Years ago, or so it seems, I remember being woken in a frenzy by my mom who was scared and unsure of what to do, as my dad lay unresponsive on the bathroom floor. Minutes later my brothers and I watched groggily as our dad was rushed out of the house on a stretcher, followed by our overwhelmed mom. Upon their return home, she and my dad sat my siblings and I down and let us know that he had cancer. Unsure of what that truly meant, we kids went unscathed–but curious. Not my mom, though. In the days to come, she became even more distant and unaware of her surroundings. Her eyes glazed over and she wore a constant face of fear. In the middle of my dads’ treatment, her face softened a little and she remembered we were still there but the fear never left…not until he died. I have only seen that look on my moms face one other time. It was a little over 9 years later, sitting in a courtroom first waiting for a juried trial to start and then 5 months later waiting for her husband to be sentenced to 50 years in prison for hurting her child. Shell shocked and terrified of losing another thing in her life, that was the last time I saw my mom. Neither time was she fighting for me, but the look is still engrained in my mind…reminding me that just like me she doesn’t process emotions very well. She doesn’t understand what it means to feel, safely. She doesn’t understand the meaning of true, unconditional love. That look that is so engrained in my brain has caused me much turmoil. I feel so indebted to her but at the same time feel she deserves nothing. I tend to do a dance around her…needing and wanting her close to needing and wanting her far-gone and dead. At some points I’ve argued that she doesn’t deserve any of this– that she deserves to have her family all together and happy. And so many other times I’m reminded of why her family, our family, is not all together and happy. Like my moms desolate look, I often wonder if the pain of being so different and the in debt feeling I have towards my mom will ever disappear or if that “look” will forever be engrained in my mind. I wonder if I will ever see her alive again. I struggle knowing that when she dies, I will likely not be able to attend her funeral. I get so very frustrated at the idea that I’ve achieved more than she and more than much of my family ever will. I often wonder what will come of my sisters and brothers who are still heavily exposed to the Crazytown stuff. Does our anger “run in the family” or do we just not process emotions and go straight to anger? What does she really think of my adoptive parents? Did she know it was a “better” life? I wonder if she just couldn’t do it any more and how Zheila, my adoptive mom, would approach her now, 5 years after adoption. I have so many questions for my real family, questions I shouldn’t have as I lived with them until I was 14. Will they ever be answered? Probably not. But it’s in these times of many questions and deep struggles, I am reminded just how similar my mom and I are. I am reminded when I look in the mirror of that desolate, disconnected look from years ago and am reminded that she is still a part of me—we share the same beautiful face that we never can see. I walk down the street in the same manner and am remind that, whether by nature or nurture, we share the same mannerisms. As I sit in class and do my work with perfection, I’m reminded of the times she sat down by herself and colored for hours and never went a decimal over the line and had her colors perfectly matched. No matter how hard I try to not let there be a reminder, every day I’m reminded of my mom and the hurt and the good she brought to me. Every day I see that desolate, shell-shocked face inside my head and it reminds me that she’s still human and that so much of her still needs a little lovin’ too…that just like me, she is more than loveable…no matter her faults.
*Adoption day post coming….soonish