Monday, December 10, 2012

Fear of Not Being Alone

I recently decided that I was going to be more open with my adoptive family about my reunion.  I didn't initially tell my extended adoptive family about my reunion.  I had my reasons, but a lot of those reasons aren't valid anymore.  I'm trying to build meaningful relationships with my natural sisters at this point.  I've been in a secret relationship for nearly three years now with my natural parents.  I'm a firm believer that secret relationships are toxic and that they aren't good for anyone.  So I'm not willing to have secret relationships anymore.  I'm breaking my silence with my extended adoptive family.  It's terrifying.

My family is great.  I don't want to imply that they aren't.  However, there is a lot of them.  And they are very protective of me and my adoptive parents.  It's a daunting task.  I'm working on that fear and working on telling people one by one, in situations I can control.  I'm about half way through my list right now.  And I'm working towards telling even more.  I'm getting there.  It's going to take me awhile but I'm OK with that.

In the spirit of this new openness, I stopped by my aunt and uncle's house to have a chat with them a few months ago.  I wanted them to know what was going on in my life and worked up enough courage to stop by on my way home from work.  The conversation was one of the best conversations I've ever had about adoption.  For the first time, nobody asked me how my adoptive parents were doing with my reunion.  They asked how I was doing.  They told me they were sorry.  I was so confused about what they were apologizing for until I let them continue.  They were sorry that I went through the early stages of reunion alone.  They knew there wouldn't have been much they could have done, but they could have been a sympathetic ear and they could have provided encouragement and love.  I was pretty blown away at just how strongly they wanted to be there for me.  I forget sometimes that others care about me enough to put their own crap aside for me.

Since then, I've gotten many text messages from members of that specific family letting me know how happy they are for me and that they are there for me.  I got a particularly touching text from my uncle about how proud of me he was.  He figured it must have taken a lot for me to go through everything and that he was proud of how I handled myself and how I'm handling things now.  He took the time to type everything out on an ancient cell phone (you know, the kind where you have to hit 2 three times for a "c") because it was so important to him that I know how proud he was of me.  I still have the text message saved and read it when I have a bad day or feel under-appreciated in life.

I'm learning that I need to give the people I love a chance to support and love me back.  I have to give them the chance to be proud of me.  And that because they love me and I love them, there's a really good chance they are going to be supportive. They care about me, and I have to let them.  I have a hard time accepting love sometimes.  It's hard for me to be the one in a relationship that needs support.  I have a hard time realizing that sometimes I need to depend on others.  I'm the strong and independent one in my family.  I'm dependable.  I'm the one who helps everyone else.  That's a huge part of my identity and I've worked hard to remain that person over the years.  It's a part of who I am, but part of it is a mechanism to protect myself.  I've been let down before and I'm always scared of it happening again.  To put it simply, I have a huge fear of not being alone.  However, I also have learned that my fear of being let down is holding me back.  I think about how things might have been sometimes.  I'm not one to dwell, but I am one to learn from my mistakes.  This is one of those times.

I did have some support, don't get me wrong.  A select group of friends were there for me and they really helped see my through it.  My boyfriend (now fiance) was there for me and I love him so much for it.  However, I had this huge support network that could have been there for me too and I didn't take advantage of that because I was afraid to let them in.  My relationships with them were altered by this huge secret and I didn't have the courage to be open with them about what I was going through because of fear.  And I'm realizing now that maybe I didn't have so much to be scared about.  

For me, it was my family.  Not everyone has that kind of relationship with their family.  For others, it might be another group of people.  But I think about how much of my life I struggled through missing that love and support because I was afraid of those relationships.  I'm working on getting over that fear.  I don't expect it to go away overnight, but it's something that I'm willing and able to work on.

I'll be sharing my journey as well as blogging about various relationship issues in this column.  Thanks for coming along for the ride!