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There’s A Crack In My Foundation

Sober Mommies 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.



photo credit: atxryan via photopin cc

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  1. Thank you for this!!!! I LIVE in fear sometimes, of not being able to say what I feel so deeply in my heart needs to be said and reading this shows me that I am not alone. My adoption story is different from yours, but the struggle I am facing in writing what NEEDS to be written is just as you described. Not feeling alone is the greatest feeling in the world and so I thank you, sincerely, for sharing this!

  2. So this is going to sound like it’s not relevant, but I think it is.

    There are some things in my life that I am kind of mad about myself that I’m not “over.” Like with my son’s development. He’s autistic and it’s not that that’s hard, he’s great. He’s fantastic. He’s doing amazing. The problem is that I still get sad every single stinking time I see a 1-year-old toddling around and doing typical toddler things. Because my 1yo didn’t and even though I’m totally okay with all of it and where he’s at and his future, I cannot make that stop hurting.

    Granted, I haven’t explored this deeply in therapy or anything, but I cannot make it stop and I don’t know if I ever will. For now I’ve just decided there are some things in my life that I am just not over despite my efforts to make peace. And I figure there are so many that I have been able to deal with and heal about and all that jazz that maybe it’s not so bad.

    1. Jessica,

      I think that’s totally relevant and it makes sense. Thank you for sharing that.

  3. s2s @ Inspirational ? OR NOT? on 3/22 (y)

  4. I can’t pretend to know what it must be like to have those questions lingering. All I can say is I am glad you put it out here. I think it is totally appropriate for Sober Mommies. I hope there is a peace you can come to at some point. That is all I hope for anyone…we all deserve some peace. xoxo

    1. Thank you, Lauren. I am still struggling with its place on the blog, but I suppose it fits. I just wish I could pinpoint the reason I’m having such a hard time writing about this. It’s really foreign to me to not get emotionally “involved” with my writing. I’ll keep praying about it.

      I appreciate you. XO

  5. Your honesty is stunning. What a great example of being rigorously honest. I am not sure if this applies, but this is what I am moved to share, so here goes.
    Twenty nine years ago with less than two weeks of sobriety, a memory I didn’t know I had woke me up in the middle of the night. I sprang up on the bed remembering a childhood trauma. It freaked me out. Never before or since have I felt such terror. Since then, I have felt like damaged goods. I’ve talked to a bazillion therapists “working” on finding my peace. It has helped to share it with someone I trust. While it is still very upsetting, I have therapized it to death. It has taken me years trying to forget. Not much success with that.

    It is painful and may always be hard to think about it. But instead of feeling ashamed when I think about it, as if I was to blame for what happened to me, I have found a way to acknowledge the event without immersing
    myself in the not so productive horror.

    I can’t change it. So, I simply don’t “go there.” If the event were a pool of water that I was drowning in , I have learned to simply see the water by standing on the shore where without getting wet.

    1. Wow, that’s a wonderful way to look at it. I guess that’s how I feel about the adoption “stuff.” What if you were asked to write about the pool of water? Could you do it???

  6. What a beautifully written, aching post.

    You’ve obviously done a great deal of healing work already, but I see clues to *perhaps* what may be your next steps and offer them up for you to consider, or discard, as you see fit.

    First, fear and grief are handmaidens. Sometimes the fear persists because the grief has not been fully grieved. I notice you are trying not to feel sad when checking the Unknown box – why? You *are* sad. Let the tears flow when they arise, and you may find it eases the fear….over more time.

    As to the grief, yes sometimes we can get stuck and “churn” the grief rather than have it flow through us in a way that lets it go. Not just our hearts, but our bodies and nervous systems must become “larger” as it were, must develop a larger capacity to hold this immense grief. A grief (and terror) our tiny infant bodies and child bodies were too small to handle.

    Next time you feel this grief, notice if you contract and tighten around your heart…..can you instead bring your awareness to your skin, to the periphery and edges of your body? Bringing your awareness there (to your edges, to your larger adult body) over time can subtly expand your capacity to experience grief and develop a larger, adult body/mind container to regulate it…..ease it….and allow it to pass.

    This might just seem like alot of words or may not be resonating with you….no problem and if so please disregard them. But you are right that the crack is in the foundation….and foundation cracks take *time* for the new concrete to flow down into them and fill them up. Lots and lots of time when the crack formed in infancy. Build a larger foundation (it sounds like you have already done a great deal of this) and eventually, yes eventually, the crack will fill in more. Will we live long enough to fill it in entirely? I’m not sure – yes for some people – yes if we live long enough – yes if the right alchemy of healing arises in our life. Hugs and encouragement to you, Sober Mommies.

    1. Thank you SO much for all of this!! I appreciate you taking the time to leave your thoughts and suggestions. I will ABSOLUTELY try your suggested techniques the next time I’m “feeling” it. I’m not sure why I try not to feel sad about it all. I suppose I have succeeded a little in fooling myself into believing that I don’t care; that it’s not that important.

      Also, I have not been involved with many support groups surrounding adoption. I’m the only adoptee that I know IRL and other than my friend Michael and our emails back and forth a few times a year, I’m not talking about it. You have given me a lot to think about. Thank you again… REALLY.

      1. My pleasure! I am progressively amazed at what a healing place the online adoptee community has become. We have a village! 🙂

  7. There is most definitely something in my past I’m not sure I’ll ever come to terms with. While I won’t pretend to fully understand your feelings as I know who I got my “genetic damage” from, I can empathize with feeling lost and a little unsure of what to do next – especially when it feels like you’ve done everything to death.

  8. As an adoptee, I can absolutely understand what you mean. I have found my birthmother, but I still feel a “rejection”, as she raised my brother and sister, but not me. It’s such a confusing feeling. I know I”m thankful she didn’t raise me, but I still can’t help but feel the rejection. I now know I also drank from my abandonment issues, the fact I was adopted by a narcissistic mother who was abusive, so I mourn both of my mothers. I just wanted you to know you are not alone, and I am working on healing my foundation as well. Thank you for sharing, and we are here <3

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