I started therapy exactly a year ago and it wasn’t for any particular reason really, I just figured I’d been through a lot in my life and I could probably use a completely impartial third party to confide in.
I was right.
I wrote an entire book about forgiveness in 2020 and if I were to write it again there’s something profound that I would add to it. I used to make myself forgive people really quickly because I thought it’s what we were supposed to do. I didn’t want to let anger fester in my heart like an infection—which is important—but I wasn’t spending enough time or giving myself enough space to feel angry about certain things. I was rushing right through to forgiveness and skipping the all important step of letting my feelings be okay.
I’m working hard to discover the root of why I so often turn to food for comfort and my therapist and I are digging into my past. This week she asked me how I feel when I think of my first three months of life and I admitted that what I feel is anger.
I’m angry at my birth mother for giving me to strangers. I’m angry at the broken system that saw fit to place me with a foster mom who had just lost her placement of two years (who she had planned to adopt) so she refused to bond with me. I’m angry that I spent the first three months of my life crying so hard that it was recorded in my medical chart because they thought there might be something neurologically wrong with me since I never. stopped. crying.
In the past when I’ve expressed anything other than gratitude about my adoption, I was immediately chastised for it and shamed into silence. Over the last few years I have begun to be myself unapologetically. I decided that I was allowed to be grateful for my adoptive family and also heartbroken that I lost my biological family at birth. Both are true and one does not negate the other. We are complex people. Sometimes how we feel about things may seem to be contradictory but that doesn’t invalidate them.
For most of my life I attracted really strong personalities who wanted to control me and the moment I said no, I lost them. I was often faced with the choice of walking on eggshells to please them or being myself.
What I realized though is that the choice was actually between killing parts of myself to please others (biological/adoptive family, friends, etc) or letting them walk away. I finally decided to choose myself and because of that it means that I almost forty years old and basically starting over. Because of the trauma I experienced and the people pleasing habits I developed over the years, now that I am choosing me, the tribe I thought I wanted to be a part of isn’t right for me. If I have to mask or silence parts of myself to be accepted, then they aren’t my tribe and that’s okay.
If the people around you can’t accept ALL of you/your emotions/your beliefs (not necessarily agree with, but accept) then you will find yourself dying inside to please them if you try to stay in their world.
Don’t extinguish your light for the sake of others. Your true tribe will hand you the match.
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