The littlest words
I was on the phone with my birth mother this morning and she was telling me quite a few things; random things, anecdotes, this is one of the many ways in which we are alike. I am an anecdotalist and this is one of two blogs. As a child I wrote letters to aunts all over the country and they would always write back and praise my funny and engaging letters and they always asked for more. I wanted to please. This was the one way that I could. I wrote all the time.
I am a good listener. I rarely interrupt. I won’t try to barge in or force my way into a conversation and so if someone is commanding the floor I just listen. And if listening doesn’t work, I daydream. I am an advanced daydreamer. Sometimes my daydreams choke me up, as I am achieving some epic goal or some such daydreamy nonsense. I daydream best in my car with 80s disco music playing really loud. Car trips are therapeutic and healing. I need that a lot lately, for this journey has been far more overwhelming that I might ever have anticipated. I opened Pandora’s Box with this search. I am keenly aware of that. There is no going back without hurting peoples’ feelings and I try really hard to never hurt anyone’s feelings. I spend a lot of time trying to see myself and situations and my actions from other peoples’ eyes. I held off doing this search for 4 years after I first had the inclination because I was afraid of intruding or causing trauma. Or, being rejected.
So, after a while she says, “Well I should let you go. I have been going on for over an hour and I imagine you have things to do, but you are far too sweet to ever say so.” This makes my day and I carry that compliment around with me for the rest of the morning. I love her. But I do so in a gradual way that is so different than the very familiar way that I loved my mother; the one who raised me. I try to remember if my mother – who I adored with that unconditional love that kids have for their mothers – ever gave me a compliment such as that, or a compliment at all. None come to mind but there must have been some. Our relationship was often difficult; I did not fit into her ideal. My adoptive parents were of the ‘nurture’ philosophy and did not believe in that ‘nature’ bit. I was not what they had in mind and this caused some friction. They lost some sort of battle to make me what they wanted and that I would not comply made them angry and sad. They did not understand that kids don’t choose how to be. I climbed trees. I talked back. I asked too many questions. I was too independent. Huge surprise that, after spending my first 3 1/2 months in a bin, in a row of bins.
One day in my mother’s last few months I was giving her a bath, as I often did. I had left my job and had moved far away and when that did not work, I ended up at my parents’ house because I had run out of places to run to and had spent 2 months driving around the country visiting friends and staving off any decision making. Upon arrival their first question was “What are you going to do now, Miss Bright Ideas?” So I said, “Well I am moving back to ____, and I’ll do that first thing Monday.” I had pulled this off ages before when I fled to their house after leaving another boyfriend in another very big city and had gotten that same question from them and had simply done it; I had gotten in my car the next morning and drove to that other city and by the end of the day I had an apartment and a job interview and I moved there and stayed for well over a decade, till the epically bad move across the country to live with a man who would drive me out after only a few weeks, with his now-unmedicated madness. I have trouble with attachments and am too independent. Faced with fight or flight, I flee. I flee people too easily. I think it’s the bins.
But that weekend my mother suddenly got very very sick. Sicker even than she already was, which was pretty sick, and we knew this was The End. So instead of packing up and leaving I stayed, even though under any other circumstances I would not be welcome for an extended stay and this had been clearly and painfully pointed out to me time and again. I am not a bad person, I am just not really what they had in mind, but I spent my adult years trying so very hard to mimic that person that they wanted; I was an actress in that respect, and not an Academy winner by any means. But the timing was now serendipitous and for a few months, until her death, I was a genuine heroine. After her death I’d be thrown away but I did not know this yet. I thought my new exalted status would last. I haven’t seen my now ex-family since, well over 4 years ago now. Evidently my mother held us together. She was goodness and light. She was adored. I wanted to be like her, always. I do not know what my sins are but I believe they are complicatedly tied in to that very brief exalted status that was so exclaimed over by so many relatives and friends. And that I was not ever exactly what they had in mind.
She splashed around in the bubbles that day in the bath and she was so much like a little girl and she seemed so happy and smiled so beatifically. She weighed 90 pounds. She was tiny and adorable and I was full of love for her – more than ever. Then, as she tossed some foamy bubbles in the air she said, “Do you know what I love, Love, LOVE?” and I asked “what?” while in my mind I thought “Please God, let it be ME. Please can it just be me this once? Please, pick me.” In my mind I begged. And she said, “Everything!” and tossed a few more bubbles and I broke, as she giggled. I sobbed, for days, but she did not notice, the dementia having started it’s downward spiral.
Hearing today that I am sweet was really special.