shame shifting

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself.

~Mark Twain

That pretty much sums up what I hear from adoptees. Their search to learn to be comfortable in their own skins is poignantly portrayed in fiction but often avoided in real life.  Being an adoptee is such a vivid portrayal of  something everybody has to learn.

Me, I’m getting over trying to explain my bad behavior and recognizing we  each do our best with what we know at the time.

I find myself stumbling on shame, as though the world (or anyone) is deserving of a better person than me is something I share with the rest of the world too. What kind of BS is that? I get over one shame and up pops another one.

For years I indulged in regret, shame  and unworthiness for buying the message that I would be detrimental; that my baby would be better off without me, that an adoptive family would provide a much better life than I would, that  I was  the only loser and deserved the grief.

Clinging to the dream that a “qualified” loving and adoring family was blessed to have such a beautiful being in their life blurred my vision of what her experience actually was.

Really nothing new here.  I was hurt and angry and ashamed of being coerced.  Now I’m in the next part, reunion

My dream of the idyllic loving family was shattered. My daughter was conditioned against me.   Though I sacrificed her against my personal wishes, I was to blame for gaping emotional holes, because I am and always have been her mother. Actions in ignorance returned to me.

Meeting my daughter who was now a young mother, vulnerable and confused, I felt rejected. For years our communication was biased by my self rejection and inadequacy.  How could I be so heartless? How could I be so mean? (so weak, so pathetic?)

I  finally figured it out. I did it by simply vacillating between denial and shame, taking all the hurt and anger and blame against myself. I mowed myself down with it.

What I achieved before reunion was won by crawling up from the depths of abandonment of my daughter and myself, of the rejection of myself and the world. I treasured my family of four. Raising two young children, my primary goal was insuring they knew they were loved. I tried to translate that in reuniting with Joy, to extend that loving to her too, the daughter I had failed.

Our reunion fell into hurtful recriminating patterns.  I couldn’t cope with the blame. I resisted in shame, feeling as helpless as when she was born — the ever present blame of leaving my firstborn to the care of strangers. These strangers …

… were the people that stood in my place. These were her parents. They did their best, just as I did mine.

Beginning our reunion, I couldn’t comprehend the difficulties Joy was experiencing. She had the high moral ground. I took a defensive position. There were huge gaps in our communication.   She had her pride and I had mine. Being raised in silence, being introverted, being the ‘responsible party’, all contributed to keeping my feelings unspoken. Protecting her from my pain and lack of confidence gave the impression I didn’t care.

Learning to be comfortable in this skin of mine, with my experiences starts with facing  all of it.  Communicating with those who understand and accept me is easing me into understanding and accepting myself.  As I come to terms with myself, it becomes easier to accept the various responses I get from others.

Part of a story of closed adoption morphing through reunion to openness.


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