There’s A Crack In My Foundation
I am always encouraging contributors to write about the things that scare them; the things they don’t want to write about. Today it’s my turn and I’m taking my own advice.
I was recently asked to contribute to a book about adoption. It was requested I write about the possible connection between adoption and addiction as a recovering alcoholic-adoptee. At first, I was psyched about this opportunity, mostly because the subject is not addressed enough, in my opinion. Even when it is, it’s quite often that it is matched with “get over it already.”
After I settled into the idea a bit, and started to think about it, I felt… apathetic.
Aside from politics and organized religion, there are not many things that I am not extremely passionate about. It doesn’t take much for me to get fired up about injustice or prejudice, and I cry all the time when I’m happy and sad. Getting sober and learning more about the things that make me tick has been a fascinating journey and one that I feel deserves intense emotion. The people who love me accept these facts and encourage the tears.
Writing has held a vital role in my recovery. I have been journaling forever, and I am so grateful for the ability to process emotions, get to the bottom of what is ailing me, cement a beautiful moment in time, and/or document my personal growth or character flaws. Writing is therapeutic for me, and without it I would have most likely imploded by now.
I do my best writing when I’m passionate about the subject. Obviously, addiction and recovery have my attention as they make up such a large part of my life and heart. I could write about these subjects all day. I love writing, and don’t shy away from many topics because I’ve made peace with my past. I have let go of so many things, even those with my claw marks all over them; the stuff I was never going to let go.
Then this adoption piece is presented to me, and suddenly I feel stuck. I cannot bring myself to emotionally connect with, or even find the words. I feel immediately overwhelmed and completely fearful. Like, the “RUUUUUN!!!” kind of fearful.
And then I shut down.
My friend Michael was born a month after me, and adopted through the same Boston agency. I’ve been following his journey and efforts to reunite with his birth family for years. I’ve supported him through the ups and downs of his search. I’ve identified with the fears; the possible rejection, disappointment, and regret. I’ve nodded my head in agreement while he has talked about how important it is to know where he came from; why he looks like he does, his medical/family history.
I have searched too. I’ve joined every adoption registry I could find over the years, and I’ve found no match. Perhaps she’s not looking for me. Maybe she’s dead or has moved on. Maybe she’s in the grips of active addiction, bouncing in and out of rehabs. Who knows? Maybe I’m this way because she is.
When I think about these things, my head and heart overflow with intense everything. I think of all the times in my life I’ve seen a short blonde and checked her eyes to see if they’re blue. I’ve wondered where she was on March 13th of 1978. Could she be my mother? I play this game even though I don’t want to. Not having answers to questions that others take for granted has caused me great pain and confusion. There has been no closure.
For some reason, no matter how much work I have done on myself, I cannot make peace with the idea that I was born damaged. I know it’s silly and illogical.
Feelings don’t have to be logical.
I’ve had my head shrunk a million times over the last 20 years by all sorts of professionals. I’ve tried psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and EMDR. I’ve laid on many couches, and stared at many ceilings. I’ve processed the shit out of this “event” in my life, and all the “events” after that I associate with this suffocating fear.
This was something I drank over, around, under, and about. I got drunk and cried to strangers about being unwanted; unloved. I sought sympathy from anyone who would offer it, and I certainly took hostages in most of my romantic relationships using guilt as a weapon.
There was a time when I “needed” to find my biological mother and figure out who I am. Today I know that who I am does not rest in the hands of a stranger. Who I am is so much more than “an adoptee”, “an alcoholic,” “a mother,” or “a ______.”
I know these things intellectually, and I try not to feel sad every time I have to make a “UNKNOWN-Adopted” checkbox at a doctor’s office in the family history section, or when I answer the question about where my daughter got her blonde hair and blue eyes. “My mother had blonde hair and blue eyes.”
I’m not sure what the point of this post is. What I do know is that I’m crippled by this and I don’t know why. I’m not even sure this post has any business on Sober Mommies, but I’m struggling and hoping I’m not alone.
Is there something you just can’t make peace with from your past no matter what you do? Have you found a way?
I’m open to suggestion.
Julie Maida has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000. She is fiercely determined to advocate for and connect ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at juliemaida.me.