from the bottom of the canyon

Ending up at the bottom of the canyon, covered over by the fog, means that some small thing that triggered a negative emotion — anger, frustration, sadness, loneliness, or abandonment — is now down there at the bottom with me, and so very many other things have been layered over it that I can’t see the rim just now. I think that’s what I like about the canyon analogy. Because I’m at the bottom with the thing that tripped me up, and I have no idea where all that other stuff between me and “normal” (the rim) came from.

Okay, I just had to go back and re-write that sentence in the first person. Third person is so calmly distant: it’s not about me; it’s about you. Except that it’s about me. I don’t know how you feel. I know how I feel. Sometimes. Sometimes, I’m at the bottom of that canyon and I have all these feelings, and I guess, if I really think about it, I knew those feelings were there but I’d been ignoring them. I only have brainwidth for so many things at a time.

I have been in reunion for about three and a half years. Despite three and a half years of evidence to the contrary, and, if I’m honest, more than three decades of additional evidence to the contrary, I still keep expecting myself to somehow be on the other side of the complications of being adopted. One of the parts of the “adoption fog” that I can’t seem to shake is that adoption was an event. (The “fog” can be loosely defined as the acceptance, by the adoptee, of the dominant narrative of adoption being all good and easy and no big deal, despite roiling conflicting complicated emotions that do not agree with this narrative) Adoption is not an event. Adoption is a major shift in one’s life trajectory that requires constant readjusting. That lasts for a lifetime, so far as I can tell. It’s not all good. It’s not all bad. It is always and forever complicated.

I think that, at a gut level, I knew this, and I think that’s why I played along for so long. As long as I denied that I had questions and wanted answers, I didn’t have to deal with complications. As long as I didn’t search, I couldn’t be rejected. It’s been about 20 years since I asked my first questions. I now have some answers. The longer I live with having answers, the more I realize that answers do not make things less complicated. They do, however, make me more accepting of the complications, and more patient with myself while working on that acceptance.

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