July 8, 2013

Why I'm Not Banging My Head on the Dashboard

Are the "whys" driving you crazy right now?

Does the behavior of some of your original or adoptive family members leave you completely dumbfounded at times?

Are you seeking to understand, and the more you try, the more confused you get?

Today I'm going to explain one reason why I'm not melting down anymore when in fact, the ride is rougher than ever on some days.

This realization has been a major key to becoming regulated. Once again, that has nothing to do with Metamucil or more fiber in my diet.

Photo Credit: KristinNador, Flickr

Last week in response to this post, I received a message from an adoptee:

Awesome post today on Adoptee Restoration, Deanna. One question if you get time to answer. You said "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." What was the answer you received to your question of "why"? I ask because sometimes I still feel the "why's".
One of the things I’ve been coming to terms with in therapy are the losses in life that I can never recover in the same exact fashion in which I lost them. I have heard many people say that the Lord can restore more to you than what you lost, as he did with Job in the Old Testament. I believe that is the case, however the fact is if you lose certain things, they will not come back in an identical way. 

Some things are indeed, gone to you forever if for nothing else that the window of time to receive them has past. If you are 65 years old you are probably not going to conceive a child. Unless you’re Abraham and Sarah. If your dog died, he or she is not going to be resurrected.  If a family member was killed in a car crash, they are not going to walk in your house and have Thanksgiving dinner with you this year. These are just realities you have to come to terms with if you are in these situations.

I am thankful for the blessings God has given me. Yet I have losses to grieve that will never be fulfilled unless a miracle akin to a freak of nature happens which has never happened before in the entire history of mankind. 

Will God zap me back to infancy? No. I cannot re-live my childhood. It is too late. 

Therefore, some losses must be grieved, even though blessings have come and I expect more will come.

Whether my relationship with my natural mother improves or not, there are irretrievable losses. One of those is the lack of fulfillment of my expectations. I always said I had no expectations of my mother, that I asked nothing of her, except my father’s name. I have been taking a good hard look at that. Maybe I was wrong.

You often hear adoptees accused of trying to find their birth parents to ask them for money. Quite frankly that is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. I am in relationship with scores of adoptees and strangely enough I’ve never heard even ONE say they want money, nor even infer it. 

I never asked my mother for money, or for help with my family in any regard. Recently someone remarked that they were surprised that I had found her when our boys were two and three years old yet she never babysat or cared for them overnight nor did I place any expectations on her with the children.

I didn’t pursue her to ask her to do things for me monetarily or with acts of service. I pursued her because I believed she was worthy of being found, and I wanted desperately to know who she was and see her face. A relationship, I believed, would be the icing on the cake of reunion, if she was agreeable.   

Photo Credit: Rosmary, Flickr
I now realize that once she made the decision that we would continue contact, I had a list of unexpressed desires.

There were longings of certain expressions from her heart.
I wanted desperately for her to see me as a daughter.

But what is a daughter?
I have come to realize that I base what a daughter is on how I see my daughter. 

And, I long for what I see as “typical mother behavior" from her.

Mothers protect their children.
Have unconditional love for their children.
Accept their children
Reach for their children.
Move quickly to do something -- anything -- to ease their children’s pain if it is within their power to do so.

My expectations aren’t so odd if you listen to the majority of the world’s Mother’s Day sermons. This is what you hear in most every pulpit in America on that Sunday. Moms unconditionally love, protect, accept and help. 

And yet, I am still found wanting.

In our last conversation, the one I had to work up courage to make for four months but still wasn’t ready and made anyway because she is sick, she said: “I wish you would have been my first baby…I wish things could have been different, but they weren't..."

I was stunned. 
Although a verbose person, I had nothing to say in response.

I was her first baby.
I am her first.
And yet I suddenly realized, perhaps she doesn’t see me that way. 

I can't wrap my brain around it.

Just because you sign a paper doesn't mean you didn't have a baby or that they weren't "your first."

Even God won't circumvent His own laws of nature and zap a person back to being someone who hasn't had a baby after they have indeed, delivered a baby.

Much of my therapy is spent asking Melissa if I'm crazy. (So far, so good.)

I don’t know whether she is in a fantasyland that I am not her first baby, or I am in a fantasyland for thinking I am her first baby, no matter what she says.  Who is in denial?  Even though it is an absolute FACT that I was the first baby, here I sit feeling doubtful for some bizarre reason. 

Whether things improve or not – if we talk again or I go to the hospital, or she lives a long time or passes away shortly, I will still be grieving the loss of my unmet expectations.

Melissa has been working with me on acceptance of what I cannot change. At my age, it will be impossible to receive what I long for from the human being I desire it from, and quite truthfully more than one human being I have wanted it from. 

So, this brings me to why I did not beat the floor this time and bang my head into the dashboard and cry, “Why, God? Why?”

 My natural mother and I operate from two different places. 

I'm "changing my light bulb," as therapist Karen Caffrey, LPC, JD says in this excellent post, “Are You Ready to Change Your Light Bulb"?

My mother is not ready to change her bulb.  I don't know if she will ever be, and I must accept that.

There’s no assumption here on my part, no putting words in her mouth. She said, “I’m just not willing to go there.”

Some first mothers have written to me in response to my story and said, "Your mother is terrified."

I agree.

She is scared and unhealed, and it's been that way for a long time .  I'm not sure things will be any different in the days ahead although I do still believe for miracles.  

I can't do anything about my mother's reluctance or refusal.
I can only change me.

I have made a conscious choice to pursue healing -- to change my light bulb --  no matter what it takes, and regardless of what anyone else chooses.  

As the occasion arises for me to interact with those in my family, natural or adoptive, who  are unwilling (at least up to the present) to change their light bulbs, I realize what I am interacting with are unhealed people. 

Unhealed people sometimes do things that make absolutely no sense.

“Wait, wait, wait Deanna…are you saying you’re any better than them? You pour out a lot here that doesn’t exactly sound like you’re totally healed yet…”  

Right. I’m not there yet. I’ve never said I’ve arrived. But I’m on my way. 

And it’s not a matter of better. It’s simply different.
I’ve made a different choice.

So when I go through experiences like our last conversation, there is no need for me to say, “Why God, why?” and bang my head and cry uncontrollably for days. 
This is no cosmic mystery.

This particular issue is not as confusing as some make it out to be.
Here’s the simple fact: unhealed people say hurtful things.    

Anyone who is not open to changing their light bulb is like a car out of control going the wrong way on a busy freeway. They will affect many lives in their wake.  Those closest to them will be struck the hardest and be among the worst casualties. 

Some will survive.  Folks like you and me. We read everything we can get our hands on, go to therapy, engage in community and some of us turn to God.

We don't want revenge.
We just want relief.   
After pursuing healing we have to decide how we’re going to live going forward. All of us have to make this choice. And make no mistake my friend, to not make a choice is to make a choice.    

In my next post, I’m going to talk about the choice I’ve made, in living my life going forward. 

How am I going to choose to live the rest of my life in response to significant losses and perpetual trauma? 

Adoption took so much me, from all of us. So now we have a choice – all of us. After grieving our losses what will we do with the rest of the time we are granted on earth?