“It didn’t happen that way,” I continue to hear at the back of my mind. So I learn to believe it. I learn to believe that everything I “imagined” was just that, part of my imagination.
But it is not my imagination. I know that what I experienced as an adopted child at the hands of white supremacists was real. Do you know how I know it was real? I know because as I sleep- I shake, I wake up due to night terrors (not just bad dreams). I know because there are certain smells that trigger these horrible memories. Someone could say something a certain way and I can very well fly off the handle.
It is not in my imagination because photos can tell stories that last a life-time. If I were to put all my pictures together, they would tell a very scary tale….kinda of like the bible tells.
The Old Testament is full of stories of a God who loved his people and yet so much devastation, so much hurt, so much destruction. The Old Testament is not a G rated book, nor is it really appropriate for teens as it includes so many things that could cause fear. Think of Job. That was a test of a life time. Imagine having everything taken from you….did Job really “love God that much”. I don’t know.
What about Abraham ( I do believe he may have been on some hallucinogen) and his relationship with Isaac…really? God told you to sacrifice your son and then in the end was like “just kidding-you da man!” That is some complicated shit to think about.
How about Lot who offers his daughters up to be raped in Genesis 19:30-38. That is insane.
People try to draw pictures that match Biblical stories and I feel that they never can really capture the essence of the tale. You need to be in it to capture these, and somewhat understand what is going on here.
But people see what they want to see. People like to pretend that stories like in the OT are not really “real” and that they are just stories. Or they modify it to fit their needs.
This is what they do to adoptees.
As I piece my life together, through pictures I realize how all the things I’ve been feeling, all the insecurities, all the frustration, all the anger, all the hatred, is all VERY real.
I use to believe that maybe I was exaggerating….that maybe the big ass glasses my A-mom had me wear were too dirty for me to really see or know or feel what was going on. But glasses help you focus in on the outside world, they don’t really help you with the inner turmoil you may feel on a daily basis.
It was the little things, the little things that I could not control as a child that led up to my first book A Failed Adoption: Who is your Larimar? I saw a post, one that read something like this: “if you wanted me to talk nicer about you, you should have been nicer.” And I think it is so true. Don’t hang up your own dirty laundry and then get mad when someone says “hey, you are hanging up your dirty laundry”.
“You see through different eyes” my a-mom would say….she would say this to make me feel as though the lenses I was looking through were broken. My “different” eyes to her meant I was wrong. I was always wrong. The only time I was right was when it made her look good.
Was I a critical adult when I grew up. YES. I never was able to express myself as a child-I was not allowed to. That would mean I was being defiant. If I had an opinion, it would most certainly have to align with her thoughts-never my own thoughts. In fact, I had no thoughts of my own….I just wanted to escape, leave my “awesome” family and go somewhere the birds could sing sweet lullabies in my ears forever.
I wanted to be part of that world, the world my white sister lived in where everything was perfect. Her blond ponytails, how they hung symmetrically on either side of her round perfect face. Her green eyes that all the boys loved. Her smile, her skin color, her sense of “everything is wonderful” was what I craved.
And yet, she was not the one waking up in her own piss wondering why this kept happening night after night. I could never be her. I could never be beautiful the way the world judged beauty. I would never amount to what she can accomplish.
I’m begging for my US citizenship…I begged my A-father to sign the Affidavit of Support so that I can try to Adjust Status….and he still failed to sign, instead he wrote a pretty nasty letter stating why he would not sign it.
Why am I begging for something I should already have? Why must I ask for him to sign something he should have done when I was a young child? But I do, I beg because I feel that he owes me that much. The real reason he won’t sign it…..its not that he can’t afford it, its that he hates me for pointing out that my A-mother was hanging out her dirty laundry. That is the real reason. He is being vindictive. Oh the pain…the thought that once again I could not fulfill “their desire” for me. For me to be adopted and brought out in front of people and other white missionaries as a treasure…as a toy….as a prize won at some Jungle where heathens are supposed to resemble monkeys.
Its unbelievable the amount of times I think of myself being locked in that dark room because I “talked back” but when my white siblings talked back, the dark rooms were all occupied. I can’t begin to shed that layer of onion. It is too thick to penetrate because penetrating means I would have to be open to the outside world.
When I was 14 years old, I was sent to live with a very conservative Christian family. I spent about 5 months in North Carolina and I finally felt that freedom was coming my way. I had a counselor to speak with but found out later that everything I said was reported to my A-parents. So I stopped talking. Instead, I picked up a new hobby-cutting.
Just a little bit though. I didn’t want to die….. just yet…all I wanted was for someone to listen to me, to hear me out. I didn’t want pity, I wanted an ear.
I told the “sister” I was living with in NC about the sexual abuse I had endured as a child and she had nothing to say. She just gave me that look-the one you give when no one has anything to say. I was 14 and she was 15 so maybe awkward. Again, I felt as though I didn’t belong…..the truth I was living….I wish it had been a lie. So I cut a bit deeper the next day.
As I kept cutting I realized that it made me feel more alive than ever. I didn’t cry often, because I learned real quick that crying made me look “ugly” and so why do that? How dare I look ugly in a perfect looking family. I had to be the happy adoptee….I had to be the thankful adoptee….I had to remember that I would have died had I not been adopted by them.
Cutting gave me some semblance of control of my own life. I got to control how deep or how wide I cut. I got to decide whether the way I cut myself would be slanted, vertical or horizontal. And the best thing of all was that I got to decide whether cutting would make me cry or not. Finally, I could say I was boss in just a small area of my life.
My truth is my truth, because I lived the experiences I remember by night sweats and terrors, by triggers no one would really think were “triggers” and by hundreds of pictures of me being forced to smile when I had just been pinched for NOT smiling. I remember these things, I see them in my mind and I get a strange feeling at the pit of my stomach when they all come back to me.
“You don’t remember that, you were only two years old.” Oh but yes I do my friend. It is amazing how much children glean from what they are told. It is always strangely amazing how you can feel something that you never knew you could feel.
I found out from my orphanage that I was one of the handful of children who was put in a corner closet for days and weeks at a time with no sun-light and no food. I would be “revived” and swimming in my own filth. I didn’t know that I was ever in this situation but my dreams told me I was. I felt them, like it was happening to me then and there. After that information was communicated to me, I realized “holy fuck”, it is no wonder I struggle with this, this and this….
And yet now, the place I feel the calmest is the closet. When I am upset, or hurting, I find a nice dark closet and close it up….it is my safe haven, it is where I can sleep, sleep for days on end….never to be awakened again.
But i’m always awakened because the night only lasts 10+ hours and the sunlight-the one I rarely got as a child, comes bursting forth, telling me it is a brand new day and that this time, the sun’s vitamin D will revive my heart, soul and mind. My spirit is up to me.
And as I looked at the case study done and the psychology report that was done on me when I was about two years old, I read that I lacked a lot of vitamin D, I needed speech therapy and I needed to learn to form healthy attachments. But how could I if my A-mother told me that I was too fat and that I could not have that last piece of chicken.
When I was 15 years old she insisted on serving my plate for me. The rest of the kids could serve their own, but I was not allowed to because I was “too fat”. That marked the throw up days. Again, if I could not control the food put on my plate, I could at least control how much stayed in my system.
Throwing up made my cheeks sink in and I began to lose the weight my A-mother had told me I had. Keep in mind, I was 5’7, weighing 125 lbs….but this was too fat for her. She was 5’4 weighing 110 lbs and I had to be either her weight or lower. I remember she told me one day “you look amazing M. What’s your secret?” I never told her I was throwing up.
My A-father did find out one day and he tried to help but my A-mother insisted that this made me look good….and that is what she wanted, for me to look good. It didn’t matter that I was getting bad headaches and that I began throwing up water even, and that my teeth were not looking right…as long as on the outside, I looked hot and sexy, that was what mattered.
“They loved you. Look what they have done for you.” That was always my favorite line from my white siblings who lived a lie. Everything was handed to them and they were also very smart. One never had to study at all, and the other was the one we went to because she was the bridge to my a-mother when I needed something. Whenever I asked, the answer was ALWAYS no. But when she asked, it was rare that she said NO. So I learned real quick that I could never ask for anything unless it was through her.
They didn’t love me. They loved the idea of me. When I was about 6 years old they decided to adopt more kids. My A-mother always said she adopted more kids “for me” because I was “having problems.” But it was because they were getting so many positive comments about how saintly they were that they wanted to continue that trail. I had no reason to believe they adopted for me. My a-mother was and still is selfcentric and that won’t change. She eventually adopted a special needs kid who she used against us when we were “bad”.
I cut ties with my a-mother a few years back when she decided to read the 6% of my first book instead of 100%. She was scanning for the parts where I talked poorly about her and didn’t seem to care about the rest of my story, the part where abuse didn’t keep me down. She hung on to that 6% and she has hated me ever since. One day she sent a damning letter to my workplace and put it in my mailbox. I had to tell my boss that she was no longer permitted on the premises. She told me that she was disowning me. She also told me that if I stepped foot on their property, that they would not hesitate to use their gun. Ha! (that is a nervous uncomfortable WTF laugh).
Yes, that is who she was and who she is today. A woman who I can’t even call a mother.
“She never said that” my little white sister would tell me. Oh yes she did. “Show me” she would say. And no, I could not show her because I don’t keep toxic things like that in my possession. I don’t keep things telling me to go to Hell in my possession. I can’t find any sane reason to keep something that could destroy me, anywhere near me or my children. But it is my truth! No one has the right to tell me that my truth is not valid.
The book I wrote is my truth. Only mine. I give no one else the ability to claim the truth that is who I am but is not who I will be come.
So people, stop trying to tell adoptees what they did or did not experience, how they don’t see things correctly, how their experiences are not real or valid. Stop doing this! Stop telling them to “watch their language” because it hurts your stupid little feelings. Stop trying to tell adoptees that they didn’t have it that bad. Stop telling your children to smile if they don’t feel like smiling. Stop telling your children that their feelings don’t matter. Stop turning your adopted children into YOU because they are not you.
What we experience is our truth, and it belongs to no one else’.
When Jesus talks about knowing the truth, He is not talking about him being the savior. He is talking about an experience the disciples were having. John 8:32-33. “if you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of mine, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”. The fact that he uses a conjunction here states that there are stipulations. When he says “continue” he means ongoing. This is an action, this is an experience the disciples are having that is going to bring them to an understanding that will create freedom for them. This is not about just blindly believing in Jesus, this is about a continued relationship with the experience they are having with this Jesus man.
The word truth is translated into Greek as reality, and Knowledge and the reality of the lived experience is what allows us to be free. What we know about our experience sets us free.
When I think about my first book, I realize that it was the start of my first truth and the book, though it has helped me cut ties, has also given me a sense of freedom that no one else can give.
When we are true to our lived experience, and when we are no longer wearing the duct tape around our mouth and eyes and ears, we are able to open up an entirely new world where our lived experiences help shape us to be better people.
So stop telling us that what we experienced was not as……..we are not listening to you anymore.