After the Auditor and I left college, we moved to Long Island. Talk about being a fish out of water! We grew up in farm country, and now we were living in an extremely densely populated area, and traveling into the city for work every day. I rode the subway for the first time ever. I had to learn to use public transportation becuase parking where I worked was LITERALLY impossible. I entered a world where almost NO ONE shared my values system. I actually had a boss try to talk me out of having children! He told me that at 23 I was too young!
My first job out of college was working in children’s programming. The company was small, and at one point, almost all of it’s employees took a day off of work to attend a rally for “equal marriage rights for all people”. About half the employees were homosexual. I worked with some wonderful people, truly committed to helping children– but almost no one shared my belief system. I count some of them amongst my friends– and yet, when value systems are SO radically different, you can only get so close to people. Many of them rejected me for being different. But liberalism is like that– they dont even want to know you if you dont automatically hold dear every militant thing that they do. And frankly, very few people in that office had ANY concept of religion at all, which has always been pretty central to my life.
So here I found msyelf– amongst strangers. Ben was 240 miles away. The Auditor frequently traveled. We were in the adoption process and we knew NOTHING about what we were getting in to.
So I turned to an online community. Fellow believers in Christ, and fellow adoption triad members (adoptees, prospective adoptive parents, natural parents who had relinquished their children). For the first time, in my entire life, I found myself amongst an ONSLAUGHT of people who shared my values!
When you find yourself amongst Same, you are able to delve into a whole new depth of friendship that you hadnt known existed! Now, instead of debating BIG differences (as was often the case with Ben), I found myself debating more subtle differences.
Differences in theology. Differences in parenting strategies. Differences in adoption philosophy (that’s actually a BIG difference, but I’ll save that for another post).
The common bonds were always God and Family. No matter what our particular views were– we always held in common God and Family.
So in the course of adopting the Little Scribbler, I have ‘met’ some amazing, wonderful women– truly the women of God. Yes, within the community there are have been some, shall we say, clunkers. People who seek to spread discord without purpose. People who seek to hurt others and destroy community. People who do not learn, do not grown, do not WANT to! But those people have been few and far between.
These women (and occasionally men!) are able to call me out on my crap– in love. In love and charity they challenge me to be a better person, a better mother, a better wife, a better daughter of God. And occasionally I have the opportunity to do the same! This community, while primarily Protestant women, have helped me to grown in my own Catholic faith and conviction about God, simply by fostering the conversations that cause me to delve deeper into it.
A handful of these women have touched my life in BIG ways. One in particular touches my life every single day. The nature of friendship is changing again!
She lives in Oregon. I live in New York. We really couldnt have too many more miles between us! She is nondenominational Protestant, and I am traditional Catholic. Our children are roughly the same age, and we’ve been married roughly the same amount of time (both married very young– I was 19~).
We met on the internet, and have only once met in person– but she gets me. REALLY gets me. There is nothing I can’t say to her– even if its ugly. Even if it makes me look like a terrible person (nota bene– I AM a terrible person sometimes!). No question is too personal or embarassing to ask. No topic taboo.
I’ve had a really hard time connecting with women in my life. I have a terrible time connecting with other moms here on the island– frankly I’ve encoutered very few who share even a SMIDGEN of my value system, even at our church! It is much easier for me to have friendships with men– who arent so easily offended, who dont obsess over things I find annoying (like fitting back into those size 2 jeans, or comparing how early their child spoke/drank/pooped in the potty). To meet someone so like myself has been truly refreshing!
We’ve had different, but similar, experiences growing up. There are a lot of things about our parenting that are reflective of each other. While our religious focus is very different, we both HAVE religious focus. In this friendship I have unconditional support, constructive criticism, and lack of judgement.
It’s rare to have someone who can sympathize with the difficulties involved in adoption, and in maintaining an open adoption. I have literally no one in my face to face life who can maintain intelligent conversation about the deeper issues of adoption– they simply do not have the experience necessary to do so (and if you havent adopted, been adopted, relinquished a child yourself, sorry Charlie, but you dont have the experience or perspective necessary for deep discussions).
Now, in my adult life, in my parenting life, in my married life, having such a friend is invaluable. I would never have thought it possible to maintain a close friendship with out any physical presence. In high school, Patti and I were joined at the hip. In college, Ben was literally the peanut butter to my jelly– we were sandwiched together in school AND work. In adult life, proximity doesnt have much to do with closeness or depth of relationship. When I lost proximity to Patti, we lost each other. When I lost proximity to Ben, we drifted apart and yet maintained a close relationship when we really need each other. And now, my best friend lives 3000 miles away. We’ve spent a total of about 10 hours physically together– and we interact every single day. Still intense, but no longer delicate, my sense of friendship has evolved very much in recent years…
to be continued…