A Thousand Acre Heart-Part Three

Jeff, Morgan and Haley

I have some really amazing people in my life who have been wonderfully supportive and encouraging to me. In the last couple of days I have re-connected with some fantastic and inspirational people. Adoptees, Adoptive parents, families with adopted siblings and people who simply took the time to read and share their feelings and kindnesses with me. After I gave birth there were a select group of people whose mean spirit made me feel guilt and shame. I put up a wall around my “heart” and my secret and very few people were let in to that part of my life. My need to tell this story comes from a good place inside of my heart that hopes that maybe there is someone out there holding the weight of guilt and shame on their shoulders and she can see from my mistakes how ridiculously unnecessary that is.

Here is the dictionary meaning of shame:

the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.

I think we can agree that I did a good thing, nothing dishonorable. The unprotected sex was definitely improper but that wouldn’t warrant years of shame. Holding onto years of shame was detrimental and unnecessary. If I can prevent one person from feeling that; it is a very good thing. That weight off my shoulders has been the most absolutely freeing. My whole life has been changed. Last night when I was writing about the death of my Dad I thought how sad it would be if it all ended now. I finally know who I am and I am happy and confident and proud. My Dad always told me “life is short” This is something he said all he time. He never saved for a rainy day, if he wanted something he got it, if he wanted to do it he did it. You can say that is irresponsible but he died at 39 years old. LIFE IS SHORT!!

I wondered a lot about what might have been. I pictured us all as a happy family. I thought of Dad spoiling Jeff rotten and buying him a race car. None of that was meant to be. I knew that taking myself back and placing me in those times of such emotion would be difficult. To be real and honest I have to be there in the moment. When I was writing about being in the hospital room after giving birth I was in that room and the pain was excruciatingly emotional. I bawled all the way through the process. This is not a bakery, I refuse to sugar coat any of it! For many years I wasn’t true to myself and this is my truth.

I did have one person send me a message that was mean spirited. It was suggested that this story should be about the parents that loved Jeffrey and raised them as their son. I was told that it wasn’t all about me. This is MY story. I cannot tell anyone else’s story, but I have earned the right to tell mine! I will of course talk about them later on in the story. I feel overwhelming love and admiration for them, but I cannot tell My story from their point of view. That being said, everyone is entitled to their opinion and I knew that opening myself up in an intimate and vulnerable way I would have to deal with that as it came. My daughter has a “theme song” and she plays it to remind herself that words can’t hurt her and nobody can bring her down. I will post it at the end of this blog. I admire my daughters, their strength and their capacity to love and put themselves out there without fear. They play Roller Derby. It has been such an empowering presence in their young lives. I try to teach them that nobody can make them feel inferior without their consent and it is something that I need to remind myself of frequently. Haley and I have this new thing that we do before bed where we gather up all the good things that happened to us during the day in our hand and put it to our heart and then we gather any of the bad things that happened  and we crumple them in our hand and then we throw them far away! I took that mean comment that made me have a little mini meltdown in my truck this morning and I threw it to Never-land. Being strong doesn’t mean you don’t feel things. I feel everything!! My husband said to me today that I was the brains of our operation and I disagreed, I am the heart. If my brain worked as much as my heart does we would be millionaires.

My heart wasn’t always this kind and pure. If you have ever heard the saying “misery loves company” it is very true. Hearts that are happy love, embrace, endure and encourage. I can show you everything I have learned but I cannot tell you what to see. You will interpret however your heart allows.

In English class they tell you that every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. I believe this is the beginning of my story!

Date: Thu, 4 Feb 2010 09:54:52 -0400
> From: JENNINCR@gov.ns.ca
> To: michd@live.ca
> Subject: Fwd: File#35674
>
> Above is the receipt of the first correspondence I ever had with my son. Apparently it had been stuck in a spam filter for two weeks because his email was grapedrink (if you are from N.s. you may remember those delicious drinks that used to come with the milk delivery)

I know you are all anxious. It is really hard to condense 23 years! What a journey! I can give you a little glimpse and tell you this….everything I endured to get to the day that I was reunited with Jeff evaporated immediately when I met him. He has a beautiful spirit and though I was prepared for all sorts of scenarios I wasn’t prepared at all for the one that actually happened.

I will continue I promise……xo

A young shot of Jeff that was given to me by his Grampy!
A young shot of Jeff that was given to me by his Grampy!

A thousand acre heart

This is a story that I think I should tell because very few people know the whole thing and when it is told in bits and pieces I always feel that so much is left out. I will begin to tell it slowly and at my pace. I will try to tell it the best I remember it and it is not my intention to hurt anyone’s feelings.

“I always knew there was a piece of the puzzle missing, I never imagined what it was”

Jeffrey “Jam” Matthews

I got bored of cleaning out the 5000 useless emails in my hotmail so I decided to check in with some random and hopefully inspirational thoughts that will have us all seeing clearly once the rain is gone, and by rain I mean tears, yes I stole the first part from Van Morrison.

I have been sitting at my computer attending a GoToMeeting to see my first grandchild’s Ultrasound at 3D Miracles. I am in Edmonton, Alberta, the other family and friends are in Truro, Onslow, Tatamagouche and Pictou Counties in Nova Scotia. My grandbabes Mom is at 3D Miracles in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In itself this is amazing that technology can bring us together for this special time. We are able to chat and share our feelings. Right now we are on a 45 minute “Yoga Break” because baby is playing camera shy. I am not quite sure where in the family the shyness comes into play!

I am taking this time to reflect on the miracles that have changed my life and brought me to this day that I am so fortunate and incredibly grateful to be a part of.

In April my first grandchild is due to come into our world full of love. Almost twenty three years ago I gave birth to her father Jeremy at the Colchester Regional Hospital. I was sixteen years old, a child myself really. I was scared, confused and full of such conflicting emotions. I gave birth to a healthy eight pound, magnificent baby boy. He had dark hair and these eyes that looked at me with what I was certain was the hint of a smile.  The plan for lack of a better term was to give him the very best life possible and even at sixteen I was pretty certain that love alone could not provide that and my options were limited. I was a child, discussions were had, and choices were made and with a heavy heart I went along with some amount of certainty with what I was told were best. Anyone that has given birth to a child knows that something changes inside of you the very moment they come into this world. It is powerful and indescribable but even in tender teen hood I felt it. I felt a connection that time and miles and tears would never take away. I was giving my baby boy up for adoption. He was going to be raised by a couple that had longed for a baby and had more to give him then I possibly could. When I was finally alone in my hospital room I cannot even begin to tell you the emotions I experienced. In a very short time I had crossed that line between girlhood and womanhood and I was not ready for any of the hard choices or the heartache that would bring. My father came back to the hospital a short while later. The birth of his first grandchild had moved him immensely. He said we would do whatever needed to be done. He said he would go right out and buy a crib and diapers and whatever was needed he would help. When he left I was more confused than ever and my older brother came back to the hospital to talk to me. He would have been eighteen at the time. He was always a bit of an authority figure to me, he was smart and organized, and he wasn’t as lead by emotions as the rest of us. He talked to me that night with the soul and wisdom of someone much older than his eighteen years. He talked to me about the family that had been waiting for years to love my child. He talked about how I was too young to make grown up decisions and that he just wanted me to see my options from all angles. He is the only person throughout my whole pregnancy that really discussed options with me and talked to me like the decisions were in my hands but I needed to understand how my decisions were going to affect everyone involved. He didn’t know the couple that was going to adopt Jeremy. We all just knew about them, through lawyers. It still amazes me how he pleaded their case. He said he had seen the movie Kramer vs Kramer in Law class at school and it moved him. I have never seen the movie. I had a torturous night. I remember very little of it except for the feeling of a huge weight on my chest. In the morning I told my family that I hadn’t changed my mind, I was going to give Jeremy up for adoption and allow the family that was expecting him to love him and give him a wonderful life.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. You go home to return to your normal life and nothing is normal. Your friends want to talk about boys and clothes and everyday adolescent stuff but you are now a grown-up. They want to talk about broken hearts and you know that they have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be truly heartbroken.

The law says that a minimum of sixteen days needs to pass before you can legally be approached with respect to signing adoption papers. It felt like a year and a day all at the same time, which of course makes absolutely no sense but nothing would make sense for a very long time. On the sixteenth day when the lawyer called I was sick. I was the kind of sick when you call into work on inventory day…avoidance. I was also heartsick. If I had had the capacity to question I am sure everyone in my household was experiencing a type of loss as well. They were there for the growing belly, to feel the kicks and anticipate the birth and then at the part where you are expecting kisses and cuddles and late night feedings it was as if the universe had stalled and life as you knew it was paused. I am not sure how many more days passed but when my lawyer came to the house I tried another stall tactic and she understood quite clearly what was going on. She didn’t push me but explained that until I signed the papers that Jeremy was living in interim care. He was being well taken care of but the family that longed to hold him and love him could not take him home until I signed the papers. I must have signed the papers that day. I can’t imagine what my signature looked like. I was a mess inside. I wasn’t eating and my clothes were falling off me. I was a woman, making woman’s decisions in this childlike body.

Insert sex lecture here, sex is an adult decision made by people who are not ready to make adult decisions and lead adult lives. Of course I wouldn’t change any of it now, because to change one thing would change everything but if I could help one person to realize that as a teenager you are seeking affection, validation, acceptance and love. Sex will not give you any of those things. Sex will complicate.

At some point life went back to normal or at least I began to accept the new life. I accepted the mean comments at school from girls “How is your baby, oh never mind you gave him away!” One day in English class a girl named “Dawn” ( I won’t say her last name only for respect for her family’s privacy,),said to me “You are no better than me, I went through labor and delivery just like you!” The difference is she had an abortion that was performed at or after five months. So yes she did indeed go through labor and delivery but she did not give life to a child.  I don’t know her reasons and I don’t care, I remember how badly that hurt me and how I went into survival mode. I had to adamantly remind myself that I gave my baby the opportunity to have a wonderful life and nobody could ever take that away from me.

For years wherever I was I would see a dark haired boy and I would calculate the age in my head and wonder. I was fairly certain I would know right away if I ever came face to face with him but I never knew how I would react…..

To be continuedImage