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Physical and emotional scars…

04 Feb

The other day I stapled my finger, it caused a momentary sting, I noticed it was bleeding, put a band-aid on and went back to what I was doing.  Until I sat down to write this post, I didn’t think of it because the wound was so minor I’d forgotten it in a matter of days.  If I do it again, it may trigger a vague memory that I’ve done this before, then it will be gone.

Some wounds are so minor they just aren’t part of your conscious life, the above is an example that is vastly different from my next tale…

When I was little, I was attacked by a very big dog and ended up with multiple bites.  Dad fixed me up, and eventually the wounds healed, but they left scars that I have to this day.  I wish that the visible scars were the only remnant of what happened to me so many years ago.  Despite the best efforts by mom and dad – I developed a terrible fear of big dogs, an emotional scar of the event.  Fear that ran so deep that if I saw an unleashed big dog I was frozen in place and afraid to even breathe, even just walking by a dog on a leash scared me, and I would cross the street in a hurry.  It took years reduce that fear.  It took facing that fear head on with varying levels of success.  That fear still exists when I face an unleashed dog, so I have only overcome some of my fears, but I’ve still come a very long way from what I was as a terrified traumatized little girl.

I’m not unique and what I have gone through in my life is not even close to what others have gone through.

The loss of my son left a big wound in my soul.  Now I’d call it an emotional scar, something that stays safely out of sight, unless triggered by certain dates, or something that happens around me.  The only scar is what is deep inside me, invisible to everyone.

What I experienced when I got sick was terrifying without the ability to speak or write.  The wounds I experienced, not just physically, but emotionally, left scars.  I was afraid of doing things that everyone else does without a second thought.  The endless tests terrify me because they have the potential to tell me what I don’t want to hear, I’d prefer denial because it’s easier, but it isn’t the right choice.

We all have physical and/or emotional scars.  You can’t go through life without experiencing some type of trauma.  How little, or how much they affect you is dependent on a variety of factors unique to what happened, and who you are.

Being adopted means our life deviated from what would normally occur if all things were equal, regardless if it turned out to be great, or very bad, it changed the trajectory of what was supposed to take place.  That event (regardless if you want to argue it is what led up to it happening, or it was the event itself) – leaves some processing on what it means to be adopted, whether it bothers you, or you never felt any loss.  Good or bad – you lost your original family, you still need to process that.

So why am I talking about wounds and scars?

Every once in a while, some starts talking about the book ‘Primal Wound’ by Nancy Verrier.  Generally any discussion goes down hill very quickly.  I read the book several years ago, it fascinated me.  I didn’t see myself in everything I read, or even in most of it, but the feelings I did have that were mirrored in the book, were, for the very first time, validated.  What I did understand from the moment I started reading it, was that it was based on many different experiences, and feelings, and the different reactions based on talking to many adoptees.  I didn’t expect to read a book that would mirror my experience.  I can’t believe that anyone would assume such a thing.  Just like my experiences I speak about in this post will not mirror anyone else’s experience, they may though, see similarities.  We all feel what we feel and if anyone thinks the book is trying to say we are all the same, then we read a different book, or with a completely different mindset.  I’m not saying this is a book you need to read, but, I do see discussions take place between adoptive parents talking about the same feelings their children have, that I read about, in the book.  Read it, don’t read it.  Just don’t let the title send you into a defensive tizzy.

I’m ending this post with the first paragraph on the preface in the book published in 1993 when there was little published information that spoke about the feelings of adoptees.

“This book is about adoptees.  I am writing for those adoptees all over the country who have opened up their hearts to me and whose inner stories I’ve promised to tell.  It is also written for the adoptees’ birth and adoptive parents as a bridge to understanding their children and to promote the healing process for all of them.  It is my hope that will also aid professionals in their understanding of the complex issues pertaining to adoption.  I will begin with my experience of what I call the primal wound as I observed it in my own daughter, who, twenty-three years ago, was the first person to bring it to my attention.”

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34 Comments

Posted by on February 4, 2015 in Adoption, adoptive parents

 

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34 responses to “Physical and emotional scars…

  1. My Perfect Breakdown

    February 4, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    I particularly enjoyed reading this paragraph: “We all have physical and/or emotional scars. You can’t go through life without experiencing some type of trauma. How little, or how much they affect you is dependent on a variety of factors unique to what happened, and who you are. Being adopted means our life deviated from what would normally occur if all things were equal, regardless if it turned out to great, or very bad, it changed the trajectory of what is supposed to take place. That event (regardless if you want to argue it is what led up to it happening, or it was the event itself) – leaves some processing on what it means to be adopted, whether it bothers you, or you never felt any loss. Good or bad – you lost your original family, you still need to process that.”
    Thank you for sharing this. I find as we continue down the path to becoming adoptive parents, that post like this remind me of just how much adoption affects everyone involved, and how important that we as the parents try to understand what this means to our child(ren) and support them with compassion and love as they sort through these types of emotions throughout their life.

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    • TAO

      February 4, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      Whether they process and accept and move on – or – process multiple times because of life triggers – every adoptee will process being adopted in their own way and time…what I see is the biggest problem is the parents being defensive rather than just accepting they need to process any feelings they have…

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • My Perfect Breakdown

        February 4, 2015 at 9:47 pm

        I think these are very wise words. I hope we are able to support our child(ren) regardless of how we as the parents may feel.

        Liked by 1 person

         
  2. Tia B

    February 4, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    “….it changed the trajectory of what was supposed to take place.” This is such an important thought and in my opinion it is where we often get so stifled right from the beginning. This is the crux of everything that follows, but often we can’t even get people to honor this very basic, obvious truth. There is so much acceptance of the frequent adoptive parent narrative that “I was meant to be this person’s mommy or daddy” that “meant to be” overtakes the understanding of loss so much that it took me decades to unravel.

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    • TAO

      February 4, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      I agree…welcome

      Like

       
  3. libinok

    February 4, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    This book was the first thing that gave validation to my feelings after I found out I was adopted at 32 yrs old. Excellent post!

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    • TAO

      February 4, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks Libinok – did you read it with the belief that everything you read should apply to you – or like me that these were feelings shared by many different adoptees?

      I’m sorry you were not told…

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  4. Robin

    February 4, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    “… it changed the trajectory of what was supposed to take place.”

    That comment is something that I often (although not always) feel very strongly (i.e. that I lived the wrong life). Sometimes it haunts me, sometimes I can deal with it well. Now I’m sure my a-mom would say that she was meant to be my mother, but I don’t agree. I don’t believe my natural mother was meant to lose me. We both got caught in a larger social experiment.

    I am a big fan of the Primal Wound. I don’t agree with everything Nancy Verrier says but, then again, I don’t agree with everything any one person says when it comes to adoption. I even change my mind about things that I believe. But that book and theory is the closest I’ve found to what I feel about being adopted. And it was so refreshing to have someone finally put into words that being adopted hurts. I think that’s one of the reasons it is supposedly so ‘controversial’. Ms. Verrier is stepping out of the “adoption is a wonderful solution to all those ‘unwanted’ children” box.

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    • TAO

      February 4, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      “then again, I don’t agree with everything any one person says when it comes to adoption” – exactly – no one person owns the truth of what adoption to every single person. Take what fits, ignore the rest and carry on…

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    • Tiffany

      February 5, 2015 at 1:39 am

      “Now I’m sure my a-mom would say that she was meant to be my mother, but I don’t agree. I don’t believe my natural mother was meant to lose me. We both got caught in a larger social experiment.”

      This. I say I believe I was meant to be my daughter’s second mother and step in for her when an imperfect situation separated her family. I do not believe the sick saying about “my child being born to a different woman.” My daughter and her mother belonged together. The failures of this world broke them apart, and in that tragedy, I was there to be the best second mama to her that I can be because she deserves to be loved through her the unfairness of her loss.’

      I haven’t read Primal Wound yet simply because with young children, my parenting reading time is so precious and I focus on the younger years education. But it’s on my list. I am sure I won’t agree with all, but I believe my daughter did indeed go through a loss and a mourning period for her mother. I think she felt a lot of confusion, and I saw it manifest itself in several ways. But then, I believe in a lot of attachment theory parenting, so for me, it was a natural extension for me to view the severing of my daughter’s bond with her mother as a loss and a wound. I was so incredibly bonded to my daughter by birth, and she to me, that I grieved for that loss for my daughter who is adopted. I did everything possible to fill that gap, and we were and are incredibly bonded, but I feel it was a loss for her all the same, and I was only able to bandaid that loss for a time. I accept that it may be something that resurfaces at different points in her life, and to me, it only seems natural that it would.

      Liked by 1 person

       
      • Robin

        February 5, 2015 at 2:42 pm

        Tiffany,
        Since you don’t have time to read the whole book, perhaps you could get a copy of “The Primal Wound: Legacy of the Adopted Child ” by Nancy Verrier that was presented at the April 1991 American Adoption Congress International convention in Garden Grove, CA. It’s only about 40 pages long and encapsulates Ms. Verrier’s theory and work in adoption.

        Also, yours is a situation where it sounds like your adopted daughter truly did need a second family. In my case, there was nothing wrong with my mother and she desperately wanted to keep me. The sole reason I was given up for adoption is because I was born out of wedlock. That’s why I consider both of us victims of a social experiment. I really didn’t have any need for another family. It was only the social mores of the day that insisted I did.

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        • Tiffany

          February 5, 2015 at 9:56 pm

          Robin, thank you! I found the document online and will be reading it this weekend. I appreciate that tip- I can get through that small paper very quickly, and it looks like it covers her main ideas.

          As for my daughter needing a second family… I suppose, in a way. I can’t get into specifics. She did need us, but there were factors that didn’t necessarily have to be there that were… it’s hard to explain while remaining vague. Her situation wasn’t one of those black and white situations, such as an abusive situation. Her mom and dad are wonderful people, and they would have made wonderful parents. I know she would have had a good life with them (given the opportunity), and that makes me sad that they didn’t have that chance. My heart hurts for them, and it grieves me that my daughter lost so much. I love her more than my heart can contain, and I can’t imagine my life without her, but the unselfish mama love I have for her wishes I could have waved a wand and kept that separation from ever happening, even if it would have broken my heart. I love my daughter, but adoption sucks.

          Liked by 1 person

           
  5. yan

    February 4, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    The first time I read the book, I felt very divorced from it. I experienced a few things that were mentioned, but not most of it. I had just decided to search at that point. The second time I read it, I’d been in reunion with my first mother’s family for nearly 4 years and just been rejected by my first father. It resonated much more deeply that time.

    We change. The same things don’t have the same resonance at different times. I think it’s valuable to have as many different perspectives as possible because processing adoption, this different trajectory, takes so long that it has to take on multiple forms.

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    • TAO

      February 4, 2015 at 11:15 pm

      Love your wisdom – I read it a couple of years after I got sick (funny how that is my reference point wth?) and would be fairly new into even knowing who I was…we change as we accumulate more lived experiences…

      Like

       
  6. eagoodlife

    February 5, 2015 at 12:02 am

    Reblogged this on The Life Of Von and commented:
    Wounds and scars, healing and survival…..

    Like

     
  7. Discovering Mary

    February 5, 2015 at 1:02 am

    “Being adopted means our life deviated from what would normally occur if all things were equal, regardless if it turned out to be great, or very bad, it changed the trajectory of what was supposed to take place.”

    Like the other readers, I agree with this. Adoption is unnatural, and it is very much a deviation from what nature intended, yet adoptees are expected to pretend that it is natural, and it is the pretending that has been extremely damaging to me. I liked what Robin said about feeling like she’s lived the wrong life. I can very much relate to this.

    I remember very clearly the first time I read Primal Wound – I sat riveted for two days as I devoured the book. This was in the mid to late 90’s, and reading her words felt like a like a paradigm shift for me. I was also fortunate enough to have her as my therapist.

    Great post Tao, thanks for sharing.

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  8. Lara/Trace

    February 5, 2015 at 1:42 am

    “Being adopted means our life deviated from what would normally occur if all things were equal, regardless if it turned out to great, or very bad, it changed the trajectory of what is supposed to take place.” That speaks to me too. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

     
  9. valentinelogar

    February 8, 2015 at 12:49 am

    You continue to be a touchstone for so many. You validate the feelings so many find difficult to express.

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    • TAO

      February 8, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      Thank you Val…

      Like

       
  10. Tara-Anita

    July 18, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    It’s amazing that you’ve posted this! I’m about to have a group discussion on this book! I’ve read the Primal Wound and it has helped me SO much. It has helped me understand the feelings that I have. I have pin pointed, underlined and highlighted lines in the book that applied to me (I have a very colourful book btw). Your line “Being adopted means our life deviated from what would normally occur if all things were equal, regardless if it turned out to be great, or very bad, it changed the trajectory of what was supposed to take place”…has touched me to the core and has brought validation. I’ve battled with “unsettled” feelings all my life. A life of feeling I’m not where I’m supposed to be. I’m living a different life that what I’m supposed to be living. This has affected the way I’ve made decisions….not moving forward at all….waiting for ‘something’. Perhaps waiting to feel that connection again. Since I’ve identified that feeling and the reason behind that feeling I’ve tried to be more decisive.
    Does anyone else feel as if they need to get ‘approval’ or permission to do things? Almost out of obligation? This may be wrong to say but I don’t feel I would be liberated until my adoptive parents pass on. Then I’m gone. Can anybody identify with this?
    Sorry my thoughts are all over the place…

    TAO if I may, not sure if its allowed –
    I would like to have some suggestions on how to conduct a group session on adoption, If any can help I really need it. – My e-mail is tara-anita @ hotmail.com

    Thank you.

    Like

     
    • TAO

      July 18, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      Tara-Anita – I’ve taken the liberty of adding two spaces in your email address so you won’t get spammed.

      Folks wishing to email Tara-Anita – copy the email address and remove the space before and after the @

      Like

       
      • Tara-Anita

        July 18, 2016 at 3:08 pm

        Thank you so much! – I really appreciate it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

         
  11. Joyce a. Slate

    July 25, 2016 at 12:21 am

    I am 64 years old and was adopted in 1952. I was told at 9 years old that I was adopted. It was shocking. My mother had 2 biological children of her own. I had loving parents. My mother loved me more than her own children. I am so different from my sisters that I now have no relationship with them. I have never felt that I fit in. Have difficulty with trusting people. I have three grown children and four grandchildren. I finally got someone that looks like me. My children feel bad that I have no lineage. I was told I have a brother that was given up also. I personally feel that my learning disabilities are from being adopted. I was told that my mother was going to abort me and that was awful to hear. Glad she didn’t. Because I wouldn’t be here.

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    • TAO

      July 25, 2016 at 3:18 am

      Welcome Joyce – I’m sorry you were told so late. Have you ever searched?

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      • Joyce a. Slate

        July 25, 2016 at 11:30 am

        Yes. I tried searching. I had a maiden of my mother and that she was from Virginia. Never found any info. She has more than likely passed away. So I gave up. I searched websites of parents looking for children that were adopted but found nothing.

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        • TAO

          July 25, 2016 at 1:52 pm

          There are search angels that can help you for free if you are interested. My mother had passed before I knew who she was – for me, I wanted to know where I came from, who my ancestors were…I’m a big fan of genealogy, it tells me far more than just dates and places.

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          • Joyce a. Slate

            July 25, 2016 at 5:59 pm

            Thanks again. This might be an answer to a prayer. I am eager to start.

            Like

             
            • TAO

              July 25, 2016 at 7:35 pm

              Yay! And remember, if she can’t help, there are others…

              Like

               
          • cb

            July 25, 2016 at 10:55 pm

            I agree, TAO, I feel that way too. When I also found my own mother had passed, I wasn’t sure whether I should contact relatives but I am so glad I did – not only because through their memories, I know more about her, I also feel part of a much larger family and feel a connection to my ancestors and also I feel a connection to that part of the state where they were from. I have family history books with pictures of grandparents, great grandparents etc and it gives me an insight into their lives. One book is also about the history of everyone buried in a particular graveyard in the ancestral town and it gives an insight into that town’s life (since everyone in the graveyard was local, they would have known many other members of the graveyard).

            Anyway, the point of my ramble is that even though I do hope that she is still alive, if she isn’t, it can still be worth contacting extended family.

            Like

             
  12. Joyce a. Slate

    July 25, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Thank you TAO. I am definitely interested. Maybe it’s not too late. She would be about 90 if alive. People do live that long.

    Like

     
    • TAO

      July 25, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      There are many groups on Facebook that help adoptees search. I think probably the best starting point is Priscilla Sharp. The link is to her blog. If she doesn’t have time, she knows many others who help. Leave a comment or send her an email – give her a few days to respond. Let me know how you get on, if you want others resources.
      http://priscillasharp.blogspot.com/

      Like

       
      • Joyce a. Slate

        August 3, 2016 at 2:25 pm

        Dear TAO. Just want to let you know that I got some information from Ancestory.com. Found out birth mothers name. She died in 99 at 79. Had a son five years younger than me who died in 04. They both lived in Maryland which makes sense as I was born in D.C. Your website was the impetus to in sighting me to search. I thank you from my heart. I am also getting a DNA kit sent so I can see what nationalities I am.. I also called funeral home where services were held. They do not keep records that far back. Told me to call newspaper and they said to call library which has microfilm on obits. Thank you again. God bless.

        Liked by 1 person

         
        • TAO

          August 13, 2016 at 8:06 pm

          Joyce, first my apologies – for some reason your comment when to spam. I don’t know why and I’m bad at checking.

          I’m sorry you too found a grave. It’s hard and your sibling passed too. You always hope it will be different ending. I’m glad though that you are getting the dna testing done. Will build an ancestry tree? I’ve enjoyed doing that part – a good starting point will be your mother’s obituary.

          Keep in touch.

          Like

           
          • Joyce a. Slate

            August 14, 2016 at 11:56 pm

            Dear TAO. Thanks for responding. I just heard back from library. They sent the obituary. I was very dissapointed as it was the shortest obit I have ever read.all it said was she leaves a brother from Naples N.Y. and his name. He has since been deceased. Only hope is his children. My brother wasn’t mentioned. Though that was strange. He died in 04. Hoping he was a DNA donor. Will keep you posted if anything great happens. Have to wait about 6 to 8 weeks. Thanks again.

            Liked by 1 person

             

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