Rare and ... Rare
"Have you ever heard of people saying, “this feels like it’s happening to someone else” or something to that effect? Now I can completely relate to that. I kind of feel like. Well, I don’t know exactly how to quantify it. It’s a new sensation. Extremely weird, but not entirely unpleasant." - my newly-discovered maternal half-sister
"I have to admit, this is incredibly awkward, but I am happy to get to know you." - my newly-discovered paternal half-sister
"That is a picture of your grandmother. If you want to know what she looked like when she was younger, look in the mirror. You look just like her." - a great-uncle
"Who the Hell are you, where did you come from, and what's this nonsense about a Promised Land?" - the Canaanites
I waited a week for my biological mother to call my biological father, then picked up the phone and called him myself. Guess what? She hadn't called yet. I told him she had given me his name, and that I was their daughter. He was upset for a long time. Not angry or anything, just reliving old traumas. He has two younger children with his wife, so I now have gone from one sibling to five. Our relationship is -- awkward. He feels guilty but won't say it. I could give him every reason to feel guilty, but I don't want to drive him away so I won't say it either. Upshot: there's a lot of things unsaid.
The next day my birth mother called my birth father and talked to him. They affirmed for each other that they had done the right thing by me and felt really good about it.
Nobody asked me my opinion. I didn't give it either.
His wife is disabled. I don't know if she's been told that I'm back. She went to school with my biological mother, so I don't see how she couldn't know about me being born. But maybe I'm still supposed to be a modern-day secret.
A few weeks after that was my mother's family's reunion. I had been invited back in the spring, and since then, as curiosity about me grew in the family, had morphed into the star attraction. The week before I was so excited I didn't sleep a wink. One morning I poured sweet tea over my breakfast cereal.
More people showed up than had come in ages. Some were genuinely curious to meet me, others just wanted to see the curiosity, still others came for the food. But for the first time in my life I was surrounded by people who had my nose, my hair, my height. That did some good.
None of the immediate family was there, it was all cousins. My mother had begged off at the last minute in spite of being provided with free transportation, claiming she had forgotten she had a medical test scheduled on that day for a rather severe condition. But one woman looked like a photo of my mother had looked ten years ago and dressed like I do when I'm feeling good, so there's that. I made her uncomfortable telling her that, so we didn't talk again.
I was connected to the attendees through my maternal grandmother. I was told to solicit stories about her, but when I did people laughed uncomfortably and changed the subject. Apparently her name is still used as a synonym for a bossy woman. Pity, we might have gotten on well. Or at least had some memorable arguments.
And that's where things stand. My parents are relieved to find out that I am alive and well, but uncomfortable with me, our situation, or both. Some people are glad to get to know me. Others don't know what to make of me. Still others wish I had never been born. For others I'm a curiosity.
It's a complex, delicate negotiation adoptees find themselves in, trying to place themselves within the context of the actual people in our biological family. Unfortunately the stesses that come from being an adoptee lead to a lack of validation of our feelings and an inability to connect with others. My people skills are essentially nonexistent. Thus, the very skills we need the most in reunion are the very ones we have the least. That hurts.
Dealing with all this proved very painful. I spent most of the summer and into fall as a walking basket case. The pain has gradually subsided, although it flares up on occasion, such as when I come across mention of an interesting relative who died before I could find them. My distraction of choice has been Animal Crossing New Leaf; I don't even want to look up how many hours I've logged in on that. But the time I spend with it is slowly diminishing. I'm still terribly absent-minded though. It's hard to read for any length of time, or remember anything. And I really shouldn't be trusted with any handheld electronics other than my 2DS.
But painful as it has been, I'm still glad I did it. Most of the relatives I've met have been pleasant, and even the unpleasant people are easier to mentally grapple with than phantoms. Wrestling with facts, even painful ones, is so much better than wrestling with nothingness. In that slot at the back of my head labelled "Where I Came From" there is now information, not half-formed guesses. That is huge.
It's just that the nature of the (entirely artificial) situation is like walking into a room where you are going to be the guest of honor at a party through a door that has a bucket of mop water perched on top of it. I have to get through the door, and there's no way I can avoid the dirty water. I don't like that, and I'm not too happy about the people who set it up, and the fact that they didn't mean to set it up isn't going to keep me one speck cleaner.
But one big mystery remains. How did I come to be -- me? What parts are biology, environment, and sheer will?
I'm a fairly standard-issue female INTP (brainy, absent-minded, socially awkward, fanatically honest and obsessed with the truth), albeit generously leavened with developmental trauma. Except there's nothing standard about female INTPs, at 1% - 2% of the population we are more rare than hen's teeth. In spite of genetics, they don't seem to be any more common in my biological families. While they may be in hiding (we are introverts after all) it appears the last one before me came of age in the Great Depression. So, IDK, is there something latent in the genes that only manifests as INTPs under extreme stress? Do we only appear **drops voice dramatically** "When the Need is Great"? DUN DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!
Great theory, except for the fact that female INTPs are the least popular personality/gender combination on the planet (Really, people. That dreadfully underestimates the damage an S dedicated to an evil cause can do.)
I'm being maudlin. That's not going to help.
Whachu mean by that? It helps me deal, so chill!
**deep breath** Get it together now.... My thoughts are whirling around like fish in a bubble net.
Still, it's a valid question. How much of my obsession with the truth comes from something in my genes and how much is from being so thoroughly lied to at such a young age?
And if it is something in my genes, is it something hard-coded in, or something emergenic, that depends on a randomly occurring combination of traits and/or circumstances? Is it just -- one of those things?
"One of those BELLS that now and then RINGS,
It was just one of those things."
I don't know the answer. I know more than when I started out, but nothing definitive in that regard. Typical.
Gradually more of my internal CPU is starting to kick free of this conundrum and show up for other work. This is great. "Hey Brain, long time no see! How have you been? I've missed you! Tell my creativity I miss her as well!" There's still a few more posts on this topic that need to be made, but I'm ready to move away from it being the bulk of my attention.
(And not a moment too soon, my house looks like it's auditioning for Great Expectations.)
And I don't want to sound too surly, most people I've met have been wonderful. I'm just not used to having so many wonderful relatives!
Now I have to figure out what to do with all these extra people in my life. Y'know all those feel-good movies that end with the curmudgeonly hermit making a ton of new friends? Notice how they always roll the credits before they show how he copes with the sudden jump in social stimulation. Why is that? :P