Posted by: chibotaichi | January 17, 2015

What gets bigger the more you take away from it?

What gets bigger the more you take away from it?

A hole.

Lately, well, perhaps for the better part of the past 30 years, I have been taking away from this big empty feeling in my heart. This hole was probably just wanting to be acknowledged but I denied and denied and denied its power. The more I tried to rationalize it away, to cite other factors and effects, the more I took away from it, the deeper and bigger it got.

Today, for whatever reasons (I am SO good at reasons, seriously…), I finally let myself fall right down to the bottom.

Okay, yes, of course, I will fill y’all in (ha! pun absolutely intended once I realized the potential was there).

Being an adoptee does a number on your psyche. I have to believe that some people handle it pretty well. I like to believe that I am one of them (but of course, Belief is a real funny character). However, recently I have done more and more exploring regarding the lives of adoptees and I keep running into accounts such as the following.

There is absolutely a part of me that hates to believe any of that to be true about myself, but Truth is a funny character too.

Truth is, that piece, and the many others like it, are not  unlike reading a journal entry from my long-lost Self.

I’ve always known I was adopted. That wouldn’t have been an easy secret to keep given my situation (the hair, the eyes, the skin, all instant signals that this dude is different).

And I’ve always understood that there are plenty of valid reasons for a parent to choose the adoption route for the little Life they have brought into the World.

All typical stuff.

Typical Me, none of that knowledge really changes anything on the Feel level. It’s so strange how that works. I take to the Thinker role like a duck does water, and so, from a rational standpoint, all of this is so obvious and easy.

Maybe there wasn’t enough money to raise a child. Maybe there was going to be no father. Maybe it was about giving a child a brighter future. Maybe they had never heard of abortion. At this time I have no clue what the reasoning was, but there is little relevance to knowing anyhow. I’m not so sure that I want to know. I find a peculiar comfort in not knowing.

I find it oddly preferable to believe that, so many years ago, this young woman (or man and woman) thought to themselves, “oh sh*t! what are we supposed to do with a baby?” and just opted out.


That’s what the paperwork from the adoption agency says.

And I can completely understand it. That makes sense to me. Where I am at in my life, it’s the only answer that would feel comfortable to me.

But I suppose that’s the tricky part. It’s so easy to wear that scenario because it would justify all of the negative emotions that comes with this adoptee-narrative. The sadness, the feelings of unworthiness, of anger, of loneliness. I know these feelings so well. They’ve been such loyal companions for all of my self-aware existence.

Despite their loyalty, I’ve tried to ditch them countless times. Both healthy and less-healthy methods have been employed to move away from them, with varying degrees of success and sustainability.

But what the literature suggests, and what I am discovering through my own experience, is that no matter what you do, that funny little hole will still be there.

This morning I had a chance encounter with an acquaintance from quite a few moons ago. I was running a bit late and so shuffled in to teach my 8:15 yoga class at about 8:14:40 and was so surprised to see that familiar face! It was awesome, but so random I barely even managed to process it! We chatted after class for a little bit and then continued on our otherwise regularly scheduled programs.

For me, this entailed sticking around in the studio to take the yoga class offered at 9:30. This particular class, however, happened to be the last for the teacher as she is shipping off to the East Coast in the coming days. As we settled in and she announced her impending departure (I had known about this previously, but of course not everybody else did) I found myself getting a tad emotional about it all.

A natural response for anyone who has grown accustomed to someone’s presence. And of course, though I wasn’t thinking of it at the time, a particularly sensitive situation for adoptees. Yet another case of people leaving. All too familiar and, even when it needn’t or ought not, it always stirs up those subconscious (or sometimes plain-to-see) feelings.

In any case, as we formally began our Practice, she read a passage to us about opening the heart and keeping it open and while that message resonated with me in the moment plenty, I allowed it to just sink in without much thought or attention.

And after class was over, and everyone had cleared out, we shared a brief chat and a hug and, once again, it was two people going off on their otherwise regularly scheduled programs.

And then, a little while after arriving at home, it happened.

The hatch that usually keeps that hole covered up was jostled open and I went plummeting down.

I am fond of sometimes telling people that if their yoga Practice hasn’t ever made them cry that they have a lot of work to do still, which isn’t always true, but often is. I’m referring to on-the-mat tears when I make that statement but I suppose all of the talk about on-and-off-the-mat is legitimate too.

Amid the shaking and slobbering I managed to stammer out, with varying degrees of comprehensibility, multiple proclamations that this hole is Here and will probably be with my for my whole life.

Rambling tirades, covering existential philosophy, world politics, the history of my intimate relationships, my career ambitions, the cultural narrative of the United States, among other things, all punctuated by interludes of my mantra about that hole.

“It’s just there. It doesn’t go away.”

There is a part of me that would love to see footage of this breakdown, but really I am incredibly grateful cameras were not rolling.

Over the course of this 100-minute mess, I reached a few important conclusions.

While I am well acquainted with my friends Anger, Sadness and the Others, I hadn’t realized just how connected they were to my adoptee-status.

On countless occasions I have thought to seek out more information about my birth-family, to dig deeper into that part of my history, but I finally admitted several times (each time immediately followed by a fresh round of bumbling and dripping from the nose and eyes) that I am way too angry to go there.

It was fascinating in real-time (and just as fascinating in retrospect) to notice how strongly I felt. I knew I had a quick temper and a sufficient supply of inner-rage, but I hadn’t ever made the connection directly.

My Mind wouldn’t allow it. It’s all so rational. People do things, so what? People have whatever motives, so what?

My Mind insisted on being stronger than my Story, being above feeling hurt and upset about that very primal wound, about that hole at the core of my experience.

And yet, during this very raw episode, each time I even fathomed the idea of attempting to contact or connect with these shadowy phantoms from my past, I would completely lose control. I can’t be bigger than that hole because every day I have been scooping more and more of the ground out of it.

I could go on for thousands of words beyond these and probably still not cover half of the terrain I was able to blather through between rounds of unabashed release. It was, I think, very interesting and important stuff.

And yet I’m feeling like I’ve said too much here…like I’m retreating back into the rational perspective. Psychoanalyzing myself and conceptualizing my experience.

What I encountered today has been with me my entire life, and it isn’t going to go away. For years I have covered up, waked around and over the top of that hole without really ever letting myself experience it directly. I’ve known of its presence but I denied its power.

In my attempts to deny it, I only served to strengthen it.

My heart was cracked open today, and I hope to leave it open. It is a great big hole, and that is just fine.

I am going to allow myself to stand right down at the bottom of it and slowly but surely begin to fill it in, if only a little. Taking away from it only made the hole bigger, so, though it will leave me with dirt allover my hands and face, I intend to start putting all of that soil back in, one shovelful at a time.

Namaste, Readers and Writers.


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