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Learning to Live with Absence

Updated: Jan 13

Lately, I've been learning to live with a strange sort of absence. If you are an adoptee you may know what I mean.


Tonight an indie movie was showing at the local theater. The film piqued my interest, so my husband and I made a date out of it. I enjoyed the film and left feeling fully myself. Yet as we walked back to the car I felt the crushing grief of absence.

Absence of a version of myself that could have left the movie and texted a brother about the film because he would understand (he and I had been separated by adoption, and now our relationship was awkward and uncomfortable).

Absence of knowing if the movie was something my mother would have liked - my adopted mother certainly wouldn't, but what about my biological mother? The absence of recognizing the cultural references in the film as matching traditions my family might have inherited - the accents in the movie suddenly made me feel like crying because it was the first time I recognized these as accents of my genetic culture.

Absence of carefree sighs settling into the passenger seat for the ride home - because now this sense of absence had prickled me.


During the ride home I found myself lost in the absence of knowing these sorts of interests were mine years ago because my sense of self was masked by my own desperate attempts to 'fit' in places I was not meant to belong.


Too often something as simple as choosing an uncommon film for a night out highlights this absence of belonging, and I become aware of a lost sense of self over and over.


Maybe this is too niche, but have you experienced this too?

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