Today I bring part two of a four part series from my guest, Sarah. When I published my post, Have We Made Attachment an Idol, she wrote a comment so insightful and beautiful that I asked her to develop it into a guest post. That post was so rich that I asked her to expand it, and before we knew it, we had a four part series. I am very honored that she is entrusting her story to me – it is tender, raw, and hopeful.
The awkward dance with my new family continued for the next 11-years. I belonged to them, and them to me, as much as we were all emotionally and spiritually able. Given that a few of my universal truths had just been shattered – that my mom would always be there, that the world was a good and safe place, that God would take care of me – I wasn’t exactly entering my new family with much equity in my emotional & spiritual savings account.
I needed a brilliantly patient and kind dance instructor to show me the new dance steps – the rules of living with a fractured worldview and for living amongst this new family. Instead I bumbled along aimlessly and alone – sometimes stepping gently on their toes, often stomping harshly, sometimes quitting before the final note, many times returning to try it again. We had moments of easy rhythm but mostly it felt like we were all just hoping to get through to the next song.
I remember feeling scared and confused a lot of the time – like I was continuously walking on eggshells. My new family did everything differently – they were loud, emotionally reserved and stoic – they ate, talked, fought, shared and loved differently than I was used to.
I was acutely aware that I was not the daughter of their dreams. My new mom had told me that she had always wanted a little girl. I knew I was nothing like that sweet little red-headed Leigh of her dreams I was troubled and tomboyish with mousy brown hair and a streak of hotheadedness. I also carried around a heavy pack of guilt and shame – always feeling like I was a burden to my new family.
They had not asked for, nor wanted me, I was with them because of a crisis – thankfully my Plan B was kinship care over foster care. To lessen my feelings of guilt I became an A-student, an athlete, a people-pleaser – a good girl. I didn’t have boyfriends (they seemed impossibly young and immature), I didn’t smoke pot or drink – I didn’t rebel (in retrospect, my adolescence might have been more fun if I had).
I was also resilient – a determined planner and savvy strategizer. I studied families who seemed happy. I watched what they did, who they were, how they did it – and I was determined that when the time came I would build that for myself. I decided that my ticket to that future was to go to university. So when I graduated high school I promptly moved 4000 km away to begin my new adventure in a city on the edge of an ocean – a coast rimmed with the tallest emerald trees and air filled with salt and earth. I breathed deeply for the first time in years.
A special thank you to Sarah, for sharing her heart and life with us. Comments are welcome.
Encourage one another,
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