On my last morning as I was packing up my car, I felt relieved. Within an hour or so, I’d be leaving this town. It had occurred to me at some point that this is where I’d spent much of the first year of my life. It seemed like a significant detail, but I wasn’t sure why. Right before getting in the car I took a selfie with the picturesque mountains in the background and a smile on my face. I felt as though I had conquered … something … though I didn’t come away without scars.
I went by my mom’s for a cup of coffee. We sat with the tv on, awkwardly making small talk like always. I had intended to stay for a while, but didn’t last more than 30 minutes before I announced I was leaving.
As I gave my mom one last hug, she started crying. The sting of feeling like a disappointment returned as I had absolutely no emotion without tapping into what was left from childhood. But there’s no escape off that train, so I didn’t bother. I simply slipped my sunglasses on and said I was leaving quickly before I started crying too. I didn’t feel any need to make her feel bad that leaving wasn’t upsetting me like it was her.
I left disappointed that she had made so much effort to connect with me and I was unable.
The further in distance I traveled away from her, the more free I felt.
There is a huge disconnect between my head and heart with my mom. I love her very much. I never wanted anything or anyone more than I wanted her in my childhood. I would have crawled in her arms and stayed there forever. When you spend all of your time and effort chasing one person to see them leave you over and over, it takes its toll over the years. Logically I realize that my mom was a victim in adoption. She had little choice or control over my adoption. She was fully taken advantage of and bought into a system that served neither her nor me. But my heart … my heart is damaged. Open adoption had me watch her leave. It’s not an obscure act that I do not remember. I remember it clearly. I remember and can fully visualize the pulling away from me that she did to protect her own heart. The adults in open adoption can do that. They can build some semblance of a wall that may somewhat protect them from the pain. They can rationalize and foresee outcomes. A child can do none of that. The child only knows to invest in relationships. It’s like my little nieces and nephews. None of them knew to be awkward, to hold back, to exist in manners rather than emotions. They moved forward and let their heart lead.
I wish I could have done the same during the visit.
I wonder how my mom considers the visit. I wonder if she could feel the distance between us even with me standing in her presence. I wonder if she holds me responsible and thinks I haven’t handled myself by adjusting well. I wonder if she blames me instead of an unjust system of adoption. Either I cannot trust her, or myself, enough to have an open conversation about it.
She doesn’t have to place blame though. I already blame myself. I know it’s my limitations that don’t allow to me to connect with her. I wish she could see that it’s the damage from adoption. I wish she could know I’m already disappointed in myself for what I can never be to her or accept from her.
My sweet little nephew had formerly been open and engaging, but as my visit came to an end he wouldn’t make eye contact, wouldn’t answer any of my questions and wouldn’t take a picture with me. He was protecting his own heart.
I’d been doing the same for the last three days.
“He was always distracted, by the very mention of an open door
Cause he had sworn not to be what he’d been before
To be a remainder …
And they carried on like long division
Cause it was clear with every page
that they were further away
from a solution that would play
without a remainder.”