Thursday, January 25, 2007

Birthmother Reunion: The Value of Space

Space is nothing.

And everything.

It's an absence of contact.

A time of quiet reflection.

Time to process. To integrate.

It takes SPACE to do that.

You can't figure it all out when you're in frequent communication with such an important person as the woman who gave birth to you. One needs to take a step back and survey the new landscape.

Being a recovering people pleaser, I felt guilty for taking a breather. After all, I had searched for her. And while she has many issues (don't we all?), some serious, she did welcome me. Unconditionally.

But I needed that space. Really needed it. So I took it. And now I'm very glad I did.

In that time of seperation I adjusted to the reality of her. The way she expresses herself. The problems she has. Her troubled history. And the undeniable good parts, too. Her positive outlook. Her cheerfulness in the face of old age and all the aches and pains it brings.

Allowing myself "time-off" to get adjusted helped me realize that I was "merging" with my mother. It's an old problem of mine, one I've mostly conquered. It's an adoptee thing. Or maybe a coping strategy for dealing with a narcissistic parent. I'm not sure. But I've never been good at boundaries. You are over there and I'm over here. I used to get caught up in the vortex of other personalities and problems. I got help and got better. So when it began to happen with my mother, it really felt uncomfortable and I began to blame her. She's this and that and I don't feel safe with her. I was unable to accept her for who she is because we were all mixed with her.

Space allowed me to find myself again.

Today we talked. I called to arrange our first face-to-face meeting for next month. Once again, I could hardly get a word in. And while it was frustrating, it didn't bother me nearly as much.

But even frustrating conversations with one's mother can yield gold nuggets. Like we're both ridiculously fastidious about certain things. Not worth going into detail, but I've always wondered. Now I know. What also came across today is that despite a hard luck childhood, my mother is remarkably resilient with a good attitude. I'm an awful lot like her in that respect. I guess that's a good thing. It takes resilience to survive the adoption experience and thrive.

And this time, instead of feeling bad when we hung up, I felt good.

Just before we said good-bye she said: "Of course I want to meet you. Are you kidding? That was so nice of you to show me the courtesy of finding me."

Such an interesting way to put it. At one point, I was feeling down and rather hurt that she never looked for me. From this statement and a few others, I suspect she didn't feel she had the right to search. That she considers me to be a nice, courteous person for taking the trouble.

I kinda like that.

That said, it highlights the more bizarre, surreal aspects of adoption reunion, in which a mother thanks a child for finding her.



Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Nice to hear that the call went well with your Mother, Nina. I hope your first meeting with her goes even better and you get lots of pictures. Space really isn't the final frontier, is it? More like how we bridge the space/time that has elapsed. Resiliency is a great quality to have inherited. It has served you both well. BTW I do agree with you that it seems surreal to ahve your mom thank you for finding her...seems to me that it should have been the other way around. Bottom line is you are meeting and I am excited for you! Many (hugs) for you Nina as that day arrives and it will very quickly.

7:30 PM  
Blogger suz said...

wow. nice message. thanks for sharing. i liked the space stuff as it gave me some thoughts about my daughter. as for boundaries, my fear is that my daughter and i may be TOO good at them. sigh. and your mom and courtesy? yeah. very very true of moms of her age. she drank the koolaid. she had no right to find you. you would never want to know. you were better off. blah blah blah. good luck.

4:13 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

Thank you for this post

very good.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Being Me said...


11:20 AM  
Blogger singingfeather said...

Great post. You are right about your mom feeling that it wasn't her right to find you. I still feel I haven't the right to enjoy my daughter. I hope your meeting is happy for you.


12:07 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Nina, I find it interesting that having space from my firstmom brought me much of the same. I didn't even realize the purpose she and I being estranged would serve. How wonderful that you have scheduled your first to face meeting. I hope that it is all you have dreamed it will be and more. Best wishes, Rebecca

3:43 PM  
Blogger chez said...

This is great Nina.
I hope that your first FTF will be really good.
It's great that you've been able to see things in a new light.
Well done you.
Hugs, C.

12:09 AM  

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