There was a blizzard outside. It was worse on the banks of Lake Erie where I lived than it was in town. I was huddled in the fetal position inside my neighbor’s summer house, cold, terrified and alone. The house was freezing but I didn’t dare turn on the heat. Something happened, and I lost myself when my adoptive grandmother did this to me.
So I ran away from home.
My grandmother was beating me so badly that I, for the first time, didn’t just stand there and take it. I grabbed my neighbor’s keys he had given me so I could check the pipes on days like today, and sought refuge.
My parents were away.
I’m pretty sure my tears froze on my face, one by one but I didn’t care. I was just grateful to have fled the abuse. As I lay there in a ball, wondering what the hell I was going to do next, I heard some knocks on the door. Banging actually.
I froze. Like a deer in the headlights, I lay there pretending I heard nothing.
For a long time.
The voices reassured me it wasn’t my adoptive grandmother but I became acutely aware things just got a whole lot worse.
Now I’m wishing it was her.
It was the police. 2 of them. Oh, you say, “that’s a good thing.” No, it was a very very bad thing.
See, my dad was also a cop. So…these guys are his co-workers and I just embarrassed him.
They begged and pleaded with me to open the door, reminding me how much snow was building up fast. They reassured me I was not in any trouble.
“Sure”, I thought. “Not yet.”
Eventually, I let them in. I do not remember the conversation but I told them she was beating me again and I needed to escape. They convinced me to go home and we had a conversation at the kitchen table with nana.
I don’t remember the words spoken there either. What I do remember is my adoptive grandmother making me out to be some evil child which is probably why I spent most of my life scared people will find out who I really am and run like hell in the other direction.
She had me convinced I had the devil in me just waiting to pounce on any unlikely suspect.
And that feeling is not based on some old religious teaching. That was their way of communicating that things weren’t going as planned. By berating, scolding, hitting, neglecting and probably worse than any of that, not hearing my cries.
My pleas to be heard and understood. I had to navigate the feelings of un-belonging, rejection, abandonment and neglect all alone. Of course, I couldn’t. I didn’t know how or even what it was. So I internalized them and accepted them as ‘who I am.’
See, life doesn’t always go as planned as they found out. You will find that out too and I am asking you on behalf of any and all adoptees, please get emotionally and psychologically prepared. And do it before you bring baby home.
To finish the story, I do not have any memory of getting in trouble with my dad. I think his kind police colleagues must have caught on to the psychopath and saw I really was an innocent victim and shared that with him.
While that was finished, the abuse from Nana continued.
And since I had no voice, I remained suffering in silence. They didn’t hear me when I asked to be kept safe.
I have my voice now.
And I ask you, as an adoptive parent to allow your child his/her voice too. It doesn’t mean throwing all boundaries to the wind and allowing them to run the show. What it means is simply allowing them to feel whatever it is they are feeling with compassion and understanding.
Just because it doesn’t make sense to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t real to them.
By the way, I have forgiven my grandmother. She didn’t know any better. Does it make it ok? No, but I refuse to let her continue to control me from the grave.
If you fear you may have baggage from your past that may interfere with your ability to parent, please contact me. I offer a free ‘Confident Loving Parent’ breakthrough session. Together let’s build your family strong.