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021- With Every Heart Break, My Heart Gets Bigger

Marcie finally felt plugged into her biological family after years of divisive behavior from her adopted mother. Her mother never nurtured a bond between Marcie and her adopted siblings and had a hard time overcoming some of her own childhood issues. In reunion, Marcie connected with her biological father who amazingly helped solidify a deeper connection to Marcie’s aunt, his sister. Marcie and her aunt both share an innate connection to their own spirituality. Even though her biological mother was not in a place to be part of Marcie’s reunion with her father, she was able to make a really good connection with another aunt on her maternal side of the family.

In hindsight Marcie wishes she had been true to herself throughout her journey, reaching out sooner and making sure to meet her relatives when the opportunities presented themselves. She admits that sometimes it’s okay for each us to be selfish along our journey as long as it is done with kindness and compassion for others.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Marcy (00:06): I think it was painful as a woman, having a child, knowing that somewhere my biological mother went through a pregnancy with me and pushed life out of her, into me and then had to leave me. And the whole experience is esteem now of what my body went through for those nine months and the trauma that your body goes through in order to create the healthy beautiful environment for this beautiful thing, growing inside of you. I had real mixed emotions about it.

Voices (00:50): Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

Damon (00:57):This is Who Am I Really? A podcast about adoptees that have located and connected with their biological family members. I’m Damon Davis. And on the show today, you’re going to hear from Marcy. Marcy grew up with two older adopted brothers in a home she says, was filled with parental narcissism. That environment made her struggles with her own identity, even worse as a teenager, her upbringing exacerbated deep unrest within her. In reunion, she found her father who laid a path for Marcy to find a kindred spirit in his family. Her story begins in Michigan when she was a child.

Damon (01:52):Marcy has always known she was adopted, but she doesn’t really remember actually talking about adoption. Marcy says she had a little trouble navigating her mother’s emotions and she couldn’t really figure out if things would’ve been different if Marcy had been her biological daughter.

Marcy (02:06):I really know if we did talk about it. I don’t really remember. I know, you know, I grew up in a home where my mother, for whatever reason, couldn’t have children. Um, and we constantly heard about all her failed pregnancies and her female problems. And, um, you know, I think sometimes those are really big shoes for someone like me to fill. You know, I think that she, as much as she enjoyed having children, I don’t know really how much she enjoyed having children. Does that make sense?

Damon (02:44):Interesting. Why do you say that?

Marcy (02:46):She, in my experience, um, is, or I should have say has since I’m not a doctor, but she has extreme narcissistic, um, personality traits.

Damon (03:00):Yeah.

Marcy (03:01):And you know, like my older brother, he was adopted first and my dad had gotten shipped off to Vietnam and you know, her and my brother were really bonded and, you know, he was like the golden child. And then trying to fill in those shoes of him was always very difficult. I was also a girl. And I think that she had some slight jealousy issues with my father and my relationship. And so I think, I don’t know if it’s normal, if I was adopted or if I was from her, you know what I mean? Like I don’t, I see it from being adopted. I can’t see it being from her flesh and blood. If I was her own natural child, if the treatment would be the same or if it would be different or indifferent, I only know it being adopted and more times than none, it didn’t feel so great.

Damon (04:00):Yeah. That’s the only lens that you can see it through is the lens of an adoptee and, and the way you are treated in narcissism. That’s fascinating. Were you, uh, an only child?

Marcy (04:13):No. I had two brothers and all three of us were adopted. We were adopted into a Jewish professional home that was always told to us. I came with a piece of paper where I am Catholic blood and my biological mother wanted me adopted into a Jewish professional family, which is where I was placed.

Damon (04:35):Gotcha. So you’ve kind of stated that the home is full of narcissism. How did that impact you as an adoptee? You know, you’re growing up as a teen, you understand fully and clearly that you’re adopted, but the, the perceived, um, sort of the narcissism and the focus on one’s self would be impactful on the teen who is trying to understand her own identity. What do you remember about how that was impactful to you?

Marcy (05:01):I truthfully had a very difficult time with it and tried taking my life a couple of times to be very frank and honest. I had always this inclination of watching and looking at people because I really believed in the threads of my being that I was brought here out of love. I always believed that and that I deserved that love. And so I was the type of child, very happy go lucky, always very spiritual. You know, I didn’t feel like this Jewish environment was a, um, a nurturing part of my soul. I had embraced that aspect of this religion that was given to me, and I absolutely loved the pieces of it. Um, but I was always very spiritual and I always had identity problems because what was expected and demanded of me, I had a hard time giving up for, you know what I mean?

Marcy (06:09):Like it was hard to fill these accommodations of somebody that I didn’t fully believe in. And so I had a religious identity. I had a spiritual identity crisis. I had very mental identity problems, you know, looking at these people and not seeing anything of me in them. You know, um, even at times when it was very warm and very loving and very, you know, nurturing it, there was a lingering feeling for me. I can’t speak about my brothers. I can’t speak about anybody else, just for me. I always had the need and the desire to search. And I think part of it is the unsettling feeling I had in my soul of where I was and whether it was supposed to happen for all the lessons I’ve gained in this life or whatever the reason was like, it just continued to inspire me to be a voice greater than the one that I was silenced from. You know what I mean? Does that make sense?

Damon (07:17):Yeah, it does. It does. It sounds like you had this innate disconnect with the environment that you were in religiously, spiritually and mentally, as you’ve said. And then, you know, just knowing and physically. How so?

Marcy (07:35):Um, I’m very petite. I’ve always been tiny. I’m size four. I’m a very slender build. I am not anything looking like my mother. She’s always struggled with her weight. I think that my features, um, were very delicate and, and nice, and she struggled with her own physical beauty and identity. And that was very hard for me because I, you know, trying to keep up with that or compete with it or feel like I needed to, or, you know, to be discredited all the time or to be, it was very difficult. It’s very difficult when you know, it’s hard enough again, when you are naturally connected biologically to somebody and you have struggles. I think the extra layer of being a child, a girl with a mother who has her own set of identity issues, being adopted was even harder to find. I had nowhere to plug into.

Damon (08:38):Marcy’s mother created a difficult environment for the kids to connect with her. She frequently used bits and pieces of their respective early history before they joined the family to drive wedges between the children. Unfortunately that prevented them from bonding as deeply as they probably could have.

Marcy (08:54):She also constructed us as siblings to not ever really, it was never the siblings against the parents. She played each one of us against each other at different times. So our relationship within each other was sometimes very difficult, cause we didn’t know our place with each other and we didn’t have that bond on top of it. When you have that sibling bond with somebody, I’m going to assume that even with distraction and disturbance, and you’re able to find that connection, we didn’t have that biological connection. And the disturbances in our surroundings didn’t allow us all the time to connect too.

Damon (09:42):Marcy’s father was also part of the problem in their house. She loved her dad, but she only felt his love when he could express it covertly. That didn’t sit well with Marcy at all as she looks back.

Marcy (09:53):He didn’t have a backbone. He didn’t have a voice. He did but he chose to, he couldn’t deal with her. I don’t, I think it was much easier to go along with it. They’ve been married for 50 years. And I think that when you come damaged too and someone nurtures you and puts their poison into you and you become poisonous yourself. And so his love was shown to me at the end of the evening when I was in bed. And he would come in on his way because he didn’t sleep with my mom. They slept in separate bedrooms because he snored and he would come in and hugged me and snug me and tell me how much he loved me. But during the day it was never, he was incapable or wasn’t allowed to, or would be punished or shamed to show me the affection I saw behind the door.

Damon (10:47):In your own bedroom.

Marcy (10:48):That’s how I received my love.

Damon (10:50):Mm wow.

Marcy (10:51):There were times when it was really, um, when it was really good for them, you know, and narcissist, when it, when it makes them look good. When we were at temple, you know, she out in public, adored us. It was behind the closed doors that it was, you know, horrible

Damon (11:08):Marcy recalls wanting to search for her biological family from when she was little, of course, the way things were going in her home, the idea she would want to look for other parents was a topic that wouldn’t be well received at all. And she was scared. It wasn’t until she was an adult that she kind of ran away from everything. Then Marcy had her first daughter and everything changed.

Marcy (11:29):It wasn’t until I delivered at 25, my first daughter, that I thought, I really need to know who I am because I’m looking at this child that’s flesh and blood of night that no one is ever going to take away from me. And I need to find out who I am because I have no clue who I am right now. And looking at her, it makes me cry with the most painful moment, but the most beautiful moment in the same breath, you know,

Damon (11:59):Why was it painful?

Marcy (12:00):I think it was painful as a woman, having a child, knowing that somewhere my biological mother went through a pregnancy with me and pushed life out of her, into me and then had to leave me. And the whole experience as a female of what my body went through for those nine months. And the trauma that your body goes through in order to create the healthy beautiful environment for this beautiful thing, growing inside of you.

Marcy (12:40):Um, I had real mixed emotions about it, you know, and I felt so alone. I felt really alone in that process of it.

Damon (12:51):I see. Nobody around you could really relate to the fact that you, as I’ve said, have just produced the first real branch on your own family tree. And it’s a tree that has had no roots up until that moment.

Marcy (13:09):Yep.

Damon (13:09):When her first daughter was born, Marcy was also going through a divorce that year. In order to get back on her feet, she had to move back with her parents. So it was during that time of getting her life back together that she decided she also needed to start the search.

Marcy (13:23):So I went back into my parents’ home and it was my daughter and I, and my mom and my dad. And they were elated. You know, they were grandparents. It was great for them because it made them look fantastic. So it was really good. You know, it was in that moment of Shazat being here, it alleviated the pressure on me. They had something to focus on, you know, and during that time I decided to pay the money and have my court documents opened and see if there was anybody there waiting for me.

Damon (13:56):And what did you find?

Marcy (13:57):And that’s when I did it. I found nothing. I came to a dead, dead stand, still, nothing. Nobody was there.

Damon (14:04):When you say that, what do you mean? What documents did you get?

Marcy (14:07):I just opened my document. I opened my file and of somebody who was looking for me or if I was to be matched, that it would be possible because I had paid the court to take my side of it out of the vault.

Damon (14:24):I see.

Marcy (14:24):So in Michigan, if one party opened and the other party isn’t available, it comes out that there’s, there’s, there’s nothing. There’s still nothing that you can do. If both parties have agreed to open the file, then they will match you, make the phone call, get in touch and start the process of helping you go through the transition of learning your biological path.

Damon (14:51):Three and a half years later, the woman Marcy had originally opened her adoption file with while she was living at her parents’ home, finally had news and she was looking for Marcy. But the phone number the woman had was for Marcy’s parents home. So her father received the call. Marcy got the message from her father while she was at work.

Marcy (15:10):And stupid me. I couldn’t wait. I went into the bathroom with my cell phone and called her at work.

Damon (15:17):Why do you say stupid you?

Marcy (15:20):Um, I guess I should have waited to the end of the day. I’m a manicurist. And so I was running really behind, I was probably a blubbering idiot to all my clients after and was hyperventilating and look like a train wreck.

Damon (15:37):So you had an emotional call. What happened?

Marcy (15:40):She called me, she was like, hi, this is Nancy from Oakland Family Services. Um, we have a match for your adoption.

Damon (15:49):And how many years later is this?

Marcy (15:52):Um, this is back in 2000.

Damon (15:55):So this was about three, three and a half years later. Okay.

Marcy (15:58):Yeah. And she said, um, usually people think it’s the mother that is searching. And in your case, I know it’s going to be disappointment, but it’s not your mother that’s been looking for you. It’s your father. And that really took me back.

Damon (16:21):Wow. I bet it did.

Marcy (16:26):I had always talked about this with my mom and I had never really discussed the possibility with my father. And when that happened and I got the phone call, I again, suffered like a sucker punch, but yet was gifted. You know what I mean? It’s like those, it’s the passive aggressive emotions that you have. Like okay it’s not my mom. Well, that sucks, but it’s my dad. So it was like, no one prepares you for the experience of receiving messages from people, ever.

Damon (17:04):Mhmm. Yeah, you’re right. There’s no process by which you can sort of think through what your own emotions are going to be and, and curve balls like this, right?

Marcy (17:13):Yeah.

Damon (17:14):That is fascinating. You’re absolutely right. Most of the time, especially in the stories I’ve heard, the mothers are the people that people connect with first.

Damon (17:23):Marcy and her father, Jack, began writing letters to one another corresponding through Nancy who acted as their intermediary. He had written her a beautiful four page letter from his home near Seattle, Washington. Unfortunately at the same time they were union was beginning. Marcy was recognizing signs of the demise of her second marriage.

Marcy (17:42):Again, displays the same narcissistic tendencies as my mother. And so I was really afraid to do this for me because I would have suffered on the other side of it with him, it would have taken away from him. So I allowed the letters and the phone calls to be enough for that moment.

Damon (18:08):Marcy said Jack told her everything in those letters. He shared information about himself, told Marcy her mother’s name and what had happened so many years ago from his perspective. Always being respectful of her mother, despite what he had been through. Jack told Marcy, he had fallen in love with her mother and they were making plans for their future.

Marcy (18:27):They had met each other in college, fell in love. He came here to Michigan to meet her family. They got engaged, they had gone back to Washington. She had gotten pregnant. She told him she was pregnant. Um, and then the next thing he knew she was gone.

Damon (18:48):Vanished.

Marcy (18:49):She was gone. She like disappeared in the night.

Damon (18:52):Whoa.

Marcy (18:52):And he didn’t hear back from her again until she delivered me and then said that she put me up for adoption. And that was it.

Damon (19:03):Wow. Did he ever figure out why she left?

Marcy (19:07):Um, he has like his own conspiracy theory on it. I think that he felt that she came from a very Catholic, proper Irish, um, background and that it was a total and complete embarrassment and shunda on the family. So she was shipped back to Michigan and put in the home for unwed mothers in Detroit, in Crittenton and served her time until she had me. And then was let go.

Damon (19:43):And did he ever hear from her again after the announcement that you had been placed into adoption?

Marcy (19:48):No, that was it. And then he suffered a huge loss with that information and knowledge and also Jack, my biological father, he came into this world with his mother dying at his birth and his father raised him as a single father until he remarried again. And so I think somewhere along that process, um, he was never given a chance to have that choice of taking me on his own.

Damon (20:19):Jack’s life had been a whirlwind of emotions. His future wife had vanished with their unborn baby, never contacting him again, except to tell her their daughter had been born. When Marcy and Jack found one another, he reached out to her mother to invite her to be part of the reunion.

Marcy (20:34):He actually called her. When we, when we got placed together, he called the last number that he had and someone gave him her number and he said, I found our daughter, do you want to be a part of the reunion? And she said, no. And at that time, she was two months shy of passing away from drugs and alcohol. And so I think that when he finally got matched with me and reached out to her, her life had taken such a dramatic change that when it happened, she was in no condition to take that journey. You know, she was already done basically. And so he did give her the option.

Damon (21:24):With her mother’s passing, Jack was all Marcy had left. She said, even though he’s a born again Christian, and she’s a spiritual occult follower, she never felt anything other than love from him.

Marcy (21:34):I had gotten married for a third time and this husband of mine could see the relationship back and forth and the phone calls. And about two weeks before my birthday, I received a letter from my biological father, really beautiful, beautiful letter telling me how much he loved me and all this wonderful stuff that he has never really said before. And he died two weeks later. And I actually think his soul was giving me a goodbye letter.

Damon (22:09):After Jack’s untimely death, Marcy began to feel like all was lost, but in their family’s loss, she connected with someone very special and created a bond Marcy could never have imagined she could have had

Marcy (22:22):During this time, he had a sister who he was not close to and when they were searching for him, the sister finally reached out to me and her and I started to communicate. And it was just, I was her pea in the pod. She is a astrologer, very spiritual, very intuitive like I am. And all of a sudden it was like I was plugged into somebody for the first time ever. It’s almost like Jack needed to leave this planet in order to give me this plugin that I desperately needed. And I don’t believe that things are by accident. I really, I really believe full heartedly that in the wake of him leaving and really saying goodbye to me, he gave me a proper goodbye in a letter. I mean, it didn’t seem like it at the time, but when you read it again, it is like a proper goodbye. And he gave me his sister.

Damon (23:24):That’s amazing.

Marcy (23:25):She came on my 45th birthday to meet me.

Damon (23:29):And you guys are peas in a pod. You’re both sort of spiritual, intuitive. That’s amazing.

Marcy (23:36):Oh yeah. Uh huh. Yup.

Damon (23:39):Wow.

Marcy (23:41):Yeah.

Damon (23:42):That’s amazing too, that you’re able to sort of think to yourself. I just find it fascinating that, um, you’re able to be insightful enough to sort of take the, when one door closes another one opens approach to this because so many people would be broken up over the fact that they had not met their biological mother, who was not in a position to finding her in reunion who and you, and you wanted to meet your father, but never actually got to a place where you thought you could do so, but in his passing, he brought you so much closer to your own aunt. That’s just incredible.

Marcy (24:14):Yeah. I think part of who I am and I think what my mom, you know, my adoptive mother, my mom struggled with is that I have this keen sense of being able to take anything and turn it into something really good and beautiful. And with every heartbreak, my heart has expanded. Like it’s never broken me. It’s just made my heart bigger and bigger, which is why with this, it was like, how could I not see that as a gift?

Damon (24:49):Finding her aunt inspired Marcy to seek more connections to her family. She wrote a letter to her biological mother’s sister explaining what Marcy thought their relationship was to each other. Then patiently waiting for a response.

Marcy (25:01):The response came with some questions that I answered and then it was like a full on, you know, open whatever. And she also has very intuitive gifts and senses on spirit.

Damon (25:22):Mhmm.

Marcy (25:22):I felt so plugged in like all the years that the library in the occult aisle, when I was fascinated by reading everything I could about angels and spirits and loved ones crossing over and all this beautiful stuff that I thought was still cool that at temple didn’t sit very well with a lot of the rabbis, um, started to really pay off. And I was like, my innate nature is so much more prevalent and stronger than my nurture. That’s when I started to have this revelation about who I was and where I was going.

Damon (26:05):Fascinating. It was there all the time.

Marcy (26:09):It was always there. It was just not ever accessed because my nurture went against my nature.

Damon (26:17):Yeah. It was pressing it down, pushing it aside and try to try to mute it.

Marcy (26:21):Yup.

Damon (26:22):I asked Marcy where things were in the relationships with her biological family now. She’s connected with folks now who knew her mother when and Marcy’s learned a lot in the years since she started this journey.

Marcy (26:33):I feel like I have pieces of my, myself and my mother without having the opportunity to have met her. But I feel like, I feel like I’ve been really gifted and I have a very clear understanding of, um, what happened and why it happened and the struggles in her home life and things that were done unto her that, that you don’t do to children. And I think in a way she saves me from bringing her into a home where my mother and my aunt were both sexually molested by their father. And I think in a way she saved me and I’m, I’m what’s left between my father and my mother. I’m the only lineage left besides my children. Nobody else ever had children. My father never had more children. My mother didn’t ever get married or have more children. My aunt doesn’t have children. My aunt on my father’s side has one child. So I’m the link, that’s it. I’m what’s left. And I think that that’s pretty cool in a, in a weird way.

Damon (27:47):It is pretty cool. I mean, there’s, you know, the, if you hadn’t had children, you might feel a pressure, but you’ve extended the family tree and that’s yeah.

Marcy (28:01):Yeah, I am the trunk.

Damon (28:01):It all comes back to you now. And that’s a very, very unique place to be. That’s really special. Tell me one last thing before we go, Marcy, what, uh, as you look back, what kinds of things might you have done differently along your journey to reconnect with your biological family?

Marcy (28:21):Oh my God. The first thing I wouldn’t have let fear stand in my way. I would have met my father before he passed. Um, I was really afraid. I think fear really is a, um, it deflects our inner light. You know, I think if you have a gut instinct of going to do something, go and do it. Even if it’s scary, you can do it and be scared. You can do it and wet your pants. I mean, just do it. Our bodies are equipped with radaring us if it’s not good, we know. But when we’re standing in fear, we are shutting down all of our sensories to navigate us. And so I really think I would have spent more time listening to my heart and my intuition, like my gut, knowing what my gut was saying versus what trying to appease and please everybody else.

Damon (29:22):Mhmm.

Marcy (29:23):I, because I was pleasing everybody else. I sacrifice meeting this gentleman. Um, so I don’t have like a regret. I don’t know any differently, but if I was giving advice to somebody that would be one of the things that sometimes in life you have to be selfish and it’s okay to be selfish and it’s okay to need and want things that might not be good for somebody else, but are good for you. And as long as it’s done with kindness and compassion it’s okay. And so I think that’s one of the things that I would have definitely done differently. I would have been more kind and compassionate. Compassionate with myself in what was really important for me because I was still so afraid of how it would affect everybody else. You know what I mean?

Damon (30:24):Yeah. And it’s a hard thing to overcome because in not knowing how others are going to react to stuff, if the fear can be paralyzed.

Marcy (30:34):I think its part of being adopted, though, I think that’s part of being adopted. Just stay true to yourself. I was not true to myself at all.

Damon (30:40):How do you mean?

Marcy (30:41):I was true to the identity that was given to me by being adopted. I was not true to my innate self and I should have been true to my innate self.

Damon (30:50):But isn’t that a hard thing to do as a youngster, as a teenager, you kind of don’t know enough to push back and say, Hey, Whoa, Whoa, that’s not me. You know?

Marcy (31:00):I think as a parents adopting, I think part of your responsibility as a parent is to try to get out of your own sense of self and allow somebody to be who they are. I don’t know. I don’t know. I’ve never adopted. So I don’t know. I only know from the other side of the equation that I might not have hated myself and wanted to kill myself so many times if I could have just been me, whatever that me was. And statistically in the adopted community, there’s a high volume of suicide, drugs and alcohol issues and a lot of things that are coping mechanisms for a much deeper problem that no one wants to address or talk about. And that’s who, who are we?

Damon (31:54):That’s right. Well, Marcy, it has been really amazing to talk to you. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your journey. Um, I’m really glad that you were able to find a deep bond with your aunt. That sounds like an amazing experience, especially because you share the, you know, approach to spirituality and other things like feeling like two of the pod is huge.

Marcy (32:16):Yeah. Yeah. It’s really cool.

Damon (32:18):That’s awesome. Well, thank you again so much for being with me today and I hope to, uh, I hope to hear good things about your, your visit from your other aunt in the summer.

Marcy (32:28):Yeah. I will send you an email after and let you know how, how it goes.

Damon (32:33):That sounds so good. Take care, Marcy, all the best.

Marcy (32:35):Thank you. You too. Bye Damon. Good luck.

Damon (32:43):Hey, it’s me. Even though she never met her father Jack in person, you can hear the reverence in Marcy’s voice when she speaks about him, despite all that he had been through Jack never spoken ill word about Marcy’s mother demonstrating exactly where Marcy gets her own ability to empathize with and relate to others. It was really sad to hear that her mother was not in a place to be part of Marcy’s reunion. And I couldn’t help wondering if her mother’s substance abuse was a derivative of the trauma from her younger life, the abrupt breakup with Jack and the adoption she planned for Marcy. However, I’m always amazed to hear from adoptees about the connections they make to kindred spirits in their biological families. Marcy sounded like she developed a great relationship with her aunts on her paternal and maternal sides. I’m Damon Davis, and I hope you’ll find something in Marcy’s journey that inspires you, validates your feelings about wanting to search or motivates you to have the strength along your journey to learn who am I really? This episode was edited by Sarah Fernandez. If you would like to share your story of locating and connecting to your biological family visit whoamireallypodcast.com/share. You can also find the show on Facebook, iTunes, Google Play, Tune In Radio, and follow me on Twitter @waireally.

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