Sunday, May 2, 2010

Great Expectations

Bio-mom made a trip to the east coast this weekend to visit family. These are aunts and uncles and cousins. She has been very close to them over the years. But they didn't know about me. Her mom wanted her to keep the teenage pregnancy a secret so as not to embarrass them. This was standard operating procedure in those days, aside from the few that were ahead of their time and didn't give a crap what anyone thought. Those trailblazers! Even today, though, I'm sure that still goes on. I think it's pretty damaging. Now bio-mom is an adult woman and she had still not told her family about me, probably due to lingering feelings of embarrassment that her mom placed on her.

Well, the Christina's out of the bag! She told them. And how did I know this? I received a new friend request on Facebook! It was a cousin of hers (so, I guess a cousin of mine). She sent me a very nice message welcoming me to her "crazy" family. She said she was excited to find out about me and said how much she loves bio-mom and her family and now that includes me. It was a really nice message. She also pointed out how weird all of this must be for me. And yes, it is!

I am coming upon a real growth opportunity here. I am not very good at telling people what I want and need from them up front. I try to communicate subtly, but it's always too subtle. And then something happens, an imaginary line I have drawn gets crossed, and I get upset. Then I feel bad for getting upset because it's my own fault and I feel guilty. Then those guilty feelings seep out into my interactions with that person and it's seen as negative feelings toward that person. Ugh - ugly, messy and exhausting situation! I'm going to take this opportunity to get better at it.

I don't feel 100% comfortable with being thrust into the lives of everyone bio-mom knows. My own family is pretty isolated. We weren't very close with aunts and uncles and cousins. After my grandma died, we just didn't see them anymore at all. I found a few on Facebook (I found them, they didn't look for me at all, I guess), friended them and emailed them. I heard back from 1 cousin and 1 aunt contacts me but in a weird, crazy way (another story). Please, I'm not even that close with my parents and siblings. Cousins? Fuh-gedda-boud-dit! If I could orchestrate all of this and get everything I want, I'd get a little more from my parents (for them to at least meet bio-mom and get over the anger toward her) and get a little less from bio-mom's clan. I am completely comfortable with bio-mom (hanging out with her, talking to her, sharing things with her... heck, I'd even go on a weekend road trip with her). But I am not too sure how comfortable I would be attending a family reunion of hers, you know?

While in the beginning stages of all this, I'm going to make myself perfectly clear about how I feel. I just don't want to end up in an uncomfortable position. And I will want 1 question answered before I do anything or meet anyone - "What do you expect of me?" I'm happy to be friends on Facebook and share pictures. It will probably come to the point where I will meet them at least once. But what else do they expect? Will they be disappointed if I'm not more "like" them? Because I may not have a lot in common with them. I certainly don't look like them. And I grew up in a totally different environment (though I'm not like the people I grew up with either... and tend to have some things in common with bio-mom, so who knows).

Honestly, I think it may seem like I'm obsessing over expectations and perceived differences. But these things are important to me. I can never get a grasp on what the expectations are from my parents (even when I flat out ask they are dishonest with me) and I have trouble sharing what I expect of them (lack of trust). It's the same for every boyfriend I've had and so many friendships. And I grew up always feeling different from my family. That's why I would ask them if I was adopted. They always told me I wasn't, so what does a young child's mind do with that disconnect? I figured it must be me. There was just something different about me, something wrong with me, and my feelings about being adopted were totally off, so I questioned and doubted my own intuition. And then I took all of those doubts into every relationship I had. Feeling disconnected became the norm... the expectation.

Logically, I know I'm going overboard and I need to reel it back in. I'm not that child anymore. I'm an adult and I can change all of this. I refuse to be the, "But that's how I was raised" kind of person. I don't want to say that or think that way. Using it to understand a situation, yes. But using it as an excuse is not acceptable. The only problem is, there's a delay in my emotions picking up on where my head is.

So, for the time being, the emotions and anxiety will churn under the surface and I'll work on getting them to the calm, cool place my head is in. Doing things right from the start will help. I'll talk to bio-mom tomorrow about it all. Tell her that I could be overwhelmed with everything. Ask her about expectations. Explain to her that I don't really know what a healthy relationship feels like with family, let alone a bio-family I have just met. The helpful part is, I know she'll be completely understanding. Even if I am unreasonable.

1 comment:

  1. That's scary and exciting! A whole new extended family! I wouldn't worry too much about it- like you said it will likely just be FB friends and exchanging of pictures.