I’m currently in the second draft stage of “Searching for Ellen”, the memoir about my search for my biological mother.
It’s also my own personalized version of hell.
Take a moment and think back on one of the worst experiences of your life. Generally, we get through these hard times, and we don’t have to go back to them, we don’t have to relive them. But think about that experience you went through. Then think of how you would feel if you had to go back to it, reading then re-reading journal entries and emails about it, and then write about it, not once, not twice, but what will most likely be a total of three times, if not more.
The search its self? That was mildly painful: I felt very isolated because I knew so few people who had been through the experience of being the adoptee in a closed adoption case who then searched for their biological family. There was the frustration of not getting anywhere in my search. And then the anxieties associated with making that first phone call.
But what is so very hard for me now is not so much telling the story of searching, but instead having to be back in the mindset of the twenty-three and twenty-four year old me. I don’t go into deep details, and I won’t here either, about my first marriage. But in writing this book, I am put back in the life I lived just over ten years ago: A frail young girl, dangerously underweight, who spent most of her time afraid. Afraid of the man she was married to, and afraid of never being able to escape a painful, abusive, and humiliating marriage. I left my first marriage thirty pounds under weight with ten cents in my pocket, bruises, broken ribs and a mouth full of wrecked teeth. If not for family and friends putting their foot down and giving me the ultimatum of “This stops now”, I’d still be in that marriage.
You can think that you have healed from old hurts. You can think that the nightmare days of a painful past are behind you. But in writing “Searching”, I have been forced to put myself back in those days. Back in a life where I was fearful of everything.
The best I can do right now is work through it, grit my teeth and hold on tight and let the tears come. But it is very isolating and hard and painful to be back in that place of fear and loneliness again, even if its just a short visit through my re-reading my old journals. I’m hoping like hell that once this book has been written, those old hurts will finally heal and be put to rest.