“You just keep living, until you are alive again.”

They say depression is the absence of feeling. I was diagnosed with depression once, but I never stopped feeling.

Even when I tried to put it away, put it down, lock it up; it was there. Feelings always broke through in the end.

I had felt so alive, so loved, so wanted.

And now…now I feel so disappointed, so jealous, so forgotten about.

I don’t have an absence of feeling. I would almost welcome it.

I still live.

I keep living.

I am not alive again yet.

I am not sure I can imagine it.

“How can I want something I can’t even imagine?”

I want to be alive again.

I will keep living. Until then.

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About four days ago, I read this article. (I found adoptees reasonably spot on. I don’t think Liz matches up to a lot of the comments on birthparents, but what else is new.) And then a thing happened that pretty much ticked every box. My American mother didn’t talk to me as much for four days because she was busy.

I know. I realise how ridiculous that sounds.

Today she asked me, “why do you think your mood and emotions are tied to getting what you want from me?” and she had me. My first feeling was everything went cold. I felt immense fear. I’m so tired of being scared of the loss of her all of the time. I never want to look at that part because it seems to cause other people to make an exasperated face, and I’m left curling up into myself, ashamed. I have felt immense love from a mother for the first time in my life, and the feeling that it could be taken away from me haunts the corners of my mind like a ghost. I have been so scared that my legs shake and I can’t eat. And it makes me feel like I need help.

And I probably still do, and probably will for a while. I don’t think it’s a thing that’s wrong with me, so much as a product of what’s happened in my life coupled with my personality. I’m not really angry, so much as scared.

Sometimes it feels like I’ve lost little bits of our dynamic already, and that scares me into holding on to the bits I have even tighter. I know I can’t do relationships like that, and it doesn’t have a place in a healthy relationship. And every article I’ve ever read (and my AM) has told me it’s counter-intuitive, it breeds rejection instead of stopping it – because it makes my issue her problem. It makes me ugly and self-centred. So then I’m scared of that. My brain developed a way of dealing with it. I think I used to really lash out, so now I just repeat bits of logic over and over and over. I am hopeful that one day I will have repeated them enough times that I believe them. It feels like an armour, a little. It makes me stiff, and abrupt, because I’m trying to hold all my edges in. It also makes me tired, so I suppose it takes a lot of brain power to tell my head gremlin to shut up. It’s favourite saying is still that I am a consolation prize. I can’t help but wonder when the first time was that I thought that. I wonder if that might answer some questions.

I had breakfast with my aunt this morning. I didn’t go into details about my family, but I said I’d rather not stay with them again. She looked at me in horror, and I looked at the wall beside me instead of keeping her gaze. “Are you still talking to your Mum?” she asked, and I nodded. I said how I feel about my brother, and my place in that family, and that it was better for me if I didn’t stay at their house anymore. She said it was really sad, and did that thing people do where they say “oh well, we didn’t get along either when we were young, but now look!!” (that’s not helpful, don’t do that). I didn’t continue that conversation, and instead we talked about the agricultural changes in the later-Ming dynasty in China.

I don’t know how helpful typing out the truth is. Or why I have been finding it necessary to tell people on the fringes probably more than they need to know. I’m sure I would type pages if I was let loose. Something is stopping me from that, though. I feel like I’m supposed to do better, be better. Be over it, be useful, be thoughtful of others. Be less selfish, less consumed. Be normal.

Or at least get a life so it doesn’t affect me so much. Maybe that.

in the hope it might relieve something

I feel lately like I’ve been grasping at the seams of myself. I’m getting ready to move on from this city, and this job, and go somewhere different to chase other dreams. That feels strange. I don’t ever remembering having a goal. I don’t generally like the word, even, very much. People with goals and ambitions seem foreign to me.

 

I don’t feel stressed about that. But suddenly everything else is stressing me out, instead. While I’m trying desperately to hold onto my edges, things are spilling out. My thoughts are haunted by secondary rejection, and feeling unworthy of complaining but needing so much to be validated. The really nasty thoughts are prodding at me until I ask questions I know are going to hurt. I know the answers to those questions feel like immense rejection, and I ask them anyway. It’s like…confirming to myself that I’m less important, less wanted. You were flavour of the month for five minutes, until they got what they really wanted.

 

I think that is true of my birthmother. What she really wanted, in the end, was for me and my issues to go away. It seems like she feels obligation, but no love nor longing. We hit an impasse. I wanted a mother who actively loved me, and actively wanted me; and she wanted a grown-up who fit into her narrative, and fed her martyrdom with my gratefulness.

 

I feel rejected, from all over the place. I don’t feel like anyone’s first choice.

 

I feel like a footnote in my family, present to alleviate some of the responsibility of having a family member with special needs. I was incredibly hurt when my birthday passed them by because there was stress from him. There’s a voice in my head that screams at me not to complain, how dare I say anything. But you know, it hurts. It preys on the rejection. My gift was lotto scratchies, in the hope I would “win my tuition”. It made my heart drop, like my parents don’t bother with me anymore. It was my Mum’s birthday yesterday, and I know it’s hard for her, too. She doesn’t get to do what she wants, her life at this age isn’t what she planned. I try and spin it that way, I really try hard. But I still feel bitter, I still feel the sour taste in my mouth.

 

I can compare all over the place, too. I can compare how I’m treated by my birthmother to how my Momma treats her daughter. I can compare my “siblings” to…really almost anyone else. I wish I cared less, I wish I had no feelings about any of this.

 

I see the looks on my parents’ faces. I can hear my dad say over and over “you’re so mean”. I hear Liz tell me over and over “you’re a horrible person”. I don’t feel mean and horrible, I feel ignored.

 

I feel like I’m a sidekick in the story. I’m here to talk to everyone’s else’s birthmother, so things are then better for them. I’m a sidekick for my brother, so he gets the best parenting.

 

I am SO frustrated. I am SO angry.

But that is only because I am so hurt.

 

I believe when my momma says that this is only growing and biting me because I’m stressed about my move, and it’s coming out in other ways.

 

I just hurt so much, and it is scary that all of this is in me. I would like a proper hug.

 

 

black lamb

Two days ago I had an argument with my best friend. Since then, I’ve been chewing at it over and over, trying to figure out how she could possibly have taken offence to anything I said when I thought we were saying the same thing.

 

I felt like I was coughing up this amalgamation of the black smoke, it was dripping and ripping and clawing at me as I spat it out on my keyboard, trying to cough and cough and dump it into the safe place; but it came without warning and without eloquence and with mass confusion both for me, and for her.

 

She felt like I was saying that biological connection doesn’t matter, that there is no value in it.

I was saying that if that is the thing that is valued most, then I am worth less.

 

My jealousy makes me ugly. I think it makes me ugly because it hurts so much. It’s not an excuse when my behaviour gets out of control, but I think the enormity of the hurt is worth some respect. I have watched the biological connection I wish I had play out in front of me. It has been given a new name, a swapping of agreed labels, a bank account in case of emergencies, a place in the family and a place to live in the home. It was given plane trips and drops of everything to help, it held the joy of shared looks and shared traits, and it was a great love and connection that shined like gold when I looked at it.

 

And I was jealous.

 

Some mornings I get up, and convince myself that even though I don’t have the biological connection I am still worth something, maybe I am worth the same. I still get to say “momma”, and “sister”. And I try to not look at the gremlin that raises it’s eyebrows at me and calls me “less”. Until Friday’s discussion (argument), I tried not to look at it. I danced around it and trapped it down and told myself not to be so stupid.

 

But I’m scared of him. I’m scared of the evidence he pulls that preys on that fear. And I’m tired of the stern talks I give to myself.

 

My great art has been to build familial relationships without a biological connection.

My life is built on it. My early friendships are steeped in it. The friends I called sisters, and the women I called mothers. And then I would leave for the day, and go home, and have to rely on faith that as these friends went back to their biological sisters, and the women went back to their biological children, that I still had a place. I wasn’t less than those connections. And the gremlin would raise his eyebrows.

 

When reunion didn’t go as it seemed to promise, that’s when the gremlin really got a lot of power. All of a sudden I could see where I was less. Where I was a few steps behind. And I think, because of the nature of the beast, that it was the biological connection that hurt the most.

 

My aunt heard me crying on Friday evening. She came in and she pressed her head against mine, and she told me “you have a connection with her. It’s not the one you want, but she worries about you. You know who’s getting in the way, it’s that man!” And I hugged her back and looked at the floor, and realised that my birthmother will always be this family’s golden girl. She will never have to be responsible for what she’s done to me. And I don’t want her.

 

I am jealous. And the ones who have the biological connection have already won. Of course it matters, of course it is valued the most.

 

I just don’t want to be worth less, or valued less, because I didn’t get it. Don’t you think I wouldn’t give anything, everything I have, to be biologically related to you? I would give anything to be able to have that claim.

siblings

So I sometimes have days when I feel like a big sister. I’ll be doing my thing and talking to the kids and then realise, ‘I think this is what big sister-ing feels like’. Thinking about it too much kind of makes me feel crappy. I’ve been a big sister for as long as my little brother has been around, so you’d think I’d get it. But I don’t really. I don’t really have those stories you tell at the dinner table, I don’t have reminiscing with him. He doesn’t call me up and ask for advice, or ask to go for a drink.

 

I was never a big sister to Patrick. That’s not his fault. I will take some blame. I was so busy trying to figure out myself that I didn’t have any emotional currency to spend on him. I wanted someone to take care of me. I wanted Liz to be my mother, and I wanted Matt to be my big brother. I wanted to be the little thing that people cared for while my world was falling down around me. And then I got through the big rubbley pieces, shut things away, and kept walking. And I think there’s pain there, but I’m not pulling the stuffing out of it. I don’t feel very much when I look at my brothers now. They don’t feel like brothers. To be honest, I think I’m still stinging that I have no one who I feel looks like me. No one’s ever been proud of me like that. Except Nana. I don’t know why that seems to not count. It hurts a lot, but I feel like a big jerk for it. I’ve taken huge steps back from trying to be a part of this family, and most of the time it feels like the right thing. I haven’t figured out why yet.

 

And then today, I feel like a big sister. And most of the time it comes natural, and it feels like I’m doing an okay job. I have three new younger siblings. One of them rang me this morning to tell me all about her closing shift, and ask my opinion on one of her classes. One of them got in contact to ask my advice on explaining something, and to tell me something important. The third one appears to have been stalking my Instagram.

There’s so much about this atmosphere that I thrive on. I love the 3am call notifications because she just couldn’t wait for me to wake up. I love when they throw music at me. I love the selfies, and the nicknames. I’m even starting to understand the teasing a little bit. I love the mutual adoration of the parents, and how everyone loves everyone else’s pets. I love that they chuck names at me and say “stalk this person cause I like them”. I love that one of them throws her assignment writing on Google Docs so I can edit them as she writes and at the end there’s a complete paper. I love that they know they can trust me. I love that they can ask me for things if they want to. I love that they’ve imagined me into memories like I’ve been here all along.

 

I don’t know if it’s like this for everyone they know, or if there’s a special relationship we get to have just because of circumstances. But some days, I feel like this. And it just makes me want to cry from feeling so lucky. I think I was kind of always meant to be a big sister.

 

 

 

struggling not to say this out loud

Today, I am viscerally missing my American family.

I’m desperate for the ‘old’ affectionate connection, but trying not to lean into the thoughts, or separate it into ‘then’ and ‘now’.

 

Maybe it’s because I’m going to a wedding today, which is meant to be this symbol of connecting people; I’m feeling very disconnected. Oh, I miss them.

 

I miss being cradled, and I miss being someone’s baby even though I’m twenty-five. I miss a house full of people who have to touch me when I walk past. I miss a brother who insists on trying to catch me when I jump off the stairs. I miss a sister who curls up with me on the recliner and leans her phone on me while she chatters. I miss another brother who emerges and asks me to watch him play Skyrim, and a Papa who reminded me to hug him goodnight if I forgot.

 

I miss the neighbourhood, I miss the train. I miss the dog. I miss squirrels, and I miss the possibility of seeing raccoons and skunks and deer and chipmunks. I miss sitting on the front steps in a dress with pockets watching HUGE ants wander around the pavement. I miss the lake and the skyline.

 

I miss back pets and cuddles and comfort. I miss being understood when I complained about withdrawals. I miss riding in the passenger seat in the wrong side of the car, next to my favourite person in the world who looked at me like she loved me. I miss the first airport hug, I even miss the first goodbye. I miss the gloved hand taking mine. I miss the call of “LAMB!” down the stairs. I miss hearing “Annie”. I miss siblings trying to copy my accent.

 

It’s eating me up and I am trying to make peace with it all. And making peace with it without talking out loud is hard. I hate to make anyone angry. Clare says that when people are in pain, they hurt other people. I wonder if that’s why I end up muddling my words if I try and say it. I don’t know why it matters, but it feels like “I miss you” is just noise. And every day I have to make the decision again not to flee to an airport. I just have to wander around my world like it’s enough. But it’s every day. I feel it every day.

 

So today, I’m missing the momma who wrapped herself around me and let me leech love that filled up a very empty bucket.

 

 

 

Maybe you might’ve noticed I’ve been a bit quiet. I got a decent telling-off from my Important Person and after that I figured I might as well try, just for the next day, to have my shit under control. So, the next day, I made a point of writing down all the good things I’d noticed that day, and I even tried meditation (imagine that). And that kind of felt alright, so I thought maybe I’d do it the day after that, and the day after that. I have an app that distracts me with thinking games, and asks me to be accountable for things. I had to put everything I could in place, so I could try to wrestle control back from my feelings. It was like the worst game of tug-of-rope, ever. I really am trying to do my best. I’m shaking off most of the stings, and not dwelling on the stuff. When I need to acknowledge a feeling, I do that, but I do it by watching it instead of enveloping myself in it.

 

And then there’s days like today. My work environment is poisonous, we can all come in with good moods and by sort of ten am we’re back down. I am exhausted. I am in a lot of pain in my back and neck from carrying around so much tension and, probably, quite a lot of grief and anger. My desk has started looking like a nice place for a nap. I met my friend for lunch the other day and came very close to lying down on the walkway halfway there, just because I couldn’t be bothered. Being unhappy at work, and unhappy at home has taken it’s toll on me. I couriered my family away, and they are so excited to be back in Hunterville. (They’re cats, just FYI.) I read a thing today on Reddit about how people get to a stage where they’re so lonely, and so in need of companionship, that it becomes less about finding ‘the right person’ and more about ‘finding any person’. That kind of rang true, and it kind of made me sad. Because that, in it’s turn, drives the any person away and you’re left where you started. With no-one. I’m scared of being in limbo, I’m scared of invading someone else’s space again. I am tired of being me.

 

These last two days, I just need comfort. And part of retraining my brain is to not let myself think about the memories where I was comforted. I reread messages today, chasing that feeling, but didn’t really find it. I don’t let myself look at old screenshots yet, because I can feel all of those memories lurking somewhere just near my ear. I can hear the soundtrack of the words playing, and I can see the shadows of them. They present themselves like a big comfortable couch that I could sink into and be totally relaxed. But realistically, I know it’s an illusion. I’d fall straight through that couch and into a state of grief and resentment and rejection. But you know, the couch still looks comfortable. The urge to ask “are you sure?” is hammering at me. I always give into that urge, but I don’t think I can let myself. I’d like to not have to ask, but I guess everyone would like to have their own personal needs mind-reader.