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Next Life, NO Kids: April 2017

April 30, 2017

It Will Happen

I woke up this morning with an arm on my lap. The kids had both crawled into bed, and my husband had not yet hopped into the shower. It could have been anyone's arm. But when I looked down, I couldn't recognize it. 

It was too big to be one of the kids' and too hairless to belong to my husband. It startled me for a minute as I watched it move and felt no connection to it.

It was my arm. Apparently, I slept on it and it was asleep. I was moving it, and couldn't own it, because I couldn't feel it.

Sometimes that's what it feels like to be adopted. Sometimes that's what life feels like after repeated trauma and uncertainty. Sometimes I see it moving, and it's difficult to own, because I can't feel it. 

I wake up sometimes and don't know where I am. I'm sure it has something to do with the insomnia, and the fact that I'm probably hitting R.E.M. when I'm meant to get up, but it's still jarring to not know where you are. It doesn't feel safe, and home is supposed to be safe.

Feeling safe at home isn't something I take for granted, and it was something I didn't experience often, if ever, until I met my husband. 

When you grow up too fast and learn the dangers of vulnerability too early, life doesn't feel safe. When the grownups in your life act like anything but, and you're forced to pick up and play with scattered pieces of your life instead of Care Bears and Barbies, safety means something different. 

It means trust in self, and the ability to outrun or dodge dangerous people and events. It means never feeling comfortable with anyone unless you have the upper hand and can somehow control the relationship or situation. It means constant vigilance and not a lot of time for relaxation -- for "just being a kid," and trusting that someone else will take care of you/it. 

I've lost count of how many times someone has suggested the solution to the enormous amount of responsibility and stress I carry is to "relax" or "let go." I've learned that only through God's grace, because I know better than to trust humans 100%. Humans are fallible and they always disappoint. Yes, always. Maybe not today or next week, but wait for it. 

It will happen. 

I have learned throughout my recovery that having expectations of literally anyone is a set up for disappointment. That lesson was easy. If you can't expect much from the people you have no choice but to depend on, you own that rather quickly. 

Suddenly life at age 10 feels like survival, because no one can be trusted. You learn how to make a life threatening crisis seem like no big deal and then find yourself freaking out over burnt toast or an unidentified arm on your lap. It becomes hard to decipher when to react and when to crawl into fetal position and wait for the end. 

My husband has passed all of my tests, and because of that I trust him more than I've ever trusted anyone; which is, enough. I depend on him more than I should, and I spend too much time worrying about how I would ever do any of this without him. 

I feel safe here - even when I wake up with a strange arm on my lap - and there aren't words to describe what that means.

So, if you're you're doing everything in your power to heal, and holding on tight for the day you might feel okay, and you're not sure you ever will, please just keep holding. 

Trust me. It will happen.

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April 29, 2017

Let's Breathe. Breathing Is Good

I started this blog because I wanted to die. It's that simple and complicated. 

I was barely making it through days of torment and abuse at the hand of postpartum depression, anxiety and OCD, and it was getting harder and harder to fight off the feelings that the world might be better off without me. 

I needed to write like I needed air, and letting my feelings out - whether by sharing my 'what the bloody fuck' motherhood moments and laughing a bit or some of the darker moments that had me feeling alone - this blog and the human connections I made with other women saved my life. Sounds dramatic, right? It was. 

When I think about those days, I am filled with so much gratitude for you. How you listened to me, like really listened to me, during a time in my life I wasn't sure my voice was worthy of the waves that carried it. You loved me when I was sure I was unlovable, and even after I told you what a broken piece of shattered glass I was. 

Of course I was terrified to let you in, but I didn't have a choice, because writing my truth was the life-line that kept me from the thinking about how many pain pills I had left in the medicine cabinet. I'm not exaggerating. It really was that bad. 

I know without this space I wouldn't be here. 

But with that openness came community, and with that community came responsibility. And with those obligations came that old worry that what I said might bore or turn you away, and I worried that I might be left alone again. So, I adjusted, and instead of keeping with my commitment to just keep breathing, I tried to entertain you -- to keep you. 

I knew if I published my down times too much, you'd judge me for being a pathetic loser and leave. I knew that if I didn't have what I've been told is "appropriate balance" between the serious and funny, you'd wonder what the hell you were doing on a such a depressing "humor" blog. I forgot who I was writing for. I forgot what I was writing for. 


Because really, it was the writing that saved me. It was the writing that brought about this incredible community; not the other way around. And because of the writing, and my willingness to be brutally honest, even when it's ugly, I have a genuine following of amazing people in my corner. 

Hiding away my human parts for special occasions isn't helpful to anyone; least of all me. Being honest about the ugly - out loud and proud - has changed my life. I have also been told many times that it has changed some of your lives. 

I'm going to try to publish my thoughts here at least every other day, even when if I'm sure they suck and I'd rather not. You may not like or relate to whatever pours out of me, and that has to be okay. 

I'm done suffocating. I need to breathe. 

Let's breathe. 
Breathing is good.


April 27, 2017

All The King's Horses

I'm still navigating my way through all feels birthmother, and now the decision to go back to school and get some pretty letters after my name so I can be taken more seriously. Lately I'm experiencing this underlying resentment that all of this is so much fucking work. 

Feelings are exhausting. I feel like I'm trudging through quicksand, and if I stay still too long I'm going to sink. There's so much I want to say, but I'm still so attached to the outcome and not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, so I've been stuffing some shit. I've also been eating way healthier now that I've cut out gluten and dairy from my diet, so I can't even disappear into a loaf of fucking bread or pint of B&J. 

I'm not even sleeping anymore, because my brain is taking every op to lay out all the reasons I already have to be terrified and doubt myself. What the hell am I thinking?

I lay awake at night stressing about emails and phone calls I might never actually return at this point, classes I'll probably fail anyway, and wondering what would happen if I hired a private investigator and just showed up at my mother's front door. 

What's it feel like to have absolutely no say in something that slays a jagged hole throughout your entire life? Lemme show you. 

A part of me really wants to be that kind of person. I wish I really was that stupid or brave or insane. And then I snap out of thinking like a psycho, and cross back into the land of the (somewhat) mentally stable, and I shame myself for even thinking that some invasion of her life and privacy might make me feel better. 

I turn into a petulant child, and want someone to hurt like I'm hurting. I want someone else to pay the consequence. I want permission to say what I'm thinking without fearing the world will end or that I might ruin someone's life. 

I'm tired of feeling like someone's mistake. I'm tired of remaining silent, because someone might not like what I have to say. I'm tired of putting other people's feelings above my own, and I'm tired of pretending that's normal.

I didn't get a say in any of this adoption shit, and I think that's what has me so bothered. Making the decision to pay someone $500 to search for her was the first time I got to call a shot, and the fact that she just left my ball all desperate-looking on her side of the net makes me want to scream in someone's face. I want to take it back. I want to send her a message that she doesn't get to have the first and final say. 

There has to be one thing in this fucked up situation that is mine. But no, my feelings and life are somehow insignificant, and her right to ignore me is more important than my right to know literally anything about who I am or where I came from. 

To boot, when I get all wrapped up in self, I'm a horrible wife, mother, and friend. I have no idea where the balance is between self-care and the time I deserve to sit in my own shit and actually showing up for life. It's all or nothing, and right now it's the latter. I don't want to bother anyone with my bullshit, so I keep my distance; which only prolongs the angst. 

My house is a mess, and last Tuesday I spent the entire day in bed watching Botched; wanting to go out and get horrible nose job so those guys could feel sorry for me and fix my face. 

But alas, my face is not the problem. 

My husband is forgiving because he has so much compassion for what I've been through. His compassion makes me feel weak, and sometimes I wish he'd just yell at me to get over myself. I sat up and ugly cried with him last week, and told him a little more about my past after a difficult conversation with my mother, building on frustrations around feeling like I'm supposed to take responsibility for everyone's missteps. 

Oops, I gave you away. Deal with it. Oops, I married a raging alcoholic who hated you, and I chose him over you so often you don't even know if you're worthy of the air you breathe. But let's just move forward now, because I'm powerless. We can't change the past, and there's no reason to dwell there, because your pain makes everyone uncomfortable. Deal with it. 

I'm starting to wonder if mothers in general might be just terribly overrated. 

When do I get to point fingers and hold people in my life accountable for dropping the fucking ball? I'm tired of feeling obligated to blame myself for having reasonable expectations. 

Writing this book has been incredibly difficult, because there's so much big stuff, and I wonder whose life this has been. When I think about all that I've been through and seen and survived, I feel amazed I ever get out of bed. If this life belonged to anyone but me, I'd understand how and why they struggled as much as I do. But it is my life, and I can't shake the feeling of disgust that I can't just get over all of it. It's fucking pathetic.

I'm riddled with fear about literally everything, and I'm 86.9% sure I'm screwing up not only my own life, but those of my children. I'm no where near the wife my husband deserves. I'm not the mother my kids need, I suck at all things life right now. I'm up to my eye balls in self-pity, and 60% of the time I'm wondering if anyone would really miss me if I just got in my car tomorrow and drove away. 

It sucks to not know who you are no matter how much work you've put in. No matter how much you discover, it all means shit if you can't make it fit with how you feel. 

What also sucks is the inability to cut yourself slack and allow yourself to feel sad for your situation because there are so many other people in the world with actual problems. 

I have an incredible life, and I feel like an imposter.


April 11, 2017

A Letter To My Birthmother

When I was five months old, everything about my life changed; including my name. I became a Julie, and was sent to live with two strangers I would love and call "Mom and Dad."

I have always known of my adoption, and my parents did their very best to make it seem like a very special thing, so I wouldn't feel unwanted. 

When I was eighteen years old, I started searching adoption registries online looking for someone who might miss the little girl I used to be, but I never found anyone.

In May of 2016, I paid my adoption agency to conduct a search for my birthmother using the information they had from my adoption records. 

They found her.  

A registered letter was sent out, informing my birthmother that I had contacted them. That week was probably the longest week of my life. As the week turned into two and then a month, it weighed more and more on my heart, but I refused to give up the hope that she might be willing to respond -- even just to tell me to get lost.

I again went over in my mind all the incredible reasons she could have not to want connection. I have worked through a million and they are all completely understandable. Still, I held onto that hope that it might happen.

The day the woman from the adoption agency called to tell me she had signed for the letter, I had to swallow my heart as it beat almost out of my chest. She told me my mother's name was Susan, and I cried because although she has no face, she now has a name.

And then I waited.

I'm still waiting. 

She has not replied. 

I had prepared myself for the possibility of rejection, but did not prepare for no word at all. That has taken some adjustment.

While I understand and respect whatever her reasoning, if I'm honest, it stings a bit. This past year has felt like what I imagine seconds before bungee jumping off a bridge might. I've been on the edge, afraid to move in fear I might slip and miss momentum. 

It has been emotionally draining, and often times maddening. 

There is a children's book titled "Are You My Mother?" where a baby bird spends the first few days of life asking random animals if they are his mother. I have been playing this game, in one way or another - against my own will - for most of my life, but with that letter out there, it's been even worse. 

And then, sometime last month, it hit me that I cannot go on like this; holding my breath, waiting for some big event that may never happen -- just standing on the ledge of a bridge for no good reason.

I made the decision it was time to let it go and let God. 

And so, I wrote a letter to my birth mother.