Wednesday, July 1, 2015

When adoption consumes you

As I looked around my living room this morning, it hit me.  Thousands of people have been reading about my journey, they "know" me as much as you can know someone that you read about. The problem is that I don't know me anymore. I don't really know who I am.  The pictures and guitars on the wall are not mine. I didn't pick out the rug, the coffee table, or the lamp. I can't tell you the story behind these pieces. The bookshelf against the window is mine, but it is full of books that I haven't read in months. I haven't read any book in months. 

The few things that belong to me are all adoption based items. The picture frame that J and K gave me for Mother's Day sits on the island, the photo album on the coffee table. There is the blanket that I used to cuddle my son in the hospital with, and a box full of his clothes and the mementos that I am lucky enough to keep. My stuffed bear that matches his sits on top of the baby blanket my grandmother made. These are the things that define me now, these are the items that hold my heart.

I used to love to read, that was the first thing I would tell people when they asked about me. Now, when people ask about me, the first thing that jumps to mind is the fact that I'm a birth mother. I have a son and we have an open adoption. But... what else? Who am I? It's like I can't remember. There's a BA (before adoption) and an AA (after adoption). Everything BA seems so far away and unreachable.

  I know that before the adoption, I liked going out with friends. We would drink fruity drinks and flirt with strangers, always making sure we all got safely home with each other at the end of the night. I loved cooking and trying new things. I liked to watch trashy reality TV shows with my cousin, and eat until we thought we were going to explode. Just one more bite turned into finishing all of the food we ordered and we would lay there and talk about how miserable we were. I would splurge on getting my hair done and loved to wear dresses. I was always up for a challenge.

Now, it's like discovering who I am all over again. The adoption has consumed me and I don't know who I am outside of it. The scar from my C Section still tingles if you touch it, and it is a glaring reminder of the child that is not with me. I haven't went out drinking and dancing in over a year. I don't know if I'd even want to anymore. Random strangers trying to hook up with me? No thank you. It's not worth it. I still cook, but it's like my body forgot how to eat. The sickness I felt through pregnancy seems to follow me. I feel drained and tired. I can't watch any show or movie without thinking about the adoption. I start crying at the everything, like a child being mistreated. I never realized how many negative adoption stereotypes were really out there until now. My hair is long and curly again, but still falling out from giving birth. I haven't had it done since before I was pregnant. I mostly pull it into a pony tail and try to pin back the crazy little hairs that like to escape. The thought of dating again makes me want to stay single for the next twenty years. I am forever changed.

Another birth mom challenged me to find out who I am. She told me to take being a birth mother out of the equation and focus on other things. So here are some random facts about me.

- I love the idea of travel. Until lately I have always been so afraid of being alone, but now the thought of traveling where I want, when I want, excites me.

- I am compassionate. I see things differently now, and that's okay. I have become softer and kinder. I have become a better friend. I reach out to people when I see that they are hurting and make sure that they know they are not alone.

- I am a student. I have thrown myself back into school and I am good at it. I am smart and passionate about getting my degree in social work.

- I want to help people in my life.

- I want to parent children one day. (I know, I know. What they said about a really cute baby making you forget throwing up for 9 months is true)

- I love the idea of being stable one day. I want to get married, have a house, and work on my career.

- I am strong. This ties into being a birth mother, but it is something that I never knew about myself. I never realized how truly strong I am. I can get through anything.

- I love watching Netflix movies and just hanging out. Cuddling up in bed and doing something mindless is so helpful on the hard days.

- I can love deeply and without reservation.

That is all I can think of right now, but it is a start. I encourage you to make your own list if you are struggling. Write down the things you know about yourself, and it will help ground you. Remember, there is always someone out there willing to listen if you reach out for help. Someone cares about you.

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