Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Made to Feel" What?

I would love to pass on a lesson I learned, and almost learned too late in life, that allows me a bit of peace of mind. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission." After a lot of work, reading and counseling, I came upon the simple fact that no one can make anyone else feel anything without their permission.

Let's take the mother of adoption loss as one example. When we were younger (many of us in our teens), it was easy for us to be influenced by what others thought of us. I bought into the shame, figuring I was some variety of the lesser, slutty, delinquent sinner. That was THEN. I finally grew up and learned the truth. I not only learned it, I assimilated it, I believed it and I started treating myself accordingly. Though hard to work through, I realized that I had allowed the assumptions of others to keep my world rocky and harsh. I looked outside myself for my happiness and self-worth and never thought to look inward. It was right there all the time.

I had stuffed down years of anger until it became clouded and self-directed and very, very toxic. When I allowed expression of all that anger, the dark parts, the ones that said "poor me" went the way of the Dodo and I was left with what I call justified indignation at the injustice done to a large group of vulnerable young women and their babies. I also realized that I didn't deserve the derision and judgmental attitudes I received. I was okay then and I am okay now. It was a revelation on the order of the discovery of fire. I could feel what I wanted to feel. I could be, as Abraham Lincoln said, as happy as I had a mind to be. I could allow others to feel what they wanted to feel without being threatened by that or hostile if it was counter to my perceptions. Blessed freedom!

Now, I read a comment, yesterday, that was prefaced by the words, "the adoptee is made to feel...etc." If every other adult in the world is expected to be responsible for their own feelings, why not the adopted adult? It's not easy to change, but listening to the old tapes of a child trying to make sense out of the unnatural situation of adoption does no one, not them, not their natural mother, not their adopters or anyone else any good. It just keeps the flames fanned and the message mangled. The work it takes to incorporate the truth into one's emotions and find one's own road to self-acceptance and peace is hard but worth it.

It was the reaching of clarity that allowed me to direct my indignation at the source of my trauma. The adoption industry, a Puritanical society, a social experiment and a self-serving government along with the coveting of my flesh and blood did this to me and I didn't deserve it. I cannot blame my mother..she genuinely thought she was helping me. I can't blame myself. I was young, ignorant of what was happening and terrified. I can't blame my blameless children. None of these are responsible for my emotions. My feelings are, now, totally up to me and my understanding of what was and what is.

The truth, for the vast majority of adopted people, especially those from the EMS, is that they were NOT abandoned, they were NOT "throw-aways," they WERE loved and wanted and Mommy is not a heartless slut. Unfortunately, a few of us are still the frightened girls hiding in a woman's body. They are the ones still in hiding. Conversely, there are the adult adoptees looking for a punching bag and someone to blame. Those who go among them, especially mothers, need to tread warily.

Well, I am stating the Natural Mother's Declaration of Peace and Freedom. I am responsible for no one's feelings or attitudes or actions but my own. I cannot make you feel anything without your permission. In fact, I don't want the responsibility for anyone else's emotional welfare. It's an impossible burden to bear and a lose-lose situation for all concerned. When you were an innocent baby on the adoption auction block and I was a frightened, desperate, uninformed teen mother-to-be, shame on them for what they did to both of us. But now that we are adults, if we harbor low self-esteem, enmity or stereotype all moms or adoptees or drink/use drugs/overeat/etc., "to forget" or otherwise abuse ourselves and others, then SHAME ON US!

We have a common enemy, the ones who are truly responsible for the grief we suffered from our separation; the sealed records laws, the industry and those that stand to gain from this heinous act of separation of mother and child. Let's go after them and stop trying to make each other the answer to our problems, angers and sadness. And let's live and let live. We senior mothers are fighting our own battle. We don't need to fight anyone else, especially our children or each other.

Let's all grow up.


Von said...

Too right, let's do it with compassion remembering that adoptees were babies and some mothers very young themselves at the time.What we are now is our responsibility.

id44 EMT TRAINING said...

Hi Robin,

Well written and so very true. WE mothers along with our babies were used for others happiness and needs.
We have survived the evil acts of social workers, churches, and our own families. We are survivors. Most can't even comprehend what we have endured. But we have endured.

As far as the fighting among mothers I too feel we need to let go of that and unite together. Each of us has our own perception of what happened to us and why. Lets not let the industry have one more day of tearing us up as mothers, or as friends. WE all have our story, and All of those stories end the same way with our babies being taken, for adoption bottom line.