Just a short observation

(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.

Some books after a long absence

(first published July 2007)

I apologize for my long blog respite … this current pregnancy has kicked my proverbial behind. 😉 All available energy has gone to more necessary pursuits. Luckily for the gads of people who read this blog (*cough, cough* I know there is at least one of you, lol) I have felt so sick the past few days I’ve done little else than lie around, read, think, and take care of the bare minimum of necessities here (which is still a full time job).

I don’t know if other adopted people feel this way, but every time I think about “what could have caused me to think/behave _____ way” I feel like I can blame everything on my adoption. Shy? It’s the adoptions fault. People pleaser? Adoption. Selfish? Same. That’s not to say I have no fault through my free will, but I feel I often times think, “I can’t help it, being adopted makes me afraid of X,Y, or Z so I act without really thinking.”

All that to say, I have finished two books lately. One is The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron and the other (90% finished) is Pathway to Purpose for Women by Katie Brazelton.

The Highly Sensitive Person was good, although it didn’t give me enough *practical* pointers to help my day to day living (what?? No chapter on how to be a homeschooling mother of 5+ kids?? LOL)….plus, it was a little too “new agey/psychobabbly” for me and several things went against what the Catholic Church teaches. Minor points, but still…

Reading that book made me come to the conclusion that being adopted on TOP of being a highly sensitive person (HSP)is a kind of bad combination. I was more likely than a non-HSP to be aware of every little nuance of what was going on in my household growing up – but being a child would not understand all of it and would tend to blame myself. Mom mad? Must be me. Brother in trouble again? Me. I have no idea how, but it *must* be my fault somehow.

I know all kids do that to a point, but being more sensitive to the subtleties of the emotional lives of my family would make it happen *more often* to an HSP than a non-HSP. That is a lot of pressure for one child. Funny thing is, I think being an HSP also *helped* me get through it … as I child I was always able to see past it all, to the bigger picture, and realize that no matter what, everything would be OK, somehow. Like if my parents argued, I hated it, blamed myself, got really overaroused internally…. BUT, in contrast to my brother (6 years my elder) who would come into my room crying and sure my parents were going to divorce, I would be able to comfort HIM and know that even if they DID, we’d get by. Somehow.

Being an adopted HSP seems to make me feel more strongly the “oh no I’m going to be abandoned again – I’d better go nuts trying to make everyone love me” feeling that comes with every new challenge. (Can I just interrupt myself here that being a Catholic homeschooling mom of soon to be 5 kids, *every day* seems like a new challenge? LOL) Yes, it’s overreacting, but I still feel it strongly and that primal urge to be safe kicks in quickly.

Not sure what to do with all this info yet, but I think it does give me a little hope that I can *forgive myself* for some of my crazy acting, and try to work towards ways of not needing to do it anymore.

On to the Pathway for Purpose book. It is about discovering your purpose in life, what God desires you do.

Two chapters specifically spoke to me as an adopted person. One was on serving – in love, to bring glory to God. The other was about being a woman of integrity – doing things for the *right* motives, and realizing what your motives for certain actions really are.

Serving in *love* is something I have a great problem with, and I think it actually ties in to the integrity chapter. I don’t serve with love, I serve in fear, I think. Fear that others won’t like me any more, fear that my family will leave me, or that CPS will come to my door and take my family away. It’s a feeling that I must keep all “balls in the air” at *all costs*. Now, fear and love cannot exist in the same place! “Perfect love casts out fear,” says the Bible (somwehere, lol). I need to get over this underlying constant fear, and look at the people God has placed with me with only love, and do for them out of love. Again, not sure how to go about this, but I have some books on the shelf that I think will help. 🙂

Here is a quote I liked from that chapter:

“Sometimes God asks us to serve in an assignment that is way outside our comfort zone or area of giftedness [i.e. almost everything in my life right now, lol!] He may do this to stretch our faith or teach us a valuable lesson. In all honesty, servanthood assignments of this type still sound as awful to me as “Please, let’s go camping!” They can trigger a “Poor me!” feeling of personal martyrdom. For that response, I repent each time, knowing that if I care deeply abobut what my Father wants of me, there is no room for self-pity.”

The next chapter was on integrity – realizing your true motives for things. Like I said earlier, my motives for doing things *rarely* seems to be love. Now, I do have a love for certain people, and it is easier to do things out of love for them, but I still slip into many other reasons during the daily grind of constant serving of family/friends, and even those I love, because part of this whole adoption “problem” is acting out of fear that you will lose those you love.

Some of the motives stated (many of which I have acted because of): impressing someone, getting sympathy, avoiding embarrassment, making people like us, getting my way, guitly feelings, reducing loneliness, satisfying curiosity … I’m sure there are many other possibilities.

The author recommends looking over your day/week/month/life and seeing your motives for what they are – repenting of those that are wrong motives, and asking God for the grace and strength do do things for the right motives – to bring glory to God, to love Him, to serve Him, and to show your love for others. A tall order, but isn’t there a saying about being aware of your problem has solved half the battle?