Thursday, January 25, 2007

Devil's Advocate

So why do I even think I should hope for any kind of contact? Maybe they're all happy as can be (and I do want them to be happy) and I'm living a delusion of hope. I mean really, months can go by without me hearing from my sister, my brother, my parents ... people to whom I am related but seem to think any form of regular contact is unnecessary. I've gone most of my adult life feeling like I'm forcing myself on my family. For example, about a dozen or so years ago I realized one day as I drove four hours south to return to the place where I worked and lived that I had felt really out of place at the family birthday and that I had not been invited, that in fact I showed up at every family birthday, anniversary and most holidays assuming my presence was wanted. But, *light bulb*, maybe my participation was merely accepted rather than welcomed since, after all, no one ever bothered to invite me or at least double check that I was coming.

So maybe I should just lay off and try to stop caring about it - all of it, any of it, and just live my life, enjoy my daughter, "move on".

But in reality, this is just another part of the cycle, a part full of detachment that just a few weeks or months from now I will wish I could feel because the aching hurt and tears will be back.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Patient and powerless

A few days ago, Casey wrote: I'm struggling today with seeing the difference between being patient and being passive. Later in the post she uses the word powerless instead of passive.

I immediately thought of how that describes my wait as a birthmother. I wait to hear from the adoptive parents. I wait in hope that my son wants to know me in person to some degree - phone, email, live?

Is my waiting a form of patience or just being passive? I feel I've lost so much time in this stance. So I chalk it up to passive at this point because I feel powerless. It takes a lot of time and not a little energy to be passive as we powerlessly wonder, worry and wait. Is it futile? Will he ever know how much I love him?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Genetics or just a boy thing?

My parents didn't know I was pregnant with my son. They found out a couple of years after the fact, thanks to my nosy mother who found some paperwork at my house from the attorney. (Damn packrat tendencies will always be my downfall.)

Since finding out, there hasn't been really any mention of him. (One brief and off-beat question - with no follow-up - from my mother, no mention at all from my father.)

In the letter I received at Christmas I learned that my son has a passion for becoming a firefighter and is in some kind of teen volunteer thing complete with his own gear. My dad was a volunteer fireman and for a few years it was a big part of all of our lives. We would go watch fires that my dad fought; we rode the truck in the local parades (so much fun!); my brother had his birthday parties at the fire house. So I typed up the entire paragraph from the letter and emailed it to him a few minutes ago. I thought, what the hell, maybe he'll like to know that. And if not, he'll just continue ignoring him, so nothing to lose, really.

Maybe he'll care.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Happy Birthday E.

Today is the birthday of a fellow blogging birthmom's daughter. In honor of Kateri, I am linking to two of her recent posts which really touched me, all the way to my core, because of the way she can describe so well the raw emotions that are always there for me, too, just below the surface. The hurt and grief of losing a child you gave birth to never goes away, even if you willingly gave the child to another family because you believed you were doing the right thing for the child, that he (or she in Kateri's case) would have a better life.

In Knitting for E, Kateri offers a piece of poetry talking about the gift of gloves "made by the mother / She doesn’t know". Excerpt:

I imagine them
Fitting her hands
Like she fit Into my arms
Nestling Like a puzzle piece
The first time I held her
That moment She was born.
She goes onto write:
I have no idea if the gloves will fit, if she inherited my tiny wrists or her father’s thick bones. ... I wish I could see her, talk to her. I want to have a moment with her where we understand each other. That moment will come someday, I tell myself. ... More waiting.
In other times of the year, I can feel like this was worth it, but not now. Not when I remember the day she was born, not when I remember the surprise of how she felt in my arms, like she belonged there. Like she fit there. I wasn’t expecting to feel that. I thought my unfitness would have me keep my distance. I thought she would be out of sync with me, because I thought we were destined to be apart, because I thought she belonged in other arms.
Right now, I wish I had listened to Nature. I wish I’d put her to my breast, because that would have sealed it. I should never have let her go.

I don’t often let myself feel this, the raw regret of that moment when she was born, when I turned my heart to face the future I thought would be best for both of us, instead of turning my mind to face our bond as mother and child. I could have turned the Titanic around, I could have backtracked and taken her from the people I promised her to. But I turned away. For my sake and hers, for their sake as well. I regret it. I regret it. She was mine and I turned away. ... I gave her what I thought was best, I thought.

My mind is constantly at war with my body. My body knows I turned her away.
E, I am sorry. For a moment you were mine. I denied that moment for so long. I am sorry. So sorry.
And it was this poignant post that really went straight to my heart, that made me feel like someone could see right inside. The blunt truthfulness of despair that I recognized found me nodding, saying, "Yes, I know," to the computer screen. And then I sobbed, the kind of whole body crying that comes with pure grief, that makes your chest hurt, awful moaning-like sounds come out your throat, the seemingly unending tears flow as your eyes become swollen. And why am I embarrassed to admit that? Have we all not at some point felt this kind of grief? Ahh ... but I'm a birthmom, I'm supposed to have moved on ...
Well, I am reprinting, without permission, most of that post here because, like the reprinted words above, I want to be sure I have them if Kateri ever takes them down. And if Kateri finds her way here: Thank you for your words, for sharing your grief so that we know we're not alone. Happy Birthday E. And hugs and love to Kateri today and any other day she needs them.
She is Everywhere and Nowhere
There is a vacuum where E should be.

Her pictures are all over the house. ... I wake up between my girls in the morning with Miriam holding a picture of the missing girl, E's is often the first face I see when I open my eyes, smiling back at me from the life I bestowed when I thought I wasn't good enough for her.

Less than a month from her birthday I am feeling the familiar tightness in my chest, the tension that is building, building, up to the crecendo of sadness and regret, peaking in the cold stillness of January.

I don't know what to give her for her birthday. What does she like? What does she want? What will she treasure? I don't know. I don't know.

What do you give the [child] you don't know, who holds a piece of your soul?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Who Am I?

I am not the person I strive to be, the person who thought she had "come so far". M's question about long-term goals made me realize that on the outside I have achieved certain milestones, but only because part of me thought I should and yes, a part of me needed to because I do crave and need stability. Hence, the homeownership of a small but nice, affordable home; the marriage to a stable guy who is financially responsible but in a government job that brings with it security but not big bucks - and I'm fine with that. I am not, and never have been, a materialistic person. I don't want a big home, a fancy car or flashy jewelry. However, that doesn't mean I live in a pristine home - I am a pack rat because I save everything that possibly could be used again. I can't figure out why I do this ... it's actually my New Year's resolution to de-clutter my house (and hopefully my life), although I think it will be a lifelong struggle.

I look back on my life and realize I never dated anyone with a college degree. I found my best job satisfaction as a waitress and grocery store cashier because I like doing for others and I like being around people, but a variety of people for short periods of time. But I listened to all the folks who told me that I was intelligent and had so much potential, that I should go back to school, yada yada yada. So now I have my college degree, a good paying job with great benefits, but I sit on my butt every day in a cubicle with no windows. And I feel like what I do every day makes absolutely no difference to anyone. Blech.

When I saw the movie Good Will Hunting several years ago, the message I got from it was that Matt Damon's character had potential that he needed to follow even though that meant leaving his peer group. The movie seemed to enforce the virtues of following your potential - but what happens later when he reaches his potential but never quite fits in with that world and will never fit in with his old world, either? That's how I feel. While I enjoy the stability the life I've achieved brings, I have to consciously try not to do anything that would disturb it. And thus, I deny my true self, and I've denied her for so long that I only know bits and pieces. As I am acknowledging them, I am beginning to figure some things out which isn't always easy, but it's about damn time.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Soul searching

I am still working through my reactions to M's question about my long-term goals. While I wish I hadn't read it on Christmas Day, I am beginning to appreciate that she asked it because for the first time in a long time I am really taking a good look at who I really am.

Here is something I wrote in an email to another birthmom the day after I received the letter. I needed to reach out and she was there for me. It also gave me a welcome opportunity to share some specifics I choose not to share in the blog. So a big thank-you to my fellow blogging birthmom and friend.

I'm still smarting from the question in the letter that I received. I really thought I had made progress with my self image and for 36 hours now I have heard all the old voices come back telling me that I'm not fooling anyone, that I really can't do anything right, that I'm worthless. All these years I've spent multi-tasking and staying so busy, feeling like I'm running from something, not slowing down so I can't hear the voices remind me that no matter what I do or how hard I try, I'm never going to amount to anything. I'm a fraud. I'm shiftless and without goals. I have so much potential but I just don't achieve. And I wonder what kind of portrait of me she has painted for my son. I'm not chasing the great American dream of a huge house in a tony neighborhood - does that make me appear like white trash to them with their two homes, private school educations for both children, etc.? (She has commented that our home reminds her of their vacation/summer home and has made comments in subsequent letters about our small, country home.) I don't have long range plans but that's on purpose - it never bothered me until now when I wonder if my "gypsy" ways are being seen in a negative light as it's refracted from M to my son. The possibility that my 'seize the day' philosophy is the reason for not having contact feels like a huge "REJECT" being stamped on my soul. Her one question did all that.