I WAS NOT PLANNING ON BEING AWAY FOR THIS LONG when I wrote my short post before the holidays saying I was going to focus on family and myself for a little while. Truth is, I have tried to get back, tried to write again but have not been able to. Every time I have sat down I have been triggered to the point of having to leave it alone.
As if the experience of being involved in the adoptee community, constantly talking about adoption, constantly thinking about adoption, constantly feeling the adoption was so overwhelming in itself that it became too much to handle for me. It started eating me from the inside. Emotions I had pushed aside my whole life made their way to the surface and most days there was nothing else to do but to cry.
I am starting to feel better again, and hope that in terms of coming out of the fog the last two months were the culmination. I had several breakdowns, a huge amount of anxiety and there were more tears than I can recall. I have never felt broken before, but during this time I did.
“It’s called “coming out of the fog” – the process by which adoptees who have considered themselves unaffected by adoption, start looking to their past, their background, their origin and as a result start shifting their view on adoption, their own and in general, as well as the effects it may have had on their life…
It is real, it is a hell of a ride, and going back in is not an option…”
This was a facebook post of mine on April 23, 2018. I was about halfway through the process and experience of coming out of the fog. My view on adoption had shifted, my own and in general. I was becoming more and more aware of the problems with adoption, the industry of adoption and the real effects of adoption on the people who it affected the most; the adoptees.
As I have mentioned before, once I started coming out of the fog I essentially went through the stages of grief. It took me a while to realize that I was going through grieving. Once I understood that my emotions and my state of mind were those of a person who is grieving the next question became, what was I grieving? Was I grieving the mother I knew nothing about? The life I didn’t get to have? The family I didn’t get to know? The person I didn’t become?
It was difficult to think of the things I had lost, although I had barely had them in the first place.
But what became even harder was what came after. Coming out of the fog didn’t only mean shifting my view on my adoption, on my life. All the insights that came with the process, with reading and informing myself, and realizing how so much of my own behavior, my own decisions, and even how my life had played out was all through the lens of adoption and separation were heartbreaking to deal with.
But the most difficult part of coming out of the fog, of the grieving that followed, was not the insights, not even the loss of the things I’ve mentioned so far, but the feeling of having lost MYSELF. I was no longer the person I had been before coming out of the fog, the person I had built myself up to be, the person I had shaped myself into being, the person I felt really proud of being and who I had learned to love.
Coming out of the fog I lost her. I was not prepared to grieve the loss of myself.
I felt like a shell, like an empty body, and I had no idea how to handle that.
I was thrown into something like a depression. People around me would not have known. They could maybe sense something was up, something was off. But that I was angry about everything, felt no desire to do anything and cried for nothing… Not many would have known because talking about it would have meant risking breaking down in front of someone…
One of the things I am more afraid of than anything is the risk of giving in to breaking down. I don’t know if there is any coming back from that if there is a way to put myself back together if I do that. So I don’t cry in front of people. It’s a way for me to still keep my emotions in check.
I can talk about it all after. That is progress because a couple of years ago I was holding ALL the emotions in, and would not admit to having them to myself or to others. Here I am talking and writing and sharing about it. One step at the time…
The following is a piece I wrote about a month ago:
“I have a hard outer shell.
I’m tough, can even be intimidating.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that.
People who meet me for the first time tell me, some right away, some later.
I can crack a joke and laugh loudest in the room in any given social setting.
And I do.
I easily put myself in the center of attention.
She’s such a happy person.
She’s such a confident person.
She’s got such insight.
She’s so strong.
I only cry behind locked doors, by myself.
I let the tears stream down my cheeks,
dragging the makeup down along with them.
I hold my hand over my chest to counterbalance the pressure and pain of crying quietly, of wanting to scream but not being able to, and of wanting to kick and hit the wall, the door, anything to release the feelings and let them go, but not being able to.
I break down quietly.
Behind locked doors.
Then I stand in front of the mirror.
I look deep in my red puffy eyes.
I wipe my cheeks.
Look long and hard at myself.
Pull back my shoulders.
Lift my head straight.
Tell myself I got this.
I break down sometimes.
But I’m not broken yet.
Turn around and walk out,
hoping I waited long enough after the last tear fell, to be able to meet peoples’ eyes without them knowing I had even a single tear fall.
And I put that smile back on my face.
If I didn’t tell you, you would never know…”
More than an actual depiction of a situation or event, it is also a representation of a life-long fear of crying in front of people, holding all the emotions in and never ever wanting to show any weakness to the world around me, that I have lived with for as long as I can remember. My role in the family was that of a compliant adoptee. Not because I was told, not because I was made to take that part, but because of how my first year and a half of life had affected me. All the understanding and insight that has come with being able to look back through a new lens and realize that so much of my seemingly illogical behavior and decisions at times, had the most logical explanation of all, in the trauma of separation and subsequent adoption, and life as a transnational transracial adoptee gives me hope.
I know I am not alone in this. I know from talking with fellow adoptees that my experience is shared by others. I am hoping that I have finally reached a point where healing can begin…
I hope you stay with me in the new year, as I embark on new projects and ways to be involved in the adoptee community, helping to raise the voices of adult adoptees, in order to bring awareness to the reality of the adoption experience. I’ll be sharing it all with you…
I thank you from the bottom of my heart, for spending this time with me, reading my story.
If you would like to share your story, I would love to connect with you and help you share it here alongside mine.
Own your story, share your story, write your story.
All my love to all of you.
– Amanda Medina
PS. We are all in this together!