Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Nan, In Real Life

You may have noticed that in spite of the massive amount of stuff I still need to post about, I have not been blogging much.  You may not have noticed.  Yay for you!  You have a life, and it obviously does not revolve around my blog.  Neither does mine.  Although, when I am in a better mood, it seems like I feel the need to blog about my awesome life all the time.  In case you haven't guessed, not feeling so awesome right now.  Haven't in a while, actually.

I have a friend who has commented on how much she appreciates me keeping it real here on my blog.  I don't sugarcoat stuff.  I don't pretend to be perfect, or to have the perfect family, perfect life.  At least, I try not to.  The fact is, I haven't been honest with you recently.  I guess I haven't been completely honest with myself.  If you keep pretending everything is wonderful, eventually it should be true, right?

I have a million and one things I feel like I should share with you, but it is always, ALWAYS important to me not to offend other people, so I am having a hard time formulating how I want to share my thoughts with you.  I guess maybe I should preface this post with the idea that this post is about me, not other people.  When I choose to be offended or intimidated, or whatever other wacky emotion I am experiencing, it should not reflect on those around me.  I mean to say that it is highly likely that, in my own mind, I perceive things completely out of whack with reality.  So, please, don't judge anyone I refer to in this post, directly or implied, based on the insecurities that I have been feeling.  I honestly just need to be real with you right now, but I don't know if I can really say what I mean to say.

We have to go back.  Back, back.  Back to where I first got in this blogging funk.  I had one of those miraculous, amazing, unbelievable experiences.  I got to meet my birth daughter and her family for the first time since saying goodbye to that sweet baby girl eighteen years ago.  It was an answer to prayers.  And everything went so smoothly, it was such a blessing!

Except, it wasn't as perfect as I presented it to be.

My birth daughter is gorgeous.  She is amazing!  Confident, quirky, funny, fun to be with, considerate, loving, generous, accepting, welcoming.  Clearly, she has been loved, has lived a blessed life in the care of wonderful people, the people I will always believe were meant to be her parents.  I don't feel like I should have to reiterate that.  I have always felt that to be true, even when I mourned the fact that we could not continue to have a relationship, because our communication was limited by an agency which thought severing those ties would be for the best for all of us.  I have always loved her parents, even when I ignorantly believed that they were avoiding renewing a relationship with me, when I believed they were afraid of me.  Part of why I hurt so much, not so long ago, was that I had hoped they loved me, and when they failed to respond to my attempts to communicate with them this past year, it felt like a betrayal to me.  I began to believe that I had misinterpreted the love I thought they had for me.

I wasn't going to do this.  I didn't want to include this negativity on my blog.  But now I kind of feel like I need to share this.  I feel like people need to truly see the grief I was experiencing, during the time I had tried and failed to make contact with my birth daughter's parents.  Maybe it will help prospective adoptive parents to see how much we as birth parents need their compassion.  We are so often left completely out of the loop.  It is hard to feel valued in any way shape or form.  I know there is a place for closed adoptions, but most of the ones that I have seen, my own and those of dear friends, have been detrimental to the birth parent.  Because of the secrecy, the lack of communication, the fear and distrust, birth parents are not valued, and we feel it.  Believe me, we feel it.  It is not healthy.  From my journal:

(Sunday, October 23, 2011)
I can honestly say I understand a little better; yes, sympathize would be the right word--I sympathize with those crazy, bitter, angry "first mothers", as they like to call themselves.  They are women from the "Baby Grab" era, when abortions were illegal, and women were forced to give up their infant children, often not being allowed to see the child, not allowed to say goodbye. . . .

The part where I sympathize is the years of grief at their loss and the powerlessness which must have contributed to their craziness.  I can relate to that.  To the beginnings of craziness, to the bitterness, to the anger I am beginning to feel towards her parents.

What is wrong with them?  That they don't want to know me?  What are they so afraid of?  That I would somehow take over or belittle their roles as parents?  That idea is so freaking ridiculous it makes me furious.

Then I try to put myself in the place of friends of mine who are adoptive parents.  How would they feel if their child's birth mother reached out to them.  How freaked out would they be?

But then I get angry again, because that is not a proper comparison.  These people KNEW me.  We corresponded for years.  I shared my soul with them.  I willingly gave them their daughter.

Why don't they want to remember me?

It was such a blessing to be so readily accepted by her family, once LDS Family Services finally made real contact!  I was able to meet her parents one week in November when Britt and I were up in the Utah Valley area.  We met for lunch, actually on the same day that my birth daughter, Abbey, found me on Facebook.  When we met each other that day, it was so much less awkward, without the tension and confusion of our first meeting, all those years ago.  And then they told Britt and I that they thought Christmas Break would be the perfect time for me to meet their daughter, my birth daughter, to bring our families together.  When they created a real date, a real time for me to look forward to, not some vague thing I would be hoping for some day in the future, that was truly a gift.  I never would have known how to approach that, and they presented it for me.  They told me they saw me as an extension of their family, and they were excited to meet the rest of my family.

But as the actual date approached, I sensed some resistance from her family.  I began to get anxious.  I wanted everything to be perfect, but what if she didn't like me?  What if I wasn't pretty enough, stylish enough, cool enough?  What if I was a disappointment?  What if her parents resented me, didn't trust me?  What if my kids thought it was all kind of weird?  I mean, family reunions can be kind of weird, and this was definitely not your typical family reunion.

Then we were there.  And everything was wonderful.

The truth is there were some random awkward moments, but Abbey was so sweet.  Being with her, I was truly on a high.  Seeing her, her strength, her beauty.  I can't even tell you!  The Spirit whispered to my heart, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."  So many prayers were answered for me in those few short days we were able to spend with her.

And then it got really awkward.

And I didn't hear from Abbey for several days.  After communicating at least once a day up until the time we met, that was hard.  I missed her, and I didn't know if she would communicate with me again.  Although our families had had some wonderful moments together, the time that I spent alone with Abbey was the best part of my visit there--but it was also the worst.  Abbey and I were on such a high, enjoying our time together, in our joy we unintentionally caused pain for someone in her family.

I don't know how to explain this to you.  I am powerless in this.  I knew I would be.  I take what I can get.  I am grateful for it.  But I thought you should know, it has been hard.

I have disappeared into myself.

I have been hiding out in my house.  I go through the motions, still make it to exercise class, work on work stuff, go to church, serve in my church callings, attend the temple.  Oh, I am so grateful for the temple!  I may be in a funk, but the temple keeps me afloat more than you can know!

My husband did this wonderful thing for me.  He took me to Hawaii.  Before we left, I thought, I should be more excited; we should be happier.  But it was hard to get there.  And then, at first, it was stressful to be there.  I mean, I should have been thrilled that I got to fly first class, but instead I just felt out of place (and guilty about having all that leg room, food, drinks, and snacks, while I knew my husband was crammed in between strangers back in coach).  I should have taken advantage of the opportunity to see the flight deck, but I was too timid to speak up and ask the woman next to me if she minded me going past her.  The sad thing is, in that almost seven hour flight, I didn't even talk to my seat mate until the plane was about to land.  I don't know why.  It was the beginnings of me feeling out of place and out of sorts.

Of the people we would be spending the week with, I knew two of them.  And to tell you the truth, I was a little bit intimidated by them.  I am not worldly enough.  I don't dress in the latest fashions.  I don't keep up on the trends.  I get my hair done about once a year.  I knew I wasn't cool enough to hang out with them, and I figured their friends would be the same way.

Now, let me tell you, everyone there was awesome.  They were all interesting people, and I sincerely wish I had known how to be more social.  And Hawaii was beautiful, and relaxing, and enjoyable, and I kept telling myself it was time to relax, to enjoy myself.  But for some reason (or maybe many reasons), it was really hard for me.  It started at the rental car company, when the workers there refused to budge on the price, even though we were supposed to have a lower rate, based on the amount Jeff reserved it for online.  Then, the traffic--only one road with construction, making it tricky sometimes to get where we were going.  And I kept thinking it was going to be this romantic getaway for Britt and I, but it felt like we just never quite synced.  I am sorry, Britt.  I even realized there were moments when I came across as uptight and unhappy when I truly did not mean to be.  So then I kept wondering what was wrong with me.

We had plenty of amazing, wonderful moments there in Hawaii.  Don't get me wrong.  I did enjoy myself.  It was a trip of a lifetime.  And I can't wait to go back.  I really am grateful to my sweet husband for taking me there.  And I apologize to anyone else along for the ride if I didn't seem like I was enjoying myself.  Because I was.  I loved Hawaii.  I love my husband.  And I am thankful for those who made it possible for us to go on this trip.

Back home.  I am kind of a mess.  Seems I can't do anything right.  I screwed up keeping track of one of our accounts, and we ended up getting hit with several overdraft charges.  Ouch!  I believed one of my kids when he told me he was doing his work at school, only to find out he has not turned in any assignments all quarter, and when he finally decided to get some work done, so he could be eligible to go on an out-of-town school trip, most of it was so long past due the teacher wouldn't give him credit for it.  (He has a 504 plan; the teachers are supposed to offer some leniency in this, but I have been feeling too crappy about myself to get in there and advocate for my kid.  I know I would just let them walk all over me about it).  Well, the same kid ended up getting reprimanded by the school after he attended the drama conference at BYU when he wasn't actually eligible.  Parent of the year award over here, you know.

And I have spent several days cleaning up dog pee spots all over my house.  Ugh!  I just couldn't handle the smell.  But it still stinks to me.  And I sit on the floor, trying to be productive, thinking how nasty my house smells.  I have actually gotten a lot of cleaning done in this past week, which you would think I would feel pretty good about, but no, I am instead wallowing in the misery that I cannot manage to keep my house clean for a very reasonable amount of time.  I mean, my kids' rooms?  Seriously scary!  Anyway, it just feels like another reminder of how pathetic I am.

It's circular over here.  I don't want you to think I hate myself.  And I don't want you to think I am just a whiner, complainer, a person that can't enjoy the gifts that are abundant in her life.  I am usually not like this.  But for this time, for now, I am.  So, I would appreciate a little compassion.

I cannot get my visiting teaching done to save my life.  The guilt is eating me up.  And then today, I find out that one of my cub scouts had his feelings hurt the other day, because I gave treats to the boys that brought their books, and he never got a book.  In a way, that is my fault.  I have been harassing him to get his Bobcat done and he and at least one other boy don't even have their books.  The bishop just asked me how my calling is going on Sunday, and I had to ask him which one?  Then, he told me it is okay to say no when asked to sub in Primary--I teach in Primary more often than not--but I have been in the Primary Presidency and I know how impossible it is to find subs.  I just can't be the bad guy, even though I will admit I am getting burned out on all of this.

Every time I go to Relief Society (granted, it's not very often, because I keep subbing in Primary), I realize I am sitting by myself there, in a room full of wonderful women.  Why am I alone?  I even tried to sit by someone the other day, and she ended up having to leave early, so I was still all alone.  What am I, the strong, reserved woman?  Why am I so isolated?  I do not mean to be.

I think of all the people I care about, think about, dream for, hope for.  I do not always reach out to you, but I am praying for you.  I wish I could do better about reaching out.  I am going to work on it.  I don't mean to close myself off so much.  It really makes me sad that I have.

This doesn't start with one incident, so as I said, don't blame anyone for that.  If I have given the impression that I find someone else responsible for this depression I am struggling through, I apologize.  That is not my intention.  I guess I am just seeking a little forgiveness.  I mean to be real.  Just be aware, real doesn't always mean sad.  It will get better. . .


heather howell said...

You are so not alone! I cry myself to sleep more often than not, my house is a scary mess, which causes more tension between my husband and myself than you can imagine. I have been threatened with divorce two or three times monthly for the past year. You think overdraft fees are fun, try having your accounts levied by the I.r.s. with no warning and having 11.00 left to your name, even if it wasn't your fault, for a stress inducer. not to mention three hospitalizations in one year, all the while keeping up boy scout and girl scout and pta responsibilities and trying to be everyone's rock, all the time watching yourself slip farther and farther away. I have been told for the past three years that I'm not enough, not happy enough, not horney enough, not nurturing enough, not clean enough, you name it, just not enough...I went to the Dr. And got some paxil 2 months ago but this time it doesn't seem to even be numbing the pain. I desperatly miss and need my mom and some of the other wonderful people from blanding. By the way, have I ever told you how much I regret not getting to know you better when I was there, I think we could really have a lot in common (not just crying together either) but I spent my entire life in blanding feeling out of place and judged and looked down on. It seems like my entire life I have had so many things to offer but just am sort of pushed to the side because I'm not the right family, the right family, dating the right person, married to the right person......and so on.then we moved down here and I was welcomed with open arms in every circle I've come upon, but the more included I am in outside world, the bigger the wedge between my husband and I. I have a child that screams he hates me 10 times a day, and truly means it. But its just me and 4 kids 3 weeks of the month and I spend the other week trying to pull myself together to be the elusive "enough" that I am told that I am not. I'm not looking for sympathy, just trying to let you know that you are not alone, there are more of us crying behind closed doors than you could imagine in your wildest dreams. But ypu also have a bigger supper system than you think because we've all been there. Let some of the wonderful people from relief society come in and help you clean the house so its easier to keep up with, get a fresh start. I would be there in a heartbeat if I was there, with open arms that say its ok, weve all been buried and have needed a hand. Do you have a counselor to talk to? Mark lyman helped me more than I could have imagined when I was really crashing 8 years ago. Take some time for you, turn a few callings down now and then, someone will step up and fill the holes when you stop. But above all, know you are not struggling alone or in vain. (((hugs))) p.s. sorry to take so much comment space, guess I needed to vent. There is no way I could ever put anything like this out on my blog, my mother-in-law would have a heyday with that as she ate me alive.

Cari spillman said...

Both of you hang in there, remember the highs when your going through the lows, Nan, take heathers advice turn down some callings, learn that it's ok to say no sometimes. Heather I know exactly how you felt living here, and I just decided I don't care anymore what people think! Guilt is also another woman hater, I struggle with that the most. I definitely am not winning any motherhood awards so I can relate to that but I love my kids with everything I am. I am learning how to love me and to feel like I Am "enough". It's hard, I feel for and love you both!

LisaAnne said...

I am so sorry Nan. Depression like what you are knee deep in is so hard to see out of.

I will be thinking and praying for you and the strength to live through each day until this too passes.

I must say that being a birthmother has absolutely changed me too. The joy that I used to find easily is buried much deeper now.

The hurt of a missing child goes so deep that it can overshadow all the wonderful things that we should be appreciating.

And now with the let down of a relationship that you hoped would flourish would be such a difficult weight to bear. If only we could see the future and know that this is only temporary, and better days are ahead.

Just one day at a time Nan. And one thing at a time. Just live through today.

Praying for you.

Becks said...

I think of you often, Nan. If only depression was an easy fix, or even something we knew how to control. It seems to vary just enough from person to person and from incident to incident. Know that I am thinking of you and praying for you. Love ya, sis!

Anonymous said...

Since I was also there during this reunion, I find it interesting how my perception of the way things happened is so different than the way you
perceived how things happened. That's so sad.