What Really Happened When I was Away
On the surface, everything here is OK. Inside I’m feeling pretty lost – but nothing can be done about that. I’ll hold out.
From my first letter written August 24th, 1987
I think it was back in ’06 when I first asked Laura if she still had my letters from Boston saved. I used to inquire about them periodically. I was writing out what I could remember of being pregnant and relinquishing and knew the letters written by my 19 year old self would offer a unique perspective. I haven’t really thought about them in years.
Laura had come to Kingston for a work training and we took the opportunity to get in a long overdue visit. I didn’t expect “the letters” and felt a chill run through my body when I realized what this tattered Manila envelope held.
\I am afraid of them. Inside these envelopes are my 19 year old self; the person I was before adoption. She was on her death bed then and didn’t know it. These are the letters of a dying me. I’m scared.
As I Remember, What I Forgot
I cannot hesitate diving into this parcel of my past. After Laura leaves, I take them up to my office, steady myself and begin to read. Carefully removing folded stationery, Askewn with drawings and stickers, all beautifully handwritten. I read my forgotten words. I breathe life to a picture of myself.
Some things are rather mundane, even, if in the mode of critical, shallow. After all, I am 19. I speak of my hair often, what I eat, bodily issues due to the pregnancy, things like shopping, music, and I offer lots of relationship advice. I wrote a lot of letters. There are 21 in total, spanning the full 10 1/2 weeks of my self imposed exile; almost all of them pages in length, often written over days, documenting my daily activities and the journey to birth and adoption. Some things I really had completely forgotten and even now, with this prompt, trying to recall, there is little to pull up from my memory banks.
On at least three separate occasions, I write of “talking to my shrink” on the phone. I know exactly who I am writing about. Jerry was my therapist in NYC that I had been seeing in the months before and during the pregnancy and relationship. I managed to keep that all a secret form him, too, until the solution of adoption was announced to the world. Then we did talk about it. I know i talked to some private lawyers out in California from his office. That I remember, but I don’t remember talking to him while I was away. Come to think of it, I never really considered how he could have been considered true neutral counseling. I guess there were conversations. I mean, I know that adoption truly was my idea. I plucked it out of the air as the solution. It’s odd now thinking about just how many people could have offered another point of view, not to cast blame, but as an observation.
Was he influential? I don’t know. I wasn’t a good patient. I hid things and I have no idea what we talked about while I was in Boston. I try to imagine holding a phone, I try to bring up a visual, a flash, but there is nothing. Yet, I recall that I’m pretty sure he was an adoptive father. Not in a bad way, and I’m not totally sure. Yet that would add another layer of influential viewpoints that were seeing only the good in adoption. All speculation, though.
I forgot about other phone calls to friends that I can recollect now reading about them. I reported who I had other letters from and when. I forgot my grandfather sent me a card. I want to look for it, hoping I have that somewhere, but I don’t know. I ask, I beg, over and over again for a visit. It’s almost insistent, a tad pathetic. Per my letters, the agency did encourage the visit. There was talk of them financially contributing as Laura was ” my best supporter”, but that did not happen.
I had completely forgotten about the phone call I had with my mother my first evening in my new Boston surroundings. I have always remembered that I didn’t speak to her at all from the day I left Long Island until I called her the morning of Max’s birth. I guess I purposely forgot when I decided to make the best I could out of our relationship? Here, I forgot a lot. I am struck by the pure anger I have towards her, the names I call my mother, the things she had said to me at that time.
This I remember again. I had perfectly documented the morning of my departure, play by play, including hiding from my grandfather, like Anne Frank, in my house. My first impressions of Boston, arriving alone, thrilled with the agency limo and driver. Four full pages, front and back, full of vitriol for my mother after she calls/ I call and she berates me. The things she says, which I hear again in my head, that nagging voice of doubt that tells me I am no good, I sadly re-identify as Geraldine’s. It is wrong the ways she talks to me. I know why I forgot this part. It really hurt and I cry now.
These Letters Tell Me So Much
So much I forgot. It almost seems like the last 25 years I told “the story” of Boston, but had removed myself from so much of the feeling. Oh, I could recapture the days in the hospital, the signing of consent, the journey home…those times that I knew to remember, but I forgot how I felt, everyday, those emotions. What I thought, how I felt, going in, the turmoil.
I knew I came out believing adoption was the best think ever and I was the strong selfless birthmother, but omg, it so much more clear now, that I said these words, believed these things, because that was the script. That’s what I felt I had to do. They were the lines in the birthmother rules. I forgot how I felt before, and survived by performing for acceptance.
Yes, I believed that adoption would solve everything. That’s what they all told me I had to do, but I knew it was bad. Maybe that’s why I didn’t expect to be happy after, I knew it was and before and I had no choice, but to do “what I have to do”.
Tomorrow, I’ll post them in order. Without the boring stuff like relationship advice and complaints about my feet and all the shopping details.