Back Again

I’m moving soon. I realize I’ve declared an intention of moving before and not followed through with it, but this is a move that is 100% for me and nobody else. It’s a move to reflect the changing of life seasons, a move of growth, and a move of necessity.

In 2006, I visited Fayetteville, Arkansas for the first time on a campus tour during Thanksgiving break. I think I fell in love with the town just in the drive up there. There are all sorts of winding road for the last hour of the drive, and during that time of year, all the hills are covered in red, orange, and yellow trees. For a girl who had been stuck in Texas for five years, the idea of living somewhere where seasons existed was a dream. The University of Arkansas was the only school I even applied to when it came to college, mostly because I’ve got a major stubborn streak and was determined to only go there for school.

Fayetteville was a town I chose just for me. It’s the town where I first began to come into my own. I experienced so many firsts, both good and bad, but every first is interwoven with growth. I think there are some places that are somehow tailored to fit a person’s personality, and Fayetteville is one of those towns for me.

After my divorce, I moved back to Texas for a month before spending most of 2014 in Germany. I remember crying as I drove away from Fayetteville, not because of the divorce or some of the broken relationships tied into that, but because I was leaving a place that truly felt like home. I’ve visited a few times since then, and that strange combination of peace and excitement washes over me during every drive up there.

I’ve now been back in Tyler for ten long months. Ten months of adjusting. Ten months of struggle. Ten months of fighting that depression-monster again. However, it’s also been ten months of learning who I am. Ten months of finding what truly makes me heart happy. Ten months of growing into the person I want to be. It’s been a strange ten months, but I think that it’s a chapter in my life that needs to end as soon as possible. It’s necessary for the growth of the character, but you struggle through every word.

I’m taking control of my story. In just about two months, I’ll be moving back to Fayetteville. This week, I started back to school in the form of one online class, and in the spring, I’ll be back to going to school full time. It’s going to be a struggle. I’ve never been very good with going to class or studying or even really staying disciplined enough to complete many things, but I’ve got a long-term goal this time. I got accepted into the English department, studying a combination of creative writing and journalism, which is a perfect fit for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to translate that degree into a job in the editing/writing/publishing industry back in Frankfurt in a couple years.

To say I’m nervous would be an understatement. I’m scared of so many things. I’m scared that I won’t do as well in my classes as I hope. I’m worried that school will wear on my psyche again. More than anything, I’m terrified that the depression that has been consistently lurking in the semi-shadows these past few months will step out and try to take over my life again. However, I think that this is the best time in my life to do this, to take these chances. I’ve got nothing tying me down, no reason to keep me where I am. In any case, moving back to Fayetteville is a temporary step in the grand process of moving back to Germany. And anything that can allow me to live in Germany for more of a full-time experience has to be worth the effort.

Old Main at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas - May 2015
Old Main at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas – May 2015

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