It’s been three weeks since I’ve sat down to write. Having an illness in my body sends my mind running for the hills. I should apologize here, perhaps to myself. I don’t think a woman my age should just be figuring out the things I’m just figuring out. While I was sick, hanging out in bed, coughing all night, I would grab my trusty phone and listen or read to something I hoped would make me feel better. In the haze, I heard something, I think from Kyle Cease. He was talking about ways we avoid change. He talked about disappearing into our own minds. Specifically, because it takes us out of the present. If we don’t live in our present it’s terribly difficult to change anything about it. I’ve done it for so long, as long as I can remember, really.
I love Sunday morning nowadays. It’s quiet, relaxing, I might even say Zen like. This morning I lounged around in bed in that half awake, half asleep state until well after eight. When I finally sat up, I wrapped my comforter around me and hugged my pillow and quietly meditated for another hour. I had a lot to process. Earlier, in one of my awake moments, I’d read this article from an adoption blog, Do Adoptees and Foster Kids Have a Right to be Angry?
I grew up on a windy, sagebrush-covered hill in a small farming community in Idaho. My parents had saved and bought six acres of land that was considered pretty worthless because half of it was hillside and not farm-able. They put a HUD (what we used to call manufactured homes) house there on a basement foundation and started planting pine trees. By the time they moved into the house, they had adopted their first four children between 1965-1970.
I’m sure my mom felt more than able to meet the task at hand. She was the oldest of thirteen siblings and had milked cows, worked in the fields, done laundry in a washtub, lived with her entire family in a one-room cabin with no electricity or water. I’m sure she looked at the four of us and her shiny new home with two bathrooms and three bedrooms and thought “This is gonna be a piece of cake!” She’d struggled for ten long years just to get kids, now she had four! She no longer needed to teach school with her husband employed at the local college as a professor. He had his dream job and she had hers.
Dum da da da! Enter, real life.
How am I sure she felt like that? Heaven knows she never talked to us about her feelings. But she trained me and that’s how I felt when I had my first child. For all intents and purposes, I had raised my four younger siblings. Fed them, changed them, bathed them, watched them, cleaned the house, fixed the meals, washed and hung hundreds of flannel diapers on the line then dropped exhausted into bed before ten only to wake up and do it all again the next day. I was twelve years old and had three kids under three and an eight-year-old who wore diapers at night and didn’t speak English. Going home with one little baby boy, puh-lease, a piece of cake.
Growing up, I was angry, a lot. By the time I was four or five I had learned that was not acceptable in this house. Showing anger to mom was dangerous. That lesson was reenforced time and again, year after year. However big your explosion, her response was nuclear. Her frustration often came out in these words, “You are the luckiest children in the world! Don’t you know that? No body wanted you! No one but me. How can you treat your mother like this? Think about that while you’re out finding a stick!”
I lived in mortal fear of my mother’s wrath. In the aftermath of punishments, I spent endless nights wondering about the other mother that didn’t want me. I secretly wondered if I was lucky at all. But I was a good girl. I only wanted people around me to be happy. I was sure I could be good enough to keep mom happy.
It would be years and years before I could understand about hormones and their effect on women. It would take the death of both adopted parents for me to realize I was close to killing myself just trying to be worthwhile in their eyes. It would take fifty years of life, finding lost blood relatives, a lot of pondering what their lives were and how that reflected on my own, so many confusing emotions, then one leisurely Sunday morning I’d be given permission to feel the way I feel.
Hell, yes, we’re angry…We’ve been kicked around, abandoned, lied to, judged, misunderstood, labeled, shamed, pitied, abused, misrepresented, ignored, shunned, marginalized, orphaned and sent away with our few belongings in a black trash bag.
No, I’m not only worthy because you wanted a baby.
Yes, I have every right to be angry for what I lost.
Next blog – The art of escaping when there is nowhere to go!