Posted by: beansai | April 8, 2008

Journal Entry #11: Mistaken Identity

    I’ve had people tell me that I don’t look Mexican when I tell them that my father was born in Mexico. Following this I feel the need to clarify, to justify my assumption of Mexican identity. I feel the need to explain that I was adopted, so, technically I’m not Mexican, at least not that we know of. I feel as though I am claiming a place in a race that I have n legitament right to. How can I possibly describe the confusion this brings out in me, the despair? They’ve discovered the loop-hole that I exist in. I’ve never possessed the verbal ability to break down the web of emotions I have as an adopted kid. I’ve tried several times explaining to people how much of an impact not knowing my personal history (parents, race, medical, familial, etc.) has had on my development as a person. There is no poetic language for what I feel.

    My mom, adopted by her aunt after her mother died and her father was unsuitable to raise a newborn or the other two young children, has tried to express empathy, tried to say that she knows what I feel, but she can’t. We have pictures of her mother and father, we know where her mom is buried, where she was born, she keeps in touch with her biological brother and sister, she can trace her family’s history back to an illegitimate child of Jefferson (I think that’s who it was, it has been awhile). There is no mystery, no empty space occupying room in her brain, waiting to be filled.

    All I know is that there is a part of me missing and it exists in the time before my conscious memory. Lacking this foundation leaves me floating in time and since I’ve never known where I stand, since there has never been firm ground under me, I’ve spent most of my life constantly changing and manipulating my personality to be what everyone else wanted/expected. All I wanted was to truly belong somewhere, truly be a part of someone. The first time I ever felt that someone expressed/understood fully my pliht in the lack of roots was when I read Linda Hogan’s Solar Storms in a women’s lit class. For the first time a character was struggling with her identity in the absence of her personal and communal history. Even if this was just a fictioinal character, it still meant that someone had to understand this aspect of an abandoned child’s psychology in order to express it so fully and compassionately. This was the poetic language I had always lacked.

    Now as I try to write a paper about these experiences and how they are represented in the novel, I begin to realize that I still don’t have the words to analyze and explain what this means to me and how others should view it. There is no translation for what I know in my heart, as cheesey as that sounds. I’ve had people tell me that their family history doesn’t really matter, that I’m not missing out on much. Easy to say when all it would take is a little effort on their part to learn about their family. There is a slim to none chance that I will ever learn anything of my biological history.

    I’m generally at peace with my adoption and the circumstances under which I came into this life. It is what it is, so I figure there is no point in getting upset. But then there are times when I’m hard hit with how little I really know. Today was one of those moments. In the confusion and frustration to find the words I’ve always been searching for, I began to fall apart. I realized I had taken on more than just a rhetorical analysis of a text; I had taken on the expression of my personal existence and defending it to the world. I’m a fool. In this personal let down, realizing that I am still unable to fully communicate the depth and intricacies of what I feel. On my drive to work after this revelation, I fought back tears. It is a rare occasion that anything to do with my adoption makes me cry. Every frustration, every hope, every question mark was making itself known in this ten minute drive. I’m waxing and waning betweenthe need to buckle onto the floor in tears and punching something. I want a concrete representation of the intangibilities of my existence. I want words. And this is why I write.

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