I have been thinking about mistakes rather frequently of late, of my own and of others.
In terms of my own, I have been recounting some of my life to C, the good, bad, and the ugly. She has been so warm and kind about all the warts, and tells me to forgive myself. I told her about my broken engagement back from my early 20's, something I am not at all proud of. It was a time when I very badly hurt someone I loved, and in retrospect, I might have done things extremely differently. She agreed, and in my telling of the beginning of the whole sordid story, her first response was so funny, and so like my own, that I wanted to go through the phone and hug her. "But you weren't really related, so what was the big deal?"I loved that she understood, without the parental raising of eyebrows and the judgment. Sigh.
And then I had an adoptee moment a few weeks back when I lost it for a moment and thought that someone I loved was pushing me away and letting me down. I jumped into survival mode, attack mode, "you don't love me," and away we went. On the one hand, I had to say something. On the other hand, it's hard for me to disentangle my emotions from the rationality when I feel that my core is being threatened, especially by someone I so desperately love. If it's someone I don't care about, pffft. I can walk, or be snarky, or find some outlet that doesn't eat away at me or the person involved--usually. But those closest to me know what it's like to be subject to the eruption of my anger. It's fast and cruel. It burns up quickly, however, and usually I am over it in an hour or two, a day or two max, and then I am back to my sunny self. Thankfully, we worked through it and are moving forward. I am glad 1. that I was able to speak out, because it *is* hard for me, even when I do it not quite in the way I wish and 2. that he stuck with me, even though I know it drove him around the bend and he hates conflict. In retrospect I *know* I was testing him. I want to be important and loved, and sometimes I fear that I am not loved in the way I want to be loved. I just have to have faith. As Mark says, it takes time to get to know me and my foibles (I know I can be intimidating/irritating), and if a person is willing to stick around, that means a great deal. Actions mean so much more to me than words. Show me you love me; I always try to back up my words with actions! We will see what happens now.
I don't harbor grudges, really, but, to quote the good Jane Austen, speaking through Mr. Darcy, "My good opinion once lost, is lost forever." By that I mean I don't give people free passes to treat me like shit, and in adoptoland, there's been more than enough anonymous adoptee baiting. I also cannot sit back and smile and be excited by people who pat themselves on the back felicitously about having made brilliant decisions for themselves, involving placing their children, while they tacitly expect their children to react with the same felicitousness about their decision.
Why do people not understand that adoptees, as children, are acted UPON? We have no say in what goes on in the adult world around us. As grownups, we may look back and think that everything that happened might have been for the good of the adults involved, for certain, but still think that it had long-lasting ill effects for *us*. I am tired, so very tired, of adults writing about themselves and not being able to step, for a moment, out of their shoes and their experiences to think what it might be like for a child to live a life governed by what they did. That their choices made a rift in history immensely profound for that child. And yes, some children really, really, really may think, "Wow! I am so happy that I was placed on this path! Wow! I cannot imagine having been raised by my first parents AT ALL. Wow! This is the only possible path for me." I have met people like that. I won't argue with you. But so many of these adults writing seem so cocksure about what is *right* that I have lost faith in humanity for once and for all. Perhaps it is the subset of people writing where I read. Perhaps it is simply my cold, hard heart. But I weep for the children who have to deal with this lack of compassion, this lack of ability to admit that mistakes are possible, that other people's feelings come into play.
People argue that adoptees don't understand that adoption involves both positive and negative aspects. Duh!?! Whose life is completely black and white? Ever hear of grey?
People who say, "But *I* didn't want to parent!" and know they didn't want to parent. Fine. Good thing you didn't. Still doesn't mean that your child won't wonder what it would have been like to have been raised by you, or struggle to reconcile placement with rejection. You can tell your child it wasn't rejection until the cows come home, but it may still *feel* like abandonment. "Why *wasn't* I good enough to keep?"
Being rejected by a parent in childhood is a shitty thing, pretty much one of the shittiest things a person can live with in his or her life. As children, we don't have the emotional tools to understand the hows and whys, and it takes a very long time, sometimes forever, to get over it.
I suppose I try to understand the bravado and the ambivalence and the coping mechanisms of the first parents in all this; giving up/placing/surrendering a child must be a horrific thing. I can't speak to the emotional impact on them because I didn't do that deed. I couldn't even begin to think of it, and thankfully never had to.
But as an adoptee, the offhand comments, the iciness, the lack of compassion, the snarkiness and brutality of some people, APs and first parents both, seem so ridiculous. Aren't they adults? Aren't they parents? And yet the feelings of the children, when brought up, are brushed off, even laughed at, especially when adult adoptees suggest that there is an issue. I become so tired.
I read on a blog today, in the comments somewhere, that it's a terrible shame that some parents suck so badly that they yell at their kids in Target, when there are so many infertile people who deserve kids so much MORE. I sometimes yell at my kids in Target, so I guess that makes me an unfit mother. I suppose I had better report myself as an unfit mother and put my kids on a list for adoption for more worthy parents, but my boys would probably immediately be diagnosed with RAD and drugged because they'd want me back. Which would be so WRONG. Because they can't be attached to me; there's no emotional or biological connection, even after all these years. Anyone who can pay for it deserves it MORE. It doesn't matter that I am married; have my degrees and my job; it's the craving that trumps it all? Really? Yes, I am being snarky, but I am fed up with entitlement.
My children are treasures, and I wouldn't trade them for the world. I love that they look like me and have inherited looks and intelligence and sports skills and gestures and facility for languages from me, and that I can see myself in them. I love that I am learning more all the time about how much I am like my fmom and brother. I love how I am like my amom and adad. I am a complicated mix of influences, and I am grateful to have the respect of all the people in my life who understand how difficult this is for me to unravel (as I try to understand how it is for them).
Rather than becoming rigid and posturing when mistakes or contradictions are pointed out, could more parents perhaps admit those mistakes? Just maybe?