So, this morning as I was getting ready to hop in the shower, I glanced at myself in the mirror and noticed the shape of my lips. Random, I know and seemingly innocuous. They’re soft, plump and sensual. I got blessed in that department. Why am I bringing this up? Because it made me think of my birth mother. I have her lips. I never knew that until 2 years ago, so now, sometimes I’ll catch a glimpse of a feature I possess and it jerks my memory back to her. Back to the short time I spent getting to know her. Back to when I was learning about her past and accidentally reunited her with my birth father. I remember the raspy quality of her voice that I loved from our first phone conversation. I remember the angle of her chin, texture of her hair, shape of her eyes, curve of her eyebrow. All these she passed on to me. I am physically beautiful because of her.
I was struck this morning by how impactful being able to say, ‘oh yeah, my lips are shaped like this because hers are. Almost like a heart.’ This is something I was never able to do for the first 34 years of my life. And now, it’s a 2 year old habit and I’m always punched in the gut by remembering her. Am I bowled over because the memories of her are too near and raw? Or is it because I’m so eternally grateful to even have the information that she was able to give me? Or, most likely, it’s all because I’m still really hurt, confused and left wanting more about the entire scenario.
I had a wicked, whopping dream about my birth parents last week. In it, I had dinner with my mother, father (I love when my dad visits me in dreams, it’s like he’s sweetly reminding me that he’s around) and birth father. My birth father and I left in my car, with me driving. The road was pitch black, curvy as fuck, with hills as steep as a roller coaster. We were driving fast and the inclines were making my stomach flip again and again. I was terrified that we were going to crash. But, we arrived safely at my childhood friends’ house who lived a few doors down from where my mother lives now.
My birth father and I sat on the lawn, talking and that’s when my birth mother arrived. She looked a lot older than I remembered, more shriveled. She walked over to my birth father, put her arm around his waist and said, ‘you know I’ve been with him this whole time, don’t you?’
I said, ‘Yes, I know. Did you know that as soon as you guys left me my mother got sick with cancer and had to have a stem cell transplant and I became her caretaker for almost a year? I didn’t tell you because you both broke my heart when you chose each other over me.‘ She seemed surprised when I told her all this and turned to embrace my birth father. In the dream I felt triumphant – eager even – at the hope of upsetting her. I felt desperate in my need to make them (mainly her) feel as hurt, lost, confused and awful as I have over the last few years. I walked away from them without another word. That’s all I remember.
I woke up feeling triggered and a little ashamed of how much I needed to upset her in the dream. Am I really carrying my emotions about her like that? Do I really want to punish her somehow for abandoning me not once, but twice? Was it truly abandonment at all? When I was born, no. I don’t believe it was at all; she was a 15 year old kid who made a really, really difficult decision. And honestly, I didn’t feel abandoned growing up at all. I mostly felt like there was a hole inside me and that I would never find a true identity. I always felt outside. Apart. Separate.
And now that I know where my eye color and smile lines and eyebrows come from I feel less separate. I don’t walk around without identity anymore. I have far more insight into who I am because of meeting her – that whole nature vs. nurture argument is very valid. However, now I feel abandoned. It took me 34 years to muster the courage and strength to decide to find my birth parents. And once I opened the door it only took me about a month to locate them and make contact. One month versus 34 years. To say I was overwhelmed is the understatement of my life.
I fell completely in love with the idea of her (I only say ‘her’ because she held the most influence in my mind…she was the one that carried me for 9 months and was torn open to give me life. She was the one who held me for an hour and then put me into the hands of strangers, not him). The possibility I felt she offered me was more powerful than I realized. I believed she held the key to allowing me to feel whole. I got lost in the utter romantic, full circle power of that ideal and began to put her into a box that she really didn’t fit into (pattern repeated perhaps?). I also didn’t emote as clearly and efficiently as I normally do. I wanted what she represented to me so badly. Patience and purposeful perception be damned. I’m pretty sure we vomited all over each other emotionally from the first minute.
And then it got to be too much for her. She fell back in love with my birth father (I’m the one who got them back in touch, for the record) and couldn’t handle him and me at the same time. I am fairly confident that she felt I was coming between them. Again. In 1980 I was the baby that split them up. They were forced apart by their families and never spoke again until I reappeared, 34 years later. To be fair, I cannot fucking imagine how overwhelmed she must have been. I remember her constant tears and her perpetual gratitude saying, ‘my daughter, oh my God, my daughter’ over and over and over again.
We had a 5 month run where we talked almost daily and spent time together once a week. Then it all came to a head with some misunderstandings, miscommunications, hateful texts and a 4 hour in person conversation/argument that I still haven’t recovered from. That was in March of 2015…one month shy of my mother’s diagnosis…and I haven’t heard a peep from either of them. And vice versa.
I’m lucky to be able to say I met her. I’m grateful I know why my mouth is shaped the way it is. I’m entranced by knowing that my birth mother has blue eyes, my birth father has hazel and that’s why mine are more green. I’m insanely happy to know that I have 1 half sister on my birth fathers’ side and 3 half brothers on my birth mothers’ side. I’m elated to know where I came from. Finally.
But, like many things in my life (and I’m sure everyone else’s) this reality comes with a few drops of sadness. It’s never what we expect it should be, but always what it needs to be.