The other day, I was asked what kinds of things were important to me and what kinds of things I was looking forward to.

I. had. no. answer.

Partly because I can’t see beyond May and partly because I really don’t have much that’s important to me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of things that are important to me, just not things that are important enough.

So then, the person proceeded to ask what I was looking forward to with regards to the trip and if I was excited for it.

Another no.
Honestly, the trip seems like a 24/7 living hell that I have to experience.
No, hell doesn’t even do it justice– it’s an experience that will be far worse than even my deepest imaginations can conjure up.

Who would be excited for that?

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“It’s comforting to know Chris was here,” Billie explains, “to know for certain that he spent time beside this river, that he stood on this patch of ground. So many places we’ve visited in the past three years—we’d wonder if possibly Chris had been there. It was a terrible not knowing—not knowing anything at all.

Many people have told me that they admire Chris for what he was trying to do. If he’d lived, I would agree with them. But he didn’t, and there’s no way to bring him back. You can’t fix it. Most things you can fix, but not that. I don’t know that you ever get over this kind of loss. The fact that Chris is gone is a sharp hurt I feel every single day. It’s really hard. Some days are better than others, but it’s going to be hard every day for the rest of my life.” –Billie McCandless, from Into the Wild


I’m really hoping that going to South Korea will bring some sense of comfort, although right now, thinking about constantly wondering have my parents been here? seems like a dizzying nightmare.

I feel for Billie, and for everyone who ever feels this way.
It’s terrible not knowing anything at all.

And yet, in my life, I’m doing the exact same thing to people.
I’ve often wondered how people can be so cruel to one another, but sadly, I get it.
Sometimes our ideals are bigger than we are.

PostSecret

Sundays are the days where the first thing I do, after arriving at a nice spot, is check PostSecret. The reason for this is simple, as Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret, stated in his TED talk: “Secrets can take many forms. They can be shocking, silly, and soulful. They can connect us with our deepest humanity, or with people we’ll never meet again.”

It’s one of the only ways where I can allow myself to be reminded that there really are other people who feel the same way. It’s a source of peace and comfort, albeit small. Throughout the years, I have collected the secrets which resonated with me so that I can always go back and think there’s at least one other person who feels like this and this is proof.

During his TED talk, summarized here, Warren shares a variety of secrets, one of which was the following:

Inspired (okay, inspired isn’t the right word…), I wanted to express another angle of this secret, so I created my own PostSecret.

Thanks to stringent copyright laws, I’m certain that this will never be able to be published, but it gave me a more creative outlet to express what now feels like.

“Adopt me!”

This morning I came across an article about childhood actress, Mara Wilson, which briefly described why her acting career was short-lived. The content of the article is actually really irrelevant to this post, because it’s the picture that immediately caught my attention, reminding me about one of my favorite childhood movies: Matilda.

The movie is about a little girl, Matilda, who’s parents are less than perfect– the father is a manipulative used car salesman and the mother would rather focus on her own vanity. Matilda on the other hand quickly finds a rich love for books and the stories and knowledge they contain. Unfortunately, her parents don’t understand her passion for learning and would rather her stay at home and mindlessly sign for packages. One day, at the age of 6 or 7, she convinces her parents that she must go to school.

She’s able to go to school, however the school is more like a prison and place of torture than a school. Fortunately, amidst the dark practices and punishments of the school’s principal, Matilda is able to find encouragement, inspiration and comfort in her teacher, Miss Honey.

Her teacher recognizes her potential and delightfully shares her praises with Matilda’s parents, who could really care less. Realizing that Matilda’s parents are preoccupied with other things, namely themselves, Miss Honey and Matilda begin to form a special relationship that continues to grow throughout the entire movie.

Toward the end, the two are sharing tea when Matilda’s family arrives and demand that she leave immediately. They claim that the FBI are onto her dad’s business practice (selling cheap, broken cars as great offers), so they need to get out of the country.

It is at this point that the following conversation ensues:

Matilda: I love it here! I love my school… it isn’t fair! Miss Honey, please don’t let them…
Harry Wormwood: [interrupting] Get in the car, Melinda!
Matilda: Matilda!
Harry Wormwood: Whatever.
Matilda: I want to stay with Miss Honey.
Zinnia Wormwood: Miss Honey doesn’t want you. Why would she want some snotty, disobedient kid?
Jenny: Because she’s a spectacularly wonderful child and I love her.
Matilda: Adopt me, Miss Honey! You can adopt me.
Harry Wormwood: Look, I don’t have time for all these legalities!
Matilda: One second, Dad. I have the adoption papers.
Zinnia Wormwood: What? Where did you get those?
Matilda: From a book in the library. I’ve had them since I was big enough to Xerox.
(some dialogue is occurring here)
Zinnia Wormwood: You’re the only daughter I ever had, Matilda. And I never understood you, not one little bit… Who’s got a pen?

When I was younger, I would watch this movie over and over again (and I still get happy every time I hear this song). I would act out the movie and dance around my room by myself, daydreaming about the day when I would find my Miss Honey…the day when someone who understood me would adopt me and make me theirs.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation where at one point another individual threw up his hands and said “that’s it! We’ll adopt you!” Unfortunately, this didn’t offer the kind of solace I had once imagined because now things are too complicated and too complex. I’ve internalized you alone are the only person you can depend on for far too long, and this legal action wouldn’t be able to change that or any of the other messages which I’ve internalized.

Although I’d love to believe that you can choose your family, the reality is that you can only do this to a certain extent because at the end of the day you’ll once again realize that you’re alone– that this family really isn’t yours, you don’t belong– and that you’re lacking in some essential way.

If only there were a simple solution for all of this.

Dementors and Mirrors

Winfrey: Would it also be fair to say that your life – everything in your life, because I know you went through a period of depression and I had read that the Dementors came from that depression

Rowling: Completely, yeah.

Winfrey: In Harry Potter’s world, the Dementors are dark creatures who feed-off human happiness causing depression and despair to those in their path. Dementors are capable of consuming a person’s soul.

Winfrey: Would it be fair to say that you’ve used, in the seventeen year process, writing the Potter series, that you’ve used the good, the bad and the ugly of your life?

Rowling: Yeah. Definitely. Definitely.

Winfrey: And expressed it through your writing through the Potter stories?

Rowling: Yeah. For sure. Depression is – Clinical depression is a – is a – is a terrible place to be. Terrible place to be.

Winfrey: So you became depressed after your mother died?

Rowling: Yes, but I think it was a kind of delayed – I think I had tendencies toward depression from quite young. It became really acute when I was sort of twenty-five to twenty-eight was a dark time. It’s that absence of feeling – and it’s even the absence of hope that you can feel better. And it’s so difficult to describe to someone who’s never been there because it’s not sadness. Sadness is – I know sadness – sadness is not a bad thing. You know? To cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling – that really hollowed-out feeling. That’s what the Dementors are. And it was because of my daughter that I went and got help.

[…]

Winfrey: What is your dream of happiness?

Rowling: Well, in the – in the first Harry Potter book, Dumbledore says to Harry that the happiest man alive would look in the mirror and see himself exactly as he is.

—————————————————————————————————————–

The Mirror of Erised is a mirror, which, according to Albus Dumbledore, shows the “deepest and most desperate desire of one’s heart.” The happiest person in the world would look in the mirror and see a reflection of exactly the way he or she is. Inscribed across the top of the frame is the following text: Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi. Reversing the inscription and rearranging the spaces produces: I show not your face but your heart’s desire. (excerpt from the Harry Potter wiki)

When I stumbled upon this interview today, I thought that’s it! That’s what happiness would look like.

If the Mirror of Erised were real, my reflection would be very similar to Harry’s.

Are You My Mother? & A Little Bit of Everything

Ever since I can remember I’ve loved Theodor Geisel (aka: Dr. Seuss), although there was one book that I attempted to repress to never think about again. Of course, this was impossible and the book’s contents became permanently imprinted upon my mind.

The story is about a little bird (I have a thing for little birds…), who’s mother goes off to search for food. While she is off searching for food, the little bird hatches out of his egg, and, not seeing his mother anywhere, goes in search for her. The little bird asks a variety of animals “are you my mother?” each replying with some variation of ‘no, I am not your mother.’ Still clinging onto hope, the little bird continues his search.

The little bird becomes so desperate that he asks a boat, a plane, and an earth mover if they are his mother, which of course, they aren’t. At this point, feeling discouraged and out of hope, the little bird cries out “Where am I? I want to go home! I want my mother!”

Luckily for the bird, at this point the earth mover drops him back in his nest and he’s safely back at home. Shortly after, his mother flies back to the nest and the two are reunited.

Is it any wonder why this book has stayed with me? Unfortunately, despite its happy ending, this story has found ways to haunt me for years. Whenever I’m around large groups of people, regardless of race and ethnicity, I find my inner voice crying out “are you my mother?” much like the little bird asked the plane and car. This is exacerbated when I’m around individuals of the same ethnicity, which is one of the reasons why this experience was so difficult, and one of the reasons why I’m dreading actually going to South Korea. Everywhere I walk I’m going to be wondering are YOU my mother? For approximately 208 hours (based on a generous, but doubtful 8 hours of sleep per night), I’m going to be living out this dreaded story, in real life, non-stop.

Let’s be real though: this is already happening.

Throughout the day I find myself desperately crying out (in my mind, of course), I want my mommy! and becoming instantly paralyzed with longing and sadness.

I can’t get away from the phrase.
Wherever I go, it goes with me.
It’s the first thing I think when I wake up and the reason I often cry myself to sleep.
Even during my happiest moments, it’s there waiting, waiting to remind me you have no one to share this with.

While trying to unravel what the phrase means, I found the following:

“I want my mommy!” means…

  • I want someone to share things with– the exciting, the bad, the mundane…all of it. I want to be able to call someone and be able to say nothing, to not have a point, yet still feel okay about calling, like I’m not wasting time or being a burden; someone who will just sit with me and let me be.
  • I want someone I can learn from. Yesterday I ran into a friend from high school that I hadn’t seen in years. She told me that she thought about me the day before while restocking the tampon aisle, then asked how things were with my mom (things have always been tenuous). I told her that we were basically done for now, and she said “I’ve always been sad about that. Restocking the tampon aisle made me think about when we were in high school on a trip, and, how on that trip you had a bathroom full of girls explaining to you how to use a tampon and recounting their ‘first time’ stories to make you feel better. That was when I understood how much you needed your mom, because a mom teaches you that, not strangers.” My friend was right on target and it made me realize that I’ve missed out on all of the mother-daughter conversations and experiences that most take for granted– those bonding moments that are often masked in some embarrassing and awkward form. These are all lost and even though I can’t get them back, I still wish had this person. (Thanks, internet, for becoming my mother in this regard.)
  • I want someone who will wash the snot out of my clothes and assure me that everything will be okay. (That should speak for itself.)
  • I want someone who I can be “goofy” and take “silly” pictures with (both words hold negative connotations for me), someone I can have fun with. Growing up, there were times where I would do things like run around in the rain and experiment with being a kid, just to be reprimanded. In high school I would return from camp with a camera full of silly pictures (people making silly faces, in a pyramid formation, etc.) and my adoptive mom would tell me that they were stupid and a waste of film. Then she would lament as to why I didn’t have many “good” pictures. It wasn’t until recently that I learned other peoples’ parents loved all of their pictures, even their goofy and silly ones. All of this turned me into a pretty serious person, especially around my adoptive mom. I’ve been able to loosen up a lot, but I’m still pretty reserved and can have a really difficult time doing silly things.
  • I want someone I can feel okay and adequate with– someone who accepts me at my best and worst; someone I don’t feel like I need to “be” a certain way with.
  • I want someone who understands me, or at least attempts to, and responds accordingly. Someone who listens and cares about what is important to me, even if it’s not important to them. For example, a response to my non-materialistic and ‘hippie’ lifestyle would be to not purchase me things which were probably manufactured in a way that not only harmed the environment, but harmed people.
  • I want someone to get a tattoo with. (I actually don’t want a tattoo, and probably never will.) My co-worker and her mom have tattoos that carry a special, inside meaning for them. They have inside jokes that no one else gets. They have memories that they’ll never forget. I think that is so cool.
  • I could probably go on for quite some time digging deeper into what that phrase means, but in short, I want someone who will love me, unconditionally. I once described what unconditional love meant to me in the following way: unconditional love is just that: unconditional. It’s a deep connection between individuals that can be felt within your soul, one that says I see to the depths of who you are, faults and everything, and love you even more because of them; now, forever and always. At its best it leaves each individual striving to be a better person, and consequently, the world a better place; at it’s worst (for example, unconditional love that is one sided) it leaves you with a better understanding of people and furthers your capacity for compassion and empathy.

Rereading this, I realize that I want an awful lot, but then I recount all of the relationships occurring around me and can’t help but think that it’s not too much to ask.

I’m doing everything I can to find this. I’m desperate. I even submitted an entry to Huffington Post’s What Do You Want To Do Before You Die competition. Given the legal issues regarding what I want (to find my birth parents and be able to reunite with them, even if its anonymously through a letter, email or some other mediator), I know that it’s something that will quickly be passed up.

In reality, I would actually be horrified if I was chosen as a finalist, given my desire for anonymity, but figured that at best another person can learn about how inhumane the closed adoption system is.

But of course there’s a tiny bit of me that hopes that something can happen with it, because if anyone in our world has the means and power to make things happen, it’s a big media outlet, right?

I long for the day when I can finally read Are You My Mother? and not be filled with questions and sadness, but unfortunately, this day will probably never come. Since hearing the news that my birth mother sternly requested that the adoption agency never contact her again, I’ve been doing my best to block out the magnitude of what it means because there’s still hope for finding and reuniting with my father.

At least there’s hope until the adoption agency closes that door as well.
I can only hope that when and if that door closes, and the magnitude of everything hits me, that I’ll be able to find the strength to make sense of it all and move forward.

If my life were a video game, I’d feel a lot like Mario here– paused in the middle of a big-jump, wondering if I was going to clear the gaping whole and land safely on solid ground, or fall to unknown depths.

(I was never good at video games.)

The Resurrection Stone

Out of all of the holidays, Easter is my favorite. (Yes, favorite, which means it trumps Christmas.)

Although I’m not a Christian, Easter has always been a special holiday that I enjoy. It serves as both a metaphorical and literal reminder of rebirth and brighter days. It’s a holiday that not everyone celebrates, and those that do celebrate often celebrate it for a variety of reasons.

It’s a holiday that I can secretly and silently be really happy and excited for, without expectations.

This Easter, I spent the day riding my bike, walking, and watching a good five hours worth of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and 2.

In Part 2, there is a scene that has always resonated strongly within me. It’s after Harry has seen snippets of Snape’s life, where it’s revealed that all this time, Snape has been protecting Harry out of love for his mom. Snape has one last message to deliver to Harry, one that Dumbledore was waiting to reveal until the time was right: Harry must die…it’s humanity’s only chance.

Realizing this, Harry walks to the Forbidden Forest, alone and ready to die. As he whispers “I’m ready to die” and gently presses his lips against the snitch, the snitch opens up and the Resurrection Stone floats out. Once the stone is in his hand, his loves ones appear and the following scene unfolds:

Harry’s closest loved ones appear and his eyes focus on his mom, who is holding her hand out for him to take.

He walks to her, attempts to take her hand, but then realizes that his mother lives within him…he can’t physically touch her.

Instead, he can only feel and see her through his memories; whatever he can recount from pictures and descriptions from others.

The scene ends with Harry saying “stay close to me,” and his mom responding with “always.”

Watching Harry and his mother interact, and observing Harry’s longing to be with his mother, I suddenly internalized everything and got an intense longing for my mother.

“To be held for the first time by a parent. To be safe. To be home. To be able to break, to melt, to be human.”Journey of the Adopted Self

All I could (and can) think is I want my mommy!, in the same way a four-year old would cry after falling down. It starts as a quiet plea, but suddenly grows to desperation, loud enough to fill a room with its intensity.

This desperate plea, occurring concurrently with the reminder that my mom doesn’t want anything to do with me, is a lot to bear.