This July, it will be twenty years since I came out from New Jersey to Portland to live with Kate for the summer. For Mother's Day, and our third-year anniversary of doing these blogs, we decided to post the letters back and forth that precipitated the whole event.
Keep in mind, my letter was from when I was 22, so I'm still rather dramatic and annoying. I can't help but roll my eyes at a lot of my comments, and yet there's also a lot there that are issues I am still wrestling with today. So if you can make it through the self-obsessed twenties drama, there are some nuggets of truth there as well.
December 4, 1992
I don’t know, life is just so crazy for me right now. I feel like I’m in a stalemate. I read your letter and see that you’ve wanted to go back to school. What’s ironic is that I’d love to be in your place. I guess I never told you, but I look up to you. You are what I wish I could be. You’re creative. And it’s not for money or glory and anything like that. It’s not even to publish, it’s just for you. No, it doesn’t even seem that it’s for you - it is just in you. And you live the creative life and are filled with spirit.
That’s what I crave, because I feel that in me, but I am just so entangled in the world and so detached from life. I feel so stuck. I’m in such a rut, and I don’t even do anything about it! I promised myself that once I got back from England that I wouldn’t let the American lifestyle get to me. But it has. And I promised myself that I wouldn’t take North America for granted, that I would find wonder in it, like I found wonder overseas. No, I haven’t done that either. I have been immersed by the New Brunswick smog and made weak. It’s my own fault, I know. I just don’t know how to get out of it. I have no money, I need a job, and school takes up most of my time.
But that’s not even the main thing. The thing I’m most afraid of is not living a creative life. I’m so afraid of just having a normal life, a nine-to-five job, a family, and kids. Those things aren’t bad in themselves; I just don’t want society to dictate to me what to do. I want to live, really live and experience. You have a job and a family and kids, but you’re your own person and have such an active mental, spiritual, creative life. I’m just afraid I’m not capable of that.
You wrote in your letter that I’m amazing and bright and beautiful, and that meant so much to me. I just don’t feel that way about me. I feel dull and incompetent and ordinary and mediocre. I want to be creative, because I think that may be the most valid thing to be in life, but I feel like I don’t have a medium. I’m OK at a few things but I’m not good at any one. So I don’t know what I should pursue, if I should pursue anything. Sometimes I feel like giving up and giving in to the plain, uncreative life. I don’t feel capable of achieving anything. It’s not necessarily talent, I feel like I may not have the spirit dwelling in me and that’s what I need most of all. And if the spirit is there then I feel like I may not have the talent to express it. Do you understand? I figured if anyone in the world might understand it would be you.
I hope you don’t feel that I’m making unwarranted presumptions about you. I know I don’t know you well enough to tell you what kind of person you are. But you seem to be the way I’ve described and I both admire and desire those qualities. I guess what I’m saying is that I would like to be more like you, but I don’t feel adequate
I feel so mixed up. I feel like I’m betraying my parents for even saying these things. I’m not saying that they weren’t good enough. They are wonderful parents and I feel they encouraged me in every way. But I feel like no one knows me. I feel split, I feel like one person that everyone knows and sees, and another person that dwells inside wanting to come out. And these two people fight it out and they need to come to reconciliation and love and respect each other. I must sound crazy
I feel like there’s a part of me that’s like you and guess I just want to get closer to you so that I could recognize and understand that part of myself.
Then I’m so scared that I’m going to react badly. After our first meeting I was so confused and overwhelmed I just couldn’t handle the situation at all and that’s when I didn’t write for so long. I don’t want that to happen again. I want to be able to absorb this all calmly and completely.
See, I guess I’m writing to you about this because I feel like I have a unique bond with you, that of mother and daughter. And I feel that maybe the silent creative voice that’s been screaming inside of me has carried over from you. I’m just so confused. I don’t know who I am. It’s not that I feel that I can’t have both you and my parents, it’s that I don’t know how to have all of you as a part of me and also whatever’s uniquely me, and combine all of those into a whole.
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I love this letter. My 18yr old daughter is surely going through this right now- I think she quit varsity and went back to her adoptive home- I get such a strange, sad vibe from her right now. (It's an open adoption but the last visit a few years ago was pretty peculiar for both of us..). I wish I knew what to tell her in a card with a book I bought a while back, this has helped enormously. Thanks for publishing.ReplyDelete
I'm so glad this was helpful. I was 18 when I met my birth mom and there's something about mixing coming of age and adoption that makes things extra confusing. I would love to hear how things go, keep me posted.