It was ten years ago this past March when I got the call that my sister had died. It was relatively early in the morning, around 7:00 am. That was my first indication that it was bad news. Nobody ever calls at 7:00 am with good news.
“Are you sitting down? You had better sit down, “ my sister-in-law Jenifer said. “There’s been an accident. Cristi is dead.”
I was shocked and confused to hear my sister, who was 14 months younger than me, was dead. I was very upset to hear this news, but the predominant emotion I felt was confusion. Cristi was my full biological sister, but I had only known her for about 15 years. I was adopted as an infant in a traditional closed era adoption in 1966. I met Cristi during my reunion with my birth family in 1988. I did not know how I was supposed to feel about her death. In my head, I thought, “I should be really sad about this,” so I pretended I was. Don’t get me wrong, on one level, I was sad. She was young, she had two young children, it was a tragedy. But she wasn’t really my sister. She was someone I met 15 years ago. I had little in common with her, except genes. We were not close at all.
Like most adoptees, I had spent an entire lifetime denying my feelings. When you are adopted you have to deny your feelings in order to survive. It becomes a way of life. You deny your feelings, repress you feelings, stuff your feelings, medicate your feelings. You do whatever you can to try and make them go away. You learn that expressing your feelings, or actually feeling your feelings, can destroy you.