One of the struggles that I see with birth-moms who openly share their experience (including me) is that they risk having it become their only identity.
About 5 years ago I started openly sharing my adoption experience. It is a story of faith – and like many other adoption experiences it is very amazing and very spiritual. Oftentimes when people hear these tender stories, their hearts are touched. They cannot help but express love and appreciation toward the birth-mom. This is a beautiful thing and I absolutely love sharing these special moments with people.
So here is where it gets challenging… I feel like I am SO MUCH MORE than my adoption experience. That was just one part of my story…. my story started long before and lasted long after. The pregnancy was a side-note to the struggles of low self-worth and depression and many other things.
Adoption stories are powerful and miraculous… and those that hear them cannot help but feel the magnitude of that level of sacrifice. Tears are often shed.
This is what happens when I share my story – especially because it wasn't the traditional adoption where the placement happened at birth. People stop. They cry. And tell me that I must share my story with the world – and I agree.
However, there is a part of me that is screaming inside. I want to share the WHOLE story!! Not just this portion. I have an entire journey and there are many miracles along the way. I am very proud and happy to be a birth-mom (so are many others). Yet many of us are tired of that label being the ONLY one used to DEFINE who we are.
We are SO much more. All of our adoption stories are unique and special – and that is because each of us are unique and special.
I am bursting at the seams and every time I want to talk about other experiences in life, a perpetual lid is placed upon me… shoving my message down. It wants to come out… there is this explosive energy inside just waiting and wanting to be released… a powerful message that includes ALL of life experiences.
I put the lid on myself and allow others to put a lid on me, too. Right here and right now – I am unscrewing this 'stuck' lid. And I am tossing it aside. Never more will that lid be put upon me… The contents will be spilling out… so LOOK OUT WORLD, HERE I COME!!
Have you ever felt like your actions defined your worth? Have you ever placed judgments on yourself that hold you back? Do you allow others to do this? Do you have a message that wants to be shared?
As I have been working on my adoption book, I have been really thinking about the choices we make and what truly changes us in the direction we WANT our life to go.
During my pregnancy and the adoption process I was on a spiritual high. In fact, I think God was literally carrying me during that time in my life. I felt so hopeful about my future. I knew what it felt like to be on the wrong path and I was so determined to choose differently. I was excited to get back to life and make good choices… find my true love… find new friends… get an college education… and do whatever else.
When I went to college I was excited to shed my old reputation and start over. Unfortunately, this wasn't the way it happened. I felt completely lost… I didn't want to fit in with the old crowd… I didn't fit in with the 'goody-goody' kids… I didn't care about the small and trivial things most 18 year olds worry about because I was dealing with something much greater. I didn't feel like anyone could understand me. I found myself drawn to people like me… people who had experienced pain in life but had a desire to do better. Needless to say, most of those people brought me further down and farther away from my goals and dreams.
At this time, I met my husband. He had also placed a child for adoption less than a year before and I felt completely connected to him. We married a short 4 months after meeting. I thought getting married and out of the single, dating, horrible college life was the answer to me living a better life.
For the next 8 years I found myself still struggling with meeting my goals. I went inactive in my church for a few years, I struggled with self worth and depression, and my marriage had some ups and downs. He also struggled with some of the same issues and it eventually ruined the marriage. Two unhappy people do not equal happiness.
After that point, life reached an all-time low. One time as I sat reflecting on the life I wanted to live I wrote a list of things that I wanted to improve in life.
The list included things like:
- Pray every day
- Daily Scripture study
- Stop swearing
- Go to Church
- Talk nice to myself
- Pay Tithing
- and the list goes on and on
I then put the list in my journal and forgot about it. Then about 4 years ago I found the paper and opened it up. I was SHOCKED to see that I was now easily doing almost everything on the list.
It wasn't one BIG decision to change me into a better person that worked… it was the little choices that I made minute by minute, day by day, month by month, that eventually added up to the GREAT change in my life.
So often I see birthmothers feel lost after they are trying to get back into life. They have felt the spirit so strong… they have made huge wonderful goals… but then reality kicks in and they don't know how to achieve the life they want. This is such a hard place in life – we need to give ourselves love, kindness, support, forgiveness, and patience in order to pick ourselves up when we fall – so we can eventually climb to where we want to be.
Several years ago I learned about the term "displaced grieving" and now so many experiences FINALLY made sense to me. Here is the definition: When you experience something painful or traumatic, then the grief and pain for that experience can manifest in a different experience you may have in the future.
Let me tell you about the first time this happened to me.
About a year or so after placement, my husband and I decided to adopt a dog. His name was Copper. We found him at the pound and he was the cutest thing ever! We couldn't resist him! He was some kind of beagle/chihuahua mix. He had the beagle coloring and long ears (one stood up straight and one flopped down) but he was petite like a chihuahua. We loved him SO MUCH!
Because we were a poor, newlywed couple, both of us needed to work. We initially let him stay in the house – but then he would destroy it while we were gone. So then we let him play in the backyard while we were gone. But then we discovered he was a master escape artist. We were constantly saving him from the pound (and paying the fee) and it was getting expensive. We tried a leash, chain, etc. but I swear he was a magician! Neighbors told us that they saw him climbing a fence and balancing on it like a cat, jumping onto the roof of a shed and climb down a tree!!
Nothing we did could keep him contained. The day finally came when we realized he needed different owners… someone who could devote a whole lot of time and money to him. We knew we needed to take him back. I really struggled when I took him in. I couldn't stop crying… in fact, people looked at me strangely for how intense my sobs were.
My husband didn't understand why I was having such a hard time. The crying continued for days. It was grief from the very core of my being. Even I wondered what the heck was going on with me. FINALLY, it hit me! My husband was asking me why I was having such a hard time about taking Copper back and I made the comment "I don't know, but this hurts almost more than when I placed my son." DING!!!
I finally realized that this grief and pain that I was feeling was not all because of the dog!! It was hidden grief about my son that I had placed! I have had several other experiences that fall into the displaced grieving category… so I will write more later.
Do you see what I mean? There is no set rule to grieving and healing… everyone's experience is so different! And that is why we should love and support each other NO matter what we are going through.
Have you had any painful experiences that didn't make 'sense'? Have you noticed a time when you overreacted to something because it reminded you of something else?