It's not a mystery that after placement, our lives change dramatically. My life is now divided into pre-placement and post-placement, split right down the middle by a thick, permanent line. You may have noticed that things that never affected you previously, now send you on an emotional trip. And by emotional trip, I mean a violent shaking of your entire world that is, at times, nauseating, even debilitating. Thanks, hormones! Thanks, trauma!
Placement has given me a heightened sense of separation anxiety, making it all the more tougher to let go of anything. And I do mean ANYTHING. From a shirt in my closet, to my boyfriend of two years, letting something or someone go has become physically, mentally, and emotionally excruciating. I've become a hoarder of material things, a hoarder of memories, and a hoarder of people. I'm a mental packrat - clinging to so much that I run out of room in my heart for the ones that matter.
Why is this? Who really knows for sure, but for me, I think it's because I see everything that I have in my life as 'what I have left.' In my darkest hour, I see my placement as a natural disaster, like a tornado that wiped out everything I had. There is no doubt that my adoption story was traumatic, but was it such a tragedy that I must cling to every piece of my life with such a stiff grip? Yes and no. Sometimes my grief buries me so deep that being both dependent and vulnerable is simply a reflex. But other times, that's me trying to resist my own personal growth.
Occurrences such as loss, breakups, growing apart from friends, and new life changes provoke this separation anxiety. It's normal! (Yay!! I think..) These feelings of loss resonate with that feeling I had nearly two years ago, when I woke up every morning and realized my baby boy was not there. I feel that it's strange, even inappropriate, to associate my significant loss with getting rid of a stupid shirt that I used to like - but hell, I do. It's harder to make decisions, it's harder to cope with loss, it's harder to walk away from people that we cling to.
I'm still figuring out why and how to navigate all of that... How to leave someone in the past when you still love them, how to throw the shirt in the Goodwill bag because my Mom shrunk it on high heat and it's not the same anymore, how to recognize that memories are in the past and not the present. Letting go does not always feel good and liberating when you're a birth mom because we will never, and we never should, let go of our adoption. But with other parts of our lives, there are always things we need to let go of. Just because we may not get that freeing feeling from decluttering our personal lives, doesn't mean it's not doing us any good. Evaluate what is not good for you, and if you trust your gut, the answers will be clear. Growing pains, y'all. They suck. Trust the process. It's necessary. Hang in there.