…blogging is free

Even with decent medical insurance therapy is expensive. Plus even the best therapist apparently won’t relocate 3000 miles to stay with you forever *ahem*. So sometimes you just have to find ways to cope between sessions.

While not the most healthy one of my favorite way to cope is to distract myself aka zone out from life. Sometimes I do this by streaming reruns of my favorite series (I’m lookin’ at you The West Wing). When you don’t have the brain space to learn new people’s names or remember details of plot arcs there’s something comforting about revisiting old friends and reliving familiar storylines.

It’s not always The West Wing sometimes I’ll mix it up and rewatch Bones or revisit something like Dawson’s Creek, Buffy, or Roswell. Cooking shows also feature heavily in my routine, although they also make me hungry so are avoided when I’m trying not to eat my feelings. Sometimes there’s a need for something not just mindless, but also mind numbing and thats where reality tv comes in. Oh you’re about to trick a bunch of chicks they’re dating Prince Harry? Yep I’ll be watching that. Oh some self proclaimed experts are going to match you up and you’re going to marry them sight unseen? Yep that’ll take my mind off my current anxiety. Oh hey you’ve got your own self proclaimed experts to match 10 couples and added a million dollars, alcohol, and a group living situation? Sounds better than ativan.

Binge watching craptastic tv. It doesn’t fix my problems, but it’s cheaper than a copay.

It comes as no surprise that I’m usually the only birth/first/original/natural/relinquishing* mom in many places I frequent online and in person. Often it doesn’t matter, but sometimes it makes things…interesting.

For instance when the child I’m babysitting sees a picture of my son and asks questions. And there I am trying to explain…but oh did I mention this child is deaf? And my ASL is pathetic and doesn’t cover “no he doesn’t live with me. I’m a birth mom” so I finger spell and pantomime and enunciate to facilitate lip reading and ignore the eyes of the surrounding people cause yeah we were in public.

Or the time at the dinner table with several friends and their adopted children when one of said children asks why I didn’t bring my son to dinner.

Sometimes I remember my responses word for word. This is not one of those times. I said something about being a birth mom. The child then asked why and I swear I heard every adult at the table hold their breath. I’ve been preparing for this question for years, but not this way. Not from this person.

I said something to the effect of “Because I got pregnant young and was convinced I wouldn’t be a good mom.”

And then almost as if nothing had happened conversation returned to “hey pass the spaghetti” and “can I have sprite” and “someone top off my vodka please” (yeah that last one was me). And everyone could breath again…

But here I am days weeks later still thinking about it. At first I was patting myself on the back thinking about how great it is that these adoptees are growing up seeing relinquishing parents as real people. Here I am a functioning member of society not some theoretical being…but what if my presence is actually a detriment.

Good thing I’ve got therapy tomorrow I need to work through my guilt.

*no I won’t use that long unwieldy all encompassing qualifier each time

For various reasons I’ve been sorting through old medical records recently. As I’ve done so I’ve noted how my mental health diagnoses have evolved. Coming from a family doesn’t really believe in mental illness or therapy I”ve only been seeking treatment for approximately 8 years.  Having some issues that make it hard to find a good therapist I’ve only stuck with a clinician long enough to have a diagnosis for the last 4 years.

In 2010 my first diagnosis, or rather my first set of diagnoses were:

Generalized anxiety disorder

Agoraphobia with panic disorder

Social phobia

Persistent disorder of initiating or maintaining sleep

These diagnoses were assigned to me after ONE 50 minute session with a clinician…I don’t have my records from my next two providers, but by 2012 my diagnoses were:

Generalized anxiety disorder

Panic disorder without agoraphobia

Just to recap so far: In 2010 I had Agoraphobia with Panic Disorder, in 2012 I had Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia…whatever you say mental health professionals.

By late 2012 I found my favorite clinician to date, a wonderful social worker who got me as close to sanity as I’ve ever been. My new found ability to cope with life was reflected on paper as well as I was down to a single diagnosis:

Panic disorder without agoraphobia

Sadly in mid 2013 I moved and for some reason my therapist wouldn’t move 3000 miles to keep treating me. My first attempt at a wrong coast therapist threw around adjustment disorder and PTSD before deciding to return to:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The new year brought my second attempt at east coast therapy and a new diagnosis:

Depressive disorder, not elsewhere classified

Panic disorder without agoraphobia

It seems strange that while my story, my experience, my symptoms don’t change my diagnosis continues to. I try not to let it bother me, I don’t have depressive disorder in fact that only symptom of depression I have is my inability to fall or stay asleep…which then leads to increased feelings of being tired during the day…also some increased irritability…and these things impact my day. Most of my wake ups are a result of anxiety, panic, or hypervigilance. But it doesn’t really matter. I’ve been given a diagnosis, it’s on the right axis, my insurance will pay for treatment regardless of what they call it.

I meet with wrong coast clinician 3 next week, I wonder where that will lead? To a new diagnosis? Increased coping skills? A second appointment? Only time will tell.

 

Starting Over

I just unpublished every post on this blog all the way back to it’s inception in 2007. My summer break will in part be used to sort through, edit, and republish some of those posts. Others will never return. My goal is to reassess what is mine to share and what belongs to others.

I’m a mother who relinquished a child at birth. It’s important to share my story, birth parent voices have been silenced for so long. I got lucky and have a wonderful successful open adoption which makes me a perfect advocate for reform. It’s harder to dismiss me as “bitter” (although not impossible). But no one lives in a vacuum and thus we need to be careful about only sharing the part of the story we own especially when the other owner is a child who has had absolutely no say in being a part of the story nor in the sharing of the story.

I’m grateful for this Open Adoption RoundTable prompt because it serves as a reminder that i need to figure out what I’ve getting my own father before Sunday.  I’m also grateful for this prompt because too often father’s are left out of the adoption conversation. First fathers especially, but to an extent adoptive fathers too.

In honor of Father’s Day we’re supposed to

Write to someone else in the adoption constellation (someone specific or a general group). What do you want to say to them on Father’s Day?

So here it goes…

Dear [TheEx],

Happy Father’s Day.  This is your tenth.  Since we haven’t spoken in seven years I wonder if you have anyone around to wish you a happy father’s day. Sometimes I’m not sure you deserve it.  I try to stay out of it and let you navigate your own relationship with M&J and most importantly with Kidlet. But from what I can see you aren’t doing that.

So this year as I send these happy Father’s Day wishes out into the ether in your general direction I’m also sending another wish your way.

I wish you’d (re)connect with your son.  His eyes light up each time he learns more about you especially when similarities are reavealed.  He needs more than second hand stories through the lens of an ex-girlfriend even if that ex-girlfriend is his mother. There is only so much good I can share with him about you and I refuse to share the bad.

He may only be 10, but he’s already entered his teenage boy stage and I see so much of you in him. The good and yes even some of the not so good. I wish he had the opportunity to see first hand where he gets some of his traits from and I dont just mean his blond hair.  He recently took his mom’s sewing needle and pierced his own ear.  Remember when you pierced your eyebrow? It was my first thought when M told me the story.  I wish that someday, someday sooner rather than later you and Kidlet can compare those stories in detail.

I don’t know what to say to convince you he deserves you in his life.  Or maybe I need to convince you that you deserve him in yours.  Either way time is slipping away.  So much is gone already.  Get to know him.  He’s pretty great.

Sincerely,

Your Son’s Mother

It’s that time again; OAR time. It happens to also be that time again; Mother’s Day week. Because the two coincide Heather has given us the following prompt:

Write to someone else in the adoption constellation (someone specific or a general group). What do you want to say to them on Mother’s Day?

Dear First Mothers, Birth Mothers, Natural Mothers, Biological Mothers, Mothers of Adoption Loss, Mothers who’ve relinquished parental rights, Mothers who’ve had parental rights terminated, Mothers who aren’t parenting their children…

Mother’s day is your day too. Whether in addition to birth mother’s day or instead of birth Mother’s day; Mother’s day is your day too.

That being said, it being a day for you doesn’t mean you have to celebrate it or even acknowledge it. It’s your day you decide how you want to spend it. Mothers day brunch with family, friends, or on your own sound good? Do it! Taking yourself to movie more your style? Do it! Want to spend the day quietly in your garden? Do it! Want to wear your motherhood out in the open on a t-shirt or what-have you? Do it! Want to stay in bed all day with a book or DVD? Do it!

This day is your day too. Don’t allow anyone to convince you you don’t have the right to spend it however you want.

The question Heather poses over on Open Adoption Bloggers for the current OAR is short, only seven words and yet it’s not easy to answer…but then again are they ever?

How do you feel after a visit?

My visits are a bit different than most of the other first moms I know.  Since Kidlet and his family live on the opposite side of the country our visits don’t last a few hours or even a day (except for that one).  They last a week or more (maybe ten-ish days). I also stay at their home so thats a week to ten days of round the clock adoption visit.  It’s intense to say the least.  Not that I’m complaining, I love my visits.

However, due to the intensity and the me being in Kidlet’s presence for a long time I spend a lot of time trying to control myself and my emotions.  Do you know how much energy it takes to be at an open adoption visit and regulate your emotions for a week to ten days?

So how do I feel afterwards?

Barb summed it up so accurately

Exhausted. Sad. Angry. Weird. Confused. Amazed. Numb. Contemplative. Grumpy. Listless. Misunderstood. Nonessential. Overstimulated.  A whole bunch of “oh shit

as well as when she said

 I never knew if it was right to hug him.  I never knew if he liked me or even wanted to be there (in the last few).  I never knew whether it was right to say “hey, I do that too!” or “I was good at that too!”.

Last summer before my most recent visit M told me it’s ok to show those emotions.  It’s okay to be that one person who comes just to see Kidlet and to have emotion about it.  It’s okay to cry etc.  And yet I have SO. MUCH. EMOTION. even when I’m trying to be real and let it show I need to regulate it to not flood Kidlet with my emotion letting out a year or two of emotions at once would overwhelm me who knows what it would do to a 10 year old.

So in light of all that after a visit I feel hungover.  Thats the only way I can describe it. A post visit hangover.

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