Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Just Plain Worn Out
She is a mother and a grandmother. Her daughter is ill and she spends a lot of time taking care of her grandchildren while her daughter is treated for her condition. That is a very active, all boy pre-schooler and a happy, playful infant girl. She also runs her own business from her home.
As an adoptee, she has been raised to be a caretaker to everyone and to their emotions. She has been the recipient of very conditional love from her adopters and they think nothing of making heavy demands of her. Learning to say "No" has been an issue with her. Now, in a new relationship with her Natural Mother, and dealing with the ups and downs of emotions that come with reunion, she is feeling the effects.
It is that way on both sides, that of the Mother and the Adult Child. The intensity of the emotions, dealing with adoptive family members, running the gauntlet of everyday life, all this can enervate you in a New York minute. If I were to give anyone who is in a new reunion any advice (not on reunion relationships because I obviously suck at that), it would be to get plenty of rest, eat right and take vitamins. Our emotions act on our bodies just as much as our physical activity and if there was ever an ultra-emotional time in any one's life, it would have to be at reunion.
I am dealing with a beloved pet with cancer, a husband with a chronic condition that flares up now and then, trying to get the house ready and hope for a buyer, dealing with issues of septic systems, wells and other lovely necessities at our property in WV, plus dealing with the problems of my raised children. I am also dealing with the estrangement from my oldest child after 17 years in reunion. That may be a blessing in disguise, because I was never able to understand what she wanted from me and I always felt drained whenever we talked.
There comes a time for both Mothers and Adult children when we have to go for some "Me" time. I'm not talking about backing off from a reunion, although some find they have to, but the more prosaic ideas of time for oneself...some self-pampering and relaxation.
And it might be a good time for my new friend to reflect on the fact that she has spent the biggest part of her life being a caretaker for the feelings of others. That, in itself, is enough to wring you out and bring you down. Observing from the outside, where it is not my child that is of concern, I see a lot of co-dependency in many adopter/adoptee relationships. They obey a tacit, covert command to participate in a life built upon a legalized lie and the expectations of the adopters. I'm sorry, but that can't be healthy. It is no more healthy that the fog many of us Mothers live in from surrender to reunion and the way many of us try to re-claim our babies from the persona of the adult adoptee or allow ourselves to be used by them out of guilt.
In the more severe cases of this dysfunction of the adoptive home, I have seen adults adoptees who never learned to work things out by honest communication but who are masters at manipulation. I have seen those who alternate between emotional neediness and raging anger. I have witnessed the most nasty behavior from some that I have ever seen. Their lives are ruled by their anger and misconceptions, many implanted by their adopters. The lucky ones are the ones who look within themselves for their identity and also recognize that bullshit stinks.
This is not true of all adoptees across the board, but it is indicative of enough of the population of adopted people to be problematic. For many of us who surrendered our babies, it is equally enraging to find these damaged adults (and it is noted that some are more damaged than others and some function better than others). We were backed against a wall and had no choice but to place our newborns, beautiful and filled with promise, into the hands of the Industry, trusting that they would be placed with paragons of parental perfection. Many found good, loving people but even the best didn't make up for the pre-verbal trauma of separation from the mother. And for Mothers like me, who found badly damaged adult children, it has been heart-breaking, anger-producing and, yes, exhausting.
I am a big fan of the mini-vacation. Even if it is nothing more than a day spent in one's PJ's, the phone and the Internet turned off and a good book, we need restoration for our emotions and spirits. My new friend needs a "Me" day, I need a "Me" day and I can think of quite a few family members and friends who could benefit from a lot of "Me" days.
I just threw the makings of an easy Beef Stroganoff into the crock pot. I am in my comfy lounger with the kangaroo pockets in front and have soft socks on my feet. I am reading an F. Paul Wilson "Repairman Jack" novel and Rocky is asleep beside my chair. Hubby is experimenting with baking, again and the a/c is set just right.
Me Day, here I come. Join me, if you need to.