Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Opening and Closing of a Heart

Woof. The first discussion on the Diane Rehm show yesterday morning was a four-weller (meaning, I found myself welling up listening to it, four times). And I only caught the last 15 minutes!

The show had assembled a number of counselors and pediatricians who deal with adoption issues, prompted by the actions of an adoptive mother who "sent" her son back to Russia after deciding she couldn't handle him. (I can't begin to understand her decision; suffice it to say, I am very sorry she felt that was her only option and I am sorry that she now has to deal with her own reaction to that decision, as well as global condemnation)

The show had a wonderful, moving call (a two-weller) from a mother dealing with a very difficult, six-year old adoptee. She sounded very tired, but very determined. The host asked her if she'd ever wished she hadn't adopted her daughter. Without a second's pause, the caller said no and said, while she hadn't visualized this life for herself, she figured there was a reason she was matched with this child.

There is some one who is going to have an awesome next life.

It reminded me of another interview I read, in which a woman was recounting her life dealing with her teenage son's mental illness. She told of complaining to her minister that, "this wasn't what she signed up for." Her wise counselor responded, "actually, this is exactly what you signed up for." For me, that exchange really drove home the whole amazing and horrible trade-off of parenthood.

Or any relationship where you accept responsibility for another life, actually. To open your heart and allow some one (thing) in requires a huge investment--of emotion, time, and faith. You cede control to let in the sweetness--and the pain.
(Probably the technical explanation is that the brain rewires to accommodate this new sense of self and obligation...but where's the poetry in that?) These are important things to remember during the first heady days of falling in love, bringing home a new pet, considering parenthood.

It makes life that much richer, and that much scarier. I can't think of anything more upsetting than losing some one close...the old I-would-give-my-life-for-you sort of feeling. On the other hand, I can't imagine keeping people at arm's length to avoid any heartbreak. That seems rather cold and lonely.

So I wish you all the ability to open your hearts, and keep them open. Cherish the good and soldier through the bad that comes with this responsibility. It's hard to love, I know, but I wonder if it's even harder not to...


shinyyoga said...

"Actually, this is exactly what you signed up for"
Brenda, this is a beautiful post. Thankyou. x

Jen said...

Lovely post, and a "two-weller."

Rachel @ Suburban Yogini said...

A two-weller post. Beautiful.

All you need is love


heather said...

Thank you for this. It was exactly what I've been needing.

Steph R. said...

Thank you for your post. It has really rung home to me; as a child who grew up in a house with mental illness. Now in my adulthood I am at a crossroad of where I am, thinking about possibly starting a family but with prevalent history on both mine and my partners side it is a difficult decision. Your post reminds my heart that no matter what happens no matter the stresses that will be faced, love and kindness is always open and most important it is needed for all parties to survive. Thanks!

Brenda P. said...

I'm glad you all found the topic moving. I can be such a sap when it comes to children and animals...

Emma said...

...and part of that compassion is for the woman who felt it necessary to send "her" adopted child back. there has to be something pretty dark in there, too

Christa Avampato said...

I totally agree, Brenda. For sure love can cause us some hurt from time to time, but to not love at all just means we feel hurt all the time.

Lovely post and blog.

yogayoga said...

"It's hard to love, I know, but I wonder if it's even harder not to..."

As someone who has loved deeply and dearly, albeit rather "unconventionally" and not so much "romantically" or even "unselfishly" many times, I think I have to agree with you. Especially if, by "love" you mean "go forth with an open heart."

As I recently told my mother: "I'd much rather not have a car, then close my heart." (Not quite the magnitude of the adaption story, it was a conversation about generosity and the possibility of me donating my car-just about the only possession I have that is worth over $20 right now-and her response? "Me too."

It's been, and continues to be, a long and (for me) painful process, but I want to live my life with the kind of open heart you illustrated-open and ready to greet the world!

Thanks for the inspiration!

Yoga Thailand

ashley said...

"There is some one who is going to have an awesome next life."

....or an awesome THIS life.

(found your blog at random and your posts read as so thoughtful and honest. keep 'em coming, please.)