June 3, 2013 § 7 Comments
When Christine asked if I’d be willing to guest blog over at her site, Love Life Surf, I was incredibly honored.
And incredibly nervous.
Christine is my very first, real-life blogging buddy!
We met last summer at New York City’s Chelsea Piers where after a long walk (and talk) we noshed on fish tacos. It was the perfect afternoon.
A few weeks ago, after a weekend visit to my birth family, a post poured out of me that I sent it to Christine unsure if it was right for her site.
She liked it, and chose to share it with her readers today.
My first guest post!
A Life Off the Mat.
So happy for you to head on over and read it, and also to check out Christine’s great blog.
April 11, 2013 § 6 Comments
I’m leaving on a jet plane to see my grandparents whom I’ve only met once.
That’s what happens when you’re adopted and your birth sister searches you out and finds you before your fortieth birthday.
You’re a grown up going to visit grandparents you don’t even know.
But when you get the call that granddad might not be doing so well, you book a flight, because who knows how many more times you’ll have to visit with the patriarch of this family who share your biology.
Even though the trip was a spur of the moment decision (and probably not going to be easy), it is a welcome break from the never-ending assault of divorce, and a spouse who doesn’t like me at all.
My kids might need a little break from me, too, to realize how much I actually do for them.
I’m not saying they’re ungrateful, they’re just too small to be fully aware and too big not to appreciate me more than they do.
Yesterday there were a lot of tantrums and tears. Cooperating with mom was low on their list of priorities.
One child, unaware of her strength, pulled a set of curtains straight from the wall after I refused to let her climb on me while I was on the telephone.
She wouldn’t just “give me a minute” and flew into a temper fit for the books when she realized that I locked myself behind the bathroom door; escaped to finish my conversation.
I did finish my conversation, an important one that needed to be had, but there went the drapes.
The other kid (the one who wears the same thing every day because the rest of her wardrobe tickles) refused to put on a pair of shorts, despite the temperature gauge hitting ninety.
I thought we’d have Spring to ease her into dresses and shorts that annoyingly brush the skin above the knees, but mother nature decided against it and I’m left dealing with “It TICKLES” tantrums.
The only one who hasn’t thrown a wicked tantrum around here is me, but what I would do if I could.
Would you believe me if I said I could scream and cry (on par or) better than the world’s best tantrum throwers?
It’s been done.
But when you’re on the verge of single-motherhood, pitching a fit is not allowed.
Keep it together. Keep it together and it will all work out.
So I’m leaving on a jet plane, but unlike the song, I know when I’ll be back again.
Leaving my kids is hard because they’re the two people I wish I could spend every waking second with.
But this can’t be.
Until Monday, holding my breath, hoping they don’t miss me too much, and daydreaming about the moment I run to hug them, “Hello.”
How do you feel when you leave your kids? When was your last full-fledged tantrum?
Link for Nhuthu @ Etsy
March 10, 2013 § 11 Comments
If you saw the list of unpublished blog posts that have stacked higher over the past few weeks, you’d know something was going on. Having sent a few of those unpublished pieces to friends who “could handle the truth,” and whom I knew would then shine the mirror back for me to see, openly shared that I might want to sit on them for a while. Things like this should never be published in the spur of the moment.
It became ever more obvious to me that what I’ve been writing aren’t blog posts at all, but journal entires; a different kind of writing for a totally different purpose.
My history with journal writing is intermittent, because I can’t stand the process. I’ve had only two periods of intense journal filling in my entire life. Both times I hand-wrote hundreds and hundreds of angst filled pages, until the day I didn’t have anything more to say, and the books were shut and hidden in closets (under beds, in storage, always exactly where I can get to them if I need to).
The thing about journal words is that they hold value while they’re being written, and maybe even a few days later. But they’re also like clouds that float on by, and once they’ve disappeared, are wisps of the past. They aren’t lies, necessarily, but perceptions of reality that sometimes hold less weight once they’ve been released.
Authentic journal writing is stream of consciousness. Other people’s feeling don’t matter. It’s a purely selfish and healing process.
For the sake of truth in writing, and because of a conversation I had yesterday with the wise and beautiful Monica, I am going to post a segment of a piece that I wrote a few weeks ago entitled, What it Feels Like to be Adopted, which I carried around for days until I found myself in tears over it late one night in a dark corner of Starbucks.
When everything gets stripped away and you find yourself in a place of confusion, fear and worry, how can you begin to heal in the tornado of that storm?
It’s not possible until the storm has passed.
Instead, you must care for yourself gently and without too many expectations, difficult for a person like me, absolutely full up of “self-pectations”.
If you can, you should write. Don’t add to the worry and fear and confusion about what it means, but accept it as a tool to lift you out of the pain.
Do you write in a journal?
You don’t look like anybody, so you never really belong anywhere.
Since you don’t look like anyone, you feel like the ultimate black sheep, but you’re born blond and pretty so you don’t look it on the outside, so you just stay kind of quiet, except when you throw temper tantrums because the crazy has to come out somehow.
You are very careful and loving, because you know that you are lucky to be there, and you’re pretty sure something’s crooked on the inside. But you’re a child, so your mind just goes through the motions. Days and nights.
You are loved and you know it. You are living in the 1%. Life is perfect.
But it is your life after all, and maybe the apple isn’t meant to fall so far from the tree, and I did fall from her, and “perfect” she was not, and so ended that fairytale. In its place something got fragmented, which seemed to fit better anyway.
I got used to it anyway.
My sister’s answers filled in the holes that I didn’t realize needed filling.
And suddenly it made sense.
Some people say that adopted people are the lucky ones because they were chosen, but you are smarter than that and they must think you’re really stupid, because the truth is that you were given away by a selfish mother who didn’t want you. She was more worried about her after-life and what God would have to say about the sins of abortion.
Who knows why the first two weren’t given away? They should have been. Boy, should they ever have.
When she woke up and realized that God was a good guise for forgiveness and redemption, she read his words and sang his praises and Lord did the people come to flock.
But her daughters were damaged and she never made amends and I’m the one left who holds the anger that no one else has the strength to carry.
I’m good at holding anger. I’ll harness it for all of the others who’ve dismissed it because they can’t understand it, for the one who is too far gone to understand it, for the one who is too loving to understand it.
I’ve been told it’s not mine to hold, but it is.
It belongs to me and I hold it in the same place I hold my loving God and all of the prophets that serve Him in their way. All those loving prophets help me hold the anger and lift it to the heavens and carry it around and sometimes release it and sometimes use it as a shield.
I might have been saved from it for all of those years; frolicking on sandy beaches, summer trips to Europe, pricey private girl’s schools and fancy houses. I didn’t have to wash my clothes in the bathroom sink for school the next day. And worse. Much worse.
What it feels like to be adopted was a bad title for this post.
It should have been titled, What it Feels Like to Learn the Truth.
March 15, 2012 § 7 Comments
Three is my mom’s lucky number.
She has three children thanks to two adoptions and one miracle (though sometimes we question that miracle and it’s crazy making capabilities).
After my dad had his first heart attack where he was gone and brought back to us, she had three more years with her husband here on Earth.
I’m sure there are other reasons she likes the number three, but it’s far too early to call her to ask. In my opinion, those examples are enough to christen three lucky.
I myself am partial to the number two, but I’ll have to write about that tomorrow.
November 27, 2011 § 3 Comments
You know the party has been successful when you can’t stop thinking about it, replaying the moments over and over again and wishing it could go on forever. I spent the five-hour drive home from Virginia trying to comprehend all of the information I’d gathered. The bright young faces of the cousins and their resemblance to my own kids, my grandparents sitting in the kitchen watching the whirlwind of their family circling around them, my mom in quiet conversation with this new family (that will now be hers too), the buzz of the kitchen during cleanup, the music at the dance party the day after Thanksgiving. The list and the visions are endless and so it’s been decided, I will write a book. Maybe two. There is far too much to cover on a blog.
I also spent the drive home thinking about which story I would cover first, because my birth mother and my grandmother lived extraordinary lives. My mind kept coming back to my sister Gabby, though, whose own story is one of true survival, persistence, and love. My most important goal will be to share my beautiful sister with the world so that they know of her strength, her heart, and the gift that she’s given me; the gift of my biological family.
Back to running! I hadn’t run since that almost ten miler, five days before. On Thanksgiving day, Uncle Donny (the oldest child of my grandparents) and I planned to run on Friday.
I had trepidations. Planning a run with a partner can be daunting. If said partner runs too fast, you burn out too quickly, and what could have been a bonding experience turns out to be sheer speed work. If a partner runs too slowly, then the activity is less about personal training and more about gauging the others’ enjoyment and comfort. It’s rude to push someone too quickly when they run a little more slowly than you. A faster runner should always try to encourage anyone who runs more slowly. It is true what they say, “No matter how slowly you go, you are lapping all those people sitting on the couch!”
Finally, running with men is a different experience altogether. Venus and Mars and such.
Uncle Donny and I decided to set off in the area surrounding our hotel. The weather was perfect, sunny and brisk. I wore my Lululemon speed skirt, which Uncle Chucky (who saw me in the hotel lobby that morning) told me later was quite impressive. Running in a skirt is still a new idea.
We began our run at the first stop sign out of the parking lot and I tried to gauge Uncle Don’s pace. To my surprise, we were perfectly matched. I felt good and we were able to talk.
The first thing he asked me was how I was feeling about all of, “this,” meaning the reunion with Gabby and the family. I told him the story of the night Gabby called mom (Peachie) and how as soon as I was told that my sister had found me, I looked her up on facebook, and called her minutes later.
Uncle Donny wanted me to fill in the blanks; fill in the parts that my sister didn’t know. We spent the next hour running and talking, and I learned more about my birth mom and her mother, Clara. I gained new insight about my grandfather, who up to this point in my trip had spent a lot of our time together looking at me (and the girls), but left the personal questioning to Clara.
I could have kept running forever. After a while we got a little turned around, but since my uncle is a pilot, I knew he’d get me back home, so I felt safe. I internally giggled when he spit on the side of the road, while I was blowing my nose. Runners do gross stuff when they’re on a roll, and I don’t know why, but I love it. I know that makes zero sense to non-runners. Maybe it’s just me, but I have a feeling all runners get a little kick out of that kind of stuff too.
I needed to run during this Thanksgiving experience. Out of the 32 family members and other friends who celebrated with us, I found it amusing that there was only one runner in the bunch. Uncle Chucky used to run, but had hurt his back in an accident. Maybe one day he’ll feel better and run along with us. As the fourth (?) child of Clara and Don, I’m sure he has his own unique perspective.
When our excursion was finished we walked a lap around the hotel to cool down. We talked a bit more and said, “Goodbye,” as the elevator doors opened on his floor (the second). I made my way up to the fourth where my girls were waiting with Peach and Brian.
To say that I was happy is too simplistic. Discovering my family, who was all welcoming and loving was more than I could have ever expected. Being included into a group that claimed me as their own without even knowing me was super cool. Loving people I don’t even know is strange and wonderful. It’s the whole blood-relative thing I’d always wondered about. It should be noted, however, that this wasn’t really my first experience with that kind of love and acceptance. My adopted family did the same for me when my parents brought me home. The difference is that I was a baby and was oblivious to the fact that my entry into the Feldman family was different. To them I was just Martha, and I know they love me too.
Running with Uncle Donny was like the icing on the cake to it all.
Speaking of cake, last night I finished off the chocolate one we left in the fridge before the trip. Funny how some things never change.
November 20, 2011 § 14 Comments
I’m meeting my Grandparents this week.
It’s as crazy as it sounds.
Since I was adopted as a baby it’s taken forty years to meet my biological kin.
Just last February my mom got a call from Gabrielle who said she thought she was my birth sister. Thanks to Facebook and all of her uploaded pictures, there was no doubt she was right.
I spoke to Gabby that night and to my birth mom the very next day.
It was the first time I’d heard the story the story of my birth; the giving up of me.
In the months that followed Gabby came to visit twice and on my birthday surprised me by flying to Raleigh with her children, whom I had yet to meet.
Being with Gabby is easy. We look and talk (a lot) alike.
We’re both stubborn, love clothes, eat too much ice cream, and needed each other in our lives more than we realized in that first conversation.
We’re different too, but meeting Gabby answered many questions that unadopted people take for granted; knowledge about nationality, siblings, body type and personality were finally confirmed.
My birth mom died last August. She was suffering from cancer when Gabby found me and passed away six months to the day after we first spoke. I had been nervous about meeting her in person, but Skyped her a few weeks before her death. It was sad, but I was glad to have a face to face even though she was so sick.
My birth mom had never told the family about me. She kept her secret her entire life only sharing my existence with a couple of people that she trusted.
Gabby only learned that she had a baby sister by the slip of the tongue (she then searched for 14 years).
Not only am I meeting my Grandmother and Grandfather for the very first time as a 40 year old (they are 89 and 90), I’m also meeting aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews (my other sister Danielle’s children), spouses, and (I’m certain) friends of my biological family. Once my birth mother died the secret slowly came out. The grandparents were the last to learn.
Adding to my anxiety about the whole thing is figuring out what I’m going to wear?
I actually do know what I’m going to wear, but the Libra in me will probably change her mind that morning and try on everything else in the closet, before settling on the first thing I’d chosen. It’s my way.
The whole thing is an overwhelming experience and it’s going to take a lot of processing. I hope they like me. I hope the experience is not painful for them.
When my husband awakes I’m going to get ready to run.
After my last run on Friday, I got a lot of feedback about listening to my body and being kind to myself. Instead of going out determined to do the 10 miler that’s on the plan, I’m going to attack my run like a yoga practice; go in with no judgement, setting my intention at the start. It’s not exactly tough marathon training where I must complete a certain mileage, rather a kinder way of being that will help me manage the uncertainties of this coming week.