Posts Tagged Gautama Buddha
“I would have named you Jeannie. That was the name I had picked out.” My birth mother Maya supplied another puzzle piece to my largely mysterious prenatal narrative and we ended an hour-long phone conversation. I would meet her in 3 weeks. But in the mean time, we had one very validating conversation (see No Fault Universe).
My favorite therapist, I’ll call her “Beda Buddha“, used to say to me, “There is no such thing as a betrayal by another person Carol. We are always aware of the truth at an emotional level. We have an intuitive, gut level knowing that we can choose to acknowledge. We often want to believe lies, for at times they are more seductive and less painful than the truth. But we inherently register contradiction.”
This was like a revelation to me. All of my life I had not had my feelings validated, feelings that a secret loomed which everyone knew but me and my adoptive sister; feelings that this clan was not my lineage. I had known it was not as my well-intentioned adoptive parents said it was. And the boat had never been rocked.
As I am now reading, adoptees can be boat-rockers who test the adoptive parents’ love by behaving badly and essentially ‘daring’ the parents to abandon them. Or they can be compliant boat stabilizers who people please to ward off rejection and abandonment. I would abandon mySELF, I would quiet my own feelings and internal knowing to hedge my bets against being unwanted.
The compliant people pleaser in me with a lifetime of bet-hedging against rejection and abandonment by not rocking any boats thought: Jeannie! My alter ego. Your wish is my command.
Carol Louise, my adoptive mom, lives in a board and care facility a few blocks from me. I truly adore her, sitting and listening to her barely audible murmurings that are sometimes coherent and which she needs to air. I see now how care giving as a nurse and as my father’s devoted companion is in her blood. She can’t witness the struggle of a fellow resident without literally extending a hand to help and she can’t sit down to a meal without trying to give away her food to a hungrier, perhaps needier fellow traveler.
Growing up as a child, there was no down-and-out family member or friend – or family member of a friend – to whom my mother would not extend this helping hand. I could not name the many people who took up temporary residence in the little trailer my parents kept next door to our house. My father, sister and I tolerated it; but my mother thrived on company – and random acts of kindness.
As a young child I always felt mom was overzealous in her attempts to forge family ties between ‘them’ and ‘us’. She had grown up with nine siblings and they and their progeny had numbers which were legion. In my adolescence I found myself fleeing to the sanctuary of my bedroom – when not asked to share it – and withdrawing more and more. It was easier by far to decipher elaborate chord progressions on the guitar than it was to begin to untangle the complex knots of conflicting emotion that rose up with exaggerated vigor when the arranged marriage was being brokered in the other room.
I remember vividly when my favorite therapist (their numbers have been legion) learned I was adopted. ”Beda Buddha“, I’ll call her, had heard of my relationship woes for some time. She exclaimed upon hearing the news (which at 42, I myself had just heard), “Oh my, it’s a wonder you could have any successful relationships at all!” This scared the bejesus out of me. Was it really that dire?
I know my parents did what they thought was best for us (see Little Orphan Boy). And, this did not snuff out the predictable dynamic set in motion by the circumstances. A lovely woman who helped my mom just before mom went into full care used to tease me by saying, “I’ll take your mom over my mom any day Carol Jo!” Yes, I thought to myself. Most people would! Although I knew by then that I had been adopted, the guilt I experienced over my ambivalent feelings toward Carol Louise had not yet had any light shone upon it.