Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Born in Prison

Huffington Post offers an excerpt of what looks to be a powerful new memoir, Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus: Inside the World of a Woman Born in Prison, by Deborah Jiang Stein. She's an adoptee who knew she was adopted but discovered a letter at age 12 that revealed that she was born in prison to a heroin addict.  Her reaction to this discovery:
It can't be true. How am I lovable if it is true? Who loves anyone from prison? If people find out my secret, then what?

My skin itches as if tiny ants crawl along the bones in my forearms and I scratch so hard, red streaks rise on my skin. I splash water onto my burning face but give up. None of it washes away what I know isn't there, but I think I'm coated with grime on my cheeks, hot to my hands. I can't stop splashing my face to get rid of the gritty scratch in my eyes and to rinse the sourness in my mouth.

Born in prison? Nobody's born in prison.

Then something sinks in. My "real" mother's an addict and criminal. My "real" home is a prison.

While I don't understand until decades later, the trauma of learning about my prison birth sent me into a deep dive, an emotional lockdown behind a wall which imprisoned me for almost twenty years. The letter forced me into an impossible choice between two mothers, two worlds far apart. One mother in prison, behind bars, a criminal, a drug addict, a woman who tugs at me, her face and voice, images and her sound buried deep in my subconscious. The other mother, the one I face every day, the one who keeps fresh bouquets of flowers on our teak credenza. I don't connect with this mother.

I'm not hers. Not theirs.
This is only an excerpt of the excerpt, so go to Huffington Post to read the whole thing.  And if you've read the book, tell us about it in the comments.

No comments: