So How DOES It Feel?

Another adoptee I know recently mentioned having a feeling I think all of us have had: Not wanting to be adopted, maybe for just one day, so one wouldn’t have adoption in one’s head all the time.

But one does. I typed “Some days adoption seems to take up more than all my energy even if I don’t think about it much, like a background program I can’t close.”

So I can verbalize how it feels to be adopted (to me). I really didn’t think I could. I’m going to keep trying.

Here’s how else it feels: You know the part in Catcher in the Rye where Holden’s walking and every time he steps from the curb to the street, he asks his dead brother to keep him from disappearing? Adoption feels like that to me. I don’t trust the ground to hold me up. (This is not entirely metaphor. I wish I could explain it better.)

Allie, Allie, don't let me disappear.

Allie, Allie, don’t let me disappear.

Or, as Stephen Wright put it, “You know how it feels when you’re leaning back in a chair, and you lean too far back, and you almost fall over backwards, but then you catch yourself at the last second? I feel like that all the time.”*

I think I’ll have more to say on this later. For now, how does it feel to you?

*They say we can be “hypervigilant.” I jerk awake two or three times a night  if I’m sleeping in a strange bed. (I also occasionally hit and kick my lovers in my sleep, but I dunno whether I can pin on that one on adoption. Maybe I just hog the bed as well as the hedge.



Filed under Srsly, What It's Like

14 responses to “So How DOES It Feel?

  1. It feels as if I am about 5 degrees off-plumb…

      • Yes, I was thinking this the other day: “off plumb.”

        This is also beautifully apt: “Some days adoption seems to take up more than all my energy even if I don’t think about it much, like a background program I can’t close.” Whoa — yes!

        I’ve also often said that being adopted feels like being trapped in a Kafka novel for one’s entire life.

  2. Marylee

    I’m 50 and I keep thinking of new things that knock me back down again. Like, I’ll never live in the same place as my mother, or I’ll never see my brother as a child. They just pop up in the middle of my day. I’m trying to put my adoption thoughts behind a wall in my house (in my mind, of course). They keep sneaking out no matter how much I plaster that wall. I’ve moved furniture in front of it, but it hasn’t helped much.

  3. TAO

    Not to mention that it seems like every show on TV today has an adoption theme somewhere…

  4. Renee Davies

    Before I found my natural mother, I felt like my feet were never connected to the ground. Everything about my life was tenuous. Thin. Shadowy. Flighty. Flaky. I could never tell you how many times I’ve moved in my life, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number is over 50. Since reunion, I feel more grounded. For a while, I thought I was feeling connected–but that’s not it. It’s grounded. I feel heavier. Like I actually exist in this world. I’m finally bonded to it. I finally feel like I leave footprints.

    I used to feel like I didn’t belong to anyone. I think I kind of expected reunion to fix/change that–I think I expected it to provide me with someone to which I could belong. It did, but not in the way I expected. I’ve come to realize that I can’t belong to my mother or her family. They’re lost to me (and I to them) in ways that can never be undone. But I have learned that I can belong to me. I belong to me. It may not be the bond I was expecting, but it’s working for me.

  5. Yan

    TAO — I have noticed that, too, so much so that I started keeping a list because talking about how those story lines made me feel or how I reacted to them has been… enlightening. To me.

    Being adopted is kind of like the month I tried wearing soft contact lenses. I have a really bad astigmatism, and for that, contact lenses are weighted so they don’t spin on your eyes. Or they aren’t supposed to. With those lenses, my vision would be all fine and perfect, and then I’d blink and the world would shift and be all wonky. Sometimes it would snap back right away to “normal.” Sometimes it wouldn’t, and everything would be off kilter. Sometimes it would shift back and forth between the two and I’d just end up with a bad headache.

    Sometimes, adoption is nowhere at the forefront of my mind, and it doesn’t at all affect the phone call I’m making at work. And then I see an “adoption” post on FB — and to be clear, these are all about adopting a pet — and a moment of blind rage derails me. It’s so unpredictable as to be really annoying, and no, no one really understands it.

  6. Von

    I’ve always felt alone no matter how much i’m loved and in company.I’ve learned to live with it, to enjoy it and to appreciate the freedom it gives me. It feels sometimes like living in a bubble. I have nightmares still about identity, about being in an unknown city without passport, money or identification. Sometimes these are strangely liberating and I’m curious to see what happens next, how I’ll deal with it and I know I will. I’m a kicker too, very restless in sleep and never sleep a full night or in complete peace. I understand that blind rage, these days a feeling more of beng irate sweeps over me, sometimes it’s hard to explain, it’s a gut feeling and hard to articulate.

  7. Sunny

    I can easily relate to people who say they grew up wearing the wrong clothes (e.g. a lesbian who was forced to wear dresses as a child, or a transsexual man who felt bound in his boys’ school uniform) because I never, ever felt comfortable in my surroundings, as if I were cast in the wrong play–one that I couldn’t quit.

    I’ve also felt B.J. Lifton’s “living in a smaller space” analogy was quite apt for how I lived pre-reunion. It’s as if a big part of my psyche was walled off. What I still find impossible to reconcile—nearly 30 years post reunion–is that while reunion answered a lot of questions and eased a gnawing pain within me, what adoption has done to me can never be *righted.* And I really thought I could ‘fix’ it by facing it, but it just evolves, it doesn’t go away.

    • “Housing Shortage”–Naomi Replansky

      I tried to live small.
      I took a narrow bed.
      I held my elbows to my sides.
      I tried to step carefully
      And to think softly
      And to breathe shallowly
      In my portion of air
      And to disturb no one.

      But see how I spread out and I cannot help it.
      I take to myself more and more, and I take nothing
      That I do not need, but my needs grow like weeds,
      All over and invading; I clutter this place
      With all the apparatus of living.
      You stumble over it daily.

      And then my lungs take their fill.
      And then you gasp for air.

      Excuse me for living,
      But, since I am living,
      Given inches, I take yards,
      Taking yards, dream of miles
      And a landscape, unbounded
      And vast in abandon.
      And you dreaming the same.

      Copyright © Naomi Replansky

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