Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Something Different

Well, here’s the story the best I can remember it. The first three weeks were horrible. Lonely. Here I was, newly arrived, and nobody welcomed me. Occasionally, someone held me, briefly. There was milk from a rubbery inhuman nipple. Voices talking around me, but not to me. Mostly, I was in the box. Hard plastic walls. Above me, shapes and sounds. Confusing, unwelcoming. Then there was movement, and more confusion. I slept as much as I could, to escape it. There was more color in the new place. More brown, less white. And the light was different. More shadowy. The voices here were loud and laughing. And I was a part of it. It was confusing, disorienting. But better, somehow than the other. I was both drawn to it and frightened by it. I wanted it, and it was too much for me. Flee, flee. Where? Into myself. Into sleep.

Then it was quiet. And dark. Darkness. For the first time darkness. I didn’t mind that. It was comforting, almost. Like the womb. The aloneness was okay, too. I was used to it. I cried, not from fear or loneliness, but as an experiment. And the arms came and the arms held me, and there was a voice, and I liked the voice.

It took a while for her to emerge into my consciousness in full shape. At first she was just the arms and the voice, and something else, soft and cushiony. Sometimes, other arms held me, but mostly hers. His voice was there, too, but not so often with the arms. Sometimes the world rocked, and his voice rocked with it. Soft and deep and flowing. I liked it, when the voice did that. Safe. A different kind of sleep than the other.

Safe. But not entirely. They came and went. The voices. The arms. Still, there was the aloneness. The not-quite-sure-ness. Is this my place? Do I belong here? I wanted to stay, so I made myself as quiet and still as I could. Freeze. Invisible. Lizard stillness.

In me, there was a tight, silvery pain. It resided in my stomach, mostly, in those early years, and sometimes, also in the spot between the shoulder blades on my back. Eyes wide. Shallow breath. Eventually, it came up through me in the night, and out through the scream of my mouth. And she would come to me. She had a body and name now. Mommy. Just a dream, she would say, and rub my back. Then she would go away.

In the day time it was with me, too. It was the bears that lived in closet, and more bears in the basement. It welled up in me when the girl across the street yelled that I was no longer her friend, or when his voice not-singing spoke sternly and I heard this: wrong, bad, wrong, bad, me, bad. Welcome? Maybe not.

The time between awake and sleep was the worst. Wild animals surrounded my bed, and even crept beneath the sheets. I curled my legs up to my chest, but I knew they were down there beneath my feet, always, with sharp teeth, waiting.

I grew, and over the years I became less conscious of it. The animals retreated, and I retreated, too, or escaped. Flee. Fly away into fantasy. Daydream girl. The mind learned to dance away. Eventually there were books. Solid rooms that welcomed me. Flee. Into books. To the spot on the end of the couch. Sit very still. Freeze. Don’t cause trouble. You can stay. You may be loved. Safe here. Quiet. Invisible. Good.

Do you think I have escaped it now that I am grown? No, it is here still. It is in my shoulders now, and in my jaw, and the teeth I grind at night. Tarnished now, and so familiar I almost cannot name it. Oh this, yes, I have always had it. Do you have one, too?


  1. This isn't new. I wrote it in 2007, just for myself. But for some reason I was thinking about it today, so I dug it up.

  2. WOW.... very powerful. for me, I can't really think of my very beginnings.... my life started at 6 weeks old. The idea of thinking of life before that is overwhelming.

  3. Thanks, Andy. That makes sense, but for me, it was very therapeutic to imagine it, for some reason.

  4. This is very insightful. I'm not adopted, so have no idea what you went through. But, I can really imagine any baby feeling this way. But, as for the feelings of having to be perfect or maybe they'll give you away, too. That is powerful. I hope that someday you can truly overcome those feelings. I know that stern voice from a father and have never in my life felt "good enough", but when you add in that extra dynamic, I'm sure it was hard.

  5. Hey Rebecca, This post was listed on the best open adoption blog site, and it certainly belongs there. How powerful... I'd really encourage you to re-highlight this and give people another chance to revisit it.