An essay on secondary abandonment and valuing oneself.
There they were. Those words that had dictated my entire life. I was so loved, I was abandoned.
I was about to hit “order” on the invitation website. Save the dates had already been distributed. A wedding shower was thrown and the thank you cards were sent to our friends and family. I looked into his eyes, and I think I blacked out for a moment. When I came to, he was telling me he had been struggling with anxiety and depression for the majority of his life. Addiction was now a major struggle and he could not be the man he needed to be for me. I talked him down. We came to an agreement he would seek some help before making any impulsive decisions. I thought we were in the clear. The wedding was 100% planned. I was set to walk down the aisle in three months. My dress was being altered, the flowers arranged, and I was picking the songs I’d dance to with my father and my new husband. I was very wrong.
The next day, I was at work. It was the end of the day and I was antsy to get home. I was in the middle of an experiment when I looked down at my phone and saw a notification from my parents. The text said: He just called us. We are so, so sorry.
What? I know who the “he” was, but I didn’t know what was happening. Immediately after, another notification came in. This time from him.
I called your parents and opened up about everything. I can’t do this. I can’t be who you need me to be. I can’t be a husband. The wedding is cancelled.
So there I was. Stuck at work. Looking down at the text message that blew up my entire life. I immediately went into Adoptee Survival Mode. I lasted until the end of the work day, and then I went straight home to figure out what was going on. What came next was hours of pleading and begging. The adoptee in me begged to not be abandoned again. Not like this. Not with those words. Those words that made no sense to me.
Even now, eight months later, my adoptee brain looks in the mirror and questions what I did wrong. What is wrong with me? How could this happen to me twice?
I spent months picturing a future alone because how could I ever open up to someone like I did with him? How could I ever re-teach what it means to be a woman of color and a transracial adoptee. If I made it to an entirely planned wedding after over a year of being engaged, what is preventing that from happening again other than not starting a new relationship?
A first family and a fiancé abandoned me in the same way. Or shall I say society taught me that a family loved me so much they gave me up and now I have a fiancé who did the same thing.
My brain wouldn’t allow me to process it. Instead, it worked hard to rationalize with what was happening and find solutions so I wouldn’t be left again. I made excuses and changed some of my core values to try and keep him in my life. Obviously, it didn’t work.
The last few months as I’ve been coming out of the ‘relationship fog’, I’ve been working hard to value myself. I’ve been working hard to recognize that there is nothing wrong with me.
It’s much harder than you think. Especially after everyone has just told me to own who I am and be proud of where I came from! 1. I don’t really know who I am because I don’t know my biological family. 2. I was also not raised in the country in which I was born, so just owning who I am does not come naturally to me.
Instead, I’ve been working to own being a woman of color and transracial adoptee. I’ve been working hard to advocate for those without platforms and those who need to be heard.
So I will leave you with the same advice I gave in my post: Thoughts as I approach 25 (https://lfsmusings.com/2019/10/05/thoughts-as-i-approach-25/):
Value yourself. No, don’t let anyone else decide what you’re worth, how smart you are, how beautiful you are, and whether or not you are worthy of love. You are. So find someone who doesn’t need to be convinced of those things.
Hold onto your strengths. Especially as a WOC, strengths are often seen as threats. Surround yourself with people who value what you have to offer and who are willing to support you. Friends, family, and partners should strive to help you grow into a better person, not strip you of all of the qualities that scare them.
Try spending time alone. I mean really alone. Go to that movie you want to see by yourself. Be that “weirdo” that brunches alone. Discover everything you can do on your own and when you have people to keep you company, recognize that you don’t need them to still be okay.
Forgive yourself. My adoptee brain doesn’t let this happen often. I am a fixer and perfectionist. When things go wrong, I immediately take the blame for them. I apologize for things I did not do or could not change because deep down I think that somehow, I must be responsible. Stop that. You aren’t responsible. You cannot change the past, so focus on keeping yourself healthy and strong.
And the last bit of advice? You will never be liked by everyone. In fact, you will probably piss off some people along the way. I like to think that means you’re doing something right. What do you do when you can’t please everyone?
Be unapologetically yourself.
For videos on this, see below:
My Adoption Story Pt. 47 | The Wedding is OFF
My Adoption Story Pt. 50 | The Breakup Full Story (and books)