A Living, Breathing Inconvenience: The War Within – An Adoptees Perspective

Trigger Warning: This article contains content about suicidal ideation. 

This website has saved me so many times from releasing my burdensome thoughts to those I am close to. Over the last decade, being able to share my big adoptee sentiments here on my website has likely saved my life many times over!

Thank you for being here and allowing me to communicate my inner adoptee thoughts and struggles. We all need a space like this, and if you are an adoptee and don’t have it, I inspire you to get it! 

While 2022 is winding up, the year will soon be behind us. But, as we step into 2023, I can’t help but acknowledge all the changes and growth that’s transpired in 2022 in my personal life. So much greatness has happened that I will be eternally grateful for. 

Yet, I’ve also experienced many significant things that have created a layer of sadness that I’m unsure what to do with. Holidays are challenging in general and even more so for adoptees. While everyone is arranging holiday get-togethers with family and celebrating life and the marvelous things it brings, I am drowning in my sadness.

Welcome to adoption. 

Anytime I’m feeling “some type of way” in my journey, I try to get with myself and self-reflect because I know I am the only one who can figure out what’s going on. So I look inward and identify the areas that might bother me so I can work on them. Sometimes, I can identify what’s happening and make some changes. But right now, I feel stuck, so I am attempting to see if writing about it helps me.  One of the realities in being adopted is that I was denied a voice. This is why writing has always been easier for me to share feelings because I seem to be able to write about my thoughts, but allowing them to come out of my mouth is another story.

Lately, I am struggling with constantly feeling like I am an inconvenience to those around me, so I spend every waking moment trying to ensure I am not that! Unfortunately, I do it a lot of the time automatically, not even realizing I’m doing it. 

This battle has been a lifetime; however, it’s highlighted more now than before. Sharing it here in this safe space may help since I cannot share it with anyone close to me because of the burden factor. 

I wrote about this topic years ago in an article titled “Being Born A Burden.”

“Many adoptees spend their entire lives searching. It’s exhausting mentally, emotionally, and physically. I never thought I would have to experience this again. For me, searching is extreme mental anguish. I don’t even know how to describe it. It triggers me back to my childhood and earlier life, searching for my birth mother. Now I’m searching for a sister. Before the sister, it was my birth father, and another brother and another sister. It’s the unknown, and that’s not a good place for me.”

I have promised myself that I will always be true to myself, but sometimes my adoptee feelings are so big they scare me. I am 100% confident that if I share them with anyone close to me, they will scare them also. At least, this is my fear anyway. 

Unfortunately, this is the only place I can share them. Still, I am baring my soul for the world to help myself by releasing them and opening the possibility that my transparency might help another adoptee out there. There is a lot of power in “letting things out” and sharing them with at least one other person. Sometimes that all by itself helps me, and I can regroup, recenter and move forward. 

Of course, sharing such personal pieces of my life publicly doesn’t come without a risk of those who love me finding out about my struggles and kicking me to the curb. This would be the easiest solution, and I wouldn’t blame them. Hell, a lot of the time, I want to kick myself to the curb, too. 

But, if they knew I was only trying to spare them from my BIG ADOPTEE FEELINGS, maybe they would understand better. The truth is, I have always been a deep thinker and a deep processor, which is a blessing and a curse. So what I write about here isn’t always rainbows and unicorns but real-life struggles from an adult adoptee’s perspective. Adoption always has been and always will be the gift that keeps giving. 

It seems that no matter how much healing I do or how hard I work towards feeling “good,” my adoptee reality will always knock me back down. That’s a significant struggle all by itself. I’ve been riding the waves for 48 years now. Sometimes it’s hard to get back up. Sometimes I can’t see the light. Sometimes it takes my breath away. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning. Sometimes it’s so much that I want to die. Sometimes it lasts a few hours, and sometimes days and weeks. Sometimes the highs are high, and the lows are low. As I write this article, I am sitting knee-deep in one of the lows that I am having difficulty shaking. 

I’m an expert at smiling for the world, always putting my best foot forward to make others feel good, cheerful, or loved, which takes the focus off me and what I might be genuinely dealing with underneath it all. Us adoptees are great at being chameleons and pretending. It’s survival, and we learned it very young! 

I genuinely feel this adaption is rooted in adoption and the reality of being placed in a situation where everyone’s feelings matter more than mine. To my adoptive parents, my feelings have never mattered. I was the prize (a gift, if you will) that was paid for with a hefty cash price, and in return, they became parents. The misplaced link is that I would be expected to be forever praising and indebted to a lifetime of caring for them while sacrificing my wants and needs. 

Sadly, I had to walk away from everyone to choose myself. I would do it again if I had to; however, I struggle with being put into a situation at no fault of my own that made me feel like I had to choose between my adoptive family and biological family and MYSELF. I struggle HARD to navigate the tightrope of being somewhere between all these families. So walking away from them ALL is the only solution I have. 

I don’t have the tools to manage all the emotions that come between existing between two worlds, never belonging to either of them. THIS IS PAINFUL AND HARD FOR ME, AND IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN. I don’t have a shared history with my biological family, which makes things incredibly uncomfortable and challenging. I don’t share DNA with my adoptive family, who are genetic strangers to me! I do not feel connected to them and never bonded with my adoptive mom, but I was forced to TRY. 

Somehow I am expected to keep everything between them separated. It fucking hurts to be placed into a situation where I constantly have to leave pieces of my life separate. I didn’t sign up for this bullshit, so I am not playing the game. 

One of the significant healing dynamics I came to years ago is accepting that the pain from adoption was here to stay and that some of the wounds caused by relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma can’t heal! Fuck Adoption!

This was a KEY DYNAMIC to accepting what has been done and sabotaged, at no choice of my own. It might sound depressing to some, but please understand I didn’t come to this conclusion without spending a lifetime trying to heal the wounds that cannot be fully healed! God couldn’t fully heal my wounds; praying couldn’t fully heal my wounds; nothing has fully healed these wounds. The sooner I could accept they were here to stay and learned to sit with them, the sooner I started to heal! 

I feel like a living, breathing inconvenience and a burden. I can acknowledge and recognize this feeling is rooted in my beginnings (being born a burden), which has nothing to do with NOW; however, it has dramatically shaped how I feel and live my life. 

I can grasp a lousy day or a bad few days, but what do I do when the heaviness doesn’t leave and I can’t shake it? I’ve been wrestling with this for a while now, and I haven’t told anyone I’m on the struggle bus. 

Why? 

Because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone, and I don’t want to be a burden. Of course, it’s easy for someone to say, “You aren’t a burden!” but no matter how much they say it, that’s not how I feel. So I beat myself up for feeling that way, as if feeling like a burden and inconvenience isn’t enough all by itself. 

So what is my effing problem as of late? 

I am genuinely struggling because my being adopted by no choice of my own directly harms my kids in many ways. The thought of them feeling even a little of how I feel is enough to take my breath away. I feel this tremendous feeling of GUILT that is suffocating me! It makes me feel defective, and I carry a huge burden that I can’t put into words. 

How can I ever forgive myself for bringing my kids into a world where they have to pay the price for their mom being adopted and all the heavy layers that come with it? They deserve more, much more. I wish I could take this pain and direct it to something positive; however, I am not there yet. I don’t know what to do with it, especially when it’s impacted my kids the way it has. 

There I said it.

Well, half of it. 

I am also struggling with the reality that I would likely DIE before I burden anyone with my feelings, problems, or issues about all of this or situations that arise in my life that isn’t optimistic, positive, or uplifting. I always want to show up with a smile and cheer for everyone around me. I hold myself to a high standard when it comes to this, so when I go through some things that I can’t bring myself to share, I become overcome with complex emotions and feel like I’m drowning. Most of the time I can’t even put my feelings into words.

I feel inadequate on top of feeling flawed. It’s no one’s problem but my own for feeling this way, and I am the only person who can put it on the table and work on it. I don’t think many non-adoptees will ever comprehend the layers of the adoptee experience and how it runs so deep and lasts a lifetime. However, I can’t believe I am the only adoptee struggling with this. 

Recently, I had a scary SVT episode that was awful. My resting heart rate was stuck at 154 BPM for several hours. I should have gone to the ER, but I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone. The only way I can describe this is to imagine Mike Tyson hitting his punching bag as fast as he could for several hours, nonstop. Put my heart in the place of the punching bag. It’s a really dreadful feeling that has a recovery process of days for me. 

It’s invisible, just like I want it to be most of the time. I was super thankful to have two friends who drove me home and were very compassionate. However, I didn’t contact one person in my immediate life to notify them this was happening, and I crawled into my bed after taking a heart pill and slept for the next 13 hours, which is entirely out of my nature. But, again, I didn’t want to inconvenience or burden anyone.

I am at fault for being groomed this way because of adoption, always putting other people’s feelings, wants, and needs ahead of my own. I have been alone with my kids and me for a long time, moving across the country away from everyone to find ME and be FREE, finally. Being a single parent of 3 kids makes for a strong woman. I had no one to depend on, but myself and the family dynamic was nonexistent, so there hasn’t been a family cushion to fall back on for a long time. 

A variety of these things makes me feel stuck in a paradox between wanting to be true to myself yet never wanting to depend on anyone for anything; even if I needed a little help that could be lifesaving, I would never ask! I will die first! This is an expansive war I struggle with within myself. 

Well, the reality is that this impacts those I love who also love me. This can cause problems, so my first step is acknowledging it’s a thing for me. Have any of my fellow adoptees struggled with this dynamic? 

It was a stretch to ask my friends to help me get home because I sat there pondering how to ask or get home without inconveniencing anyone. I was considering taking a Uber or a Lyft. Once they offered, I accepted, but I felt terrible the whole way for upsetting our plans and inconveniencing anyone, on top of having a significant heart issue. They were so kind and understanding, but I felt like I was about to have a heart attack and was also feeling guilty for getting a ride home. Then once I got home, I quietly went to my room, not to come back out for 13 hours, suffering all alone without anyone knowing what was happening. I did end up telling my significant other and my oldest daughter, after the fact for the sake of them knowing for health reasons. They wished I would have told them at the time, but I let them know I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone.

The moral of the story is, why be a burden? I was born a burden; I don’t want to die one. I even planned my funeral because it’s important to me to die better than I came into the world. These are some fucked up thoughts, and it’s a lot to carry at times. One thing I can share is that I already feel a release by reaching this paragraph in my writing about these issues. Some of my heaviness has lifted. I want to get to a place in life where I don’t have to “do anything” but process through my adoptee struggles all on my own, but I am not there yet. Quite frankly, I am not sure I will ever be. Keeping things bottled up inside isn’t always effective.

I gave up on therapy because, being adopted, I have always had to therapy the therapist. I’m dead ass tired of therapy. I am in charge of healing myself. I genuinely feel all the tools I need are already inside of me. Writing has been exceptionally cathartic and therapeutic. When I can’t find the courage to talk about things, I can usually write about them.

Adoptees, Do you write?

How does it help you navigate your healing journey?

What helps you when you can’t see the light?

Today, I remind myself, and I can share without a shadow of a doubt, that even when I feel defective, like a burden and a total inconvenience, I know deep down that ADOPTION IS WHAT’S F*CKED UP. I am not f*cked up. Adoption is. Adoption has caused these issues, which are a constant, lifelong struggle. No matter what I do, this sh!t keeps resurfacing, and it’s here to stay. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we can learn to sit with it when it comes and walk through it. We have to feel it to heal it. Sharing it helps too! 

I know I’m not alone in feeling the way I do, and I remind myself sometimes daily that the way I feel is normal for a not-normal situation. Nothing is normal about being separated from your biological families at the beginning of life and having your very existence built on a bed of lies. 

While I conclude this article, one thing I would like to highlight that’s a positive spin is that today is Winter Solstice – 2022! I get comfort in knowing a shift is on the horizon and our days will start getting longer.

If you are an adoptee struggling, please know you are not alone!

I have created a comprehensive list of recommended resources for you! 

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova

8 thoughts on “A Living, Breathing Inconvenience: The War Within – An Adoptees Perspective

  1. Pamela ~ Do not give up. I can feel your pain in your article. Take one day at a time. You are a fighter and you have already broken the cycle. Your children, grandchildren, etc. know who they are and where the come from and that is because you continue to live in and find the truth. You didn’t choose your circumstances but you damn sure are choosing to heal, educate, and help myself and other adoptees. Triggers will come but remember to rest, regroup, and refresh but don’t ever give up.

    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thank you so much for your message. It’s felt like a warm hug from you to me. I really appreciate it more than you know.

      I know you get it, how sometimes the strength we have to find to pull through sometimes feels invisible! While everyone else is mapping life out, I sometimes feel like I am always in survival mode, but the root is always adoptee grief, loss and sadness. it’s been A LOT lately, but I felt better after writing about it.

      Part of the guilt I feel is that it always resurfaces, and I get frustrated that it seems to always come back however I accepted years ago its here to stay, and that some wounds (separation trauma) are to big to heal.

      Sharing my feelings is a HUGE help ,but its not always easy. it’s honestly a last ditch effort to let it out, because I feel sometimes like it might kill me. Not saying that lightly either.

      Anywho, thank you for your message! I am hanging on, at least for today! I will worry about tomorrow when it comes. XOXO ❤ I love you! ❤

  2. Pamela,
    The feelings you share are exactly what I have felt my entire life and never connected it to my adoption. Those feelings really just surfaced in my 50s. Holidays suck for me emotionally. I cannot wait until they’re over. I’ve been reading “Primal Wound” and it’s been an eye opener. I’m finally joining your local support ground here in Anchorage. Thanks for the article.

    1. Hi David,

      Thank you kindly for sharing your thoughts here! I am so sorry you are in the middle of all of the adoptee feelings surfacing because I know it can be A LOT. I am so glad you have found The Primal Wound and are diving in. I do recommend taking baby steps only because it’s so much to take in. I honestly don’t think I have even read the whole book, because I have to put it down and press forward with SELF CARE and sometimes its too much to pick it back up for awhile. However, it’s so eye opening as you have shared! It’s many aah-hah moments that are so validating! It’s wonderful you are joining our Anchorage group! I hope you have a wonderful experience connecting with your fellow adoptees in real life! Much love and healing to you far-away-friend! ❤

      1. Pamela,

        I have not read the entire book. I cannot get myself to finish it.

        This past year I found and met my birth mother. I didn’t realize at the time the emotions that developed from that meeting. I’ve been struggling ever since.

        The journey continues.

        David.

        1. Hi David,

          I’m 100% with you on the book. I am so sorry for your pain. Most would think it’s unicorns and rainbows after reunion, but it’s hardly ever the case. I actually wrote about that one time. Let me see if I can find the article. Hang in there friend! ♥️

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