Driven by Guilt


I’ve been planing on going to India this winter for at least a few months now. It has been a stressful process and I’ve done a pretty good job of procrastinating about the important things like determining what I’m going to be doing while there.

The idea really solidified itself after a few weeks of meeting with Dr. F. She has been very helpful in getting me to think about and hold these thoughts with me over a longer and sustained period of time. I normally have a hard time keeping something going for more than a few months and speaking with her once a week has kept it in my mind. It has made me want to be able to report progress as much to her as to myself each week. It’s good, but stresses me out. I tend to focus on the logistical challenges rather than trying to understand why I am doing this or what I am trying to get out of the trip back.

One thing has become clear and that has been that there are two types of connection, at least, that I have been yearning for. One is the blood/familial connection with people who knew me as a baby and the other is to learn about Indian culture. It’s all scary shit with so many layers of uncertainty, it feels exhausting thinking about all the possible options of outcomes of different approaches to searching. It fucking scares the shit out of me. I mean, what the hell am I doing? It seems kind of ludicrous in some ways but it also feels so important. I want it to be a lot more simple than it is and I want there to be a right first step but there isn’t.

I keep wanting to treat this process of searching like I approach my work. I like to develop processes and hone in on the right or seemingly best approach to a problem and then test out that approach and tweak it before actually implementing. The feedback loops in the searching process are less certain and it is harder to test out different approaches. It’s kind of a just go for and see what the fuck happens.

I think, too, I am genuinely concerned that something awful could happen that could make things really hard. Like finding someone and having them reject me or say they didn’t want me in their live or not have the ability to be a part of their life. I don’t know how I would deal with that kind of rejection, it would really hurt and I’m not ready for that outcome. Frankly, I’m not sure what outcome/s I am ready for. It feels almost equally overwhelming to find someone and have them want me to be a part of their life. How do I balance that? How then do I determine where to be and how to make them part of my life? I don’t even know if I want that. I mean, they could be shitty people and I may not want to be close to them. I can’t tell how much of my desire to search is driven by my need to actually find someone and establish those new relationships or how much of it is just to make me feel like I have done everything in my power to make that connection happen.

A primary motivation for searching for me is guilt. You may remember the little revelation I had some time ago that pushed me over the edge in terms of whether or not I thought I should search. I came to the conclusion shortly after beginning writing and reading other peoples’ stories. I remember reading a piece that focused on the loss that mother’s feel when relinquishing or surrendering a child. Reading that account was heart breaking. It was so hard to fathom the sense of loss that a mother would feel particularly if coerced. Even in situations where it is a fully consensual relinquishment there is still the tug of loss. As I sat there starting at my lit laptop reading those words I began to feel how important and meaningful it would be for the relinquished child to seek out the mother. It became apparent to me how meaningful that could be to the mother to help her get over that sense of loss. I then realized that I was in that same situation except I was playing to part of the child with, in this case, some level of agency and ability to right this wrong. Situating myself as a part of that narrative made me feel guilty that I had not already begun searching for my birth mother. What if she was sitting there waiting for her long lost boy to search her out? How could I pass up the opportunity to heal that wound?

I want this trip to be good, I want it to be productive and to feel like it was the right thing to do for me and for anyone I am able to find. It’s impossible to guarantee that the outcome will be positive or even constructive and that makes it much harder for me to motivate and concentrate on what necessary steps I need to take before traveling. Yes, I could just go and “figure it out” when I arrive but doing this trip alone makes that option seem really dangerous. I get really anxious without some plan or level of certainty and this is situation is pretty much defined by uncertainty. Ugh.

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One thought on “Driven by Guilt

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Kumar. It’s raw and real and honest. I hear how hard it is to not know what the ‘right’ path is, and I hear all of your fears, and in the meantime, I want you to know that I’m proud of you, so much so, for all that you are doing.

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