Respond not React

 

 

 

 

For years, starting in my adolescence, I have allowed the overstepping of boundaries from family members, mostly because it was always easier to ignore and allow myself to be my own worst critic. I have also learned from previous lessons that reacting instead of responding creates the exact type of response that I do not want. This is not emotional, this is strictly concerning behavior, not emotions or feelings. Feelings are not facts.

Here are the facts, on December 1, 2018, three women, all of whom I am related too, show up unannounced to my launch party promptly around 2pm. They were my stepmother, and both aunts, one of which flew from California. First thing out of my aunt from California’s mouth, “The weeds are here”. Without provocation, I am called a liar, that I have a restraining order against me, I don’t know what the word “family” means and I wrote nothing more than a journal that should have been kept under my pillow.

They were very quickly asked to leave from two bystanders, only to tell someone else coming into the venue that I am a liar but not before calling a friend of mine “trash” because he asked them to leave. Mind you, my children were in the other room, thankfully they did not hear or see these women.

Next, I am told these family members are in town on “business” for 5 days. They have zero business in SC other than myself and my children, they do not work for companies based in SC nor are there other family members or friends that reside in the state. Unless my flight attendant aunt was here on business, which had not previously occurred, their “trip” here was solely to “attend” my launch party.

On December 4, 2018, after at least 2 other previous conversations with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, I stay on hold as a deputy contacts my aunt, Mary Pat to stop contacting me. The deputy stated that she did not answer the phone and left her a voicemail. Picture number one shows an unsolicited text message from her and my response. I have not responded to her text messages for over a year. You are able to see her response in picture number two.

After the deputy left a message on her cell phone on December 4, 2018, I was made aware that on Monday, December 3, all three women “verified” where I was living, went by my apartment as well as walked around the home where my kids’ dad lives knowing we weren’t at home.

Since my aunt Mary Pat has not contacted me via text message, phone call or email, she has continued to visit my website and “comment” on my blog posts. After her first two comments were made, I promptly blocked her, see pictures three and four.

Since I have blocked Mary Pat from commenting on my blog posts, “Frank” has begun to comment on my posts. Oddly enough his email address is fake and he sure takes the tone of Mary Pat, see pictures five, six and seven. His IP address is also out in California…I have since blocked “Frank” but for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to stop “his” comments.

After speaking with a local magistrate, a restraining order does not protect out of state contact, it would only prevent contact if she were to be in the state in which I reside, this does not help the situation because due to the nature of her job, she flies around the country and so there is never one set location or schedule. In speaking with the local magistrate, he suggested I speak with an attorney regarding a civil lawsuit. After a brief conversation with an attorney, it was noted that such comments appear not harassing in nature but more to produce an emotional response and at this time is not worth legally pursuing.

I have chosen to put her and her comments on public blast in hopes that it will be a deterrent. I have spoken with a magistrate, attorney, and several sheriff’s deputies. It is my sincere hope that with such a public display that it will deter any further behavior. In addition, any further harassment, name-calling, accusations or otherwise comments will be continued to be documented, treated as harassment. I am not under any circumstances, however, waiving any legal rights I have presently, or future legal remedies against you by posting this blog.

I have not reached out to contact you and will continue not to contact you. I am publicly requesting now, no further communication from you or known associates with me or either of my children. I have not in any way coerced or forced you to read my memoir or my blog. If it upsets you emotionally, that is not the intention and you are welcome to completely ignore the content.

 

Functional Dysfunction

Sometimes while in the middle of a storm you don’t realize how chaotic or dysfunctional a situation is. It is like the saying of hindsight is 20/20, when we reflect back on certain situations or interactions we may be able to see that something wasn’t right or “normal”. The further you are away from something the more clearly you are able to see it.

In December, I went to see my therapist. There were a couple of situations from the beginning of the month that had sent my anxiety over the edge and I went to check in with her. Since it had been four months since I had last seen or spoken to her there was a lot of catching up to do.

During our conversation we discussed a few things that had gone on recently and a few other things that were upcoming. I casually mentioned to her that I was just in shock that a bourbon society a couple of states away that my uncle (my mom’s cousin) belongs too started a team for their local ALS walk and they will be walking and raising money in memory of my dad. She asked me why I was in so much shock. I told her that my only connection to this society was my uncle and that although they had sponsored my team in the Upstate, I didn’t expect them to create a local team and do the same.

Her response was something I don’t think I will ever forget, her response was simply that I was not used to people acting “normal”, that I had become accustomed to the dysfunction around me and was not able to recognize “normal”. That’s when it hit me. I had become conditioned to believe what had previously surrounded me was “normal”. The reality is that I didn’t really know anything different, certain behaviors, phrases and attitudes I had just assumed were “normal”.  Yet here I am in my early 30’s starting to learn that I was mistaken, that life and families are functional, dysfunctional, functionally dysfunctional and everything in between.

Functional dysfunction stops here.

In the World of Adoptees

Since the debut of my book, I have had a lot of conversations with a variety of people. Some are planning to adopt, some have already adopted and others are other adoptees. While I was writing Ode to Bermuda Grass, I never thought that I would have some of the conversations that would occur or the stories I would hear from others. It has given me the opportunity to not only share my story but share some of the darker stories from adoptees. Not everyone knows that there is a very dark side of adoption, that there are children who are place in adoptive homes and abused physically, emotionally sexually or that there are international adoptees whose parents did not finish their naturalization paperwork and therefore they are not naturalized citizens. These are not the stories that adoption supporters don’t want to hear or are even aware of.

Does this mean that I don’t support adoption? Of course not, I believe that there is a place for everything, even an adoption. Although I don’t know the story surrounding my adoption and my birth mother’s circumstances, I choose to believe that she made the best choice because of her situation.

I don’t believe that I see the world through rose colored glasses, but I was not aware that such stories like these existed in the adoptee community. These stories exist and their voices are not often heard. Like all things there is an ugly dark side of adoption, one that is not frequently talked about or even addressed. I have heard stories of adoptees being “returned” by their adoptive family and felt rejected from not only their biological family but by their adoptive family as well. The devastation that this creates in unimaginable and heartbreaking.

I say all of this to say that adoption shouldn’t be taken lightly, that there are a multitude of attitudes, feelings and situations that we as adoptees face. Does everyone understand them? No. Are there enough supports for adoptive parents and adoptees? I don’t believe so. Even if these darker stories are not shared from those who have experienced it for one reason or another, it is something to be aware of. Take the time to understand us adoptees, our stories are not always fairy tales with storybook endings, sometimes they are tragedies, thrillers or dramas.

People In Glass Houses…Sink Ships

This is a little bit of a mixed proverb, I was reminiscing about the move Boondock Saints, if you haven’t seen it, watch it, your welcome. However after some thinking about this mixed proverb, it actually started to make sense.

People in glass houses really do sink ships, not their own ships of course because there isn’t anything to sink, but other people are fair game and even entertainment to people who live in glass houses. We can see everything just by looking in. We can see their “perfect” life and their standards, but what we don’t see are the ships they sank to get to their state of perfection. We typically tend to tell any and all stories in our favor, we are all a little self serving from time to time and who doesn’t like being painted in a good light? If you think  I’m wrong, on some level you are lying to yourself. We tend to want ourselves to be pictured in “good light” in a position where we may have not hurt someone or at the very least did not have the intention to hurt someone.

Typically, humans overall do not want themselves in a negative light, there is a way in which all of us want to be “seen” or known. Maybe we want to be seen as “book smart”, “street smart”, “friendly”, “compassionate” or even “intimidating”. Whatever our desire is to be seen does not always happen. Sometimes it is easier to point out someone else’s mistakes or shortcomings instead of focusing inward. It is during these times that our pride takes over and we are unable to see that it is more important to build each other up instead of tearing someone else down to appear a certain way.

Who are these people hurting away? They are hurting themselves. We become consumed with our “image” instead of staying genuine and not putting others down in order to bolster ourselves. Instead of letting our pride get the best of us and further isolating and distancing ourselves from each other, why not put yourself aside and support the person next to you. Remind yourself that we are all in this life together and we are all that we got. Be careful throwing rocks at glass houses, sooner or later those rocks turn into something spectacular.

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas…

With Christmas just around the corner, I’ll be taking a break from writing new blogs until after the New Year. I will be taking time to spend with my children, their father and enjoy the time, just the four of us.

There are few things already in the works for 2019, more blogs, trips planned and a couple other surprises along the way!!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas. See ya’ll in 2019.

 

-J

Where does strength come from

Throughout my life, I have heard from several people, they can’t believe how “strong” I am. After grieving over the loss of two parents, I seem to hear it more. Each time people mention my strength, my response is very short, typically just a thank you. Honestly half of the time I have no idea where the strength comes from, it is just there. It got me thinking, where does our inner strength come from? Do we all have it? Of course we do. Obviously I wouldn’t be writing such a blog if I didn’t think everyone inside them had a warrior hiding inside just waiting to come out.

Just like everyone else, there are definitely days that I don’t feel strong, days where all I want to do is stay in bed under my thick down comforter and not move. Thankfully those days only seem to come around once a month or so but it doesn’t make those days any less real. Somehow I had to tap into my inner strength, something I’m still not 100% how to tap into but I usually made it happen. Sometimes it was because the right song came on at exactly the time I needed it, or because I had been listening to that particular CD on repeat. Otherwise it was because I hid my strength with anger and used the anger as motivation, that always didn’t end the best.

The bottom line is that I don’t have a concrete answer for you. I can sit here all day and tell you that you are amazing and can move mountains but that isn’t anything more than just sitting on Pintrest looking up motivational quotes, yes I’m guilty of that too. I am here to tell you that at some point in our lives we are given the challenge to step up for ourselves, or our kids and are forced into digging down deep to find that warrior. In everyone’s life we are giving an opportunity to crawl out of the depths of the darkest pit and become stronger than you thought possible.

Now would be the time that I say something inspirational like God doesn’t give you more than you can handle or what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. While I think those sayings have the appropriate context, now is not one of them. As helpful as those says are, sometimes it isn’t a comfort to know in the midst of the situation. It is okay to sit in the ugly dark pit, what I am telling you is to not stay there. Don’t allow the every growing void or dark abyss to consume you. Remember that time that you didn’t think you would survive but you did? That’s because your strong. Or that other time that you never thought something was going to happen for you but it did? That took a lot of courage.

Strength doesn’t come from anywhere, it is within us. During some of my weakest moments over the last couple of years, I clung to two Bible verses. The first is 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about  my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” These were the two verses that I clung too as my dad’s disease progressed. It is still some of my favorite verses.

It’s sounds counter intuitive doesn’t it? We aren’t supposed to delight in weakness or difficulties. There were several times while sitting in church that I have heard these verses, but it was until last year that I really understood what they meant. While I the disease was progressing and I was in SC while my dad was in MN, I had a great group of friends that would check in on me. Most of which were from my church small group. They asked what I needed and how to be there for me. I told them I didn’t want anything cliche, I didn’t need to hear the typical saying that are told to those grieving. I needed raw honesty, that the situation sucked and it was okay for me to feel all the feelings. They graciously agreed to my request and were exactly what I needed.

There were some hard days, really had days, even now some days are a struggle. As I look back and reflect on everything I still state that at my weakest, I was my strongest. My church small group would go to a local women’s shelter once a month and give a morning devotional. One morning this verse was on my heart, and I decided to share it and part of where I was in my journey. It was then that I realized that being able to admit that you are at your weakest or lowest is actually a sign of great strength. I’ll type that again just in case you didn’t catch it the first time. Being able to admit that you are at your weakest or lowest is actually a sign of strength. Boom. There it is. In it’s simplest form, true strength comes from admitting when you are at your weakness.

When we are at our weakness and we choose to reach out to others and ask for support or encouragement, we have cast aside our pride and reached out to make a deep connection with someone. That is strength. That takes courage. It definitely isn’t the easiest thing to do and sometimes even for me it’s a struggle but it is amazing to see what happens once you start asking for help.

Why Can’t I Visit Them?

It has finally happened. The questions I have been dreading for the last four years. My daughter has started asking why she can’t see her “other parents”, her biological parents. I partly blame myself since I have been talking about the fact that I have most likely found my birth father in Korea. The thought of explaining to her why she is unable to have any contact with her biological parents is something that has weighed heavy on my heart.

Recently it has been brought to my attention that I claim to be an “adoptive” parent however I am not on my daughter’s paperwork. This is true, and if I have misled you in any way, you have my apologies. However it does not change the fact that paperwork does not define a family, that is exactly what it is, just a piece of paper. Throughout my life, I know families whether, through law or otherwise who aren’t on each other’s papers, that doesn’t make them any less family. If you ask my daughter she will tell you I am her mother. To HER I am her mother, that’s all that I need.

Since she has come into our care, we have always kept things at her level. We try to explain different situations in a way that she will understand. When the topic of biological parents would come up, she typically would use the term “other parents”, a term she continues to use. It what makes sense in her head. Eventually, I know there will come a day where we have to the hard conversation about why she can’t see them and the circumstances that lead her to come into our lives.

From the very beginning, being adopted, I already know the type of questions that she is going to ask. I know the type of information she is going to ask. As of right now, she continues to have a relationship with her maternal grandmother, however eventually I know that will not be enough. As she continues to watch me walk down my journey, there are going to be a lot of similarities and differences. There will be questions that I won’t be able to answer and ones that I never thought she would ask.

Over the last four years, I have gone over and over in my head the type of information that I would want in her position and go from there. Like any good parent, I have wanted to do everything possible without hurting her to shield her from her previous circumstances. There are experiences that a two-year-old should never be exposed too, words that they should never hear and situations they should never be placed in. I know that one day, I will have to answer the hard questions and walk beside her as she slowly starts to discover the truth. My only hope is that I can be the mom she needs and use my experience and journey to help her when she walks through the valleys.

Always,

J

Toeing a Fine Line

Over the last few years and more recently the last couple of months, I have added a piece to my identity. There were times where I would put other’s needs first. It was my thought that doing so meant that I was selfless, that it made me a good person. As the years wore on I led myself to a place where I lacked self-respect, when I put other’s needs before mine, it didn’t make me selfless but rather passive. Slowly as time wore on, I found that it would become a lifestyle rather than a choice.

It has taken a long hard tear filled journey to get where I am today. There are times where I still continue to lack any sort of self respect and my first thought it to lay down and let other’s needs, goals and priorities become more important than my own. I have learned that it is self-respect not selfishness that allows your to put your goals and priorities above others.

I realize that by saying this, that I may appear to some as selfish. There is a difference between being selfish and having self respect. Being selfish is when you constantly think about yourself, meaning that in any situation including ones where we are hurting others, we only think about ourselves. How is this different then self respect? It appears as if these two concepts are the same. Self respect is when we choose to make our dreams, goals and aspirations a priority. I will admit these two sound very similar, however when people choose to make the conscious decision to go and hurt other people because they are hurting, that is selfish.

Hurt people hurt people. The concept is that simple. When we hurt our initial selfish nature is to stop our hurt by hurting those around us. There have been times where I have done this in my life, a pattern that I would not rather continue. It continues to be a long journey, to choose to look inward instead of lash outward when I am hurting. It is only when we love ourselves enough to look inward and reach into our depths to heal old woulds or even fresh wounds.

Have enough self respect to reach inward, to look into the depths that we hide from others and choose to love ourselves enough not to lash out when we are hurt. Respect yourself and be confident in who you are and not what others may say about you. I am not perfect, I have never claimed to be. I have only stepped into this new identity and become more confident in who I am. I will not be defined by what other people may say about me, that is not self love or self respect. You are not the opinions of others. Remember that.

Always,

J

Nothing Short of a Christmas Miracle

I have been debating when or even how to write about this. The last week or so has put me into a zombie-like state. My children’s dad said I have “pregnancy brain”. For the life of me I cannot get words out of my mouth, I forget what things or called or even how to speak. If you know me, you know this is typically not the problem. No, I am not pregnant. The emotional roller coaster I have been on and continue to be on isn’t anything short of a miracle.

For those that have been following my journey, I lost my father in October 2017. Since then and prior too then, I had an ever growing rift primarily with members of my family.

A couple of years ago, I start searching for my biological family. I began searching for my birth mom (omma) since it seemed the easiest place to start. My adoption paperwork from Korea has bits and pieces of her story. According to my paperwork I have where she grew up and part of her childhood, mirrored some of mine. Eventually when she was 20, she gave birth to me and I was immediately relinquished for adoption. That’s it. No mention of who my birth father (appa) at all.

Fast forward to March of this year, after contacting an organization I finally had a lead on my omma. This lead seemed very creditable because she was the only woman in the country with a matching name and birthday as the woman on my paperwork. However upon meeting her, my hopes were dashed and I find out that as much as she wanted too, she was not my omma. She wished me well, told me I grew up beautifully and that my omma should be proud.

I thought my journey ended there. After that there wasn’t much more to do than to leave my DNA as a “missing” person in Korea, and hope there eventually would be a match. This has to guarantee. Because my paperwork had so many details, the retired police officer, current professor said he was willing to go to where she grew up and ask the elders if they knew her name/location.

Although I left Korea with unanswered questions, I knew emotionally I may not have been able to handle a blunt rejection. After much time and therapy, I had to walk away from the search. It was emotionally tolling and the amount of unanswered questions and different scenarios could drive a person mad. During the summer a lot of adoptees go back to Korea, it is usually when the organizations that help adoptees is bombarded by requests. It was at this time I decided to take a step back. I stopped following up and being diligent on searching for omma.

I emailed my contact a couple of times, and didn’t learn anything new. Slowly I was coming to terms that this would be the end of the search and I was working through accepting that my questions may remain unanswered.

A couple of days after my launch party I receive an email from my contact. Something that I never thought I would ever read. It said that a man was found who is presumed to be my birth father and this professor/retired cop wanted to bring me to meet him. I screamed in the middle of the email. I scared my kids so much they started consoling me as if I was tragically hurt. Of course o couldn’t hold back my emotions and tears ran down my cheeks. This didn’t help, my poor children were convinced I was hurting. I told them it was happy thoughts, that they had most likely found my biological father.

I became numb. I didn’t know how to react. This mystery man had a name and location. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think the possibility of finding him would happen. Since I have zero documentation regarding my birth father I either assumed my omma didn’t know or there was another legitimate reason why he was kept off of my birth certificate. The number of questions that ran through my head were endless. I wanted to know every little detail nothing too big or too small was insignificant at this point. My mind needed every single question answered. Of course I immediately wrote back stating I wasn’t sure when I would be back but that I will be back to Korea as soon as I am able.

Upon asking how this man was found, the response was “trade secret” and that was the end of that. I will admit I was a little disappointed but for the first time my appa had a name and a location. This is still mind blowing.

Some of my best friends have graciously started a GoFundMe to help get me to Korea as soon as possible. The money I had to go was used on my last trip and I was most likely planning to go back at the end of next summer but those plans were not set in stone.

After hearing all of this new information, I need to get to Korea ASAP. It is unbelievable that this miracle has happened. There is no other way to explain this, especially a couple of weeks before Christmas. I have included the link here if you feel led to donate, please do. Thoughts and prayers for this part of my journey are just as appreciated. Thank you. I will be keeping everyone posted on the start of this journey.

Always,

J

It’s Launch Week!!!!

Exciting things to come this weekend! Ode to Bermuda Grass officially launches Saturday, December 1, 2018.

There will be two different ways to order the book. Links will be provided below! You may also purchase the book from me directly, in person. If you are not within the United States and would like to receive a copy, please email me directly at dragongoldllc@gmail.com. I want to ensure that everyone who wants a copy will be able to receive it.

If you are local to SC, I will be having a launch party on Saturday afternoon at Joe’s Place Bookstore LLC from 2-4pm. There will be food, drinks and books for purchase. The event is family friendly so please feel free to bring your children. I hope everyone has a wonderful week. Hope to see you Saturday!

Always,

J

 

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Ode to Bermuda Grass

Julie Yackley

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