exposing the dark side of adoption
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Putting into words, what you're really feeling.


I have always been a writer. 

Since I can remember, I always wrote letters to myself.  Not diary entries or journal updates....those required a committment I wasn't willing to maintain.  Nope, I wrote letters.  I would write letters to myself, my future children, and my natural mom.  I never went as far as putting them in envelopes; I simply folded them and put them in my "junk drawer" in my bedroom. 

I loved that dresser drawer... it had everything I needed to get through the day.  Inside I kept crayons, pencils, coloring books, stationery, old candy, play-jewelery, fake press-on nails, and whatever else I found, kept and saved from my odd list of collectibles.  The drawer was a mess.  Way too many papers got crammed in a space far too small for more paper; my crayons and pencils were broken fragments of what once was a usable writing & coloring tool, and the candy was always stale and nasty.  But the drawer with this sloppy contents was my Treasure Box.  I loved my drawer.  It's where I kept all my secret thoughts and messages to myself.  It was my safe zone in an empty home filled with strangeness.

I thought I was clever, too.  Having a secret drawer filled with fun silly treasures like a gold pleather (not leather; not plastic... Pleather) pencil case was brilliantly designed and arranged by me.  No one else had one; at least no one I knew had a secret-drawer like I did.

My logic was simple and child-like:  I kept all used and colored pages piled in thick mangled masses, so I could safely hide my important letters inside for future reading.   I thought tucking neatly folded pages into mangled, colored papers was very smart.  Who would think to go through all those piles of papers, just to read a letter I wrote to myself?

My Mother.

Every once in a while, she would go into my room and clean EVERYTHING.  That included my sacred drawer.  I hated those cleaning days.  She always did them when I wasn't home, and she always did a meticulous job organizing and arranging  every-single-item I had in my large room.  Sure, the room looked really nice, clean and organized.... but that meant only one thing to me.  It meant she went through my secret drawer and got rid of all my letters.

I can still feel that dreaded sadness I felt those afternoons I'd enter a spotless bedroom.  My heart sank when I looked around the surfaces of each dresser.  My eyes would go to my favorite dresser-drawer, and I would tense...hoping the drawer would resist my tugs.  (Overstuffed dresser drawers do that; clean organized ones don't.)  Sure enough, my heavy pull flew open a modest version of what was once my full, complete Treasure Box O-Kerry-Goodies.  Inside, she left me a much smaller version of my collection.  Remaining was grossly reduced number of somewhat full-sized crayons, (all of which still had that crayon paper wrapped and intact.), sharpened pencils, my pleather case, and a few coloring books with uncolored pages.  Gone was the old Halloween candy I saved for those 'just-in-case-moments" and my mangled piles of papers and letters to myself.

She never asked; never spoke about that drawer to me.  That's what hurt the most... the secret silence she always kept with me.

I never told any therapist this sort of situation or information because therapists don't ask about childhood details like secret drawers and stashes of food and letters.  At least none of the therapists I had seen throughout my adult-life.

Instead, I write these sort of things to friends and strangers who know what it's like to keep secret stories.

I always found writing to be theraputic.  In my mind, writing my thoughts down at my own pace about my own unsolved mysteries feels better than talking about my problems or "issues".  I hate talking about my childhood.  I prefer reading other stories, and writing my own as a comparison.  It helps translate the madness.

A friend sent me an email with links for me to read about fMRI's and brain studies.  He does that so I keep fresh updates for my research project.  John is great that way.  I always enjoy hearing from him.  In fact, there was a time when our letters would have me laughing so much I would start crying.  John is an adoptee, but he got lucky with his adoptive parents.   Nothing real bad happened to him during his childhood.  He only had bad dating stories.  <smile>  Yep...he's a great guy, with a brilliant mind, and writes a great letter.

It''s always amazing to me, reading comments written by men (especially), when they claim they don't know how to write.  How wrong they are.  Some of my best letters were written by men who opened-up their hearts long enough to bleed onto a page or two.

I love writing.

I love reading.

Many times, both make me cry.... but that's good, too.

Sometimes we grown-up child-like people need a good long cry.  

The internet and email has been a great outlet for me and those to whom I still write.  I no longer have piles of papers to keep hidden.  Now I have an inbox with dozens of folders with all the kept letters I saved from complete strangers.  The beauty of this mess I keep on my computer is the lesson I learn each time I read a new letter:  Never underestimate the power of a heart-felt letter written by a new-found stranger and friend.  It works wonders for the hurting soul.

by Kerry on Wednesday, 04 July 2007