Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Playing Hooky, Managing the Abyss

I haven't posted recently, and in trying to figure out why, I realized it was because I was just having too much danged fun to sit in front of my computer very much these last two weeks; I finished my teaching semester in mid-May, and I've been playing hooky from being an adult ever since; for fun I have gardened like crazy, mountain biked in the leafy spring woods, celebrated my birthday by surfing, buried my 5-year-old up to his neck in sand (his idea, not mine), decorated sand castles with clam shells and crab legs, went on a few dates with my husband, saw the Cezanne and Beyond exhibit at the Phila. Art Museum (gorgeous), sometimes spent three hours a day at the gym (!), went thrift shopping, and hosted my parents for a nice little visit. Generally, I have been packing all the fun that I should have been having during the past five months into the last two weeks. That's what summer is like for us teachers.

So, on to my latest thoughts about adoption.
Let's talk about Abyss Management, shall we? What is Abyss Management? It's the term that Dr. Joyce Pavao, adult adoptee, author of the excellent book The Family of Adoption, and founder of the Center for Family Connections, uses to describe the task adoptees are faced with post-reunion, which is to recognize and deal with the missing spaces in both places in one's life--the feelings of longing and loss we feel about both our adopted family and our birth family; for while reunion may engender feelings of wholeness, completion and healing in the adoptee (it certainly did for me), reunion also throws into stark relief the holes that remain--holes that really cannot be patched because they have existed for so long. One way I try to deal with these abysses is to think of myself--an adopted person--as being from two "countries," wherein one country is my birth family, and the other is my adopted family. Working to integrate these two countries is a lifelong process. I have been told it gets easier the longer you work on it.
Here's hoping.

Your thoughts? I'd love to hear them!!


Nicole Breitman said...

This is the first time I've heard the term 'Abyss Management'. My initial thought is it seems that the more open the adoptive parents are to considering and accepting the pre-adoption life of their child, the more psychic and psychological space there would be for the child to move around in that space and integrate both sides into who they are.

Nicole Breitman said...

3 hours at the gym?--way to go!

Andrea said...

Nicole, I really like the way you write about moving around in the space between families!

Hey, I really want to hear how that adoptee support group went! Let me know, ok?

brave sunset said...

I agree - I like the way Nicole talked about space and the the freedom to think about "two countries." When that space is limited the adoptee must deal with the conflict taking up that space in addition to trying to figure out where they fit.

PS: Glad I could be part of the hooky!

brave sunset said...

PPS: I logged on under my defunct blog - let me know if you can't figure out who I am :)