Feeling like Atlas

Today I was reading Unwelcome Inheritance: Break your Family’s Cycle of Addictive Behaviors by Lisa Sue Woititz and the late Dr. Janet G. Woititz.  The reason I’m reading it is another post for another day, but I was struck by one line in the introduction.

She says a particular chapter suggests that ” we ACoA [Adult Children of Alcoholics] expand our life view to include the other generations of our families. Doing this helps us to see ourselves as part of history, which takes us out of and beyond ourselves.” (emphasis mine)

I don’t know about you, but as an adoptee I have always felt the great burden of the lack of this in my life. I always felt dropped from outer space.  “Viewing other generations” of my adoptive family just felt weird, foreign, not mine. Hearing that the grandfather of my adoptive mother stowed away on a cargo ship to reach America was fascinating, but just as personal as if I had heard it about my friend’s great grandfather.  I care(d) about my adoptive family, so what was amazing for them made me happy, but I was happy for *them* not *for us.*

Being other in a family of not other made me stuck in myself, and not in a selfish way — I was not full of myself or thinking I was top dog or anything — but because it felt like my story began and ended at me, I felt everything was up to me and everything was because of me and my fault.   I say “felt” but honestly, I have a very hard time shaking this and it’s really still present tense.

This is a horrible burden for a child. Your family abandoned you, you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, you somehow have to “fix” it because it hurts, you have to “fix” your family because they wanted a girl and couldn’t have a girl and you’re it, you’re that girl it’s all up to you…and you’re seven.

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