Thursday, March 31, 2011

I speak to you with silence

I am horribly slow--as in months behind--at reading my Sunday NYT, but last week I finally got around to the edition from February 6. In the Book Review, one author opened her critique by quoting from "Dedication," a poem by Czeslaw Milosz:

You whom I could not save
Listen to me. 
Try to understand this simple speech
     as I would be ashamed of
I swear, there is in me no wizardry of
I speak to you with silence like a 
     cloud or a tree. 

I was introduced to Milosz's work some 18 years ago, as a newish grad student at Berkeley, where Milosz would spend part of the year as an emeritus. I went to his readings in the small Maud Fife Room in Doe Library, and sat transfixed by the eloquence of his words and the soft cadence of his voice as he read aloud. His poems often speak to damaged part of me, the part I try to keep locked up and safe.

I was unfamiliar with this particular poem, but it has resonated through me these past few days. His sense of speaking with silence is intensely meaningful to me. There are so many silences in adoption: about birth, about relationships, about what adoptees and aparents and nparents feel or don't feel. Adoption is deeply rooted in painful emotions that are buried, things that are difficult to put into words and that cause pain and controversy when voiced. It is hard for me to accept this silence. My post from last week attests to that. Trust is difficult when there aren't words of support and affirmation from those I love. I have also thought of C's silence as saying the same kinds of things that Milosz touches on in these few lines. She saved me by sacrificing me; was I really saved? She would like to think so. She doesn't mince words, and she doesn't speak unless she has something to relate. She doesn't lure or adorn with false praise. I admire her for that. And she does beg me to forgive her for the long, bitterly cold silence during which I suffered such excruciating pain from her rejection. I do, of course, forgive her.

She called me today, on her birthday, out of the blue. For the first time I was able to wish her "Happy Birthday" and have her hear me say it. She thanked me with a laugh and told me she needs eight margaritas to deal with being 64. She wanted to tell me about her trip to San Diego. For the first time she said that she feels she wants to meet me (and my children) in the not-too-distant future. She told me how happy A is that he has a sibling, at last. She told me how much A likes Mark, and how she hopes to meet him, too. She apologized for being locked in the 1960's view of herself for so long. She told me that she appreciates how I am letting her direct the course of the reunion, and that she feels safe that I am not judging her. I don't, or I try very hard not to. I love her, although I cannot tell her this yet; it suggests that the stakes are higher than she wants them to be. It is still too much, she says, to think of me as her daughter. She said she felt terrible for not being able to see me as a human being until last fall. The defensive wall has come down, she said, and she is happy for it. She cannot be happier than I am. She laughed as she told me that A told her that he, she, and I are all from the same mold: stubborn, fixated, and up to a thousand things at once. Noses buried in books, curious about everything, loyal.

She also told me that A told her that I am "scary smart" and use vocabulary words he's never heard of. I will take the compliment, but the conversation then led to A's and my discussion about the contingency of our relationship and how much I feared that contingency. I didn't want to get into the grittier parts of this equation, but she immediately said that she supported me 100% in setting boundaries and asking him to choose either to be in or to be out. As she put it, I "deserve so much more than to be kicked around by someone indecisive." I can get behind that, and I love that she gets it.

While her 11-year stony silence was brutal, she is not going faster than she feels comfortable. She is clear about what she can do and what she cannot offer. Since she committed to talking to me last December, she has kept her word. She has reached out to me at least as much as I've reached out to her. She has been more reliable than A, when I look at the big picture. I think I am really less afraid of her leaving me than of A cutting ties. I feel that she respects me, which is a very big deal. She isn't the one keeping secrets and not telling me where she is.

It is unnerving to want to trust her. It is safer to keep people at arm's length, but it is also seductive to have her draw me in closer and make herself vulnerable to me. It is wonderful to hear that I might meet her before too long, but I am of course terrified that I will break down in front of her and become a quivering mush of emotions. It's one thing to talk to her on the phone and keep myself detached, but in person? To stand in front of the woman I most look like--and from whom I was born--and be nonchalant, just like I am meeting a pen pal? I don't think my adult armor is quite strong enough to protect and mask the lost little girl inside of me who is still her daughter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Little Things

I have been feeling tender of late, partially because it breaks my heart to hear of adoptees being frozen out by their natural families, and partially because I am back to the dangerous job of hunting my own doubts about my nfamily, the ones that hide in the shadows like wolves. Are they shadows? Are they real?

I called C last week, but she didn't return my call. It may be that she was out of town and didn't see that I'd called. It could be that she chose to ignore me. I don't know. Then on Monday I was shopping for a present for A, whose birthday is Friday. He had asked me to buy him a particular pair of sweatpants with the UC logo on them, but they were out of stock. I called his phone to see if he could give me guidelines for another pair. T answered. It seems that A leaves his phone at home while he's at the hospital because he doesn't get good reception. I spoke with her, got the information I needed, and then asked about their plans for the week. She said that they're planning a simple celebration on Friday, and that they're going to spend the weekend, sans W, in a town north of San Diego (coincidentally, very close to where my aparents live). I knew that C was flying out to babysit, but T said nothing of it. I said, "C told me that she's going to help you out by babysitting." T confirmed, but changed the subject summarily.

Why is there enforced silence? Did T not want to hurt my feelings that I am not invited? Is there some intrafamilial agreement about communication that I am not to be told about? Is C planning to exile me again? I wish I could ask her, but she's in San Diego now. I don't want to overstep boundaries by calling her there, especially given the silence stuff, and yet it pisses me off that I have to bury my questions and needs to protect those crumbs that I have (or think I have).

I also grew paranoid because usually when I call A and he's not there, he will call me back or text me. He hasn't yet. If last year hadn't happened, I would not be so freakishly concerned about it. But he threw me away before, and I am more than aware that they can do it again. Sucks. I hope I am not about to lose my new hard-won balance. I haven't quite figured out what my gut is telling me is going on. It is suspiciously silent, but perhaps that's a good thing. We will see what happens, but the waiting is also painful. Insecurity is like very slow-acting poison, although I think I have very good reason to feel insecure.

I was recently reading a memoir in which the author wrote thus about the eulogy at her father's funeral: "It seemed more likely that the vicar, a man who had known my father for thirty years, was thinking of his aching need for a love greater than any one person had been able to provide." Sometimes I wonder about myself similarly. Is what I want too much? Am I unhappy because I expect or need more than I can ever have? Can one person, or any person, give me the love I need to thrive?

Then I remember that all I am asking for is to be treated with consideration, like a human being with value who belongs and who deserves the truth. Little things that end up feeling extremely consequential when they're absent or denied.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"I love you, but..."

I read quite a few blogs that consider open adoption from the point of view of the natural parent. I find the dynamics of open adoptions interesting because my own adoption, dating from the Dark Ages of sealed records in lockdown, is so very different.

As a social worker wrote recently on a blog,

"No one should ever be denied this knowledge [of where she comes from]. I heard a quote recently (and posted it on Facebook) that closed adoption is institutionalized denial. It's so true. You can never deny a child's heritage. That's why I love open adoption so much, because I see a child with two families, two heritages, and a whole lot of love."

A whole lot of love? More self-knowledge? What ever could be wrong with that?

And yet, I have been struggling with some of what I read. An adoptee of my era commented thus about open adoption,

"This is just my personal opinion, but as an adult adoptee I have never been totally enamored with the idea of open adoption. I did not want my first parent(s) to take me to the zoo, I wanted to live with them and have them raise me. What if they would move out of town and start a new family and not see me as much or ever? Open adoption seems to me that it could potentially set the stage for repeated rejections. Just speaking for myself, I suspect I would rather have only been a part of my afamily until the age of 18 when I could decide for myself. The only advantage I can see is knowing who my natural parents were would have been better than having imaginary figures in my head. It seems that children have an innate need to be loved and valued by their natural parents. I'm not sure that open adoption would get rid of the pain of being given away in the first place."

I have thought very much the same thing, and have spent much time recently discussing this topic with other adoptee friends. 

While I think it would have been wonderful to know before I was 40 where I came from, who my nparents were, whom I resembled, etc., the pain of having nparents around, but perhaps not emotionally present, or only partially emotionally present, would have been very difficult for me. I try to imagine being taken out for ice cream, or to the zoo. Knowing that I belonged with these people, but that I wouldn't go home with them. That my kept brothers and sisters would have what I couldn't--the unconditional love of my nparents, as well as their time. It seems like each drop off would involve repeated, painful levels of rejection and sadness; at least I expect that's how my child brain and emotions would have processed it. 

I know that there are some open adoptions that "work," although they are not without their own pain and problems. Then there are those "open" adoptions that seem paradoxical. For example, when an nmom has another child she keeps after the placed child. The placed child wants one-on-one time with the nmom, but the nmom cannot imagine leaving her kept child at home because that child would feel "abandoned." Yes! I didn't make this up. The kept child's sense of abandonment matters; the adopted child's doesn't. Why is that?

Or the nmom who doesn't want to tell her kept child that this other child he meets and plays with is his brother. It's too difficult because the father of the kept child isn't quite open accepting the placed child into the family. Never mind that the placed child is told by his APs that this other child is his brother. Seems to me that the lying by omission is going to cause serious fallout, and most likely for the adoptee. What happens when the adopted child tells the kept child that they're brothers, and the kept child says, "You're lying." Who will be blamed? Who will be distanced and ostracized? I know what my guess is.

Another nmom safe havened her infant but then managed to find out who the adoptive mother was, and has worked on building an "open" adoption. Problem is, no one in the nmom's family even knows she had a child, and the nmom's fiance doesn't know, either. When will the truth be told? Will the adoptee be denied once the nmom has her own kept children? I know if I married someone who didn't tell me that he'd had a child who was adopted, I would be FURIOUS. I would have very serious trust issues with this person, and I am not altogether sure the relationship would survive. Will the child be denied when she shows up as a teen-ager, because no one in the nmom's family knows? After all, it's an "open" adoption and the child *should* feel free to contact her mom. The adoptive mother knows the nmom's name. The child *will* be able to track her nmom down. I am just imagining the pain at being told, "I love you, but not enough to tell the truth about you to anyone else who matters to me in my life."

There is another case in which the nmom is ambivalent about having the placed child in her life. Okay, fine. All parents are ambivalent from time to time. But the contrast between the gooey, expressed love for the kept child versus the coldness and emotional distance from the placed child is remarkable. I know as a child I was very much able to tell who liked me and who didn't. Perhaps her placed child is standoffish because the nmom is standoffish; interpreting the sources of adult emotions is difficult for a child. Is it a two-year-old child's job to be warm and bubbly and open so that the nmom feels good about herself, and thus open to him? Or is it his nparents' job at that point to work on building trust and love, and welcoming him into their lives? Here again is the problem of not telling the truth about this child's existence at church because right now the truth "doesn't matter." But if you have a place in a church and community, what is the likelihood that you will change your mind and tell the truth down the road? It becomes more and more difficult over time, I think. Once down that rocky road, the lies multiply. It's easy to justify not telling the truth, because *does* it really matter? Oh, the child won't know. It's about preserving one's sense of self, and one's place in society--but at the cost of the adopted child who makes the story morally complicated. 

I am not judging these people, or saying that open adoption has to be done a certain way. I can't know what it's like to live with giving a child away and having to explain that to the world around me and living with that decision, for good or for bad. I just honestly don't understand how the decision is made to lie, and then justified. Especially by people who profess devout Christianity.

I have been the denied child, the one lied about. The one whose existence made things complicated. I had the wrath of my nmom on my head for daring expose her lies. I am wondering how it will be for these children in open adoptions. Their existence is supposedly known, but not really, or only in circumscribed ways to certain people. My fear is that when they get older, they, like I, will have to pay the price for the lies. The guilt and shame for the lies might be visited on them. I hope not, I really hope not, but it seems as though some of these adults aren't thinking about the consequences that their lying by omission will have on their children.

I am very uncomfortable when people say, "I love you, but I have to keep you a secret." It is harmful and puts the adoptee in a horrible place.

I am glad, in some ways, that I only found my family as an adult. I have been able to process things with an adult's emotional toolbox, and I don't feel that I am competing with my brother for C's love. First, she doesn't love me. Second, I don't need or want her to "mother" me. That time has passed. We can interact as peers, which gives me a huge advantage. This isn't to say that her rejection was easy, just that if I had been around her as a child, and she'd been as cold and distant as she is now, there would have been grave emotional fallout for the child I was. I know myself. 

From my admittedly biased standpoint, these not-so-open "open" adoptions put a great deal of pressure on the adoptee not to ask for too much, not to say the wrong thing, and not to want too much love. Sad. Very sad. Outside of adoption, when is it okay to tell someone, "I love you, but not enough to admit who you are to the rest of the family?"

Friday, March 11, 2011


So much has happened in the past few months that it is taking time for the consequences to sink in. I can talk to C whenever I like, but it is fairly clear from her that it shouldn't be *too* often, unless I really need her. Same for my contact with A. He was very excited after his visit, but now we are both back into the dreary trudge of life. He is busy, I am busy. I could call him, and I have called T, but it's all very superficial. Weather, gardening, what the boys are up to. Work.

I don't know exactly what I expected from all this, but I think the hardest part is realizing that I have to live. Just live. Follow the path I am on and find some satisfaction in it.

From the outside, all is well. I have time and financial stability to do as I like. I have wonderful friends. And yet I can never quite ignore the irritation from the splinter in my soul, the one that has caused me so much pain over the years.

I feel mildly annoyed all the time. I don't think I am depressed--or at least not to the degree that I had been. And yet sometimes there is a flash of the darkness that signals to me that I am not sure what I am living for. What is it that I want to do? How do I do it?

My friend Z has been compiling a detailed family tree for me as he takes particular pleasure in researching. He found ancestors of mine from North Carolina who fought in the Revolutionary War, other relatives who fought in the Civil War. An ancestor who sat on the Supreme Court. I have a rich family history, although I still feel uneasy about claiming it. I am not on any of the family trees, nor will I be. The history is mine, and yet I am not of it. I reread my grandfather's obituary on Wednesday, and I felt a stab to the heart where it said that he is survived by three grandsons. He is. True. But I am also his granddaughter, the one who was too embarrassing to admit. The one who was taken far away to avoid sullying the family name in the small town. The one who paid the price then, and who continues to pay for all the familial ambivalence and nervousness.

A few days ago I went with my friend Joy to the LDS Temple in Oakland. We visited the Family History Center and did some genealogical research in a brightly lit basement, well appointed with books and computers. I discovered that C's brother's birthday is New Year's Day. He was 18 when I was born, not 17, as my non-identifying information stated. Because God forbid that anyone tell the truth. I feel such anger about my family's and the agency's prevarications: "Neuman" not "Newman"; C age was "around" 22, instead of exactly 22; my uncle was not 17, but 18. And then the lies continued.

I have been thinking a little bit about contacting my uncle. C and A have both told me that he wants to talk to me. I put the ball in his court last September, but for whatever reason, he hasn't acted on it. I am not the most patient person in the world. I could probably wait forever and hear nothing; maybe it would be good for me to wait. I understand how difficult it is to reach out to an unknown person. I have made the first step, over and over. I asked Joy what she advised, and she encouraged me, as ever, to do what my gut tells me. She said that I have absolutely done enough, but if I want to do more, she supports me. It certainly would be nice to have someone take the reins; but will they?

I suppose what I am struggling with is the path to finding acceptance in all this mess. There is so much about these relationships that I cannot change. I know that. And yet my feelings of powerlessness are immense and difficult. I am here right now because of what I have done in my life, but also for what I *didn't* do. Such as choose to be born to a woman who was unmarried, and whose family couldn't stand the shame of an out-of-wedlock child.

I wonder if C will ever be able to face her demons and tell me how she really felt at the time of my birth. I wonder if she says nothing to protect me from the sad truth that she wishes I'd never been conceived. In some ways, it would be easier to hear that. In the meantime, I nurse the hope that she might have acted differently if she were coerced. Maybe she was coerced. It seems likely. I just don't know, and the PTSD prevents her from talking. I get that, even accept it, but it's not easy for me.

Then I think about how much my afamily has given to me, all the experiences and unconditional love. I have been so blessed in many ways. Why is it so difficult to reconcile this with the pain and all those years of self-loathing? Why do I always have to be the strong one?

Saturday, March 05, 2011


This has been a week of adjustments.

I went back to work on Wednesday for the first time since my pneumonia and pulmonary emboli. I was excited and nervous, of course: what had I forgotten anew?

My colleagues were wonderfully kind, and I had a great shift. Annie, one of the senior RNs, was my guardian angel and helped me stay on track with my admission and then helped me get my second patient settled. I felt pretty good about all of it.

I picked up my second patient around 7:30, just over halfway through my shift. She was pretty sick and needed a blood transfusion because her hemoglobin was very, very low. Her story was extremely complicated. She was pregnant for the sixth time, but had gone to the ER that afternoon because she had had unprotected sex the day before; she didn't know that she was already 30 weeks into a pregnancy. She had a history of cocaine use but had been clean for eight years; she had, however, fallen off the wagon three days previously. Her main complaint was tremendous vaginal discomfort and pelvic pressure. It turned out that she had three sexually transmitted infections and a urinary tract infection. Although she felt awful because of her severe anemia, she was more bothered by the fire below. The ER had started her on a bunch of meds for the infections, and I gave her a few more to help. She was so worried that I would judge her, but I reassured her that I wasn't there to judge, but to help.

The show stopper was that once she found out she was pregnant, she said she planned to walk away and leave the baby in the hospital when he or she was born. Triggering for me, to say the least. I sat down with her and talked about adoption and what it has meant for me. I didn't try to dissuade her from it; it sounds like adoption is the best option for her. She has no family around, and her surviving four children take all of her resources. I wish things were different for her, but they're not. A social worker would come by the next day to talk about adoption and other things, and I encouraged her to think about an open adoption so that her child wouldn't feel cut off from his or her roots. She won't be delivering (hopefully) for another seven to ten weeks, so she has time to mull over her choices. She and I cried together. Working with her was a difficult but positive experience for me. I usually avoid the adoption cases like the plague because it's just too emotionally excruciating for me to process while remaining professional.

Then yesterday I went to see The Adjustment Bureau, a new science fiction film based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. In sum, it tells the story of a young man who meets an amazing woman--once--and it's only meant to be once. There are higher powers keeping people and their destinies on track. The main character (John Norris) meets his love again, and all hell breaks loose; he finds out that free will is very limited.

When John gets to work unexpectedly early one day, he sees the Adjustment Bureau workers changing the thoughts in a coworker's mind--all the people are frozen. He is understandably shaken and runs away. Eventually he is caught and taken to a room while the powers-that-be discuss what to do with him. They say things like, "He will be haunted by questions for the rest of his life," and "He was never meant to see behind the curtain." Sound familiar? John has strong feelings for the woman he is supposed to stay away from (Elise), and he asks, "If I am not supposed to be with her, why do I have these feelings?" Hmmmm. Later on, when John refuses to give Elise up, he is told that if he doesn't leave her and break her heart, her life will never be what it could have been; he will have ruined her chances for professional success forever. That if he really loves her, he must let go. Yep.

The men from the Adjustment Bureau carry books that show the potential life paths of each person, and it is the job of some of the men to keep the people they're watching on track. It is important not to deviate from the script. Again, very much like adoption! Adoptees are given new lives and aren't supposed to question them, think about what might have been, or look for our natural families--think of all the people we will hurt if we do so!

The other strange thing was that Adjustment Bureau workers could appear dressed as normal humans and throw spanners in the works: tie up traffic, keep someone talking, interrupt phone calls, or say things to nudge a person back on the path their lives were meant to follow. It reminded me of the "happy" and "joyful" adoptees and Bee Mommies who cannot accept that their experiences are their own; they must belittle and attack and derail the ideas and thoughts of others who have different, less comfortable experiences. Don't question, don't think, just praise! Be grateful for the opportunities! Love the people who raised you, and only them! Ugh.

Some adoptee friends of mine have said that they will not watch the film because it suggests that there is no escaping the Fates. I don't think it was quite as grim as all that, and the end (which is most certainly not the end of Dick's story) rewards the protagonist's questioning of the life mapped out for him. He would rather choose potential madness than giving up on who he knows he his and what he wants: this is something I have done. There were moments in which I felt rage and great sorrow as I watched, but it was helpful, in many ways, to see my story mirrored in the plot of the film. It might make a good talking point with people who haven't thought too much about what it means to be born, adopted, sealed, and denied.

I had an interesting chat with C on Wednesday. She was busy, but I had told her I'd call and let her know how the visit went. She told me that she wouldn't hear anything of it from A because her husband doesn't want them talking about me. It broke my heart to hear that, even though I understand the position that they are both in. I will work with what I have, but I wish so much that this contingency weren't there. She has three trips planned in the near future: one to visit her mother in Indiana, one to visit A, T and W in San Diego, and then a trip to Paris in mid-April. I told her I was very jealous of the Paris trip, and asked her if she enjoyed museums. She said that she does but her husband does not, so she doesn't get to go all that often. Apparently he despises the "fat, nude women" in paintings in the Louvre. I told her that it's easy to steer away from the Renaissance and Baroque galleries to avoid Titian, Rubens, etc. We laughed. It made me hope that one day C and I could be in Paris together. Not likely, but maybe. I don't know when I will speak to her next, and that makes me sad. 

All my friends remind me that C could turn on a dime and change her mind about me. I know that and protect myself, while loving her all the same. It is too tiring to live with the burdens of suspicion and fear at the front of my mind. It's just not who I am.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


It's Tuesday (well, Wednesday) and the weekend already seems so long ago. I can't believe the remarkable change in my life over the past few months, and especially over the past few weeks. It has to do with things largely out of my control, but I am fortunate that the changes mean positive things for me.

I was horribly nervous as I drove to the airport on Saturday morning. Would A be stiff and guarded? Should I hug him? Could the rift be repaired? As he came out of the terminal to meet me promptly at 9:32 a.m., he immediately smiled and hugged me. I had good feelings. I drove him tto Berkeley for brunch at a small restaurant serving French country breakfasts. We only had a 10-minute wait, which is extremely rare for that place. We chatted about our respective trips to Tahoe, drank our coffee and ate our food leisurely. Afterwards, he asked to go to a store near UC Berkeley to buy some gear. We did, and then I took him on a tour of campus, showing him where the art history department is and where I used to teach. He thought the campus was beautiful (it is, even if it isn't his home turf of Ole Miss), and marveled at how green everything is. It certainly provides stark contrast to the dry, desert landscape of San Diego, where he lives. I gingerly ventured toward the topic of adoption a few times in the morning but was rebuffed gently. 

In the afternoon we met up with Mark and the boys and took our regular family trip to Crissy Field so that A could enjoy the spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Finn ran around gleefully and the boys were pretty well behaved. Mark and I are quite shockingly bad at not keeping exacting tabs on Callum and Tobey, and more than once A would ask where Tobey was and I wouldn't know. I think it's because A has a three-year-old and has to be more vigilant about parental monitoring of child locations. Nevertheless, I am sure A raised an inner eyebrow about my parenting skills. But A is a very genial man and easy to get along with. He and Mark hit it off immediately, and when M drove our minivan up the steep acclivity of Lombard so that A could travel down one of the U.S.'s crookedest streets, both Mark and A were white knuckled in the stop-and-go traffic. They bonded. 

At home later on, we fed the boys and got them prepared for a late-night pajama birthday party. We then let them watch a little TV while we drank beer and ate snacks. A was telling us more about his deployment in Afghanistan, which sounded brutal on all counts. And A does autopsies and works with tissue samples and foreign objects in a lab. So he's used to some disgusting stuff.

The boys went off to the party, and A and I drove to dinner. Once in the car, A said "Let's get it all out on the table. I know you hate me, but this is what I did, and this is why I did it." Apparently he was very depressed while in Afghanistan and the stress of being away and feeling in the middle of C and me was too much. Cutting me out was a way to simplify. We talked about how he felt his religious obligations to his parents meant their desires came before mine. I pointed out that when parents ask their adult children to do unethical things, the adult children are not breaking a commandment by refusing to follow the unethical direction. A countered that ideally parents don't ask such things, and I replied that parents are humans, and humans are fallible, so of course they do. I think it struck a nerve.

A told me that when he got back from Afghanistan, T told him that she was horrified about what they'd done to me. She said that they'd never done it to anyone before in all their years together and that they shouldn't do it to me. He sat on this dilemma until I sent him that impassioned text last November, telling him that I knew they all wished I were dead and that they were horrible people for thinking that. I spurred him and C into action, which is a good thing, I suppose. He also told me that he had a long discussion about me with my uncle, C's brother. My uncle apparently wants to meet me and was very curious about my trip to Posey County last summer. B (my uncle) asked A if B would have recognized me in the grocery store. A told him, "Yes, absolutely." It's so weird to hear him say that because in all the pictures I have seen of C, I don't think I look all that much like her. Maybe it's the gestures or body language that intensifies things. Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part. Maybe one day I will find out.

I was of course crying by this point of the evening. A asked if I knew that he loved me. I said that I knew he did before, but that I wasn't so sure anymore. I told him that if I love you, I love you forever. Even if loving you isn't good for me. He said that of course he loves me, and that he always did. I said that I couldn't live with contingent love, and he said that the time of "the horrible ridiculousness" is over. Everyone knows, and there's no secret to be kept. That's a relief. At one point A said, "K, you have such a big heart. It's bigger than your chest." Other people have told me this, but it was something altogether different coming from my brother, someone I love with all I have. I want him to feel that, and it seems that he does.

I continue to see so much of myself in A, including my insecurities. I know that he's taken the walls down. He's asked me if I would edit his personal statement for applications to fellowships [in a heartbeat!]. It is amazing to feel loved and included. On the other hand, A is suffering from an immense load of guilt. I have told him over and over that I have forgiven him; he needs to forgive himself now. He said that it's hard to do. Definitely. And yet he has to absolve himself. I have been where he is, worried that a person you love doesn't love you back to quite the same degree. I find it ironic that my brother is worried that I don't love and respect him

When thinking back over the weekend, it just felt so right. So easy. I can't describe it properly, but there's an intense feeling of connection that is absent from any other relationship I've had. He smells right, even. I could tell he was my brother without input from my rational brain. We know our tribes. Really, we do.