I think I’d always known. It’s an instinctive thing. An inherent thing. Something you know on some level, a visceral level, that you can’t put into words….but you know. It hurts, yet you don’t know why…you can’t name it, identify it…it just hurts. You lack the words, because you don’t have the words, all you know, all you feel, is the lack…
I was adopted at the age of 15 months. I was one of those who likely would have fallen through the cracks. But I didn’t. My biological mother was obviously troubled. My biological father was, apparently, a convenience. I was “seized” at a very young age and housed in foster care. I apparently have 10 “biological” siblings (I made the requisite queries in time: another story to be told some time). I was the youngest, who was placed in foster care, up for adoption.
I’m being very kind here in my depiction of certain events. I have very little remembered knowledge of what happened to me during those years. I’ve blocked a lot out. I’ve asked questions, and come to know that when I was adopted at 15 months I was severely malnourished. I wasn’t even on solid foods yet. Yet I was a very happy child, apparently. I laughed easily and freely. But I longed for close comfort. I’m told I cried often to be held, to be picked up. This doesn’t surprise me.
I went through a very tumultuous childhood, the pivotal point of which was my adoptive mother. Again, I’m not going to get into details. But I was abused, physically and emotionally, mentally. And in that family of seven, I was the only one to be subjected to such abuse. I’ve discussed this within the family. It’s interesting to have this kind of discussion with your own family members and have them not recall a single episode of abuse…except what you mention, where you are concerned… and they deny it.
There is one moment that stands out in my mind when I was speaking with my sister (years ago) and I told her of what I’d experienced. She said, and I quote, “Well, you must have brought it on yourself.” I looked at her, appalled.I brought it on to myself?? I was a child.Several years later, when she and I were on more level ground, she saw how wrong she’d been in her judgement, and she apologized, and she and I are now closer.
However, I digress sorely.
When I was 16, my “mother” struck me for the last time. It was over some inconsequential thing, I don’t even recall…but then again, wasn’t it always? And my dad was, for the first time, present to witness it. He’d never been prior. That was the thing. He never saw her abuse. She was very careful to do so when he was not present. He knew it happened. (I was a very cowed child…he knew something was going on…but not what.) But he’d never witnessed it. This day he did.
He struck her.
Later, she blamed me.
Much later, he told me, in complete privacy, that she’d never considered me her daughter…and never would.
And at the age of 16, I was left to wonder: And so what am I supposed to do with that?
Because I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to do with the information I’d been given. And he knew that. He said, “She does the best she can, and it does nothing for you, but she has done the best she can.”
I don’t know that I felt I’d been failed (when obviously I had been on more than one level)… but more that the woman whom I’d thought was my “mother” actually…wasn’t. And never thought herself to be. I eventually disowned her…because I needed to…and because I needed some space to understand the “relationship”…or lack thereof.
As an adult now, and understanding how these things work, I’m settled and complete. She does not figure in the equation. She can’t. I’ve eliminated that part of the equation, worked it out, and it makes sense now. Yet I will always be disturbed that the most troublesome part, the part I should have known of…I was deprived of.
I wonder how it works out for others. I wonder.