April 15, 2009
Just have to share this little story...
We were recently at a local pizzeria celebrating with my first Dad for his Birthday. It is always "bitter-sweet" when spending time with my first family. Like cherished times, of which I can't get enough. Yet not able to truly feel fully a part of the family, simply because they have a whole life of history together that is like a gaping black hole for me.
Nevertheless, I DO cherish every minute spent with my family ~ both of birth and adoption. It has really only been in the past few years I can say this, due to the enormous grief and confusion I walked through during those first "waking up" years. After all, adoptees aren't SUPPOSED to care, search, or reunite with their true selves and/or families, are they? No, we are supposed to be grateful and never question. It is just too dangerous.
Well, not I. Anyway, here we were all sitting around the table, finished with pizza, and cutting my Dad's birthday cake. Because I was freaking running around like a crazy woman trying to contain my sensory-overloaded child, I didn't notice that it was a Butterfinger (yes, the candy bar) cake. Mind you, my son has never eaten a candy bar in his short four years of existence. He has feeding issues and won't put most foods even near his mouth. (I've convinced myself that is why I've gained so much weight ~ I'm eating for two. Every bite I beg him to take and he refuses, goes straight into my mouth ~ STRESS). Sorry, I digress again.
So my son thinks that every cake is his personal sensory experiment, to use as finger paint (thanks to creative therapists), and because he can't quite understand why I am holding him back (with great effort), he starts to have a royal tantrum. When his aunt finally figured out what he wanted, she gladly scraped off one of the many mini-butterfinger bars off the cake and gave it to him. And much to my surprise ~ he immediately stuck the thing in his mouth and started nibbling on it! Amazing!
What is even more amazing (and was the purpose of this whole story) is that Butterfingers are my Dad's favorite candy, and low-and-behold, it was the catalyst to convince my son to actually TRY candy for the first time! I just quietly pondered this in my heart, sitting there wondering if I should have shared how surprised I was at my Dad's preference, because Butterfingers are also MY favorite candy bar! I can't count the number of Butterfinger mini-sundaes I've had from Sonic's new dollar menu.
All this is trivial, EXCEPT to an adoptee. It is just FREAKY to find out these little (and yet amazingly significant) similarities with your family of birth. And believe me, this IS just one of the little things. Most of the similarities are HUGE ~ in likes, dislikes, personality traits, voice inflection and tone, non-verbal communication gestures ~ so much is alike. They were inside me. Part of me. Without my knowing. All the while battling low self-esteem from NOT knowing and not being able to see my reflection in anyone else. Wondering and wandering, instead of embracing who I was and where I can from. All because it would hurt too much to deal with it. It still hurts. But it also brings understanding, identity, empathy, and joy ~ just to see myself in them. My whole clan. Each relative reflects a little different part of myself back to me. In my son. My Mother, Father, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Brothers. Grandparents, and Great-Grandparents. I am so blessed to be reunited with them, and love them so much.
And I can't emphasize enough that it wasn't until I crossed the threshold of search, reunion (just the beginning of the journey) into the grieving and healing, that I could look in the mirror and feel real, and learn to love real.
Here's to more Butterfingers!