Rejected, discarded, given up on, worthless and unlovable. These thoughts screamed in my mind like a racecar circling out of control. Here I am, the day before my birthday, experiencing this overwhelming sense of sadness. On these special days, I should be joyful. Instead, I’m stirred with anxiety.
As the day progressed, sensations of sadness and anxiety manifested into emotions of anger and worthlessness. A simple disagreement with my husband spun into an argument. After lashing out at him, I retreated to the kitchen, trying to calm myself with deep breaths.
Later that night, as we lay in bed, the silence seemed deafening. Then he questioned me tenderly, “So, do you want to talk?” That’s all I needed to release the floodgates. I spewed out incomplete sentences through the sobs, as my husband grabbed me and held me tight.
At that moment of breakdown, everything became clear. For the first time in my life, I understood why the joyful emotions of my birthday and Mother’s Day were always mixed with pain.
Happiness Mixed with Pain
Let me start at the beginning. I am adopted. As a young girl, that statement filled my heart with happiness, excitement, and even pride. I had wonderful adoptive parents who loved and cared for me. But deep below the surface, there were these tiny feelings of anger and longing that confused me.
As I entered my teen years, these feelings and lack of self-worth only grew as I matured into a young married woman.
Anxiety hit me a few days postpartum with my first daughter, anxiety-like I never experienced before. Every little thing put me on edge. If you are a mom, you understand the wave of hormones and emotions after giving birth.
My husband was stationed in Korea at the time and I was in California; I couldn’t even walk the stairs by myself after giving birth and I was completely reliant on him for the few weeks he was able to come home for the birth.
As soon as I realized I would soon be a single parent, it sent me into a full-blown panic attack with no visible light at the end of the tunnel. That moment, I knew I needed to seek professional help to decipher this.
Healing Through the Pain
Looking back, I see how these feelings of being completely out of control and having to rely on someone who was leaving had roots in relying on a birth mom who would leave.
Through the support of an amazing counselor and surrounded by the best community God could have placed me in, I began my journey of healing.
As I unraveled the layers and walls I didn’t know were there, I began exposing this hard shell around myself that I had put there to protect myself from feeling. This process hurt but was necessary. In contrast, the understanding was an enormous piece in my journey for healing. To recognize these feelings, the moment they arise is such a relief.
At the beginning of this post, maybe you questioned why I seemed so troubled. But these thoughts are common emotions of adopted children.
Think about it: you spend 9 months listening to your mother’s heartbeat, 9 months being comforted by her voice, and then you are born and stripped from everything you have known up to that point.
There are more official terms to it all, and a ton of fascinating research, but to me, it is where these feelings of not being wanted originate from.
The Voice of a Little Girl
In my husband’s arms, there was safety, I let it all out. Why didn’t she want me? How does a mother hand her baby over? Why couldn’t she clean up her life and get me back? Why wasn’t I enough for her? I don’t get it!
As a mother, I would die if anyone attempted to take our girls away. I just don’t get it!
I knew the answers to most of these questions. But for the first time in my life, letting that little girl who felt abandoned from birth have a voice, brought healing and strength.
I cuddled into my husband’s arms, relieved that a tremendous burden had just lifted off my back. I knew where these horrible thoughts originated from, and I leaned into the fact that my husband, my family, my community, and my heavenly father thought the complete opposite of me.
Mother’s Day as a Military Wife
The other facet to my negative feelings around holidays involves being a military spouse. Heck, my husband won’t even be here for Mother’s Day this year because of Airforce training.
The one day where I’m supposed to get to sleep in, get pampered, and do what I want will be full of the normal helping referee kid squabbles, cleaning, and cooking. Yes, we signed up for this, but that shouldn’t give us any less reason to be upset because holidays play out differently for us than they do for most of the civilian families around us.
Most military families are far from family, so dropping the kids off at grandma’s house for a quick breather isn’t an option. You’re too far away to drop in for dinner with your parents, and you’re far away from a lot. Civilians that are part of our lives will never understand this.
Advice from a Mom Who’s Been in the Trenches
Can I give some advice? If you are struggling with anxiety or depression because of events in your life, don’t push people away just because they don’t understand.
Isolation may seem easier, I get it. God did not intend for us to live life alone. Go against this idiotic cultural idea of self-sufficiency and create yourself a village you can thrive in. Lean into a supportive community. Find a tribe, get outside, and ask for help during hard times.
Perspective is Everything
The biggest thing I learned last year is true happiness and satisfaction don’t exist horizontally. Meaning, I can’t expect those closest to me to fill me up. I am giving them an impossible task that will always leave me disappointed.
I’ve learned to look vertically. Jesus is the only answer to my longings, the only comfort to my problems. Because of Him, I am enough. Through Him, I am worth more than gold. God will always love me, He will NEVER give up on me, and will never stop pursuing me.
Are holidays a struggle for you too?
Maybe your reasons are similar or completely different. Does the thought of Mother’s Day make you want to hide under the covers all day?
If so, I pray for peace. I pray you can find someone to help you tackle your struggles head-on, and I pray you realize there is a God who you can always run to. He’ll embrace you with all your flaws and big emotions and never let you go.
May you truly have a Happy Mother’s Day.