She's leaving... Again

My oldest is leaving for her second year of college this Sunday.

I have been bracing for this week, since May.

Thankfully, last year's experience was a very positive one.  My daughter made frequent home-visits, and made Dean's List each semester.  She made the loss and absence easier, because she not only came back, she came back as a better individual.

But the departure... the going-away... it has never been easy for me.

I like to think of myself as a very insightful individual, but boy, this age-old Adoption/Fear of Abandonment Issue really caught and threw me, and slammed me in the heart, gut, and head.

Normally...usually...I can easily emotionally separate from anyone.  A freaky part of me is proud of this ability.  It says to others, "YOU cannot hurt ME".  But as much as I try (and I do admit, I have tried...), I cannot emotionally distance myself from those lives that came from me.  [Thank you God, for not letting me become an animal focused only on self-survival.  Thank you for letting me become a soul who understands, as an adult, one must treat others as we ourselves would have liked to be treated... especially during ones' childhood.]

Whether it be a first-day-of-school, or long-distance trip, I do not deal well with the stress and grief that comes with impending parent-child separation anxiety.

I am super-sensitive to the familiar and known.  I can function best when the sounds and smells remain the same.  Conversely, I don't like the physical discomfort (and emotional shut-down) that happens when I'm forced to experience radical change, like the absence of a child I once felt inside me, nursed for months-on-end, and smelled, (and kissed), over and over and over again. I do not like knowing who or what I have to do or become, once familiarity and routine is gone and done... and taken away from me.  The stress of not knowing exhausts me, and it makes me an unfeeling creature -- one that is not all human, but not all animal, either.

The truth is, I expect men, parents, strangers to leave when times get tough, and sadly, I have grown to believe "loving" attentive women cannot be trusted.  

I expect good things to be taken away.

I expect easy happy times to be short-lived and limited.

I wait for depression to hit, as it always does.

Based on my own personal life experience, this is the sort of life one gets when the mother/care-taker is moody, temperamental, or simply absent and/or does not give a shit about the needs of another... like a young child with many needs. The Black and White thinking in me says ALL people behave like my first and adoptive parents did.  The maturing rational adult in me says, no... only a small percentage of people in the world are as assholish and selfish as they all proved to be.

I like to think  I am not like most people.  [Read:  I am not like the people who relinquished or purchased, then abandoned me.]

I am different.  I stayed, and kept my kids, and didn't leave, no matter how bad things DID get.  I was there for every feeding, every illness, and almost every single first-event.  I did not leave.  I did not force them to stay with dangerous abusive individuals.  I stayed, and I endured.  I sacrificed hours...days...weeks...years of sleep, (and other luxuries, like cash in a wallet, haircuts, friends, hobbies, personal satisfaction, sex, new clothes, and favorite foods), and I did my best to help each child of mine believe all was fine and good when inside I was ripped away and  falling apart and dying the world's slowest most painful death fueled by a constant state of self-deprivation.   I kept my promise.  I did not leave.  I did not say, "fuck this", and walk away.  I loved and stayed present, even though I wanted to be dead.  I did my best to be functional and "happy" even if doing so, on a daily basis, for 20 years, cost me my health, my happiness and sense of identity.

And so here I am... a fragment of the happy person I was and still have the potential of being.

Sunday is before me.  The day is coming... and I am in tears.  Privately.  Alone.  As usual.  It's just me and a few letters and words on a blank page.  [This is how I calm and comfort myself.  This method to self-comfort began when I was just a mere child.  It's much safer and healthier than beating my head on a crib, a wall, or hard floor.  Yea... I did all of that to myself.  It helped relieve the tension.  I know better now... self-injury only makes chronic problems much much worse, especially if one has to mother, and yet not have a motherly-figure for oneself.]

<deep breath>

The single most important adult-female in my life is leaving...again.  She is leaving for a good reason.  I need to remember this.  I am learning to remind myself she is not only one of the most important adult-females in my life, she is also one who represents all I wish I had become, and could have been, had I not been so burdened with pain, stress, shame and an inability to cope with the terrors that came with living flash-backs and terrifying night-sweats. 

With that, the pain and stress is familiar, as I feel my favorite adult-female getting ready to leave... but the anger is different.

This time I'm fully aware of the power of a painful haunting reminder that highlights one of my own unresolved adoption issues.  I am sensitive to the way in which my anger is directed at my birth-mother, my adoption agency, and my entire adoptive family.  I am aware that THIS emotional circumstance is just one example of the aftermath that takes place, after surviving a really bad adoption experience.

I am seeing, very clearly, how a bad traumatic adoption can make the most normal healthy things - like growing-up and becoming an independent individual - the very worst sort of pain one can inflict on those who dare to attach and love. 

My daughter is normal and happy, and she is leaving, as she should be doing.  I can't blame her for wanting to leave my cave and become an independent woman.... a success in her own rite and doing.  I am both happy and proud of her.  And I look forward to each visit she will make this upcoming semester.  I know with each visit, our relationship will change and become even better.

But I'm sad, too.  I'm sad to see it IS me... I AM the one who is an emotional mess and wreck with a very removed and distorted sense of what is right and what should be in terms of the natural evolution of Family.  [I recall a conversation with my Adad in which he told me something similar to that.  He said, "It's not THEM, it's YOU who makes relationships so difficult.".]

I'm frustrated, too.  Despite all the progress I have made, there is still so much for me to learn and re-program, in my heart and head.

 

Someone...please tell me.... 

What is the point of an adoption-plan if the end-result is one where the child-turned-adult knows only pain, sorrow and anxiety, not to mention a chronic sense of loss and grief, all added to an unhealthy perspective and understanding of what it takes to attain emotional growth and good, healthy family development?

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The comfort I have for you is this:

The people who abandoned you didn't feel the pain you feel. That you feel pain is an outgrowth of empathy, an empathy you have in spite of all that was done to you. An empathy they did not have.

Congratulations. In spite of everything, you got out alive and with your heart and your soul.

That heart and that soul shaped that beautiful young woman who is stepping out into this world.

You did good. You did real damn good.

You're right...

Thank you for taking the time to offer the strong words of wide-eyed encouragement.

Over the years, I have learned:  in spite of the conflicting "nurturing/loving" examples I have received from both, my first and adoptive families, through a lot of introspection, I was able to find my True Nature.  Words cannot express how grateful I am for being Different.  [I always felt this way... NOT being like "them" was always a huge source of comfort to me....]

As one who reaches out to so many (angry/struggling adoptees), I have come to realize there are many who don't discover such richness... there are many who don't recognize that which makes them different is what makes them the better versions of themselves.  In some cases, being Different is not  the dreaded  family curse, but an individual's blessing. 

I follow the belief that says finding and identifying one's True Self IS a gift. (Where/when I got that belief, I don't know.)

 

It just so happens, my oldest daughter offered the following observation about me...her very-real mother:  "You're too evil to be good, but you're too good to be evil"

Odd as it may seem, that summation, from my daughter, was a real deep sigh of relief.  I'm glad she sees me as a human...with flaws.  I'm gad she sees in-spite of my madness, I try to remain Good, and not like those I was expected to follow.

 (Turns out, there ARE times when being adopted is a good thing; turns out, both my daughter and I are very glad we don't share any genetic material with my previous owners.  Little details like that can make a real difference, especially when it comes to personal survival and recovery, post-bad-adoption-experience!)

The first thing my future

The first thing my future husband said to me after meeting my adoptive mother was, "Thank God  you told me you were adopted.  If I thought you were blood kin to that woman I'd head for the hills."

[laughing]

Yea... I get similar comments from my spouse AND my kids!

Whoda thunk "adoption" does have its advantages?

Pound Pup Legacy