Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Friends In Low Places

It really is an odd paradox in a way . . . to find so much you treasure and are so thankful for from something that is such a dark, painful reality of your life.

In the friendships I have made through my life, there are none like the ones I have found in the years since I began my difficult journey in finding a way to deal with the terrible loss and grief adoption has brought into my life, into my oldest son’s life, my entire family’s life.

I went from knowing that not even those closest friends around me understood what I was going through to finding so many who not only understood, but through their own experiences, knew there were no easy answers, magical comforting words, that could make it all better.

Years ago, when I was at my lowest, when it was hard to even come up with a reason to go on living, it was that understanding, that care, that kept me going.  Kept me from quitting.  Though virtually, First Moms held me close, walked me through each day.  And so many wonderful adoptees reached out to me when I first learned of my oldest son’s abuse.  They kept me from crumbling into a million painful pieces.  From running around in a crazed mess, punching and striking anyone I could find so they could hurt as my son had hurt.

Those I have met in the almost six years since coming out of the adoption fog have, literally, been my lifeline in so many ways.  I cannot imagine what I would do without any one of them.  We’ve built friendships, fought together for what we believe in.  Faced down the anger, the accusations, always knowing we had each other backing us up, never allowing us to face the hatred, the ugliness, alone.

And now as I enter yet another phase of my life, I find myself – I don’t know the right word – amazed, thankful, surprised . . . maybe even a bit nostalgic.

Over a decade ago, after accomplishing what us pesky First Moms and . . . gasp . . .  teenage moms are told by so-called, warped “statistics” is impossible – getting a college degree, building a career, supporting our family – I finally followed a dream I’d carried since I was a young girl.  A dream I didn’t have to forget about – as so many claim to frighten vulnerable mothers, including myself, into giving up their babies – but instead, just put off for a little while.

By 2001, I had two published Romance Suspense novels under my belt and I was deep into writing my third.  I signed up and joined the writing groups.  I was selected to be a part of the Rising Stars of Romance group which was, back then, a huge honor and privilege to be a part of.  I attended the romance conferences.  Met readers, signed books and set my foot firmly into a great kick off for a long life of writing romance.

It was a busy time for myself and my family.  My husband had just been given a huge promotion at his job.  Our three younger children we were raising were getting older, all of them in school, and we were busy doing parties and programs, fund-raisers and field trips.   And in 2002, we stumbled across a neighborhood, an empty lot, a house plan, we absolutely loved.  And within months they were breaking ground on our new house.

It was, in so many ways, a time in my life I was led to believe I would never accomplish.  Not me.  Not one of “those” kind of girls who got pregnant at sixteen and gave her son up to a “better” couple only to turn around and be pregnant again at the age of eighteen, becoming the dreaded teenage mom, destined to live a life of despair and force her innocent child to live it with her.

And then on New Years Eve 2002, it hit me.  I took my first terrible step out of the fog I’d been living in.  Pain broke through the numbness and I was no longer ever fully able to claim it again.

Because on that day, the first day we moved into our brand new house, it wasn’t success I felt . . . it was absolute failure.  It was the first time I couldn’t quickly chase away the question . . .

“What the hell was I thinking?”

How could I be here in my new house, with my husband and three younger children, experiencing what we had, and have given up my oldest son all those years ago?  How could I ever expect him to have anything but hatred for me when I worked so hard and did so much for my other children and yet just gave him away to someone else to raise?

How could I be here?  How could I have accomplished any of this?  How could I do that to him?  How could I ever expect him to understand?

It was the moment when I took that first start on the downward spiral coming my way.

Though I still clung desperately to my denial and didn’t associate most of what I was going through with my adoption pain, I lost my footing at that point.  Guilt took over, though I never understood then where it came from.  But I quit writing.  Quit my groups, my promotions.  Quit everything that I had dreamed of.  Because I didn’t deserve it.  I wasn’t good enough for it. 

That was the time of my life when I would lie in bed in the mornings having to convince myself why it was I was happy.  I pulled away from my husband, using him as my scapegoat, my reason for why I was miserable.  I moved around in this odd haze, caught between the adoption fog and the end of my denial.  I hurt, I ached, and yet I could never fully accept why.

I feared my oldest son’s anger.  Loathed what I had done.  Tried, here and there, to put voice to what was happening only to jump quickly back into the security of my denial.

For four years, that was the reality of my life.  Until that day in December 2006 when I reunited with my oldest son and the thin scabs over my denial were violently ripped away.

I held on, though, by the very tips of my fingers, doing my best not to lose it.  Not to give in to the tidal wave of emotions threatening to drown me.  And then, as so often happens, my oldest son stepped away from the reunion, went silent, and everything crashed around me.

That’s when I was blessed with so many wonderful, amazing First Moms and Adoptees who were just, suddenly, there.  Understanding.  Knowing.  Comforting me.  Giving me strength.  Holding me up when all I wanted to do was fold myself into the tightest ball and just disappear from it forever.

Through it all, from learning of my son’s abuse, to having him back in my life, to seeing his adoptive mother’s mental abuse first hand when he moved in with us, they held me up, kept me going.

I know, without question, I would not have been able to be there fully for my son, to hold him up, give him support as he went through so much hell, if it wasn’t for those who stood behind me, holding me up as well.  I could be strong for him.  Give him the strength he needed, deserved.   Because I knew, always knew, when it was time to fall apart, myself, there were those there to help me pick up the pieces.

I had an absolutely amazing therapist, who I will always be grateful for.  But I know, through the worst of it, it was the friendships I was graced with that truly got me through, helped me heal, and brought me back to a place where I could again find good in my writing.

It was here on my blog first.  For the first few years, I needed the writing here.  The place to share my life, my experience.  What I had learned, researched and knew about the adoption industry.  I know part of my healing was the ability to use my voice to bring about awareness and hopefully make change in the accepted practice of adoption.

It wasn’t always easy.  There have been ugly moments.  I’ve pissed off some, completely infuriated others.  But I continued on, not just from my determination to fight for what I believe in, but also from the support of the wonderful friends I’ve made in this journey through the dark reality of adoption.

And then came that time when I finally felt ready to go back to the writing I love.  When I could make that separation in my mind to switch from the writing I do here to the lighter, fiction writing I was ready to dive back in to.  It wasn’t always easy.  As is the reality for so many of us. There were times when the giant of adoption pain reared its ugly head again and sent me reeling back, only to find myself stumbling forward again.

But I did it.  I succeeded.  I finished my third Romance Suspense novel, Playing With Fire.  It was released just a couple months ago.  And now I find myself in that moment of not being able to find the right words to describe what it’s like this time around.

Because, it’s different than it was a decade ago.  It means more.  It’s proof to what I’ve been through without letting it knock me over for good.  But, it’s also something I feel I share with so many.  Because I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t know any of this, if it weren’t for the amazing friends who have been there, are there, and, I hope, will never go away.

It’s so much more than just me and the dream I had, now.   

And the twist of it all . . . it’s another First Mom who is doing so many great things to help make this second chance at my writing a success. 

If you’ve been in the world of adoption reform and adoptee rights for any amount of time, you know Claudia and her blog, Musings Of The Lame.  Her voice is a priceless asset to so many of us.  Her knowledge is unbelievable and her talents go far beyond what so many might think.

And it just seems right, it just seems full-circle that her blog, her voice was one of the first that gave me strength, kept me going.  And now, her expertise, her talents, will do the same for my writing. 

I feel . . . I don’t know . . . like I said it’s hard to bring words to it.  There is something that just fits in having my trust in another First Mom who I love and respect so much.  Something that is good in knowing that even in our “mom” craziness, adoption “pain” and all the other junk that comes with it, we’ll know, we’ll understand, and we’ll never have to explain anything when it comes to being there for one another, whether it be personally or professionally.

She, and so many others, brought me to where I am today and I will always be thankful for every one of them.  I’m back on track for my writing and I don’t plan on letting anything stand in my way again.

Adoption and it’s ugliness has already taken so much , from me, my oldest son, my entire family.  I will no longer sacrifice anything else.  Ironic, isn’t it . . . those who gained from my oldest son’s adoption – the agency, his adoptive parents – have desperately needed me to believe that giving him away was a “win.”  And yet, for so long, all I’ve known is the feeling of failure in so much of my life.

It wasn’t until finding those who also have lived through the promised hell of a “win” in adoption that I was finally able to find the strength to find my own “win” in my own life, despite all the loss adoption brought.

They gave me what adoption never could, belief in myself.  Strength and courage to be the best I can be and to tackle any obstacles standing in my way.  They gave because they cared, not because they “desired.”

And for that . . . I will always be grateful.

*** As of now, I have decided not to put a permanent link on my blog for my website.  I’m just not sure if it will help or hurt.  For now, I’ll just leave it here, in this post . . .

Home Of The Love Story: Website of Cassandra Bella Romance Author 

(The site is just one of many things Claudia and her great talents have done!) ***


  1. I'm so glad to have met you! And can totally relate to your post and the friendships that mean so much.

    1. I'm so glad for the chance to meet you too! Your friendship is one I treasure!

  2. So very happy for your well-deserved success, and the friendships you've made along the way.

    Not surprising at all (except the part about your not going to the better high school in town, hehe)!

    1. LOL! Thanks Lori. Except for the high school thing, of course. Now that's a debate we could have some fun with. ;)

  3. I was going to yell at you for publishing that LOVELY picture of us, but instead you making me all blushy. Well not really, because I don't actually blush, but you know what I mean.. and just for a funny synchronicity aspect.. I have at the top of my "to do list" a post about your book for MOTL! HAHAHHAHAH..I know YOU might not link to it, but I can!!
    But seriously,, the "duck face" photo?? Only Linda is doing it right. You're pouting and my lips look like I am giving my best "asshole" impression!!

    1. We tend to have that synchronicity thing going on all over the place! ;)

      And who doesn't love a good duck face/pouting/asshole pic? LOL! It was just the one that seemed to fit! I promise, next time we're together, the drinks are on me, to make up for it!!!

  4. Cassi, don't know if you remember, but you also reached out to me when I was in a very similar situation to you. You held out a "virtual" arm and hugged me. Guided me. I will NEVER EVER forget that. I agree, have also met the most wonderful women on this roller coaster reunion journey. Pretty amazing women. Like you. Love and hugs xxx

    1. I remember. I think we all understand the importance of reaching out and helping each other. I know you have done the same for others.

      I'm so thankful to know you!

  5. Just reading about your journey gives strength to others such as myself. Congratulations on coming full circle. I wish you many, many "wins" in the coming year.