Recovering from Rejection and Abandonment

I remember the first time I was sent to live with someone else. I was about six years old and I remember my mom telling us we’d be staying there for “just a little while”.  I remember crying my heart out, “No mommy, no!  I don’t wanna go!”  She wasn’t listening as I cried, and she turned to walk away from me.  I remember someone prying my little arms from around her neck, and I sobbed as I watched her go.

My heart was broken and I was sacred as I cried myself to sleep that first night.  I cried because I wanted my mommy.  I cried because I didn’t understand.  I hurt…hurt so bad my stomach ached.  I cried because the people there scared me.  I didn’t feel loved…I didn’t feel connected…Oh, mommy, I don’t understand…why you are leaving me? Please come back.  Why don’t you hear me?  Why didn’t you listen to me. Mommy, do you hear me?  Please listen to me.  I feel invisible!  Are you out there?  I wanna go home…Mommy…? mommy…? mommy…?

Thinking back on that first night when my mother left me is painful.   I know I must briefly visit those moments because something in those instances defined my current behaviors and identity. It’s important for me to understand what I learned in that hurtful moment.  It’s important to take an objective look at the situation and realize the lies I’ve adopted as my truths.  It’s all crucial to recovery.  Those realizations are the bridge I need to correct some of my current behaviors and help me become a better person.

NO RISK, NO REWARD

Working through my recovery has been painful at times, but those painful times have been some of the most healing and rewarding experiences I’ve had, even in all of my years of therapy.

Why do I go there?  When I hit a ‘speed bump’ in my recovery and wonder why I’m not making progress…I start looking deeper.  For example, when I’m triggered by those around me, when I find myself angry at the littlest things, or when I’m crying and fighting depression, I start looking deeper.  I look more into why I’m holding myself back?

TRUST THE PROCESS

This particular memory is the result of a process I worked after I found I was beating myself up over how I acted during an encounter with my five-year-old son.  I realized my actions were inappropriate for what I expected out of myself as a mom.  Afterwards, I asked myself, “What in the world happened in that moment to make me get so angry so quickly and lose control?”

When looking back on the moment, I realized it had little to do with my son’s behavior and more to do with my inappropriate reaction to him.  When my son began screaming at the top of his lungs (to mask my instructions) and then threw himself on the bed and pulled the covers over his head to avoid listening to me, I started raising my voice and yelling at him to be sure he heard me over his screaming.  Wow!  That was mature behavior on my part as a mom!  When I walked out of the room, I knew I needed to work through this and get to the root of what was REALLY going on for me.  I was ashamed of myself and my actions, and I had to fix it.

When thinking back over it, I realized that what I heard him say (through body language, etc.) was “I don’t wanna listen to you.”  For me, I realized in that moment, I was ticked off because he wasn’t listening. I was being disregarded and I was being ignored.  My advice/instruction was not valued.  Therefore, I’m a bad mom because my own son won’t listen to me.  Those are ALL lies that the enemy had fed me.  They were lies I had come to believe over the years.  Those were lies and beliefs that I had owned as part of my identity.  As a result of not being heard, I felt the need to scream at him to make sure I was heard.  Wow!  What a realization.  That was big stuff for me.

While processing this situation with an accountability partner, she asked me, “When was the first time you remember not being heard, not being listened to or not being valued?”  Instantly, I remembered the first time my mother abandoned me.

Now what? What was I supposed to do with this memory?  Well, I am excited because now that I have I have this memory, I can go back to it and process it in a healthy way.  I will re-visit this memory with someone safe and find a healing way to grieve that loss.  I will work through it while someone who can hold a safe space for me to mourn the loss of my mother.  This safe person will help me appropriately deal with the anger and resentment in a healing way while learning how to forgive my mother at the same time.

This is why I love Celebrate Recovery so much.  Working the steps helps me stay accountable to my actions.  It helps me to be open and honest with myself.  It helps me understand and love myself enough to work through it even when I show up as the “yucky me”.  When I see my ugly side come out, instead of stuffing that raging moment, I’m able to look at the event, analyze what really happened, look at my part in it and then dig deeper into the reason and root of why my behavior was the way it was. Then, I can consciously change it!  I can do all of this with Jesus as my filter.

RE-PATTERNING MY THINKING

When I look back on that first abandonment, I can re-envision this moment with a different filter.  I can take away the emotion and rejection in the situation and begin to re-pattern my thinking around that situation and “re-format” those old lies and adopt new truths that God wants me to know.  The truth is I am not invisible.  I am one of Christ’s daughters.  He wants to hear me.  I can pour my hurts and heart out to Him and he’ll listen.  I know in my heart, that I am important to my family, and I know in my heart that they value what I have to say.  Now, I can take this information, these feelings and emotions and find a healthier way to express myself when I feel like I’m not being heard or feel like I’m invisible.

Why do I write this stuff and share my vulnerabilities?  It’s because I know we all have hurts.  We all have some sort of hangup or insecurity about something.  We are all called to be more like Christ (Matthew 5:48) and work on becoming better people.  Recovery (or any 12 step program like AA, Al Anon, NA, etc.) gives us practical steps to work through our behaviors and resentments. I believe everyone of us can benefit from a recovery program that teaches us to do life better.  Not only does Celebrate Recovery have programs for those of us that are addicted to something, but they also have programs for those of us working through life’s struggles and hangups.

I’m grateful for my program and the tools I’m learning in the process!  How has your program helped you?

Many Secrets of a Foster Child

My childhood was probably very similar to many of the children in foster care today.  I was a happy baby girl and had a very rambunctious little brother (Jeff), but around us there were many moments of strife, sadness and mental illness.  My parents were average hard-working people, but I remember …

Image

I can’t help but notice the big grin on my face, the lack of a car seat and my favorite Raggedy Ann doll on the seat beside me (that one stirs my inner child a bit). Can you guess what kind of car this was by the back seat and window?

… the many fights, the smell of beer on my father’s breath, the many beer cans on the tables when I awoke in the morning and I remember how life was when my mother left him.  I remember a couple of my mother’s different boyfriend’s and what they did to me as a toddler. Most of all, I remember the new step father that joined our family promising lots of happy memories.

But, he didn’t create happy memories for us – just the opposite…I remember his beatings and I have vivid memories of hearing him beat my brother and seeing the hand-print bruises on his tiny little face.  I remember the night he left our mobile home to take my 5 year old brother out to the middle of nowhere and leave him on the side of the road — just to punish and scare him–a 5 year old!!  By the grace of God, I’ve been able to work through those memories and keep them from haunting me every day.  Some children aren’t so lucky.

It wasn’t long after that we went to live with a new family.  I stayed with one family for about eight months, but they couldn’t handle my brother, Jeff.  He was probably classified as severely ADHD and emotionally handicapped (as they’d label today), so he bounced from home to home and probably lived in about nine different homes.  We became “Society’s Children” and were raised by other families, mentors or houseparents.  Our lives drastically changed.

On any given day, there are approximately 400,000 children in foster care in the US.  Many of these kids have similar stories of abuse, neglect, abandonment and fear — most importantly, they live with many painful secrets they never have the courage to share.  Many of these kids feel it’s their own fault and if they’d only been “good enough” things would be different.  Some walk around with hatred so strong they wish their parents were dead.  Some kids still, after all the trauma, wish mommy and daddy would bring them home.  Some kids just “function” and try to get through life, figure out how to survive and find their new “normal”.  As a result, it’s important to note that each of these 400,000 kids needs a mentor, needs a warm hug, and some gentle guidance.

I believe that it was because of the countless mentors, houseparents, good role models and great homes I’ve had in my life that have helped me “go down the right path”.  It’s because someone thought it was important to model and develop in me a faith in Christ at an early age.

Do you have a similar story?  Have you had a mentor that has greatly influenced your life?  Have you ever served as a mentor for others?

Until next time, please remember James 1:27

James127