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Part 2/100 Things I know


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Things I knew by my early 20s: my mother labored for more than 20 hours; that forceps were used; that my grandpa arrived at sunrise the morning her contractions started. They went and walked in the park I would later seek refuge in with my best friend when I was grounded. At 14, I would cycle anywhere within in an 8-mile radius. For some reason being grounded meant I could still leave if I rode my bike. I was grounded a lot. I had no phone so the rules were to be home by dinner or dark. After dinner one school night I quickly pedaled to the park. Exactly 1 mile. The carillon sounded as I coasted under mature, deciduous trees, easily lifting my hands as my hips guided me around a gentle loop. It is a beautiful, 150-acre, landscaped terrain listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the early 90's my dad took my brother and I there on countless nights, no doubt to ensure we both burned off energy before bed. He was also in charge of our bedtime and morning routines, and it is now obvious just how keen he was to ground himself in nature whenever he could. I passed by the playground and tennis courts and waited until the last second to turn left at the pavilion. Ducks quacked. I zoomed down the next hill and turned left again. Up ahead was a lovely lagoon with trail access to the woods. I quickly looped my right leg over the middle bar, gliding the last 100 feet. I squeezed the brakes and hopped off. My friend was waiting for me. We walked our bikes through the entrance as we hooted and cursed. We felt like marauders searching for answers. Her home life was the same but different. She was the youngest and her siblings were catty af. Her mom worked 2 jobs and her dad hired people to take pictures of golf courses. He used the pictures to hire someone to make calendars. Then he tried to sell them to the golf courses. They had moved from a house near the park to one that meant the 4 high-school age siblings had to share 2 bedrooms and a tiny shower. The calendars were piled up in the office downstairs. Her brother was a bully and stole from her without consequence. We rode for awhile. The sunset filtered through the leaves before shimmering off the water, like broken glass being swept up over and over.

"So what happened?" she asked as we plopped down at the base of cypress trees.
"She literally would not stop screaming," I said. "She f*cking told me I'm useless. She kept trying to hit me. The neighbors shut their windows. My dad left too."
"That sucks." She snapped a twig. "I'm sorry dude."
We both threw trail debris in the water while reviewing other items. I couldn't hang past dark so it would be harder for me to come out that weekend. We devised a plan for sneaking out. We hugged and rode home.

Things I learned at 37: The forceps caused "a 'good sized lump' on [my] head that was a hematoma from the bruising at birth, which was said to be 'nothing to worry about'"; that my birthfather wasn't named on my original birth certificate; that his mother, a nurse, provided the agency with a medical history that included diabetes, colon/breast/non-specified cancers, cardiac disease, asthma, and hyperthyroidism. I met her once. She died the next year of a heart attack. I started managing chronic symptoms like shortness of breath and chest pain in my early 30s, and with relative ease, had a breast reduction when I was 32. I got in the best shape of my life at age 35 and realized about a year later that part of me wanted to die. Pandemic life had lasted a year. I was due to get the vaccine in a few weeks, ahead of most, since I was a farmer. I was alone and on day 10 of a sugar-free diet. I wept as I considered the best way to free my spouse of my debts before I jumped off a bridge. Or something.

I've spent the last 2+ years using every tool I can afford to address the primal question "What is wrong with me?" I gained heaps of information. My brain works differently than a typical brain. It's natural to long for your mother's comfort. Its unnatural to contrive a plight that claims your money is better spent on the church vs. your offspring. Also, lying about your age to buy a baby and stuff it in the shit-shaped hole in your heart is, in fact, useless, and fraudulent.

There is language for what happened to me. The abandonment wound is lifelong. I'm not responsible for anyone's happiness but my own. It was a wrongful adoption. There's nothing wrong with me.