March 16, 2012
"But how?? How d-d-do you open your heart?" She wails.
I respond without hesitation; I respond instinctively from some place deep within; some steel center of Divine Force. I respond while having to convince every doubtful, broken, willful bit of my being that what I speak is Truth. I have to do this with such reflexive speed that the questioning, internal healing, and resulting response leaving my lips happen in a seamless transition. We step through a portal....
I'm beginning to understand all the horror stories I've read in adoption blogs and forums. Parents safely claim, "it only gets worse". Bitches. I understand the need for them to make this claim; having become conditioned to that first version of the child they bring home (specifically if the child is above the age of 6). What they-we-fail to comprehend is that, that first version is just a shell, a protective layer made of head-nodding obedience, and intuitive, survival-bred manipualtion (actually, they say babies are biologically designed the same way: with large eyes and reflexive smiles, they are made to seduce us into nurturing them). It is US who make the mistake in believing that their instinct for survival, their adaptation is some special secret saved for those that have suffered and is thus a permanent gift of theirs, a skill, a magic weapon, that they will use without guidance or teaching forever and ever as they see fit. I understand it, but I do not approve. Having read the horror stories, and commiserating woes found in many of these forums, I am left feeling disgusted. The laments are always the same, "she/he was so great when we brought him/her home, but now we don't know what to do?!?" How foolish they all are when the creature grows so comfortable it lets its guard down and bites, because biting is all it knows...
How dare we-they-be so shocked that when that loving shell cracks, inside there is a vulnerable little thing, perhaps malformed from lack of exposure to the Light. A scared, broken being, perhaps vicious from fear that you will now see it and turn away in disgust or fear-"this isn't what we were expecting".....
Watching my child collapse in anguish has that cliche, slow motion, car crash feeling. It is actually happening. This is happening and everything I say to her will cement, now and forever, my emotional bond with her. Yes, it IS now and forever, because I can remember wailing out my anguish at her age, my mother holding me, and me knowing she had no FUCKING clue how to help me; she had no FUCKING clue how much of my pain was rooted in her careless behavior; she was so busy being frightened. And that has never changed.
This thought only adds to the secret fear that what I am seeing in the face of my wailing, agonizing, child is the results of a few months under my influence. As if this fear is not damned-full enough, beneath or alongside it is the thought, "also, she does come from your blood, maybe she is just revealing the same innate flaws you daily fight with; after-all, we all know how her mother was....
All this while, we smugly pondered at how easily the Little One has been left seemingly un-affected by her tragic circumstance. It was easy to get used to someone who seemed to reject the natural damage of a tragic circumstance [maybe it's just as easy to get used to a daughter who has always steeped herself in mourning. So used that you never think to pull her out of it]. It was easy to feel arrogant (even though we only lucked out) that this poor, innocent thing-innocent of her poverty-should fall into our care; as if, by her natural ability to adapt, we have proven ourselves capable. It's been easy, and the hard part is just beginning....
I scramble to retard the momentum of despair that is building fast; I sing the pop song* I've written her. Even in emotional upheaval, she has time to pause, listen, and smile at me with sincere enjoyment. (I knew it was a hit) but it doesn't last for long. As soon as the song is over her eyes go large and black again; her shoulders squeeze together while her body shudders and shakes with her cries.
So....I speak French; the bits and pieces of inaccurate phrases tumble from my lips while I stroke her controrted face: "Ne pleus pas mon fils-ma fille (ma fils...damn that's not right, but it sounds a lot better-whatever she don't know); "c'est pas grave"....
[Unless it is, unless its you crying because you want to go live with my sister and not moody, silly, me. Unless it's you crying because the genes in your body just kicked in and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Then, I'm afraid, it might be a bit more serious- Or not? Am I so regretful of who I am, I fear the idea you might be like me someday? Hmmmm....I can't say that I am my Love.]
"Life is sooooo HARD!!". She is mourning for the FIRST time since the day I watched her across the grave where her mother lay while dirt was thrown on top. My sister clung to me, and even through my own tears, I could not help but notice how she cried and sniveled like a broken, little girl-except there was the little girl whose mother was disappearing, looking on, calm and serene.
"Well it's about fucking time isn't it", the deep steel center of me throbs this feeling out through my bones, "Bare witness Lady: THIS. Is. Your. Job."
Whatever is yet to heal in me has to be left for another day, my daughter is flailing herself into a pit of despair, and that isn't going to happen on my watch. I am not going to stand back in fear. I know, in that moment, it is up to us to decide, once and for all, how we are gonna live our lives, or else our pains/fears will decide for us:
"No! Enough now, Vannesa! Come on, this isn't you!! Enough crying, NO! Life IS BEAUTIFUL!! Yes it is hard sometimes, okay, and yes you can cry, but then you have to stop and say ENOUGH. It's beautiful even when it is hard, my Little One. And sometimes we have bad days and the sad thoughts shout at us, but then you just have to shout back, with your heart (I place my hand on her thin chest and INVOKE the Will of God that what I speak be a Blessing) You have to SHOUT back with all the wonderful blessings you've had in your life, all the good memories and stories. Come on now-"
Her wailing has stopped, but I think-I know-it is only paused, "But how?? How d-d-do you open your heart?"
I speak quietly now, but with feverish force-["yes, I know this is Truth-give it to her and tell your fears to shut the fuck up about it." my heart reminds me]:
"By Loving someone; by being kind to someone who needs it (her thin arms snake their way around my neck and pull me close to her face so I have to whisper); or by being Loved or having someone be kind to you; by those moments when you let yourself feel total Peace (Relaxed Body, Easy Mind*); by seeing something beautiful-like the sunlight in your eyes, or the clouds or the trees, or a baby smiling; by laughing with a -"
"You know what?" she whispers, "I need a book. I have to write down everything you've ever told me. I have to not forget."
"You're going to write down what I say, like I write down what you say to me?" (she nods) "Okay, that seems fair; good idea, baby."
There is a brief stillness, "I will NEVER forget my mother." Her eyes well up again, she sounds so damn desperate. [No, My Love, I have you now, I won't let you fall again.]
"Of course you won't!! No, of course not. Baby, sometimes we can open our hearts through sadness too! Through the mourning of someone we loved who is gone, through feeling the pain of someone else's loss, or the pain in the world, but only when we let that sadness teach us, and in the end we find Peace again.... And you know what? I will never forget her either. I have learned so much about life from your stories of your mother. I think about her everyday. Every. Single. Day. So of course we won't forget her. Both of us.... Actually, why don't we write down in a book all the stories of your mummy also, so that we won't forget?"
Our bond perhaps exists in our screwed up genes, or in our broken hearts-perhaps. No matter; it will, definitely exist now in the way we choose to remember, in the stories we choose to tell, in the words we use to tell them.
Our hands are dirty; her mother is buried; she is in my arms now; we will walk away now, and we will write our stories, because Our. Life. Is. Beautiful....