House-fire scenario question led to epiphany
When little Everet first came into our family home I was not able to love him.
That might sound very harsh but it’s the truth. I was fond of him, I cared for him and felt tenderness and sorrow for what he had already been through at such a tender age, but love was not there. I wonder if this is the same for other adoptive parents in the initial stages?
When I thought about the way I felt about my parents, my sister and my husband, there was no comparison. Yet I tried. I kept telling myself that I had to love him with all my heart.
I watched the other mothers in adoration of their children and felt like I had some kind of emotional disability. I was envious of that feeling, so beautiful and spontaneous and I worried a lot that it would never happen to me. It was a real torment.
One day I confided in my mother and she, as acute as ever, asked me this question: “If the house burns down, who would you attempt to save first?” I thought about this: My husband can take care of himself; therefore it is between our child and our cat. I replied to my mother: “I will save our cat, surely my husband will take care of our child.”
That was an epiphany for me, the revelation that something was wrong, in fact that something was really wrong. First I asked my husband to test the fire alarm in the house, just in case; then I desperately started looking for a way to get out of the emotional quagmire in which I was stuck.
Then I tried to do something completely new to me and possibly counter-intuitive: I pretended. I started to pretend to love my son deeply, living everyday life, regardless of all his behaviors and choices, as if I adored him.
It worked like a dream. Within a couple of months, I no longer had to pretend. The love for my son was with me, I could feel it. It had finally arrived! How was this even possible? I think this is what happened... By simply doing, thinking, living and “being” with love, the love became real.