Counting Your Marbles
Attending an adoption conference, for me, is like…is like…is like nothing. And that is part of the strangeness of the whole experience. My body and my mind clearly react: I get excited, nervous, uncomfortable, headachy, happy, teary. I want to stay and I want to leave both at the same time. Physically, it’s like I’m a positive or negatively charged magnet and my whole life I’ve been surrounded by people of the opposite charge, so that’s how I’m used to feeling in the world—slightly pushed/pushing away from. At an adoption conference, the magnetic charge in the air matches my own and this is both wonderful and disturbing. It’s wonderful because it feels good. It’s disturbing because it feels different than the world I’m used to and different, even if it is good, is a form of stress.
There are so many unresolved stories walking around an adoption conference. In my experience, there are more stories of loss and grief and despair than there are of joyful reunion and happily ever afters. This is its own kind of stress. If you are an empath, you feel the pain of the people around you, and so this is another factor that can make you want to head to the bar or to the plate of chocolate chip cookies at the reception desk or for your car and home.
It has been my experience that conferences don’t fix my grief, my sense of loss, or my general confusion. It has also been my experience that while I am at the conference, these feelings I listed are often intensified. And I wonder why I made the decision to attend. I want out.
And this is where the good stuff starts. As I head for a door, any door that says EXIT, it has been my experience that I’ve run into someone headed for the same door for the same reasons. We talk. We start to laugh. We share stories. Cookies. We fall in love with each other a little bit because we see ourselves in the other in ways we aren’t used to, because we understand each other in ways we aren’t used to being understood.
I’ve come to understand that I could go crazy trying to heal from adoption. The more I listen to the stories my head tells me: your mother left you; there must be something wrong with you; maybe you can get her back if you are a good girl; you will never get what you want in life because this life isn’t even really yours, the more lost and more hurt I feel.
So this is what I have started to do: I think about where I put my marbles. Let’s say that I have a certain amount of energy in my body. (We are, after all, just energy beings filling out forms and paying taxes.) Let’s say that I have ten marbles worth of energy to spend every day, and at the end of the day I’m going to put my ten marbles in bowls that are marked with the activities I used the marbles to accomplish. Do I want to look at my marbles rattling around in bowls marked worried, thought about the past; overate?
I want my marbles in bowls marked loved, helped others, laughed, created.
So my new approach to adoption conferences, and life, is less about the stories I carry in my head and more about how will I spend my marbles.
I like putting my marbles in the writing bowl. So I am happy that I am here, doing what I’m doing—hammering away on the greasy keys after macking down on a burger. What did I do today that I hesitate to claim as a bowl? Not much. I spent time with friends, family, strangers (so that’s a build community or love bowl—like those). I traveled. I like a good travel bowl. I ate a lot. Gotta love a big eat bowl. I did yoga. Like my yoga bowl.
Let me know where you put your marbles. I’m so curious.