Posts Tagged separation
This past weekend I discovered a new disorder almost certainly related to my adopted status: succulation anxiety. It’s not a typo, it is a condition of extreme distress experienced when a lumbering, tool-wielding man compels a parting of the ways between me and my fleshy companions.
Every home owner must at some juncture have trees pruned, walls painted, pests eradicated and wooden parts replaced. These events are stressful enough for their cash outlay requirements and the fact that strangers are generally roaming around your personal space for extended time periods. But when you’ve doted for a year over a blooming aloe and the careless flop of a wood beam snaps off its head, believe me when I say a new syndrome is immaculately conceived in the DSM-IV Diagnoses and Codes manual.
What can you do? I beseeched Bob (we’ll call him) through tight quivering lips, “Bob could you please be careful around the succulents? Maybe move the planted pots that are in your way, step lightly around the rooted clumps?” Bob could not be more apologetic when I pointed out the amputee. And Bob did move the container gardens. And Bob scythed off several more flowering clusters in so doing.
Later in the evening after the executioner and his crew departed I took stock of my Senecio. Several formerly trailing mounds lay smashed on the flagstone. I lopped off the carnage and stumbled into the house. My partner Margie took one look at me, offered a sympathetic hug and retreated to her office.
I am bracing myself for part 2 of the trellis replacement project today. But at least I have a name for my condition. Somehow I always feel better knowing what my malady is.
As Nancy Verrier points out in her book “The Primal Wound”, many a creative adopted child infuse their art work, poems and other creative endeavors with symbolic clues to their true feelings. Upon reading this, what came flooding back to my conscious memory was the first song I ever wrote (on the piano). I was around 10, arguably too young to have had a brush with romance-gone-bad. I played it for Margie this afternoon. Both of our eyes were as wide as saucers.
The Flowers on the Hills
The flowers on the hills are blankets-a-covering the green silken grass so soft and deep.
Your love is gone and now I’m discovering that all this time I’ve been asleep.
The spring showers come and bring up the flowers now, and we hear the little birdies sing.
Your love is gone I don’t know just why or how, I’ve got nothing left to remember you by….not a thing.
Why did you leave me, why did you go? This time I’ve just gotta know.
Why did you leave me, why didn’t you stay? Why did you go away?
“I’ll bet you made that appointment with your therapist right after I left and felt like you could cancel it after I got back,” my partner Margie challenged after returning from a recent trip. I used to beg my ex husband in our early years together not to travel; but I didn’t want to go with him. Once pointed out to me (okay, more than once), I could own a clear pattern of behavior: you leave, I get anxious; we leave together, I get anxious; I leave alone, I get anxious; you threaten to leave for good, I go ballistic.
The researcher and therapist in Margie compelled her to google search separation anxiety/abandonment issues. You can guess the word that began appearing with these search terms: adoptee. The next day at work she sent me this article, which launched a reading marathon. Separation anxiety is but one of a constellation of ‘traits’ that are common among adoptees and others who are separated from birth mother (separation anxiety and the many means of numbing it). And then there’s plain old garden variety anxiety, also common.
It is the mother’s role to prevent the occurrence of traumatic events that might hinder normal psychological development. Inadvertently the birth mother may set the stage for her child’s future inability to integrate with success events related to separation and loss. And since few adoptive parents know their baby is experiencing loss, they can’t be expected to minister to it.
It’s a good thing I’m a fan of paradox. For the other side of the coin which commonly manifests in adoptees relates to the development of a premature ego survival mechanism, stemming from the adopted child’s experience that the caregiver may disappear at any time. As they can’t count on anyone, self-sufficiency is a must. Paradoxically, I am nothing if not-self sufficient!
A little over fifty years ago, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of a bus. Not long afterward the Federal Interstate Commerce Commission banned segregation on interstate trains and buses. A half century ago there were only solitary voices suggesting there was something special that transpired between a mother and her baby that cannot be learned or acquired by even the best of substitute mothers.
Why here, why now? Certainly not to place blame on biological or adoptive parents. One week ago I was none the wiser about the roots of my “quirks”, a characterization I borrow from an “incubator baby” I chatted with while getting a hair cut yesterday. This is an odyssey of self discovery fueled by a sense that with some openness and education, we can do better than we did fifty years ago.