Guesswork

As each year passes, it is painfully clear to me that “You know I never looked for you” 16 years ago also means “I am not interested in knowing you, now, either”, 16 years later.

What I had hoped for was to be recognized, sniffed over and eventually welcomed, embraced and included. What happened was shame. Shame from my conception, I’m guesing it was not mutual or consented and rife with pain and anger. Shame of my birthmother hiding a baby she gave away; shame for not telling her kept children who arrived a few years after I was made to disappear; shame for revealing her secret to them in their 30’s and 20’s. And shame on me for looking for them – I should have been content with the family who chose me, not the one who “dumped me at the hospital and never took a second look.” That comment, a venemous spew years ago from my adoptive mother, who was ever-threatened by the possibility of me looking for my biological family, especially the mother; in her eyes, maybe a better mother. It frightened her, heightned her insecurities, of which there were already many.

As as a child, I could not understood why my wanting to know who I was or where I came from scared her; as an adult, I get it: If I found my real mother, I might learn my adoptive mother wasn’t doing such a great job and I’d leave, rejecting her as a mother, woman, caregiver, in lieu of a complete stranger who was literally a natural fit to my needs and quirks. We both knew I wasn’t hers and she didn’t want to suffer that confirmation. But, I did.

I wanted confirmation of belonging to other people. People who looked like me, sounded like me, processed the world like me. So many missing pieces and gaps left wide open for interpretation. It is exhausting, trying to guess who you are when there is no one to mirror or usher you there, to your Self.

Every holiday that passes, unless I reach out to her, I do not hear from my firstmother. I am not really here or important, to her. There are no just-catching-up phone calls for no reason, no meaningful contact events. When my adoptive mother died in August this summer, there were no condolences in any form from any member of my first family. Instead, my firstmother sent me obscure, unrelated Instagram messages, re-posts about Black Lives Matter protests, civil unrest and social protesting, and textile art – a shared interest. Not a word of sympathy, no acknowledgement at all.

“I’m sorry you lost your mother” or “I’m sorry your mother is gone” – twice, right? It might be difficult and ironic to say. Once at birth, again at 56. Two women on different paths who happened to converge at the common point of a baby in limbo.

I am still in limbo. Limbo has no backbone, no direction, no form. Not wanting to overstep my welcome – which has no definitive outline or boundary, I’m always guessing what’s acceptable and what could be too much. Not wanting to just walk away – I have no idea if they want to know me or not. I never hear from them. Some days, it feels as if they would rather not know me because I was never meant to be known; I was meant to be kept a secret but finding my firstmother dashed that plan.

My whole life has been spent waiting. Holding breath for someone to say there will be more air.

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