I have a story to tell you.
I want to preface first that in one blog cannot a life memoir make. Meaning, one story, one anecdote, one portion of a conversation does not in any way touch the mine field of this topic. This is one small snippet to a much larger conversation that contains both joy and grief which are very much conjoined in this topic.
As most of my readers know, I am an adoptee. Being adopted was never painted as a negative in my life. Which I think was a good start. My parents handled the conversation with as much knowledge as society and science had during that portion of my life. Any negative or grief related words I write are never a reflection of any of my parents. That needs to be said.
However, there is this thing called Implicit Memory. Implicit memory begins even before you leave the womb. It’s the kind of memory that remembers how you walked that road, but not necessarily the path you took. It is the foundation of your brain. It determines how your body reacts to situations, circumstances and environments for the rest of your life.
My foundation is cracked. From even before I was born, my developing body was flooded with negative chemicals and hormones due to the stress my first Mom was undergoing. From the moment I could hear, I am sure that not all conversations were pleasant. Immediately after I was born I was taken from the only consistent voice I had heard and placed in the arms of entirely new voices. If that wasn’t hard enough, there were several situations in my early years while my implicit memory was still building the stonework for my foundation that left severe damage.
So. Without going into great detail because this is a blog. No one has hired me to write a memoir… yet… my internal voice growing up spoke very negative things to me.
“You were an accident.”
“You are a mistake.”
“You were not wanted.”
“This is your fault.”
“You are not enough.”
“You are not worthy.”
“You are unlovable.”
These are a few of the phrases that I heard in my head and spoke to myself daily.
Yes. Daily. As a 5 year old I can remember hearing them. FIVE. Five years old and was drowning. I have never known a moment in life where I wasn’t trying to swim my way up to the surface of acceptance… Of love.
My story is this.
As a Christian teenager in the 90s there was ONE inexcusable sin that cannot be committed.
Drugs… fine. Rehab.
Drinking… Military school. Both had fixes.
But getting pregnant? Nope. Don’t. Just don’t. A visible bowl of cold, moldy leftovers from a moment of weakness and sin. You could have sex. No one had to know. Just. Don’t. Get. Pregnant.
We even had a group of teenagers whose parent’s, with good intentions and good hearts, felt so strongly about these three subjects that they taught us skits, songs, and had us pen testimonies about them. We then took our show on the road to other schools and events to help teach other teenagers why they shouldn’t do any of these things either.
And getting pregnant was the front runner.
And guess who was the center stage act?
Me. The walking, talking, sing and dancing… (no really I did sing and dance…) visible, palpable, permanent example of WHY we choose abstinence. I’d get up there and tell them how and why my parents couldn’t handle raising me and why I had to be adopted. Literally a speech about why I shouldn’t have been created in the first place. The chain of events that led to me was a sin and I was the problem. I tried to pretend that I was some sort of hero put on this Earth to save other people from making the mistakes my parents did. I tried to paint everyone in a good light. But what I was actually doing was searching for a way to justify my presence in this world.
One time in youth group a leader pointed to me and told the rest of the group that I was a great example of why they shouldn’t have sex. Because people like me are born and people like my parents had to give me away and people like my parents had to take care of them.
Oh don’t get me wrong. Conservatives were not the only people in my life doing this. Pro-choice people we knew were not any better. They would use me as an example of why women like my mother should be allowed to get an abortion. My life to them was a giant flag as to why women should be given a choice. Only if I was wanted, could be afforded, not a product of rape, or could be raised with a fully supported parent was my life worth living. If not… the ax. UM. Hello. Hi? Standing RIGHT HERE. NOT dead. Can hear you. Thanks.
I wish I could say I was exaggerating. But there were so many people in my life who wanted to label me. What happened is that my implicit memory was only justified with actual life experiences in my explicit memory. Metaphorically speaking a wall was built with cracked bricks on my already broken and cracked foundation.
The side note here is always that this was not my entire life experience. I had good parents. I had some good teachers. I had a few good solid friends. I had a lot of amazing life experiences too. But those solid blocks can only steady brokenness so much.
At 33 years old I was finally diagnosed correctly. Emotional and just being too dramatic are not medically recognized diagnoses BTW. The “Decade of the Brain” had changed most everything we thought we knew in the 90s about the brain. Adoptees, foster kids and children from broken homes were now adults with social media platforms and were finally speaking up. Science and bravery combined resulted in a new term, Trauma Brain.
And that is what I have. Trauma Brain. Basically my brain is broken. I can’t fix it. I can only learn tools, attend therapy, and possibly take meds to appear to be normal (Nero-typical).
But the brokenness remains. Always. The negative voices still remain. Always. A simple situation like a simple misunderstanding about a ride for my child can set off my Amygdala and suddenly I’m having a panic attack while driving my child to a birthday party. The implicit memories tell my body how to respond to a situation and while it’s false information, one phrase starts playing on repeat in my body, “YOU are a MISTAKE.”
Science says that as far as we know, I will never not believe this. I have to fight it. Always.
But I also believe something that transcends science. I believe that there is a greater voice that has spent and will spend eternity steadily, gently, loudly, gregariously preaching one thing to me. Over and over this has come to me in the form of written word. There is something in the writing of it. These words find me. So when I stumble upon these words… I know they were written for me.
And for people like me. The broken. The different. The struggling. The hurting. The lost.
Rachel Hollis may have just thought she was just writing a book to help, inspire and encourage women.
What she didn’t know was that she was writing the words of my Jesus who knew she would write this book, that I would read it at just this time and on a simple Sunday morning would be reminded:
And this is why I write. Why I continue to over share. Continue to embarrass family and friends with stories. Why I reveal “too much.” Why I emote so much. Why I keep going to therapy. Why I keep digging down into my darkness.
Because out there are people like me. And I want them to hear what I heard today. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over… because it takes repetition in relationship to change synapses in how your brain thinks.
So no matter how many panic attacks you had today. No matter how many other moms you didn’t communicate well with. No matter how many times you yelled at your kids… or your spouse. No matter what happened to you today. No matter what you did yesterday. No matter what happened to you ever. No matter what your implicit brain is telling you.
You my friend are not a mistake.
Don’t take my word for it. Just ask Rachel. And Jesus. And my dog who is licking the keyboard because I dropped Gino’s East crumbs on it. She loves everybody.
Your conception and life was not an accident.
– Your Mental Health Momma.
*It should be noted that in no way am I being paid to endorse this book. I wasn’t even intending on reading it. I got it on sale. It’s generally a good book, but it was these words that came through the page as a smack in the face and I wanted to share why.