Charles* was fleeing again.
He had no idea where he was headed. He just got into his car and aimed it west.
It was typical behavior for Charles; it was one of two responses to emotional pain. Adopted at birth, Charles escaped overwhelming feelings of rejection by either drinking himself into oblivion or driving off somewhere with no destination in mind. Unfortunately, there were times he'd done both and ended up in jail.
When I met Charles, he had been in and out of treatment programs a number of times. His sponsor at one of the treatment facilities unknowingly had contributed to his distress, causing him to cut and run. Charles had confided in his sponsor that he wanted to find his natural mother and that he was pretty sure she lived in the sponsor's small community. The sponsor offered to help him find her. Charles' hopes soared, only to be destroyed a few days later when his sponsor said the matter had been discussed with the facility's director, who told him that the plan had to be scrapped. "He needs to get his alcoholism under control first," the director said. (Do I hear groans here?)
It needs to be mentioned that his adoptive parents were very supportive of his efforts to connect with his first family. True, they didn't realize the depth of his anguish or how it drove his behavior. But their love for him was strong and steady; they tried to help him within the parameters of their understanding. He was an adult in his late twenties, so their sphere of influence was limited.
We found his family, and I will share more of his story in future postings. But for the purposes of this essay, I am focusing on his account of what happened on his drive west after one of his perceived rejections.
Sleeping Under the Stars
It was summer, and in the absence of better overnight accommodations on the long cross-country haul, a weary Charles pulled his car off the highway onto a side road and found a clump of bushes to huddle under. He slept soundly at first, then came wide awake with a jolt. He just knew - he just knew - his mother had died! Sleep was impossible for the rest of the night, so he hit the road again, making his way to a service station with a pay phone. (No cell phones yet.)
His dad answered the phone. A breathless Charles cried, "Mom died, didn't she?"
"No, no. She's fine. She's right here! Would you like to speak with her?"
With unfathomable relief, Charles spoke to his mom, trying to hide the near panic in his voice by making small talk about his unscheduled trip and assuring her he was OK.
Examining the Dates
Several years later, Charles was reunited with a sister, who had to disappoint him with the news that their mother was deceased. But he would make two very startling discoveries about her.
First, he discovered that he had met his mother and sister, unknowingly, some years before in a bar. They had sat together and chatted merrily, even leaving the bar at the same time. He remembered thinking as they walked down the steps together how nice this older lady was. He said he even wished she was the mother he was seeking!
Second, when he learned the date of his mother's death, he began to reconstruct the details of that westward trip he'd taken. What was the date of his night under the stars with its disturbing message that jolted him awake?
It came as no surprise to learn that the dates were spot on. His mother died that night.
Was she saying goodbye in a voice that only he could hear?
Charles is convinced of it. And so am I.
An Hour in the Drunk Tank - Charles Part 2
Here's another account of psychic connection between an adoptee and a first parent.