If only we could see ourselves as other people see us.
My feelings of being “bad” began in utero at the very beginning, at the moment of conception. These feelings are stored in my subconscious memory at a preverbal stage of life. I was born out-of-wedlock and I’m a product of a drunken one night stand, an affair with a married man.
The pregnancy was no joyous time for my birth mother. She knew she was going to give me up for adoption. I was told she was never seen without a drink in her hand, and she drank the entire pregnancy. Knowing these things, I believe my birth mother rejected the pregnancy, and I felt every bit of it in utero and I’m sure every day that passed she was eager to just get it over with, and move on with her life.
I was kept a secret from the world, even my own birth father. I would guess being conceived while he was married, my birth mother didn’t want to create any situation for him, and she was ashamed of her own actions as well. The less people who knew about this shame filled secret, the better.
Did my birth mother feel bad?
In my heart of hearts, I believe she might have felt bad, but her alcoholism ran the show. She didn’t allow herself to “feel”… It was December, 1973 and she was pregnant by a married man, unwed with a 4-year-old daughter of her own. Abortion was legal, but I don’t believe it was an option for her. She had a younger sibling that survived a botched abortion, which was attempted by her natural mother, my grandmother. Her sibling survived, but lived mentally and physically disabled in a nursing home her entire life. This could have impacted her decision in giving me life, where her experience with abortion was a horrific one? It’s hard to tell.
(yes, I’m aware many people consider any experience with abortion as horrific, but that isn’t what this blog post is about.)
In 1974 unplanned pregnancies were shamed, and it would most certainly be frowned upon to be pregnant by a married man. This married man was also a “friend of the family”. This was even more reason to keep things quiet. There certainly was no celebrating or excitement going on during the pregnancy. I’m sure as I grew in her belly so did my feelings of unwantedness and rejection from the woman who should love me the most. What happens when you are tied in a primal way to your mother, yet she rejects the pregnancy, rejects you, and she wants to get rid of the problem all together?
It’s easier to hand this problem over to strangers, and pretend it never existed.
That’s the easy way out but in “Adoption Land” they tell the mothers they are BRAVE.
That’s a whole different blog post!Bad baby, bad pregnancy, bad day being born.
For me, the day I was born was the worst day of my life. It was the day I lost everything, and the beginning of a lifetime of trauma, grief, loss and heartbreak. I always think about that day, with great sadness in mind. I obsess about wondering if my birth mother held me, did she name me?
Did she look at me?
Was she sad?
Was it the worst day of her life, like it was for me?
All the feelings associated with my life at the beginning, are “bad”. Then I get adopted into a home where it was never about me. It was about filling the needs of a infertile woman who was never capable of being a mother to me. My greatest pain and loss in life was her biggest blessing. How in the world could I ever share my sadness in this home? I didn’t but I internalized every bit and it came out in self sabotaging ways.
Growing up, I was busy tending to my narcissistic adoptive moms emotional needs, I was never cared for as a child. My adoptive dad divorced my adoptive mom, because she was manic-depressive, suicidal and he admitted she couldn’t take care of the first daughter they adopted a year earlier, but somehow I was adopted anyway. He knew she couldn’t take care of the first daughter, yet HE adopted another daughter with her, divorces her within a year and moved over an hour away. He remarried, and had a new family to raise.
He left us with her.
What was the result?
A BAD CHILDHOOD.
A TRAUMA FILLED CHILDHOOD.
Lots of people have a bad childhood, and bad experiences in their childhood. But what about the “better life” that was promised to my birth mother? What about the 2 parent household that was so much better than she could provide, that was promised to her by the adoption industry?
That’s another blog post as well.
Growing up in this home, my adoptive mom cried more than she served hot meals on the table. Her crying and manic-depressive episodes had an impact on me in many ways. I was the child that would console her and comfort her, and be there for her. I remember sitting next to her wherever she was crying, rubbing her back and saying “Im sorry mommy. I’m sorry” I must have been a bad child because she was always crying. I must have been the reason she was crying all the time. As an adult, I’ve realized her crying was in part due to mental illness, as well as a failed marriage and not coming to terms with being able to conceive her own children because of her infertility issues. None of it was my fault, and my memories comforting her go back as far as I can remember. It was my responsibility to make her “feel better”.
When I was a child, I had no idea about mental illness. I had no clue the chaos and total dysfunction in this home wasn’t “normal”. I had nothing of “normalcy” to compare it too. I had this feeling of being “bad” because I somehow as a child felt responsible for her behaving the way she did. She laid in the street while we watched, in horror as we waited on the next car to drive by and kill her. We must have been HORRIBLE kids for our “mommy” to want to die so bad that she would lay in the middle of the street in front of us…
Turned into a bad juvenile!
Arrested for the first time at 12 years old, burglary. Followed by multiple arrests for assaulting others, in drug and alcohol treatment at 15. I was in group homes, detention, and spent a lot of time in the streets. I was pregnant at 15, and miscarried due to being in a physically abusive relationship at the time. I went to an alternative high school, and it was for the “BAD KIDS”.
Then that juvenile grew up into a bad woman.
A VERY BAD WOMAN
I really can’t describe the feeling of “being bad” that has been attached to me my entire life. It’s there, it’s always been there. It’s an every day feeling that is attached to me as I rise out of bed. It have to CONSTANTLY remind myself, I AM NOT BAD.
As a child I was never able to fully apply myself in school because I was dealing with so much anxiety and trauma in the home I grew up in. I honestly feel like I missed so much, because I wasn’t able to concentrate and learn properly. No one was looking out for me, or my education. They didn’t know what I learned or didn’t learn and they had no clue about my learning issues. This feeling has been something I struggle with my entire life, even more reason to feel bad because I am BAD!
So here we have it… It’s February 11, 2018. I’ve carried this feeling of “BEING BAD” around with me every day for 43 years. I have no idea what it’s like to wake up and not feel it. It’s imbedded so deep that it is part of who I am.
All the way back to the womb…
If you think our birth mothers handing us over to strangers to raise doesn’t impact us in an extremely negative way, I encourage you to do the research of what happens when a mother and child are separated. Do the adoption agencies tell you we can be impacted for the rest of our lives?
How do you make a way when you have carried this heavy burden of being BAD your entire life? The burden from being born, unwanted by the woman who should love me most, and robbed of a childhood, never having a mother? I didn’t blow it in the “mother area” once, but TWICE! I cry silent tears every day of my life, and the sadness never leaves that the mother God gave me, didn’t want me and the woman that wanted me couldn’t take care of me. I’ve accepted it’s here to stay, but I do my best to hide it from the world. I don’t want to be more of a burden than I already have been but it never leaves my mind. Tears of what never was.For me, I have to constantly remind myself that I am not my past or the mistakes I have made or the mistakes my birth parents or adoptive parents have made. Who I am isn’t determined by being conceived out of a drunken one night stand with a married man. I have to be honest. It’s a constant everyday mind struggle. Self love has been a critical point to my internal happiness. I don’t care how many adoption agencies GLORIFY THE HELL OUT OF ADOPTION – I will never feel like my birth mother loved me so much – EVER! She took the easy way out, and because of it I’m left to do the “time” of this life sentence called ADOPTION.
I try to remind myself that although my life experiences have made me feel like a bad person internally, but I am not a “bad” person.
( this is a constant torment in my mind and an everyday struggle )
Can any adoptees relate?
In my heart of hearts, I know I’m a loving person, a loyal person, an honest person. I’m selective, cautious, reluctant and observant of others, and who I let in my space. I’m an introvert because I’m tired of other people inflicting hurt on me and my life. I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin, alone because no one knows me, like me. I have my guard up at all times, and I’ve learned to live my life and adapt to my hyper sensitive flight response. I smell trouble, drama or discontent – I’m gone.
Most of us work our entire lives to improve ourselves, mind-body and spirit. At least I’ve been working on this anyway. It seems if we aren’t in a constant state of “improvement” we would go stagnant in life, and what would we have to work towards?
For me, I’m working on taming the voices that have always told me “I’m BAD and My life is BAD” and I’m trying to remind myself daily of WHO I REALLY AM. I’m making a list of what other people say I am, but my big struggle is believing it. The voices of negativity are stronger, louder and more prominent and they always have been. I have so much that I am thankful for, but adoption isn’t one of them.
Here are a few things of what other people say I am, and even a few of what I know I am.
- A woman of my word
- A go getter
- Jesus Follower
I think I’ll leave it at that for now.
Recently, I created a shirt via Adoptee Merch. I titled “I AM” which is dedicated to all the adoptees in the world who have always had these negative voices about themselves. I wanted to create something that was a reminder of who we really are, who I really am. I think we all need that reminder every now and then. Click Here if you would like to see the women’s shirt and here if you are interested in checking the men’s out.
I don’t wake up feeling these things, but deep in my heart I know them to be true. Why is it that all the “negative” feelings, visions, memories have a way of overshadowing all the positive ones? Either way, viewing myself in a positive light is a full-time job. As I think many adoptees can relate to this.
I would like to ask you if you can relate to this at all and if you were to create a list of the positive things you think about yourself and what others say about you, what would that list say? Would you share it with me? I think I’m going to print mine, and put it on my mirror in my bathroom as a daily reminder. I can read it each morning and repeat daily.
A woman of my word
A go getter
Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!
Thanks for reading
25 thoughts on “She’s Bad”
This. This. This explains my experience so much. Thank you for putting it into words for me, and many others. The feelings, the thoughts that I’m defective, I’m bad. I didn’t know I was adopted until I found out when I was 20 years old, but somehow who I am deep inside knew that I was unwanted. I am now 49 years old and these feelings and beliefs have tormented and hurt me every day. I am on a journey now of seeking healing from this trauma from God. He is the One who knows every detail of who I am and what happened to me. I have never been comforted, but I am hoping that somehow He can. I really don’t know if even He can bring healing to this deep wound, but there is no where and no one else.
You are also Courageous. Thanks for sharing your story. You are truly an inspiration.
Empower4her – Thank you! It never is easy, but so needed! ❤ Your support means a lot!
Reblogged this on FORBIDDEN FAMILY and commented:
Want to know what it feels like to live every day of your life knowing that you were rejected from the moment of your conception, and then your adoption?
This is how one woman feels. And I see this in many other adoptees as well. For these adoptees, each day is a reminder that your pregnant mom didn’t want you. And that sets the stage for a lifetime of self doubt.
One can feel the black sheep for whole life, and realise it was the other way around…
Right on point!!
I can’t even imagine what you’ve gone through. I share that experience of being abandoned by a birth mother. One thing is for sure: You’re a strong woman,
Hi Lennox – Thank you so much! So sorry for your loss, and pain. Please know you aren’t alone. I’ve found the pain of relinquishment is something that is hard to describe. It runs so deep, and now I refer to it as a “mother wound”. And then adding the Adoptive Mom “issues” to it, it’s just a very sad topic for me. But I know I’m not alone. HUGS!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m here if you ever need to talk!
Daughter of God
Thank you for being so brave in sharing your heart and the rawness of your pain. I can always identify.
Hi Amy, this is WONDERFUL! thank you for sharing!!!!!!!!!! You are more than welcome. It’s not easy to share, but so needed in our community. I feel like if one adoptee can say “Hey, I feel like that too!” my purpose on earth has been met! ❤
I am so grateful to have found your blog. I am a 67 year old adoptee and can relate to your feelings. After years of searching, I found out that my biological mother was 20 when she tossed me aside and I was adopted by a narcissistic woman.
Although I never met my biological mother, I did find a biological half brother about a year ago. The honeymoon stage is now over for me because I am overwhelmed with emotion and just need some space to deal with the reality. I have written a letter to him and his wife trying to explain my need for space right now. I do,t want to hurt anyone. I haven’t mailed it yet because I am in need of hearing from other adopters on this reunion issue. So, if anyone out there can relate, please reply.
I can relate to your post. I reunited with my birth family in 1990 and i’m still struggling to keep in touch with them.
The letter you have written sounds therapeutic. Each of us adoptee respond differently to our adoption and without reading the contents of your letter is difficult for me to offer comments. In my situation I’m inviting my birth siblings to walk our painful journey together. Over time I come to know that my pain is my friend and not enemies.
Hi Joy, so glad you found my blog as well. I can so relate to much of your pain.
The pain that comes with reunion is something I have a hard time putting into words. I can so relate to what you are saying about needing space. If you would like me to read your letter as an accountability partner I would be happy to do that. I understand why you need space, but honestly one thing I’ve learned is that no matter how “wonderfully” we try to explain it non-adoptees will never understand it… It’s so hard for us. I went through this a few times through reunion.
Have you mailed the letter yet? Feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org HUGS! You aren’t alone!
Thanks for your reply!! Yes, I mailed the letter. Unfortunately, my “brother” is not accepting my plea to let me have a “time out” without trying to guilt me. Just what an adoptee needs, right? Anyway, you know how sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for? Well, that’s how I feel. Wish I had never met him. I have had enough guilt placed upon me from a crazy narcissist of an adopted mother in my life, and don’t need this crap. You are so right about people not understanding us. There is NO WAY they can.
I could only brief through your article because of the painful memories my brain not ready to endure.
I’m not sure if you or any group members read the 2 books about adoption by an American author Nancy Newton Verrier. The first book is called the Primal Wound and Coming Home to Self is the second. Her books are well regarded among many Triad involved in the adoption
Like your article I could only brief read Nancy’s books. I could only stared past pages of Nancy first book and stuck on chapter two of the second. One word, however, did catch my attention in your article and Nancy’s second book is the word “survivor”. Nancy added a brief note about the third developmental progress beyond survival status: “Participant” is the word she used to describe living in the present and not lthe past stored in the living memories of our brain. Us adoptees live in the present as through the past still exist.
The word “participate” evolves us back to the future. Doc Brown in the 4 films “Back to the future” warned Marty McFly of the danger of altering the past to change a future that was not meant to be. This is true for many of us adoptees: we unwittingly fantasising what could have been be by imagining past events that could never be changed. In one film the future crumpled when the past was altered. McFly learned in the end that leaving the past unaltered he could live in the present and preparing for the future ahead.
If you have as groups members have time read Nancy’s books and gives us and her a review. My brain so far is resisting: Is like just staring at the words of the book and flipping through pages. I’m guessing that is too painful to live the truth that the adoption is not my fault.
Hi Graham, Thank you so much for your reply. I can understand things being too painful to read sometimes. I have read both of Nancy’s books and recommend them to everyone I know. They are hard reads, and I had to read them in small doses.
I can so related to living in the present but the past still exists. For me finding the balance in processing the past at this stage of my life, yet still enjoying life has been a bit of a difficult task. But I’m doing the best I can. So thankful for this space, your words, and others who let me know I’m not alone. You aren’t alone either! ❤
I read Primal Wound and I had such an “ah HA” moment when the author spoke of the disconnect for a baby who is born already knowing its mother, and is then handed over to a stranger. Rejection from day one. It helped me at least understand why I have never felt a part of anything. I met my biological half brother a year ago, and have moved from the “honeymoon stage” to the “time out stage”. I’m rambling now, but I am so grateful for this blog!!
Pamela, I can relate to a lot of what you wrote, and you wrote it so well! You seemed to have faced a lot more challenges than me. Still, I share a lot of the feelings you wrote about. Thank you.
I acted out a lot too as a young person. I felt sort of ‘bad’ as a child, and much more so in adolescence and afterward. I didn’t really want to be bad. A part of me just was, and I eventually started acting that way as if following a subconscious narrative. There were points in my early life when I actually started to think I was controlled by some dark force from the past. Well, as most people here seem to know, it turned out that dark force was trauma from my adoption, and my infantile subconscious relentlessly trying and mostly failing to process that.
I also noticed that my friends who were adopted and my friends who came from broken & abusive homes all started dabbling with negative behaviors side too. In short, we did so because of classic deficits in feeling love, safety, confidence, trust and so forth.
And this originally made no sense to me, or to adults, because they observed me as a young person with very loving supportive parents (who happened to adopt me — and in my way of thinking, they rescued me). Must have been experiments with alcohol and drugs! Must have been peer pressure! Must have been pop culture! No, now we know better. Thanks to my family doctor and then a brief (2 session) stint with a counselor, they gave me some grown up hints that ‘unresolved frustrations and conflicts’ from my adoption *may* be playing a role. These turned out to be massive understatements, but thank God they introduced me to some insightful reality.
I could go into all sorts of psychology and attachment model stuff. I could go into examples about my young life, and how I externalized my feelings of badness, which Pamela described so incredibly. Instead, I want to talk about the internal stuff right in the basement of the subconscious.
Do any of you remember very powerful dreams from childhood or adolescence that are just dripping with adoption-related themes?
I have had countless dreams of being abandoned, of being lost and seeking desperately to reunite my ‘family’ (who were never my real adopted family in the dreams). I have had many dreams of wandering alone, always searching, always anxious and full of grief. Because I felt bad and angry and ‘outside’, I also had many dreams that I had done criminal things too. Betrayal, murders, etc. Not fun dreams. It made sense that my subconscious invented these false fantasies because they created logical “reasons” – stories – for me feeling the original badness in the first place. I felt bad, although no serious objective reasons existed to justify these feelings. So the subconscious or imagination fleshed out the stories.
One of the most powerful dreams – nightmares – I ever had was of me being judged ‘bad’, and then rejected and annihilated. Burned alive. It was a mythological dream. I was like a Greek demi-god kneeling on this giant apparatus made out of brass. It turned out to be a huge set of scales. Below me were fires raging up from a chasm. Above me, and just beyond the camera view, was a powerful presence. This was a god, a Super Parent, looking down on me. Everything was in the third person, so I was looking at a fantasy adult version of myself and couldn’t see the god.
I remember sweating. I remember my eyes bugged out in terror. I remember clutching the hot brass chains of the scales. I was pleading for my life. I knew I was about to die. “Please, let me live. I swear I’m not as bad as they say. Please, if you love me, spare me! Please, I need your love. I don’t deserve to be destroyed.” It was something like that. It was more emotional, more pure, than these words.
The super powerful force lifted the scales. It swung me closer to the fire. It told me emotionally that I was deemed unworthy. I was a mistake. I was bad. I had to go away. I didn’t fit in. I had to be cast out. No, not just cast out. I had to be destroyed.
The last memory of the dream was me screaming as the scales plunged into the fire. I was burned alive. Annihilated. Fade to black. I eventually woke in a heart-pounding fit of anxiety. This is the fear of the unloved. The fear of being judged bad, but deprived of a rational reason why. The parental force, for reasons not fully understood, destroys its child. Why? Because the child is bad. And why is that? The infantile mind just don’t know. But it must have done something to deserve it. Right>?
It’s a horrible state of affairs that most ‘securely attached’ people don’t know about. The ‘insecurely attached’ people meanwhile may be plagued with these thoughts (the details of course correspond with their personal crises). Not only is the subconscious replaying these feelings over and over, it’s also trying to use whatever it can to explain them.
The good thing is, I’ve spent a life time studying what the hell is going on in my head, and I’ve done pretty good in ‘dealing with it.’ While I am still not fully my real self, and I’m still too ‘alone’ and semi-quarantined, I’m also no longer my false self either. I won’t be a victim of the feelings and narratives anymore. I’m not bad. I’m no longer angry or sad or nervous or depressed. I’m a good person. A part of me is convinced I am bad, but in the end… it’s only a part. It’s really just a frightened, confused thing. I don’t fight it. I console it. I’m friends with it. I tell it that it’s going to be okay. I understand it and in return it’s not making as much racket.
Thanks, Pamela and everyone else here
Thanks for this! I also have a narcissistic adoptive mother, who had depression but never admitted it.
You ARE all of those things. Thank God for
His truth in the midst of these lies.
Your sister in Christ and adoption,
Yes I can relate to your story Pamela, very much so!
Thanks for your words.😘