August 10, 2014
My "Redneck" Heritage
(originally posted July 2008)
We just got back from our first overnight trip in four years, and the FIRST one with my son! And I'm happy to say that it turned out great. Drew loved staying in the hotel ~ swimming and finding all kinds of new playgrounds to stop at! It was awesome!
It was also his first trip out-of-state, and it couldn't have been a more appropriate place ~ TEXAS!
Growing up, most of my cousins (my age) lived in Texas and alot of my good childhood memories are making annual trips to family reunions in TX to see them. I was especially close to Gerald, who was born just a few months before me, and who my parents just happened to be visiting when they "got the call" that I was "available". Ha ha. They jumped in the car and rushed back home to get me. What a story.
Unfortunately, when I was a pre-teen, on one of the memory-laden times spent with my wild, red-neck TX cousins, something happened that put a huge damper on our relationship. It is so sad that this had to happen, and even sadder that I didn't have the self-esteem and support to overcome it ~ without it essentially severing our "friendship" for the next several years. You see, we were visiting my cousins and having a great time ~ they lived in rural TX and enjoyed horses and hiking and going to the lake (Gerald taught me to water-ski)~ all the things I really didn't get to do in my family growing up ~ so I really did love visiting! BUT on this particular day, after coming in from a hike in the woods behind their house, I was getting dressed in the bedroom (which happened to be connected to a "shared" bathroom). Growing up in a house-full of boundariless women (truly), I forgot to close the door to the shared bathroom and was standing there pretty darn good and nude (blushing ~ lol), when Gerald happened to go into the bathroom from the hallway and ~ boom ~ SAW ME as he was closing the door! Oh my God! Being only 11 or 12 years old at the time, and probably the SHYEST, most insecure little girl there was, you might as well have...I don't know ~ it was just the most horrible moment imaginable! lol
And then, to make things worse, Gerald had the gall to TEASE me about it when I finally got brave enough to come out. Well, that was the last straw, and after essentially SLAMMING him with everything in me ~ yes, I was pretty strong, so it probably HURT ~ I withdrew myself from the situation, and POUTED for the next ~ oh, let's see ~ probably 5 years! Every time we would visit, from then on, I was a smartass, rebellious little twit who refused to even talk to him. And so, our friendship was pretty much destroyed. ALL because of THAT?!?! Yes. (I realize my stubbornness now).
I tell this story, to emphasize how DIFFERENT I always felt around even my extended family. I always put up a big & tough exterior act and would not let any of my cousins really close enough to befriend me. How sad. Because inside I was hurting and lonely. I so wanted to feel like a true part of them, but because I KNEW I was different (ADOPTED), I protected my heart from that differentness and just put on a show of people-pleasing, tough "OK"-ness ~ a mask.
The picture of me and my cousins (above) CRACKS ME UP, because it is like a snapshot of REALNESS (kind of like a freudian-slip in print)of how I really felt INSIDE as a child. If only adoptees could be given PERMISSION to talk, grieve, and DEAL with being adopted, instead of having to live in silent pain their entire lives. Instead, we are AFRAID to broach the subject, because we are CONDITIONED to accept the notion that we are SPECIAL & CHOSEN. We know we are special alright ~ but we hate it.
Well, I got to attend Gerald's wedding this past weekend, and it was joyous! I can finally embrace my entire family, knowing WHO I REALLY AM and going through the forbidden road of identity, grief, and darkness ~ to finally come out more whole.
I ENJOYED being with my cousins ~ all my extended (adoptive) family ~ and sharing them with my son and husband. They are a huge part of my childhood and identity, and I love them. And I'm so glad I can share that heritage with my son. We have a double-heritage (one that I, sadly, LOST, but which very much DEFINES me) that I can only embrace fully because I was courageous enough to SEARCH and FIND and WALK THROUGH the valley of emotions surrounding my relinquishment, adoption, history, effects of societal influence & beliefs, saddness, reunion, joy...and the list goes on and on. My son deserves to know ALL his roots and family. And so do I.
My only regret is not "mattress surfing" or "two-steppin'" after the wedding with my GREAT red-neck family ~ I still watched! It was a blast.