(first published May 2012)
I’m reading The Undervalued Self by Elaine Aron (author of The Highly Sensitive Person). Honestly, I’m not deeply reading it, more of an intense skim, lol. She has a chapter on childhood trauma. I’m kind of miffed that she doesn’t list adoption on there, while she discusses many other similar and even lesser traumas – I mean seriously, if “having a parent go to the hospital for a week” can be mentioned as traumatic, dontcha think being abandoned by the people who should care for you should rank up there?…but anyway, I digress, this post is not about that. 🙂 The chapter got me thinking: it talks about how trauma can be even more distressing when the small child is not supported through it.
I thought back to my own childhood, which probably mirror that of thousands of other adopted kids of my age. It was a “good” childhood, my parents were “good” parents. Around the age of four I started having some understanding and memory of the fact that I was adopted and that it was different from normal. As was typical at the time, my adoption was hyped up as this Great Thing. “Isn’t It Wonderful You Were Chosen!”
This thought has not been well dissected by me yet but I’m throwing it out here anyway: perhaps having what really is a trauma, a thing to truly grieve over (being abandoned by your parents at any age), and having others talk to you as if it’s wonderful, just makes it more traumatic for the poor kid going through it. I mean seriously, would you tell someone whose parents died at two months old, “That’s great! Now you get to be raised by these nice people!” No! You would sympathize. “How awful. I’m sorry.” The trauma is not just ignored, it’s made out to be something wonderful. The older I get the more un-wonderful I realize it was.
It’s no wonder I’m crazy.