Seeking Peace, Finding Kindness.
2008. I’m 40. I write a short story about my search for my birth mother, how in 1998, after searching for six years — after a social worker said it was impossible— I found her but she was already dead. I write about how finding answers soothed my soul at the same time grief shattered it. I show it to a friend, a screenwriter and former New York Times journalist who says, “holy shit, you’re a writer.” It is the first time I’ve shown someone my writing. He suggests I turn it into a screenplay, so with his help and the help of other screenwriter friends, I write a screenplay.
Some people read it and like it and wow, maybe I really am a writer. The news horrifies my husband — a film producer — now his wife is like everyone else in this town asking him to read their script, but he is a good husband, so he reads it and, much to his cynical surprise, he likes it. He sends it to his friend, a big fancy agent. His friend, the big fancy agent, does not like my script.
“She sucks. She should never write again.”
Not “it needs work” or “it’s not commercial enough,” no, the big fancy agent issues an edict, an absolute, a nuclear blast. I’m devastated. But instead of giving up, I say “fuck you big fancy agent” and keep writing.
2018. I’m 50. I’ve been searching for my birth father for 26 years. I’ve followed false leads, DNA tested with the wrong man — thanked a God I do not believe in it wasn’t him — put my DNA on websites and prayed to that same God the right man would one day appear.
That one day is a quiet Sunday morning with an Ancestry.com first cousin match, an unusual last name, two hours on the internet and a call to a stranger in Brewster, Massachusetts. My father. I have two half-sisters. My soul, my broken soul feels something I cannot describe. He tells me he’s not sure he wants a relationship, but the next day calls back and says, “If I would have known, I would have raised you. Let’s stay in touch.”
Six months later, I fly alone to Boston and a white-haired man with shining blue eyes just like mine stands at baggage claim — exactly where he told me he would stand — I hug him and feel his heartbeat next to mine and we laugh and cry and get in his dusty Subaru for the drive to his home on the Cape. In the car, the producer of the television show I’m writing for calls me to give me notes on the episode I submitted that morning before boarding the plane. “I have to call you back. I’m in the car with my father.”
2022. I’m 54. I’ve been on anti-depressants for 3 years. Adoption reunion stirred up trauma and pain and made it impossible for me to muscle through the Depression I’ve lived with my entire life. The medication works. I’m alive, but I long for more than just “being alive.” I long to be present and feel the joy I know exists in the world so I yoga and spin and walk and fuck and eat and shop, but I cannot grasp what others so easily hold.
It’s spring, two years since a pandemic has sidelined life and infected us with more sadness than a virus ever could. A friend gives me a micro dose of psilocybin — magic mushrooms — and I take it. It changes my life. I feel the presence and peace that has eluded me for decades. I begin micro dosing several days a week, lower my antidepressant dosage with no uptick in depressive or anxious symptoms. I am optimistic, hopeful, able to see the kaleidoscope of beauty in the world and my life.
November arrives and I wake up one Tuesday morning to learn a movie I co-wrote — my original story and script — has been nominated for 11 Emmy awards. It wins four. Take that, big fancy agent.
Giving up is grossly overrated.