Monday, July 7, 2014

Adoption Means Family

Something pretty incredible in my extended family happened this recent Independence Day.  It all began 38 years ago when my aunt placed a tiny, brand new baby girl for adoption.  In those days, adoption was something that was not respected.  It was something that was hush-hush and stigmatized.  This baby was delivered and ushered from the room and all my aunt knew was that it was a little girl.  My mother was there for the delivery and six months pregnant with my oldest sister.  Eighteen years later, this girl decided it was time for her to start looking for her birth-mother.  She felt like something was missing and so she began her search to find what she missed.  It was twenty years ago that this girl put her name on a list in hopes that one day her birth-mother would also put her name on the same contact list so that the two could be reunited again.  The fateful day came (a year or two ago, I can't remember specifically) that my aunt began the process to find her birth-daughter.  She had been thinking about it for years but wasn't sure where to start.  Any seeking she had done was in vain as the records were all closed.  My aunt learned within 20 minutes of putting her name on this contact list that her daughter had been looking for her and wanted immediate contact with her.  And so began the journey to this most recent Independence Day when this beautiful woman took an incredibly brave step towards meeting her extended family. 


My mother is the second of 11 children.  I am one of over 50 grandchildren to my grandmother, and there are over 70 great-grandchildren in this one family.  It began as a casual family get-together.  Anyone who could make it was encouraged to come for an afternoon of fun.  And then we all learned directly from my aunt that this beautiful daughter of hers was going to be in town and it grew to be a mini-family reunion where the guest of honor was someone we didn't know was out there but that we jumped at the opportunity to welcome into our love.  I was sitting at a table eating lunch and I looked over to notice a gentleman I hadn't recalled seeing before.  With mentioning how large my extended family is on this one side, I need to say that it is pretty normal for us to not directly recognize someone as new additions through marriage occur often enough that it could be a couple years before we meet the "new" additions.  So, I was thinking to myself Whose been married recently?  Which cousin did he marry?  


And that's when I heard my mother, along with a couple of my aunts scream excitedly and a mad rush was made towards the center of the room and a hugging mosh-pit happened.  That's when I realized that this man was a cousin I hadn't met yet, afterall, and his wife was the cherished cousin that this get-together was honoring and whom was the center of the hugging mosh-pit.  I jumped up and made my way over to this woman.  I introduced myself to her and I told her that I was the niece of her birth-mother and share the name as her birth-mother.  I then told her that I am also a birth-mother and that I was so happy that she was here with her family.  I was tearing up.  I hugged her and she hugged me and we were both emotional and it was beautiful.  I was able to spend some good quality time talking with her and it turns out that she is also a birth-mother.  When it was time to say good bye, I hugged her multiple times and the last time I told her that I may not know her that well but I love her and I'm so happy she is here.  She said something similar and we are now friends on Facebook. 


A couple things.  How awesome is modern technology that you can stay in close touch with the people you care about?  And secondly, how beautiful is adoption?  More specifically, how beautiful is open adoption?  I think it's easy for birth-mothers today who have an open adoption to take for granted how truly blessed we are to be able to maintain contact with the parents of the child we all share in common.  I'm not saying that every birth-mother today has a dream adoption plan, because I know that there are so many adoption couples out there who made countless promises in order to secure the child and then turn their backs on those promises made once the adoption is legally finalized.  You all know my feelings towards those types of parents.  And I know there are people out there who really try their hardest to tarnish the name and intention of open adoption, and it's those people who have not done objective research because if they had they wouldn't be so biased.  And I know there are people who have had traumatizing and hard personal experience with open adoption who choose to defame it by painting all open adoptions in the colors of their own individual experience, and I don't agree with those people, though I truly can understand where they are coming from.


All I want to say though is that in my experience and the vast experiences of countless others whom I associate with who have direct experience with adoption, whether it is open or closed, adoption has been the single-most greatest blessing in their life.  That doesn't mean it was a hard blessing to accomplish, but it was an importantly life-altering and mostly positive experience for them, and they wouldn't change their mind if given the opportunity to go through the experience again.  I'm one of those people.  And on July 4, 2014, I learned something so precious and sacred, that adoption is a means of uniting family.  Whether that family is created through adoption, or is reunited after years of searching, adoption means family.  And family is sacred.  Family is not something so easily defined as the traditional nuclear family we all were taught about while growing up.  Family today is much more extensive and hybrid in nature and it's beautiful.  I am grateful for adoption.  I am grateful to know my cousin.  She is lovely and so much like my aunt in her mannerisms, it's uncanny (in a wonderful way).  She always felt like there were more people out there that she needed to know.  And ultimately, I think that's something we all wish one day for the child we placed for adoption.  Through open adoption, connecting back to the "other" family is much easier.  For closed adoptions, it's much more difficult and can take decades.  But we all have that burning question about who and where we came from.  For adoptees, this question is much less existential.  I couldn't be happier that she found us.  We love her and are so excited to know her.


It's time to paint adoption in an unbiased light.  It's beautiful.  It's fulfilling.  It's tragic.  And difficult.  It's rewarding.  It's honest.  And heartbreaking.  But in the end, if the focus is what is best for the child, it's honorable and nothing to be ashamed of.  For those out there who disagree with me, I would love to engage in an unbiased conversation with you.  The moment it becomes biased is the moment I will disengage.  The fact remains that adoption creates family and family is important and essential to existence.  And no one has the right to say that any family is less important than another simply because of how it was created.  That's all there is to it.  It's time to take a balanced look at what adoption is, and stop focusing on what it isn't.  It's a blessing.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Growth Mindset

It's been almost 6 months since I've written.  And in those 6 months, University has continued to be my main focus in life.  I'm officially in the Education Program this semester and it's been awesome.  I'm taking Educational Psychology, Secondary Curriculum Instruction and Assessment (CIA, tee-hee), American Foundations of Education, Exceptional Students, and Methods II in teaching English.  Yep, it's a heavy workload but it's been manageable.  I've been creating curriculum right and left ll semester and have been analyzing my lesson plans to learn how they've been encouraging cognitive development for the age groups they've been created for.  I've been learning some really amazing things in my Educational Psychology class and some of that stuff I'm going to share on this blog because they are too good not to share.

Carol Dweck is a Psychologist who devised a theory about fixed vs. growth intelligence mindsets.  She wrote a book about it called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  This entire theory is based on the concept that many students have that intelligence is something you are born with and therefore a person's intelligence is limited.  So, if a student with this mindset struggles with math then they feel defeated because intelligence to them is a biological thing, therefore they will never understand math so why put in any effort?  Carol Dweck says, however, that intelligence is not fixed (biological), but rather it is something that needs to be exercised and strengthened and able to grow.  She did a study with students where she divided them into 2 groups.  Group A was put through an intensive 8 week intervention program to boost their math scores that focused solely on teaching them study skills to help them find success in their math grades.  And along with teaching Group A the study skills, she also taught them that intelligence can be expanded and that it is not fixed (biological).  Group B had the same 8 week intervention program focusing on study skills, but were not taught fixed vs. growth intelligence theory.  At the end of a couple of months, students from Group A (compared against students from Group B) showed improvement in their math grades.  The only difference for these groups was the change in motivation that students experience in Group A because they were taught that their brain had the ability to grow in intelligence.  It's quite fascinating.  You can read more about this study by reading this article: http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2007/pr-dweck-020707.html

Why am I excited about this?  Because this doesn't just apply to the adolescent mind.  I probably didn't mention that the study Carol Dweck performed was on Jr. High students.  How many times have you been faced with an experience you don't believe you can get through?  I know I've faced so many of those moments that I can't count them.  I want to say that I don't think that Carol Dweck's theory only applies to cognitive intelligence but also emotional intelligence.  You always hear that saying, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle," but what if He does?  I read another blog a while back and I can't for the life of me remember the name of the blog, so just realize that this idea is not original to me.  This woman, in her blog, challenged the notion that we aren't given more in this life than we can handle.  But it wasn't defeatist.  She ended her blog by saying, essentially, that God does give us more than we can handle, but He does so that we will learn to turn to Him and let Him carry the part that we can't.  That's pretty cool.  I want to add to this that I think He does give us more than we can handle, because maybe that's the point of this existence; for us to learn the valuable life lessons that we would otherwise not learn unless faced with despair, trial, hopelessness, loss, anger, and etc.  That sounds depressing and I don't mean for it to.  All I am saying is that just like growth intelligence mindset (cognitively speaking), I also believe that we have a growth emotional-intelligence mindset.

Those of us in the Adoption community have faced hardship, and we continue to face hardships.  You know what I'm talking about.  As birth-mothers and birth-fathers (they matter too), and birth-families (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.), we experience a great loss in the placement of our beloved child to another family; a family that will have complete legal authority for the child.  As parents who are looking to adopt for reasons related to fertility, they've endured loss over and over again in their attempts to grow their family.  I can't speak for adoptive children, because I'm not one, but I can only imagine some of the emotions they would face at different times in their lives, especially people who were placed for adoption during time-periods where adoption was closed and considered taboo.  That kind of loss (for all of us) is deep and difficult to navigate, but we are navigating it and that is powerful.  Don't limit yourself in the amazing things that you can accomplish, but most importantly don't doubt yourself in the emotional depth that you can achieve when you face something that feels too big.  You can get through it.  We all can.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Light

I want to tell you all a story about goodness that exists in this world.  It's a true story and one that is very close to my heart.

It was in May 2013 that I met Marvell Smith.  I had just gotten out of an extremely bad relationship in December 2012 and I was pretty bitter.  Marvell was a wedding photographer and I had become familiar with his work in 2012 when the guy I was dating at the time was talking about marriage.  I was blown away by Marvell's photography.  He captured moments, not images, but heartfelt and emotionally intimate moments.  It was true art and not like any other wedding photographer I had ever seen.  You can see it for yourself at his blog:

http://vellvetimages.com/#/home--utah-wedding-photographer/

I never messaged him about his photography, though.  It wasn't until May 2013 that he and I started talking about getting to know each other.  At this point, I was in a bad place.  He was so nice and engaging and intriguing.  I wanted to know more about him, but more than anything I really wanted to know a man that wouldn't let me down.  Let me clarify that last statement.  My brothers and dad are amazing men and they don't let me down.  The type of relationship I'm talking about is outside of familial relationships.  I don't have that much experience with good men outside of my family.  Marvell surprised me because he was always uplifting.

In June 2013 we decided to go on a date.  We had a really good time.  It was really late, like after 9:00 at night when we had our date.  I was a bundle of nerves.  Borderline basket-case.  When I got out of my car to walk up to Marvell, I didn't know if I could even look him in the eyes because... I was nervous of men.  He smiled so big and his eyes were so kind.  We talked a little bit.  He was a master body language reader.  As a police officer, he made a career on reading peoples' body language.  we ended up talking for a bit longer and then we went and got what we thought would be a quick dinner.  Six hours later we were still talking.  We talked about everything.  I couldn't remember the last time I felt so completely comfortable and safe with a man that wasn't a family member.  He had me laughing to the point of tears.  And his laugh was incredible.

Over the course of the next 3 months, he became a fast friend.  We never did go on another date, but we became amazing friends.  I always looked forward to his updates about weddings he was shooting and if I was ever having a rough day, I knew I could text Marvell and he would say the exact thing I needed to hear.

On September 18, 2013, to the shock and sorrow of all that knew him, Marvell died in a motorcycle accident.  I woke up that morning at 7:40 a.m. thinking to myself, "I need to text Marvell and tell him how much I love him."  I pushed that thought to the side because it was so early and I didn't want to risk waking him up as he always stayed up so late editing photos from his wedding shoots.  And I didn't want to interrupt his morning with his sons if he was awake.  It was a school day.  So, I didn't text him.  I found out at about 10:00 a.m. what had happened to him and... nothing can prepare you for that kind of news.

I've really struggled this week since Marvell passed away.  I didn't know him as well as I would have liked.  My heart is broken for his friends who knew him for years.  My heart is broken for his family and his two boys.  There is nothing easy about an unexpected passing of a loved one.  In some ways I don't feel like I have the right to mourn his passing because I didn't know him as long as others.  But, I know that if Marvell heard me utter that thought that he would laugh at me and tell me I'm an idiot, or something like that.  And I would laugh.  He had this way of bringing things into perspective in such an easy and comical and non-judgmental way.  It was honest.  I loved that about him.

I believe that there are people who come into our lives when we need them the most.  And if we pay close attention, we will learn from their example the things we most desperately want to know about ourselves, our lives, this world, and love.  It was no accident that I met Marvell when I did.  I needed his example the most when I met him.  I only knew him for 4 months, give or take a couple of weeks, and that's all it took for him to change my life and impact me for the better.  I wish will all my heart that I could have known him longer.  But, I know he's not gone, and better yet, I know that I will see him again because of the Atonement.  He taught me about the Atonement.  He taught me so much.  He taught me about God.  He taught me about trust.  He taught me about friendship.  He taught me selflessness.  He taught me love.  He taught me that I am so much stronger than I ever thought.  He saw me in ways that I'm still trying to comprehend, but he helped me see that those ways are there.

I miss him so much.  Words are not enough to express my gratitude in knowing this man.  When we lose someone so important to our lives it's hard not to question why they were taken from this world.  It's hard not to question why someone who was a light in our life, why their light had to be extinguished from our sight.  Especially, when they made the world seem less dark.  What happened to Marvell was an accident.  I believe that accidents happen and they hurt God's heart just as much as our mortal hearts.  And it is in those moments that God has to make something beautiful out of something tragic.  Marvell was a protector and a visionary in this life.  He always chose only to see the good in people.  I know that he is still protecting on the other side.  And that's a comfort to me because we all need protecting angels because there are so many aspects to this world that are dark.

I will never forget Marvell.  He was so talented in so many ways.  And he was an amazing father to his two boys.  He was a brother, the oldest in his family.  And he was a son.  He was a friend.  He was so many wonderful things to so many people.  He will be missed by so many.  And that's a testament to the man that he was.  He was good.  He was honest.  And he was loyal beyond words.  And he's got two boys that need all of our love a support right now.

I rarely do this, I can think of one other time that I did this and that was for a local family trying to raise funds to adopt siblings from Ukraine.  This is important, otherwise I wouldn't mention it on here.  There is a fund that has been set up for Marvell's two incredible sons who entered the 7th and 10th/11th grades this year.  Any donation you can part with will be greatly appreciated.  Marvell was the type of man that helped out everyone.  He was so giving.  He gave so much to the community of Utah.  Even pennies will help.  If you would like to donate to this fund, you can find it at the following link:

http://marvellsmith.org/

Thank you for remembering this man with me.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Birth Mother Baskets: Guest Blogger ~ Kathryn

Birth Mother Baskets: Guest Blogger ~ Kathryn

I have had the honor to be a guest blogger over at Birth Mother Baskets. You can read what I had to say by clicking on the link above.

Thank you Gina and Jenny got the opportunity.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

R.E.S.P.E.C.T and Giving Yourself a Break

I've spent a lot of time thinking about Baby Daddy.  It hasn't been pleasant.  It's hard to find the right words.  I've been on this word craze lately where I don't want to use filler words.  I think words are taken for granted on a daily basis.  I think it's easy to talk about someone when you are somewhat emotionally disconnected because then you talk about that person in a very generalized way.  I've thought back a lot on what I've said about Baby Daddy in the past.

I can't be mad at him.  Without him I wouldn't have known my greatest joy.  

It's true.  But, also without him I wouldn't have known my greatest sorrow.  Nothing can truly prepare you for the moment of placement.  Don't get me wrong, it is good to educate yourself on the options and to make a birth plan and to decide beforehand who will be at the hospital while you are there or whether you want that time alone exclusively with the child you bring into this world.  But when it actually comes down to it... there are no words.  And he did that to me.  Baby Daddy did that to me.  Granted, I had a huge part in it because I took the risk on Baby Daddy being a man I desperately wanted to find.  And, the bigger the risk... well, I think you know the rest of that.

I realized I was pregnant immediately.  I know some women say that and it's unbelievable, but I knew.  That last time I had relations with him, I knew that I was taking a huge risk and I did anyways.  I am very body sensitive and the few weeks following I noticed the difference in the way I felt.  I knew I had to take a pregnancy test, but I also knew that I needed to be in denial for a little longer.  Two weeks later, I took multiple pregnancy tests, hoping the first, and second, and third, and fourth were wrong.  Six tests later, they all read the same, positive.  I was 4 weeks pregnant when I found out.  

I will never forget that day, the day I found out I was pregnant.  I was in complete disbelief, even though I was staring at the evidence that proved my disbelief to be invalid.  I think "awe" is the correct word.  That word is grossly misunderstood.  I think people think that it means something tender when in fact the dictionary defines it as "an emotion... combining dread... and wonder that is inspired by... the sacred or sublime," and in it's archaic form, "the power to inspire dread."  Thank you Miriam Webster, I truly would be lost in this world without you and your online dictionary.  So, what does sublime mean?  It means different things, but the sublime that is talked about in the definition is actually The Sublime, which is the same Sublime that Edmund Burke wrote about in his essay entitled, "On The Sublime" (soooo original, Edmund Burke), written at the beginning of the 20th century.  The Sublime is a branch of aesthetic philosophy which defines what the quality of greatness is, or that which terrifies and causes awe to the human soul.  Ultimately, The Sublime is defined as something that is so emotionally big that it can't be comprehended when experienced.  It has everything to do with The Romantic Movement in literature, something I can get real nerdy about very quickly.  I was alone when I found out I was pregnant.  When I was younger, I imagined what it would be like to find out you were pregnant and then tell your husband and the joy that would be felt because you loved each other.  I still hope for that one day.  But, the day I found out I was pregnant was harshly different.  I was alone in my bathroom crying and screaming into a towel so that my roommate wouldn't hear me.  I didn't know what to do.

For the next nine months, I would have you believe that I was the epitome of grace under pressure.  I was calm.  I was serene.  I was patient.  I was scared to let anyone see how ashamed I was.  I noticed the stares in the grocery mart when people would ask me if this was mine and my husband's first and I would tell them I'm not married.  Their eyes would dart to my ring finger and they would get this expression on their faces like they were mortified for me.  Mortified: to subject to severe and vexing embarrassment (Miriam Webster Online Dictionary).  Forget the fact that they should be mortified for assuming that everyone who is pregnant is married.  They were embarrassed for me and they would tell me so and suggest that I wear a fake ring just until I had the baby.  

When I was seven months pregnant, Baby Daddy called me and he wanted to come back to me because he had "no where else to go" and if I didn't let him come back then he would "be on the streets".  He didn't want to come back to me because he loved me and he was sorry he cheated on me.  He didn't want to come back to me because he knew he had done wrong and that he let go of the greatest thing that ever happened to him in his life.  Simply, he had no where else to go.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009, I was in pain all day at work.  My boss kept telling me to go to the hospital and I kept telling her that I just pulled a muscle in my back, "no big deal".  She kept telling me I was in labor and I had no color and I needed to go to the hospital.  I told her, "we are short staffed and you need me here today."  She didn't argue and I stayed.  I went home that night and I couldn't get comfortable.  I was scared.  I didn't have anyone to rub my back or watch over me as I slept in case I went into labor.  When the pain became too unbearable, I grabbed my overnight bag and I went down to my car and I drove to the hospital and I was admitted.  They checked everything and I was only in pre-labor.  They offered me a shot of morphine to help numb the pain and I told them I drove myself.  They asked if my husband could come pick me up.  You wouldn't believe how many times I had that conversation when I was pregnant.  I ended up calling my sister and she and her husband came and picked me up.  He drove my car home and I drove with her.  When I came downstairs, a Lamaze class just got out and all these women and their supportive husbands came out of the room just as I got off the elevator to meet my sister.

The next day, Thursday, November 12, 2009, I went to work and then during my lunch went to my baby doctor appointment and he told me I was in labor.  Apparently, the morphine hadn't worn off yet (small favors).  So I drove myself to the hospital and checked myself in.  Sixteen hours later, early in the morning of Friday the 13th of November, the most perfect child I've ever witnessed was born.  I fell in love with him.  On the 16th I placed him in the arms of a social worker and I left the hospital.  

For nearly 4 years I have protected his father.  I haven't said one ill thing about him.  I have protected a man who never protected me and was never there for me when I needed him the most.  And through all of it, I have beaten myself up.  I have taken all the emotional responsibility on my shoulders.  I have put Baby Daddy on this pedestal for giving me the most sacred gift.  And he did.  He gave me the most sacred gift, but he also left me.  

I've blamed myself.  I'm not enough.  Those words have haunted me.  He left because I fought back.  And so I have been docile.  I'm not loveable, his leaving is my fault.  Those last words are the most hurtful.  For nearly 4 years I have harassed myself with cruelty.  At what point do you finally let yourself off the hook and give yourself a break?  At what point do you finally give yourself a break the way you do to others?  I ask you all the same question.  That's what this post is about.  

Accountability.  There is something to learn in everything, even the easy stuff.  I have learned that I am enough.  I have also learned that it isn't enough to simply say those words.  You have to believe it and live it.  And that's hard, but I'm working on it.  If you don't learn from your greatest hurts then they may happen again.  I chose the wrong guy.  I took a huge risk.  I gambled everything I had on him and I lost and it hurt.  However, my douche-radar is working much better now and that's something to applaud.  Be kind to yourself.  Let yourself off the hook when what's snagged you isn't your's to take responsibility for.  Your actions belong to you.  And the actions of other's belong to them.  Give yourself a break.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Adoption.NET

I want to take a minute and let you all in on an amazing website that has so many resources available to everyone in the adoption world.  It is Adoption.NET and on this website you can find answers to different questions posed in the adoption world by adoptees, birth-mothers, and hopeful adoptive parents.  There are also different articles that you can read regarding important topics in adoption as well as discussion on the latest legislative proceedings regarding adoption in different states.  This website... let's just say I really wish there was something like this website when I was going through the whole process.

This is unbelievably exciting because at the click of a mouse you can connect with people going through the same thing you are going through.  Also, there is a section on topics regarding foster care which is a huge component in the world of adoption.

I know some great women (not personally, but through blogging) who have already contributed such tremendous insight as gust bloggers and I will also be contributing my thoughts as a guest blogger, once everything is arranged.  The goal of the creators of this website is to have this website be the largest database of "everything adoption" on the website.  It's really going to empower a lot of people out there and I am so excited to be a part of it.  Check it out.

If you know of anyone who has found themselves in an unplanned pregnancy, guide them to this website.  If you know of a couple who are struggling to grow their family and they are confused as to how to find information out there regarding any decision they feel they are faced with, guide them to this website.  If you know of a person who was adopted and they are at a place in life where they have a ton of questions and they need some answers, guide them to this webpage.  What an exciting time we live in to have so much valuable information readily available!  Check it out, folks, you won't be disappointed.

Most Sincerely,
Other Mother

http://adoption.net

Friday, August 2, 2013

Monogamy and Keriah

This is weird because I have marriage and death on my mind at the same exact time.  And there is some anger in there as well that I have not been expecting.  I've known birth-mothers who have hated and bad-mouthed the birth-fathers of their child and I never understood that.  I haven't really spoken much about Baby Daddy on here, in detail.  And, quite frankly, I don't know if I'm going to.  We'll see.  For a long time I felt pity for Baby Daddy.  And to this day, I don't even know if he is alive.  And I don't know if I even want to know.  So, there you have it. 

Scratch that.  I just spent the last hour-and-half trying to locate him.  The last electronic imprint I can find on him is from 2010.  I also found his mug-shot from 2006, which was 2 years before I met him.  When I knew him, I didn't know he was a criminal.  I didn't know of his criminal background until he cheated on me and left me for another woman whom was already married... and pregnant with his child, it turns out.  As if that isn't enough salt in the wound, it turns out she was 3 weeks further along in her pregnancy than I was when I found out I was pregnant.  She ended up mis-carrying due to her meth use.  I learned all of that from his mother when I was seven months pregnant.  He wanted to come back to me, I told him where to go, and that was the last time I ever heard from him.  I never told him I was pregnant.  That's where I'm at right now, emotionally speaking.  I never expected to feel these feelings of anger towards him.

I am frustrated that I can't find any information about him after 2010, but I'm not frustrated for me, I'm frustrated for "my" little boy.  I hope Baby Boy will never have a desire to look up his dad, but if he does, I'm sad for him that he will most likely be led to a dead-end.  And I'm relieved that he will most likely be led to a dead-end, and sometimes... it's horrible.  Sometimes, I hope that dead-end is that his dad has passed away.  And then I feel pity again for Baby Daddy that if he is gone from this life, that he left it never knowing the beauty and light of "my" son, whom he helped to create.  And then I hate him.  I've never said that on here.  I hate him for his lies.  I hate him for his manipulation.  I hate him that he used me so poorly.  I hate him that he misled me.  And then I realize that not all the hate belongs to him, because at that time in my life, I thought that to love someone was to trust them... and I trusted him way too easily.  So, there you have it.

What do I tell Baby Boy if he ever asks about his dad? 

Then there is my job.  I work in the field of divorce.  I see divorce every day, Monday-Friday, and an occasional weekend when I have to take work home with me.  The type of work I do, I am a microscope to parents who are involved in extremely high-conflict divorce cases and who can't co-parent together and in attempts to emotionally injure the other parent, they use their children as ammunition in their war against each other.  Sometimes I find myself wondering, "What if I had told Baby Daddy?"  And then I go to work, and that question is answered as I navigate and negotiate between warring couples and advocate for their children.  My little boy... it scares me to think what his life could have been like. 

Marriage is a curious thing to me.  I want to be married so badly, it's unreal how deeply I feel this hole inside me that will only ever be filled by companionship of a husband and our beautiful children.  I'm no where near that, and that realization tinges and tingles my eyes with tears of frustration that I push back because I'm afraid to let them loose.  I have this fear that lives in the back of my head that keeps telling me that marriage doesn't last.  And that fear is mostly correct, 50% of marriages don't last.  But, 50% do.  And I want my future marriage to be part of the 50% that lasts.  But, how does that work?  And that's when the fear in the back of my head whispers loudest.  I don't trust men with me and I don't want to. 

What I want is to trust one man with me, just one.  And that man, I know he's out there and I know he is looking for what I have to offer him, and I have a lot to offer him.  But, it's getting harder to find him.  I'm not the only single girl who has noticed this.  My roommate and I talk about it all the time.  I just want something real.  Someone who can be real with me and not leave me questioning his motives and whether I'm "doing" our relationship "right", and whether or not he's going to leave me; that's my biggest fear, is to be left.  Does that make sense?  I don't know what I'm doing.  I know what I'm not going to do anymore, and that's all good to know, but when it comes to dating, I have no clue what I'm doing.

What I do know is that I've got to figure some things out about myself still.  I've come a long way, but I haven't gotten "there" yet, wherever "there" is.  I think "there" is a place where I'm content.  Content in a way that is secure.  It makes me think of Keriah.  I don't know how many of you are familiar with Keriah.  I don't know a whole lot about it, I've just been reading up on in.  From what I understand Keriah is part of Shiva, which is a week long mourning period in the Jewish culture that first-degree relatives (mom, dad, sibling) observe at the death of their loved one.  At the funeral, the mourners rend/tear an article of their clothing and they wear this same garment for the whole of Shiva.  It's believed that the practice of Keriah is rooted in a more ancient tradition of tearing at your hair and clawing at your skin during mourning, which from what I understand is forbidden in Jewish law.  But the idea is the same, it's a visual representation of extreme sorrow, while also allowing a mourner to show their anger and sadness in a physical way.  It's quite beautiful, really.  It seems honest.

I think that I'm going through an emotional rendering right now. 

That's an interesting word, "rendering".  It can mean a translation to something else.  "Translation" is also an interesting word with spiritual connotation, but the basic meaning is a change from something to something else, a transition.  I'm in this emotional bog right now where I am transitioning.  I recognize how far I've come and I'm implementing what I've learned and I'm so grateful for it all, but I also realize that there is further to go.  Baby Daddy... I've never felt anger towards him and I do now, and I think that my anger is more honest than my feelings of Zen towards him were because there was no enlightenment in my lack of anger then.  It was fake.  I didn't know how to feel about him.  I was trying to figure out how I feel about me. 

The fact that I feel the way I feel when I remember him tells me that I've got to tear through and remove the part of me that is still hurt.  I can't carry that kind of baggage into a future with a good man. 

I don't know if I've made all these connections effectively enough.  Keriah is about honesty.  It's about transition too, I believe.  It's facing the fact that you hurt and it's letting the hurt be known and seen and felt, and over the course of Shiva, experienced.  And then the mourning ends and you move forward.  I don't know how much of this anger is straight anger or masked sorrow.  That's the thing about grief is it can take a while to sort out what is what.  It's taken me nearly 4 years to realize that I have all of this inside me and that it is directly connected to Baby Daddy.  It makes sense.  It wasn't just Baby Daddy though.  It was all the guys who came before him, too.  None of them were "keepers".  I was desperate for marriage and an identity because I had no clue who I was.  I know better who I am today.

It's hard not to compare all the men I've dated.  They were all scumbags.  Truthfully, they were emotionally and physically abusive scumbags.  Today, I know a couple of guys who aren't scumbags, they are really great men.  And one of them I really want to see what will happen with because he's great.  I've talked about him recently on here.  I don't know what he thinks of me.  He's hard to read.  And I can't help but recognize that I'm probably really hard for him to read, as well.  Heck, I find myself hard to read and I'm me... so, there you have it. 

This post seems really depressing, or maybe not, I don't know.  I'm emotional right now, so it's hard to gauge how it comes across.  What I do know is that I'm not the woman I used to be and that's good, and it's also sad because I lost a lot of innocence.  But I'm stronger now than I ever was and that's a good thing.  I don't know how I will ever answer the question about Baby Daddy and that's not good enough for Baby Boy because every person, at some point in their life, wants to know where they came from.  I will learn how to answer that question because I know it will be important to Baby Boy and he deserves to know if he ever wants to know.  What I do know is that the confusing emotions I feel right now about Baby Daddy are more honest than I've ever allowed myself to feel since I met him and it's uncomfortable, but change and transition usually are, and so I'm doing it right.