This is something that was never talked about when I was growing up. You just got over an offense and moved on. Unfortunately, when things aren’t discussed or thoroughly meted out, they tend to manifest themselves in the most inconvenient ways.
I didn’t grow up in the worst home, but I didn’t grow up in a “loving” home. My trauma therapist calls it “neglect”.
The words “I love you” were never spoken in my home. Neither were the words “I’m sorry.” I never liked “huggers”. They made me very uncomfortable. I grew up where there was no physical affection of any kind. In the last few years, my dad has attempted to hug my sister and me when we leave. Its like watching a Ricky Bobby interview, “I don’t know what to do with my hands.”
I was a child that grew up in a home with no “I love you’s”, no “I’m sorry’s”, and no physical affection. That is the home that shaped me.
Add adoption to the mix. The event of my life that I was supposed to “move on” from. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why I thought something was wrong with me for not “moving on.”
Thank God for Trauma Therapy. Get it. Now!!!
I was sent to a counselor months after the adoption. “Counselor” is a strong word. I was sent to a crisis center who had a volunteer that was also a Natural Mom. I wasn’t “adjusting” well my mom told me. I sat with this volunteer twice. She was dead inside. She scared the **** out of me. I never went back. (actual picture below)
I attempted therapy a year after the adoption. It was predicated upon the fact that my eye had twitched for that solid year post-relinquishment. My school’s psyche department offered free counseling. I went twice. The letters P-T-S-D were thrown at me. What the hell was I supposed to do with that? My daughter was gone. There was no getting her back. Why bother with all these “feelings”? I would do what I had always done- stuff the rejection- and move on.
I almost immediately married a guy that beat me. Not regularly, but enough. I’ve been dragged down gravel roads. Body-slammed on a kitchen floor. Sucker punched in the gut. Tossed off an overthrown mattress. I always stayed. I was “loyal”.
My best friend since middle school was always off an on. I did everything she wanted to do. She was popular. I wanted to be popular. I sold myself out many times for her good graces. I always stayed. I was “loyal”.
I’m realizing that many of my most intimate relationships have just been re-creations of my relationship with my mom. Someone who is supposed to love me, but then hurts me and never apologizes for it. In fact, they make me feel guilty for bringing up the hurt and then they turn it into my fault. I knew how to function in these dysfunctional relationships.
It was my second husband that would help end this vicious cycle for me. I went out on a limb with him. We had friendship first. It wasn’t a hot, uncontrollable, lust-filled whirlwind train wreck. It was mature. It was adult. It was unconditional. He would apologize to me…and it was very confusing at first. Was this love? Was I worthy of his love? Was this a trick? What did he see in me? Did he have dead bodies buried in his crawlspace?
I have never experienced unconditional love until my husband. He will never understand how integral a role he has played in my getting the help that I have needed for almost 2 decades.
This adoption stuff has never sat peacefully with me. No matter how much I’ve stuffed it, it has always bubbled up in another way; many times through physical manifestations. I’ve suffered panic attacks, auto-immune diseases, insomnia, etc.
I hope to tell my lost daughter one day that she also played an integral role in my getting help. Knowing that adoption has affected her, that she has needed a connection with me greater than just her medical history (as I was erroneously told by “professionals”). It helped liberate me from the “Adoption Is Beautiful” narrative. Adoption hurts like hell for many of us.
I’m learning a lot in trauma therapy. I’ve been going weekly for 6 months. I’m exhausted by it, but I know that its helping me. My husband has been incredibly supportive and I wish I had some way to show the depth of my appreciation. I think its helping me become a better wife and mother.
I think I’ve come to a place of peace with my mom. Of course, my therapist can’t diagnose her, but she has mentioned Borderline Personality Disorder a few times. It really got driven home this week. It led to a very painful “aha” moment for me. To realize that your childhood was experienced under the umbrella of another’s mental illness is kind of earth-shaking. To realize that the loss of your firstborn was a culmination of that experience.
I will never get an apology from my mom. If she does indeed have BPD, I am guaranteed to never get an apology for how I was treated during my greatest time of need. Apologies and BPD don’t work well together. My sister has told me for months that I will never get an apology from her. I kept holding out. I just couldn’t understand, as a mother myself, seeing my child in pain and refusing to even discuss a matter. I’ve withheld communication from her until an apology was received. Its not going to happen.
Instead, my mom has doubled-down and has started bad-mouthing me to family members including my sister. My mom has tried to put a wedge between my sister and me. Simultaneously, sending me cards wishing me a closer relationship with God. So has been my life. Hurting me while acting as if she is concerned for me. Classic signs of BPD. It all seems so clear now.
My daughter’s adoption now makes sense to me. It was the embodiment of my mom’s mental illness. She killed me, watched me die, even took pictures as a memento. Then acted as if it was for my best interest. Told me that it was “God’s will.” And we never spoke of it again.
I am thankful for my husband loving me unconditionally. His love gave me the strength to seek help. I understand myself better and that I have been living with PTSD all these years. My children may find themselves in a therapist’s chair decades from now, but at least they won’t be able to say that I didn’t try. Apologies and “I love you’s” matter in our home.
As far as my mom, I will never get an apology. I think I can finally be at peace with that. It is time to dust off my feet and move on.
If you’re suffering, I implore you to talk to someone. You may very well find out you are suffering the effects of PTSD or another diagnosable and treatable disorder. I know we all don’t have the best insurance coverage and some have no coverage at all. Reach out to someone though, even if its free counseling or a Facebook forum. Someone might be able to lead you to affordable help. If you’re in the adoption triad, I think counseling can do nothing but good for all. I don’t know why society thinks people can just “move on” from such profound loss.