Dear Adoption, Let Me Tell You About the Little Girl Inside of Me / Part 1
Alone and confused,
Shy and scared,
Hoping for tomorrows that will never come,
Dreaming impossible dreams,
Big sad eyes looking out at the world,
Looking and searching,
Wondering what’s to be
That’s the Little Girl inside of me
I started writing poetry when I was fourteen years old because I had feelings, lots of feelings and I didn’t always know what to do with them. They would spill over all the time, usually at the most inconvenient times. I had no control over them at all. So I wrote. This poem was the very first of what has become a lifelong habit of writing my feelings. Feelings that it turns out, have everything to do with you, Adoption. Everything to do with pain and loss and confusion and what I now understand is trauma. I’ve lived with the little girl inside of me for a long time. The scared, hurt child who never had the right words to articulate the messy, complicated feelings that created hurricanes in my brain and felt like so many pin pricks to my soul. The little girl who keeps me awake at night because she’s afraid to relax enough to trust that everything will still be ok in the morning. The little girl who hides inside the woman I’ve struggled to become.
The little girl who always feels insecure and unsure, who has made it difficult for me to make decisions. The little girl who tried to go away to college and couldn’t stay away. I didn’t know it at the time, but the separation anxiety was too great. Sometimes I wonder how differently my life would have turned out if I had been able to stay away like other, “normal”, college kids. I wonder if it would have taken me this long to start feeling capable and independent. I wonder if I would have taken more chances or traveled more or made better decisions about relationships. I wonder. I guess in some ways the little girl has tried to keep me safe.
I’m two me’s
The me you see and the me I can’t be
I have two stories – one I know and the other that’s a mystery
I’m happy and I’m sad
I’m sometimes dark and sometimes light
I can’t decide if I belong or if I’m part of something else
My heart hurts for reasons I can’t explain
Sometimes I want to scream but I don’t know if anyone will really hear me
I try to do what’s right but what if I’m wrong?
I try to forget the things I never knew to begin with and pretend that I’m all right
But I’m two me’s and they’re always in a fight
Two me’s is a confusing way to be
It’s taken me a long time to begin to understand the complexity of being adopted. I’ve been in a fight with myself for a long time and I now see why. Feeling divided inside is paralyzing and has meant making decisions that had nothing to do with me or what I truly wanted or needed in my life. The little girl has subconsciously controlled my choices all along. She needed the security of acceptance and found it by always doing the things expected of her. Always being the “good” girl. Always making sure that everything looked just fine on the outside. Until one day when it didn’t anymore. Because you can only hide for so long until something starts to crack.
Liz DeBetta holds an MA in English from the City University of NY (College of Staten Island), a BA in Theatre/Speech from Wagner College and is pursuing a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Women’s and Gender Studies at Union Institute & University. She is a Lecturer of English at Utah Valley University, and the writing and performance mentor for Act Risk No More an non-profit theatre group. She is a member of Actor’s Equity and SAG-AFTRA and as an adoptee is interested in writing for healing and social change from a feminist perspective within the field of adoption culture to shed light on the often untold stories of adoptees and birth mothers. Liz is a Contributor to #MeToo: Essays About How and Why This Happened, What It Means and How to Make Sure it Never Happens Again.