Disconnecting to Connect

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Hi, my name is Lynne, I manage a blog and I’ve been disconnected. I have missed talking music over here! Truly there are always great tunes to discuss (have you heard the recent offerings of Esperanza Spalding? If you want to hear a project that is just beautiful to the senses – check out the work she has released from 12 Little Spells. Touch in Mine made me want to cry over its beauty). I started a private, music group on Facebook many months ago. You can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/157552298230119/

So back to the point of this post- why and how have I been disconnected? Lately I have felt compelled to discuss adoption and the true, often undisclosed implications of growing up adopted, and eventually becoming an adult adoptee. It’s the heaviest burden I’ve carried my entire life (cue Bag Lady by Erykah Badu). Many of the associated feelings I’ve experienced aren’t good and I haven’t wanted to write about them. It’s complicated, ya know? Along with shame, I’ve always carried with me the concern of hurting people who love me and would feel a certain way about me discussing my life circumstances. So, I’ve kept quiet. But- I’ve finally begun to realize that it does not serve me to keep it bottled up. I’m also aware of the importance of changing the dialogue around familial pain, particularly as it relates to adoption. To be clear, I have a great immediate family and a small circle of friends who are fantastic and amazing. They allow me space to purposely disconnect so that I can focus on my “stuff” (my introversion requires it). They also reel me back in when that time has drawn out a little too long. When it comes to writing, there is no one to hold me accountable, or keep me connected beyond the guilt in my head. But recently one of my adoptee peers named my blog and noted aloud during a meeting that I hadn’t posted in a while (thanks Pamela!). My mind was a little blown and I felt guilty, so here we are.

Disconnecting purposely from things and activities that no longer served me was my goal this summer. This included limiting my time on social media and television, choosing to enjoy the outdoors and submerge myself in activities and projects. I removed the voices of others when it came to my situations. In doing this, every decision I made, was mine alone. During this sabbatical of sorts, I woke up one morning feeling a disconnect from certain persons. These are people whom I’d long accepted as a primary source of my sustenance on the planet, no matter how often that sustenance felt like poison. In this group is my biological mother. It’s been 14 years since I found her. With zero progress, I didn’t feel a notice was necessary but I did provide some context in a brief explanation. It landed I suspect, like a tree in an empty forest, to little or no fanfare. She offered no response and I’m ok with that. My decision was about freeing up head space and moving forward. I simply decided using an internal version of the popular catchphrase- “times up” and began the process of cutting mental ties. After all of this time, I just don’t have the mental capacity to continue saving space for those who have none for me. Adoptees would call this part of- coming out of the fog.

I’ve been participating in Weight Watchers for the last 3 months. We recently discussed body image and how some families have thin and not so thin members upon whom to measure oneself. I listened and then shared my perspective as follows. I grew up in a family of people who were mostly tall, thin and either light or dark in complexion. As the oldest girl, and second oldest child- I was the shortest in my family from about fourth grade on and always had caramel brown skin with red undertones. I used to look at my family members and wonder if I’d ever blend. This only continued with age as our bodies developed, mine developed toward a more short and athletic build. People used to ask me all the time if I ran track. While I played flag football and participated in intramural sports through middle school (believe it or not), I never ran. I also never stayed at a school long enough to find out if I was fast when compared to my peers. I participated for fun and because I loved being outside. The important part of this is that I received no influence from “genetic mirroring”. This means biologically, I’ve never had much in common or looked like my adoptive family beyond race (which is important also imo).  As a result, I had the minimum in terms of a guiding familial footprint/mentoring. I was never pushed in any direction nor provided reason to think I’d be good at running or anything else. I feel like it was a sort of- throw it against the wall and see what sticks kind of upbringing. I’ll share more on this subject in another post but hopefully you get the gist. It would be decades before I would see familial bodies that mirrored my own, let alone ideologies and interests. Years passed before I understood I’d been looking at the wrong people/bodies all along and sometimes I had to be reminded I’d never look like them. It’s quite awkward and sometimes disheartening to be unable to identify your tribe visually. At the end of the WW meeting, the leader turned to me and said- “I just want to tell you that you are a beautiful woman”. I smiled and thanked her. I understood that my words, the deeper meaning of them, did reach at least one person in the room who complained her body did or did not genetically match that of her mother or others in the family. You can see though- that the makings of disconnection happen for adoptees very early in life. At an early age, we just don’t/didn’t know what to call it. That is a brief lesson on Genetic Mirroring.

Fast forward to today- I am finally starting to talk more openly about the fact that I’m adopted and that I found my birth mother almost 14 years ago. My choice to disconnect is evidence that our reunion has not gone swimmingly. I discovered my birth father too, but I’ll save that conversation for another day. When I first found my birth mom, we got off to what I thought was a great start. That start however has been muddied by her inconsistencies and inability to move forward. It perhaps hurts her to see me, looking so much like her, after years of thinking she’d never see me again. Genetic mirroring is clearly not a positive for everyone. I became protective over the years, making excuses for her and I’ve finally disconnected from that activity also. But- it has probably been difficult to be transported by my existence back to a time she’d chosen to forget. During our last communication, I told her the same. That last part was done in a moment of frustration and sometimes I wish I could take it back. I sometimes feels like I’m reliving a goodbye scene in a movie, over and again; standing on the other side of the door hoping she’ll open it and swear her undying love for me. I leave it be though, knowing that no matter how hard you try to change a river- without something mountainous happening to reverse its course- it just keeps on flowing in the same direction.

It’s taken me a long time to be ok with all of these disconnects. Some of them have become permanent. In some way, all of them have cleared my mind and helped me uncover my parts unknown. Every day I continue to arrive at a place of unapologetic comfort with my voice, my abilities, myself. I am choosing my connections carefully, noting where each one takes me. Each landing, while at times a little bumpy, has been everything I ever imagined and more. I only wish I’d begun to jump sooner.

We’ll talk music soon! Peace!

 

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2 thoughts on “Disconnecting to Connect”

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! Before reading this, I wasn’t very knowledgeable of genetic mirroring and how that can impact an adoptee’s ability to connect to their adoptive family.

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