You would think that the last place that I would accept relationship advice from would be my basketball coach. But I always, always remember something she told me. I still think of it to this day.
"Sometimes we have to work out things with the person we have a problem with before we tell anyone else. What happens when you go vent to someone else about the person you're mad at, is they get mad at that person too. When you and the person you're mad at make up, you feel better, but the person you vented to hasn't had that closure of being able to make up with the other person as well. That might cause relationship problems between the person you were mad at and the person you vented to."She was trying to get team mates who were also school friends to foster better relationships between themselves, to strengthen the team. I thought that the coaches, who were both married to other people, not hanging all over each other in front of 14-17 year olds would have been a great start towards building teams spirit--eh, but what do I know? I wondered how a woman so oblivious to the impact her own behavior in her own relationships had on others, could dish out such good advice about other people's relationships.
Her words came back to me a few years later as an adult when I started to think about relationships and support. If I vented to my mom or a friend about someone or something else, they would get all upset on my behalf. I would later work it all out and feel better but how much better did they feel? They didn't get to work out their emotions about the situation in the same way I did. I decided to be more careful about what I share when I am angry or upset--or how I share it, rather. Not because seeking support and confiding in others isn't important but because while I expect them to care about my emotional welfare, I should care about theirs too.
This is when it gets rough when it comes to adoption reunion and integrating two families into my life. My adoptive parents are Facebook friends with my first mom and several of my aunts. They send cards back and forth for holidays and occasionally email each other. It is important to me that they have good relationships because I would never want to be in the middle of a disagreement. Too often do adoptees feel in the middle of choosing between their nurturing family and their natural family and I don't want to go there. But I lose an important source of support. I can tell my adoptive mother lots of things and normally do. But I am hesitant to share anything with her that is challenging about reunion because I do not want her to harbor negative emotions against my first family. Likewise, I can tell my first mom loads of things. But I am hesitant to tell her things about my childhood that might have been hard or times where I am upset with my adoptive parents, because I don't want her to harbor negative feelings against my adoptive family.
This is why I have found it so helpful to find the support of other people who are adopted, also being mindful of their emotions as well. I think it is important to have positive relationships where you can support each other and be mindful of each other's emotional needs and boundaries when supporting one another. I am glad that I have that with my friends.
Does anyone else have trouble sharing things with either one of their mothers? or both?
Photo credit: Simon Howden