Thursday, January 31, 2013

What's Under the Rug?

In the early hours of the morning, shortly before waking, I dreamed I opened a trapdoor in a wooden floor and discovered a pulsing, hot ball of pain. I recoiled immediately, as if burned by fire. In my head I heard a voice saying "If you really want to heal, you are going to have to deal with this."

"Not now," I answered. "Not yet."

In a halfway state between sleep and waking, I asked myself: How can it be that even someone like me who has dealt with loss in therapy and writes and talks openly about trauma and healing could have such a well of undiscovered pain? Is it possible that my strongest pain is still beneath the surface ... that I haven't even touched it yet?

When adult adoptees speak about adoption using words like "loss" and "pain" and "trauma," we are sometimes countered with the statement, "Not all adoptees feel that way." And it's hard to argue with that. It's certainly true that no two adoptees are identical, in their feelings or anything else. And while I have met many adoptees whose experiences and feelings seem similar to my own, I have also met those who hold adoption very differently than I do.

I often wonder about those adoptees, the ones who are so unlike me. Do they have no trapdoor? Have they just not found it yet? Have they seen it and refused to open it?

I suppose there may be some who opened their door and discovered a milder, gentler pain than I did. Perhaps they took it out of its hiding place and carried it around for a while before eventually misplacing it and barely noticing its absence. Or maybe they keep it on a shelf and are not bothered by it.

But I can't help but wonder if there are some who opened the door and recoiled, as I did in my dream. Not now. Perhaps not ever. And then what? Cover up the door with a pretty rug and pretend it isn't there?

As I said, I wonder.

Cheerful! But what's underneath? 

Image courtesy of John Kasawa at


  1. I had to deal with my trapped door. Tried to close it but was not happening. In 2010 my world in my book fell a part. I still try to close it at time but not happening.

  2. Excellent post. And you're not the only one wondering. Some have stock in rugs...I'm convinced of it. :)

    Thanks for making me think, every day. And for being such a blessing.

  3. Interesting that you write on this. I've been wondering the same thing about birth mothers who seem to go around feeling no loss at all while others seem lost in it. I've actually had a post brewing. I'll probably link to your post.

    I agree with Deanna. You are SUCH a blessing....and I think people have stock in rugs to cover it all up.

  4. I too wonder this. I have one adoptee close friend who says we're either in one of two camps: a. wanting reunion (and attendant feelings of adoption loss, feeling that adoption touches nearly every aspect of our lives), and b. not wanting reunion (related: feeling satisfied with exisitng adoptive family, not wondering, wondering what all the fuss is about from those in the "a" camp). Can you guess which one I am?

    And I just sit and wonder, do those b's have hidden pain? Is it just too deep, or is it not even there? Because, I don't buy it; I think b's pain shows up in other areas and is not attributed to post adoption.


  5. My trapdoor was more of a stage curtain. When my mother found me in 1992, her voice on the phone saying, "I think you are my daughter" caused the curtain to open. I could not identify what I saw but the "sight" of it in my own mind was devastating and traumatic and left me hysterically sobbing and shaking. I closed that curtain pretty darned quickly and did everything possible never to open it again. Took 15 years to truly deal with what was behind the curtain, my Loss, grief and sadness about being separated from my mother at birth. I spent years repressing that pain. The very thought of it made me feel as I would die. Who wants to face something that seems fatal, right?

    As for adoptees or mothers who seem to have no door/ is there!!! They just haven't seen it yet, have seen it but are denying it exists or like me, completely repressed its existence. I don't judge others who are still in the fog, I was in the fog myself for many years. When I can, I share my journey and hope the public, adoptees and mothers will listen with an open mind. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, "Gee, I never thought of it like that."

    When someone says, "But my neighbor/cousin/coworker was adopted and se is fine," my reply is, "I was fine too.....until I wasn't."

  6. I have an adoptee friend I've tried to have conversations about her birth family or the loss. She shuts mr down drastically each time. That she has had a great life and her parents are her parents and that's that. Though when she talks about her mom, and their differences I see a deeper pain in her eyes. A pain that says her mother never understood her and never will.

  7. Thanks Laura. And, of course, many of us a's were once b's. I myself was a solid B, until the day my unacknowledged grief snuck up on me from behind and demanded to be acknowledged, the day I suddenly found myself in a puddle of tears on the floor of my apartment. So yeah, I know at least some of the "totally fine" adoptees are carrying unacknowledged stuff. I can't say "all" but I have my suspicions that the percentage is high.

  8. Thanks Monika! You are so right that this applies to bmoms, too. Many of them are even given complimentary rugs (very pretty ones!) from the agency!

  9. <3 And thanks to YOU for being one of my inspirations!

  10. Laura...I actually think that there are three camps....those who who have struggled with their adoptedness and want reunion, those who have the temperament to assimilate and actually got pretty lucky in the family they were matched with and/or those who hold more security about who they are, and the third one and most complicated, those who THINK they are fine, who have incredible coping skills and all of a sudden their world is turned upside down...those who dwell in ambivalence but never knew it.

    I lie somewhere between the first and third...wrote essays about adoption all my life, fantasized about my birthparents, went to grad school and worked in adoption and foster care (how twisted that all seems now) and yearned for my family although I did not understand it.

    Then I had one big trigger and all the coping skills went out the window, and look out, I am on a frickin' mission for answers and I won't be denied.

    And I wasn't and it was pain and joy on a collision course, and ultimately after a year of this it is finally (for most part) clarity+certainty/truth= PEACE. Peace about WHO I REALLY AM.

    We all have a different story, but for God sake we should all know it!

    Rebecca, I always love your and Deanna I feel the most kinship with. I love all the other bloggers, too, but you two rock my world on a weekly and sometimes daily basis...remarkable!

  11. Thank you so much! And I actually think I've been in all three camps at different times in my life!

  12. I absolutely agree with you Laura. I'm clearly in the "a" camp but have a great adoptee friend who firmly believes that her adoptive family is her only family and "doesn't care to know the woman who gave me up". Just makes you wonder.


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