I remember hanging out once with some young Native moms. We had a run-in with a guy who was super rude, and aggressive. One of the moms a friend of mine, made the comment, “must have not been breast-fed.” We all laughed. At the time I didn’t give it much thought and went on with life.
Later on I got to thinking about what she meant. She was talking about the bond and connection you have with your mother from being breast-fed. I thought about it too. It kind of hurt my feelings to really think about it. Since I clearly could understand what she was saying about that “agro” guy not having a strong bond with his mother and how that impacted his life- from her point of view. But from mine, it is clear how disconnected I am to my mother.
My mother gave me up at birth, I never did get the “full” story since everyone in the family had different interpretations of how, why, ect. Thats not too important now. The first three months of my life I spent in foster care. On June 12th, my adoption was finalized to a non-native family. Clearly the bond my friend made fun of that day was something that I don’t possess or understand fully.
I try not to think too much about these kind of things. Moving back home has brought back many things I don’t want to think about or deal with. One of those things is the bond with my mother.
I met my mother when I was 18 years old, thanks to my friends help and support. I’ve know my mom for about 15 years. We don’t have a “real” relationship. Things have always been awkward and uncomfortable. We talk, visit, but its clear that we may never be close. There is a space between us that just isn’t acknowledged. Its okay though, I’m lucky I found my mom and we talk; many adoptees don’t have that privilege.
The other day I was watching my niece and hanging out with my sister who takes care of her. My niece was apprehended by social services and my sister got my niece out of care . She has been raising her since she was nine months old.
My sister talks about how my niece has temper tantrums and can easily get out of control with her emotions. She has a lot of anger at times. I got to thinking about her- my niece and her “temper tantrums.”
When I was little my adopted family used to make fun of my behavior and my temper tantrums. They used to say I was out of control. They had nicknames for me when I was little. I remember when I was older they used to reminisce about my “out of control” anger issues to me. I vaguely remember the stories they told me.
I got to thinking about how as babies, little children and even as adults we don’t think about the impact our bond to our mother has. It was clear that one day when my niece was “tantruming” that maybe she was like me. I was like her. Angry and hurt but with no way to clearly articulate myself or the way I was feeling.
It is only now as an adult that I’m beginning to understand how important that bond really is. How it has impacted my life. I’m trying to figure this out in the hopes I can help my niece and her mom one day with my own understanding if thats even possible.
Growing up there was always a deep loneliness and longing for something. I remember at the age 11 not wanting to live anymore. The one thing that kept me going through hard times was the wanting and needing to meet my mom. It was something that drove me for many years.
I'm still not 100% clear on what the impacts of my "missing" bond are. I know it plays out in being a commitment-a-phobic in relationships, my inability to have dreams or goals for myself personally, my fear of being a parent, my hate of goodbyes, my "I don't deserve" attitude hidden deep far down inside, and the list goes on. These are the issues I know of. I'm sure there is many other ways this has played out that I may not even know. I've been trying to battle back and change my negative patterns in hopes that I don't have to be so stunted forever. But that lonely feeling doesn't ever really leave, its always around me even when I'm in the same room as my mom. I've worked over the years to accept the loneliness as who I am.
It not that I’m trying to blame anyone for the way my life has been, I’m just trying to understand myself, my actions and my sometimes not so great behavior. I figure if I can understand the roots than making lasting positive will have a better and deeper impact than addressing the surface or acting out behavior. It's definitely not in anger towards my mom or dad. I understand their decisions. I’m thankful for my life and grateful for my family.
At the end of the day healing is process, so is understanding. Native Youth Movement talked about a philosophy, “Learn from the past, to understand the present, to protect the future,” and clearly in my own life this applies. Back in Manitoba, my cousin’s sweat acknowledges the past, present and future with the first three “grand-fathers” or rocks brought into the sweat. This thought process is clearly an integral part of “our” understanding, paradigm or world-view. Therefore, its my responsibility to understand my own past to confront my own present and make a better future in my own life however that turns out.