#3, Daniel

In the chaotic years of my life, I tried to live a life of perfection and ideals that were simply impossible achievements for me. Probably for anyone. I'd learned to function under extreme stress, verbal abuse and craziness. Dodging the barrage of hurled insults became a natural way of life for me. Sadly, when I could stand no more I learned to fire them back. Once the assaults moved away, I unknowingly still believed them and lived under the weight of their oppression. When the voices in my head automatically played the tapes, I thought it was true because my reality became what someone said it was. Oh, I tried to tell myself these things weren't true and I wasn't all he said I was, but my lifestyle told another story. I parented the best I knew how, but I longed for someone to validate me as a woman and an individual person. I provided my sons with as much love as anyone could but gave myself no love, no grace, and no room for growth.

Sounds crazy, doesn't it? But that reality is what so many people live with day in and day out. Codependency is manifested in many ways through many situations and often so discreetly that one is unaware of the depth of impact on oneself. So anyway....

I had wonderful friends and tried to fill the void with activity all the while trying to squelch the feelings and thoughts I had regarding intimacy, love and sex. Because I hadn't sorted through the lies in the depth of my soul, I couldn't begin to figure out what was healthy for me. Unaware, I walked around in horrific pain with a smile always plastered on my face.

In an effort to feel womanly, worthy, accepted and loved I looked for love in all the wrong places. If a date treated me as we all deserved to be treated, with respect and kindness, I transformed into a sappy, silly adolescent girl. I was sure he thought I was someone special and must have true love feelings for me because he made me feel beautiful. My psyche was so tainted I didn't know that there was really nothing special going on here ~ this was the way one person should treat another. Period. My dates were brief, ended up with sex and then I was alone again, naturally.

The result of one of those dates gave me the gift of pregnancy. I was mortified. It mattered not that at that time of my life I WAS on birth control for menstrual issues. It mattered not that truthfully this man and I had sex ONE time. It mattered not that I was a woman of 35 and not a girl of 17 facing an unplanned pregnancy. I was in guttural anguish. Every fiber of my being was crushed and destroyed and I never felt so alone. My thoughts went from abortion to running away ~ from keeping this baby to placing it into an adoptive home. To put it lightly, I was simply reeling.

I had prayed long and deep about this decision and felt for once that I listened to wisdom from God as my Father. Rifling through stacks of profiles from the agency I was working with wasn't easy. I could feel through the profiles just how desperately these families wanted a child. My 3rd son Daniel was born the day before my 36th birthday. Believing that God works perfectly through our messes, I chose to place Daniel into an adoptive home with two parents who had displayed great faith, humor and stability.

Because I came from a large family and love that fact, I chose parents who already had other children. I wanted Daniel to learn right from the start that life didn't revolve around him and that he would have to share; that he could experience great camaraderie in a larger family full of love. Five years later Daniel's parents also adopted a set of twins putting him smack in the middle of a family with 6 children. Loved it!

The years moved quickly and Daniel thrived through them. This family endured what most families battle. One of their sons struggled through addictions and school. The twins had serious, serious health concerns possibly relating to a birth mom's drug abuse. Just by virtue of living on this earth, I'm sure this family had many more struggles of which I'll never know. Daniel, however, continued to do well in school, church and sports.

Yesterday my phone rang and it was Daniel's Mom, Carol. Daniel was not only participating in but also being honored as part of a Division 1, 1st Team Defensemen on an All State Lacrosse Team (he's in the orange, #3). I was invited to join them and watch Daniel play, but had a prior commitment. In the course of our lengthy conversation I mentioned to Carol that I would be attending a seminar just 10 minutes from their home and maybe we could meet one evening. Asking where I was staying resulted in an invitation to stay with them for several nights saving additional hotel fees. Per my request, my acceptance hinged on Daniels approval ~ he did and I did. Toward the end of our conversation, Daniel and I talked for a minute. I wanted to tell him just how proud I have been over the years and that I've consistently prayed for his life, his choices and his future. He's been given a scholarship, sight unseen, to a Div 2 school in Florida. For 18 years Daniel's parents and I have shared an unbelievable relationship, undergirded by faith, and I've been so blessed knowing how his parents have raised all of their children. They've honored me in the way they've raised Daniel.

Carol and I talked for 45 minutes as sisters of the heart. We are. We share a love for a son.