Sunday, September 9, 2012

In Which Jill Writes About What She's Not Going to Write About

I spent quite a lot of time on a post about September 9th, 2009 - the day I placed Roo. It felt like what I ought to write about because today marks three years since then. I've written before about placement itself but I've never written properly about the day before placement. So I started to write, and I cried a fair bit, and even though everything I wrote was true and relevant, it didn't feel right.

I did a presentation the other night with P and M. We spoke to the women and teenage girls in a local LDS congregation. I've done these presentations with Roo's parents twice before and I love it. I love talking about adoption with pretty much anyone, but I think it's more meaningful when my audience gets both sides of Roo's story instead of just mine. When we reached the point in the story where I was supposed to be talking about my feelings during placement and what it was like, I had an odd moment. One part of my brain was bringing up the words I wanted to use to describe placement, but another part of my brain was nonplussed. (I have been trying for ages to properly work that word into a blog post, and there it is.) I thought, am I remembering this right? What did I feel that night?

I found that I sort of couldn't remember. I mean, I've read some of my own blog, so obviously I remember in the sense that the story is acutely familiar and of course I lived it, too. But as I was talking (the part of my brain that makes me talk always works three times faster than the part of my brain that actually considers whether I should be saying what I'm saying) I kept stopping mid-sentence and changing direction and finally I blurted out what is probably the least helpful thing I have ever said when describing placement -

"I don't know. It was just - it was a while ago. I've changed so much since then. It sort of feels like it happened to someone else."

A minute later, when my rational brain had caught up, I silently prayed that no one in the audience took that to mean I'd suffered a dissociative episode. But the thing is, what I said was true. I am quite the opposite of the depressed, juvenile, selfish woman who placed her child for adoption and then sat in her mother's Toyota screaming and crying. While I am immensely proud of the choice I made for Roo, I'm not proud of who I was when I made it. I was a wreck of a woman, and I find it nearly impossible to identify with her, even for the sake of my story.

I tried to slip back inside that skin to talk about how much placement hurt, but it made me feel petulant and selfish and it was uncomfortable. Writing about the day of placement, the last day I was a mother, didn't feel right because it was full of such wistful sadness and I don't like to dwell in those places anymore. One of the rather obvious things I have learned about happiness since I started studying it this year is that if you want to be happy, you shouldn't spend a lot of time thinking about sad things.

So, I'm sorry to say, I don't think any of you will ever be reading the paragraphs I labored over earlier. If Roo wants to read them when she's older she will but I don't want to go there with anyone else.

I was just going to write, like, a paragraph about why I'm not writing about placement day today, and look what happened. Words everywhere like some kind of explosion and I'm not even done yet.

I also thought that I should write something about the day my dad died, because today marks four years, but I spent hours on something that still didn't feel right. I wasn't sure why. I edited the heck out of it and re-wrote it three times and I liked what I wrote but it still didn't feel like what I ought to say today. I think I've figured it out.

When I was a kid I took gymnastics classes in the summer and I learned two important things. The first is that I have no aptitude for gymnastics. The second is that there's a pathetic sort of safety in looking back. If you're doing a handspring or a walkover or a flip, it's easier to go backwards because you can see where you're going. If you go forward, you have what is known as a blind landing - your feet face the direction you're headed before your eyes do. I mastered the back walkover, but the front walkover scared the daylights out of me. I didn't know where my feet were going to land and my fear kept me from putting them in the right place. Every. Single. Time.

But in life, as in gymnastics, if you can only go backward, you're not going to get very far. You have to learn to risk a blind landing every now and then if you want to get anywhere worth going. It's like the end of the last Indiana Jones movie. Remember this scene?

Indy had to save his dad (spoiler alert: he succeeded), and that meant taking a step forward, off a cliff. It would have been easier and safer to turn around at that point, but he didn't. (It would have made for a terrible ending if he had. The elder Henry Jones would have died and Indy would have looked like the worst sort of coward, especially considering everything else he faced in the movie, and the two movies before it.) He had to move forward. He couldn't go back.

Neither can I.

There are things I am going to remember for the rest of my life, and when the mood strikes me I will write about them and I may or may not put them on my blog. But I'm drawing myself a line there. The past is a foreign country. You can visit from time to time, but you can't live there.

More and more I find myself taking leaps of faith. Well, not leaps, exactly (which is lucky, since we've established that acrobatics are not my forte), but steps, let's call them steps, into the unknown. I can't see the path ahead of me but I know that it's there. I know that God is there. And even though it would be easier to look back, I'm going to keep moving forward, blind landings and all. I don't know where this path ends, but I can't wait to get there. It's going to be awesome.