Last weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to go on my second, birth-first mom retreat. I am finding it difficult to talk about in it’s wholeness, but the experience and what I can tell you is that I met some of the bravest women in this life. From the get go, Friday night, I opened up to others for the first time in forever. No more faking the happiness I felt. While I was genuinely excited to go to the retreat, I was also struggling with feelings of self-worth and value, as well as shame.
The shame was overwhelming, and for the first time in 6 years I shared my story to the fullest I have yet, with this group of women I just barely met. I expected to be cast out and to be told to leave, but was instead greeted with acceptance and love.
The weekend was broken into large sessions of open discussion about adoption as a whole. We covered topics that I have to say brought up some really painful thought processes. To know that someone out there felt the same physical grief as I, was something beyond a great reveal.
The weekend went fast, too fast.
One of the traditions that the group does is you get a giant post-it note and stand up and with sharpie in hand, are then told all the great things that people see you as. Some of them caused a death glare (sunny) while others made me smile. I couldn’t believe that people could see worth in me. Someone called me brave and good. Someone called out love… The best word that someone said to describe me was when they said his name.
“You’re like, rising out of the ashes, yeah, a phoenix.” It brought fresh tears to my eyes and a sob to my throat. One of the leaders quietly said, “That is her baby’s name.”
Now I am home one week later and I look at the poster and I am reminded of what I left behind, in the safety of that unbreakable bubble. It doesn’t matter who I used to be, what I used to do, because it is not me. I left feeling alive and wanted to for the first time in awhile.
Every woman, every story was a nugget of wealth. We embraced one another with love, and left behind in each other a part of each person’s story. I am struggling with the after effects of the retreat, feeling like the safety is off on life now, and my words aren’t enough to describe or do justice to the emotions I am experiencing. I know that I am not alone, but most importantly, the thing I walked away with was a pride in myself for choosing life, and choosing beyond what I had wanted.
I claim today the honor of being able to say I loved someone more than me and I am not alone. I reclaim love for myself, and forgive myself for my past decisions.
My name is Nellie, and I am proud to be a birth mother.
Photo Credit: Nellie