Monday, December 31, 2007

My Mother: That Unwanted Feeling

I started a thread on this on AAAFC, but decided to duplicate it here because some readers aren't forum members.

My mother called on Christmas and left a lovely message. She said something like, "You're such a nice person and you deserve the best and to be happy."

So I've tried to call her several times, but couldn't bring myself to do it. It's like I suddenly feel all clammy and I start to breathe fast and I feel slightly dizzy. And then it pops into my head, "I can't believe she gave me away!" Sometimes, I'll wake up in the middle of the night and that's the first thing I think. Out of the blue.

In the past, I've said that I don't feel safe around my mother. She unintentionally says things that are crushing. But I'm wondering if there's something more to this. I wonder if I can sense that she really never wanted me...back to in utero. She was 37 and by her own admission determined on adoption from the start, against family pressure to keep me. She's even said that her mother and sisters called her "heartless" for doing so.

An AAAFC member said that unwanted feeling - or knowledge - is deeply imprinted upon those of us whose mothers really did not want to keep us. I'm thinking she's absolutely right.

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20 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I wonder if I can sense that she really never wanted me..."

You know that Sándor Ferenczi (one of Freuds buddies) wrote a paper on just that? It's called something like "The Unwelcome Child and its Death Instincts" and argues that the child can *sense* the unconscious feeling of being unwanted even if this feeling is not recognized by the mother or anyone else.

At least that's what I think this paper is about. I haven't been able to find this paper so I haven't read it yet.

-Bob

7:00 AM  
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9:19 AM  
Blogger Nina said...

Anonymous Bob,

I hadn't heard of this guy or this paper, but now I've got to try and find it myself. Sometimes - often, actually - it's almost like I feel guilty for just existing. Like I can easily fade away. Thank you for the tip.

Happy New Year!

10:59 AM  
Blogger Andie D. said...

Wow. I must've missed this thread on AAAFC.

I fully expected (idiot) my mom to feel like I was the "one who got away", and tell me that she thought about and missed me every day.

Wasn't like that at all. She was ambivalent and it felt like rejection. Maybe you've nailed it.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ive often felt unwanted...it seems to be a gut reaction to practically any interaction I have and a lot of times I will wake up with just that same feeling, only I never really associated it with my natural mom and her giving me up. Since Ive been really looking into my adoption Im starting to wonder if that isnt just the heart of it. I know I just get tired of it merely being called 'insecurity.' How uplifting can it be when you sense that you werent wanted in this world? How are we supposed to have a sense of self worth when thats our starting point??

Sharon

5:32 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Sharon, I'm just making the connection myself...so I'm especially interested to hear other adoptees talk about this vague, yet very real and disturbing "gut" reaction or feeling. I thought it might be connected to being raised by a narcissistic parent. And while it may add to that feeling, I'm now thinking it's directly connected to my first mother. I talked to her yesterday and I think I've had a "break-through." Will blog about it tomorrow. You're right, by the way. Being given away by your own mother is a pretty awful way to enter the world and begin life. Our starting point is a pit of despair.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And a happy new year to you Nina, I'm looking forward to reading your blog in 2008!

About the paper by Ferenczi, I can't believe I missed what you wrote in the very same sentence I quoted the first part of above. You wrote "I wonder if I can sense that she really never wanted me...back to in utero."

In utero! I think this is precisely what Mr. Ferenczi is saying, that the baby is picking up these vibes and feelings of being unwanted starting before it even is born, internalizing it, and then later in life, especially if these feelings are not recognized and the causes identified (Alice Miller anyone?) often will become depressed and self-destructive as a way to "live out" these vibes and inner voices without anyone, especially not the victim, ever knowing what happened!

At least that is my understanding of this paper still without having read it :) After searching for it online a while ago I think I concluced that it could only be found in a book written about Ferenczi (don't remember the name of the book, but I found it on Amazon) and filed it under "books to read one day".

-Bob

7:50 PM  
Blogger Erika said...

I find it almost unfathomable that a mother after giving birth did not want their child.Honestly,I know there are very troubled and damaged people in this world,but i still think somewhere in there she did want you.

As for the martyr complex, thats exactly how it feels sometimes to be a first mother.it's nothing to do with you or anyone,it's a huge loss and sometimes that's how some people express it.

i am a child born to narcissitic mother and I'm finding that my senses,feelings and thoughts are never really in the realm of normal.sometimes I take too much on and I have to remember.people arent inherently good or bad, they just are.i was abandonded by my parents to foster care.i'm not sure what ive experienced i will ever get over.i try to give myself permission to explore my feelings,cry,hurt and try to heal as best i can.you are doing that too and you absolutely need to!

3:03 PM  
Blogger Suz said...

i have always believed my daughter felt every emotion of mine utero. i believe she felt the tears, the angst, the fear, the sadness, the conversations I had with her, how I talked with her, and more.

they say babies hear music in utero? why would they hear and feel everything else? Additionally, emotions are contagious in any environment even by people not related to you - imagine being in your mothers womb?

Now that I write this, my reunion status is very much identical to my pregnancy. I believe my daughter may indeed be feeling all my emotion, my desire, my sadness, my confusion, my aching and it just too much for her to bear.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wasn't adopted, but I was conceived before my parents were married (which from what I've been told, was NOT a happy discovery for them) and my mother had previously given a child up for adoption. I've recently talked to a guy who does counseling and he said there is definitely a connection between the mother's feeling about the pregnancy and how the child will feel and view themselves throughout life. He mentioned several characteristics including feeling unwanted, perfectionism, working to earn affection, etc, all of which are pretty much spot on for me. He recommended chapter 2 of a book called Healing the Wounded Spirit by John Sanford. haven't gotten to read it yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Much love.

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