Days in the Mumdrah house are riddled with holes.
CHT describes her hole as big, and red, and inside her; part of her physical anatomy. As she talks of it she grasps at her chest around her heart, and claws at her stomach. Her hole is empty. Needy and greedy; it drains her of all security, whilst also being the portal through which the deep fear and shame enter her and expose her to a life that no child should have to bear. Sometimes frightening – monster shaped and angry, sometimes stupefied – ice like and cold. And sometimes (but possibly always) mummy shaped. She has said that nothing fits or fills it; not love, or home, or sweets or presents, not understanding nor acceptance. And if ever something good finds its way inside, it never lasts long, because it always falls back out.
But I am telling her story, one she must give in her own words. Until that day can come, this post tells my own tale, and my holes come in two forms; both black and deep, and outside of me.
The first is huge, and elephant shaped.
It spans the physical space between Mumdrah and CHT at all times. I go about the day-to-day tasks of my motherhood skirting this crater, in constant risk of slipping. If I look down, my toes overlap the cliff-like edge. I scramble to keep on solid ground, dislodging stones that topple and fall in warning of things to come. Every decision and action I take comes with a chance of maintaining or losing my footing, to be swallowed whole into its depths. One unknowing false move, an ill timed step, a lapse in concentration, the fuzz of tiredness, or an emotional landmine unwittingly stepped on – and I’m in.
Tumbling down, the trust and the bonds I work so hard to build are tested as they stretch and fray and tear. Inside that hole, every tool, skill and ounce of patience is stripped from me; all lost in the confusion of an emotional world that is wholly not my own, not fully understood.
Nothing good comes of that hole while we are in it, but as I scrabble back out into the sunlight – bruised and a little guilty at my failure to stay clear – I’ve come to recognize the learning and growth it brings. Repeated over and over, this hole helps more than hinder me. Look closely at the hole that lies before you: are its edges as steep as when you first fell in? Mine seems less treacherous, and has slowly become less of something to fear or resist, and more of a place to respect and acknowledge, as I build and develop as a parent. My acceptance makes it an ally, rather than a foe.
The second is folded and tiny, tucked away in my pocket.
I take it out in the haze of mental exhaustion. I enter it willingly, and hide my heart in its depths to find relief from the tensions of adoptive family life. But staying too long within its sanctuary comes at a price: detachment. For within this void – just as it offers a break from the emotional torrent – it also numbs the rest of me; cutting off the love and the playful, curious joy that keeps us safe and tight together. Severed too is the lifeline connection to the uplifting understanding of the adopters and adoptees around me – The People Who Know.
This hole is sticky, and harder to leave. As much as I need it, I am wary of it and heartless trap that lies within.
Mumdrah has been quiet for too long, stuck in her sea of holes. It’s good to be back; we have much to tell.