In The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, the word enouement means "The bittersweetness of finally seeing how some aspect of your life turned out, while wishing you could share the news with your younger self." John Koenig created this dictionary coining words for emotions that had never been linguistically described. In 17 days, my birthmother will board a flight and travel across the country, to spend time with my family and I for a week. As I countdown towards her arrival I traverse into my personal enouement.
Four years ago my birthmom left muggy Tennessee and flew to soggy Seattle to tour my hometown for the first time - my dream-come-true after 25 years of longing. At that time, I subconsciously chose to allow only one emotion to be present at the time; elation. I was absolutely elated to have her near! I planned out her days ensuring that all but the red carpet would be rolled out beneath her every step. While walking around downtown Seattle, I looked back at her every 25 seconds to make sure she was happy, safe and as ecstatic to be together as I was. I likely resembled a new parent after giving birth to a child, checking to make sure their newborn baby is still breathing. I needed assurance that she felt welcomed by us, forgiven for any remaining pangs of rejection, and safe with us, strangers, in a foreign city. I wanted assurance that she believed in my truth that she holds a sacred place in my adoptive family. The planning, execution and suppression of my anxieties during that trip invariably led to exhaustion and loneliness following her anticlimactic departure.
As I countdown to her arrival in a few short weeks, I realize that I am also ushering in a new phase in our relationship. Keeping our long-distance relationship healthy via text messages, snail mail and phone calls has had it's difficulties, but it seems we moved through the early phases of our adoption reunion relationship quite smoothly. Phase 1: Excitement & Disbelief, Phase 2: Obsession & Infatuation. Personal experience tells me Phase 3 is Acceptance & Grace.
Both she and I will soon come to accept that some of the high hopes we have for our relationship may never come to fruition. I may never know all of the details about her pregnancy, my birth story or how she felt leaving the hospital without laying eyes on the fruits of her labor. Both she and I will need to accept the fact that spending time together now does not make up for lost time. I hope to accept and release the desire to know exactly what my life would've looked like had we never been separated. The damage from all those years of separation, subsequent rejections and years of wonder is irreparable. However extending grace for all entangled in our beautiful relationship may assist in allowing all emotions to be present during her visit. My hopes are that Phase 3 will allow the safety for a repressed tear to roll down my cheek, or a frustrated scream to escape my lips. Or maybe my large smile will remain plastered on throughout the week in contentment and delight. We shall see.
It seems that the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows does not yet have a word for the combination of abandonment, fear that I'll never see her again and residual joy from spending time with a special person.
I imagine a pedicure & hot chocolate might be in order in the days following to help with my inevitable post-visit blues. Acceptance & Grace, here we come.
**The phases of reunion relationships that I listed are not evidence-based. This is based on my personal reflection and interpretation of my relationship.