*Trigger warning: self harm
*Though I have been open about this with a few people, I’ve never been public about it, so writing this is a bit nerve wracking. I am not being open for pity. In fact, pity is one of my triggers so please respect that. I don’t write for that kind of attention and whenever I do get it, it throws me hard and triggers an emotional flashback. So please, no pity, no sad faces. I’ll appreciate that very much. Though I am willing to talk about it privately to anyone who wants to.
That said, this is what I got from this picture, which was shared by The Evolving Adoptee on Facebook.
Seeing this photo made me realize that this was exactly why I self harmed for so many years. The “usual” or more common reasons why people do that to themselves never fit me, they never fully made sense or felt right. The writing underneath the skin in this photo, the scratching and pulling away at the surface to reveal a ton of things no one else is privy to, feels exactly right when I think about why I used to self harm. I’ve always had depression but it was mild. Anxiety, too. I’ve had ups and downs, periods of more severe depression, but that wasn’t what drove me to harm myself.
All my life, I’ve kept my true self hidden. Even from myself. All of the rage, trauma, attachment issues, abuse, abandonment issues – it took all of my subconscious’ power to protect me. Even though the conscious doesn’t remember some things, the body and subconscious do. They are trained to protect you from the worst things that happened to you. So I bounced around life, “happy” and carefree and believed I was unaffected by my adoption, unaware of the abuse my dad was putting me through, and fully encased in what adoptees call the adoption fog.
On the surface, I was someone else, the person I suppose my parents’ daughter might’ve been. Underneath, I was teeming with all of these emotions I had no idea what to do with because I didn’t even know they were there. There was so much that it was exploding out of me, needed an escape. I got some of it out in my writing (fanfiction) but it wasn’t enough. At least back then. It’s enough for me, now. Writing characters who face the same or similar issues I do, and writing about my experiences with adoption trauma and narcissistic abuse, are what keeps me from doing it now.
That’s part of why I’m so open about my experiences, feelings, and thoughts surrounding adoption and narcissistic abuse. Writing helps me understand myself and putting this out there helps my loved ones understand me.
I’ve been going through an enormous transformation that began with meeting my husband nine years ago. He sparked the very first hole in my fog by getting me on my feet and, eventually with time and effort and pain, independent and away from my dad’s control over me. That hole widened gradually and created more of them. My mom’s death sparked another, though this one was traumatic and enormous and gaping and sudden. This one rocked my entire world and changed my personality and what I was willing to deal with overnight. My big breakdown almost exactly one year later sparked another. Reading The Primal Wound, a book about adoption trauma, sparked another. Certain friendships sparked some more.
I have lost friends through my transformation. It sucks when you’ve loved and trusted someone for so long just to find out they weren’t who you thought they were, nor was your friendship with them. But a big part of that was that I wasn’t honest with myself, so I was someone else to them. And when I changed, they realized I wasn’t who they thought I was either. I used to change who I was to fit my relationships because I was infatuated with friendships and latched onto people.
I’m working on that, and I don’t regret those friendships or the ways they ended. I’m proud of myself for finally breaking through the surface and reaching the traumatized child inside of me who never got to grow up because she was too focused on keeping me safe.
She finally has the opportunity to heal.
*Trigger warning: self harm