how to live with a stranger

When your biological identity is shrouded in mystery, you have an evolving relationship with that missing piece of yourself.

As a baby who was separated by thousands of miles, continents, and language from the flesh and blood people from whom I had received my, well, flesh and blood–I came to understand that I was a character in a story. The creation of my family–my adoptive family and God. My flesh and blood were actually paper and ink. The certificates and naturalization papers that linked me to the people who were responsible for my survival.

The mystery first belongs to others. Like armchair Sherlock Holmes, people relish the speculation. You’re a curiosity. Like a puzzle, they fill in the blanks. Not to really know, but to prove how clever they are. They refuse to allow you to become a cold case. You have the honor of being cast as a character in a fairy tale or ancient Biblical story. Your mystery is others’ sport.

The problem is that it really isn’t. It’s your life.

As you come to understand its significance, you fight to retrieve the mystery from the hacks: Boy meets girl. Boy dumps girl. The inevitable broken heart that leads to nameless, birthday-less baby. Cliche story writers.

You write your own stories. Others label them fantasies. But it was your story that was interrupted. Not theirs. You attempt to find ways to protect the blank page that is you. You understand intuitively all the reflections that others have projected onto your mystery. Desires. Hopes. The rescue motif.

Both the past and future ultimately seem up to you. This both paralyzes and frees.

When you return to the country of the original mystery. Where the deep chasm first started as a tiny crack in two people’s relationship, you peer over the edge. The crevasse is much deeper and wider than you anticipated, but it is also somehow less engulfing in its proximity. You face the mystery. Conquering it by your very presence. Respecting its power.

At the same time, forces beyond your control, continue to prevent you from scaling the depths, really exploring what’s inside. the closer you get, the more you understand the impossibility of truly getting to the bottom. You are faced with the echo-y depths that are beyond reach.

Or if you are able to spelunker down because of a random reason or another, you become more aware of the intricacies of the mystery. The mystery is actually complicated by reality, not made more plain.

Yet, you wrap yourself even tighter in the mystery that has now defined you for so long. You are not willing to give it up. Even for reality.

What does it mean to come to know yourself as having large chunks of identity invisible? Shadowy. Unretrievable.

You embrace the enigma. You guard it. You find others with transparent souls. Holograms. You put your hands through each other.

for Nichole. Thanks.

About jaclynfre

Tech integration specialist, recipe adventurer, fast walker, sporadic writer, aunt, sister and daughter
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3 Responses to how to live with a stranger

  1. xela47 says:

    Jackie – Nichole here, thank you for the dedication : ). I wonder if I lost god when I found out my b mom was dead – it was surprising to me that at some unconscious level I must have had the hope that she would come to “save” me. No one can rescue you entirely, even if she had been alive, it was not her duty to do that. Letting go of the idea of “salvation” has made my life seem more meaningful, I have found beauty and joy in the unfolding of my life. I no longer have to be angry or confused about a god that makes no sense, I do not have to wonder about the grand design, I can say (for me only) that the weight of being morally responsible because it is up to me as an individual to set the standard of what I would like our humanity to be for my child, weighs more than doing it simply because of a fear of god (for me only again – I can’t comprehend of a god that would want you to do something only because you fear hell or fear shame from your fellow church people – over a god that would appreciate the fact that you do what is right because you feel the weight of leading a life that you would want others to lead). Christianity is a heavy burden to bear, but if there is no escape and *this* is what it is, then *this* has more meaning, more weight, and makes it even more important to love one another and treat each other with respect *now*, at least for me, at this point in my life.

    • xela47 says:

      Hmm…I just tried to delete the above after realizing how offensive it may be to some, I think the blogger has to manage it – so feel free to delete above and delete this reply to delete : ). I have no idea what has more meaning or weight or importance, and I find great comfort in knowing that others feel the depth and significance in things beyond what can be explained. The vastness of what I don’t know overwhelms me; I am just trying to figure out how to live fully and set an example for my son. For me, that means truly appreciating and making the best of what I have. I did not get to choose the life I fell into, and I don’t think being a good person prior to my personhood, was what gave me the blessings that I have now. I think it may just be the order of events that happened, and it is not fair or just that I am fortunate enough to have food in my belly, clothes on my back, a beautiful son, and a comfortable house while others are simply struggling to survive. So, I have a hard time believing that there was anything I could have done to deserve the blessings that I have, or that those who are struggling in horrendous conditions did anything to deserve the life that they fell into. I feel like all I can do is to do my best and be kind to those I hold closest to me and hopefully do what ever else I can to help others find a little more ease or contentment in their lives too.

  2. xela47 says:

    In the process of making kimchi…think I may have touched upon why I have such a need to figure out the date that I was born (and all the other information that came before the first picture of the record of my existence, you know the picture…the one where you look oddly like a miniature Asian prisoner…number tagged to your shirt, black and white, sad look in your eyes).

    I think I need to know because, like the lady in the podcast that isn’t sure she isn’t dead…I am like the lady that isn’t sure that she was ever born. Maybe I just want concrete evidence that I was born…something that people that have birth certificates without “unknown” filled in in every box have a hard time understanding.

    Of course I realize that I exist, but my record starts at some random toddler stage where I had a number pinned to my chest, no name, no record.

    Nothing, like a Korean version of the cabbage patch doll…a rice field doll? Ugh.

    Anyway, how this ties in to the above…I think this whole idea of existence…is just…like…a large picture window on the penthouse floor of a high rise apartment complex that has no idea that it cannot withstand the tumultuous storm rolling in on the beautiful and magnificent perfect dark gray clouds, until, suddenly ….it sees the thousands and thousands pieces of glass surrounding a curious slanty eyed toddler wondering where her mommy is. There is nothing like the feeling of uncertainty, or even worse, the feeling of not knowing that you did not know that you did not know that you did not know.

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