The Day Of

I’ve been getting let down quite a bit recently, so going into the birth mom experience, I just tried to keep all expectations at a minimum. I don’t do well with disappointment, so whenever I can avoid that specific experience, I do whatever necessary even if that means blocking out emotions. When people ask if my trip was everything I dreamed it was going to be, I don’t really have an answer. I tried to ignore any dream for so long that it’s impossible to say if the reunion met expectations.

The day of, my nerves were very evident. If there’s one thing I can say for certain involving the first meeting with my biological mother, nerves and adrenaline were involved. I spent several hours the morning of June 28th sitting at a table in front of a coffee shop in downtown Bellingham, Washington attempting to write down everything that was going through my head at the time. I knew that with the stress my mind was under, I would be unable to recall my thoughts after that first contact. This is a small excerpt from those hours:

“It’s today. In fact, it’s in a few hours. It is so soon. So unbelievable. So many questions will be answered and I don’t really know how to approach it at this point. It’s like my brain is frozen on the emotional front, and I want to figure out my feelings so badly without any idea on how to unfreeze everything.

Everyone I come across is asking if I’m excited. If I’m nervous. I should probably have an answer, but I don’t. I don’t know if I’m excited and/or nervous at this point. I guess I’m getting both of those emotions flooding in now thinking about it, which is why I haven’t really been making it a point to think about it.”

At this point, I had a minor emotional breakdown. There’s something to be said for journaling. If nothing else, it allows you to really access feeling and emotions that you are subconsciously suppressing, and it breaks down those walls you’ve put up. I’m lucky enough to have a friend who has been giving me any and all emotional support possible, so I called her as soon as the floodwaters started in my eyes. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have made it through last weekend without her. After asking her to just distract me, I got a handle on my nerves again and was able to continue writing a bit more.

Eventually, even writing was an emotional drain, so I packed up all of my stuff (three to four journals and countless pens, mostly) and walked back to my weekend home. At this point, all I wanted was a complete distraction from the day- a way to escape my mind. I tried to nap, that didn’t work, so I turned to the best option around: netflix.

I don’t remember the fifteen minute walk from my place to the restaurant much. In fact, I just remember small flashes of that walk. What I do remember is almost walking away from the restaurant as soon as I got to the door. My typical response is to run whenever things get uncomfortable, and there was nothing I wanted more than to bolt and forget the whole thing. However, I fought the urge and went inside.

That initial face to face look is something that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to properly put into words. It was one of those moments that would have been put into slow motion with dramatic music on in the background if it had been in a movie. And then I blurted out “I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to do here” which I suppose broke the ice, but it was just because I felt awkward and wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be comfortable enough for a hug, or just go in for a wave or handshake. I had never thought about what to do after walking in, so I just ended up being my usual awkward self and luckily it worked out.

The dinner went really well. I didn’t really know what to talk about or how to act or even what to do with my hands. I remember running to the bathroom at one point because I needed a breath of fresh air. I think I was pretty successful at keeping the look of overwhelmed panic off of my face, but my whole insides were all twisted up. It wasn’t that I was regretful of making the decision to meet her, but it’s just such a bizarre situation to be in that I was numb and a tangle of electric uncertainty all at once. Thankfully, we only spent a couple hours together mostly listening to my birth mom’s son talk about their trip driving from Idaho to Washington (yes, I technically have a half-brother which is incredible) and then we went our separate ways for the rest of the night.

I walked home in a fog. There are a few hours where I’m not completely sure what I was saying or where I was wandering around, but I ended up at home completely intact, so I didn’t get into too much trouble. I stayed up for a bit just sitting and thinking. I wish I had thought to break out my journal for that night, but I was in mental-processing mode and didn’t think to do much of anything.

I spent the whole next day with my birth mom and her son which was very rewarding and was much more comfortable than the previous night. I’ll hopefully get all of that written down in the next adoption post, but there’s still so much to think through. Overall, I’m so thankful I was able to have this experience. I’m proud of myself (which is something I never say) that I was strong and stubborn enough to do this trip on my own without any full-blown panic attacks. It was a giant leap in the right direction, and it’s something I’ll always be able to look back on with a new sense of calm in my heart.

Whatcom Falls National Park in Bellingham, Washington - June 2015
Whatcom Falls National Park in Bellingham, Washington – June 2015

listening to: Helen Stellar

It Takes Time

I had a panic attack earlier this week.

It’s been almost a year and a half since my last serious moment. It came out of nowhere. I was hugged far too tightly by someone who was not welcome to touch me, and I panicked. It started off as something I thought I could work through….shaking hands, a slight shortness of breath. It didn’t slow down. It didn’t get better. It got worse. Shaking hands turned to full body paralyzation. Shortness of breath turned into the inability to see or breathe or speak in coherent words. I lost track of time. It was terrifying.

I was in a public place. I was at my job. I was in possibly one of the worst places to totally shut down because I’ve kept most of my history separate from my work environment. I was lucky enough to have one friend there who I’ve known for over a decade who knows all of my past and was able to drive me home and make sure I had moved past the worst of it, but it was impossible for most of my colleagues to know why I was just leaving work in the middle of a shift.

That’s the thing about having ptsd. That’s a factor that I’ve dismissed since it’s been so long since my last crippling episode. It can come back at any time. Triggers can’t be controlled. You can try to avoid situations where thoughts and feelings come rushing back, but that isn’t a hundred percent guarantee that you’re the person before the event or events that caused your trauma.

I think one of the worst parts to me is how embarrassed I feel. There’s a sense of shame and humiliation that comes with completely shutting down in front of a bunch of people that you’ve only known for a few months. It shouldn’t be that way, but unfortunately most people don’t understand the feeling that every molecule of oxygen is being squeezed from your lungs, that you have to clench your fists so tightly that nails cut skin just to keep your mind somewhat in the present. That became clear to me when I was told that I “just have to get over my past and move on”.

Some traumas are impossible to get over. There’s healing that will happen and the fear or hurt may subside, but it doesn’t just magically go away. You can’t just snap your fingers and become instantly mentally or emotionally healthy again. It doesn’t work like that. I wish it did. I wish there was an instant fix to make all of the bad feelings disappear. But it does not work like that, and unless you’ve dealt with trauma in your life, it’s virtually impossible to understand that fact. It’s a slow process and there are setbacks, as I’ve recently experienced, but the healing does come. Days get brighter and breaths come easier. It’s just important to remember that it takes time.

Alaska - August 2014
Alaska – August 2014

A Bit Too Exhausted

I’ve been relatively quiet lately.

There’s something that happens to me when I spend a lot of time out with friends. I become mentally exhausted and really just too worn out to get any sort of outside work done. The past few weeks has been all about hanging out with friends, working, and even a weekend trip to Austin.

The thing is, no matter how social I seem to the outside, I’m an introvert at heart. I’m a person who needs quiet time to reflect on emotions, actions, choices…and I haven’t had any of that lately. Often times, I don’t even realize that I’ve missed out on that quiet recharging time until I get so restless and anxious that I feel irritated by everything going on around me.

Now it’s time for a simple confession: I haven’t written in almost two weeks. I haven’t even tried.

I know I shouldn’t have any excuses. For someone who wants to be a published author, I really should be more dedicated to writing and put everything else lower on my priority list. But sleep has been taking over. Depression has been trying to fight its way back into my life. Thoughts of future responsibilities have me wanting to run away and forget that I owe anybody anything.

If you don’t know me in person, I’ve found myself in a bit of a unique situation. I’ve written about my adoption multiple times, but what I haven’t really hit on is that my parents are older. Older than even some of my friends’ grandparents. While they are right now still in relatively good health (which I jokingly tell them they owe me for), the truth is that I don’t feel like I’ve gone through enough life stages to have parents who might need me to stick around for a more permanent style of care. I have so many things I want to do with my life, but I can’t justify many of them if anything were to happen to my mom or dad. There’s no way I can live halfway across the world and expect them to be perfectly content with some stranger giving them the full-time care they might need in 10 years.

There’s one thought that keeps running through my head: right now, being a grown up is the most undesirable and hardest thing I can think of. I want to be free. I want to run off and make all sorts of decisions just for selfish reasons. i suppose that’s the key though. The key to maturity is realizing how difficult growing up and taking on responsibilities can be, but fighting through it anyway and making the best of hard situations. It means putting others before yourself and maybe giving up a few of your own desires along the way.

Getting back to my original thoughts now. I’m finally getting some actual alone time in a few days that will last for over a week, and that thought is the golden thread in my life at the moment. I’ll have a house to myself, actual quiet with no distractions bustling around downstairs. I’ll finally get to do what I’ve been dreaming of for months: turning off the internet and my phone and just writing. Writing in whatever room of the house I choose, writing at whatever time of day I desire, writing for hours without being reminded that I need to eat something or sleep. I’m taking one entire day completely to myself. That kind of recharge is exactly what I need to function.

I’ve rambled a bit off topic, but it’s late and I’m experiencing one of those word-vomit moments, the kind of moment where you’re finally writing again and all of your thoughts just pour out of your mind and through your fingertips. I suppose that I just needed to get these thoughts out. There’s something oddly therapeutic about blogging for me. Journaling is still probably my favorite form of writing, but blogging gives my brain the opportunity to think that there’s somebody out there reading all of this nonsense and knowing exactly how I feel. So if that’s you, thank you. Even if you never comment, but just have read any line of anything I’ve ever written, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Austin, Texas - February 2015
Austin, Texas – February 2015

listening to: Father John Misty