Monday, March 19, 2012

the motherload~

Things are getting down to the wire around here. I could focus on such mundane tasks as hand vacuuming the stairs to the guest room where she'll be staying. I could Murphy's Oil soap the wood floors. I could scrub the fridge.
But that would make me look like I have OCD. Which I don't but sometimes wish I did have in circumstances like these.
The problem is not even that she's coming. The problem is that just as M and I are planning this...what do you call it? Reunification? Reconnection? my Adoptive Mother is suddenly trying to push her way back into my life.
I know what you're thinking. Well, it makes sense! She's probably feeling a bit threatened and wants to ensure her place in your life!
The only problem is that due to the uh, small fact that she has barely spoken to me in nearly 5 years, that means I didn't share with anyone in my adoptive family that I looked for my birthmom or even found her.
No one in my immediate family knows.
I would be happy to share it if I knew it would be met with respect and understanding and support. However, if you knew the kind of adoptive family I came from, you'd know that most deeply personal things are met with judgment, fear, and more judgment.
So I chose to protect this personal thing; truly the most sacred thing to me in my life other than my own little family I have now.
But now I have to deal with the Motherload of motherloads: both of them.
It makes sense to me, actually. That maybe she senses me in the ether; pulling further and further away from her, trying to protect myself, my son---my precious little family, really---from all that toxicity and fanaticism. She wouldn't quite put it that way, would she? But surely, she senses it. We're all interconnected. But she's always pushed and pulled; not really the all-embracing type. She'd push you away when you needed and wanted her, she tries to pull you back when you've given up. It's an endless, toxic, insanity--inducing cycle. But now she [seems to] want to be a part of my life now that we've moved closer back east. The snide part of me thinks it's only to do with my little boy, but I know it's also because after all these years of wielding any semblance of a mother-daughter relationship over me as a form of control; as a power relationship, I gave up. And she knows it. Not without a lot of emotional exhaustion and sorrow, mind you---she's the only "mother" I've ever known, and not a very connected or engaged one at that, but still the only one. But I think she knows I'm at the point which is most dangerous: she lost me. Because I just don't care anymore. I actually pity her.
But the point I'm trying to make here is that when someone realizes they've lost all their power over you, they sense it. And they'll start behaving in desperate ways to get it back. It'll look like they're trying to get you back but let's be honest: they just want the power.
I know what I'm saying sounds cruel. I know what I'm saying sounds cold, and hard, and barricaded. But it's not. It's merely me, after manymanymany years of being burned over. and over. and over again. Realizing that I can no longer go back to being her emotional convenience doormat. And this is not just for me: this is to protect my son.
What does this have to do with M visiting? I want to reiterate that finding her is not about a replacement. It's interesting that I have two women who are my "mother" (what does that word mean to me? I'm not sure.) In adoption they call them your "natural" (don't say 'real') and "nurturing" (don't say 'fake') mothers. I honestly don't relate to either term. So no: M is not my replacement mother. Truth be told, I don't have much of a mom in either of them. That's not anger talking, that's just a fact.

I'm going to tell you a story that has me working on some new things inside:
We went to a diner in Philly recently after spending the day as a little family at the beautiful Bartram's Garden. I went to the bathroom and when I came back around the corner, I didn't immediately notice my son who was watching me the whole time I walked up and then became startled when I came upon him. He jumped in his high chair, got a big grin on his face and then began to stare at me for several moments as I slid into the booth, taking me in.
He was looking for you the whole time you were gone, Matthew said.
For some pathetic reason, this surprised me. Oh, how it felt to be told I was missed.
Do you understand what I'm saying here?

I am not going to be spending the entire length of my parenting life doing what can sickly be summed up as "being in so much pain from your own past that you end up causing the same to your kids". No, my dirty laundry does not lay around for my child to clean up.
However, starting my own family has been very healing in and of itself. Knowing that I love and am loved overwhelms me; that this is a circular relationship rather than a linear one, in which it is truly give and take; reciprocal---not If A then B, you know? Nonono, that would imply a power dynamic of sorts. I look at the life that Matthew and I have built together; the joy we've made for each other, god, the pure joy! and I cry! I really get tears in my eyes! And that joy in each other was so great we decided to make it into our little one. And our little one, oh how we love to love him! And he loves to love us, too. This is called a family. Your back is never bare; someone always has you covered because you stand in a circle, your arms around each other.
But this is not the family I was raised in. Let's just say there's a reason I prefer round kitchen tables over rectangular ones.

So when these two women, who are both backtracking in their own ways, tell me in their own ways, that they've "missed" me, I wonder what they mean? Like two ships passing in the night? I can't help but feel a little....frustrated? Angry? Maybe flabbergasted? I'm not sure of the right word for the current emotions I have, but it's somewhere between those three. I'm going to go out on a limb here, but oh, how about this:

My son missed me because I ran to take a bathroom break, not because I nearly had a nervous breakdown and couldn't raise him and then regretted it later. And not because my personal pain and subsequent fanatical beliefs were more important than his needs---and so I completely emotionally disengage myself from him the entire time I'm raising him.
I know this post is a little...overboard perhaps. But comparisons can be made. I guess we're all a lot more alike than we are different, if we're really honest. Well, I'm really honest about believing that, I don't know about some people; a lot of people find that global fact pretty disconcerting.
I'm just trying to process this new burden and how to deal with it simultaneously. The truth is, we're not responsible for other people's actions. And for a while now, and especially as I prepare for M's first visit, I don't want to be responsible for other people's emotions, either. I'm dealing with enough of the floodtide of my own right now.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

gaining momentum~

I've been at a loss for words lately, as if you haven't noticed.
Well, most of it had to do with the fact that my family made a cross-country move back to the east coast for my partner's job. Now we live by the ocean.
But during that entire period of craziness, M and I kept talking every week, sometimes twice. One of the most important things we talked about was...visiting. In the Spring.
Well, it's Spring. And she's coming.
She's coming to visit me the first weekend in April.
This post is not very...eloquent. A bit over-composed. But that's me to a T. I stay calm until the moment before something huge is about to happen, then I start thinking about all that stuff in the back of my mind that I'm really feeling. Too late. Well, it's certainly helped me keep it together through some chaotic times. Of course, that's why I do it.
But this is different. I don't want to keep it together anymore. I'll admit I've been avoiding thinking about it. I let myself get worried about what she usually eats for breakfast. No joke. "M, is there anything you usually eat for breakfast?" I actually asked her that. Meanwhile, she's having a royal cow on the other end of the phone every time we talk about the visit because, well, she's a bit more emotionally honest that way.
You see, my job's always been to calm everyone else down. Classic Em: It'll be alright! We'll be fine! You're gonna be fiiiiine.
Go ahead, you can say it. Pathetic, I know.
So after realizing I was doing this (obsessing over what food to buy her, where to take her, if she likes bar or liquid soap) I was driving one day and let myself admit that yes, I was completely freaked out to meet her. For the first time in my life, I absolutely cannot be the one to be expected to hold it together for everyone. Besides my son and my soulmate, this is by far the absolute most sacred thing in my life. And the most personal. I shattered a long time ago over it and came back together again. Now I'm falling to pieces again, but for a different reason. This time, we're letting the pieces fall where they may. This time, we decide where they go together. This time, we're putting each other back together again.
So I stopped worrying about it. I'm particularly talking about picking her up at the airport. All those people around. Getting embarrassed. I don't care anymore. If I sob into her frizzy, smoky brown hair for 15 minutes straight and she does the same to me, I don't care. I don't fucking care.