Useless Thoughts Running Through My Head

various musings of a generation x kad

Archive for the ‘adoption’ Category

Getting rid of the monsters

Posted by thoughtful1 on November 22, 2008

As I mentioned in an earlier post, a friend helped clear out a mess of boxes from the living room.  That has helped me re-start my efforts to declutter and tidy up.  But this time it’s different – this time around I’m starting to see that I am worth it to have a clean house.  I know it sounds strange, and maybe I’ve worded it wrong, or I don’t have it quite right, but I look around and I begin to see how things could be instead of how they are.  I don’t feel as overwhelmed as I did.  Or, at least, I don’t give in to those feelings like I used to.

I still have moments where I just can’t deal, but instead of putting something off for weeks, months, years, I eventually get around to a task within a few days.  Like tonight.  I started in on the pile of papers in the office area.  It still looks like a mess, but now I have two paper bags of paper for recycling.  In the past I would have thought, “Recycling was this week.  I shouldn’t bother until two weeks from now when it’s recycling week again.”  Now I am better about letting bags of paper sit around for two weeks before I can recycle them.  It’s because I know that it’s progress, whereas before I’d look at the bags and think only of failure – that I didn’t get around to it sooner.

One factor that has helped motivate me is the realization that I just have to toughen up and Do It.  I’ve known for a few years that my clutter is a symptom of something deeper going on.  Normal people don’t freeze or feel anxious when confronted with a box full of stuff.  Regular people don’t allow years worth of junk mail to pile up, or leave grocery receipts from last year on the kitchen counter.  But there’s something going on the keeps me taking care of things.  I feel overwhelmed.  Or I want to do something else.  I think it could be a sign of some sort of depression.  I’m not certain, but that’s my guess.  And it’s most likely related to adoption – some strange attachment thing.  But, the same friend who helped me move the boxes also told me that I just need to work through it by cleaning up.  That somehow the act of forcing myself to clean things up will make things better for me on the inside.  He’s probably right, though I don’t know how exactly.  I only took Psych 101…

Another thing that helped was me finally getting that my friends, my real friends, don’t give a shit if my place is messy.  I’m not being judged.  Before, I viewed the situation as “I trust them to see my place and still like me,” which is slightly different from “They like me enough that they don’t care.”

Finally, it’s helped that I realized that by the time you get this old, you’ve got issues.  Everyone has something going on, and everyone has some sort of dysfunction.  It gives deeper meaning to the phrase “nobody’s perfect.”  And, if no one else is perfect, then I don’t have to be.  Or pretend to be.  It’s a huge burden to feel like you have to be perfect.  Feeling like I have to be perfect means that whenever I came across a piece of junkmail that’s over a year old I’d think, “My God, that’s still around?  You are such a LOSER!”

It’s slow going, but I think I am finally climbing out of this hole.  Things won’t change overnight, and I still feel overwhelmed at times, but I’m beginning to feel better about this.

And, I saw this cartoon in the New Yorker this week.  Maybe I should purchase a print of it sometime…  (Like when the economy is better and I’m not worried about getting laid off :P)

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Posted in adoption, clutter, depression, happiness, issues | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Learning to trust

Posted by thoughtful1 on August 28, 2007

One of my new friends is someone I’ve slowly been getting to know over the past few months.  We ended up in the same social circle and seem to go to the same parties, outings, dinners, etc.

We also have had some interesting conversations. Conversations I usually don’t have with people until I’ve known them for a while, or unless I instantly click with them. Neither holds true for this friend. I’ve known him for a short time, and while we’ve always gotten along there was no “clicking.” Instead, our relationship has just evolved from amiable acquaintances to friends.

One of these interesting conversations was about religion. As usual, I think I failed miserably at my Unitarian Universalist “elevator speech.” I tried to summarize the faith, but didn’t get far, mostly because I always take a historical approach and babble about our Christian roots. While I believe we should do a better job at acknowledging our Christian beginnings (more on that in a later post), I know damn little about it. So I end up babbling like an idiot.  Perhaps I should just focus less on our history and more on our process – we believe in finding your own truth, blah blah blah.  Anyway, as I was giving my lousy UU elevator speech, he began disagreeing with some of our views.  At this point things could have gotten sticky, and become a perfect illustration of why one does not discuss religion.

Yet, it didn’t.

Instead, it all felt very safe and comfortable.

I came away from that thinking, “Gee, he’s someone you can talk about important stuff with.”  Normally we talk what we did or didn’t do over the weekend; bad dating experiences, etc.  Fairly mundane stuff.  This was the first time we talked about something important, and revealing.

Fast forward a bit…  Somehow, we got to talking about something really personal… to me.  While it’s not some deep dark secret, or some horrible trauma, it’s still something I didn’t want to talk about except with people I know who’ll understand, but it came up and I couldn’t find a graceful way to keep mum about it.  So, we ended up talking about it.

Initially I was anxious, since while we’re friends I don’t think we’re close friends…  I’m not calling him up all the time to spill my neurotic thoughts, or spending entire Saturday afternoons just hanging out.  He isn’t someone with whom I shared my boarding school trauma or my college ennui.  He isn’t an ex-boyfriend I’ve remained friends with or a grade school confidant.  He is, really, just some guy I met, that I’m slowly becoming friends with.

And, like our previous conversation about religion, it felt safe and comfortable.  Why?  Because it felt like he cared, and was genuinely interested in what was going on in my life.  And, I didn’t feel like he was judging me.  I think that was the biggest fear – that I would be judged and found lacking.

Afterwards, I was mentally kicking myself.  After we talked about religion, why hadn’t I trusted him enough to share this other part of my life?  The more I thought about the two incidents, the more I realized that I should have trusted him more to be understanding and respectful.

Yet, I didn’t.

A while ago I asked a therapist friend if it’s common for adoptees to compartmentalize their lives.  I used to do this, and I know two other Korean adoptees who do this to an even greater extent than I ever did.  She said that it is common for adoptees to do this.  She believes it’s a reaction to trauma – being separated from our birth families (and cultures and countries).  It’s like a very mild form of multiple personality disorder where someone’s personality splits in reaction to severe trauma, such as extreme physical abuse.  It is a way of protecting ourselves from being hurt and rejected.  If we keep all our different pieces separated, then we don’t have to worry about anyone finding out what we’re really like, and then rejecting us.

I have, for the most part, stopped doing this.  It was too much work.  But, I am wondering if withholding personal thoughts and feelings from friends is another form of compartmentalizing, or at least of putting up a wall to protect myself.  After all, I didn’t want to share this particular part of my life because I was afraid he would find fault, even though I should have known better.

Or maybe not.  Maybe it was reasonable to still be hesitant… Just because you can talk about religion with someone doesn’t mean you can share everything with them.  Even so, I think this is an indication of the sort of walls I’ve been putting up to keep people out.  But now I need to keep in mind that I can trust this person.

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AFAAD – Adopted & Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora

Posted by thoughtful1 on July 31, 2007

John Raible has a post about a new group forming, AFAAD, Adopted & Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora.  The group is for adult adoptees or foster care alums who identify as being of African descent.

Posted in adoption, race, transracial adoption | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Coming out… !

Posted by thoughtful1 on July 24, 2007

A Birth Project has a clip that all transracial adoptees might like, and their a-parents should check it out, too.

Posted in adoption, international adoption, korean adoptees, korean adoption, race, transracial adoption | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sometimes it’s hard to enjoy a silly Korean soap

Posted by thoughtful1 on June 28, 2007

Last night I started watching an episode of My Lovely Samsoon.  It’s a Korean soap opera about an average looking 30 year-old who gets dumped on Christmas Eve.  She then proceeds to try to rebuild her love life while her younger, prettier, thinner sister gives her constructive criticism (because younger, prettier, thinner sisters can be annoying like that).  I had enjoyed the previous night’s episode and had begun to consider DVR-ing it.  But last night I stopped watching after 15 minutes.

Why?

Because it was showing me what I had lost when I was adopted.  When I went to Korea in 2004 I had a fun time, don’t get me wrong.  But when the plane was flying in to Incheon, I started tearing up.  I kept thinking, “This [Seoul/Korea] was supposed to be mine.  It was supposed to be my home.”  And, it is not.  Yes, I consider the US home.  But having a home doesn’t replace or make up for the one I lost.  Visiting Korea and seeing my native city just turned an abstraction into a reality.  I began to realize what I had lost.  And seeing a contemporary Korean soap opera began to depress me.  I don’t know why it happened last night – I’ve watched another contemporary Korean soap.  Maybe because the characters are in their 30’s instead of their 20’s, so I could identify with them more?  I don’t know.  I just started to feel sad.

Posted in adoption, korean adoptees, korean adoption, transracial adoption, TV | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

American a-dad helps unwed Korean mothers

Posted by thoughtful1 on June 17, 2007

I found this article on the Harlow’s Monkey blog.

I’m happy that Dr. Boas realized what giving up their children meant for the Korean mothers.  So many others don’t… And even though I know most people don’t bother to ask the questions Dr. Boas did, it still bugs me that none of the other a-parents in his group questioned the practice of Korean mothers sending their children overseas.

Posted in adoption, international adoption, korean adoption, transracial adoption | Leave a Comment »

Food for thought (Pun not intended.)

Posted by thoughtful1 on June 8, 2007

Read Harlow’s Monkey BiBimBap essay.

She describes the contradictions we face in our lives.  And, like me, she is angry at Korea for sending away so many of its children.

Posted in adoption, korean adoptees, transracial adoption | Leave a Comment »

The Chinese adoptees are growing up… and getting organized!

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 29, 2007

Very cool – adult Chinese adoptees are beginning to organize and have formed their own group, Chinese Adoptee Links International.  The website is http://www.chineseadopteelinks.org .  Click here to read an aritcle about the group.

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We have a new settled minister!

Posted by thoughtful1 on May 13, 2007

This morning my congregation took on vote on whether to call the candidate for minister that our Search Committee recommended.  Our board president just sent an e-mail out saying that the candidate has accepted our call!

YAY!!

I wanted to jump for joy and do a happy dance.  I didn’t really expect to be so happy about it, but this morning they told us that she could take 24 hours to decide whether to accept our call or not.  I had forgotten that not only do we have to decide if we want her as minister, but she has to decide if she wants us as a congregation.  So I left church this morning worried that she’d say no, and then we’d have to start all over again.  That, and I couldn’t see any reason why she wouldn’t be a good minister to us.  I didn’t get to know her very well during candidating week, and I was unable to engage in lengthy conversations with her.  However, what I did see I liked.  I was impressed by her sermons – she’s thoughtful and inclusive, and that’s important to me.

Right now I am feeling happy and relieved.  My church had a rough a time and we’ve been healing, but after going through a failed ministry and recovering it feels as though the wind was taken our of our sails.  I’m looking forward to next year when we get to know her better, and perhaps things can begin to settle in our congregation as we find our way again.

On the flip side, I will miss our current interim.  I suppose it’s natural, but I also wonder if the sadness I feel over him leaving is some sort of residual adoptee separation anxiety.  It’s hard to tell sometimes.

Posted in adoption, my mundane life, religion, unitarian universalism | Leave a Comment »