Telling our story

16 Sep

It is a paradox of the writer’s life that some of her most profound experiences leave her speechless. But she must write, because that is how she makes sense of the world, so she crafts the story in bits and pieces. She drafts it in the drowsy moments before she falls asleep at night, scribbles sentences on coffee shop napkins, saves recorded thoughts on her cellphone. She puts the pieces together until she has enough for a story that makes sense, one that gives the reader just enough information to understand while also conveying the enormity of the situation. And then she puts it to paper, or to the Internet in this case, and hopes it will be well received.

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I want to tell you part of the story of my experience as a birth mother. When I share that I am a birth mother, the revelation is often met with a perplexed silence. “Do you know what that is?” I ask. Almost no one does. They understand “mother,” but the qualifier throws them off. Isn’t every mother a birth mother? they wonder, and then they realize that, in fact, there are many ways to be a mother.

Twenty-seven years ago I gave birth to a beautiful boy with a perfect little round mouth, sparkling blue eyes, and soft blond hair. I am his birth mother, the mother who carried him but not the mother who rocked him to sleep at night or bandaged his wounds or picked him up from soccer practice or gave him advice about life. I made an adoption plan for him. I released him. I chose a family to become his family, to raise him and care for him. And three weeks ago, I found him.

This is the Cliff’s Notes version of the most recent developments in our story: On my birth son’s birthday, I wrote a post on Facebook indicating that I was ready to begin searching for him. I received a piece of information from a friend that helped me begin to make the connection. I reached out to the agency through which he was placed, and a social worker called him, letting him know that his birth mother wished to have contact. He friended me on Facebook and sent me a thoughtful and kind message. We have continued periodic communication through text messages since then.

When my birth son was born in 1990, it never occurred to me that I would one day be able to find him on a website, to see that he looks like me, and to piece together the story of his life. I never imagined that we would send messages to each other on our phones. And I have not really ever allowed myself to consider anything beyond what is currently happening — not a phone call or a meeting — because… Because I don’t know. Because ours is a new relationship that will continue to evolve. Because neither of us have any experience with this.

I can tell you this part of our story, but I cannot begin to convey what it’s like to see my face in another person’s. I don’t know how to explain the love I feel for someone who is, for the most part, a stranger. I also can’t tell you how difficult it is to remember the grief I felt when I held my child for the last time. And I don’t know exactly how to describe the joy that comes with knowing I made a good decision, that he is happy and successful, that I am not hated, and that I gave my birth son (to use his words) the best life a kid could have.

I want to know more about him, to sit across from him and to hear him tell his story in his own words. I want him to know me as well. But I don’t know if that’s what he wants, and I don’t know how to ask. I don’t have the words. I don’t know where to begin or how to continue.

There will be more to tell, I believe. But I am learning that some of the best stories must be told one sentence at a time, as the story unfolds and the words come to the writer.

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Choosing a different path

13 Jul

woods

A dear friend once told me that every time he asked how I had been since the last time we spoke, I would always begin by telling him if I were dating anyone. He said I defined myself by my relationship status, and it seemed to be the most important thing for me to discuss when I was asked about myself.

Since that day, I have worked very hard not to begin a description of myself, or the answer to your question about what’s new with me, by telling you if I am currently single or otherwise. The fact remains, however, that the search for a partner has been a central focus for most of my life. I have often said that finding a partner was the greatest desire of my heart, and everyone who knows me knows this about me.


But for a while now, I have been standing at a crossroads looking back down the path I’ve worn bare and considering that perhaps the other path–the one less traveled–is the right one for me.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

From The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost


What if it’s possible that some of us are not meant to be with a partner? Or what if we are meant to love many people and not just one special soulmate? I’ve been considering these questions and thinking that maybe, just maybe, traditional partnership is not my thing.


I like being single and I’m good at it, and I have a rewarding and beautiful life! But from time to time I miss having someone to hold my hand or snuggle me during a movie or sit with me on the patio and ask about my day while we sip fruity drinks. Would it be possible for me to remain “single,” whatever that means, but find a way to fulfill those needs for companionship or intimacy with friends who love and care about me?


Maybe you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal Wendi?” To me, it’s a monumental change in the way I see myself, the way I operate in the world, and in the focus of my intentions. Sure, perhaps I’m overthinking it. It’s a big deal to me, and I’ve devoted a lot of thought to it, and I’m still not 100% sure which path to take.

Watering the grass

4 Jul

Last night I went to urgent care, not because my need for care was overly urgent but because I’d been dealing with a health issue for nearly two weeks and the medication my doctor prescribed was not effective. And it was a Monday at 8 p.m. and today is July the 4th (all offices closed) so I needed some urgent care.

The nurse asked me the questions they have to ask: is anyone hurting you, do you feel safe at home, have you had thoughts of self harm? I said no (no one is hurting me), yes (I feel safe, except when Melvin is bitchy), and no. The last one was a lie. At the time I hesitated because I was there to get help for something else, but later as I lie in bed my answer came back to me. I have, in fact, had thoughts of self harm the last few days.

I have said before that this thing — affliction, dis-ease — is one I’ve lived with for most of my life. It’s like your arthritis or gastrointestinal problem. Under normal conditions, when I am sleeping and eating and exercising and spending time with people who love me and experiencing life on life’s terms, I do not have an issue with this thing. But at other times, when I am stressed or worried or not caring for myself, it flares up.

Today, and yesterday, and the day before, this thing is on my mind, and it isn’t because I feel sorry for myself or want you to feel sorry for me. In this case, it’s because I feel overwhelmed and trapped and powerless in a situation. I tried to talk about it, but I still cannot let it go.

It’s important for me to write about this because I know other people feel the same and suffer in silence, hoping the thoughts will just go away. We need to be able to share these feelings without fear that we will be shunned or mocked or locked away. We need to share so that we can get help if we need it.

Today I choose not to feed the fear that makes me believe the world would be a better place without me, or that I am powerless, or that no one loves me. I choose to water the grass on my side of the fence. I welcome your help if you can share some of your healing, heavenly water with me.

grass

Celebrating my birthday

19 Jun

For as long as I can remember, I have absolutely and positively loved my birthday. When Cancer is doing whatever it’s doing, or the sun is in it, or whatever is happening in my houses, I feel on top of the world! I am vibrant and joyful and sexy and smart and funny and exciting and awesome every ding-dang day leading up to my birthday. It is, without question, the best time of my entire year.

Birthday Cake 5

But I never plan a celebration because I know what will happen. As the day of my birth approaches, and we move out of Cancer and into Leo (grrr), I steadily deflate until I become a whimpering blob curled up in the fetal position watching Netflix and drinking kombucha. Well, that hasn’t happened in other years but it is possible this year.

I recall experiencing this pre-birthday slump since the year I turned 40, though it may have occurred before then and I just didn’t notice. Everything is magnified when you’re in your 40s.

The year I turned 40, I had a big party planned, and a couple of days before my birthday I canceled it — without apologies. I was a big baby. I was also a mess. Like, I kind of had a little nervous breakdown despite the fact that I had been out-of-control excited about turning 40 for the 23 or so days of June leading up to the cancellation. So, no party. No cake. No streamers or confetti. No 70s songs or even 80s songs. A month later, I invited some friends out for ice cream to celebrate my birthday. Dumb.

You see, I get depressed because I am not in the place where I think I should be at my age, or where other women I know are. And truly, I mean, thank goodness I am where I am! I could not be happier with my place! I have a job I love, I am near my family and able to see them as often as I like, I have good friends, I’m healthy and strong, and I have everything I need.

It’s what I don’t have — a partner and a family — that makes me feel as though there’s something wrong with me. There isn’t. I’m fine. Life is good. But, you know.

This year, I don’t want to let that happen. I watch way too much Netflix and drink too much kombucha every other day of the year. So I’m going to celebrate for a solid week and kick that pre-birthday letdown right the hell out!

At least I think that is what I am going to do. I have to begin tomorrow, so I’d better make some plans.

Loving completely

16 Jun

I have a friend who (I think) loves deeply and completely: her family members including her children and especially her grandchildren, her pets, her significant other, her friends, and her students. She shares a lot about her life on social media, which I appreciate, and recently she wrote about being away from her beloved. Her post made me feel both a little bit jealous and a lot inspired.

If you’ve known me for more than a few days, you know that finding a partner has been and continues to be perhaps the deepest desire of my heart, second only to running a 4-hour marathon. Just kidding. Finding a partner really is my deepest desire. If you know this about me, you also know that I suck at it.

There are a number of reasons I have been largely unsuccessful in this endeavor. It doesn’t take an analyst (I heard a mental health professional referred to as an “analyst” in a 1960s movie I watched last night, and I think we should bring that term back) to identify my issues. One of my problems is that I’m afraid to actually meet people.

I know that’s utterly ridiculous. I mean, trust me, I know.

I get very nervous about first meetings because I’ve had so many of them where I can tell within the first 10 seconds that the person is not at all interested in me, and it just makes for an awkward and uncomfortable hour. Even when I try to squeeze the best out of the situation, it’s still weird when we get to the end and there has to be an acknowledgement that we will never see each other ever again in our lives unless we happen to run into each other at the grocery store, which can certainly happen in the small town where I live now. And then, again, awkward.

Because I’m afraid of rejection, I usually do something to sabotage my interactions with men on dating sites, like judge them harshly for their spelling or grammar or disqualify them because they hate coffee or cats. Then we never get to that “Would you like to meet for coffee or drinks?” stage. A lot of the guys on the dating sites lack written communication skills, so it’s kind of easy to be all judgey and cross them off my list for dumb, trivial reasons. 

I’m doing it wrong. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

After reading my friend’s Facebook post about missing her friend, I thought, What if I loved deeply, everyone in my life, all the time? What if I gave people a chance instead of finding reasons not to like them? What if I were more open and less afraid? I wonder what kind of a difference that would make in my interactions with others.

how-to-honor-love

So I’m going to try this. I’m going to try really hard to exude love, even to people who don’t know the difference between your and you’re. Let’s see what happens!

Setting lofty goals

27 May

For about six months, I’ve been working on a running goal I have. I have made this goal public now, and I’ve asked for advice and input. I want help taking my marathon training to a level I have never reached, so I’m sticking this out into the blog-o-sphere. 

Here’s the deal: I want to run a marathon and finish as close to 4:00:00 as possible before I turn 50.

Here’s the background: I started running in 2010 and finished my first marathon one week before I turned 40. My time was around 5:15 (I can look for the official time, but that’s close). In the last seven years, I have trained for ten marathons and completed eight. Even with those finishes under my belt, I’m still relatively inexperienced because I did not run consistently before I began training.

Here’s the setup: My best marathon finish in 2014 was 4:39:46. That’s a 10:41 average pace per mile. In order to finish a marathon in 4:00:00, I’d have to run 9:10 per mile.

Here’s the reason: You can say this is misguided, unhealthy, or even stupid. Years ago I heard someone say that most people don’t consider you a real runner unless you can run at least 10 minutes per mile. I know that’s rubbish and poppycock, and what constitutes a “real” runner is completely and totally relative to each person, but I have always had that in my head. And by that standard, I have never really been a real runner. Who cares, right? Let’s go with this instead: It’s important for me to set this goal and to be able to say I did everything in my power to accomplish it. I want to try, and even if I fall short, I know it will be a valuable learning experience.

Also, the BQ for me is 3:55. Not that I even care!

runner

I might look like this at the finish. But with slightly more agony.

What do I need to accomplish this goal?

I need help to create a strategy. This is a lofty goal but it is by no means impossible. I believe it will require attention to all aspects of training including nutrition, sleep, recovery, stress management, weight, body mass, strength, flexibility, gear, and (of course) running.

I need help figuring out how to safely lose about 15 pounds while training. Imagine running for four hours while carrying a gallon jug of milk in each hand. That’s the same as running a marathon with 15 extra pounds of fat on your body. It is logical to assume that losing fat will increase the chances that I can run faster over a period of four hours. I don’t want to be skinny; I want to be strong! I am strongly opposed to using pills, potions, or powders to lose weight, so don’t suggest I use your plan. I realize that losing weight requires adjustments to caloric and macronutrient intake as well as activity, so I want to choose (and eat a lot of) the foods that will support my goal and eat little to none of the foods that do not support my goal.

I do not need a training plan. There are literally hundreds of marathon training plan resources available online and in actual paper books. I have tried several different methods and not one has resulted in a more significant improvement to my performance than any other, but I do know what has worked well for me in the past and I know where to find plans.

I do need to run faster. That’s obvious, right? In order to run faster, you need to practice running faster! I’ve worked with trainers and have incorporated focused speed work into my training, and every single time I’ve gotten injured. That is a real danger for any runner, and it speaks to my inexperience and overall conditioning. I need help with this aspect of my training!

I might need a coach. I probably can do this all on my own, but there is no question that an experienced running coach would be helpful. I do not need a coach to write a customized training plan for me (see above). What does a coach provide, then? Guidance to help me get from where I now am to where I want and need to be.

I need your support and encouragement! Go for a run with me, or go for all of my runs with me! Tell me you’re excited and you believe in me and you think I’m gorgeous. It won’t make me faster, but it won’t hurt! Whatever you do, please, please, please don’t tell me I can’t do it or it’s silly to make a goal like this.

What else do I need? Should I join a running club? Eat more kale? Practice meditation? Get the same surgery that Jamie Sommers (the Bionic Woman) had? Spend a week with Shalane Flanagan or Bart Yasso? Do I just need more hugs?

 

Have you ever set and accomplished a goal like this? What did you do? What did you not do? Who helped you? What, if anything, would you do differently? Share with me!

Getting picked last

23 May

Last week I had a junior high school flashback, and it was unpleasant. Does anyone have pleasant flashbacks to junior high? I’m sure some people have fond memories of their young teenage years, but for me it was all angst and embarrassment and trying impossibly to figure out how the hell to fit in with a bunch of people who were trying to figure out who the hell they were.

Out of the blue, my coworker said, “I should set you up with my buddy.” He texted his buddy, who replied immediately, “Send pics.” We snapped a picture. I tried to look cute. Since I have not received any follow-up from my coworker, I assume his buddy’s reaction was not favorable. In fact, I imagine he said, “Um, no thanks. She’s ugly.” I am positive he did not say, “Wow! She’s gorgeous! What is her number?” or I would have heard about it by now.

I had, and still have, no idea who this person is. I don’t know what he looks like or what he values. I don’t know what he does in his free time. I don’t know if he even wants to date anyone. While his rejection of me should not matter one tiny little bit, it does. It stings. Why? Because being picked last — or not being picked at all — hurts, no matter how old you are.

In junior high I had a terrible crush on a boy one grade above me. I wrote out the lyrics to Lionel Richie’s Hello and put them in his locker. If he told his pals about it, and I have completely blocked the memory if he did, I’m sure they all stood around and laughed at how gross and weird I was. Clearly, I still feel foolish and mortified by it, which is ridiculous because it happened 30 years ago.

do-you-like-me-lg

I also got picked last all the time in junior high. Last for kickball and softball and dodge ball and anything that required height or agility or speed. If we had smarts contests or spelling bees, I would be picked second (after the smartest girl in the class), but I don’t recall that we had a lot of smarts contests in my school. So that, combined with the fact that I wrote out song lyrics in an attempt to win the hearts of boys made me a bit of a loser. And I also loved Classical music more than 80s pop. 

So much of my life has been defined by the search for a partner and the rejection of hundreds (am I exaggerating?) of people. Of course I have had (a few successful) relationships! Of course there are seemingly well adjusted, normalish people who have liked me and wanted to kiss me! Lately, however, the people who are interested in going on a date with me are 1) married, 2) scammers who I assume live in a foreign country and are waiting for the right time to ask me to wire money, 3) sporting gold-capped teeth, or 4) located hundreds of miles away from my town.

I have a full, wonderful life. I am healthy and happy. I am surrounded by friends and family who love me and care about my well-being. But I really and truly want to be in love with a partner who loves me. Just one time, maybe for the only time, I want to be picked first. I want to pass that boy a note and have him return it with this message: Hello. Is it me you’re looking for?

Fuck junior high, man.