I write a lot about this breakup and abandonment because I see it relate so directly to how I feel about adoption. The same words were used. I had no say in the matter. The same phrases of comfort are given to me. This is a very tangible moment I can process and write about. This is a very tangible moment that mimics my adoption.
Everything reminds you of it. How could it not? Had you gotten married your life would be totally different. Would it be better? I don’t know. Sure, plenty of people can speculate and say those cliches about how I dodged a bullet. It doesn’t always feel that way.
Last Christmas I was with my family and my future family. We had a wedding shower. Our friends came in from out of town to celebrate. I got to be fitted for my actual dress (not just the store sample). I was taken on a surprise spa day by my sister and future sisters-in-law for a bachelorette party. We talked about how Christmas 2019 would be 6 months as a married couple and 5.5 total years together. Yes, things were supposed to be very different.
I’m living alone in an apartment filled with gifts we registered for. I look down at my naked ring finger and am transported back to the moment I slid my ring off my finger and dropped it into his outstretched hand. I walk into my closet and I see my wedding shows sitting there waiting to be worn.
I don’t feel like I’ve dodged a bullet. Or in some sense… I have. But while dodging that bullet, I got hit by another. I feel it with adoption too. There is no “better” scenario. My life just is. There are different outcomes and situations, but this is not “better”.
People may look at me and shake their heads sadly. They may think I’m young and naive. When I have more life experience, I will see this situation is better… I may be totally wrong, but I’m going to assume those who tell me this is a better situation have not had this happen to them. I’m assuming they didn’t plan an entire wedding just got it to be called off. I’m assuming they don’t have existing trust issues due to adoption and now have more triggers to add to their list.
I spent my entire life running as soon as I had invested enough of myself to get hurt. I left before I could be the one who got abandoned. This experience heightened that behavior and made me apathetic towards any form of relationship. How is that better? How is that dodging a bullet? Experiencing a traumatic event is not dodging a bullet. It’s not ensuring a better life. It’s ensuring a different one. One that might be riddled with anxiety and triggers.
I know people say this as a source of comfort. I know that people must believe the life is better because that would be the only thing to make that trauma worth it. But one needs to be realistic. You can’t say better because you don’t definitively know what the other scenario would have been like. You cannot help heal if you ignore the residual effects of trauma that linger for years after.