Hey friend hey! While many of us are still in holiday recovery mode, some are also looking ahead to resolutions and goal setting for the coming year. I am in the middle. I could seriously use a nap right this instance. Instead, I am working and mulling over my word for the 2019. I have shared with friends that my word for 2018 was REIGNITE. I chose it after analyzing the year 2016 when I let many things that I loved, fall to the wayside due to the busyness of life and a bout with depression (a little transparency here). I found myself primarily doing the things that I HAD to do to survive. Those things kept me busy but not fulfilled. When I selected REIGNITE after attending a class in 2017, it caused me to take action in a way that I hadn’t before. Continue reading Stoked In 2019
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!
I’ve been contemplating this whole New Years thing, reading the resolves (cheering for those who make them) and I’ve come to accept that for ME it is simply another day to move forward, beyond that which I’ve already accomplished, in the amount of time I have left on the planet. That’s what keeps me moving–>The idea that there is much to do
and the unknowing of how much time I have left
to do it. I have not a moment to waste. I never want to be the one looking back… wishing I had focused more on LIVING. The older I get, the more I contemplate this.
While some are just considering- I am learning, loving, giving and pressing toward what makes me happy hoping THAT inspires others. After all THINGS will always be there… THINGS can eventually become someone else’s… But LIFE, the experiences that come with and what you do with them.. they will always be Yours alone… Just as MINE will remain mine. That’s plenty to take into the next day. An entire year will be icing on the cake.
Happy Tuesday y’all!
I was asked by an agency that aided in the fight for Adoptees to gain access to original birth certificates in Ohio, to compose an update on my experience after getting my own this year. I thought I’d share my post with a few additions here:
As it is my birthday and the first day of spring, March 20 has always been a symbolic date for me. It speaks of new beginnings, warmer temperatures, the return of sunshine and the subsequent melting of ice and snow from the streets of Columbus, Ohio. In 2015, I received yet another layer of newness- the release of original birth certificates for all adoptees born in this great state. I am adopted. I used to have trouble saying it out loud. The shame, the secrecy and the jokes about being adopted made it nearly impossible for me to share that side of my life with but a few close ones. I am still healing from the suppressed hurt of being relinquished. But I AM healing and that is the good part. The changes to unseal records in Ohio were a huge part of that healing and a long time coming. I wasn’t sure it would ever happen in my life time.
The excitement had been building since the announcement the year before. A year-long waiting period was created to allow birth mothers time and opportunity to block the release of their information. Having been in reunion since November, 2004 I had no idea if my birth mother Jo would be one of those mothers. I visited her in California in early March. The subject did not come up even once as we overlooked the gray skies of Manhattan Beach nor when we conversed poolside at my hotel. Once again, she made promises that she could not keep. I recorded them so that I would remember they were not a figment of my imagination. I needed that too as part of my healing.
I went to Vital Statistics with great anticipation to begin the process when I returned from LA. The media was there interviewing others. I wished they could interview us all. All of our stories are unique and interesting. We had all waited for the day; some of us for decades. It was interesting to see so many “regular” people of multiple ethnicities, men, women, young and old. When I walked back out into the warmth of the sunlight after submitting my request- I felt at peace knowing another part of my journey as an adoptee was coming to a close.
My birth certificate arrived about 30 days later. My heart skipped a beat when it arrived in the mail. I waited til evening to open it at my dining room table to finally read it. The sun once again shone on my back, comforting me. I opened it, and was relieved to find she hadn’t blocked it as I had read happened to others (a total of 16 in Ohio). I felt a little numb as I read the documentation that showed my true origins and my given name (Gloria Marie). I told my close friends and they celebrated with me via text… wished me closure. I noted some parts were wrong. My birth father’s name was not listed but he was stated to be white. That made me laugh. I know him and he is far from. Some of my adoption paperwork was included- items I’m sure my adoptive mother no longer has. I plan to send a copy to her and to my biological mother.
Jo and I have had a rocky reunion. It has been hot and cold but mostly cold. Perhaps stagnant is a better word. Together we are a still body of water with potential to move should the wind ever blow this way or that. I have come to a place of peace with our status. She sometimes sends me texts from sunny California saying “your life matters”. The good news is that I already know this. I live my life on purpose with each day and year I remain on the planet. The better news is that on paper- I am real just like every one else I know. I am not made up. I exist and I have the paperwork to prove it.
After months of being in a rut with my natural hair (no desire to style it or anything!), I went into a local salon and asked an old friend and sister to cut my hair like a picture I’d found on Facebook. She used to keep my hair tight when I wore it short years ago. I’d sent her a pic a week prior asking if she would cut it. She asked if I was sure and told me I should think about it. She promptly stopped communicating with me for several days! Haha!! I knew that she really wanted me to think about it and so I pondered over it heavily for several days before we spoke again. I had limited availability so when during our next text message, she said I could come on Wednesday on my lunch hour, I said “yes”. Yet, on Wednesday, I almost backed out. My son pleaded with me to keep my long hair. He shared that my journey inspired him to have a love for natural hair (that’s great, I did my job!). At some point I phoned a friend expressing my hesitation and she called me a “punk”. Thanks a lot Rhonda!
I thought theleast I could do was show up at the salon and chat with my old friend. I sat in the chair and after asking if I was sure- she shaved the left side. I used my iPhone to glance at myself having reached the ultimate, point of no return. As she rinsed color from the hair of another client, I thought about changing my mind and leaving with my undercut. In the end, she and I got through the ordeal which seemed more painful to her than to me. Ultimately, I left a happy camper experiencing ZERO regret. I did not allow negative thoughts to talk me out of my plan. I allowed change to happen and I felt better for it.
See… you probably thought this post was about hair. Perhaps you even experienced some anxiety on my behalf, or negative feelings toward a change I wanted to make within myself. If you had encountered me during the process, you might have talked me out of it. I might have allowed your opinion to change mine. Or- you might have applauded my efforts. Either way, the important thing is this- CHANGE CAN BE GOOD. WITHOUT IT- WE ARE STILL THE SAME OLD DOLLAR BILL. We have to be willing to change parts of ourselves without hesitation or dependent on the opinions of others. This one is for my good. Today, I’m walking around feeling like a shiny, new quarter ready to be spent! I feel very capable of making decisions for myself after having given my ideas lots of thought. I have long fashioned my processing after the sculpted “Thinker” figure my mother kept atop the mantle of my childhood. The key is to allow change to happen gracefully, moving yourself and others out of the way. Take time to understand the associated risk and the pay off! That’s what I did with a simple decision about a haircut. I weighed the pros and cons. The cons were minimal. The worst that could happen didn’t outweigh the best that could replace them. I can’t stop smiling at myself in the mirror. I feel bold and as my girl Kisha said, I have “balls” for just doing it on a whim before I could change my own, or allow others to change my mind. I’ve begun to see things around me more clearly since I let go of that old hair; allowing the journey of others to inspire change in me… to get ME moving in a myriad of ways I’ll share later. I got to thinking about the things I’ve been neglecting, the loss of my time due to work and other obligations and how my true passions have been neglected.Just like my hair, I needed to change… to figure out how to make a dollar out of 15 cents (as I sang in my childhood. I now know what that means!). I’m working on that and have made an effort to change the way I go about spending my time. I am wearing my physical and mental change in thought on the inside and it is reflecting on the outside. That brings me to exactly how we should see change- as something to review, ACCEPT but DON’T DWELL on the hard parts (ex: for me- I will need to go to the barber/salon more!), FIND the good (no more long styling sessions!), and EMBRACE only the good aspects. That’s a good revelation for me. And to think it all started with a simple haircut. But this… today.. ain’t about hair. 😀
~Peace and Love Always