If you keep asking questions you’ll keep getting answers

My therapist always warns me about asking “why”. I remember the first time he did it and even back then I knew why asking why was a bad idea. Why questions tend to lead to more why questions and rarely result in helpful answers.  My therapist just wants me to be happy, to be content, and asking why is not the way to get there. I know that, but I still say…

So What!

I’m not seeking contentment. I”m not seeking happiness. I’m seeking the truth.  For that I would rather follow the advice of Miss Frizzle from the Magic School Bus. She says is fond of saying, “Take chances, make mistakes, get messy.” These are words to live by. Yes, there is wisdom to be found even in children’s programming and Magic School Bus is one of my favorites. I watched it all the time with my kids when they were young and I’ve recently started watching it again with a three year old friend of mine.

He’s really into the episode about the Haunted House so I’ve watched it probably half a dozen times. In this episode, Carlos is trying to build a musical instrument.  Try as he might, his instrument still sounds loopy. He doesn’t know what he did wrong. He doesn’t know what he is going to do to fix it. The only advice Miss Frizzly has is, “Well, if you keep asking questions, Carlos, you’ll keep getting answers.”

I’ve been asking myself a lot of questions lately and I have been getting a lot of answers although most of them have not been that helpful. My biggest questions are, “Why is my best friend not talking to me?” and “Why is my daughter not talking to me?” These are difficult questions to answer when the person with the answer isn’t talking to me. Logic would suggest that I just give it up, let it go, get on with my life… but I don’t. I just keep asking more questions.

Why can’t I move on?

Why do I care?

Why do I believe what I believe?

Why do I like what I like?

Why do I do what I do?

Why can’t I stop asking questions?

This is the behaviour of someone who is searching. This is the behaviour of someone who is missing something. But what am I missing? I have everything I need, in fact I have more than I need so why do I still feel this hole in my soul?

Well, I think that I have finally found the answer… and no, it is not helpful but it is the truth.

It’s an answer for which I have been searching nearly forty-seven years. It’s an answer which has been there the whole time but one which I have never allowed myself to look at.  It’s an answer I haven’t been able to look at until now. It’s an answer I have probably been training my entire life to receive. It’s an answer which could not be found by asking. There is no way to find this answer. It had to come to me which is strange because it is not something that is out there. It is something that is in me. It is something so basic to who I am. It is what burns at the core of my being. It is something so primal that there is no language to explain it. It is not an answer that I could find by thinking. It is something that I needed to feel.

You see, I was put up for adoption at birth. That not really a big deal. It’s certainly no great revelation. I grew up knowing that I was adopted. I understand a lot of the implications of being adopted. Adopted people tend to have more problems than the general population and the reasons for this are pretty straight forward. There are always those questions about where we come from. There is an understanding that someone who is considering putting a child up for adoption is likely to have a stressful pregnancy. We know that stress can affect fetal development. Open adoption has worked to remedy some of these issues but there is still something more going on. There is still something that we don’t want to look at. We are still told that adoption is a beautiful wonderful thing. It takes a child who needs a home and places that child in a home that needs someone to love.

What could be more beautiful than that?

We could stop asking questions right now and just go along our merry way and if you want to be happy, I highly recommend doing just that. Stop reading right here because you don’t want to know what I am about to tell you.

What really happens to a child when that child is put up for adoption?

This is not a question which can be answered through observation. The adoption process is very personal. The child has no memory of the birth. Well… at least no explicit memory. But I was there. I did go through this experience and recently I became able to remember. But it’s not your typical memory. There are no details, there are no pictures, there are no words. It’s more like a psychic connection. This memory has been sitting inside of me all along without me being able to understand it. Somehow, through the course of everything that I have been through I am now able to decode it. I am now able to give it words.

This is what happened to me. This is how my life began and this is why I have spent my entire life searching. I remember life before I was born. I remember being in utero. That womb was my entire universe. My mother was the be all and end all of everything. Upon my birth my universe disappeared. Everything I ever knew, everything that made any sense, was gone. You might say that this experience is not unique. Every child goes through this at the point of birth and I would not refute that. We have all been through this trauma and it’s probably the greatest trauma we will ever experience until we die.  It is probably a good thing that we don’t remember it.

But my trauma was different. The trauma of birth for an adopted child is different. I never got to be held by my universe. I never got to connect with my world. I never got to experience all that my time in utero was preparing me for. I was born to a foreign world, surrounded by aliens.

Anyway, now I understand it and that is pretty fucking cool. Now I know the trauma that I have experienced and I can begin to heal… if I want to. I’m not sure I do. I now understand that I have this huge gaping wound but you know what? It has served me pretty well. Sure, it makes me more sensitive to pain but so what? At least it’s real… and it’s mine.


I was given something else to think about yesterday. It was suggested that I could get more of what I want and cause a lot less trouble if I just kept my mouth shut. That is really good advice. I’m actually pretty good at keeping my mouth shut I would rather not. I would rather just share everything that is on my mind. I guess that is where this blog comes from. Still, along with my insistence on asking questions, speaking my mind has probably caused ninety-nine percent of my problems. I’m pretty sure that my best friend would still be talking to me if I had learned when to keep my mouth shut. Also, I might have to quit drinking if I want to practice keeping my mouth shut. Those two things don’t seem to go together very well.

An honest mistake – part one

I have fucked up a lot in my life. I have made many mistakes,  usually not the same mistake twice, but there are some mistakes that I seem to make over and over again. I figure that I will continue to make them as long as I need to in order to learn what they have to teach me.

Society also makes a lot of mistakes and some seem to be made over and over again. They say that if we don’t learn from history we are destined to repeat it. Well, I believe we are learning from history, but we are also repeating it. That is because society is not a monolithic hive mind. We all have different interpretations of history. We have a variety of values, experiences and blind spots. We don’t all evolve at the same rate, at the same time, or even in the same direction. We are evolving though. I believe that we are getting better. We are also finding brand new mistakes to make. That is also a sign of progress.

To put these thoughts in context, let me just relay soma couple stories from the past few days. I stopped by Club Jager for a happy hour beer and food before rehearsal on Monday. While chatting with one of the regulars I mentioned my ongoing struggles with abandonment. This reminded him of the fact that we are both adopted. While we both grew up knowing that we were adopted, we we born at a time when adoption was a very closed and secretive process.  While we grew up in relatively healthy and stable homes we grew up missing a very important aspect of our humanity. We grew up without a connection to our biological parents. We grew up feeling like something was missing, a feeling that we have never been able to overcome or resolve. This feeling is common among adoptees of the era but difficult for people who grew up with their biological parents to comprehend or relate to.

Fortunately, adoption has come out of the shadows in the years since my friend and I were adopted. Society has learned from the trauma caused by closed adoption and now adopted children are able to have a connection with their birth parents where possible. Society has learned that children are capable of comprehending adoption. Children understand that their parents are the people that are raising them but that the person who gave birth to them is someone different. As a society we now understand that a child doesn’t need be raised by their biological parent but they still need to have some sort of connection with their biological past for healthy human development.

Well great, but that still doesn’t help me. It doesn’t help my friend. It doesn’t help the countless number of adoptees who continue to struggle with feelings of loss emanating from the core of their being.

Nope, it doesn’t, but that is the reality of how societies work. When I fuck up, I can make amends and take immediate steps to prevent future harm. Societies are complex with many moving parts. When societies fuck up, change is slow and amends are inadequate if even possible.

If we truly are all in this together, how does society make amends to society anyway? Perhaps all we can do as a society is learn from our fuck ups and strive for a better future. As an individual in society we need to take personal responsibility for our role in causing the problem, take personal responsibility for fixing the problem and personal responsibility for healing the injured, even if the injured is ourself. I cannot expect society to heal my pain but I can take comfort in knowing that through my pain  society can be healed.

To be continued…

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