Mental Health Matters: Acceptance (Part II)

I began Mental Health Matters with the acceptance of my own mental health issues, and so, as I shift to share how I’ve developed healthier coping mechanisms, I’m returning to acceptance.

Accepting my adoptee status has been no easy feat. I was ashamed for a long time that I didn’t know who my parents were. Everyone around me seemed to be raised by their biological families. Why wasn’t I? Also, I grew up in the 70s and 80s, where we watched TV shows like, Diff’rent Strokes and Webster and movies, like Annie. Each depicted adoption by wealthy benefactors. My mother was a woman who went to dialysis three times a week and received a disability check; my father was a pharmacy technician at Northwestern Memorial. Many times, I questioned why I got the seemingly short end of the adoption stick.

Accepting my mother’s death and my father’s abandonment has been challenging. I frequently wish that I had “regular” parents and a typical situation. I understand that many families are dysfunctional, but I also know that some familial relationships function with what most would deem normality. Some people have two living parents who call, visit, and have healthy relationships with their grandchildren. I know this exists because I’ve seen it with friends and other family members. Again, I believed I’d been gypped.

Accepting I don’t belong with my biological family has also been tricky. While I didn’t think each would hold me in a long embrace, I did think most would recognize me as part of their “family” and attempt a relationship. I figured they’d want to know what I’d been up to the last forty or so years. But I was wrong. I ignored the fact that I was entering the middle and end of their lives. With my father, specifically, it seemed I’d disrupted the carefully crafted lie man he’d constructed himself to be. For his wife and three of his children, my existence symbolized indiscretions and his flawed human beingness. It was too much for any of them to face.

But by the time I’d found my biological father, I was too grown to be ashamed of anything else.

Years ago, I began unravelling who I was and how I got here as a way to accept myself and my narrative. We…all…have…a…story. And each one is different. My story includes a schizophrenic mother. I mention her mental illness a lot because it’s a part of acknowledging her existence as a part of my own. Without my mother, Joyce, I wouldn’t be here. Equally important is my father, Jerome. During our initial phone conversations, he apologized profusely for inviting my mother up to his apartment that day. I assured him just as many times that there was little reason to feel regret. Without his lust, I wouldn’t be here.

In 2011, I decided to stop interacting with my adoptive father. He’d never understand my point of view or be the father I thought I deserved. Before I ceased communication, I created a ritual to forgive and accept the way he cast me aside during adolescence. A year later, he developed Stage 4 throat cancer. Two years before he actually died, he offered a face-to-face verbal apology. Accepting his “I’m sorry” helped me to accept our circumstances. My adoptive father was who he was, with his own set of challenges, and our lives had intersected and happened the way they were supposed to. In kind, I accepted my adoptive mother for who she was. She wasn’t always physically fit or financially secure, but she was mentally sound. And who am I to judge anyway? The same way I bore children with my imperfect an unhealthy self, she chose to adopt and raise me as her own with her imperfect and physically unhealthy self.

Accepting each of these parental parts has made it easier for me to accept myself. Additionally, acceptance for me has meant acknowledging my origin story. It doesn’t mean I have to like it, but I do accept the reality of it. Every now and then, I relapse into dream-like thoughts of the “perfect” family. But the majority of the time, I now know being me is nothing to be ashamed of.

Mental Health Matters: Acceptance (Part I)

35 thoughts on “Mental Health Matters: Acceptance (Part II)

  1. Mental health matters. I didn’t know about your birth mother. God bless her for giving you a fighting chance. What’s amazing is how all of these movable parts have shaped you into the inspirational person you are. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing a part of your life!.. a story of courage and no doubt let your heart lead and your mind followed “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”. (Author Unknown)… 🙂
    Your story will no doubt be an inspiration to many!.. 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May the sun shine all day long
    Everything go right, nothing go wrong
    May those you love bring love back to you
    And may all the wishes you wish come true
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kathy, thank you once again for sharing your moving story, and openly about mental health. Your posts always make me think. Acceptance is an answer to many problems but is a long process. Kudos to you for accepting and allowing things / people to be. You continue to inspire. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your story gives us the courage to explore our own at a deeper level. Something you do with grace and self love. Your writing = A Map & Navigation Tool for Greater Self Awareness. hank you for continuing to light the way Dr. G ❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank you for sharing your painful, yet beautiful story. I am so impressed by your reliance and ability to overcome hardship and maintain empathy. I feel this is often the first thing to go. I also believe in miracles and signs and acceptance because they are what helps me to heal. Mental illness often has such a bad connotation, but it is merely an indicator that there is healing which needs to be done. Some mental illness is a life long condition, which needs to be treated properly,but there are illnesses that pass and ebb and flow depending on what needs to be healed. Brilliant post. I enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. I agree with every word. Throughout the years, I’ve learned that it seems to be quite odd for people to have empathy. Thinking about how someone else may feel is not something everyone is born with, I suppose.

      Thank you so much for this comment ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Katherin, you have turned your struggles into triumph. I can relate to some of the feelings you’ve mentioned (even though it has nothing to do with adoption). The unfairness in my life related to the death of my first-born son to a heart defect. And then all three of my subsequent children struggled with learning disabilities. My two sons have Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of autism.
    The unfairness of seeing my children struggle fueled me even more to fight for them and get them whatever help they needed. I watched all of my living children turn their struggles into triumphs. They are all miracles.
    I realize now there is no real fairness in life. Those that are ravaged by tragedy have no real control about it – except with how they choose to deal with it. I accept my heartbreaks now because it has given me many gifts and blessings that I didn’t understand at the time. And I see that you have done this, too. Acceptance is a long process. It is definitely something to celebrate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judy, I think you’re exactly right. All we have is how we choose to react (and create) each moment. And foooor sure…acceptance is a long process. Some days, I have to actually remind myself that everything is okay. I’m okay.

      Thank you for sharing about your children ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I can relate as I am currently trying to locate the daughter I gave up when I was 15. I try very hard to picture a good reunion. My second daughter is also a part of the process. She is excited. My mental issues stem from after my father died and I got a stepfather and mom sank into alcohol. For me therapy works but I know some things may never be normal again. It helps to read stories like yours. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for this comment 💜 Wishing you lots of success and sending you much light and love 💫 these things can be quite exhausting, especially when you have even a little expectation.

      Like

  8. Love this. I felt like I was reading a character in a story for a second.. as all good writing should do. Except in my end of your story, you become president overcoming these family challenges/obstacles and the last scene is just you putting your feet up

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Kathy,
    Thank you for sharing this part of your life story with so many challenges which you were able to rise above and at the same time recognising and forgiving the imperfections of people who were close to you. It has also just occurred to me that society seems to reinforce the idea of the perfect family. I suppose when I was growing up mid ’50’s to mid ’60’s my generation measured their families against the families of their peers. I well remember as a child thinking’ what if I find out I am adopted’ and checking with friends to see if they had the same thoughts, they did.
    The fact that you felt short changed with your adoptive parents must have been a real whammy also.
    Take care (on desk top today so can only send smiley face) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There’s a lot of parts of this post I can relate to. I appreciate your openness and honesty. I feel that acceptance is important and therefore a great thing when healing and in your spiritual journey. Thank you for sharing with us. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Even as a white guy with a nuclear family I’m still close with, I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying. Amazing honesty in this post. Acceptance, and letting go of resentments, has probably been the biggest things that have kept my recovery successful. That, and unlike Dudley on Diff’rent Strokes, I don’t wander into the basements of bike shops.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow such an open and honest post. Thank you so much for being so real with us. Mental health can affect us all in so many different ways. Its very brave of you to speak out about your life difficulties. Im sure being so honest will help many people who are going through or have been through a similar situation.

    Liked by 1 person

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