I found out I was pregnant and chose open adoption in November of 2012. It is just this year that I finally feel free of the black cloud that descended on me then. I was overwhelmed by my body’s instincts and I disassociated from myself because the feelings of loss were too damn big. Birth mother grief undid me.
It required two stints of being unemployed for 6 months; a 10 month long nonviolence program that necessitated transparency and going to my darkest and oldest places; sewing my feelings into at least 30 Transformation Dolls for The Conspiracy of Blessings; and a whole lot of writing to move through my anger at the universe for putting me in the situation of having to choose myself and give up mommying my son.
I tried therapy, but we couldn’t really afford it and I’ve never done well with therapists anyway. I’ve actually been learning my ways of grieving for the past 10 years, since my first marriage ended, my mom died, and my son moved across the country for college in 2008. I’ve since grieved friends and lovers lost, two communities that disintegrated, my dignity after being brought to my knees by a sociopathic dominant, a hometown and in person intimacy with beloved friends, and the loss of my body’s ability to live a normal life. Grief and I are companions. I open the door when she calls.
In a culture that demands we “move on” and return to normal life behaviors quickly after loss – a culture that’s terrified of the unruliness of grief and sterilized it out of our death rituals – taking time and space to fully grieve is rebellion. It’s allowing our emotional selves space to unfurl rather than pressing our feelings down into a box with a lock in our hearts. Culture demands emotional repression. Grief, and rage, are unwelcome because they cannot be controlled.
I think we need claim the freedom to be our full emotional selves in our homes, families, and circles of care, and learn to relate from this feeling place without causing harm to each other.