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?

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Foster Families Needed

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to become a foster parent?   As National Foster Care Month comes to an end, there is still a huge need for foster parents.  See if you “qualify” as a foster family.

  • Do you have a willing and loving heart for helping a child in need?
  • Do you have skills and abilities that help you to understand what children need to overcome trauma, grow through it and develop strength and faith to endure?
  • Do you feel that God is calling you to use the home he gave you, the gifts he’s bequeathed you and the talents he’s developed in you for the benefit of these wounded children?
  • Do you find yourself with extra time…perhaps you don’t already have children or you will soon have an empty-nest?
  • Do you have past experience as a foster child or foster family?
  • Do you have a desire for a bigger family and are considering adoption or fostering?
  • Do you have a desire to serve God and make a difference in someone’s life?

If you have any of these qualities you may very well make a great foster parent.  Whether you realize it or not, foster families are heroes.  Foster families are selfless people.  Foster families are in great need.

If you’ve even had a random thought as to whether you’d be able to foster, I’d encourage you to consider looking into it.

My husband and I were foster parents for about five years and had six beautiful girls come through our home.  We still “share” time with one of those sweet little girls and she calls us “mommy and daddy”.  We’ve had the privilege of adopting another little guy we fostered while his mother was going through cancer treatments.  Another one of our young ladies still considers our house her “home” when she returns from college.  There have been many blessings with these children and our time as foster parents was a meaningful experience.

There are so many children out there that just need to feel loved, accepted and welcomed.  If you have the patience, time and willingness to do the research for opening your home, go for it.  It’s truly worth it.

Have you ever considered being a foster parent?  Are you a current foster parent?  What can you offer to someone that’s considering this role?

An Adoptive Parent’s Perspective

This post comes from a mom (who wishes to remain anonymous) who chose to adopt an older child out of the Foster Care System.  I think it’s important that we celebrate those who give a home, a voice and loving environment to the precious children in Foster Care.   She shares a very personal journey in her own words:

Deciding to adopt after learning of and accepting our infertility just seemed like the right thing to do. We wanted a family but didn’t know how we would achieve that but we were open to ideas. We researched all types of adoption—domestic, foreign, an older child, an infant, etc. Our road seemed to lead us to our local area’s foster-to-adopt program—so we registered for a class being held in our area. It was many weeks of education, awareness, discussions, etc. At the end, we decided to pursue with the intention of adopting our child—whoever that would be.

Our daughter is now a young adult, she was a preteen when she came into our home and family. Our lives were forever changed by this smiling little girl who desperately wanted and needed to be loved but didn’t know how to accept that, who struggled to live with a family she didn’t know and didn’t have feelings for, and still had so many conflicting feelings for her birth family and their situation—which was complicated. For us, it was a dream come true; for her, it was an answer to a little girl’s prayer. But, the realities of those sweet dreams and prayers were soon replaced by the realities of a very hurt child and very naïve parents. We were all struggling–we read books, we consulted therapists and friends, we worked hard but nothing prepared us for the path we were to walk and we continue to walk. Prayer became a way to survive because we were struggling terribly. This wasn’t just some random goal, it was our child’s life, it was our family—we had to succeed, we had to pursue, we had to overcome–it was our child—she was/is ours and we, as her parents, vowed not to give up on her, no matter how difficult. There are those who don’t have the conviction to make it work but I don’t judge them—they make their decisions for themselves and unless we walk in their shoes, we cannot judge others’ actions.

I believe in God. I believe He walks with us through this life here on earth. I believe He carries us when we’re weary. I believe He hears my prayers—each and every one of them—and He answers them, each of them, in His own perfect way. I believe that God has lead us to be the family we are today. Are we perfect?  Absolutely not. Have we made mistakes?  Plenty of them. But, we just keep trying and keep going. Without our daughter, we may not have these realizations. Having these struggles in our life has made us all the people we are today. This may not be the walk for everyone but it has been ours and we just keep moving. We are a family. A family that smiles, cries, laughs, and hurts together. How one’s family came together is different for many people but we just keep walking the path together, seeing where the path leads and dealing with all we find along the way. Adoption has brought us together and God has made us a family. I thank Him for my family, for my struggles, and for my life.

It’s never too late.

My mind is often reeling about the future.  What am I doing with my life?  Am I living out God’s will?  Am I serving my purpose?  In my mid 40’s we adopted a baby boy and we’re loving every minute of parenthood…ok, not really every minute…but most of it (that’s me being the optimist).  By now, I thought I’d be a successful business woman, or a principal of a school, or an influential leader in my field.  God has given me the gift of motherhood and I am blessed to have this opportunity.   I was a high school teacher for 15 years and have been blessed with an amazing part-time work from home position, but I can’t help but wonder what God has in store for me professionally.

I was inspired this week by Martha Stewart.  I never thought I’d say that about her,   since my decorating desire is way out there.  Nevertheless, she’s a brilliant success.  I learned this week that she wrote her first book in her mid 40’s and opened her first business in her 50’s!  She’s 71 now and doing VERY well for herself.  If she can do it, I know I can, too.

I look forward to where life will take me.  I will make sure that I keep thinking positively, staying focused and motivated.  I will embrace my ever-planning mindset and allow it to take me wherever God wants me to go.  I keep praying for clear direction and the resources to make it happen.

I’m off to brainstorm, pray and plan for the next 50 years of my life. I welcome change.  I embrace the future.  I’m looking forward to the great adventures!

In the meantime, please tell me, I’d love to know…Do you find that you plan and think a lot of the future?  Do you find yourself restless?  What ways do you work to find peace about where you are in life or where you want to be?

Please share your experiences with me so we can grow and go together.

Until next time … Philippians 4:13!