I don’t remember the day or even the year that I learned of my biology. Adopted at three months old, it feels as if that moment never really happened, but that I’ve known since birth.
As much as I am grateful for the life I’ve been able to lead with my mother, father, stepmom, stepbrothers and sisters etc. there is something that always pulls at my heart strings. Moreso now that I am a mother, myself.
My four sisters and I were all separated and adopted by different nuclear families. But thankfully, each of them were very dedicated to giving us as much of a normal childhood as possible.
They were not threatened, and allowed us days and weeks and phone calls, summer vacations and reunions so we would have the chance to know and love each other.
Sisters, though different residing states. Now as adults, best friends as well.
However, in the last few years it’s become clear, this tangled web we weave.
Whether by deception or not, we were told our biological parents were very troubled people. They were drug addicts that slowly descended from fairly normal to severely mentally ill.
They said our mother was schizophrenic and bi-polar and our father was a dangerous paranoid schizophrenic as well. For me, this knowledge was debilitating. I feared nothing more than losing my mind.
Crazy itself did not scare me, it was the notion of slipping into madness unconsciously. Unknowingly. The possiblity of becoming and living in uneducated delusion. These were my dwelling place; these constant dark and looming thoughts.
However, this year has been enlightening. With the passing of the family purse strings, the truth has slowly begun to unravel. Peaking out, finally unearthed.
Our father was certainly mentally ill. Drugs may of been involved, but no one can say for sure. He was in and out of psych units and constantly drifting into and out of our mother’s life.
Our mother, however, she was and is the kindest, most loving person you’ll ever meet.
The destruction of her mind came from a life, saturated with the many misunderstandings of mental health and those ill and impaired because of it. Tireless, crushing years of feeling the weight of burden, before mental health became more “mainstream”. She alone, carried such burden and guilt. Chained to her own learned inner critic. Vulnerable.
But the destruction of her world, started with our father. She loved him. She loved him more than most people ever desire to be cared about.
In turn, great love inspired deep hurt. Immeasurable destruction is the powerful wrath of misguided anger and brokenness.
She loved him far more than what would be healthy for her mental state and stability.
But she knew no other way.
She had issues with anxiety and depression but crazy? No. Drugs? She won’t even take Tylenol for a headache.
Our mother’s name is Charly and the sacrifices she made for “her girls” remain undoubtedly, selflessly convicting.
Our mother has a learning disability and a few other non-violent mood imbalances. She processes emotions and stimuli much differently than the general population. She sees the world with such beautiful, simplicity. A way most of us will never get experience.
She lives and loves in the supernatural peace of a woman who knows her world will ultimately be whatever she chooses it to be. A woman that knows she is the world itself and that she moves and cycles.
Life circles itself, it is constantly breaking and building. It’s ever moving, ever revealing, ever loving. Ever after.
Our mother doesnt know, she feels. She doesnt see what is before her, she simply trusts. She does not reason and strategically plan for some ideal, self serving, happy ending and tropical retirement for herself.
She pours out all she has and all she can possibly give. A humble, pure, deep love, though life has never quite dealt her a fair hand. She was a mother. She is a mother.
For over 30 years our mother thought one day her love would matter more than her IQ. That with time and valiant effort, she would be deemed smart or better or almost responsible enough.
There was a still small hope she clung to though reality seemed to paint a picture of hopelessness and impossibility. She waited, for years, for her girls to be nutured in healthy environments.
Not only wanting what was best, but consciously choosing to sacrifice what she could of had, for what was needed.
Over 30 years have passed and she still believes in time, God’s provision, justice, and humble, obedient prayers. She believes in the soul, connections that breach the borders of legality, disability, and distance.
She passionately believes in the God of wayward sons and the God who brought his people out of bondage, out of Egypt and rescued from the lions mouth.
She believes in some way, at some time, God will graciously afford her a way to find us again. And despite the very evident odds that, that would never happen, she never gave up. Never. Not for a single minute.
She prayed and still prays for her girls; got involved in church and community activities. She endured abuse, homelessness, and the vicious judgements of unkind hearts. She used her pain to better herself and bring joy to the lives of others. She worked hard and loved whatever season life brought her to. She dreamt not for herself, but for her girls.
My name is Mary Lee and on September 25, 1985 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, I was born. But not with that name. I was born Crystal Diane and I’m proud to say my Mom is Maggie, my Dad is David, and my stepmom is Sue.
They love me dearly, fiercely, incredibly, and completely, of which I’m undoubtedly ever-grateful for.
But then, there is Charly.
Charly, is my birth mother and the most unselfish person I’ve ever known.
Charly, is my hero.