Dorothy: Oh, will you help me? Can you help me?
Glinda: You don’t need to be helped any longer. You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.
Dorothy: I have?
Scarecrow: Then why didn’t you tell her before?
Glinda: She wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.
Scarecrow: What have you learned, Dorothy?
Dorothy: Well, I—I think that it, that it wasn’t enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em — and it’s that — if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?
Glinda: That’s all it is!
~ adapted from Frank L. Baum, The Wizard of Oz
Fascinating! My entire story is summed up right here. I’ve had the answer all along!
I’ve spent most of my life searching for my biological family. I wanted to find people that looked like me and I wanted access to my medical records. I needed to feel connected to people who were, literally, my flesh and blood. For me, it was a compulsion, even when I wasn’t actively searching, I’d still have flashes of
wanting needing to be in connection with genetic relatives.
The process of searching took me much deeper. I learned things about myself that I might otherwise never know. I learned to face things that didn’t make me proud of myself and I learned how to face them and grow and learn from them.
For instance, I have always had a low tolerance for people I deemed “whiners.” This, I’m sorry to say, included many people I first encountered in Adoptee and Adoption groups on the internet. I’d last a few days in a group where members were opening their hearts and baring their souls to seek solace from their adoption pain and I’d say to myself, “What a bunch of whiners. Pull yourselves up and move on with your lives!” Then I’d leave the group and tell my friends how annoying these groups were.
As I sat down to write my book I remembered those groups and how they made me feel and I wondered if maybe I had some of those feelings buried deep within. I wasn’t looking for pity and I wasn’t looking to be “fixed,” but maybe, just maybe there was a part of me that hadn’t healed because I hadn’t explored the feelings.
I rejoined groups and instead of judging, I decided to listen. Instead of trying to “fix” the people in the groups by telling them to “buck up and move on” I sat with the emotion that their words brought up for me. As time went on I recognized the voices as familiar but hidden.
While I’d done a great job of shoving my feelings into far recesses so I wouldn’t have to deal with them, I hadn’t actually healed anything. This wasn’t “self-fulfilling prophecy” or me “sinking” to a low level. This was me moving out of my intellectual space and into an emotional place. I decided to invite my inner 5-year-old to come out to play and I’d run the thoughts and stories of other adoptees through her world-view.
It wasn’t long until I started to feel better. I wasn’t just acting as if I were better and ignoring the weight I’d been carrying around literally and figuratively, I was beginning to feel better and lighter. Instead of feeling annoyed or burdened by the stories of my fellow adoptees, I began to feel a kinship. No, I’m not interested in wallowing and blaming, but I am interested in owning the stories that are mine. In every group, you find people who like drama for the sake of drama and I’ve learned to steer clear of those people wherever they are.
One thing I’ve recognized is that the adoptees who are genuinely healing and helping others are those who listen to the uncomfortable stories and face the ones they have in their baggage too. It wasn’t enough for me to carry that bag around with me, it was necessary to look inside and find out who and what was in there. That’s how I found out that I already had the keys to going home to myself. Just like Dorothy, I had my heart’s desire with me all along.