Healing

Healing

Every evening at 8:30, my phone dings. Actually, now my watch dings too. I love living in the future.

Anyway, the things ding and I look at whichever one I feel like looking at and read the following words.

“I am worthy of healing.”

I just opened the app to see when I set that reminder. Apparently my technology has been reminding me that I am worthy of healing every evening since December… 2016. For over a year, I’ve picked up my phone and swiped aside the reminder.

I am worthy of healing. Swipe.
I am worthy of heal…swipe.
I am worthy of…swipe.
I am worthy…swipe.
I am worth…swipe.
I am w…swipe.
I am…swipe.
I…swipe.

Ding…swipe.

Some nights, I’m deep in the thick of getting the boys off to bed. In between snacks and “go take your shower” and laying out clothes and filling diffusers and tripping over dogs and waving a towel at the smoke detector that goes off when they forget to close the bathroom door while showering, my watch dings.

I look at it, however briefly, and I go back to the momming.

I don’t have time to consider healing most days. I’m lucky to deal with the laundry and the dogs and dinner and homework and caregiving and the ten-hour writing job I took on to help fill the financial gaps since having to leave the business. I’m making a concerted effort to maintain daily self-care because when I don’t, things go poorly.

Things meaning my mind.

Some nights, I am just sitting down on the couch. Maybe it’s a weekend. Maybe we’re on Snow Day Eleven Billion and the boys don’t have to get to bed before 9. Maybe it’s a miracle. But I hear the ding and I sigh.

Healing. Worthy.

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These words seem exceptionally hard and extremely far away. What do they even mean? What does healing even look like? My therapist keeps asking me the same thing, over and over.

What does forgiving yourself look like? What does forgiving yourself feel like?

I don’t know. That’s why I’m in therapy. Duh.

I don’t know, though. I don’t know what it feels like to wake up and go through an entire day without telling myself that it’s all my fault. What, exactly? Everything. If I had done this or that or anything or everything differently, we wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t hate myself. I wouldn’t doubt every step.

And worthy? That feels like a hard concept to grasp, too.

You see, I can’t begin to consider being worthy because I don’t know how to forgive myself which would initiate the whole healing process. This is my carousel of self-loathing, spinning me round and round for all eternity. I don’t even know which one needs to come first at this point because all feecl equally impossible. I’m not worthy. I’m never going to heal. This is my life.

And then…

Some nights, those random evenings in between, I’m caught off guard. I know it’s coming, but it will ding and I’ll be like, “What?” I’ll look and, right before I swipe, I’ll feel something.

Healing.

Worthy.

Something washes over me, my finger hovering over my device. For a second, I believe these words are a possibility, an inevitability even. I breathe and feel them somewhere deep inside. They’re tucked in deep, wedged beneath memories and hurt, behind fear and anger at myself, at the system, at the things I didn’t know. In that one breath though, I know that someday I’ll know what forgiving myself looks like, what it feels like.

And it’s going to feel so beautiful.

Healing

 

A Broken Birthday

It’s my daughter’s birthday.

On her first birthday, I pushed down all of the emotions I felt as I attended her birthday party. Most of the people didn’t know who I was. Those who did, thanked me and told me how grateful they were for my sacrifice. It felt awful and weird and nothing the adoption facilitator, not anything I had read online prepared me for watching my daughter’s parents pose for picture after picture with her while no one asked me to smile with her.

Still, I felt grateful. Not many birth parents get to attend their child’s first birthday. I knew I was lucky, even if it felt weird.

Every birthday since then, I’ve either been able to speak with my daughter or be in attendance. I’ve either told her, “Happy birthday, I love you,” on the phone or in person. It’s always been me, doing this thing. It was part of the promise I made to her as I held her on that first evening, back when she was still mine and mine alone. I promised I’d always be there.

I didn’t wish her a happy birthday today.

Or, I did.

When the clock rolled over to midnight, still awake and feeling an overwhelming mix of emotions, I sent a birthday wish out into the universe. This afternoon, I sent her mom a text asking her to send along my birthday wishes—if she felt that wouldn’t make my daughter’s day worse. My daughter’s mother did and reported back.

But I didn’t speak to my daughter.

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I didn’t get to tell my daughter that I love her. No matter what. Always. Forever. I didn’t get to tell her that I understand certain aspects of her life. I was once a teenage girl. I didn’t get to apologize for not knowing, way back when, how my decision would negatively affect her, her brothers, me, all of us.

I didn’t get to tell her that she’ll always have a piece of my heart.

She doesn’t want to speak to me right now, doesn’t want me in her life.

They don’t tell you about that when you’re considering placement. They don’t tell you that someday your child may want nothing to do with you even though you’ve been there, every single day, since day one. They don’t tell you that the first birthday after your child decides you’re expendable feels worse than death.

My heart is broken. It’s just broken. I physically hurt.

I can’t even write anything more eloquent than that tonight. I’m broken.

14 years ago I gave birth to a baby girl. They told me I could be a part of her life. I was. Until I wasn’t allowed to be anymore.

Happy birthday, my daughter. I love you. Always. I will be here when you are ready. Until then…

What’s In A Name

What’s In A Name?

My parents got a new dog. He doesn’t have a name yet. I spoke with them earlier today and they told me a few of their ideas, one in particular. I ran it by my husband.

“I don’t like it. It’s not him.”
“What? I love it.”
“I don’t.”
“How did we name anything?”
“Stickers on cars.”
“Well, and one dog came with a name in place.”

We named our youngest son on the way home from an ultrasound. We wanted him to have a J-middle name, but felt clueless about what his name-name should be. The car in front of us at the light before the courthouse had a sticker with a football and a name.

I read it aloud, followed by our last name. We looked at each other and shrugged.

We owned baby name books. We read them over incessantly with both boys. Ridiculous names. Strong names. Presidential names, whatever that means, Donnie. Irish names. Gaelic names. Names names names. Then we saw that name on the back of a car, and everything felt right.

I later worked with the mother of the child whose name was on the back of that vehicle. She’s a smart lady.

Someday, probably when he is in the process of choosing baby names—or even dog names—our youngest son will question our procedure. But when he arrived and we looked at him, all fresh and new and so different from our older son, he just seemed like him. Now, at almost 10, he is simply himself. He resembles his name. He his who he is.

The adoption agency told me not to give my daughter a name.

“It will cause you to think of her as yours. And she’s not.”

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Prior to falling ill at 18 weeks, I toyed with some names. Classic names. Names I had written with young boyfriend’s last names to see what they looked like, as I did with my own. But they told me it wasn’t my job, to name her. So I didn’t. I still can’t tell you what I would have chosen, though some birth mothers can. There are two that sit deep in my soul; maybe they would have combined to her fist and middle names. We’ll never know.

When we named our first dog, we sat in the darkening night and ran through name after name, the old baby book on my lap and a smartphone I hand. I hate that it feels like I put more thought into my dog’s name than my daughter’s name. But no one told me, “You don’t have a right to name your dog.”

Just my daughter.

This is one of those adoption issues I can logically recognize; the adoption industry used my lack of knowledge against me. They knew that mothers who names their babies were more likely to make the—lawful—decision to parent. It’s the same reason why they told me not to breastfeed. But still, I hate that I didn’t see it for what it was. I was so naive, so green, I couldn’t see what they were doing.

Someday, if my daughter ever asks, I will share the two names that sit with me. She might hate them, and knowing her as I do, I’m not sure they fit her. But I will tell her. If she asks. If she lets me back in. If.

I named the baby we lost to miscarriage, Rose. After my great-grandmother, after the roses in my flower garden. We don’t know if she was a girl, but the name fit. She fit, so briefly, in our lives.

I hate my given name. It was the number one name the year I was born and a handful of years on either side. Our youngest, our sticker car baby, has a name in the top ten of his birth year and some surrounding years. Maybe he’ll hate it. Maybe he won’t care. Our older son prefers the shortened version of his name, even though I prefer his given name.

What’s In A Name?

I don’t know what my parents will name their dog. I’ll love him no matter his name, just like I love my children and all of their names. But more so. Because they’re my children.