Saturday, August 7, 2010
One simple word, which has so many different meaning to so many different people. Webster's defines it as:
sur·vi·vor [ sər vvər ]
1. Somebody who survives: somebody who remains alive despite being exposed to life-threatening danger
2. Somebody with great powers of endurance: somebody who shows a great will to live or a great determination to overcome difficulties and carry on.
This is a heavier post than I normally write, adoption related somewhat, but a little more in depth on my life than normal. When I was thinking of the perfect post to go with this fantastic necklace that was given to me by Laura, THIS POST was not it. I was going to write a blog about what being a birthmother meant in regards to "living" v.s. "surviving". But then a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum....LOL.
I don't talk a lot about life prior to adoption. For the most part, I don't pay attention to life prior to adoption. It's the past...I have moved on. And nothing "life-changing" enough has happened since the adoption to move it into the past. I have on my sidebar a quote that says "There are moments that mark your life, moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same. And time is divided into two parts...before this and after this."
I loved that when I ran across it while trying to make the side of my ridiculously long posts more interesting. And when I found it, I was thinking only of Adoption.
Then today, well actually yesterday, something random and totally out of the blue hit me very hard, and the meaning of this quote took on a larger meaning whether I wanted it to or not. You have heard me talk of being LDS as I was growing up, and of the wonderful family across the street who "adopted" me in a way, and kept me structured and active in the church for many years. That family had 4 children in it. All of them are very dear to me in very different ways (well, maybe 3 of them...one of the boys was the guy I wanted to marry when I grew up from 3rd to 8th grade...but since he never loved me back...maybe he doesn't count...LOL). Anyways, through the wonderful powers of facebook, the eldest of them-the one who babysat us on occasion, and spent 45 minutes trying to get my incredibly thin hair into the ever popular 80's "wall of Aquanet" for a New Kids on the Block concert, messaged me on facebook. She called me by my childhood nickname, and told me that it was nice to see I grew up to be gorgeous. Of course I laughed. (Though if any of you were to ever see a picture of me in 8th grade, you'd probably agree....LOL) Today, I messaged her back on chat, and told her "Thanks" for the compliment. In addition to "You're Welcome" and some very other nice things, she made a simple comment. She said, "To me, you'll always be little M, cooking and cleaning, and taking care of your little brother and sister. I didn't realize how amazing it was at the time for someone of your age." I was floored. And the kids were screaming for dinner. And so the conversation ended. But what didn't end, what has been eating at me since it was said, was the time in my life that she was referring to.
Survivor Definition #1... "Somebody who survives: somebody who remains alive despite being exposed to life-threatening danger"
Let's talk childhood. I don't usually, not to anyone, but today I feel the need to use this blog as therapy for myself, not entertainment for the masses. Growing up, I was the eldest of three. My mom worked every day, crazy hours, and went to school at nights. My stepfather was an evil, evil man whom had no love for me whatsoever. He was strict beyond words, mentally and physically abusive, and when I was an adult and they told me he had died, I honestly jumped up and down in delight. His favorite thing to do was to beat me for whatever irked his mood that day. He loved to swing a belt, and his favorite game to play was hand on the doorknob while he swung that belt. Let go of the door, another swing. Open the door...God help you. This was the man who would dump out an entire nine drawer dresser onto the floor because a drawer was slightly open. Who would hide a brand new pair of cheerleading shoes and make someone late for their first game because they had left those same shoes sitting neatly in their box on top of the dresser, excitedly wanting to show their mother in the 5 minutes she'd be at the house before work and school. This man...who had me so terrified of abuse that to this day it takes an act of God himself to make me lay a hand on one of my children. For years, I lived quietly behind that doorknob, spending as much time away from the house in between the massive amount of chores I had as I could. And most of my time was spent with the "nice LDS family across the street." I never really asked if they wanted me there as much as I was, or if they realized how much I needed to be there with them, and in all honesty, I never really cared. Their house was safe, and warm. Their family was beautiful. They had the life I wished over and over that I had been born into. Their church gave me plenty of valid excuses, in between softball, camp, young women's, dances...whatever it might have been that day...to be away from my house and the horrors that took place inside. I needed them. I loved them. I wanted to be part of their family. For years it worked. As I got older, the abuse got heavier, and his wild threats got crazier. Phrases like, "You keep that up and we'll send you to a convent." (I had NKOTB posters ALL OVER my room), or "If you don't get it together, we'll ship you to your Uncle Tom's ASAP" (Over a B in Math). Now to someone in my situation, those words were golden promises. Years of praying to a God who wouldn't answer me had gotten me nowhere, and anything would have been better than what I was living with. Having NEVER been in trouble, I thought I'd give it a try. I came home late....beating. I ditched school 2 days in a row...major beating. It took months of trial and error for a child who didn't even understand trouble to find the right combination to be sent away. One night, when I was 14, a friend and I were supposed to be babysitting. She had an idea to leave the sleeping kids, and go meet some friends. I eagerly hopped on board, thinking this might be my ticket out. Needless to say, it was childish, and irresponsible, but it worked. The cops were called, the neighbours involved, and even though I remember people staring at me with looks that said "How could you?", I knew exactly why I did. A week later, I was "shipped off to my mean ole Uncle Tom's" and that man never got to lay a hand on me again. (Coincidentally, my time with my Uncle was amongst the best in my life. I love that man more than I can put into words, and am so greatful that he stepped up to protect me when he did.)
THAT...THAT was "one of those moments". When all time was measured before and after it. I don't mention those days, and until this little facebook relay, I hadn't really thought of days like that. Time "before it" didn't matter. It was moved into a footnote in who I am now, and not ever thought of until today. Despite the life threatening environment (which is still sugar coating it if you ask me), I managed to survive. I was reborn. I became a new person. While I thought adoption was the only moment in my life that echoed that quote, today I am faced with the reality that there were two. And because there is a first one, and I made it through, it gives me a new enlightenment, that the pain of this too shall pass.
Survivor definition #2... "Somebody with great powers of endurance: somebody who shows a great will to live or a great determination to overcome difficulties and carry on."
I firmly believe that life is divided into two types of people...the "haves" and the "havenots" I will always be a "havenot". I was not born into money, I did not marry into money, and unless the lotto decides to pick my numbers even though I don't buy tickets, I will never know money. I work, I manage, I provide what I can. And I am not bitter for it. I am not angry. I accept it, as I have all things in this life. I have known many great difficulties, caused many great difficulties, and will continue to encounter them. But I move forward. I press on. I scream at the top of my lungs, and choose to NOT go quietly into that good night. Whether it was allowing to let Taryn move away from me because it was best for her, or choosing to finally walk away from the plushy life of my first marriage for a man who was also a "havenot", or finding myself out of work, or even considering and ultimately choosing adoption for my youngest, I am constantly moving forward. Moving towards success. Moving towards happiness. Moving towards peace. Or most importantly, and most recently, moving back towards the Father in Heaven. I just keep moving forward. To the time that is after this, though it may not ever be in this life. What is different these days, versus those, is that back then, I didn't think God had the care or concern to listen to my heartfelt prayers, to hear the sobbing pleas of a beaten and broken child. Many years later, as a far from perfect adult, I know he does. He led me to this blog, and most importantly, he led me to many of you. And for that, there are no words to express my gratitude.
I don't know why, out of all of the amazing things available at the R House Couture, she chose this one as a gift for me. She hasn't told me, and I don't know that she ever will. I mean that in the most wonderful and positive of ways. There are so many beautiful pieces there, but I had seen this "Survivor" one several weeks before she ordered it, and almost had ordered it for myself. I wasn't sure why...there are lots of awesome necklaces for birthmoms there...but this one attracted me the most. And when it showed up in its beautiful box wrapped in pretty turquoise ribbon, I couldn't have been more pleased. The only time I've taken it off since I received it was to photograph it for the blog picture. Maybe, just maybe, without even realizing it...I knew that it told much, much more of my whole story...both before and after adoption. It stood as the one thing that could serve as a divider from the "moments before this" and the "moments after this". And for that, I am greatful. :)