August 28, 2013

This is What Adoptee Grief Looks Like.
Warning: Gross Picture

 "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
Ernest Hemingway

Bleeding is my blogging style.

I took this photo in Ernest Hemingway's writing studio, last year in Key West.

My adoptee and first mom blogger friends are amazing. Some of them, like Susan Perry, write about adoptee rights and they blow people away with their knowledge of statistics and laws. 

Some, like Amanda Woolston, testify brilliantly before congress, and then write about it.

Others like Laura Dennis, write from a mental health perspective and can deliver compelling posts featuring case studies, therapist interviews and the like.
Me? I emotionally bleed. 

All over the laptop. 

And I invite you to watch me bleed. My writings are a journey of wanting you to be able to taste the coffee I'm drinking and walk down the hallway  with me where I'm rounding the corner, and feel the tear as it runs down my cheek and into my ear as I lay in bed at night. 

Most of all, I want people to know they aren't alone. 
And, they can make it.

Recently I told an adoptee friend, “It appears God lets me bleed to the edge of death and back so I can show other people how to do it and survive.” 

So today, I’m quite literally and not just figuratively bleeding. No, it's not that time of the month.

I’m currently away from home, on a leave of absence from everything back home. 
I’ve already been away 21 days and by the time I’m back to everything it will be 39 days.

Photo Credit: Savanna Rose Shrodes

Yes, I miss my husband.
And my kids.
And Max and Maddie.
And friends.
But I’m in no shape to go back to my life.
And I know this. So I’m in a self-imposed time out.

I purposely haven’t shared openly where I'm staying.
I need time alone and lots of it.

I’ve seen a few people who are within reasonable distance and have been with me consistently on my journey, particularly the past year 

But for the most part, here’s what the 39 days consists of:
Waking up with no alarm clock.
Walking for miles as soon as I get up.
Crying while I walk, a lot of the time.
Eating healthy. All of the time.
Nap in the late afternoon.
Listening to music that sets the atmosphere for healing.
Reading the Bible and other affirming books.
Meditation (on the Bible) and Prayer.
A rare phone call.
Skyping for a few minutes daily with my family back home in Tampa.    
Going to church on Sundays at a place that also provides atmosphere for healing.
Walking again for miles at sunset.
Crying some more.
Writing my thoughts.
In the process of literally walking crying out my grief, I realized yesterday just how hard I’ve been doing it.

When I took off my shoes I realized my feet have actually developed blisters and bled through my socks, I have walked so many miles.
Before you blame my shoes, it’s not their fault.

These are my shoes, purchased back in early July…already broken in before this. I think they're a quality pair, for walking. But anyway...

Grieving is hard work.

I have many friends who have lost their mothers. And they don’t go away for 39 days.
And some may think it’s strange that I have.
My therapist isn’t one of them.
She has been in communication with me during this time. 
And, she couldn’t be more affirming of this choice.

So why am I taking this time?

Unless a son or daughter tragically passes away before a parent, they will all bury their mother at some point. 

I'm aware of the fact that most of them don't take a leave of absence like this.
At least most that I know. 

Some of you may be new to the blog and not know my story.
Basically, I’m taking this time because there are so many layers of loss.
My therapist describes this as complicated grief.

It's more of what I have experienced throughout life as an adoptee, but at a much more intense level than I have ever faced and probably will ever face.
I’m not just grieving the loss of my first mother's passing. 

I wish that was all I had to grieve. 
The normal transitions of life, as all humans experience them.

But so much of life adopted is not normal.

I'm grieving the loss of her for the fourth and final time.
Grieving the loss of what never was and never will be.
Grieving the loss of her passing without sharing my paternal origin.
Grieving the loss of what I missed with her through the years.
Grieving the losses that still occurred in reunion, particularly of the last five months.
And more. 

I think of the losses and I don't even know where to start. 

They crash in on me from all sides and the weight...the magnitude...becomes so heavy.
I just need to breathe.

And Yet Another Reason for Adoptees to Know Their History...

I'm also facing the issue of my own health in light of the fact that my original mother and her father both died of the same cancer at what is considered a young age these days.  My own husband was suddenly hit by the realization at my first mom's funeral that she wasn't that much older than me. He wept at that thought, alone.

I have two doctor's appointments scheduled as soon as I get back home.  And I'm refusing to take on the weight of "what if" during this time out. I haven't even Googled the official term for the disease that slayed my original mother and her father: Metastatic Cholangic Carcinoma, otherwise known as bile duct cancer. I'm not looking it up online because anytime I research physical illnesses for myself, it's never comforting. I will wait and talk to my doctor. 

My first mom was diagnosed with cancer on June 6 and she was dead on August 9. Prior to that she had no symptoms. It spread to her liver, and within nine weeks of detection, it killed her.

Whenever the thought pops into my head that she had her gallbladder taken out about the same age when I got mine removed and they said it most likely started there but it was undetected...I cast the thought down. 

I refuse to dwell on what might happen to my siblings.

It's too much right now.  

The grief with everything else is so heavy, I can't even consider the health aspects in depth, other than to make a doctors appointment. I'm trusting God and praying that I'll see my kids get married and be a grandma to my future grandchildren, and not just a photo in a frame. And  pray the disease doesn't fall on any of them.  

Go away, thoughts. Go away. Cancel, cancel, cancel. 

Not-So-Simple Questions

When people ask simple questions like, “How are you?” they really aren’t so simple.
“How are you holding up?” is a loaded question.
I’m holding.
I’m still here.

And I’m still in the anger stage about all of the above. 
Receiving a simple, “How are  you?” message on Facebook is overwhelming.

Probably a hundred people have emailed me and said, “How are you?”
I know they are concerned. I know they care. And I love them for it.

But "How are you?" feels so heavy although I can't explain why other than, I feel like people desperately want to hear that I'm okay. 

And I want them to be okay. So I say I'm okay.

I express my thanks and love quickly to 99.9% of people and end it there just so I don't have to feel overwhelmed anymore by the prospect of sharing how mad I am.

I've gone to church each week but  already decided if someone asks me that my story is, I'll just say I'm not comfortable talking right now. Maybe I'll just give them this blog address on a piece of paper.

I have almost zero energy for the phone or writing more than about 1-2 sentences in private correspondence.
I’m angry.
And I don’t want to be nice about it.

Don't want to have to hold myself together and put on my best preacher's wife face.
Those of you who are preachers' wives know the face I'm talking about.

I want to bang my fist on the table and just say what I think about everything without censoring it.

In private or with a few trusted people who never give a platitude in response, or say, "Should a pastor really be talking like that?" I do. 

I'm not ready to look on the bright side, whatever bright side there is to losing a mother.
I don’t want to hear people tell me what she really thought or how she really felt. It just pisses me off yes, a pastor just said pisses me off, get over it that she never told me directly.

And so I keep walking...

I log as many miles a day as I need to in order to burn off the day's anger and cry it out, this insane grief.
And what drives me right now more than anything as far as wanting good to come of it, is finding some way to bring a change in the world so nobody has to wake up with the feeling I have right now.

I want no other child in the world to ever have to feel this way. I want to change things, so much. 

It's inhumane to do this to a child or adult, for any reason.
I want to make it IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to ever grow up and not know the two people they came from.

I'd love to make it ILLEGAL for anyone to grow up and not know their true origin. 

But I know we can't legislate morality. 

It doesn't work. 

That doesn't mean I'm not thinking of other tangible ways to do something to change the system. 

I want all the, "Don't worry about who your original father is, just look to Daddy God..." to cease and desist. 

I look to "Daddy God" or "Abba Father", "Heavenly Father", "Father God"  or whatever you personally may call Him. Everyday.

That doesn't mean I don't deserve to know my earthly origin.

It incenses me that instead of granting equal rights to adoptees, people turn and say, "Just look to Father God..." 

Should we have said that to slaves?  Thank God Abraham Lincoln didn't just tell the slaves to look to Daddy God.

Should we have said this to women who didn't have the right to vote? 

Thank God Susan B. Anthony didn't just tell women to look to their Abba Father and forget about wanting to vote.

It's not right. 
And I'm tired of it.

I walk until my feet bleed, I'm so darn mad about it.
I don’t want what’s happened to me to be acceptable in the world. 

It's not okay.
It's never okay. Not under any circumstance.

"But in the case of rape, or incest, or..."



In any case, it is not okay. 

My Prayer

So after I’m done crying it out for the day I say, “God, will you please help me know what to do to bring real change on this issue? Would you give me anointing to inspire it and courage to follow through, and strength to work as hard as I need to?” 

Please God, please.

Let me make a difference for others. 
Don't waste this pain.
On behalf of every adopted child or potential adopted child, will you please tell me what I need to know to make a difference in this world so they are never in this position?

Nothing would make me happier than someday being able to shut Adoptee Restoration down! I'd love for all of this discussion to be obsolete, because there is no need for it any more. 

I love you all who read here…but wouldn’t it be great if we could gather some place else to move on to another issue that needs solving because there is absolute equality for adoptees?

A world where there's no such thing as  an amended birth certificate.
A world devoid of sealed records.
A place where secrets about our personal history do not exist.  

A planet where it is impossible to birth a baby yet not give it the same constitutional rights as everyone else.

A world where Christians, of all people, will come to an understanding that to amend, seal and deny is lying not to mention an act of cruelty that forever renders one a perpetual child.

We dream of this world of equality. 

And even while bleeding our resilient adoptee self rises to reach out to change the world as we know it.

*All photos in this post by Deanna Doss Shrodes