Sunday, December 6, 2009

For Adoptees, birthdays = deathdays

Last night, I read Linda Gambino's "Birthdaze" to my fiance and daughter. For years, I didn't realize that I hated my birthday because of being adopted. I never really even realized that the anxiety that gripped me a week or so prior to my birthday wasn't about what crappy presents I might or might not get, or who would even remember my birthday. And as I write this, I'm looking back at my birthdays as a child, and I'm realizing that I really did hate my birthday early on. Nothing was ever quite right with my parties; I can remember one where I didn't win at one of the party games, and ran off crying.

I reminded Ron of the first birthday of mine that we had together; the day after we got into a fight, and Ron thought I was angry at him. My birthday is in July, and for him, work and therefore money, is tight in the summer. He was only able to do a minimal amount for my birthday, but it was really wonderful and thoughtful, and I loved him for what he was able to do. But I was still anxious and crabby and I really didn't know why. So, we fought. I wasn't angry at Ron, and I told him that at the time, but he was very confused by my emotions; heck, so was I! Here was a great guy who did his best to give me a happy birthday and we get into a fight the day after for what seems to be no reason.

After reading that post to him, and I reminded him of the fight, the light bulb just went on and he looked relieved that there was some explainable reason for something so strange.

It took 40 years and another adoptees' musing on her birthday to realize that it wasn't my family or even lack of funds, or even lack of friends that made my birthdays suck; it was being adopted. As I talked with my fiance a little more after my daughter went to bed, he told me that really, for adoptees birthdays are synonymous with celebrating a deathday. I asked him to explain and here is what he told me. For those of us who are adopted we are always aware that our first family, our first mother, isn't there. But on our birthdays it is a force-able reminder of our loss, and we grieve. Most of the time, we grieve for the death of someone, and in a sense the birthday for an adoptee is really the day of their first mother's symbolic death, the day that we are given life, and taken away from the life giver. That "primal wound" that is spoken of for adoptees is replayed over and over again every year; this is the day that my mother died to me.

I am grateful (in the good way) for Linda's post. That really opened up my eyes for me, and I appreciate it so very much; so, thank you Linda. I owe you. You gave a sense of relief to my fiance and daughter and with that information, have empowered them (we'll fill my youngest in later). :)

1 comment:

  1. Mine is coming, its like an impending doom ..
    in 26 days .. god help me...