[cancer|child] There’s a hole in the bottom of her heart where all the love runs out

Last night I had another meltdown. By my standards, this one was fairly epic.

Let me ‘splain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

We were basementing again, and when I say “we”, I mean Team E— with an assist from [info]the_child. I had gone out to Cartlandia to fetch dinner. When I came back, my daughter was in the garage going through some old papers she’d found in the broken down desk I’ve never quite managed to get rid of.

These were drawings and cards she’d made me from the time she was old enough to hold a crayon until about age six or seven. She appeared profoundly sad. We spoke briefly about what she was doing, then I took the food into the house. After I ate, I went out and found her still in the garage, still looking at the old drawings.

[info]the_child was still so very sad. It was heart-breaking. And I know this precise sadness. Missing a sense of an earlier, simpler time when life seemed happy. The feeling sometimes afflicts me to this day. We talked a little, and she let me comfort her. I said, “Sometimes I miss being a little kid.” She said, “That was the best time of my life.” Meaning, before the dyslexia, before the teenage hormone storms and stress, before the personal issues which are hers to recount someday, before I was ill and dying.

She’s adopted. We know nothing about her birth family, and we never will. My daughter feels that as a profound loss, and perhaps the core issue of her psyche is the dread and pain of abandonment. That sense of past and impending betrayal is a hole in the bottom of her heart where all the love runs out.

And me, in my dying, am abandoning her in the most profound way possible. I am tearing open that hole in her heart, and leaving floodgate that may never shut.

I understand this all too well because of my own history. My parents split when I was about four. My mother took me and my sister and moved back to Texas. When I was about five, my dad got custody of us from my mother. As my very first therapist said, back in 1980, by the time I was six, in psychological terms, I had experienced double abandonment. The continuity of the developmental relationship with both my parents had been broken.

The core issue of my psyche is the dread and pain of abandonment. There’s always been a hole in the bottom of my heart where all the love runs out. This explains the ragingly co-dependent and highly depressive relationship life I led in my teens and twenties. Now, on the back end of 30+ years of therapy, it explains why I chose to go the route of polyamory and practice something of an All The Women Are Belong To Me dating life. By dint of decades of hard work, I’ve directed that energy in a constructive fashion; become loving and thoughtful and kind and attentive as a way of both easing my own heart and easing the hearts of those around me. I do not always succeed in those things, but I do the best I can.

I’ve chosen to repay pain and loss with love and kindness.

Now my child stands on that same path, for similar reasons. I will never be able to love her enough. I will not live long enough to help her through the disaster of my own early death.

As I said to Lisa Costello last night, she looked so lost. In that loss, I see the lost boy I was and to some degree still am.

And so I cried my heart out last night, for her and for me. I weep to even write this now, and doubt the wisdom of committing my words to public view in this moment. But this, too, is part of dying. This, too, is part of living. This, too, is part of loving.

I hope [info]the_child someday finds a way to patch that hole and let the love which is all around her fill her heart. I wish I could be here to see that day.

62 thoughts on “[cancer|child] There’s a hole in the bottom of her heart where all the love runs out

  1. Rachel Sinclair says:

    That was hard to read, but I think it’s good that you wrote it. Your daughter is fortunate that she’ll be able to read what you’ve written and know your thoughts and feelings as she matures, if she wants to know. I wish I could go back in time and tell my father to keep a journal for me as he was dying of cancer.

  2. homa_bird says:

    My heart goes out to “the child”, as a fellow adoptee, and long time adoptee rights activist (http://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/03/us/public-lives-an-adoptee-rights-hero-who-knows-all-the-arguments.html), I think the hardest part for “the child” will be the “not possible” part of uncovering her past. Adoptees live with a void, for sure, and it haunts and twists inside for years, but as you put it so beautifully, you have that same feeling of abandonment. I’ve come to understand we all do… what exactly is it we’re separated from or terrified to be separated from? That is such a mind-bogglingly awesome question. I salute your gorgeous writing: it is fearless and genuine. And original. I feel you all are blessed to be living so consciously with each other, so in love. You’ve heightened the ante for your family. None of you will ever be the same because of this cancer, and it is incredibly beautiful how it is playing out. I’ve looked for beauty everywhere for nearly 6 decades, I know it when I see it and I can’t thank you enough; we are all more human and connected because of you. And the price is very, very high.

  3. love and honesty in its rawest form hurts because, well it does.

    You are brave good people.

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