One night three years ago I found myself in my "pity" spot, on the floor of my best friend's bathroom. There were three of us that night when the anger set into me and I could not do anything but allow it. My two friends, both of whom had watched in horror the day I handed my first born son over into the arms of his adoptive parents, were now again watching me slowly rage myself into near suicide. It happens once a year. We prepare for it. Every February 3rd, when my son leaps into a new year without me, I curl up on the bathroom floor. But this year was different.
I cried myself sick, as always, (hence why we hang out in the bathroom) and as I went for another round of agonizing screams my best friend Amy slapped me. Now, Amy had been there through my whole pregnancy, had witnessed my relinquishment, and had even been there four years later to deliver my second child. Amy was also in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down from a tragic car accident. Amy was strong.
"What did you do that for?" I screamed at her.
She towered above me in her wheelchair, anger all over her face, "You need a reality check."
I yelled at her, "You don't know what I need!"
That's when she said it. "Neither do you."
I cried, "I know what I need, I need to see pictures of my son, I need to know he's okay, that he's loved and that he knows about me."
She spoke, "But you're not going to get that Courtney. It's been nine years, the pictures aren't coming."
I screamed louder, the pain worsening, "Why are you doing this to me?"
She yelled back, "Because I love you and I know that you're better than this."
"Don't give me that ... I only do this once a year Amy, I need to do this," I yell at her.
She screamed at me, "You don't do this once a year, you do it everyday, you're miserable Courtney and I can't help you and you can't help yourself, you need to do something about this."
I screamed, "Oh, yeah, like it's that easy. Like I can just snap pictures and letters into existence Amy, like I can change anything about the agency, like I could ever do anything that would do any good!"
Her face went hard, her voice was low, and she spoke slowly, "I triple dog dare you."
I almost laughed. We hadn't done a dare in years and it sounded funny, "Okay Amy, whatever. Dare me to do what?"
She was still as serious as stone, "I dare you to do just what you said. Make change happen Courtney, do something good."
My other best friend, sitting on the other side of the toilet, in shock that Amy was doing this to me finally spoke up, "It's about time Courtney."
I began sobbing softly, "I can't guys, I just can't."
Melissa spoke up, "When we were on that cliff back in high school and the guys dared you to jump you didn't say you couldn't. You just did it. I know how afraid you were, I know that you hate water. But you just jumped. You could have broken your neck Courtney, you could been killed. You had a lot to loose on that dare. What do you have to loose on this one?"
The thought of actually doing anything about my situation, the immediate thought that maybe, just maybe, there was something more than just being angry and surviving the pain of my adoption going closed made me cry harder. I cried because I'd never thought about it before. I cried because for the first time in nine years I felt a glimpse of hope. I cried because for the first time I had a way out. It was frightening, overwhelming, and most of all ... daring.
Together, in unison, both my friends whispered, "We triple dog dare you Courtney."
Last year, as we all sat around the toilet in Amy's bathroom on February 3rd, we each held a glass of champagne in our hands. Amy toasted the fact that I'd found my son and new where he was, that I'd written a book, and that I'd been speaking out in agencies, at conferences, and through my writing. Melissa lifted her glass and with a smile said, "To leaping off cliffs."
I thought about everything I'd done in that year, how difficult it was, the obstacles I'd faced. I thought about the many adopting mothers I'd counseled and spoken to and the belief that I'd made a small difference in their outlook on openness and on birthmothers. I thought about the support groups I'd led, and the many birthmothers who embraced my awkward way of believing that we are an empowered sect of women. I thought about the healing that I'd done, because I was finally able to grieve beyond the anger. I thought about who I'd become. And who I was going to be in the following year. And I was proud of myself, for the first time in over twenty years. Proud that I dared myself to look deeper, to go further, and to challenge what was handed to me in ways that created something good, something more.
And then, I put my glass down and cried. Because I will always miss my son.
I know that what works for me may not work for everyone. But, if you are a dare taker like myself ... if you feel stuck in what was handed to you and want to find a way to make it count for something ... if you, like me, can't change your adoption but ache to do something ...
I triple dog dare you. What do you have to loose? Jump with me.
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