Adoptees and Saying Goodbye

I hate saying goodbye. It might be a move, a death, a break up, or an unhealthy friendship. Sometimes it’s just that a vacation is over, yet, for many adoptees it’s so much more than a goodbye; it’s a visceral response that is really uncomfortable. Even if we no longer want the person around, the thought of them not there anymore might induce something akin to terror. I’ve faced this. The logical reasoning is present, just not being applied. We would rather keep people in our lives simply to avoid being triggered, even when it has little to do with the person you’re saying goodbye to, but more to do with the feelings that go along with it. We revert back to infancy; the image of being left alone, the fear of not being heard, of being left behind.

After talking with other adoptees and therapists I understand that I’m not insane. It’s yet another glorious side effect of adoption trauma. I have, on more than one occasion, stood outside of myself watching the chaos unfold. Reasonable Me is pleading with Unreasonable Me, begging her to come to her senses as she has a melt down in the corner; her eyes are wild and she’s inconsolable, demanding that I leave her alone. There’s no logic with this woman, but what I now understand is that Unreasonable Me is actually Infant Me and she is terrified of feeling abandoned.

A wise friend gave me great advice a few years ago and I’m still trying to make it stick: Most relationships have a life cycle, they last for only a season. Wisdom is knowing when to withdraw or when to let it ebb and flow. It’s not always the death of a relationship, but sometimes it just grows old and slows down. Most relationships have imbalance; one person investing more than the other. It’s the rare relationships that remain equal that will live forever.

For many adoptees, and certainly for Unreasonable Me, this notion of a friendship life cycle brings uncertainty. We hold on tightly to those we love, sometimes in desperation, hoping they never leave. This reeks havoc on our self esteem. There has to be a way to gracefully navigate through these uncomfortable places. We need tools and we need to understand why before we can learn how. I want to learn how to climb over these massive rocks that were set in my path so I can look back and say I DID IT.




3 thoughts on “Adoptees and Saying Goodbye

  1. I’m with Donna- I’m extremely detached from people, places and things and I’m the safest that way…. I have heard other adoptees share similar and I can definitely resonate with not liking to say goodbye! I hate it, I say I’ll see your or talk to you soon…. Great blog post!

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