In late December, after I wrote an articulate, but blunt email to my parents regarding the drama that had filled up the weeks before the holidays, an email was sent in response from my mother that left me both defeated and angry. With my fingers poised over my phone, ready to respond, my husband quietly suggested that I might want to refrain. Originally, I scowled at him, and gave him a list of incredibly poignant reasons why it was imperative that I respond, in anger, of course. He shrugged his shoulders casually, and just said, “I just think you know how this will end. You can end it now, gracefully, or you can battle it out, and have to deal with the collateral damage that comes along with it being drawn out.”
His reasoning was sound, and suddenly, I was picturing an email war that would cycle for weeks, maybe even months, with nothing ever getting resolved. My feelings, already fragile and broken, would become even more frail, and wounded. There would be more anger, more frustration, and no peace. History had shown me already how this ended, and I needed to finally have the state of mind to step back and know when it was time to say, “Enough”.
I’d been advised by health professionals that ridding myself of my family’s toxicity would solve a significant number of issues I was contending with. It had been a somewhat offensive suggestion because I was in this mindset that I could fix it. I could fix the historical abuse and dysfunction. Admitting that it was irreparable would mean that I would have to deal with the fact that I would never have the family I always wanted, and furthermore, it would mean having to actually survey the damage that had been done because I was so fixated on an ideal that was far fetched. When I deleted that email, it was the first step to admitting that there was just nothing I could do to make my family see the error of their ways, or even inspire a change in them.
Soon after, I found myself reading articles about families like mine. I found myself nodding along, and realizing that for many, many years, I had been banging my head against a wall that was never going to crumble, no matter how genuine my intentions. Putting together that narcissism played a huge role in their personalities, and the dynamics of the family was liberating, and haunting. They were never, ever going to be better than they were at this moment. And, the longer I held on to the false hope of change, I would just continue to drag myself into their darkened abyss of misery.
In the past, my biggest issue with maintaining a distance from my family has always been guilt. So I began to, on the advice of some new found supports, write a list of all the things I had lost out on because I had been working on the fantasy of having functional relationship with my family. It would serve as a reminder when I was in those sentimental moments, or when they randomly popped up into my life. As I wrote, I could barely catch my breath. Event after event appeared on the screen, long lost relationships, and so much more. It wasn’t even physical incidents anymore, but the realization that I had spent many years putting energy into people who had proved, time and time again, that they were not worth any of that.
The adoption was of course near the top of the list. Instead of parenting me through one of the most difficult moments of my life, I was passed onto their church for handling. There was no kindness granted toward me, my own mother repeatedly telling me that I was nothing more than a common whore. All of it, the end result, my son going to another family, was never truly for my benefit, though they nobly expressed that it was to anyone who would listen; It was so that they could ultimately repair their reputation. They didn’t look at the long term impact it would have on me, or on my future family. They didn’t even consider for a second what could go wrong. They were hellbent on ignoring important questions so they could just say they did the right thing.
Then, somewhere in between, they realized they may have made an error. There was no apology, there was no admission that perhaps they were too eager and too self-focused. Admitting that they played a distinct role, negatively, meant confessing that they were wrong, and with them, they are never wrong. When I did get to see The Kiddo at his baptism when he turned 8, the whole scenario was tainted by their mutterings, their dissection of every move the adoptive parents made or didn’t make, and ultimately, the focus was redirected to them. This adoption story, the one that was beginning to bend and break before our eyes, was their personal tragedy. It wasn’t about me, or about The Kiddo, it was, and always would be about them.
The list of wrong doings grew. As I scanned it, I knew that some of the supposed sins were forgivable. Some, however, were not. The adoption was one of those unforgivable actions, if only for their lack of remorse and inability to take responsibility for their actions.
I’ve been writing about adoption loss for over two years now. I’ve seen therapist after therapist to deal with the rammifications of it. No matter how much healing I do, and I’ve done a lot, I would just never find a logical reason why I should forgive them. I knew that I would be able to move forward, and I would eventually find away to let go of the anger I had, but forgiveness is just not an option.
So, at the top of the list, I wrote,
“Can you trust the unforgivable?”
Quietly, I hit enter several times, and then softly typed,