Monday, June 25, 2007


Okay, I'm back. Got totally carried away on another forum I'm totally in love with because, yes!, it's adoptee-centric and it's just what the doctor ordered.

Also, after decades of hypochondria, my narcissistic a-dad finally has something really wrong with him and that's been diverting and a challenge b/c I've had to drudge up some compassion. Which is hard. Because just when he needs me most, it's hard not to think of the one single time I ever asked him for anything as an adult ($50 to tide me over b/t jobs) and he not only let me down, he didn't even have the guts to tell me he hadn't sent the money after saying he would. And the time he left me in the hospital alone after minor surgery/biopsy when I was 10 because his nerves, "just couldn't take it."

So I'm cheating a bit. I'm posting something I put on a forum, but I'm short of time today and really wanted to update.

Was at Costco and spotted a paperback of Roots...strategically placed next to a stack of how-to-trace-your-roots-genealogy books. Heard on NPR recently about renewed interested in genealogy and some new online sites to help and the sound bites were all about the importance of knowing where you come from and why people are fascinated, etc.

And it really pissed me off. Society wants it both ways. Your ancestry really matters. Unless you're adopted. Then it's no big deal and you shouldn't be interested. It's maddening. And this is in our faces all the time. The hypocrisy. But no one else seems to see it.

My adoptive mother comes from a Mexican village called Chavez Ravine, where Dodger Stadium in L.A. now stands and for the longest time, I was FASCINATED by its sad story and all the old sepia pictures. Almost my entire adoptive family comes from that area. Then I woke up from my Fog and realized it has nothing to do with me. So I lost that, too. My first mom was really good about telling me as much as she could about my roots, but I feel so disconnected from that. It doesn't feel like mine, either. Maybe some day it will when I "incorporate" it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Surrounded by Adoption

To borrow a bit from Jane Austen, "I am all amazement."

How DID I manage to repress all those feelings about my adoption? And for soooo long?

There is so much to process.

I can't believe the mental work it takes to sort through it all.

Over the weekend, a friend told me about her grandmother who had eleven children. She gave three of the youngest up for adoption because she was so poor. Two of the boys grew up knowing their mother and first families. The girl did not want anything to do with her first mother although, my friend insisted, this girl did not grow up "bitter" and "angry" and went on to be highly successful in the field of education. Then my friend (who knows I'm adopted) said something like, "Oh well, we're all dealt problems and we just have to get over it the best we can."

I had no energy to even explode. Was she trying to tell me something? I've only spoken to her - briefly - about my status as an adoptee.

Adoption is all around us and only the adoptees really know what it's like. The inner life we lead. The complicated emotions. I got to thinking about this woman who was one of three children given away by her mother. Only she knows what she feels about this. Why did my friend, who only knows about her, insist this adoptee wasn't bitter and angry? Because the adoptee was ambitious and successful? Maybe she spent her entire life trying to prove to her first mother, "You were wrong to give me away! Look how valuable I am!"

Conversation with a Narcissist

If you are sick and tired of reading about my ongoing struggle to emotionally detach from my narcissistic adoptive father, STOP! Warning!

Try as you might to keep the conversation short, chances are, you still walk away feeling upset and churned up and wondering what the hell just happened.

It's worth trying to analyze my most recent encounter, so here I go.

First, I tell my NAD (narcissistic adoptive father) that I'm going camping with my husband and girls and will be out of cell phone range for two days.

The minute I walk into the house, the phone starts ringing.

It's NAD. I don't answer because I'm relaxed and happy and I'll talk to him later. Fifteen minutes later, he calls again. He calls every half hour or so for the next several hours and I'm tempted to unplug the phone, but by this time I'm now stressed out and feel like I'm being stalked. So I answer.

"Thank God you're back!" he says. "I've been watching TV and there are so many wrecks and I thought something had happened to you."

"No. We're fine. I just walked in the door."

"You don't know what you've put me through. Thank God you're back. Now I can relax. I'm just exhausted."

(Trying hard not to feel guilty for taking couple days off from calling him and for causing such misery--which is ridiculous)

Then I make a joke about him being a worrier and he says angrily, "Well, you're my only daughter and the only person I have left in the world and what would I do if something happened to you and I'd be all alone and have nobody and I've been feeling so lonely and you don't know what I'm going through."

And then I'm furious.

Once again, he's not really worried about ME as an individual. He's worried that something may happen to his sole source of narcissistic supply. And yes he has dementia and is a lonely old man stuck in an assisted living facility. But he's always talked this way and it's only recently that I've realized how diminishing it is. How manipulative. There's this picture of us together when I was around five. I'm not smiling and I'm desperately trying to stand as far away from him as possible and still be in the frame. I look miserable and stunned. NAD is laughing at the camera. That picture says it all. I've been trying to get away from him as long as I can remember.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Psychological Suicide

When I decided to search for my first mother last year, I hoped she would still be alive.

By my calculation, she'd be over 80. Being a hypochondriac, I imagined all sorts of things would have killed her. Like cancer which I was sure had devastated both sides of my birth family. Or complications due to adult onset diabetes that I was sure would crop up at the next doctor's appointment. Or some rare genetic disorder of mysterious origins. Or, worst, she'd have dementia like both my adoptive parents.

But no. She was alive and mostly well.

So focused was I on the finding her before it was too late that I gave little thought to the relationship that we might have. Or not.

Four months have passed since we met in person for the first time.

We haven't tried calling each other.

I just can't bring myself to do it. I don't want to- can't - talk to her. (At least not now)

Oddly, if I'd met her before the Adoption Fog induced by Never-Discuss-Adoption- Brainwashing, I'd probably be calling her every week because of my pre-therapy People Pleasing tendencies. I'd call and listen to her talk and talk and hang up and have no clue why I felt unsettled. I'd have no idea that she's self-absorbed due to the neglect she suffered in childhood and, as a result, needs constant attention. I wouldn't have been able to observe that she's an awful lot like my adoptive dad. I wouldn't have been able to laugh at the irony of it all. That the social worker managed to find parents as dysfunctional as the one I would have had if she hadn't abandoned me at the hospital much like the stray kittens she rescued, then tired of a week later and called animal control to haul them away. (Another story she tells with pride).

Speaking of control, I am no longer willing to be controlled by guilt. It's one of the positive things to come out of A Year in Therapy. I am no longer willing to be emeshed or coerced or any of the other things that used to make my life chaotic and inauthentic and shallow.

Many, many things can impact the quality and sustainability of Adoption Reunion.

I am beginning to suspect that I COULD have had a relationship with my first mother IF I had remained in my Adoption Fog and was willing to play my often requested role of listener/supporter. But I want something more. A reciprocal relationship. But from personal experience and from what my birth family says, she's just not capable.

As my mother, she has enormous power. I try and not give it to her - try and think of her as just a woman I'm getting to know - but it's there. This thing between us. Me the daughter. She the mother. The power to make me feel small and invisible. She has the power to send me back to that scary place where her needs are first and mine are, well, whatever she decides. When she doesn't give me the chance to speak, when she interrupts after my sixth consequtive word, when she abruptly changes the subject after I've said something that's important (to me), she's erasing me all over again.

This time, I just can't let that happen. It's psychological suicide.