Distance and dissonance

Grand Canyon, Smithsonian Magazine

Grand Canyon, Smithsonian Magazine

My emotions and I tend to be connected to one another primarily by distance. I was trying to think of how to explain this and it reminded me of these photos I saw of the Grand Canyon last year. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, but this giant hole in the earth is occasionally, rarely, and spectacularly filled with a fog that almost completely obliterates it. For me, this is what the adoption fog feels like — that space between me and what I feel has often been smoothed over by a cavern I can’t see. Others have explained the “fog” more clearly than I have, but this is what it is like for me.

I am temperamentally even-keeled. I always thought this was weird, odd, unnatural, or just plain wrong. I generally don’t do “big” emotions. I’m happy, sad, whatever, but the whole world doesn’t know. In the family in which I was raised, this is not how emotions are done. Anger is big, flaring, explosive — and then gone. Happy is raucous, loud, joyous, and often the neighbors hear it. That’s how people feel and express, right? Maybe so. And interestingly, my first mother and her family are also pretty boisterous and extroverted.

I am introverted, temperamentally unsuited to big displays of emotion, and often quiet. I adore libraries in part because no one is loud in them (this is starting to change, and I am not on board). Anger for me is a long, slow simmer with a few eye flares and a lot of avoidance because I don’t “do” angry. I have issues with it. Happy is often very very quiet, but very very satisfied. I’m not afraid of conflict, as I’d rather talk it out and know where I stand, but let’s do it privately.

The problem with the canyon? Wait, no. The problem with the fog that fills the canyon is that I often find myself at the bottom wondering what in the world just happened. How did I get to this place, why I am crying, what just happened?

This weekend is always a minefield for me. My father’s birthday and the anniversary of his death fall within two days of each other. This year, I was unaware that it was on me until many hours after I’d cracked wide open. I’m still recovering some sense of equilibrium. Earlier this year, I made contact with my biological father. I got some family information I wanted, but was otherwise not particularly welcomed. I think, in retrospect (although I’m not sure I have enough distance for that), this has made these days of remembrance a little harder this year.


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