As a young girl, I often found myself in timeouts; my parents’ way of enforcing discipline. The house had been riddled with “timeout corners,” but one spot took precedence over the others: the spare bedroom. The room was empty except for a small chair made of wood and metal that sat in the middle. The walls were covered in a blue patterned wallpaper, which quickly became dizzying if stared at long enough, and the floor nestled the chair in it’s gray carpet that looked a lot softer than it felt. It was stale and uninviting.
When I found myself sitting in that room, the rule was to remain quiet for five minutes and I would be released of my duties. The idea was simple, but to me it felt like an inescapable prison.
In my mind, timeouts were there to remind me I was unlovable, to tell me I deserved rejection and prove that I was unwanted. Surely, something I had done had deemed me the owner of these qualities and the panic and fear I felt from that took over my being.
One time, somewhere between four and five years old, I sat in that room screaming and choking on words, begging for my mom to come back and get me. If I could only see her again, it would mean I was still loved and still wanted. I knew I needed to calm down so I could escape that hell, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. I was scared. Terrified.
Tears were streaming down my cheeks, my heart racing, and my body drenched in sweat. I was trembling with such an overwhelming panic that my body lost all control. My bladder let go and I slowly became soaked with it’s contents. I was so overcome with the fear of being rejected, I had wet myself.
I share this story for one reason; to speak of the trauma associated with adoption and the fear of rejection it can impress. As a child, I believed in order to be loved I needed to be perfect or I would be warranted as unwanted. As an adult, that fear still has it’s claws firmly planted. Sure, I don’t have a problem with incontinence due to that anxiety, but I still struggle with the pressure of perfection and the uncertainty of letting people in.
If I keep people at a distance, it won’t hurt when they leave me. If I present myself with perfection, I can’t be told I’m not good enough. Both lies, and both wired deeply into my being.
The more I lean into the fear, the more power it’ll have. The more I tell myself those lies, the more I will believe them. But I can combat them with truth, vulnerability and grace.
Let imperfections shine. Let people in. And let patience an trust abide.