A few weeks ago, I was perusing the Twitter world and stumbled upon an adoptive mother's profile. It read this:
“Hate my adopted kids. Please Help. Need hope.”
That was it. That was her profile. Out of all the things she could've said about herself, this was what she chose. Not that she's a coffee-drinker, that she loves yoga, that she has 3 kids and a collie. Not that she is an adoptive mom looking for other adoptive moms to connect with. Not that she is a wife, a career woman, a health nut… nothing. Her only sense of identify had come down to the rawest of the raw – the ugliest truth she will ever reveal about herself, written plainly and simply for all to read.
My heart began to ache a familiar ache for her. Oh, this sweet woman… How long had she been feeling this way and how desperate she must've become that she had to resort to Twitter for help? I quickly scanned her most recent tweets to find that she hadn't posted anything for 6 months. Six lonely, hopeless months. What devastated me even more was that she had only 3 followers… and that no one had responded to her pleas for help. This broken-down woman had placed her most vulnerable feelings in a bottle, cast it out to sea, and nothing but her own empty words had returned to her.
A panic settled over me as I sent her an urgent message, asking her to contact me as soon as she could. My eyes were fixed on the computer screen before me, tears streaming down my face, willing her to respond. But it's been weeks. And there has been no response.
I know many probably read her profile with haughty derision, critically casting mental stones in her direction. But I read her profile and immediately wanted to drive to wherever she was, whichever state or country it may be, so that I could wrap my knowing arms around her and let her cry and scream and say all the horrible things that needed to be said so that she could release the pain that has been strangling her for God knows how long.
You guys, no mother wants to feel this way. No mother asks to hate her children. Little girls grow up envisioning a happily ever after, a till death do us part kind of family…. Not one of them dreamed of anti-depressants and ulcers and years of family therapy. This woman – this Twitter Mama – she loved children enough to adopt. She loved them enough to put up with whatever Life dished out to her for however long it took to break her. And I can feel her pain. Her disappointment in herself. Her mind telling her that she's a failure – that the kids would've been better off with their birth parents, or anyone else for that matter – that she's not just a rotten mother, but a rotten human being and that no one could love what she has become. I know her profile was short with very little details, but Friends, you just don't write that unless you've been to Hell and back.
I know this to be true, because I was that woman.
Just like Twitter Mama, I had adopted children. First of all, many people are usually quite vulnerable once they get to the place in life where they choose to adopt. For most, there is a reason they've chosen to go in that direction; be it infertility, difficult pregnancies, loss of a child, health problems, genetic make up, single parent, etc. Whatever the reason, there is a level of grief, anxiety, and worry that gets mixed in with the excitement of getting the call for a child. You have no idea what to expect, no time to prepare, and sometimes no information of what the child has already been through (if they're older, like ours were).
The goal is for the new family to bond and to begin to heal one another. But what about the times where this doesn't happen? What about the times when the little people you "saved" start repeatedly (and sometimes intentionally) breaking your heart- that precious heart that was already so fragile to begin with? Combine an already broken and glued back together heart with a set of unique and difficult-to-manage children, and you're looking at a recipe for disaster.
There I was, months and months into anger and frustration, all my things being broken, feeling trapped in my own home, dealing with very persistent and inappropriate behaviors left and right, downright suffocating while trying to look like a good wife, mother, therapist, Christian. Our pre-adoptive baby that'd we had raised from birth had just been taken from us and I was in my first trimester of my pregnancy - sick and hormonal and grieving and raging like a machine.
Finally, I snapped.
This is where Twitter Mama has given me courage to say the hard things… to say them out loud and for others to read...
I told them I wished I'd never adopted them. I told them that I hated them.
They cried. And I'll never forget the feeling that came over me because it was followed by another feeling that mixed and mingled so well, I could barely tell them apart. I remember thinking how good it felt good to see THEM crying for a change, to know THEY were now feeling half as miserable as I was. And then the next feeling followed and blended into the folds of my heart somehow. The feeling that I was evil. That I had been so changed in this process, and that I was a shell of the person I'd used to be. That I was too far gone.
Hate me if you must. Judge me. Scowl at me. Un-friend me. But you guys, this was where I was and how I lived for the better part of a year. Maybe more. I didn't choose to feel this way. I didn't want to be that person. I hated her to the core… and I blamed them for making her, me, that way. I blamed my husband for not being perfect amidst his own grief. I blamed my family and friends for not understanding how truly desperate our situation was. And I blamed God for allowing me to fall this far.
In the heat of the moment, I left everyone. I grabbed my keys, my bible, my journal, and my cell phone. I ran out of the door and drove to a deserted parking lot. I screamed as loudly as I could until I felt sick to my ever-growing stomach. There I sat with shaking hands, gasping for air and recklessly leafing through my Bible, desperate to find any passages on how to learn to love those you hate. But there wasn't a guide to change it. Everything seemed vague and uncomforting, telling me to do things that had no real action plan… things like letting God change your heart, or turning the other cheek. Enraged, I tossed my Bible into the back seat and went to the Internet.
'What to do if you hate your kids' wasn't in Google… the only thing I found was 'what to do if your kids hated YOU'. Because mothers aren't supposed to hate their kids! Even Google knows that! How do you make yourself feel love? Is it like an arranged marriage where you wake up and all of a sudden feel something for the other person? Or do you regret it for the rest of your life…? Why were their no answers? Why was everyone talking about the amazing ways that adoption changed their lives and why was no one else going through what I was facing? What was I doing wrong!
When I called therapists, they told me I should try medication, but that our county was slammed with referrals and the wait to see a counselor was so long. And frankly, as a therapist in the same community I lived in, I was nervous to share my true thoughts with someone I already had interactions with professionally. It seemed to be a dead end.
The weight of depression and condemnation pushed me into a tailspin. Trapped and hopeless, I contemplated taking my life. Not that I ever had a plan, not that I thought I would. But I needed to weigh all of my options. It was almost the one thing that let me feel a modicum of control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation. I could always just leave.
I know the level of despair that I felt, and I still couldn't bring myself to be as outwardly honest as Twitter Mama… how much more desperate was this poor woman? She, too, looked for help and found nothing. Where was she now? Had she also contemplated leaving life? Leaving her family? Without the help she asked for, did she go through with it?
My heart used to break for my own situation. And now, three-and-a-half years into our life with these kids, things have slowly changed. We gradually moved from hate to tolerance, from tolerance to fondness, and from fondness to love. I still have days where indifference threatens to settle back in. (Days like today, in fact!) But I know they are fleeting moments, because Jesus did do a work in my heart. He started to heal me, bit by broken bit, patching up all the grief and the loss and the anger and the intolerable pain. It was so slow I almost didn't see it happening. Of course, He was sure to leave the wounds open enough so that I could still feel the remnants of the scars and taste the bitterness that once was. This allows me to remember His grace and how far He's brought me. And it allows my heart to no longer break for my own situation, but to offer a hand, a heart, and a hug to others going through their own personal turmoils.
Friends, will you do me a favor? Can we join together and lift our fellow sister up before the Lord? Will you agree to pray for this precious woman and her children, whoever she is, wherever she is? You don't have to agree with her, you don't have to understand where she's at. But then again, she doesn't need you to. She didn't ask for anyone to understand her or agree with her. She simply asked for hope. We can be her hope! We can stand in the gap for a woman we've never met because GOD knows her. He knows every hair on her head and every flutter of her heart. We have no idea where her heart is with Jesus, but we can certainly pray that she finds the rest and the peace and the saving Hope she so courageously asked for….How amazing for this woman to get to Heaven some day and see hundreds of women, men, parents, and unknown friends greeting her with a smile to say, “So glad you made it!”
The lady on twitter…. That was me. And she is why I write.
Dear Twitter Mama~
I love you. I don't know your story, but I know you are in pain. It is horrendous and intolerable on good days, devastatingly terrifying on bad ones. But know this, Friend. You are so not alone. You have an army of angels hovering over you, a Lord going before you, and a confidant standing next to you. I would love to hold your hand through this storm and whisper words of peace over you as you rage/panic/shatter/collapse/do whatever you have to do… I struggled to find someone who could understand, and the embarrassment of sharing my pain took more courage than I could muster. YOU are a hero for being brave and vulnerable. I am so sorry there was no one to answer when you pleaded for help. No one was there to pick you up when you were at your weakest. I can only tell you that you will eventually walk again.
I will walk with you. And you will walk with your children. They will see your courage and your tenacity… they will follow in your lead, Mama. You are so much stronger than you feel. Rest on Bigger Shoulders tonight, because you ARE NOT TOO FAR GONE. xoxo
HOPE. HEALING. LOVE. FAITH. JESUS.
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