My Scarlet Letter

15 10 2012


I’ve known I was adopted my entire life.  I remember my best friend and I taking the shortcut to school, just a little hill instead of walking the flat surface, and she asked if ever wanted to know who my real mother was.  Who was my real mother?  The woman that gave birth to me or the woman that goes to the teacher conferences and heads the PTA? Is it the woman that bore me in shame or the woman that makes me hold my head down in shame? They have something in common- shame. No matter which one is my real mother, they both have given me my very own scarlet letter.

When I finally thought to ask what it meant to be adopted, it was if I had asked for birth control in the

fifth grade. I was quickly chastised and told not to tell anyone that I was adopted. Shame. Big red letter A on my chest. One step lower than everyone else because I wasn’t wanted by the woman that gave birth to me. It really didn’t matter if she was 16 when she had me and had no way to take care of me. It didn’t matter how much my parents wanted me. I wasn’t allowed to tell. It was a secret. That meant it was something to be ashamed of and made me less of a person. I remember the first time my mother called me illegitimate. I looked the word up as I was too young to know what it meant, but it felt bad. I had to know what it meant. She hadn’t said it to me, she’d introduced me as her “illegitimate daughter”. That word had a weight to it as the woman looked at me. I can remember blushing. Knowing it wasn’t a complimentary word. I didn’t know how to spell it so it took some time to find it, (way before computers) but I did find it because it rolled over my tongue silently as I sat like a good little girl while my mother visited with the woman. It rattled through my mind turning over and over coming closer to the meaning as I sat in the car on the ride home. I’d learned not to ask questions about things like this. It could only lead to places I didn’t want to go with my father with whom I didn’t want to deal or be alone with.

So at home, I slid the dictionary down, I remember it so well, a version of Websters, dark blue like denim, with gold lettering and onion skin thin pages like my bible. Illegitimate. There was the true meaning born of parents not lawfully wedded which my mother meant, I assume. Why did that matter? Did she look like a better person because she had taken me in? The truth was she had purchased me through a lawyer and my pediatrician. She took me home when I was three days old straight from the hospital. I was the baby she couldn’t have. I’d say we were mutually beneficial to each other. But Illegitimate means other things. Illegal. Not sanctioned by law. Not recognized as lawful offspring. Bastard. Now we were getting somewhere. Maybe my mother was a saint, rescuing me from the gutters, or the hands of the law. I wasn’t sure. There was no one to ask. And so I kept it to myself, hiding under my skin, with my head down because who wanted to look in the eyes of an illegitimate child?

I wore that scarlet letter A on my chest, carried it like a burden on my back for such a long time. When I got away from my parents, started therapy I always realized the first words out of my mouth were My name is H. I’m adopted. As if that was my excuse for why I was like this, whatever this was. It took me many years to discover what “this” was. Not something I’m able to discuss. But I think it’s why I was vulnerable and felt like a victim all my life. Because I knocked myself down a couple rungs from the rest of the world because I was adopted. So I let people use me, walk all over me, make themselves feel better by putting me down because I was a bastard.

The power of words, I’ve read them and felt them, I’ve written them, and I’ve lived them. Bastard doesn’t hurt anymore. I’ve had close family members call me my mother’s “daughter” in a letter, her brother in fact wrote me in a letter declining an invitation to her 80th birthday party that he thought it was nice that his sister’s “daughters” were throwing her a party but he would do something with her alone to celebrate. Now who is the bastard in that scenario? And did he ever celebrate with her? I’m not even sure he called her. That’s okay, as they say, “Karma’s a bitch” or maybe she’s a bastard. Anyway, he’s getting his tenfold. I’ve saved that letter. Why? I don’t know. There are plenty enough people in the world to remind me of how mean people can be. But his cut was the worst and I guess I want to remember why I have to always be on my guard. I can pull that letter out and all kinds of emotions are stirred up. The little girl being called Illegitimate by her mother in front of someone, the shame of being adopted when there should be none, and the outrage and the lie of a beloved uncle that I only found out at 40. And the guilt all over again at 40 that this man I had loved and called Uncle hadn’t really accepted me as family ever. So maybe it’s just a reminder that no matter what, you’ll always be let down. Or that shame from your childhood will never completely go away.

So for what it’s worth…Hi my name is Heather. I am adopted. That’s my excuse. The Scarlet Letter A has faded, but I guess it will never go away. The shame I was taught as a child will always be with me whether you see it or not. It’s there hovering just under the surface. Shame like that just doesn’t ever go away completely.



What do I want to write about today?

13 10 2012

It’s football day at my house. Everyone is glued to the t.v. My youngest survived his school trip-3 days away from home. I survived it too. I only called once. Don’t give me the eye roll, he cried the night before he left because he was falling apart. He hadn’t slept Monday night at all then went to school and stayed awake all day. At about seven after we had him all packed and I was getting his meds together he came in and said he needed to cry. Pills pushed aside, I held him. I KNOW that feeling. But he couldn’t let go with me. But when daddy called, the tears started. There is no shushing of tears in my house. There is no “Stop it, you’re making it worse,” or “You’ll make yourself sick” or all the other inane things parents say to make their kids stop crying. If my kids need to cry, I let them. I hold them and tell them to let it all out. I don’t say “Everything will be okay.” I don’t know what’s wrong so I can’t say that. It may be their meds and that will take an adjustment and I don’t know when that will be okay. Or it may be that, as in this case, he was totally exhausted and needed to let his emotions out so he could go to sleep. Or it could be something at school that I might or might not be able to help them with. I can’t make my son pass Biology. I can’t make a girl like him. I can’t make the kids like my youngest son. I can listen. I can let him cry. I can make sure no one is hitting him or calling him names or making his life miserable. (This is something I check often because of what we experienced in Massachusetts.) But I let my kids cry no matter how old they are, no matter that they are boys. Sometimes, you need to cry. And stuffing it back in or ignoring it makes the pain that much worse. I don’t like them hiding their feelings. This world is tough. It’s like we are born fighting and we have to keep fighting every step of the way especially us, with our BPD. So I’m their safe haven. I’ll always be here to hold them if they need to cry. I’ll always be here no matter what, but they know I know. Sometimes, you just need to cry.

Comfortable places

11 10 2012

So I’ve realized that I feel comfortable saying what I need to say on line here. Blabbing about what pisses me off, and there are a lot of things lately that piss me of. But there are good things too. Like today, I forgot that I do have a physical friend that wants nothing from me. She doesn’t take anything from me. She listens to me and I try to make sure to listen to her. It was kind of funny. We haven’t seen each other since 2009 when I moved away for two years to Cape Cod. I came back in 2011 and she tried to meet me for lunch forever. But I cancelled every time. The truth was, I’d gained weight, hadn’t colored my hair, didn’t look like the old me and certainly didn’t feel like the old me.

But today I saw her. Yeah, I almost cancelled. But I forced myself out of the house. And it was good. I hugged a friend. We talked about marriage and having babies and how life changes so much after you get married, your priorities change. The bar scene goes away and you just feel like staying home and enjoying each other’s company. Or do day outings, just the two of you. We talked about my sickness. How I haven’t been well since I’ve been back. How I have to go for cancer treatment again very soon. I’m sure it will be benign as they always are but still, on my nose, it’s the same side for the third time in a row. It’s already thin now, I’m not sure it can handle another surgery. I have places that hurt. I have one on top of my head where I am sure they will have to shave my hair to get to it. Do you know how long I’ve been growing my hair?? Years. I can finally braid it. It’s all the way down my back. And I’ll be losing a large chunk of it. It’s possible that this one won’t be benign. It’s been there a long time. I just forget to mention it. And here’s me all vain about my hair when I could have melanoma. How petty.

My son is away at sleep away camp. He has bipolar disorder and the day before Tuesday night, he was up all night. And I do mean up all night. He watched a movie and then read. He says it’s his fault, but I know it isn’t. It takes, guanfacine, to make him tired and keep him stable, he take Intunive 3 mg SR (yes I know it’s the same med but it’s slow release so it helps through out the day), he also takes 125 mg of Lamictal. That puts him to sleep. The night he stayed awake was a manic phase. He’s a rapid cycler. He was in my arms crying the next evening, the night before his trip. He was all packed and ready to go. But I worried. So tonight I did the mama bear thing and called the lady in charge to check on him. She said he was having a great time, he just played a game and he was having his last class before snack and showers. She said he was really smart answering questions when asked. I’m just hoping he is making friends. He has none that call the house to play with him. God do I worry about him. His just a little off normal and kind of geeky, but he’s charming when he wants to be and smart when he wants to be. Even though he can be a pain in the ass, I miss him. We all do and that’s funny because I didn’t think we would. I love J.

That’s all for now. I’ve got other things to say but Good Golly Miss Molly I’m exhausted. Only took four hours for my pills to kick in. Yay me! Oh and I hate the new NetGalley.