blood away. Pretty messy. I was withholding myself from my spouse because I didn't have the right to be so fucked up. I withheld myself from Joy because I wanted to hold myself "together". I withheld B&G from their elder sister because it would be messy. All this time it was chewing inside me.

About 18+ months ago I just let go and said forget it. I'm not going to keep trying to be a good mother to her. I quit trying to fix her or myself. Things have been steadily improving. I recently considered that maybe what she really wants is me, the way I am, not the way I think I should be for her. I mean she'd probably like an upgraded version, but what-who I am, her mother, is what's most important. Acceptance. So she can stop trying to be a good adoptee too.

There's always been a kind of melting happiness in knowing her, talking to her, hearing her voice. Her sense of humor and wit and intelligence scare me when I try to live up to my fantasy, to be the mom I think she deserves. And the part of her that reminds me of her father is still a bit raw. But she is part of my life now and I love that. So the grief part is different. I'd like to integrate her into my family, to spend time together, for her brother and sister to get to know her. But the years of hesitation on my part, the lingering fears, have created a gulf that others have less interest in bridging. It's weird. Another thing I feel is my “fault”. I've got a lot more to learn here obviously.

A lot of my behavior around the issues has been unconscious. I just couldn't face the conflicts for fear of losing anything more.


Joy said...

Well, you haven't so I wouldn't worry about it any more.

And for the record, I have never been anything but polite to your husband, polite and well behaved.

I do not deserve the labels needy and manipulative, I would like to see him do half as well in as difficult of a situation as I am in and if your beliefs in karma are true, I hope he does indeed get the opportunity, Enjoy yourselves. said...
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Being Me said...

Him and me. I don't know anyone that isn't manipulative. Do you? said...
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Being Me said...

My husband is also the father of two of my children. I love him, regardless of our imperfections.

suz said...

my own husband has been very crafty in attempting to bring about the demise of my adoption related healing and work.he claims he supports it, accepts her but anything else beyond that he wishes would go away. he doesnt like me active in support groups, reform, search, my website, my friends, my books. he doesnt like me to talk about it with friends or family. he got embarassed when a coworker of his (who does geneaology work) found my adooption presence on line.

i wont budge. i gave into the fears, insecurities of otehrs 20 yeasr ago when i lost my daughter. i wont give into him in that way. i started our marriage denying my true self. i would rather end it with my true self screaming from the rooftops. i let man take my child from me years ago. i let society squash who i really was.

it is not going to happen again. and yeah, i also have two children from my husband. boys. but i dont want them to think they can treat women the way their father has treated me and more importantly, i dont want my children to feel that they dont matter - but that society and the opinions of others do.

they matter and so do i. said...
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Joy said...


I think I understand. I don't think she is trying to be hurtful, and I don't want to see this experiment turn into something awful, she and I have been through plenty of awful already.

I think it works like this, her husband feels cheated, like he was sold a false bill of goods, a childless wife, he has said that step children were not part of the deal, he also resented her other family, (her parents although that's kind of hard to believe because they were so generous with him, but from what I understand, that is true)

I mean I know, I know, most people don't wouldn't respond that way, and it sucks, that he's not all, hey honey I love you, I love all parts of you, how can I support you through this, but he's not. It's about him.

And her basic nature is good. And she does not want to lose her family, so she tries to do both, tries to walk the tight rope.

And what easier way to make it all palatable, then to find deficiency with me.

So then the story could be, "I tried to have a relationship, with my adopted out daughter, I do love her, but she is just too troubled, so I had to take care of myself"

I mean that sounds pretty good right?

That sounds like a solution, yes, I am a good mom, I tried, and I am still keeping my husband happy at the same time.

Of course the problem with this whole scenario, is that I am not fucked up, am actually pretty loving and giving and nurturing. If I do say so myself, pretty damn likable, so then we have to struggle, what is the reason for my unacceptability, we must find one.

So basically what I am saying is she is in a completely untennable situation.

She is struggling, and making mistakes in how she communicates, but I don't think she is out to get me.

And as much as you all mean to me, I really don't want her to be in a place where she is being told she is wrong, she has been told that a lot, you can trust me on that.

I know it sucks, I know that, but at the same time am still silly enough to want her to feel safe, and good enough.

And just so you all know, she asked if I was ok with her blogging,I really do believe she is doing her best

Being Me said...

I just read what Joy wrote. I'm crying again. You were so sweet to come to my defense. I love that you said I'm in an untennable situation. I got the image of trying to put up a tent on a tightrope. I can't blame him for anything because I am trying to figure out how to take this all under my own power. I would greatly prefer for him to be open to you. And I pray that will change. Somehow it's up to me to make it happen and I'm excavating to root out all the distortion. I'm sorry that it sounded like I was blaming you, because I am not. I am challenging him and I was disturbed at the lack of movement. I'm trying to understand him too. I've been very intolerant about that part of him. I've held judgments. That hasn't worked out too well. The reference I got from Suz is helping some. The main thing is I know Joy's and my relationship is up to me and JOY, independent of him.

She and I still have a lot to work out. I am notorious for putting my foot in my mouth. Any of my kids could tell you that. Now you know. Well, I'll keep listening.

suz said...

J. I really do feel for you. I completely understand the challenges of balancing your child you lost, your desire to have that child in your life along with a husband who may be less than a supportive, other children and their needs, etc. My marriage is most likely ending because of my challenges. In my case, my reunion was the catalyst - not the cause. My husband and I had problems in our marriage before reunion but the reunion shones a megawatt light on them and made them even worse.

I have learned that I am not the person I thought I was, my husband is not who I think he was and most importantly, I am NOT the source of all the problems. Others have contributed.

Wishing you peace.

Being Me said...

Dear Suz,I really relate to what you said about not being the person I thought or pretended to myself I was. I recognize multigenerational false selves faking our way through this adoption mess. I know I am not the sole source, more a bit player. I am just learning to step forward to play my part more actively. Right now getting to know myself as my solution. I am not seeing problems, just situations. I was taught to see problems and place blame. I'm not doing that anymore.

Being Me said...

Oh God. When I said multigenerational I was talking about my PARENTS, not JOY!!!

Maui said...

All this anger. All this blaming AFTER the fact. I think I wrote about this.

Expectations. I have actually set people up to fail because I expected them to be perfect.

In my opinion, Joy doesn't hear. I look to my right and I see that the only thing she got out of the gut wrenching writing was that she is "needy and manipulative". There is nothing you can do to help her or make her feel better. That is not your job. Your job is to keep your side of the street clean and stay off of hers.

"...I would like to see him do half as well in as difficult of a situation as I am in..."

Joy is the perpetual victim. It's sad to say this will not change until she quits playing that role. She enjoys it as I will not do anything I do not get something from. It's just the facts.

Joy, I feel you are making this 50% harder than it has to be. That's just my opinion. She is NOT your mother. She is your BIRTHMOTHER. Your mother raised you and did the real work.

When I mention my mother, I mean Ursula, the woman who put in the sweat and raised me. I call my birthmother Sarah because that is her name. I am not mistaken about that. And I explained that to her, clearly. She understands although I can see she is still in pain. But that is not my problem. She must live with the consequences of her actions and I will live with mine.

Maybe I have work to do with her or MAYBE, it just what it is. I read through these whiney assed adoptee posts and THANK GOD! that my mother made me strong enough and life has made me wise enough to realize when enough is enough in this arena. I will not be guilted into any sort of actions with Sarah. I rarely see her and it's because in REAL life, the relationships I have and where I am in my life I see no need to make it into something it isn't.



Maui said...

As an adoptee to a birthmother, I gotta tell ya...I feel for you. I think this goes beyond any normal logical, rational or irrational behavior.

Personally, I would limit my time and my family from this person as, as I see it, your slow demise is her objective.


suz said...

uh, J, this angry adoptee postnig to you frightens me. be careful. dont listen to him. listen to your heart and trust your own relationship with joy. not sure what axe mr. maui has to grind with joy but surely he has one.


Being Me said...

Goodness sakes alive! Don't worry. And at the same time, thank you all for caring. As Joy said, "she and I have been through plenty of awful already."

As Hoyt Axton said,
"You may think that I'm a fool
And sometimes that is true,
But I'm going to heaven in a flash of fire with or without you."