kazatasupa: (Default)
It rained last night as the longest winter I can remember continues to roll through spring. I was fortunate to get out on my mountain bike late yesterday afternoon and ride for 15 miles. I helped relieve some of the feelings I have been reliving while reading Scott Abbott's, “Immortal for Quite Some Time.” The book is a “meditation” on his relationship with his brother who passed away at the age of 40. The recollection of his journey to Boise to collect his brother's belongings was not too different from the story of my traveling to Salt Lake City in order to receive my brother's ashes and his belongings. I am not opposed to revisiting the memory of losing my brother, but I was shocked at how Scott's book weighed on me as I began crying only two pages in. The book is personal on a couple of levels. I know Scott, though we are not “friends,” he had always been kind to me. I have not seen him for over a decade, but I recall him as a thoughtful and observant academic. His prose is beautiful and reminds me of the Utah I love and miss. Scott's book has contributed to the rousing of vivid memories of my brother and dreams I had of him in the past. I look forward to finishing the book (I am half way through). I miss being young. I miss Utah. I miss my brother.

I have my own story to tell; adoption, fear of abandonment, love lost and the death of my brother. I punished myself for 15 years by abusing alcohol and abandoning the part of me I loved most. I found redemption and a metaphorical resurrection through an old love rekindled and the birth of a son. I wish I had the time, resources and ability to write my own book. This journal is a poor man's substitute. Memories are not etched in stone, but woven into the tattered fabric of subjectivity.
kazatasupa: (fatherson)
I am an adopted child.

I was born in May of 1972 and adopted by my parents six weeks after my birth.  The people that had me for the first six weeks of my life called me “Marty,” which my mother always told me was a play on the last name of my birth mother.  My mom, Sherri, was able to see the legal record of my birth when she was signing the final papers on my adoption.  California’s records on adoption are sealed, and getting access to them are quite difficult.  She thought the judge left the legal record in eye sight for her benefit should she choose to let me know that I was adopted.

I recall knowing that I was adopted from the earliest age.  I once asked my father what being adopted meant and he replied, “you know in your cartoon when the stork brings the baby to the doorstep?”  “Yes,” I replied.”  “That’s kind of how we got you, only people brought you to us, not a bird.”  “Were you adopted dad?”  “No son.”  “Was mom?” “No son, just you.”  I knew that my mother had carried my baby brother in her belly and had given birth to him, so it was easy to understand that I wasn’t born the same way.  Intellectually, being adopted was never an issue – it was just part of who I was.  You can read posts in this journal to understand that I felt like adoption had left psychological scars on me, and there are certainly a lot of studies that show a correlation to certain types of feelings and behaviors that adoption plays in a child’s development.  Whether my issues were adoption related, or not – I’ll never really know.

I searched looked for my biological mother in my 20’s.  While I worked at the library, I would use down time to scour the internet and adoption search sites looking for a match.  I was always looking for answers in California because that is where I was born.  My mother shared the information that she could best recollect from judge’s desk: My name at birth was Leroy Duane Martin, my mother’s name (I’ll not share it to protect her privacy), age (29), occupation, father’s name (Duane Leroy Martin) and sibling information.  I found promising leads in California, but never hit on any of them.  By the time I had reached my 40’s I had given up searching for my biological family and doubted my mother’s memory regarding the information she claimed to have seen.
In the last couple of years, enormous changes were happening in my life: my wife and I were expecting our first child (the first for either of us).  We were both quite wild in our younger years and waited until our late 30’s to settle down.   So, the change beginning with pregnancy was quite drastic for both of us.  I’m a sentimental man and started to feel a need to preserve some family history for my coming child.  I sat down to map out my heritage but was stunned when my interest stopped at my grandparents.  I didn’t feel connected to any of the ancestors that I did not know.  I know I was raised in a culture that these people helped cultivate, but I couldn’t find any motivation to research their lines.  I lacked the curiosity to continue.

Around that time I had been hearing commercials on SiriusXM about DNA testing on Ancestry.com and decided to give that a shot to see if I could learn anything about my genetic heritage.  The only information I had, aside from some names, was that I owned British, German and Indian blood lines.  I ordered the kit, spit in the lab tube, mailed it off and waited for six weeks.
I was at a Lions Club meeting when my results came in.  I was notified via email and ran home to check my results!  I was hoping for a second cousin match (a first cousin if I was really lucky!) so that I could paint a picture of the family I came from.  I logged in and stared at my results for what seemed like hours:  a direct match to my biological mother and her name was the same that my adoptive mother had told me 25 years earlier (my mother had misremembered my biological mother’s middle name, but the first and last were dead on).  I started to cry.   I rushed to judgement in thinking that my biological mother must be looking for me, as well!  Why else would she post a public DNA profile on one of the best, if not the best DNA search sites?  Without much thought, I quickly wrote a message on Ancestry and sent it to her.  She never replied.

I did a lot of research on my biological mother.  She is a life-long resident of Kansas (my California birth is a mystery).  I found her siblings through findagrave.com and researched the surviving sisters on Facebook.  I found pictures of another cousin who looks eerily similar to me (this was an amazing event, given I had been raised by a family of people whom I bear no resemblances).  I have refrained from reaching out to any of them, as I would prefer to have the blessing of my mother before doing so.  I was able to find multiple email accounts that my mother had used over the last 20 years and sent an email to her using all of them.  All but one was rejected by domain servers, so I was fairly confident in the one address.  I have since emailed her 3 or 4 more times, but have not received a reply.

I started looking for other DNA tests and uploaded my RAW DNA from Ancestry to FamilytreeDNA.com.  It was an inexpensive alternative to sending in for another lab kit.  I waited a couple of days and had the fortune of hitting another close match.  I didn’t know if this person (Jill) was a half-sibling, aunt or 1st cousin, but we were a strong, close genetic match.  At first glance, I didn’t recognize any of the surnames and thought she had to be a match on my biological father’s side.  I fired off a quick email to her and in short time had a reply.

Jill was not from my paternal side, but the niece of my biological mother, my first cousin.  She shared a little information about her with me, but not too much.  We both agreed that my mother should have the privilege of allowing me to get to know her.  She did share the family tree with me which was enlightening.  To see, for the first time, pictures of ancestors who are of your own blood is ground-moving.  I was overcome with emotion and gratefulness for my new-found cousin and her openness to me.
I have about 15 to 20 close matches on my biological father’s side.  They are all second-cousin type matches.  Unfortunately, he came from a long line of huge Mennonite families and a second cousin match puts me in the town but doesn’t really get me close to the ballpark of my search.

I am still holding out hope that my biological mother will choose to communicate with me.  It has been almost a year since I first reached out.  I think about her every day, and am terrified of the thought that we may never have a conversation.  It is strange loving someone you’ve never met.  My love for her has always been a force in my life.  I hope that, despite the silence on her end, that there is a part of her who feels the same towards me.
kazatasupa: (burney mountain)
Dead legs.

A couple of years ago, out of shape and depressed, I started riding my mountain bike and was startled to realize how much I enjoyed the experience.  I was 306 pounds at the time and started with a leisurely 1 mile journey to work every morning.  It wasn’t long until I was bombing up and down local skidder trails and logging roads and after four months, or so I had reduced my weight by almost 50 pounds.  I was happy, in good enough shape to backpack (my favorite activity) and suffering fewer of the aches and pains that come with aging (I’m 44 now).  We had a mild winter that year, and my biking daily began in January and lasted until almost June.  By June I was riding 8 miles to work (I had developed a “course” through town), and up to 23 miles on other outings, but it had started getting too warm and I was a swampy mess when I would get to work.  I started to scale back my morning workout and, because I don’t tolerate the heat very well, I chose not to torture myself under the oppressing afternoon sun.  While I still rode my bike every day, I wasn’t pushing myself to stay in shape.

In July my wife and I discovered that we were expecting.  We had been trying to conceive for a couple of years and I had given up hope that we would get pregnant.  I was making the case to adopt.  Having been adopted myself, I felt like I had a unique perspective on the mind of the adoptee and that my experience could be a great be benefit the psychological growth of an adopted son/daughter.  My wife’s pregnancy put an end to the adoption talk.

I spent time researching what to expect with a pregnant wife and how to handle being a first time parent.  I had an idea of what was coming, but the truth is – nothing can prepare you for pregnancy or fatherhood other than the experience itself.  Even though my wife doesn’t read this blog, I endeavor to be as delicate as possible when broaching this subject because it’s always easiest to place blame on the other when you are in a relationship.  I had difficulty dealing with the changes that were happening with my wife during and after the pregnancy.  I won’t go into details, but simply acknowledge that I often struggled to find a good balance of nurturing her growing needs and giving her space to grow with the changes in our life.  I think I tended towards “hovering,” because I wanted to be near her and supportive at all times.  I sacrificed myself in many ways when it wasn’t called for and I let myself go in the process.  Over the last 21 months I stopped riding and began eating in excess to deal with stress of life.  While basking in the glory of bringing a beautiful new life into the world, I was also falling into a darkness and finding myself overwhelmed with family matters that were out of my control.  I knew I had gained most of my weight back, if not more but was afraid to step on the scale to see.

It has been a long winter, and I had been mentally preparing myself to begin the painful journey of getting into shape again.  The first break in the weather came a couple of weeks ago, so I hopped on my 2004 Diamondback XSL Trail and started pedaling myself to work with the idea that I would commute to work in the morning and take a longer trip after work.  Unfortunately, 1000 feet from my house, I heard a “pop” and my tire started rubbing against the frame.  I hopped off the bike to inspect and found my frame fractured in two locations.  The bike had died on pavement at 6 miles an hour.  I was slightly dejected, but felt fortunate that the frame didn’t break while flying down a hill on an isolated forest road.  A wreck at 30 miles an hour could have been horrific.

Fast forward a couple of weeks:  I have purchased a new mountain bike.  This one is  a Trek X-Caliber 7.  It’s not full suspension, which is hard on the tail (my butt hurts a little), but it has bigger tires than a standard  bike and the larger surface area allows the bike to naturally absorb some of the bumps on trail.  I am really out of shape.  I weighed myself on Saturday: 320 pounds.  It’s Wednesday and I am already down to 307.2.  I carry my weight well at 6 foot five inches, but my ideal weight is about 220.  So, that’s my goal.  I don’t care how long it takes to get me there.  A year, or two would be fine.  My goal is to finish my life with good health.  I want to see my son through his 30’s if possible and help him succeed when life gets difficult.  It’s going to take a concerted effort to push through summers (when I usually get lazy) and to motivate myself through the winter months (gym time when I can’t ride a bike).  My diet usually falls in line with my physical activity.  I eat less when I am happy and working out releases endorphins that keep me happy.

I use the strava app on my phone to track distance and time.  I live quite close to work (about 1/3 of a mile) and have difficulty getting out early, as I am always running behind in the morning.  I ride my bike to work, but only have enough time to get ½ a mile to a mile in.  I have given myself a half an hour ride after work.  This allows me a decent chance at some cardiovascular activity and I am home early enough to get my son out of Marie’s hair while she finishes making dinner.  Monday I was able to go 3.7 miles and yesterday I did 4.4 miles.

Even though I have dead legs, I am very much looking forward to my post-work ride this evening…
kazatasupa: (fatherson)
I'm off...

A strange week, strange month... something I'll revisit later and put back together as objectively as I can. I think I might need to seek counseling over adoption-related issues...

I'm going for a glazed donut and a bottle of anything.

My desk is a mess. I'll be back tomorrow (sometime) to put things in order, and tie up my tax duties. Also, this is my new studio... a place I can play acoustic guitar semi-alone. It's funny, I can play my electric at home with my headphones, and not be disturbed by the surroundings/distractions. But, I have to bring my "quieter" acoustic here...

I make my life too complicated (there, I said it... happy ryn???) :::winking:::
kazatasupa: (burney mountain)
I received a wonderful e-mail from Willie this morning. Thank you, I will respond soon...

What follows is an extremely personal entry. I'm not looking for sympathy, or compassion, or any sort of "you're okay with me," statement. If you have a similar experience in life, or know someone who has, please feel free to respond. Thank you.

I woke this morning, troubled again... and no, my beard is not the issue. Actually, I'm still getting used to my strange, round face, but I like the short goatee. Yes, I like it very much.

Leafing through old files last night, in search of an old lds church document, I found some papers that I had written for past literature classes. I couldn't believe the growth in my writing from one year to the next... and I'm embarrassed at what I have lost.

I'm not sure whether drinking, which had effected my short-term memory, has caused any other sort of cerebral damage. Or, perhaps I have only lost the passion to take writing seriously (and have fun with it). I'm not sure... I know that, at the time I was writing the papers which impressed me most (last night), I was the happiest that I had/have ever been.

One paper I had written was an autobiographical story about the psychological role adoption has played in my life. There was a time, when I was a young child, that I would sleep-walk to my parents bed and stand there as they slept. My mother was disturbed by this behavior, and eventually did some research on sleep-walking children. She came to find that many adopted children displayed this behavior. Psychologists theorized that the sub-conscious child was keeping watch on his/her parents, making sure they did not abandon him/her in the dark of the night.

I am still terrorized by that paranoia: that people will leave me... that I am to be left. It's something that I do not think about often, because it so ingrained in my being. I know that I am going to be abandoned. I am used to living with that fear.

I am used to not feeling worthy of anyone, other than myself. It's something that I wish to overcome, but from what I have read... adoptees live with these sorts of issues their entire lives, regardless of their ability to understand what has, or is happening to them. It is not unreasonable for the first traumatic event of a child's life; birth followed immediately by an abandonment, to have such a huge effect on an individual's life. A backbone of fear... something to always fall back to.

Despite this, I still hold hope that someday that fear will fade out. I do not think it as intense as it was in my youth. As an adolescent I had a terrible time feeling loved, or appreciated. I felt as if always on the outside, looking in at a beautiful world... one in which people loved each other and I was exempt from that community. I no longer feel so alone. I have a small community of people with whom I share a love that is not questioned.

and yet, that shared love always seems so fragile...

Fear.

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