January 22, 2014

What's So Great About Being an Older Adoptee?
(Not Old! Just A Bit Older.)

“Who are you?”

My friend of many years said this to me, just a few months ago. And, she didn't mean it in a negative way. She was saying that she didn’t recognize who I'd become. 

“Seriously…who are you, Deanna?” she went on… “Because, whatever this change is...can I just say that I'm loving it…?”

Yeah. Me too.

This is an amazing season. I wish I had entered it years ago although I’m not sure it would have been possible. Maybe it would have been if I could have found a therapist like Melissa Richards, sooner. But the older aspect? Well,  being older only comes through…aging. Brilliant, Deanna! This is why people read your blog, to find such revelations, like the fact that being older only happens by aging.

Could I have learned these lessons without more life experience?

I don’t know. There’s a lot of "I don’t knows" today, if you hadn’t noticed.

I do know this -- some of this is not about being adopted.

There’s something that happens when you enter your forties, that seems to be common. And I hear it becomes even fiercer in your fifties, though I’m not there yet. My friends who are there tell me to buckle up, hold on to the bar and get ready! Well, actually they warn Larry more than me...

There's this “thing” that happens to you as your body begins to change -- so do a lot of other things. You tend to not give a rip about things you used to freak out about. In mid-life, a new-found confidence seems to indwell whereby you can finally face your worst fears in order to live true.

Maybe it's that you have less time to face them, and you are more cognizant of that, daily...I don't know. There's that pesky "I don't know," again. 

I know this. There are things I have done the last year that I would have never done, in my young adult adoptee life.

Photo Credit: Erokism, Flickr

Things that used to scare me out of my mind.

I risked (and continue to risk) everything this past year by making a choice to go all out and live true. No matter what the cost. No matter what I lost. Spirit of Dr. Suess, come out!! In Jesus' name!


Natural family.
Adoptive family.

EVERYTHING. Did you hear me say everything? Just checking.

And when threatened, “Change back, or I’m going to cut you out of my life.”

I said…. “I’ll miss you.”

This happened with more than one person who threatened to be done with me if I didn’t change things back to the way they were.

I’m not saying I didn’t shed some tears.
Not saying I was all happy clappy.
Or that I didn’t land in therapy to help me heal and navigate this change.
[Thank you, Melissa, for putting the pieces of my broken heart, back together.]

Photo Credit: SnickClunk, Flickr

But in my younger days, I would have walked on eggshells.

Tiptoed around the tulips.

How many more clichés can I use?

I would have found a compromise, to keep peace. 

(Note: Compromise in response to manipulation NEVER brings true peace! Giving in to emotional blackmail NEVER ends well.)

After compromising, I would have morphed into whatever the other person wanted me to be to please them, to keep them in my life because above all else...I didn't want to get abandoned! In my mind, there was nothing worse than getting left behind, again.

I know I'm not alone in that fear.

Dr. Marshall Schechter, psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine and nationally recognized expert on adoption says:

"Adoptees suffer from a fear of loss. They see loss all over the place. Even those adopted in infancy feel the loss...if it happened once, it can happen again."

Yes, it can happen again. And for me, it has -- several times, in different ways in my life. And finally in mid-life, I've learned to be okay no matter what happens, if that's what it takes to live an honest life. As a young adoptee, I would never have allowed someone to walk out of my life as far as it depended on me. If I could salvage it, I would -- even to my own destruction.

Whether it was my natural or adoptive family or someone expecting something unreasonable of me in ministry – when they said "Jump!" I would have said, “How high?”  Now they say, “Jump!” and I say, “Yeah, that was my favorite Van Halen song…”

Jumping in the kids' bounce house at church. :)

If someone was displeased, I would take the high road, doing whatever it took most times -- even selling out, and doing something God never asked or wanted me to do -- to preserve the relationship.

Not anymore.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." ~ Galatians 1:10

This principle extends to anyone, not just family. I pretty much have a high frequency detection system for manipulation.  I sold it at a yard sale along with my Shaun Cassidy albums.  

I am no longer an approval addict. I have been set free. 

Some of my non-adoptee friends are going to read this and say, “Deanna, that has nothing to do with you being an adoptee. It’s called menopause.” Yeah, I feel you. Maybe there’s something to be said for that. 

If you have no clue what any of that means,  I encourage you to read, The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health During the Change, by Dr. Cristiane Northup. Her insights showed me why many women make the decisions we do in our forties and fifties. Decisions some people say we are crazy to make or have even “gone off the deep end” in making.

For me, labeling the risks I've taken as being the result of going through the change of life is not that cut and dry. Although I’ve come to learn the meaning of dry in a whole new way.

For me it’s a combo of God’s leading in my life, the support I find in the adoptee community, the benefits of therapy, and yes…the natural changes of life.

It’s so freeing.

And guess what...the people who really love me are still there, through the change. In fact, they support me more than ever.

Being who God made you to be has a wonderful way of exposing you to the truth of who really cherishes you. People who really love you don't manipulate, control or emotionally blackmail. They just love you for who you are, not for who they want you to be.

I wish I didn’t have to wait over four decades to get to this place. This place where you don’t want to lose everything, yet you are totally willing to, in order to live true.

I know we’re supposed to relish the journey more than the destination but I do wish I would have arrived here sooner.

I detest eggshells and with therapy teaching me how to swim, I'm finding that  I adore the deep end.