Category Archives: infant abandonment

A Synopsis

I wish I had been aborted.

Actually, I wish I had never existed at all.

But I know that my mother could have had an abortion. Not legally, of course (before ’73), but I know she could have, and my father was willing to pay for it. Instead, I became a bargaining chip with, as it turned out, no apparent value. And since he wouldn’t marry her, then he couldn’t have me, either. She gave me away as much to punish him as because of her parents’ ultimatum: Come home without that baby or don’t come home at all.

She could have stayed with her brother and his family, as she had during the last months of her pregnancy. But she didn’t. She gratefully believed the social workers’ tales and “chose” to start “fresh,” and to go on with her life as if I’d never existed.

I was a nine-month abortion that didn’t die. I was thrown, still breathing, into the dumpster of life.

To this day, I truly do not understand why I continued to breathe or why my heart continued to beat. For the first few hours, perhaps even days, yes; I suppose I held out hope that my mother would retrieve me. But, when I finally gave up emotionally, psychologically, and psychically… then, why?

I can’t begin to fathom the profound depression I must have experienced before I finally just dissociated. Did I try to stop my heart from beating? Did I try to stop breathing? If so, I obviously failed.

I imagine I spent most of those first 1000 hours in a dissociative state, certainly fully dissociated by the time I was picked up by the offensive new “family.” Imagine the shock to my psyche at the sudden commotion and then, just hours later, being shut away again in a crib. Alone. In a cold, dark room.

Years later, they laughed and laughed about how cold that room had been.

I don’t remember when they remodeled, making my room into their new master suite extended over the living room below. I don’t know where I was kept during the remodeling. I barely remember my new little adoptive sister’s crib in our new room – the old master bedroom. She got even less attention than I, ostensibly because she had my company. And, from then on, I was to depend on hers.

She and I were more on our own than ever before, largely growing each other up in our wounded way. Yet, we were never close. We had little in common, and our respective blueprints for relationship were missing trust and security, both instantly dissociating at every little stressor; both perpetually hypervigilant, both traumatized in a world which denied our traumas. We were no help to each other. Were were merely unrelated victims living together in the same cage.

Our replacement mother was damaged, too, and insane, as was our so-called brother.

We engaged most often with our replacement father, a man who liked children but detested and feared females. After he lost his father at the age of twelve, his older sister and mother oppressed him – or, rather, his mother oppressed him and his sister was caught in the middle. His attempts to divide and conquer were ineffective as a boy. But now he was “all grown up” with two little girls he could train “properly” to know their place – to be helpless, powerless, meaningless… useless.

The mother as wife? Small town girl, oppressed herself by her insane, dictatorial father. Startlingly large breasts, not too bright, with her father’s inherent insanity. If she had a mind of her own, she kept it to herself – lest she risk divorce from him for the second time.

Their son was raised and treated as the heir apparent.

We, the girls, were spackle, whitewash, wallpaper, window dressing… integral parts of a fa├žade. As we grew, it slowly dawned on them that we were real – that is, we were not going to fade away once our usefulness was outgrown. They wanted us to go away from them and live lives of our own, but our “father” had already succeeded spectacularly in his training program: we had indeed become helpless, powerless, meaningless, and useless.

We each became like the proverbial dog dumped in the desert who keeps finding his way back home. We were too needy – no one else wanted us either – so, as painful as it was to be around them, we kept coming back. Our touchstone was a bog filled with soul-sucking leeches, an environment of shame and humiliation. Even when we were away, they followed us with their shaming. They wrote letters to us declaring their profound disappointment in us, signed by both of them as though the letters were legal documents. This lasted until the man’s death. I was 37 years old. My adoptive sister was 35.

In the Beginning…

Birth Day.

This is not about a party with cake and candles and presents.

I want to tell you about the day I was born.

It was the middle of April in a Midwestern city, an unseasonably cold 20 degrees. The day started early for me. I emerged from my cozy womb at 1 a.m.

The moon was new, and so was I.

But, like the moon, I wasn’t really new. I’d been around for a while – just hiding in a place where no one could see me.

In that place, I was warm and happy. In the daytime, my cousins gave me loving rubs and pats as they welcomed me with their words, and I could hear them giggling and squealing as they played around me. I could smell food cooking in the evening and hear the sounds of dinner – forks against plates, glasses clinking, music, animated talk, and hearty laughter.

My mother wore out every nightgown she had, rubbing her belly late at night and talking gently just to me. Sometimes, though, she cried. I felt the sobs rack her body, and mine, too. And I felt her sadness and despair.

But mostly I felt her hope, her anticipation, her optimism. Sometimes we danced, Mama and me.

I grew to love the tastes of the foods she ate. She craved tapioca pudding when I was inside her. I still abandon my usual healthy diet now and then to succumb to its comfort.

And always, always, I could hear her heart beating. My life, in that place, was measured by its rhythm.

When I was ready to come into the world of air and light, I woke her up on that cold April night, and we rode in the big car, Mama and I, with her favorite sister.

Soon after our arrival at the hospital, I emerged from my cozy home. I was frightened for a moment, breathing air for the first time, and it was cold. But then I was laid on my mother’s breast and I felt her warm skin against mine, heard the reassuring rhythm of her heartbeat, smelled her familiar smell, recognized her voice welcoming me, and gazed at last into the eyes of my World, my Universe, my Everything.

I was enraptured.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Time in this new world, I was to learn, passes all too quickly yet can be an agonizing eternity.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

As I snuggled, euphoric, at my mother’s breast, strange cold hands clasped around me and, in that moment, Mama was gone. My World was gone. I was gone.

In a matter of seconds, bliss ended… and terror began.

Sacrificial lambs, both of us; we would never know that sweet embrace again.