Inside

February 28, 2018

10 years ago I was waiting for the call that would tell me it was time to book a flight to India and bring home my son.  I was homeless, having recently sold my apartment in Washington Heights, but not yet able to close on my new one in Riverdale.  So my dog and I surfed couches for a few weeks, while all my belongings sat in storage. I had spent just over a year on the process to adopt Rahul–paperwork and bureaucratic tedium I’ve tried to forget. Panicked phone calls, angry county clerks, hundreds of dollars spent at FedEx, checklists of documents, folders of papers, lost fingerprints, invasive questions I had to answer (“Why are you single?”), scores of documents I had to triple notarize…

My new apartment was proving to be difficult to close on and I had weeks of work to do in it before it would be comfortable for Rahul. So I was very anxious to get the keys in my hands. All year I had somehow been able to handle the extra work the adoption process threw my way, but the challenges and obstacles became more insane as the time drew near to go get Rahul.

I flooded my apartment, for example. The apartment I would soon be selling. And in doing so I also damaged all four apartments below me. That was fun.

Then there was the day my friend Paul died. He was leaving behind one of my closest friends and their 3 children–it was a huge loss. And after attending to his family I got a call from my dad that my mom, who had just had knee-replacement surgery, now had a dangerous blood clot in her lung. I was in her hospital room the next morning when she woke up and as the first doctor of the day mumbled his prognosis to her, both of my phones started ringing off the hook. I asked Doogie Houser to translate his speech (and to please enunciate) and once I felt assured that my mom was stable I set off in search of a quiet corridor to attend to my phone calls. It was my adoption counselor who had been urgently trying to reach me, and when I listened to her messages my heart dropped to the floor.  There was a problem with the adoption and she needed to speak to me immediately. I sat in shock, imagining what was assuredly the end of my adoption of Rahul. I called out a desperate prayer to God to comfort me in my horror, to be with me in the loneliness of this situation–alone in a bleak hospital corridor, my mother hanging in the balance between health and ruin, my friend left alone to raise her children, my world in chaos. I held my breath as I called her back, bracing for impact. Of course, I needn’t have panicked. It was only a manner of some additional paperwork, however urgent, that could be easily remedied.

My tooth broke and after the fifth time my dentist yanked off the replacement in disgust I started having panic attacks.

I found a buyer for my apartment, only to have his mortgage rejected because my building didn’t carry enough insurance.

I should have been able to close on my new apartment, but the seller’s lawyer misfiled some paperwork, delaying the process by months.

And so on and so on.

So here I was, in February 2008, in Longbranch, NJ, at my best friend’s parents’ house, completely broken. I was spending the weekend there in hopes that sometime within the next week I would finally be able to get into my new apartment. In total despair, I had stopped eating and had gotten to the point where I could barely get out of bed. I was a mess, stuck in the crazy limbo between Singleness and Motherhood and couldn’t settle down. For me, when life is chaos or my mind is restless, I need to walk; it helps me move through my emotions and clear my head. So since I was on the Jersey Shore I decided to go for a walk by the ocean. I took my music and my earbuds and as I hit the boardwalk a song came on that I had heard before, but had never really listened to. Inside by Sting.

As it began, I stopped in my tracks. The sound completely expressed the maddening chaotic whirlwind going on inside my head, and the lyrics completely expressed the excruciating process of opening myself up to love this other little human so completely. I realized that God was breaking me down completely so He could rebuild me as a Mother. Like a phoenix from the ashes or a clay vessel smashed and refashioned. I was feeling the complete destruction of Love.

Inside, the doors are sealed to love, inside, my heart is sleeping.

That was the story of my life. A childhood spent hiding my emotions deep inside, an adulthood spent falling in love over and over again, only to have my heart broken each time. I had gotten to the point where I was so depressed and shut down that I needed help. I found a therapist and had been devoting myself to sifting through all the broken parts of myself and learning how to feel again. In fact, that process led me to adoption.

Inside, my head’s a box of stars I never dared to open. Inside, the wounded hide their scars…

Outside, the rain keeps falling. Outside, the drums are calling. Outside, the flood won’t wait. Outside, they’re hammering down the gate.

The struggle between Inside and Outside, the struggle to give myself over to Love and all of the destruction it would cause was very real to me.

Love is the child of an endless war. Love is an open wound still raw. Love is a shameless banner unfurled. Love’s an explosion. Love is a fire at the end of the world.

People often want to know why I chose to adopt a child, and the answer can really be boiled down to feeling called to love a child who otherwise would not have a future. I felt incredibly blessed–spoiled even–and it was beginning to feel selfish holding all of my blessings for myself. I wanted to connect with someone and change their life, and I was willing to give up everything to do it.

On that day at the Jersey Shore I didn’t know all that I would be called to give up and endure to be Rahul’s Mother, but I was feeling the weight of change and sacrifice in my body and I was beginning to understand that loving another person the way I would love Rahul can be raw and shameless and explosive.

Love is an angry scar, a violation, a mutilation, capitulation, love is annihilation.

I walked back and forth on the boardwalk for what seemed like hours, listening to that song over and over. And I’ve listened to it over and over for 10 years, because it reminds me of the great cost of Love. And the great reward of giving yourself over to it.

I climb this tower inside my head, a spiral stair above my bed. I dream the stairs don’t ask me why.

I throw myself into the sky…

 

 

Me and Rahul on the same beach on the Jersey Shore, a few months after my walk with Sting.

 

 

 

 

 

4 Responses to “Inside”

  1. Hannah said

    Wow Renee! So beautiful. What a gift to us that you’ve shared this. It’s really profound.

    Like

  2. Stunningly written, Renée. I have tears in my eyes.

    Like

  3. Libby said

    It really is a magical place, isn’t it? The ocean AND the heart… Love you!

    Like

  4. Marj said

    Renee, You are such a strong woman and mom. You’re a real-life super hero.. a woman who loves deeply and fights for what is right and the people you love. I feel blessed to have you in my life. Thanks for sharing your beautiful journey .😘 MJ’s. Mom

    Like

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