I met KatieP on Twitter and am so glad I did. Her blog is incredible: thoughtful, challenging in the best possible way, brave, pure. This piece she generously shares with us today was especially interesting to me as it involves both adoption and self-acceptance. It’s powerful, and I am honored to share it with you:
I spent the first thirteen days of my life in a white building that still stands at the top of the cliffs looking over the Opunake beach in New Zealand.
I was abandoned.
My mother was fifteen years old when she gave birth to me. It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to go through the shame of a pregnancy “out of wedlock” in the mid sixties. Her family sent her away from her home town in Christchurch to this tiny rural village under the shadow of Mt Egmont to try and conceal their shame.
Once I was born, my birth mother left me in the hands of the hospital and the social welfare system, trusting they would find a family who would want me.
Thirteen days later, my soon to be parents and almost brother took the forty-five minute car ride from New Plymouth to Opunake. It’s a story I’ve been told my whole life. The bassinet in the back seat, the teddy bear wrapped in pink paper and the fervent dreams of a woman who had experienced five miscarriages all converged on that day.
I was the baby girl they longed for, the final piece to complete their family, the most precious gift ever given and received.
I was chosen.
I was brought up in a family that loved me, and yet I always felt out-of-place. I had different DNA, different looks, a different temperament. I tried to fit in. I wanted to be the kind of girl they dreamed of, but I never made it.
I was too loud, too messy, too stubborn and too emotional. Somehow I believed I had to be perfect or they would stop loving me. I tried to so hard to please them.
Even into my adult years I kept it up. I didn’t marry a man who was passionate and challenging, I married a man who was normal and predictable. When I worked in show business and spent time away from home touring the world, my mother remarked I would probably lose him if I wasn’t there to cook his meals. I gave up freelancing and took a job that kept me at home.
But the cracks were showing.
I never gave my parents the grandchild they wanted so desperately. I blamed it on my career and then my age. They never knew it was because my husband told me I was too selfish and unloving to ever be a mother.
We never bought a house and paid off a mortgage. I used the excuse that house prices were too expensive in Sydney and we were unable to save a deposit. No-one knew it was because my husband spent our money on beer and whatever toys took his eye that week.
I lost 25 kilos and started working out in the gym six days a week. I pretended I was just staying fit and healthy as I got older. No-one knew I was bingeing in secret and hated the way I looked and who I had become.
All of that trying to be what other people expected me to be left me with an eating disorder, low self-esteem and a broken marriage.
If I wanted to blame something for the mess I got myself in, I could blame the fact I was adopted. Experts in the field of adoption speak of a “primal wound” adopted children carry for their entire lives.
I believe [...] that the severing of that connection between the child and biological mother causes a primal or narcissistic wound which often manifests in a sense of loss (depression), basic mistrust (anxiety), emotional and/or behavioral problems and difficulties in relationships with significant others. ~ Nancy Verrier MA
But I’m not blaming anyone any more.
I was neither abandoned nor chosen because both of those words relate to someone else … abandoned by whom? … chosen by whom?
My birth mother may have left me at the hospital because she thought it was best. My parents had high standards and approached life in the way they thought best. The story of my birth belongs to them, not me.
All I know is I’m here because I’m meant to be here. I have a gift to share with the world that can only be shared by me. I was born full of spirit, determination, passion and chaos.
I no longer hide who I am. I no longer look for approval. I know I am loved because I am exactly the way I am.
My origin story will always be important to the two women who are both my mothers.
But for me, it matters not how I got here, but what I’m going to do now I’m showing up as the real me.
KatieP discovered life doesn’t turn out the way it’s meant to. She believed if she was a good girl and followed the rules then she would live the life of her dreams. Instead, she ended up with an eating disorder and having to cope with her husband’s decision to kill himself.
When everything turned to shit she no longer had the energy to be the person she thought the world wanted her to be. She discovered that being her authentic self opened up a world of joy and peace beyond anything she’d ever imagined.
She blogs at head ♥ heart ♥ health where she shares everything she knows (and what she’s learning) about holding on to her authentic self in the midst of an imperfect life.