Thursday, February 9, 2023

Am I still your daughter?

I had this thought pop into my head.  I wonder if I am still her daughter now that she is gone?   Does she still consider me her daughter in the afterlife?  Or now that she is gone and Im without a mother, am I still a sister and an aunt?  While she was alive my sister had to deal with me, have me around because mom wanted me to be there for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and Holidays.  However now that mom is gone, I wonder,  am I still part of this family and do I still hold the title of daughter, sister and aunt?  

I felt the separation years ago, when my niece was married.  We were excluded from a lot of the festivites with regards to her wedding.   Our family took photos together, with the exception of me and my immediate family.  I am the only sibling and person that was excluded from this.  As well as our daughter was not invited to her only female cousins bachelorette party.  Even though they spent ever Holiday, birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas together their entire lives and they are so close in age.  They even went to high school together.  

Going back years when our kids were young, I accidentally ran into my sister and her family with my parents .  Shocked to find out they had been in town to visit "My sister and her kids" -but not me, I figured out...the hard way.  The moment I got out of the car at the grocery store,  to find my parents getting out of my sisters car, all dressed up.  That awkward and embarrasing moment when they realized they got caught.   My mom not sure what to say to me, and I felt sick to my stomach.   I got into my car, drove home in tears.    Why didnt they tell me they were coming out to our town, I speak to mom almost every day.  

 The college graduations for our daughter my parents never atteneded, yet they went to another state to see my sisters son graduate.  And yes they did attend my sisters daughters college graduation.  So many years of this heartbreaking exclusion and so many exclusions its hard to even process.  

So many people take for granted the gift of being included.  Inclusion is one of the most important things you can give someone.   I often wonder how my life could have been  if my parents would have included me in so many things throughout my life.  How my childrens lives could have been with grandparents, the type of grandparents my sisters kids had.  

Probably one of the saddest realizations since mom has passed away is that my grown adult children feel the loss of not having grandparents, even though they had them.  My sisters grown children got tatoos in memory of my mother, and when I told my daughter about it, she said..."Makes sense, she was their grandmother."  I felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach, and kind of literally shaken up.  I really question if she was ever my mother or my childrens grandmother.  Time keeps passing by, without you mom.  And each day I find it harder to believe that I will never have closure, and have to find a way to accept that I will never have the answers to these heartbreaking issues.  I have to somehow find a way to be OK with the fact that I may have been a child you could never truly love but just tolerate.   Love Cathy

Monday, October 31, 2022

Im the stranger

 Im 57 years old, and here I sit blogging about my feelings now that my mom has died.  I write about this to somehow free my mind of the thoughts that plague me daily.  The thought that I am still the stranger within my family.  At least that is how it feels to me.  I have felt this way as far back as I can remember having memories.  I would say before turning 2 years old I can remember feeling alone.  Feeling like I had been left at someone elses house, and was waiting to be picked up.  I spent most of my childhood hiding, in the closet, under furniture, and looking back now, I truly was hiding from the sadness of feeling like I was amongst strangers.  Analyzing this now, knowing what I now know, since moms death,  I have confirmed this because nothing earth shattering happened to make me feel differently about my position in this family before mom died.  What I felt as a baby is real,  I am the stranger and I have never really belonged to this family is how it feels to me.  

My parents were known in the community and they cared what their peers thought about them .  I truly believe that was the reason why I have been given half of my parents estate.  The lack of bond between my parents and I, and how I was treated, should have resulted in me being written out of their estate.  I am thankful for being included in this part of their lives, it will make our lives easier, but I often wonder how it would feel to be loved, truly adored and cared about by my own parents.   To look like them, to be like them, to be part of their family, and to be able to say that our children look like dad, grandpa or anyone in thier family would be amazing.  To never feel the pain of being treated differently because I was not born into the family.  

We went to dinner after moms funeral, my entire family and this was discussed, about how my sisters son looks like dad.  And other similarities in the family.  Here I sat with my husband, and 3 grown children, our daughter has a baby girl, our son is expecting a baby in December.  Do they not see or understand that we cannot really participate in this discussion?  Dont they wonder who my kids look like?  Wouldnt that be amazing for them to be even a bit conscious of how left out we all feel when they talk like this and how strange they become if I do mention who looks like whom in my family?  Why are they NOT interested to know who we all look like, and why would they be so selfish to think we only care about who they look like?  I didnt hatch from an egg, I am not some alien that fell from the sky.  I do have birth parents and many sets of grandparents.  This adoption was not my choice, and I did not choose to be excluded or treated like a stranger.  A stranger is someone who is not familiar, an outsider.  Trust me when I tell you that no adoptee ever wants to feel this way.  I just dont know if it is possible to change this within my family, as my efforts and hard work have not proven to be successful in these 57 years.  I have to admit failure and realize I cannot force others to love and accept me as their own.  

Its over...

Its been a lifetime of trying to win her over, a fight for her affection, attention and love.  Since I can remember, I have been holidng her hand, sitting in her lap,  practically begging for love.  I didnt know I was doing it at the time, it wasnt until much later in life, after I had children and they were grown, I realized I was fighting for something I could never attain.  I kept trying, for the majority of my life, I really believed if I was a good girl and keep trying, that I'd somehow be like her real daughter, right up until the moment she died I believed she would give me a sign.   A sign that let me know my efforts, love, affection, loyalty and devotion to her were not in vain.  I never got that sign from mom, and I cannot explain to you how deeply sad I am about this now.  I will never have another chance to make her mine.  

A few years ago I was scanning old photos for my nieces wedding present, you know making a huge photo album of our family photos and not wanting to use originals.  Since mom has died, family wants access to all the thousands of family photos I've scanned.  Digging deep in my cloud I added thousands of photos to Dropbox, one by one.   

One by one,  I noticed something I had never noticed before.  I’m holding moms hand , sometimes with one hand , sometimes with both of my hands, leaning into her body .  Clearly I was an affectionate small child.  The look on my face in between mom and dad in Christmas photos , I look proud .  I even lean into dad , appearing very affectionate, which I’m sure I was until I reached about 3rd grade and realized what was going on.  And of course I guess I wasn’t as cute by 3rd grade and the novelty of being the baby wore off .  By 3rd grade I must have found my own personality and started to have my own opinions.  Looking back now I realize dad must have not liked who I was even in 3rd grade  or  maybe I wasn’t as cute or maybe it was just because he never wanted to adopt and was forced into it by mom?  Probably a combination of all of these things but I’m guessing my looks and personality were drastically different than my sisters who was his biological child .  

I realized last night while cooking dinner that it’s over , this struggle, this fight to somehow prove to my mom that I am worthy of her love , affection and trust .  This deep desire to belong to this family , is over .  No more trying so hard to be perfect, to cook the perfect dish for birthdays and holidays.  No more trying to sell myself to a family who clearly has never truly accepted me as one of them .  As I cook my creamy potato cheese soup I think of mom , how she loved this soup and how I will never again cook her another meal .  I will never again try to prove my worth to any of them again .  Sacrifice my health and well being to somehow get a smile or the reaction that only in my mind means I am accepted as one them.  Every visit with them results in a score , we rate the visits like the Olympics . Score cards showing how this visit rates and I’m usually saying , oh they seem nicer or kinder this time . Hoping that somehow , someway,  I have managed to convince them that I am worthy of their love and trust . 

A GIANT burden has been lifted off my shoulders since mom has died.  The game is over , nobody won. Truthfully I am the biggest loser .  It is now clear,  they really just don’t trust me as they do their own blood related family .  If you were here and could see the way they acted and looked at me while my own mom was dying you’d understand why I felt I was intruding on their private and personal journey of watching mom die .  I was a stranger amongst them , not even appreciated like the paid caretakers were.  I have never felt so alone and lost in my life as I did in the hours before mom died.   At one point we were all standing around mom and I let my niece find a spot around her bed.  She looked at me and said no, you can stand here...shes your mother.  I paused, and had no answer or reaction to that.  I thought, really had to say that out loud, that she is my mother too?  Did you just realize that after 32 years of life?   

I realized as I wiped away my tears and served moms favorite soup ( from scratch ) last night, that the fight is over.  My dearest husband said to me "Dear" you have been married to me for 35 years, longer than you lived with your parents.  I am your family and so are our children.  We debated the issue, and it was clear to me last night for the first time, that mom really never was able to bond with me, or have the same feelings about me as she did her own birth child.  She wanted to have those feelings about me, but never could force herself to feel it. Its over now, the fight to try and win her over, to force her to have the same feelings about me, is absolutely over.  I will never be put in that situation again.  I will never feel like an intruder again with their family, the odd man out.   I realized last night that I dont have the same love for my own mom as the others do, not becusae I didnt try, and not because I didnt want that wonderful feeling of belonging to my mom,  but because she has failed me her entire life.  It is my moms fault and no fault of mine, and somehow I have to accept this hearbreaking reality and keep breathing and living each day.  Some mornings I wake up and cant believe I will never get another chance to make it right with mom, but I also have found comfort in knowing the fight to belong to her and the rest of my family is over.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Saint mom

At moms funeral my niece and nephew referred to mom as "The Saint."  My sister made sure the priest who did not know my family , heard the story about dad calling mom "The Saint."  The joke is on them.  My dad called mom a saint for another reason, it was not an endearing term.  I had heard it throughought the years growing up when my sister had already left the house.   This was a derogatory term,  insinuating that mom was not interested in sex.  I was quite shocked my sister didnt understand this and used this at moms funeral for the priests opening words, cannonizing my mom, "The Saint" so to speak.   I was mortified, yes dad called mom a saint, but not for the reasons my sister thinks.  

I cannot tell you how hard it was to listen to my niece and nephews eulogy.  My mom was referred to as the perfect person, one who never did anything wrong in her life.  Saint mom, the one who allowed such horrific abuse to take place right in front of her own two eyes, as blood was drawn, for years.  The same woman who went to work and saved peoples lives as a nurse.  Only to come home and allow her bully husband to do the unthinkable to me  The same woman who suggested I take my children to a homeless shelter when we needed a place to stay when the kids were little and we had lost our rental. Yeah, what a saint.  

The woman who refused to allow my daughter in laws family into her kitchen because she didnt want dark skinned people touching her belongings.  I will blog about this later, but this is not the life of a saint.  

In my opinion, when you decide to not have an opinion about something and take no action, that is a decision.  Doing nothing is a decision.  My mom spent her entire life making very few decisions and taking little to no action regarding anything.  Her usual resonse to something terribly wrong was, "Everyone is different."  This woman never had much of an opinion when it came to serious subjects such as abandonment or exlucsion, abuse, and other life alterning issues.  Her excuse, we are all different.   That is how she got out of making things right within her family, the cop out, the never ending excuse that allowed her and her partner in cime, her husband,  and my father to continue abusing those they should have loved.  If I ever hear how wonderful their marriage was again, I may not be able to keep quiet.  

Mom was not a horrible person, but lets make this clear, mom was far from a saint.  

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Broken at both ends

There is nothing I want more than to have peace, at both ends.  You ask, what is both ends?  No, its not what your thinking.  For an adoptee in reunion, its the balancing of both families.  You try to keep everyone happy, to avoid conflict or hurt feelings.  That is how I have felt about my adoption over the years.   I have failed miserably, and I realize I cannot and will not have peace with both families in this lifetime.  

Birth woman never spent  Holidays with my adoptive family.  No relationship was built between my mom and my birth woman. Birth dad wouldnt even acknowledge I am his child.  My full brother is mentally ill and a non functioning person.    Adoptees (me) have no idea how to handle both ends.  Do I insist birth woman comes for hoidays with  my adoptive family and suffer the consequences?  Do I continue to send birth family members a Christmas card even though I have got little to nothing in return ?  Do I try to have some sort of relationship with my birth mom who is a complete stranger to my family?  What are the boundaries for an adoptee in reunion, do you know?   

Then there is the issue that I have not been included in the birth families.   There is so much guilt that the birth families cannot  have a meaningful relationship with me.    Who is the better family?  Who has the least amount of issues and dysfunction? This has been the debate for over 30 years.   There is also a lot of comparison going on, behind the scenes.  Years of discussion about this parent having problems and is not any better than the birth parent.   Constant defending the family one has grown up with.  As though I can have deep feelings and attachment to the mother I did not grow up with.  Trust me, I cant, and I have tried.  This is not exactly my fault, its also a birth mom who keeps me at an arms length distance.  Feels uncomfortable hugging me or holding me in a way a mother does.  I honestly do not ever remember her ever telling me, "I Love you" - because I don't think she has.  How does a person cope with this, and survive it?   

This is the brokenness I speak of,  broken relationships that cannot ever be fixed.  I am not the daughter to her, I am the baby she lost.  She kept my brother, and even though he is mentally ill, not functioning and she has made a career out of enabling him, she still sees him as her only child.  She can lie to me, and the entire world, but I know and feel the truth.  She does not have two children, she has one.

Its difficult when you get to the point where you realize there is no hope.   I am nearing the end of this journey and I can clearly see there is no way to make things right.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Lost but not found

When I was found, I was almost 20 years old.    I blindly walked into reunion, expecting rainbows, ice cream cones, hugs and kisses.  I expected them all to love me, adore me, to want to know my entire life, play by play.  I was convinced they would want my precious keepsakes, like baby teeth I left out for the tooth fairy.  My blonde curls my mom cut and preserved in the family bible.  I thought reunion was going to be like "going home."  They would all understand me, think like me, and would teach me how to cook all the special secret family recipes I missed all those years. 

Meeting the families, I quickly realized something was just not quite right.    Why was everyone staring at me with confusion?  One grandma looked horrified and the other was scanning through my baby pictures to see if there was a resemblance.  That is what it looked like to me.  Then my one grandma asks for a nitro glycerin.  OK, I thought to myself, something is definitely not right, and now that grandma is popping a pill while looking at my baby pictures, its a confirmation!  

She starts to cry, something to the effect of, oh my baby, while looking at my baby pictures.   That is what I remember, I could be wrong, but it was for sure a distressed situation.  Looking back, I can now see the unspoken debate that was going on between all the adults.  My birth mom was somewhat amused, and everyone else seemed frantic, and the chaos of everyones emotions was very apparant to me.   My birth mom walked me to my car and I asked her, what is going on?  She gave me some ridiculous story that left me even more confused.   That was a long drive home, alone, with my thoughts.  For 20 years I had waited for this moment, my heart felt heavy, and I knew I wasn't getting ice cream, or cooking lessons,  the hugs and kisses didn't seem too promising.

I didnt know the truth behind my adoption, but I figured it was not going to be the truth I was told by my parents.    I heard a couple different stories, your birth  parents loved you so much but couldnt care for you.  My dad told the story of how I was picked out in the store, he'd  point to the imaginary wall and say, "This baby, no this baby" like they were shopping for a new toaster.   

I was pretty shocked when my birth mom sent me photos of herself and family,  in the mail.  I was expecting her to be a blonde, I had no idea she was part Lebanese.  She now likes to say I knew, but I did not know. I had a paper with non identifying information that really equaled nothing.

I did not receive anything from my birth dad in the mail, but I later spoke to him and we met alone.  I cannot deny the fact that I was so nervous, I was just a kid. 

The truth as I now see it, is a variation of different stories I have heard from different family members throughout the years.  My birth mom became pregnant with me.  She was dating (now confirmed) birth dad.  At some point in time, she wrote a letter to another boy she liked.  Saying something like, she didnt think his parents would allow him to marry her, so shes going to have now confirmed birth dad marry her.  But in this letter she tells this other boy, she cant wait for "Their" bundle of joy.   Probably the most disturbing story I have heard in all these years is the one my birth mom told me after we met.  She tells me her best friend came over,  she sat in boiling hot baths and used a coca cola douche, let your imagination decide what they were trying to do.

So at one point early in reunion, I went out to dinner with my birth dad, his mom and the family.  I was asked what blood type I was, at this point I really was not sure what was going on.  My birth mom has not been the most trusted source, in all these years, but she was very crafty and cunning throughout this whole ordeal.   She was smart, did not tell me the story, instead let me suffer and it took years for me to really understand completely what was going on. 

It wasn't until 2016 when my daughter somewhat forced me into doing Ancestry DNA.   She ordered the test and had it shipped to me.  Weeks went by, and I stared at that test, and finally after weeks of my daughter calling and asking me if I spit in that darn thing, I had the nerve to actually do it.  I sealed the box and dropped it off at the post office.  Then I started wondering to myself, what if my birth dad is not oneof the two men that I was told about ?  What if he's someone else, what then?  Weeks went by  and I was so anxious waiting for the results.  My daughter had already done the Ancestry DNA test and had her results.  I was driving to the grocery store and it hit me,  I can figure out the answer via her DNA results.  I went home and searched through her DNA results.  TA-DAA!    There it was, the answer to the question I have wondered about for 35 years.  

I decided to wait until my own DNA results to come in to tell anyone, even though I knew the man I had met was 100% my dad. 

Let me tell you, getting my DNA results was a  liberating moment for me.  Not knowing who fathered you for 52 years is a big deal.   I beg to differ with all those people who think I did it for revenge or some other stupid reason.  I did it for myself, I wanted to know my heritage and  I think every person should know this basic information, its their birth given right. 

OK, off my soap box!  But seriously, if it were not for modern science and DNA testing linking me to DNA matches who have extensive family trees, I would still not know the answer today. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Divorced my birth mom

I started back to therapy, for a short time and decided to go back to Al-Anon.  I've been MIA for 16 years and decided it was time seeing the new challenges in my life.  I feel like I am in a better place now to process and make permanent decisions on a lot of  issues I have struggled with for 34 years.  One of them being my birth mom. 

I have made a difficult and permanent decision, and that was one of the reason for therapy.  I have decided, with the help of my therapist, to divorce my birth mom.  It is necessary and long overdue.  I have continued over the years to keep this "Fantasy" alive.  I have kept up the charade that my birth mom will somehow miraculously change and be my fantasy mom.

Its an awakening for me,  I feel like I have just woke up from a long sleep.  I've looked around and realized I have been punishing myself, and practically begging this woman to love me.  To accept me, and maybe even give me a hug and say, "I love you, unconditionally, no matter what."   I've compromised, Ive given more than I have received, and truthfully, I do not like what I have been offered.  I have been cheating myself, pretending that it doesn't matter, because she gave birth to me and I have to accept her the way she is.  I have even tried to convince her to love my children, her grandchildren, based on Ancestry rules.   She doesnt know my kids, and has never been interested in them since they were born. 

NO WAY!  Another BAM, smack in the face moment.  A punch in the gut for me, literally!  Hey, guess what, NO, I do NOT have to continue to speak to you because you gave birth to me.  I get to decide who is in my life,  and I have made the decision that I am a pretty good gal, and I am worthy of being loved, adored, appreciated and respected, unconditionally!  

I have raised with my husband, three wonderful humans.  Somehow, this woman I call my birth mom thinks her absence all these years is not a big deal.  She feels she can reap the benefits of calling our children "Her grandchildren" even if she has been absent most of their lives.  She feels it makes her look good, to have these three wonderful people as her grandchildren.   She would like to turn these wonderful humans against my husband and I, if possible....which it is not possible. 

The child she kept, is an addict, mentally ill and is a non functioning person.  My full birth brother is a sad person.  But he is also a dangerous person at the same time from what we have experienced.  Our grown kids do not trust him.    Another BAM, in my face moment.  I do not want him in my life either, and my family does not want him in their lives .  And guess what Cathy, you can say "NO."  I have said NO! 

I was knee deep in making a family tree on Ancestry.  I drove down and borrowed my birth moms family pictures to scan them.  I did a lot of work, put them all in new scrap books, organized everything.  I have found all the missing families in Lebanon, not an easy task.

Then the reality of it all sunk in.  Jealousy can be a dangerous emotion, dangerous and ugly and I believe this emotion is the catalyst for her behavior.   I had actually spoke to my brother on private messenger for the first time in about 13 years.  He asked about our grown kids, their jobs & lives.  I told him they are all happy, successful and in jobs that support them and we couldn't be happier for them all.   My birth mom stated she did not want to know what my brother and I talk about and not to even hint about our conversations.  OK, no big deal.    Next thing I know I am receiving a private message from her asking me not to tell my brother that our kids are successful and rich!  Yes, I quote "Rich."  Well, I have never stated anyone in my family are rich, its just not true!  hahaha!  She stated that by telling my brother that my kids have good jobs and are successful , will discourage him from seeking mental help!  OMG!  Seriously?   He has been unstable and non functioning since his early 20's and he's now pushing 44 years old! 

I guess that rule of not telling about my conversations with my brother only applies to me!  He must have told her half truths about our conversation!  Birth mom tells me that he feels bad that "The kids" are doing so well, he feels like a failure, etc.   I reminded her that our kids are grown adults now, does my brother realize the oldest is 29 and should be in jobs to support themselves now!  Hmmmm....well birth mom, your constant enabling of this grown man may be a big reason why he is almost 44 and still repeating the same mistakes and not seeking help and not able to take care of himself!     She clearly does not see what she is doing, and it is NOT my place or job to make her see.   Sad, but true, I just cant exert another ounce of energy on these two.   They are not my problem! 

Seriously, who does she think she is?   She then has the nerve to elude to the fact that my brother has never done anything to our kids over the past 20 years.  And has no idea why they have no interest in having a relationship with him!    WOW!   One can only guess that she has conveniently stuffed all the craziness that me, my husband and three grown adult children have experienced with my brother over the past 20 plus years.  Like its all erased, never existed and we are made out to be the liars, the mentally ill ones.   She has done this before, given me my brothers life and my life to my brother.  What is even more frightening, she is believable, and she is convincing, and charming and I feel she is also a person one cannot trust. I finally had a voice and spoke up and said, OK birth mom, what do you think would happen if my grown kids saw him now?  Do you think he is fit and mentally OK to see them?  She answered NO!  I said you are correct, if they saw him now, they'd never give him another chance!  My brother has sent me the most bizarre and crazy messages, my oldest son has said that he is "Tweaking" on drugs or is in some sort of psychosis.  Either could be true, he's done  hard core drugs over the years, and I truly believe he is still doing them now.  He was recently in jail I heard, and from what I understand was detoxing while in jail.  Yeah, I know, I made this up too, its all a lie, he really was not in jail, and if you spoke to birth mom, she'd convince you I made it all up and I was the one in jail!  HAHAHAHA! 

She has absolutely nothing to offer me.  No love, loyalty,  time, kindness, truth, stability, absolutely nothing.  Her morals, ideals, way of living and even her mother skills are completely and utterly opposite than mine. If she had not given birth to me, I would never even consider her as a friend.  Her title is no longer important to me, and truthfully she is nothing more than an egg donor.

I had a revelation that I wish I had never met her, just found out the ancestry information I dearly wanted.  Looking back I realize it was a mistake to waste so much time and energy on a woman who clearly has no plans on loving me, adoring me and my kids,  and a person who without batting an eyelash, is capable of betraying me!