"collapsing from skin to soul"
Full disclosure, I cried when writing this. I put words to feelings that have long been avoided. Then I second guessed publishing it. My words might hurt the parents who adopted me. I'm not a sharer so most of this is more than a stones throw out of my comfort zone. So by all means, ignore the words and look at the pretty images of foraged florals.
This week is my anniversary, my adoption anniversary. I rarely speak about being adopted. I suppose it should be easy for me to discuss, but I usually try to ignore it. It wasn't a dark secret kept locked up by my parents. In fact, when my parents were together it was something we discussed openly. They always spun it around to sound good, which I am grateful for. So instead of: you were born to two teenagers in rural Tennessee that were too young to drive a car and couldn't take care of you. My adoption story was a story of being born of love and taken in by love. I know this was the retelling they chose to avoid the development of feelings of abandonment and rejection.
Being adopted never made me feel "other." Until I got older; until I started school. Religious convictions are relentless in the South. People don't apologize for their beliefs - even if they cut through your skin to stir up scars you didn't know you had. One girl casually told me I was an abomination because I was being raised in sin with a family that wasn't my own. She went on to say that I would never be SAVED. We were 9 years old. All that felt safe that surrounded me evaporated at that moment. I felt so alone, it was like everything that was "me" crumbled inward from skin to soul. It is now that I notice the scars it has left behind. Before I even knew language or love, I knew refection and abandonment.
Growing older just made the feelings that tag along with adoption linger. They badger you at the doctors office when you are asked to list you medical history. It taunts you during school projects when the assignment is to research your family heritage. No matter how I often I aimed to push these feelings of isolation aside, I could not shake the constant looming sense of loss that can't be mended. There is a part of me that will always be alone. Alone and other even amongst my family. When you are adopted you are always a bit lost.
I don't say all this to be ungrateful for my adopted family. I am. In fact, I have an unusual need to live my life for my mother and father. To fulfill their wishes for my life over my own search for happiness. Perhaps that is an unspoken result of adoption, to constantly seek to please others. Being adopted means I will always have to forge my own identity and take the lead on my own path. I suppose the only word for that is adventure.