Thursday, August 30, 2007

Becoming Real

I can't believe it.

I just can't believe it.

I am living proof that living a lie makes you sick.

Talking about...

Minimizing the impact adoption has had on my life;

being forced to pretend that I wasn't adopted to make my adopters happy;

being trained to become my adopters emotional caretakers;

not being allowed to finish a sentence or more than eight words put together, ever, to this very day by my a-dad;

being mocked for having different ideas or opinions;

and...being denied my history.

What do I mean by "sick?"

Since getting real, facing the truth, getting into therapy, finding my first mother, lots of reading, tons of reflection, I am no longer.....

Depressed; I realize now that the occasional lack of focus and unexplainable fatigue that mysteriously came and went was depression and that I'm much, much, much better now;

Anxious; Anxiety was my biggest challenge, taking the form of hypochondria, which is a particular type of hell;

A Pathetic People Pleaser; I've had to work very hard on this one;

Inauthentic; I really had to dig deep to find me; it took lots and lots of practice; What do I think about____? What do I want to do? How do I feel? Instead SHOULD I think or behave or feel because it's what someone else expects. It sounds absolutely ridiculous to be in one's forties and not have any idea of how you truly feel about anything, but it's both possible and true, especially if you've been raised by someone with NPD (narcissistic personality disorder);

and all because I'm no longer IN DENIAL. I wasn't a real person. Nope. I was a walking-talking bundle of Coping Strategies.

To whom do I owe my progress?

Time to roll the credits:

Me, myself and I! For finally, FINALLY, saying...I've had enough; I deserve to find my history, my story, my mother;

Fellow adoptees like Joy and Julie and Elizabeth and Mia and Marlee and Possum and others too numerous to mention;

My first mother; a bit of a disappointment, but she's still my mother and I have a right to know her name and her face;

My lovely therapists;

My amazing, supportive husband;

And finally, author Alice Miller...for her books like "Drama of the Gifted Child," which I highly recommend to anyone with the burden of being raised by a narcissistic parent.


Monday, August 20, 2007

The Adoption Cage: An Adoption Poem

Elizabeth is one of the first adoptees I encountered online. Her link is As I wobbled toward comprehension in those early days, after a lifetime of repressed feelings toward my own adoption, I was shocked by her clarity. She understood how she felt and she used just right words to express it.

She wasn't "surrendered" or "relinquished" or "given away." She was "abandoned."

She's "angry."

She hates the Adoption Machine and makes no excuses.

I respect that.

At least she's dealing with it. She's not burying it. This is the way she feels. It makes her real. Authentic. She's not cut off from herself.

Elizabeth is in very good company. There are many other remarkable brave souls out there in BlogLand, where we have found each other. Where we've discovered we're not freaks and we're not alone. The importance of their voices, to those of us who are still trying to find our true image in the distorted mirror of adoption, is profound.

Clarity about adoption and what it does and does not do for you is critical. While we had nothing to do with it, played no active role, but are forever left to deal with its consequences, clarity is our only tool. Our only hope. Without it, we are trying to navigate in a thick fog. And for the sake of clarity, by clarity I mean whatever is YOUR honest experience of adoption. Forget everything you've ever heard and were TOLD or EXPECTED to feel.

If you are one of those adoptees who haven't reflected on what it means to given away by your mother - for whatever reason - and what it means to be raised by strangers, then please, do that.

And then write your own poem about it and let me know when you do so I can link or post to it.

Elizabeth has given me permission to post her poem here. I love it. Like I "lurv" her for her honesty.

Dedicated to a really ungrateful bastard

Some of us scrape the crumbs off the floor
And some of us look for an open door
Some of us cry long into the night
And some of us fight for what is our right
Some of us are lost
And some of us are found
Some of us ache
And pick our hearts up off the ground
Some of us are denied
And some of us rage
But we won’t be silenced
In the adoption cage.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tackling the Narcissistic Parent's Legacy

Spent several weeks trying to tease apart "my issues" caused by the secrecy surrounding my adoption and those caused by my narcissistic parents.

Fear of abandonment? The adoption column. Definitely.

Genealogical bewilderment? Ditto.

Not feeling like I fit in? Ditto again.

The people pleasing? The inclination to rescue people? Putting the needs of other's before my own? Feeling overly responsible for the happiness and welfare of others?

Less clear. For a long time, I thought my adoption was the root cause.

And in a way, it was. If I hadn't been given away, I wouldn't have needed a replacement set of parents and I wouldn't have got stuck with the Incapable Duo.

And maybe there is no way of knowing HOW or exactly WHY I got to be the way I'm trying NOT to be.

It seems so many of my fellow adult adoptees seem to have the same set of traits mentioned above. Did we develop them because our a-parents were self-centered? Because we grew up feeling invisibile and like we really didn't matter as individuals...because it was what we could do for others that counted...not who we were.

Spent 1.5 years in therapy and have made much progress.

But one thing still bothered me.

WHY can't I finish writing a book? I'm not lazy. It just seems I stall out after 350 pages. Lazy people don't write that much. I have STACKS of rewrites. It seems that, at some point, I lose all faith in myself. Who am I to think I can write? Who would possibly want to read something I have to say? How silly of me. I'm a nobody. Then I stop. Take a break. And start on a new project. Except I haven't addressed the old, fundamental question. What's REALLY wrong?

It's that voice in my head. The one that tells me that I am not worthy enough to write.

So I booked a session with a psychologist somebody described as "famous" for his contributions on narcissistic parents.

I explained my issue. My burning desire to finish a project and my failure to do so.

"Could they be related?" I asked. "That voice in my head and the whole narcissistic parent thing?"

And you know what he said?

Of course.

Won't bore you with the details...but, in can I finish a book when I wasn't allowed to finish a sentence in my own home? If what I had to say wasn't important to my "own" parents, then why would I think anybody else would care? Of course, he said it MUCH more eloquently than that, but it's my take on it and it was like stars shot across the sky and the music soared.

"Can it be fixed?" I asked.

Yes, he promised. Just being able to ARTICULATE the cause and effect of extremely self-centered parents will free me from the heavy chains that drag me back from accomplishing MY goals.

All of this is VERY hopeful!!!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Narcissists: Big Fat Blamers

I'd like to write about one of the traits of a narcissist: not taking responsibility.

Besides the constant need for attention. Besides the lack of empathy. Besides the emotional manipulation and lying, blaming others for the problems they created is maddening to deal with, especially when YOU are the one being blamed.

The other day, my narcissistic adoptive father cursed out the lady across the hall in his assisted living facility because she's old and ugly and mean and doesn't like him.

He was scolded by the nurses.

When I asked him if he had cussed at his neighbor, he said yes, but she deserved it and then he acted hang-dog and said the nurses were all against him, were picking on him and he couldn't do anything right and that's the way it was his whole life...people picked on him for no good reason.

He may have dementia now, but he's played the blame game for as long as I can remember.

Everything is always somebody else's fault.

When HE opted for elective surgery against the surgeon's advice and things went badly, it was the surgeon's fault and then mine;

When HE says something insulting, it's their fault for being so sensitive because he was just telling the truth;

When HE refused to take my well-researched advice about preserving my grandmother's estate, the world was against him when he lost her house;

When HE talked non-stop and alienated the few friends he had, it was their fault for being awful people;

When my adoptive mother had Alzheimers and my children were toddlers and HE refused outside help, it was MY fault for not taking care of mother myself;

No matter what he says or does, he will NEVER apologize. The closest he will ever say is, "I can never do anything right," to gain sympathy.

There is never any direct connection between what he says and does or doesn't do and the events that follow.

And forget trying to point out the obvious. That they brought "it" on themselves. It's useless. You're just giving them a chance to play the coveted role of victim...the center of attention...again.

We experience much of our narcissistic parent's behavior before we even know what the term means and long before we can even pronounce it. So we spend much of our lives, captive.

And you know what REALLY bugs me?

When I asked the Post Adoption Services social worker with the public agency with which I was placed as an infant if they had screened my a-dad and why hadn't they picked up that there was something really off about him, she sort of hesitated and said...well, they couldn't deny him the pleasure of becoming a father, that almost everybody has a right to raise a child if they can afford to do so.

Oh really?

And what about the so-called best interests of the child?

So a-dad's right to parent trumped mine to having a father capable of parenting?

It seems so. And, I suspect, the same damned thing happens today.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

What It Feels Like To Be Adopted

Watched the British comedy movie Hot Fuzz, now on DVD.

While not as funny as the director's other hit, Shaun of the Dead, it did manage to capture what it's like to be adopted.

Of course, there was absolutely nothing about adoption in Hot Fuzz.


The main character, a cop, finds himself stuck working in a small village where his fellow police officers fail to recognize that murder most foul has struck. They insist the deaths were accidents. His colleagues make endless fun of him for overreacting to what are nothing more than a bunch of no big deal accidents.

The main character was clearly right. Something was wrong, but not one person acknowledged it. His viewpoint was marginalized. He was made to feel crazy. He was isolated.

During this stretch of the movie, I felt uncomfortable. Restless. At one point, when the main character was being ridiculed, I nearly hyperventilated.

It was just too much like certain real-life experiences as an adoptee. When you KNOW what's happened to you IS a trauma and you're surrounded by people who tell you it was hardly anything at all and to "just get on with your life" and "be grateful you didn't end up in an orphanage" and, "you were chosen!"

The difference between what most Non-Adoptees think about Being Adopted is so vast that the reality of our life-long "situation" can hardly be explained. So we're stuck living in Crazy Town, going slightly crazy. Or in a continual state of Adoption Fog as a survival tactic.

And then there was the internet.

It allowed us to find each other.

And we're not crazy after all.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Blog Update

Time to do some badly needed blog maintenance.

In the meantime, as an adoptee handed over to narcissists, I highly recommend Julie's post entitled, Psychologically Challenged Adopters at

Am working on updating LINKS. This may take several days. If you read my blog and would like to be added, please leave your informacion as a comment. This means adoptees, first mothers/fathers, adoptive parents and adult children of narcissists ( being an excellent one!)

And speaking of narcissistic parents, several thoughts. Had the pleasure of meeting an 84-year old woman the other day. My exposure to the over-80 crowd without either dementia or narcissism is zip. She was funny and delightful. Actually, she bought a used car from me. We actually had a conversation. You know, where she talks and then you get to talk and there's some back and forth. And My God!, she complained not at all!

Later that day, I had to call my narcissistic elderly father. The contrast was shocking. Okay, a-dad has dementia, but certain behaviors are as old as I am.

Dealing with the 84-year old lady from San Francisco was dealing with an adult. Although short, it was a meaningful connection.

Dealing with my NPD father is dealing with a child. There is no meaningful connection. It is an ENCOUNTER. It is hard work. Is is draining. And above all, it's very, very sad.