I was used to living with narratives because my own mother lived her life creating them.
While I attended grade school there would always be the question posed, what nationality are you? I couldn’t answer and would be left disclosing that I was adopted. Then the barrage of questions that would follow. You don’t know how much you weighed or when you were born or anything? The conversation would always end the same way, “wow, you really are an orphan”!
I was getting ready to do my adoption search and sat down with mom and dad to see how they felt about it. My father’s reply was that he was surprised that I had waited as long as I did, and my mother supported my decision.
I did most of the work myself and when I finally had gotten stuck I used the organization, Adoptees Liberty Movement who helped me the rest of the way. With every bit of information I found, I would report back to mom and dad so they didn’t feel left out of the process.
I was sitting in the living room with mom giving her the latest update as she hung on every word I spoke. She was interested too because when the adoption agency wanted to give her what little information they did have, she didn’t want to know. I can understand her decision but that left me with nothing other than the knowledge that both of my birth parents were deceased.
Soon there was a knock on the door and mom went to answer it. My cousin entered and as excitement filled me, it was soon dashed as mom suddenly broke down in tears crying to my cousin that I was doing an adoption search and I was abandoning the family to look for my “real family” exclaiming how hurt she was.
I sat stunned to see such a display of dishonesty. I had been betrayed once again by the woman who had pretended to be so supportive. This scenario played out my entire life. Anything I said or did was corrupted and used against me and reported to my older cousins, aunts, and uncles. After all, I was the scapegoat.
When I began my journey of healing I never expected that I would be listening to my mother’s narratives’ almost 10 years after her death. A cousin told me in a Facebook call that I had abandoned the family when I had done my adoption search. As I tried to stand up for myself I was harshly scolded and told that I knew it was true.
No, this wasn’t my truth as over the years so many things were twisted up by my mother to use to her advantage.
Still, to this day I am told what a Saint my mother was and as I got older that phrase had become harder and harder to swallow because that is not what I experienced.
As soon as the company left, and the door was closed she turned back into the mom that I knew. Her voice sounded like nails running down a chalkboard. When she would hug me, I repelled because it would throw me so off balance. She was a monstrous person one minute and the next she was loving and trying to show affection. It was all so very confusing!
To me being adopted didn’t make me special, it meant that I was different. So different in fact that when mother would introduce me to people when I was young they would tell mom, your daughter is so beautiful, she looks just like you! Mom’s constant reply, “oh, she was adopted”. I would watch as she would leave people speechless over the years and I know exactly how they felt.
Brother and I got it from all directions and the message was always the same. We would be told how lucky we were that we were adopted by such loving parents, yet we were ostracized by those closest to us.
As very young children brother and I would never know what to expect when mom would have one of her episodes and there were plenty of them.
Mom would tell the story of when she tried to kill herself with her baby daughter in her arms jumping in front of a bus. She described the incident as a nervous breakdown, but the behavior continued with brother and me.
Dad would be at work and mom, brother and I would be in the car going to the grocery store and mom would step on the gas pedal and tell us she was going to kill us all as we screamed, pleading for our lives through tears for her to stop.
This scenario would play out into our teenage years. It was so frightening that we never told our dad. We feared that if we did, things would escalate. Little did we know that our silence left us even more vulnerable.
It took me a very long time to write about my mother. I have had so much bottled up over the years and trying to heal my old wounds means starting from the beginning.
Mom had many good qualities but those were always saved for others. I would have done anything to be able to fall into the arms of a mother that loved me that I could trust and tell all my secrets to. To call and share my troubles and the injustices of the world.
When mother was dying of pancreatic cancer I was by her side helping father take care of her the last weeks of her life. I would reach out to a few cousins to gain a bit of emotional support. Dad and I were exhausted as we alternated 3-hour shifts to make sure she had the pain medication that she needed. I slept in a bed underneath her room. I listened to every breath she struggled for and many times holding my breath waiting for her to take her next.
I received a call from one cousin who during the conversation told me “I know you were never close to your mother”. At that moment I was stung beyond belief. For years I had tried to become close with her, but I could only get as close as she would allow.
I loved my mother desperately wishing she would someday become the mother I needed, to gain some sort of acceptance from her. After all, she was so good to everyone else in her life.
As I sit here pecking away at my keyboard I am reminded of the incredible hurt I carried most of my life. The jealousy I felt when I watched mom’s relationships with others because I never experienced that, and it was always my fault. I was the rebellious child, the spoiled one, and the liar. What was it that made me so unlovable? I lived in a world that was so lonely and confusion followed me with every flick of my mother’s tongue.
Yes, I loved my mother so much, but in loving her, not understanding why she displayed such an indifference to me left me limping into my adult life. It took me until now in the place that I am that I have found the truth. It wasn’t me, it was never about me. It was her own shortcomings that brought her to this place.
It was a horrible burden for such a little girl whose shoulders were not even wide enough to hold up the straps of her dresses.