July 3, 2013

As Far as It Depends On Me

There are times when improvement is painstakingly slow.
Remember, moving slowly is still progress.  

Maybe you need to be reminded of that too. 

Set Backs or Opportunities?

If I had to look at how things are right now with my original mother it would look like nothing but a set back. But, I’ve adjusted my perspective to see it as an opportunity. Before I share how I arrived at this thought, disclosure of the latest painful reality is necessary.

I sent the cards to Judy and Tom a few days ago and waited to see what would happen. Monday I received a long voice mail from Judy, the first I’ve heard her voice in over four months. I was so hopeful. 

The message sounded great. I put it on speaker phone and played it for my husband and Emmy. They both listened intently, Emmy with her mouth open, hand covering it in shock, eyes wide as saucers. As soon as the message was over she said, “Oh. My. Gosh. It’s like nothing ever happened!!!!!” My husband concurred. The message was as if we had never had a falling out. This made me even more hopeful about what the outcome of a call would be.

I prepared to call her back and wasn’t worried about what I would encounter since the message sounded so positive. A few days ago here on the blog I said that I was hoping for a good call and was trying to arrive at a conclusion as to what a “good call” would constitute. If you asked me that in times past, I would say that a good call would be one where we discussed things deeply – as is my nature.

Shallow Vs. Deep

I have realized that I don’t have one friendship relationship where I don’t go deep. I have acquaintances and business associates that are on a more surface level but any real friend I have is not the least bit shallow. I have never selected a person who lives on the surface as a close friend.

Previously I would have considered a good call with my mother to be one where we speak  deeply, with nothing hidden. That has never happened though I kept holding out hope. 

I have come to realize that we don’t select our family as we do the other relationships in our lives. We get what we get. Even in adoption, we get what we get. I was not raised with my original family yet I did not select my adoptive family. So even with adoptees, it is what it is.

Adjusting Expectations

I've often said that I asked Judy for nothing, except my original father’s name, and didn’t receive it. But I do see now that I also, in my heart, longed for deep. I thought it was so easy to give because I so freely and easily give it. It was an expectation I had, this going deeper. In the past I would have viewed deep as the litmus test for a good call, but don’t anymore. These days, good is simply the absence of a verbal thrashing.

With that said, I called Monday in hope of hurtful words being absent from the conversation but let go of any expectation of deeper conversation. I expected to hear about everything from favorite hospital foods, to crocheting. 

Photo Credit: Natalie Maynor, Flickr
Welcome to a whole new conversation to heal from!

After about 10 minutes of chit chat about her condition, the conversation abruptly went south as she said, “I just wanted to say…” and then a barrage of hurtful words came for the next 35 minutes or so. I spoke for about 5-7 minutes at the end of the conversation.

I could have fought back with a vengeance and delivered powerful zingers that would have pummeled each one of her verbal darts into the ground. But honestly…it doesn't feel right to me to do that to someone laying on a sick bed, and possibly dying.

My response
I let her get out what she had to say and then I said, “I sent you a card and called today with the goal of two things – to tell you I’m sorry you are sick, and I love you. I’m really sad that it’s been turned into anything but that.” 

I also calmly but firmly told her that I don’t have to defend myself nor will I. That I am confident in who I am, and will continue to be who I am, regardless of what she chooses to say or do.

She didn’t know how to respond. It was just kind of an awkward silence and then she had to go because the nurse had come to check on her. 

February 28 Vs. July 1

Some of the call was reminiscent of February 28. 
But I’m different now. 

At my last therapy appointment, Melissa told me I’m not the same woman who walked into her office four months ago. 

Not gonna lie,  the July 1 conversation made me angry. 

What's different is my response.

This time I didn’t fall over and sob and beat the ground and say, “Why, God? Why?” I already have that answer. Don’t need to ask it again.

Although I wasn’t the least bit happy about the conversation there was no need to be reduced to a squeak for days, no need to bang my head on the dashboard, no need to sob uncontrollably.

My mother evidently hasn’t changed a bit, but I have.

No happily ever after?

What are you doing to us, Deanna? 
Is there no happily ever after, here? 
Aren’t you going to go to the hospital and have an amazing meeting of the minds where this time, you hold tightly to her head while you both cry and everything is just B-E-A-U-tiful??!

I wish everything were tied up in a neat little box like that.
I wish complex issues didn’t exist.
I wish things always unfolded like Leave it to Beaver and not like a Nicholas Sparks movie where somebody always seems to tragically die. 

I wish for so many things.
But the fact is, life is complex and we don't always get what we wish for.   

Photo Credit: Ramkartickblogger, Flickr
Where to from here?

As far as it depends on her – I don’t know. 

I can’t control what she does. At all.

My card was well received, the call – not at all. Evidently she had been storing up four months of pent up frustration. That’s what happens when you’re the person who didn’t go to therapy. 

As far as it depends on me – I do know.

One of my favorite places in the bible are the parts that say, “as far as it depends on you.” Like in Romans 12:18 it says, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

This is in my spiritual DNA. 
It's who I am.

I also notice the part of the verse that says, "If it is possible."

Sometimes it's not possible, at least for a while. 

I can’t control what another person does, but I can control what I do. Difficulties are opportunities to clearly define my values and the vision for my life, and live them out.

I will not be bitter.
I will not choose revenge.
I will forgive.
I reject lies and refuse to take them into my spirit.
I will cast down false accusations.
I will not stop being me.
I will not be silenced.
I will not keep secrets.
I will live free.

I don’t know what she’s going to do, but I do know what I’m going to do.

The next move?

Regarding more contact, I don’t know when or how, yet. As far as it depends on me I do live at peace with everyone, however that doesn't mean I sign up to be mistreated.

I'm not sure what this means, yet. Navigating those waters is not easy. The hardest decision in life many times is whether to try again or walk away.

My heart is always restoration, if possible, because I believe that's God's heart.
If it is possible to try again, I will try again.
I just don't know how, or when, yet. 

I am eager for my next appointment with Melissa to process things. I am discussing the situation with my support group. And more than anything I get in the quiet and discover what I’m feeling and take it to God in prayer. All of this will help me to arrive at a place of knowing the next step. 

The bottom line

There’s nothing easy about life, adopted. 

Adoption has taken so much from me, from all of us adoptees. We lost everything right up front before we barely got started. 

And if we’re not careful to choose, we’ll keep losing. 

One thing I didn’t lose was the ability to choose who I’m going to be.  It takes time to discover that because we have to first throw away all previous scripts we received from others.

Once we know the answer for ourselves, it is a matter of choosing to live it.  

The bottom line from Monday’s conversation:

I know who my mother is.
Who I am is even more clearly defined. 

I will bravely live as the real me, and fulfill my purpose in the earth.