Even If

Drove three and a half hours, pulled up in front of the house. And then there I was. Walking up the sidewalk to the front door of my dad’s house for the first time in my life. A few weeks prior, I celebrated my 50th birthday and for all of those birthdays, my dad had no clue I existed.
What would he think of me? My family? Fifty years! What if I say something wrong? What if my kids break something? What if he decides he’s not up for this daughter thing after all? What if he’s been faking it?
Maybe I should just turn around now and save myself the insanity and tears?

Even though the initial conversations with my dad truly couldn’t have been scripted better in Hollywood, the worry and anxiety overwhelmed me. The memory of meeting my biological mother 20 yrs. earlier wouldn’t stop tormenting me. While I was cautiously optimistic, I definitely knew that I must prepare myself for the worst. I knew the trap door could open at any given moment and based on my history with parents, I knew it was probably not a matter of “if”… but “when.”

Thankfully, aside from my 9-yr.-old daughter climbing out the upstairs window and onto the roof, the visit went better than anyone could’ve imagined. My dad seemed truly interested not only in simply meeting me but made plans for future visits. He wanted to know me! He wanted to know me? This was a new dad thing for me. He wanted to know me…after 50 years! Unbelievable!

However, it didn’t seem to matter how many times over the following months this kind, new dad reassured me that he wasn’t going anywhere, based on my past experience, I couldn’t completely trust. This would have to be proven over time. My hypervigilance scrutinized every text and every spoken word for any microscopic change. If the ship was going down, I had to jump first. I knew that my life absolutely depended on this fact.

After finally beginning a journey of healing post-reunion, I’ve learned so much about my adoptee brain. In those moments/months following reunion with my biological dad, it was my brain’s reality that my life would absolutely be in danger if rejection was imminent. In the adoptee bible, The Primal Wound, Nancy Verrier puts it this way:

  “For people who have had a continuity from pre- to postnatal bonding, the original attachment … and appropriate separation from the mother at the proper time in one’s development prepares one for many attachments and separations over and over throughout one’s life…..There is no sense that one might disappear from a friend’s consciousness or that one might indeed just disappear. One can go on with life. Annhiliation will not happen.

Yet for many adoptees,…this is just the phenomenon they describe upon significant or even temporary separations and losses: panic and fear of annihilation. The panic and fear have nothing to do with the present circumstance, as difficult as it may be. Rather it has to do with the triggering of archaic memory traces of the original abandonment and the life-threatening experience that it was.”

The worry and fear of losing another parent consumed me – fear of annhiliation. My conversations with God went something like this,

“Thank you for bringing my dad to me, finally! I don’t know why you would bring all of this about now if he were just going to go away. But I know it can happen. My first mother abandoned me not only once but a second time as well. I was not a good thing for her.

I know I may not be a good thing this time too! Please help my heart – it’s already there. God, You know my heart cannot – can. not. – take another rejection from a parent.

Can. not.”

 “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” (Psalm 27:10 NLT)

Even if….” I knew this was true. God held me close when divorce/abandonment struck in my 3-yr. old world; it was true decades later when a mother relinquished me for a second time and I knew now that it could be true again no matter how this dad thing rolled out.

Though I’ve had many conversations with God about my adoption world, it’s taken me a long time to come to the same page with Him on some of this adoption stuff.

But that’s ok…my hard head doesn’t scare Him. My brain that seeks answers to hard questions doesn’t scare Him. My desire to “win” our arguments – doesn’t scare Him. My present disagreement with Him on some of this stuff doesn’t even scare Him away.

No – he holds me even closer still.

I couldn’t scare Him away.

There’s literally nothing I could do to make Him walk away – even if I tried.

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