September 29, 2018

Adoptees: Trying to Make Up For What You Lost Will Crush You

Our family - back when all the kids were still in the nest. <3

When I was younger, I fantasized about having the perfect family. Then I grew up and knocked myself out trying to have one.  

I've been married for 31 years. I tried so hard at marriage to the point where it was unhealthy for me as a human being at times. I believe marriage is about two people out-serving each other. Out-forgiving each other. More than anything it’s about servanthood. I still believe that, but for some years in my marriage, I allowed things to happen that weren't just about servanthood or forgiveness - they were unhealthy, and needed to be addressed and corrected. They have now been rectified and I am so thankful for that. My point is that I allowed those things to happen thinking that I had to make it work or save the marriage at all costs - even at the destruction of myself.

I tried at parenthood to the point where I shamed myself over and over again if I made a mistake. (And I made plenty of them, like any parent.) And when my kids had any kind of problems, I took it suuuuuuper hard. And I blamed myself for anything that happened.

The reason I did all this was that I wanted to achieve the perfect family – at any cost – to make up for things I went through earlier in life. (Relinquishment, adoption, and the dysfunction of my adoptive family that ended in the divorce of my parents.) My thought was that I would do whatever it took – at any cost – to have the perfect family once I got a chance to do it myself. I would sacrifice whatever necessary even if it killed me to have the perfect family.

Can I just tell you that it got incredibly heavy? So much so that I had to give up the goal. I haven’t given up on having a good family or even a great family. But, I have surrendered my goal of having a perfect family.
When I became an adult my thought process was, “I’m getting this. I deserve it after all I’ve been through.” Now I realize that nobody – adopted or not – gets a perfect family. Because we are all flawed human beings. You can have a good family but if you are striving for perfection it will be so dang heavy, you will feel the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Sometimes I catch myself in the throes of disappointment over how something went with my husband or one of my kids and I realize, there I go again…having this false expectation of perfection – from them or from me. I have to remind myself all the time that it is just that – something false that was never appropriate for me to strive for.

I have come to terms with the fact that family or anything in life will never be perfect this side of heaven, BUT – we can create something that is really, really good. 

I know I am not the only adoptee that tries to “make up for” all that I lost in life. In my effort to do that, I put a heavy yoke upon me that I was never meant to bear. Maybe you are at this point today, adoptee, where you have tried and tried to create a world that makes up for all that you lost. If you are feeling the crushing weight of that today, can I just encourage you – let go of the expectation of perfection and breathe. As someone once said, life doesn’t have to be perfect to be amazing.