Tag Archives: therapy

What happens when a(n adoptive) parent dies?

It sucks. That’s what happens.

Dad’s accident occurred at his work. Much of that day is seared in my mind. Each month after the accident and after his passing, I would get super anxious near and on those dates. I kept thinking, it’s been two months since that date. It’s been five months since that date. After a year, I finally quit marking the month.

I often relived the phone call that changed my life. I felt like revisiting the trauma was the closest I could get to him being here still. That’s terrifying and so sad. My foundation had been totally shattered. All the things I thought I could count on in life suddenly felt like a crumbled house of cards. Nothing felt stable. I remember wanting to keep my mom and Brother in a room with me. Where I could see them. And NO ONE was allowed to be on a ladder. (Dad fell from a tall agricultural tank.)

A few things really helped me through the first year. A few weeks after Dad passed, I found out that the local hospice center was hosting a grief group one night a week for seven weeks. I signed up. I was pretty nervous driving to the meeting place that first night, but I’ve gotten much braver in the past 10 years. I knew it was what I needed. We got a binder with handouts for journaling, quotes, and articles to read. We discussed our loved ones and processed grief out loud together. It was a safe place to cry and do the hard work of grieving, away from my family for whom I was trying to be strong(ish). I was also (oddly) blessed to have a couple close friends who had suffered similar grief in their lives. My one friend and I would call or text each other for support on days that were particularly hard or triggering. I called her my grief buddy, not a very poetic term, but descriptive nonetheless. We still check in now and then.

That first year…I never felt like I wanted to die exactly, it’s just that I didn’t want to live. I wanted to hop off the ride for awhile. Just go away, no one expecting anything from me. I just wanted to sleep. And wake up to either my dad back, safe and sound, or to the absence of the pain. So I found a therapist close to my hometown. He was qualified to do EMDR, of which I’m a huge fan. He helped me a lot. I started to come out of the fog.

I plan to do several more posts about my grief journey. Being a pretty emotional adoptee, grieving for Dad got complicated…

What’s up, Buttercup?

My mom says that to me all the time.  Mostly when she calls me to say hello.  The phrase may have come from my grandpa, not sure.

I’m writing to say that I haven’t forgotten about my blog.  My next post is about something very important to me, and I feel like I need to get it right.  This may be the only time it gets written down for real, and I want to make sure I get everything in there.  I’ve considered compiling all my posts and expanding on them to create a book someday.  A memoir I guess.  We shall see.

Aside from working on that post, I’ve been visiting friends and family, working odd jobs around my hometown, and trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life.  At the very least, I’m feeling better about my “friend situation.”  Someone wise once said that friends are the family you choose….or something like that.  I agree.  Friends I’ve met through an adoption connection are some of the best I’ve ever had.  I’m super thankful to the Universe that these people have come into my life.  I’ve always wanted sisters, and through my adoptee friends, I finally have a few 🙂  I’ve got a fantastic brother already, but I’ve even managed to add a few brothers to my family too.  At least that part of my life is getting better!

I continue to struggle with the job search though.  Last night I watched the Dustin Hoffman episode of the Actors Studio on youtube.  One of the last things Mr. Hoffman says to the students is what a shame it is that we’re pressured to know what we want to do with our lives while we’re in our 20s.  “It’s a question mark decade….if you’re waiting for the job,  you will die.”  Okay, two things then.

1. Apparently I need to give myself a damn break.  It sounds silly, what with my year of volunteer service on a Native reservation, a Masters degree, and having traveled to 5.5 countries since 2004 (two of those countries twice!), but I feel like I’ve failed in the last five years.  I’m not where I thought I would be and I’m definitely not doing anything I consider important.  Shit.  Last year I did quite a bit of therapy, EMDR therapy – look it up, I recommend it for adoptees – and I did make some progress with releasing my regret and accepting where I am.  But I’m definitely not at peace yet.  So Dustin says to chill out.  SO much easier said than done.

2.  Don’t wait.  Maybe he means I should try to take little steps every day toward something, anything, and the Universe will meet me in the middle.  Or maybe he means I have to create the whole thing myself.  That seems a bit  unlikely.  I don’t live in a vacuum.  So steps every day it is then.  Damn.

This might not sound related to anything I’ve been writing here, but I promise it is.  Someday if/when I have a daughter, I’m going to do my very very best to instill a gigantic sense of self-worth in her.  I want her to be able to tell me why she’s good.  What she can do.  What she likes.  What she doesn’t like.  What she wants/needs to work at.  I’ve probably spent the last five years underestimating how awesome I am.  And I don’t mean for that to sound boastful.  But for most of my life, I’ve wondered what the hell I’m good at, if I’m really good at anything, and why the hell no one else can see me.  But no one else could see me because I didn’t see me.  I AM awesome.  I am smart.  I can solve problems.  I think in global terms, how decisions affect lots of people.  Systems.  Networks.  I’m generally a nice person.  I make friends fast.  I care about people, hot damn do I care about people!  I want other people to succeed…  Okay, Ang, now go write some of those damn coverletters.  You’re on a roll….