Living Purposefully


Taking lessons has really been good for me, simply because it gives a little focus to my life apart from school.  Now that I’m doing this, I can’t imagine going back to the dichotomy of school or not school:  it’s been a poor excuse for a life thus far, and adding another dimension is so enriching, even if I am a crappy student.  I hope all my fellow English teachers DO SOMETHING besides just working for the money and living for the weekend as well.  Because that gets old, real fast.

Saturday morning after my Friday night lesson, I felt so industrious.  I made board games for my study abroad class and laminated them.  I reinforced my large English subway map (I’ve gone through three already.  This might be the world’s largest subway system, and most of the maps you need a magnifying glass to read – AND – most are in Korean.  There are only about four stations w/ tourist information centers, so my subway map is pure gold) with scotch tape so it will last, I re-arranged the kitchen dishes, I went shopping, I cooked.  Felt great.

Today I must dye my hair, go have coffee with a friend, meet another friend for the annual lantern festival in Seoul, and then write a short bio essay for YTN appealing for my family to come forward, which will be recorded on Monday.  Kind of dreading that.

I actually hate talking about adoption and always have.  I hate its constant presence in my life, even when I’m NOT doing a birth family search.  You can’t go one day without something thrown in your face that makes you hesitate, shake it off, and go on.  Hard to describe, but whenever anyone talks about their mom or dad, for instance, ADOPTION pops into your head and you have to beat it away.  Or sister or brother.  Or any mention of any family by anyone ever.  And there are hundreds of other triggering words that bring up adoption.  And you brush them all aside.  But there’s never any respite from these reminders that you never had what they all take for granted.

I just wish the whole world would stop talking about their families for one minute.  It’s always been just me.  The thought of something beyond  that is unfathomable.  It’s enough to make your whole world come crashing down, the fact everyone has what you’ve been denied.  So all that love everyone else gets hurts me.  And I have to build a shield against it all.  It’s a delicate super structure that’s taken a life time to erect.  And every reminder by people that humans have a legacy and foundations and support and, etc. rips a hole in that fabric.  And like an insect, I must repair, repair, repair.  I will spend the rest of my days repairing this shelter I have made.  Without it, I am like an organism with no skin.  raw. susceptible.

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4 thoughts on “Living Purposefully

  1. i can totally relate, in a different way. losing my dad so young and so suddenly made me really appreciate my mom and sisters and brother in a way i don’t think i would have otherwise. and i agree, there are soo many things in daily life that can be reminders of what you’ve lost/don’t have, i use them to remind me of what i do have though.

    awesome post!

  2. Thank you, Mei-Ling…and you too, Kelly.

    As a sample dialog for my students, I asked my co-teacher about her family. She described her sister who was younger by two years, and how she was her best friend. And then she described how they do everything together and how the whole family often does things together. “And what about you?”

    Good question. Paralyzing question. I always have to scramble for some half truth that doesn’t sound as bad as it is. I even knew this question was coming – hell, it was in the lesson plan I wrote. All abused people from loveless homes probably feel this way. But an adopted abused person also feels a bitterness and betrayal that goes beyond that. And to be sentenced to alien status wherever you live for the rest of our life is beyond history.

    I have my kids. I had to make my own family. And part of my growth as a person is not only dealing with these daily reminders – whenever I see families laughing and enjoying each other’s company – but also working towards recognizing the feminist issues behind my mother’s abandoning me and trying to help broaden Korea’s culture and response to social issues.

    My friend Jane Jeong Trenka, an earlier returning adoptee, is a co-founder of TRACK, the truth and reconciliation organization for adoptees, and is giving a lecture Thursday. She helped get my case presented to the Korean National Assembly. She helped my friend Kimmette get her Korean identity papers back. She’s working to improve the laws for all Korean adoptees – in the past, present, and future. I hope I can contribute to what she and Tobias Hubinette started.

    I need to remember that this discomfort – no one should ever have to go through what I did. I need to remember, every time I feel this, to get involved and work to prevent it. As I get more settled, I can see the time is drawing near to meet and join my activist friends here in Korea. That’s the kind of optimism I hold onto.

  3. Meanwhile, about your planned trips to rural sites where people practicin the old traditions…Jack and I went to one in northern Japan called Hida-No-Sato. It was definitely designed for urban Japanese tourists but we did not find it too creepy. And I DID try to learn to weave straw. Still have the piece of it somewhere. I agree with your friend that if your expectations aren’t too high, it’s quite a nice experience.

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