Father’s Day 2015

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45 years ago a little girl was told by her adoptive father that he hated the sound of her laugh and to never laugh in front of him again. At the time it felt like something inside of her died and she became hollow. How could she stop such an instinctive expression of happiness, like laughter? Already fearful of this man who used his thick leather belt and college jock strength to discipline her, it was these words that dealt the most painful, devastating wound to her body and soul. She tried to not laugh in front of him, but she couldn’t suppress such a normal physical reaction that was so natural for her. 50 years later, this once little girl, now a middle aged woman, cannot keep laughter from coming out from her body and soul. No evil words can or will ever imprison the genuine, spontaneous laughter from her 5 year old heart. When someone tries to destroy something inside of you that is organic and pure like your laugh, that person, no matter the relationship, doesn’t deserve your love. To those of us who endure Father’s Day, I lovingly wrap my arms around you and hope you find some joy in the day for yourself, whatever it is…and most importantly…laugh.

“What is this precious love and laughter budding in our hearts? It is the glorious sound of a soul waking up!” — Hafiz. “

“Laughter is the language of the soul” –Pablo Neruda.”

Finding Authenticity

Who am I?

A child adopted at infancy, raised by adoptive parents who forced me to be who they demanded, I survived by trying to feel their feelings, get into their brain, fervently trying to be one step ahead of their moods and reactions. I was hyper vigilant and ultra sensitive to the point of not knowing my true self, never knowing authenticity or autonomy. The purpose of my life was to fulfill their needs. I was required to earn their love. I wasn’t worthy of love otherwise. They didn’t know how to love their adopted children unconditionally and that did some permanent damage.

I don’t need these survival skills anymore, these behavioral patterns of putting others needs before mine. I realize now that I don’t need to do things for someone in order to make them love me. I am trying to be more aware of these futile ways I related to people due to conditioning and brainwashing. I do not want to sacrifice my identity or my life for other people anymore. I want to be seen for who I am, loved for who I am and to finally, as I approach the age of 50, learn how to appreciate who I really am.

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‘Tis The Season of Grieving – December Dread

Seven years ago today my adoptive mother died. It’s not so much that I grieve over her being gone, but more like grieving over a loss for what we didn’t have; a healthy, loving, mother- daughter relationship. I was adopted to fill a void in her life, to bring her happiness, and I really tried the best that I could. I feel guilty honestly saying I actually felt lighter, free and relieved after she passed. She was physically, verbally and emotionally abusive and I was a parentified, hyper vigilant child.

After many years of brainwashing and living an uncomfortable existence in my adoptive’s parents unreality (what I call “The Land of Make Believe”), something happened that allowed me to finally see this charade and exposed this unhealthy parent-adult child relationship I was a participant in. The catalyst was my older adopted sister, diagnosed Bipolar and ADHD sadly spiraled into addiction and alcoholism, abandoning her young children eventually losing all her possessions, becoming homeless. She had always been the scapegoat for all the problems in our family. I was beginning to realize it was my parents that created the environment or what I like to describe as a “stage” where they were the great pretenders and we had to go along with the performance to make them happy and look good to the outside world, no matter the cost of losing ourselves in the process. Their happiness was more important than their children’s as was their pain. Trying to understand the dynamics of my dysfunctional adoptive family, I searched the internet…emotional blackmail, controlling parents, toxic parents, personality disorders. I purchased and read dozens of books and came to the conclusion that my mother had borderline personality disorder and my father was a sadistic narcissist (diagnosed ADHD). The big red velvet, weighty curtains on the stage had finally opened and I could clearly see the problems lit up like neon signs.

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I chose to distance myself from them and focus on doing some healing work. They were demanding and enraged when I pulled away. My father demanded that I return  every gift that they had ever given me. I left those items on my front porch and he seriously came and picked them up. I was removed from the will. I was blamed for all of their physical ailments. I had minimal contact with my adoptive parents for six years and those were some of the best years of my life, except for missing my extended family who sided with my parents. I was disinvited to all of the family celebrations. Some health issues came up for my daughter and, with pressure from family members, I reluctantly let my parents back into my life. We had been back in contact for about 9 months when my adoptive mother who was undergoing cancer treatment, died unexpectedly, 7 days before my 41st birthday. She was 67, the same age my birthmother is right now. My adoptive mother and my birthmother were both undergoing treatment for uterine cancer at the same exact time. I’ve always held this irrational belief that I was to blame for both of their diseased wombs.

My birthday is very close to Christmas, At two days old I was handed over to my adoptive parents in a stocking. December has always been a difficult month and my birthday has never been a happy celebratory event for me. As a child I would crawl under the table and cry, covering my ears when people would sing “Happy Birthday”. My birthday is a painful reminder of the separation from my first mother. I remember as a young adult sitting alone in the dark with candles lit, crying on my birthday. It wasn’t until I read The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier, that I realized these feelings were not uncommon for adoptees. This book is a very validating source of information.

The holidays bring up ideal visions of warm family gatherings, but I feel a deep loss, never having been completely accepted or welcomed into my family of origin. I’m treated differently. I see their pictures on Facebook, and they rarely acknowledge my existence. I thought that after the death of my adoptive mother, my birthmother would be more forthcoming and inclusive, but that wasn’t the case. She distanced herself even more from me.

Continuing a relationship with my widower, narcissitic, abusive tyrant adopted father has been very difficult for me. I put on a happy face and keep the charade going once again. I do it out of obligation, because there is no one else and the extended family has expectations of me. My brother, the golden child, lives far away and my sister is off the radar, homeless and ill somewhere out there. I’m in therapy to try to help me with my adoption issues and deal with my adoptive father, but I pray every day for complete emancipation that will only happen when he leaves this earth.

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December is a month of tremendous loss for me; the death anniversary of my adoptive mother, my birthday and reminders of disconnection to my birthmother and family of origin… tis the season of grieving. I will acknowledge my grief and honor it, be gentle with myself and practice some self care. I’ll also be delighted when January 1st rolls around, as the days start getting longer and December becomes just another memory. 

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.Rumi

 

Views Of My Biological Family On Social Media

My first mom’s profile picture on a social media website is an older photo of two of her daughters; my younger half sisters, so cute, the little one is drooling and waving to the camera the older one smiling and giggling, sitting by the Christmas tree in their pajamas with beautifully wrapped presents in hand. Every time I see that picture that she has chosen to represent herself with and keeps up all year round, hurts me because I’m her daughter too and I was born five days before Christmas, 1965.

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I was her first born, given up for adoption as an infant, put in a Christmas stocking and handed over to my adoptive parents, who provided for me, but verbally, emotionally and physically abused me and forced me to be who they wanted me to be. My first mom and my first dad were 18 years old, not ready to get married and have a family; she gave me up thinking I would have a better life than she could provide. It was a different life, not necessarily a better life. She became pregnant again before I turned 1 year old. She wasn’t married at that time, but she did eventually marry and kept my half sister who was born 19 months after me. Obviously she was able to provide for and give a wonderful life to my half sisters. My younger sister even got to have a real pony!  Unfortunately my sisters did not know of my existence until I appeared 25 years ago. I was a secret my first mom wanted to keep from them. Their hearts have not opened up to the reality of me yet and they probably never will. I see on social media, through posts and pictures, the continuity of the relationships my sisters have had or continue to have with my mother, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews…all these people who (except for two amazing first cousins who are dear to me and have accepted me with warmth and open loving arms) for the most part want to pretend that I do not exist. After being in reunion for 25 years with my first family, I’m still not included or invited to anything. I friend requested a first cousin 2 years ago and she obviously ignored or cancelled the request.  I’ve asked my first mom and relatives for copies of my ancestors photos, numerous times (and they all respond with “oh sure!” “of course!”) to no avail. I see their pictures of holidays, birthdays, weddings and baby showers, trips to Disneyland… All of these pictures and posts are reminders that I am different. They do not recognize me as being a part of them and probably never will. My first mom even told me she had no regrets relinquishing me. I feel discarded. I wish they could understand. Boy does this hurt, but I have to trudge on…the pain is just too overwhelming. I acknowledge the loss and pain (I have to be my own cheer-leader), I focus on what I do have – My amazing small family with huge love. My loving, supportive husband, my creative, smart and compassionate adult children, my dogs, the desert, nature, art, music, writing. Christmas time is my birthday, it’s a sad time. To constantly see my mother’s picture of her two daughters minus me is triggering that very real loss; the loss of my entire family of origin. My husband always tells me, “Honey, They are the ones that are missing out not knowing you.”  I guess we’ll all never have the opportunity to know. This is the real sad truth of adoption.

My First Best Friend

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My adopted older sister was born on Thanksgiving Day, 1963. Our adoptive mom always reminded us it was on the same day President Kennedy was buried and she adored JFK. What a bitter sweet time; the assassination of the President, the Thanksgiving holiday and bringing home a traumatized infant. My sister was the first of three blonde haired, blue eyed children adopted by my adoptive parents. After marrying in 1961, they had tried to have children of their own, but unfortunately were not able to, due to the sterility of my adoptive father, caused by contracting the mumps as a young man. My adoptive father, a high school and collegiate athlete, jock, football player, wrestler and physically strong, macho man that he was, felt he had completely let down my adoptive mother, ruining her dreams of having a family. He told her she should leave him. But they stayed together, my adoptive father indebted to her for life for staying with him, decided they would adopt, never working through the issues and valid loss of not being able to conceive their own children.

My father was a successful business man, so my big sister, their first child came by way of a private, closed adoption, as we all did. She was a beautiful baby and grew into a beautiful girl. Blonde hair, blue eyes, she looked like she was a natural born child to my adoptive mother, as we all did. My sister was very smart, eloquent, funny and also rebellious, hyperactive, manipulative, an attention seeker and often got into trouble. These later characteristics clashed horribly with our adoptive parents, who did not know (or choose) healthy ways to discipline their children. They were physically, emotionally and verbally abusive. Being the first born, my sister got the brunt of their rage and it has left permanent wounds and scars on our souls and bodies. With a narcissistic tyrant, bully, for an adoptive father and a “Mommy Dearest” borderline adoptive mother, you damn better learn how to sink or swim in this tumultuous environment.

Getting whipped with the leather belt hurt less than when my adoptive father told me, when I was five years old, that he hated the sound of my laugh and to never laugh in front of him again. It was common to get kicked if we were walking too slowly, to be pulled up by our hair, if we didn’t stand up fast enough. As adopted children who were already traumatized, my adoptive parents who were so often praised by adopting children, did not allow us to speak up, denied our reality, injured us and destroyed part of us.

As we got older she and I would talk about the way we were raised, and express our confusion, sadness, frustrations and reality that only we knew. Our adoptive parents dismissed our pain, silenced us, never encouraged our voice or addressed the reality of our adoption and the impact it had on us. Only their pain was important. My sister and I were allies in this crazy home where we learned the only way to not be annihilated was to learn how to survive. She was the outspoken rebellious one, I was the hyper vigilant compliant one and my little brother became the “golden child”, the blessed son.

My sister found her first mother, but was denied and rejected by her. My sister was diagnosed Bipolar and ADHD, became homeless, abandoned her children, and spiraled into self destructive, self medicating alcoholism and drug addiction. She has been in and out of rehab, been abused, raped, incarcerated, and has almost died several times. Although I do believe she is responsible for many of her life choices,  I think about that little girl, unheard, rejected and abused by people who were supposed to protect her. I miss my sister, I cry for my sister and I will always hope she finds the inner strength and self love required to get healthy and sober and to find joy in living.

Where ever you are, I love you, sister. You were my first best friend. Happy Birthday. You matter.

Created By Irritants

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A pearl is formed inside an oyster when an uninvited intruder or painful irritant slips through its protective shell. The resilient oyster responds to this irritant with an inherent defense mechanism. It cannot cast out this intruder, so it safeguards itself by adapting to this foreign body, covering it layer upon layer with luminous nacre. Slowly, over several years of this enduring layering process, what was once this irritant has transformed into a beautiful, imperfectly perfect, radiant pearl.

As an adoptee, I can relate to the process of becoming a pearl. I have had many challenges along my journey, from the very start, within my adoptive family and reunited birth family. As I continue to forge through the sometimes difficult days I have discovered that I am still a pearl in process, often surprised by my own resilience, intuition and perseverance as I grow and evolve into who I am meant to be.