I finally submitted something I wrote regarding my birth mother this past weekend. I wrote it last November thinking maybe something would change. My return to Korea changed nothing. The COVID-19 pandemic changed nothing.

In my mind, I believe nothing will change her from the course of action she’s taken. However, my stubbornness and perhaps willful denial held out a small amount of hope. Ironic that the stubbornness that held out hope is also the same stubbornness that I see in my mother. The parallels are unmistakable. When my mind is made up, there is little that can deter me from my decision. I believe this to be true for my mother. It is the reason I am confident we will never reunite.

As someone who finds emotions messy and unnecessary, tackling the unforgiving grief around my mother has been a monumental pain in my ass. It is not as if I am unaware of its existence, it is just that I don’t want to confront things that have been dormant my entire life. Again, the parallel with my mother and her actions can be seen and felt. It is there. It is unmistakable. Her presence is still felt in much of what I do and how I process everything.

Grieving a Memory

I can’t say I’ve never met my mother because that would be untrue. Which is part of the reason why I find it very difficult to grieve the loss of a relationship with her. I don’t know anything about her other than what she’s shown me and even with that, I can acknowledge it doesn’t paint a complete picture. But how does one grieve the loss of something that never was?

In allowing myself to feel whatever I feel, I still feel silly when it comes to processing the grief around my mother. The anger I feel is something that has dissipated, and it has never felt silly to me. In the same vein, the sadness that I have felt has never felt silly. But grief? The grief around it has been by far the most harrowing for me to deal with. And by “deal with” what I really mean is pretending and ignoring it until I can’t pretend or ignore it anymore.

If at First, You Don’t Succeed

The grief around my adoptive father was pretty cut and dry. While I find myself missing him at strange and often inconvenient times, it has been a process that I have accepted. I have learned to let him go.

The grief around my mother is something that I continually have to confront. The process around it isn’t linear. It is nonsensical to me in a way that is both frustrating and slightly cruel. Its unforgiving nature leaves me with a vulnerability I can’t defend against.

Unforgiving Grief, A Lesson Still to Learn

When faced with challenges in life, I look at what lessons I should/could/need to learn. Emotional vulnerability is a lesson that has presented itself throughout my life. It is my Achilles heel. So it makes sense that this unforgiving grief ties into a vulnerability that makes me feel defenseless.

Perhaps it isn’t just the grief but also the vulnerability that is relentless. A one-two punch, each blow more powerful than the one before it. Which explains why the lesson around my mother is one that has been left unlearned.

It could be that I am not ready to let go of her. The only thing I have left of her, of our relationship that never was, is my grief. Perhaps the lesson is still being taught. Perhaps I still have much to learn.

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