Monday, October 13, 2014

If I Could Be Happy, I Would.

I had a "friend" recently tell me that I need to "snap out of this depression" I'm in. Wouldn't it be nice if we - those of us suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, what have you - could just "snap out of it"? Not only was it one of the most insensitive things I've ever heard, it actually enraged me. I told them, "If I could be happier, don't you think I would?"
Anger is no stranger to me. It's always there, even when I don't realize it. Something as simple as my cat snoring next to me, distracting me while I'm trying to focus on a paper for school is enough to make smoke come out of my ears. It just builds and builds inside of me, but unlike a volcano, it never erupts. I'm actually waiting for the moment where it all comes to a head and I snap. But I haven't yet. And I don't think I will. It's hard to describe feeling claustrophobic inside your own body and mind.
I've always held the fact that no, I'm not suicidal, as if it were a badge of honor on my chest. I've been through more than some could handle, and I'm still here. Whenever I meet a new doctor or therapist and that question comes up in the first session, I've always been happy to honestly say "no," and actually mean it. I don't have thoughts of seriously jumping in front of a train or swallowing an entire bottle of pills at once. I don't want to die; death terrifies me. Who knows what actually happens when we die? Does life just go on as it is now, only in space, forever and ever and ever? An eternity of feeling the way I do now? No thank you.
Recently, though, I've come to realize that I need to address something that's been there for years (and I mean YEARS. Going through the adoption process might've brought these issues to light, but it certainly did not create them. I've been this way since I was probably twelve or thirteen.), but I've ignored. Or I've talked about it lightly. I actually am killing myself. Slowly. After I had (and placed) my daughter, I felt like I had no one. While that's not true, it's still how i felt. No one was there for me the way I thought I needed them to be, and no one...try as they might...could understand. I wanted to talk to someone all day, but I didn't want to talk to anyone at all. I wanted someone to hold me and be there for me, but I wanted to be alone, isolated in my bedroom. I wanted someone to ask how I was, and I wanted to throw my phone across the room when someone texted me to check on me. But then there was food. I didn't need to get dressed and put makeup on and brush my hair to eat. I didn't need to shower to eat. I didn't need to make actual plans; food was always there waiting. And if I didn't feel like cooking, well, most restaurants these days do carry-out orders.
I became that girl who stayed inside and literally ate her feelings. I became that girl who could eat a small cheese pizza all by herself...three nights a week. When I was sad, I ate. Then, because I ate an entire two-course meal in one sitting in my bed, I felt sad all over again. Guilty. I was so secretive. If I throw away all of the trash or packaging, no one will know what I do. No one will know I cancel plans to stay in my bedroom and eat an obscene amount of food that I would never actually eat in front of people. After I had my daughter, I lost more weight than I had gained during the pregnancy. I was smaller than I was before becoming pregnant. Now, slowly but surely, I've become bigger than I was when I was pregnant. I'm miserable. I'm making myself miserable. I may not be suicidal, but this behavior is killing me.
Now that I've accepted it myself, admitted it, and am talking about it (even though I'm talking to a computer screen), I believe I can start working on it. It will take time. It took time to get to this point and it will take time to get back to where I know I need to be. I want to be healthy. I want to be here on this earth the day my child decides she wants to see me again. And I don't want to be on medication for high cholesterol, diabetes, or heart disease. Or any other illness that comes about when you eat the way I have eaten for the past three +/- years. I might need help, but I'm too proud and simultaneously self-conscious to ask for help. So I'm giving it a go and hoping that, by putting it out there, I can change.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"The only way out is through. You have to let it in & then let it go"

Lately, it's been a struggle. When it started getting worse, I'm not sure. What triggered it....I'm even less sure. But what I've quickly learned from it is that I don't want to live my life on autopilot anymore. I'm being forced to realize that things have changed SO much, but at the same time, things are still SO much the same.
I don't let negative emotions surface. I just don't. I feel them lurking around, light as a feather, for days. Sometimes weeks. Then they get a little heavier, like a pebble. That's manageable, right? You can push a feeling that weighs on you with the strength of a tiny pebble down, down, down, until you can't feel it anymore with little to no effort or exertion. But in retrospect, dealing with an emotion or thought with such little emotional weight to it is far easier than dealing with the monster that emotion can turn into if you let it sit there and grow. I feel as if I have small, impulsive thoughts on a regular basis. I'll be sitting at work, and someone with a toddler comes in and without warning and without control, I'll find myself starting to think, "what if that was me and A holding hands and chattering right now?" See, that thought stings. So to avoid the sting, I push the idea out of my mind in mid-thought. I make the pain vanish before even fully feeling it.
I have spent YEARS, years pushing emotions that I felt were undesirable down. I've pushed them so far down that I don't even recognize them anymore. My feelings of sadness, unworthiness, and just plain depression have become so commonplace deep down inside of me that I do not even recognize them anymore. Ignoring something doesn't make it go away. In fact, it just makes it build and build and creates a snowball effect until you have no choice but to look it square in the face. I ignored my feelings of guilt and the hole in my heart and the emptiness in my arms until it turned into something almost tangible.
Lately, I've been held prisoner in my own mind and body. Something almost physically stops me from getting out of bed. It's as if there are invisible restraints on my body, and I'm the one that put them there. I've held myself back from being happy in SO many aspects of my life. I don't know if I'm scared to feel happy or I simply just don't even know how to feel anything anymore. When you become an expert at hiding - or THINKING you're hiding - sad feelings from your own self, it only makes sense that you wouldn't recognize other emotions as readily either.
This isn't a 'pity me' post. Not in the least. This is me realizing that the only way to 'get over' something, is to go through it, as they say. I will never GET OVER my daughter not being with me physically every day. Nothing will ever replace her. Not a degree, not my dream career, not a husband, not 8 more children. Nothing. That fact remains and always will remain. Do I miss her? There are no words that would even dignify that question. I wish she were with me. I wish she called me "Mommy." I wish it was she and I against the world, even if we were against it alone. But I also wish for her to be surrounded with love. I wish for her to be a daddy's girl. I wish for her to not have to watch her mother struggle and wonder where money for her school clothes will come from. There are days I wish I could go back in time and run out of the hospital with her and never look back. Those are the tough days. But when you know something, you know it. I know my daughter is well taken care of and I love her parents for providing her with a life I still, to this day, couldn't dream of providing her with.
I have a choice every morning when I wake up. I can wallow in depression and sadness and ruin the rest of my day - and before I know it, the rest of my years - or I can embrace the fact that I have the rest of my life to live and that I plan to do it to the best of my ability.
Too much of my life for the past three years has been spent being held back by my own mind. I've focused on my shortcomings and punished myself for not knowing then what I know now. NO ONE gets to have a crystal ball. NO ONE knew then what they know now. We only get so much energy in this life, and we only get so much time. I believe in my heart that I did - and am still doing - the best I could for my child, and until the day comes that she tells me otherwise (which I PRAY it never does), I will start there and move forward. It's high time I stop beating myself up over "being a birthmom." I am SO much more than that. I am a woman who has the capability to work through my struggles until I've broken my own chains; I just need to dig deep down and pull the strength out of the rubble inside me.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Home of the Free because of the Brave

Happy Veteran's Day to all those who have served, are serving, and will serve.

The day after I last posted, my Grandpa passed away. He had a very rough two years prior to his passing so while it was a peaceful moment for him, it was hard for those of us left behind. The doctor had warned us that death from renal failure could be "tough to watch," as in the patient's body can swell up, they may be in pain, thrashing, etc. But for my Grandpa, it was the opposite. If you recall in my last post, I wrote about how he was too weak to even eat or drink so the doctors ordered that he did not have any food or beverages. After two and a half days of that, needless to say, he was starving. My mom finally caved and gave him a sandwich. He ate it and was happier than ever. Oddly, he had been very sleepy and listless on Thursday and Friday, and we didn't expect him to live through the night on either of those days. But on Saturday, the day he got to eat lunch, he was full of life and talkative. We were shocked...and thought he might be well enough to go back to the nursing home for his final days rather than staying in the hospital. Anyhow, my mother gave him the sandwich and after eating it, he fell asleep.  He never woke up. About two hours into his nap, he just stopped snoring. If he had to go, I can't think of a more peaceful way. He had a full belly (his favorite thing) and took a nap (his second favorite thing). No pain, no gasping for air, nothing but peace.

His wake was the following Tuesday, and I had a hard time with it. Everyone else around me seemed to be keeping their composure, but I just couldn't. I cried from the second we walked in until the second we walked out. It was so difficult because he only had two children; my mom and my uncle, and one grandchild, me. So we stood in the line by his casket and with each person that gave their condolences to me, I cried all over again. Then I spotted my daughter's preschool portrait on the mantle alongside my graduation photo and some pictures of my grandfather as a child, and I lost it. I didn't put the photo there. I was so honored that someone decided her picture should be included as well. She was also listed in his obituary, which meant the world to me. He would have wanted it that way. After all, while he only got to meet her once, he was still her great-grandfather and he loved that little girl to pieces.

The sky on the way to the funeral. I don't usually believe in "signs," but I sure felt like the sun rays were my Grandpa saying hello.
Beautiful ceremony.
I took a drive back to the cemetery yesterday to wish him an early Happy Veteran's Day. This was the sky on my way down the second time. More sun rays...hi, Grandpa. (Sorry about the very unsightly electrical wires. I was driving!) Right as I took the photo, a flock of birds came out of nowhere in the top center/left. Thought it looked pretty. 


Volunteers placed over 50,000 American Flags on each of the graves, as well as outlining the columbariums.

"And when he gets to heaven, Saint Peter he will tell, 'one more Marine reporting, sir. I've served my time in hell.'"

The Avenue of Flags on the way in to the cemetery

He was cremated and buried in the Massachusetts National Cemetery which was where he wanted to be laid to rest. He was a Sargent in the US Marines during the Korean War. You would never have known this for years and years...he was very modest about his time served. However, within the past two or three years, he became extremely proud. He had his Marines pins on all of his shirts, and he wore his "Korean War 60th Anniversary" hat every single day since going into the nursing home. We had the hat cremated with him. The service was absolutely beautiful and chilling. There were three active duty Marines present...two to hold the flag, and one to play the Taps. I was able to get a great photo of one of the Marines handing the folded flag to my uncle. I haven't looked at it since that day, I just can't yet. But I'm very happy to have it. It was a hard day, but an amazing tribute to him. After coming back home, I really sat down and thought about how the day of the funeral service was the same day that I went into labor three years ago. It put me in a bit of a funk, which I've yet to snap out of. But October and November are always a little tough. I navigate through those two months like I'm wading in quicksand. Hopefully one day, it'll get a little easier. Speaking of, I will post about her birthday later!

So, again, Happy Veteran's Day to those who were brave enough to risk and sacrifice their lives for the freedom of our country.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Good & The Bad

I always sit down to write, but rarely do I ever know where to start. I am a broken record each and every fall; specifically, October. Such a bittersweet month. Six years ago this month I fell in love. Love that wasn't meant to last and ultimately didn't. But that doesn't stop me from remembering most of it like it was yesterday. Three years ago this month I made the choice to find out the sex of the baby I was carrying. I looked through books of hopeful parents with my unborn child's father. I met with the people who, almost three years later, are lovingly raising that child into an intelligent, polite, curious little girl. I remember every day of the month of October 2010 as if it were yesterday. I wonder when those memories will fade....yet, I don't want them to. It stings every day when I'm at work and realize what the date is. See, I have to talk about the date all the time. Being a receptionist entails scheduling appointments upon appointments. October 12. October 15. October 19. October 28 (one of the worst. Due date). October 31. Oh, don't even get me started on November.  We are having a work party for someone who has been with the practice forever and is leaving next month. I was so excited to go (I just started this job less than a month ago, and was looking forward to getting more acquainted with everyone) until I asked what day it was. "November 2nd." OH, SCRATCH THAT. Yes, I could go. But I don't want to make any commitments on her birthday. Her third birthday.

You might remember me mentioning here that my grandfather has been very ill for quite some time. He has survived by going to dialysis four days a week for five hour stretches at a time, and lives in a nursing home. This is a drastic change for a man who still has all of his wits about him and used to travel and enjoy life.  I had thought about asking A's mom to bring her by to meet him two summers ago, when she was 8 or 9 months old, because that is when he started getting really sick and that's when I finally told him about her. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't tell him up until that point, but that's water under the bridge now. Nothing I can do to change that. I was afraid of what he would think, and I let that fear control a lot of my actions while I was pregnant. I focused too much on what her father said, which was that my family was "racist" anyway and wouldn't want to meet her. Couldn't have been further from the truth, however. He asked me each and every single time I saw him (a few times weekly) how she was doing, or told me how beautiful she was in the photos I showed him, or told me how much he saw me in her. Anyhow, I never asked, because I thought it was a very far-fetched request.

Fast forward to this past September. My grandfather was talking about how he didn't really have much to live for anymore and thought he might discontinue going to dialysis. In all reality it was the sole thing keeping him alive, and it was keeping him alive so he could go "home" to four boring walls in a nursing home. None of us blamed him, and we told him that if he was ready to stop and understood the consquences, no one would try to force their opinions on him.  He mentioned, again, that he had accomplished all he wanted to accomplish in life...except for meeting my daughter, his great-granddaughter.

I asked a friend - whose opinion I highly value - what she thought about me asking C if there was any chance that my grandpa could meet A in the near future, as his time was unfortunately short. She told me to go for it, but don't get my hopes up. So, I asked. I asked and I received. She wrote back within the hour asking if I could give her a day to think about it. Of course, I said. She wrote back a day or two later and said that she would be more than happy to bring A to his nursing home so he could spend time with her.  I can't even write this without the tears flowing.  We mutually agreed that I wouldn't be there - it would be just about her and my grandpa. We have an open adoption in every sense of the word, but we don't have in-person visits. So I didn't expect one. I wasn't trying to manipulate her into coming so I could see my daughter. She was 100% honest and said she wasn't sure if she was ready for me to see her again in person and felt that I might not be ready either, and to be honest, she was right. As much as I would LOVE to see my daughter, I would want to see her and never leave her again. Had I been there, it would have been about me, not him. I would have lost it when they walked away. I know I would have. So it was decided that she would go alone.

I still haven't wrapped my head around the miracle that she made happen. She drove an hour to visit a man who could do nothing for her in return, within weeks of saying yes. She made it happen. This was for a man she had never met before and would likely never meet again, just because she believes in family and roots and wanted him to be able to meet the child of his only grandchild.

She emailed me photos that very same evening. You can see the love in his eyes, and she warmed right up to him. She told me all about the visit; but my grandfather's version was much, much more heart-touching. I went to see him the next day, and he told me every detail that he could remember. He told me he was "simply amazed" by her and how smart and beautiful she was.  He said when she walked in, she said "I'm ____, your great granddaughter." How could I hear that and not burst into tears? He told me she was a little shy at first, but then she warmed right up to him and even walked him to lunch and pulled up a chair beside him. He was over the moon because of one simple gesture: she asked him to hold on to her stuffed bunny (the one she has slept with since she was an infant). He said "that's something, you know. That's really something...that she trusted don't give their most treasured belongings to just anyone." He was so, so proud of her, and just as proud of me. This was literally his dream come true. His "last wish." And to think, it was all because I had the courage to ask, and her mom has a heart big enough to see how important this was not only to my grandpa, but to my whole family.

I am the first to admit I have sometimes gotten frustrated with the waiting. With the promises to send photos on a certain day and then they don't come and I am heartbroken. But this was a huge, huge moment for me. This made me look at the big picture. No matter how late the pictures are, they still come...and she does care. I will never be able to put into words what this meant to me. I have a whole new level of respect for her and as hard as it is, still, to this day - I have been reassured sevenfold that I chose the right parents for my beautiful daughter. I didn't need her to prove it, I already knew it and felt it in my heart. But the fact that she went above and beyond in this way has spoken volumes to me.

And as if that wasn't amazing enough, in one of her emails to me about the visit, she said that my grandfather was an absolute delight and that she would be happy to bring A back to visit him again if time permitted. She volunteered to come back! And scheduled it for the 8th of November. Just shy of a week after her 3rd birthday.

Sad to say, though... I don't think my grandpa will get to see her again. He took a turn for the worst yesterday morning, and his body is too weak not only for dialysis, but even for food and drink. He chokes on everything he tries to swallow. Doctors have said that they have done all possible for him, and from here on out, we are just taking measures to keep him as comfortable as possible. He's been moved to a private room in the hospital with no commotion, no machines. Just him and us - his family. I knew this day was coming, but I'm still not prepared.

I'm heartbroken that there is an opportunity present for him to spend more time with his great-grandchild, and he won't be able to do it. But at the end of the day, I am still floored that he got to spend the hour + that he did with her on September 20th. Something he never thought would happen in his wildest dreams, happened. A little girl who he so desperately wanted to know and spend time with, introduced herself to him and hugged him.  He has been declining for over two years now. I am not sure it's a coincidence that he was sick all that time and has reached the inevitable "end" less than a month after meeting her. I'm not the most faithful person, but I do believe in fate, and part of me wonders if somewhere, deep down, he was waiting for her. His wish came true, and I owe it all to her adoptive mom. I will be forever indebted to her for that; but when I told her that, she said the same back to me. We have both done something immeasurable for the other (although I see my adoption as giving them to my daughter, not the other way around).

So with tears in my eyes, it's time for bed. Tears of happiness for the beautiful visit, and tears of sadness for my grandpa who is not long for this earth now. I'm lucky to have had my grandpa for 25 years. Some people aren't as fortunate...and I consider myself fortunate for that and for the fact that I can see, clear as day, my daughter running towards him.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

But Know That You're Here in My Heart, While I'm Out of Your Sight


As always, so much to write about. But today is a day I have been looking forward to for over three months. I'm going to see WICKED tonight!  On the list of people who enjoy musicals, I'm probably last - or very close to the bottom. For whatever reason, though, I have always been drawn to the soundtrack of this show. I've listened to it since high school and now I am finally going to go see it live. I've tried in years past, but I've always researched ticket prices too late and they've been way too expensive. This time, I was sitting at work when I saw a commercial saying that Wicked was coming to the Boston Opera House August 7th - September 15th, and without thinking twice, went online and bought the tickets.

I know I am going to cry! 'For Good' has managed to bring me to tears on more than one occasion in the past few years. I mean, not to mention the fact that their voices are so amazing they give you chills, the lyrics are brilliant. I listen, listen, listen to the words and they bring one person to mind every time: A's birthdad. "I've heard it said, that people come into our lives for a reason; bringing something we must learn and we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them, and we help them in return.... Who can say if I've been changed for the better, but, because I knew you, I have been changed for good."


I'm still navigating my "new" life without my daughter. And she wouldn't be here had it not been for him. There's no doubt that he changed my life forever. And while I will never deny that he did at least do that one good thing for me, I'm not sure yet whether or not I can say he changed my life for the better. My daughter's birth was a wake up call, for sure. A wake up call to love unconditionally, never take anything for granted, and better myself. But until I have learned from the pain I felt from her birthdad, even before A was even thought of, then I can't say that my trust issues and apprehension of almost every man I've met since is a good thing.

Then we have just one line from one of the very first songs in the musical: 'No One Mourns the Wicked.' My sweet baby girl, "but know that you're in my heart, while I'm out of your sight..." Please. Please always know that you are in my heart. Nothing, no person, no amount of time, nothing will ever take you from my heart. You have the biggest corner in there. In fact, you might just be my heart in it's entirety. I could  go on to have 16 more children, and you will hold steady in your spot. I pray that when you are old enough to comprehend...that I will have a spot in yours even when I'm out of your sight too.

I went to get my nails done today in honor of the show (I know, HUGE dork!). I usually will get the Shellac gel, but haven't in a while because a) it's expensive and b) it weakens your nails. So I've been taking a break from it and just painting my nails myself.  There's a nail salon in my town that I have been going to for years. I want to say I have probably been going since 2008 or 2009. They know me pretty well there, and they're all so sweet. I went in for my appointment this morning and the morning kind of unraveled from there. Seated to my right was a very pregnant woman getting a pedicure. I could see her huge belly out of the corner of my eye and was glancing at her every now and then with envy. I could overhear the conversation she was having with the nail lady (who I know has a 6 or 7 year old girl) because they were literally all of three feet away from me. As I'm sitting there, another woman walks in with her daughter who looked to be about four. The little girl was adorable; dressed in a cute little tutu and had a huge bow in her hair. My heart hurt but I couldn't help but smile. When the little girl and her mom walked back outside, the pregnant woman  said "seeing that makes me SO excited to be having a girl. I can't wait to dress her up like that." Ouch. The nail lady just smiled and nodded, and then Pregnant Lady said "what was your favorite age for your little girl?" I tried to daydream about something, anything, to not have to continue hearing this conversation. But no, thanks ears, for always being there for me. The nail lady says "3!" Ouch again. Maybe it hurt to hear because A's 3rd birthday is in a few months, or maybe I was just plain jealous of both of them; the nail lady for being able to witness first-hand the joy, inquisitiveness and major milestones of her three-year-old, or Pregnant Lady for expecting a little girl any day now that she would get to take home from the hospital. Maybe both. I'm aware of how bitter I sound right now. I'm aware that it is neither of their problems and I am, in fact, the one who needs to adjust my emotions. But damn, did that sting.

Then, to pour salt in whatever one of the wounds had opened, this song comes on in the salon:

'Look After You' by The Fray. This has been another song that has always gotten to me, but even more so recently. "If I don't say this now I will surely break, as I'm leaving the one I want to take. Forget the urgency but hurry up and wait, my heart has started to separate" It came out right around the time when A's birthdad and I were becoming more serious. Not that that really has anything to do with it, but it reminds me of that time in my life.

Somehow I tuned that out, only to have this come on next:

"I have died every day waiting for you. Darling, don't be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years. I'll love you for a thousand more."

It was like the universe was testing me to see if I could not cry at 10:00 am in a nail salon. And guess what? I didn't! I remembered that I have something amazing to look forward to tonight, and that's all I needed to help me get through these little tiny tests that I was given this morning. I have to take it one day at a time, and today, I was able to do it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Never Forget the Invisible Mothers

Maybe Mother's Day weekend would be a bit more bearable if it weren't so commercialized. Maybe it would be easier to navigate if every talk show, advertisement, and radio segment wasn't discussing it. I guess in the end it all comes down to the fact that it would be easier if I could hug my baby on Mother's Day. Or if I could do her hair, paint her nails, or color with her on Mother's Day...or any day of the week, really.

The entire "holiday" is such a catch-22 for me - as I can imagine it is for other birth moms (or natural moms, or first moms, or whatever you may refer to yourself as. I personally prefer 'mother,' no adjective or qualifier necessary, but society seems to require an extra word to be able to differentiate). It's hard to be a mom in your heart and be a 25 year old childless woman on the outside. I'm still new to this. This is only my third Mother's Day. And while enjoy a day where I can celebrate motherhood - because, yes, I am still a mother - it's also gut-wrenching to say the least when I can't celebrate it in the way I want to. I can't celebrate it by taking silly pictures with my daughter or hanging her little scribbled pictures up on the wall. Her father isn't going to make me breakfast in bed while I snuggle with her. No, not at all. Granted, for the past two years he's given me a card, but it's far from the same. Mother's Day, like most other holidays as well as her birthday, are beautifully happy as well as painfully sad.

I'm grateful for the chance for this day to mean something to me. In my heart, I know I'm a mother and as tough as life can be sometimes, I thank God every day for her and I'm in awe that I am a part of her, as she is a part of me. What did I do to deserve playing a part in a beautiful, happy soul such as herself? Yet - as grateful as I am - this day is also torture. It's hard to escape. It looms everywhere, to the point where it's almost downright taunting.

The way I see it - I can look at it one of two ways. I can be bitter about the fact that another woman is celebrating and embracing motherhood with my child because I'm not, or I can look at it like my child is loved by two mothers; two mothers who reflect on the day in different ways. That being said, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous that her adoptive mom gets to spend the day with her. In reality, it's just another's just Sunday. It's only 24 hours, ten or eleven of which I'll be sleeping.

There's no black and white answer. One 'birth' mom will not always share the same views as another 'birth' mom. So let me say this: if you know someone - anyone - who has lost a child for any reason (adoption, death, estrangement, etc.), acknowledge that they might need a little extra TLC on Mother's Day. Or acknowledge that they may not. They may want to deny that the day even exists. Or maybe you could read this article. I've had friends who have come right out and asked me (and believe me, I appreciate the straight-forwardness) how they should handle Mother's Day when it comes to me. Should they wish me a Happy Mother's Day and therefore acknowledge my child, or should they just treat it like any other day, because they know it's hard for me?  If you know someone who is an "invisible mother," you aren't reminding them of something they aren't already aware of. Commercialized holidays such as this are everywhere. Chances are, you won't do any damage by saying "Happy Mother's Day;" in fact, they would probably appreciate the recognition. I totally understand why people feel as though they are on eggshells around birth moms or moms of children who have passed away. Personally, I don't mind either way. I do appreciate the gesture but I am not offended by it's absence.

Remember: being a parent means doing what's best for your child, even at the cost of your own happiness. So birth parents are parents no less than traditional parents. It's just a different kind of mother & fatherhood.

So when you think of the mother in your life who, for whatever reason, is no longer raising their child or sharing this day with their child physically, remember this:

and never forget the "invisible mothers."

Monday, May 6, 2013

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

When will I be strong enough to forgive? I'm in tune enough to realize that holding onto anger and resentment is hurting me far more than it's hurting the people which I am angry toward. I just want to know when I'll acquire the strength needed to forgive. It's been over two years. Such a short time, but also such a long time. How do you forgive when the issue that you're so angry about is a recurring issue? How do you move past something that makes you angry when that "thing" is ever-present? What if it's not one simple action that angers you, but someone's constant choices and entire state of being that frustrates you?

I live every day of my life with anger in my heart. I don't want it there anymore. I never did, but now I desperately don't. I'm living in the past, in a constant state of anger and jealousy. Then I get to thinking about how the person I'm angry at isn't angry at all. Or at least he's never shown it. That fact alone gets me even more angry.

I got to Skype with my baby this past weekend (the 4th). It was my belated-birthday Skype date and it was simply amazing. Miss A is two and a half now...two and a half going on twenty. She speaks in full sentences and carried on a few conversations with me. It was surreal! Last time we Skyped, it was for her birthday, and she had a pretty diverse vocabulary but not many of her words strung together to make sentences. What a difference six months can make. Her hair is longer and curlier than ever, and she is already miserable when it comes to the maintenance of it (sorry little one, but that's your birth father's fault)!  It's so crazy to see her mannerisms 'live' and in real time. Her personality mimics mine in so many ways. She loves to draw and thinks she's a singer. Her mom told me that when they put her to bed at night, she's very quiet for a while and they think she's fallen asleep, but then they hear her little voice singing herself to sleep. It's so bittersweet to hear these things. On one hand I feel so grateful to be informed; on the other, my heart hurts because I don't get to be the one experiencing these things with my child.

She told me that she was going to go to a "birfday" party, but her friend got sick and had to go home with her mommy before the party started but that the party would be next weekend instead and then said "do you wanna come to the party miss Elizabef?" TEARS! Oh my precious little girl, I wish I could come to the party with you. Soon after, she found a piece of paper and a pink marker and started doodling all over it while her mom was telling me silly stories about her. Suddenly, she interrupted and waved the paper in front of the camera and said "I MADE A PITCHA FOR YOU! I made a pitcha for you Miss Elizbef!" ...more tears. Her mom promised to mail it to me (I'm crossing my fingers as we speak).

After she proceeded to undress and show me how she "makes peepee in the potty," (you guessed it...more tears being held back), her mom asked if my mom wanted to see her and say hi to her. Of course she did! So I went to get my mom, and she sat down in my seat in front of my laptop. I was standing right there, and could see the screen, but I was out of sight. Suddenly, my little girl stopped coloring and looked at the screen and got a really confused look on her face and said: "but where did Miss Elizbef go?"  Oh my goodness. Who knew your heart could break and fill with happiness at the exact same time? It was, hands down, one of the most adorable moments in my life. I'll never, ever forget the sound of her voice when she said it or the look on her beautiful little face.

The call lasted nearly an hour and I cherished every second of it. Last night, I got a text from her adoptive mom that said "Great to chat with you." I wish she knew how great it was for me to chat with them. Of course I've told her, but it's impossible to put into words just how much it means to me.

Throughout all of the happiness I felt this weekend, there was a part of me that was sad. Not the obvious part of me that is sad because I'm only seeing my child through a computer screen or because I don't get to see her every day or do her hair or be the one she calls "mommy." I was sad that her birth father has the opportunity to have these same exact experiences - he knows he can write her, he can email, he can get his own set of photos, he could probably even Skype with her - and chooses not to.

Let me rewind a few months: I haven't seen her birth father since October (when we gave her babysitter her power wheels car for her birthday) and haven't spoken to him since January. The last time we spoke, which I'm not going to sit here and mull over or summarize, was a real eye-opener for me and within an hour of hanging up the phone, I had changed my number and have since safe guarded it pretty well. As far as I know, he may not even know that I changed it. We mutually agreed that speaking, even if just about our daughter, wasn't in either of our best interests anymore.  This is the longest I've gone without speaking to him and I remember, way back when, knowing that this day would come. I thought I would wither away and perish if I couldn't speak to him, but it's proven to be the opposite. A weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I do still miss him at times. I do still have to stop myself from sending him a text to tell him something cute she did, or sending him a cute photo of her. But what matters isn't that I need to go through the motions of telling myself "DON'T." What matters is that in the end, I DON'T.

It just makes me so frustrated to think that he is missing out on this by choice. I know he's his own person. I'm not him and he's not me, and my feelings are not his and his are not mine. But the fact remains that she is just as much him and she is me, and I can't fathom having the opportunity to be involved in her life in the way that I am and not taking full advantage of it. He hasn't seen a photo of her since October, to my knowledge.  Her adoptive mom has told me that he hasn't reached out but he is more than welcome to.

I try my hardest not to let these things bring me down. I'm over our relationship and I've let go of what it used to be and realized that it's not like that anymore. Too much has changed, and it will never be the same. I don't even want it to be the same. I just want him to wake up and realize the opportunities he has before it's too late. I don't want him to come crying to me for pictures, but I want him to grow up and develop a relationship with her parents. I don't know if that will ever happen.

I want, more than anyone will ever know, to send him her professional preschool portrait or the picture I got of her skiing. You know, things like that. It feels twisted that I am more excited to show my friends, who never even met her in the hospital, her photos than I am to show her own flesh and blood. But then again, my friends are the ones who deserve to know. They're the ones who are happy for me when I'm happy, and sad for me when I'm crying. They're the ones that ask about her. They're the ones that get upset or angry for me when I don't get my promised updates. Her birth father did a great thing in terms of bringing her to this earth, but my friends and family have been the ones to pick up the emotional slack.  So, when it comes to reaching out to him, I always stop myself. He doesn't make the effort and therefore doesn't deserve to know. I'm fully aware of this! But that fact in and of itself makes me angry. It's a vicious cycle that I feel trapped in the middle of. I'm trying to work through it, but I really don't know how. When will I be able to look at her, and not be flooded with thoughts of him?

I've heard people who claim that birth moms must be some kind of super heroes. Super heroes usually have the ability to fly and have the strength to lift entire communities up to save them from disaster. So why can't I have the basic ability to forgive?