The “Unwanted” Me


I mentioned previously how much we love the new NBC show “This is Us.” It returns tonight from its winter hiatus and cliff-hanger. (Toby!!!) The show hits on some very real subjects such as pregnancy loss, adoption, truth in relationships, obesity, blended families and more. My Mom and I love it. I sincerely hope the writers can keep it honest and true for the rest of the season and years to come.

During one of the last episodes before the break, Randall, one of the three kids, was getting high on ‘shrooms (accidentally) and was exploring the truths and lies about his life as an adopted son, searching for his biological father and fighting through his abandonment issues. It rang so true to me as someone who is adopted but also as someone who has struggled to know their true place in the world, in their family.

This is what Randall said to a hallucinatory vision of his deceased father:

“I was a replacement for your dead baby, that’s all I’ve ever been,” Randall said to the vision of Jack, his father. “I spent my life striving for perfection. You know why, Dad? Because I live in fear that if I let up for a moment, I will remember that I am unwanted. And then what’ll happen to me?”

I remember feeling that exact same way as Randall for most of my life, thinking those same thoughts. Deep in my heart and my rational mind, I know I have always been loved by my biological mother, Liza, as well as my adoptive family. However, there’s always that little piece of me that felt unwanted. I know now after talking with her that she wanted me to have a better life than she thought she could provide as a young college-aged woman. My adopted parents tried their hardest to give me everything I wanted, and even when they couldn’t, my brother John would say “yes.” I know I am loved, I have no doubt of that. I don’t want it to sound like I’m ungrateful. I have had a wonderful life and I had a safe, fun childhood. Yet, there was something missing and I could never put my finger on it so I strived to do my best in school, work and every aspect of my life to impress my family at every chance, like I was winning some sort of prize for their love and affection.

As I’m older now and have had more time to reflect, I think that gaping hole of rejection and loss has to do with my biological father.

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What’s a Grief Burst?

I was searching the house yesterday for a frame for another photo when I came across this picture below:


I found myself on the floor, crying uncontrollably. Why would a cute picture of Winnie the Pooh, Kanga and Roo have me so emotional?

This was a picture my in-laws gave to us for Emmett’s nursery. The Pooh Bear themed nursery that we never completed. I had completely forgotten they had given this to us and it just brought all of these emotions to the surface. My legs were weak and my eyes fuzzy.

We were supposed to paint the walls a light green. We were going to get decals of the Hundred Acre Wood gang to go near the crib. A fun-themed growth chart that looked like Pooh’s tree to watch our baby grow through the years. We already had a heffalump toy for baby to play with.

It just became to much to handle and the tears started to flow. I’ve learned to just let them happen. The chaotic breathing. The wet sleeves and drippy nose. The swollen eyes and fogged up glasses.

I never heard the term “grief burst” until I attended a support group meeting for parents going through loss. So, what is it?

What I experienced is a grief burst. A sudden wave of emotions and grief that can hit at any time. Some of my bursts are caused by triggers I know and can avoid…like no shopping at Buy Buy Baby or Babies ‘R Us for awhile. Avoiding sappy diaper and Hallmark commercials. Most Pixar movies, including “Up”, are off the table for the foreseeable future.

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