The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely and entirely my own. I do not claim to, nor make an effort to speak for all adoptees. – p.k. “I want you to… More
We’ve heard it all for centuries, especially in the adoption community.
“ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE”
Well I’m here to express my desire to not only have love but my truth. Love wasn’t all I needed.
I needed my truth
THE TRUTH MEANS NOTHING HIDDEN
Yes, you guessed it. I’m an adult adoptee who has grown into my own woman. I have developed my own opinion, and I have been on a healing journey for 3 years now, attempting to heal from the lifelong struggles being adopted have brought my way. When I was growing up you weren’t supposed to talk about it. The less adoptive parents talked about it the better. Well, that was probably the worst advice that could have ever been given to adoptive parents.
I don’t have to be quiet, because it’s not a secret anymore. It might have been in the 1970’s but those days are over.
John 8:32 Says, “We shall know our TRUTH, and our TRUTH shall set us free”.
This scripture is what I stand on for all adoptees all over the world that are fighting to find their truths.
Love is good. Love is great. Love isn’t everything. Love definitely wins. But Love isn’t all I needed.
I believe all adoptees are different. Some are perfectly content with not knowing who they look like or where they come from. They don’t need to know their answers. A lot of times adoptive parents come to me and say, “Jonny is fine with being adopted, I ask him how he feels and he says “Fine”, and he never brings it up. He appears to be happy.”
I think parents, adopted or not naturally want to protect their kids. I find this to come natural as a parent of 3 children. I would never want my poor kid’s hearts broken, but the truth is when you adopt a child, you adopt their broken, tainted, tore history while you adopt them. You also adopt the beautiful history some of us have. It’s a part of them. I believe when you adopt a child, you have to accept this as a part of the child, and learn that there will be a day that child will start asking questions about their first family. They deserve to know their truth.
If LOVE was all I needed I would have been in great shape growing up. I believe with my entire heart that my adoptive parents and family LOVED me with everything they knew how. I have always been closer to my adoptive dad, yet he has always been so far away. But he’s been amazing. His wife, my step mother of over 35 years has also loved me the best way she knew how. We’ve all had a roller coaster ride over the years, but at the end of the day I know they have loved me, and they haven’t lied to me to gain anything. I respect them for that.
I still needed all the answers to my history. I needed my truth. I needed to know who my siblings were. I wanted to meet my biological grandparents. I have searched for every clue to WHO I AM and learned that I’m not like anyone of them! I’m the child God created me to be, but I needed to know and see this for myself. I needed to make the choices on my own, without everyone telling me and making the choice for me.
Saying “Love is all we need” is like putting a band-aide on our wounds. They are still deep down there and will surface as root issues later on in life.
THE TRUTH HAS HURT MORE THAN ANYTHING ON THIS PLANET.
I experienced failed reunions and rejection from both birth parents, yet I am happy every day I got one AMAZING brother out of the deal, and his AWESOME siblings have accepted me as their own. I will always be grateful for them, and their relationships. ALTHOUGH THE TRUTH HURT, I WOULD RATHER KNOW IT, ACCEPT IT, AND BE ABLE TO HEAL THROUGH JESUS AND MOVE FORWARD WITH MY LIFE!!!!
We can’t heal if we don’t know our truth.
If I can share something with all my fellow adoptees out there, I would like to say to never give up hope in finding your truth and as much as it hurts to say, be prepared for anything. Most of the time relinquishment isn’t a “Pretty Story”. I most certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from searching, but reach out to another adoptee that can pray for you, or help walk you through the emotions of the reunion and search experience.
My reunion doesn’t define me. My biological parents don’t define me. My adoptive parents don’t define me. My history doesn’t define me.
They are indeed a part of my Her [Story] – History!
WHO I AM IN JESUS DEFINES ME!
I learned I’m really not like anyone, yet God made me (and YOU) special and unique in his own way. After learning what I know about my birth parents, TODAY I’m extremely thankful I’m not like any of them. The difference is, I know JESUS and neither of them did/do. I have his peace. I don’t have to drink today to handle these emotions, and the pain that goes along with this journey. Being adopted is a lifelong thing, it doesn’t just go away. This is something I will be working through for the rest of my life.
LOVE IS GREAT & LOVE WINS
But LOVE isn’t all I needed.
I needed my TRUTH
I thank GOD today, I’m no longer fighting for my truth.
How do my fellow adoptees feel?
Is love all you need?
Pamela A. Karanova,
Adult Adoptee Reunited
Please read “About” section of both pages
Twitter: @pamelakaranova<– FOLLOW ME!
Photo By: Salvatore Vuono @freedigitalphoto.net
If only we could see ourselves as other people see us.
My feelings of being “bad” began in utero at the very beginning, at the moment of conception. These feelings are stored in my subconscious memory at a preverbal stage of life. I was born out-of-wedlock and I’m a product of a drunken one night stand, an affair with a married man.
The pregnancy was no joyous time for my birth mother. She knew she was going to give me up for adoption. I was told she was never seen without a drink in her hand, and she drank the entire pregnancy. Knowing these things, I believe my birth mother rejected the pregnancy, and I felt every bit of it in utero and I’m sure every day that passed she was eager to just get it over with, and move on with her life.
I was kept a secret from the world, even my own birth father. I would guess being conceived while he was married, my birth mother didn’t want to create any situation for him, and she was ashamed of her own actions as well. The less people who knew about this shame filled secret, the better.
Did my birth mother feel bad?
In my heart of hearts, I believe she might have felt bad, but her alcoholism ran the show. She didn’t allow herself to “feel”… It was December, 1973 and she was pregnant by a married man, unwed with a 4-year-old daughter of her own. Abortion was legal, but I don’t believe it was an option for her. She had a younger sibling that survived a botched abortion, which was attempted by her natural mother, my grandmother. Her sibling survived, but lived mentally and physically disabled in a nursing home her entire life. This could have impacted her decision in giving me life, where her experience with abortion was a horrific one? It’s hard to tell.
(yes, I’m aware many people consider any experience with abortion as horrific, but that isn’t what this blog post is about.)
In 1974 unplanned pregnancies were shamed, and it would most certainly be frowned upon to be pregnant by a married man. This married man was also a “friend of the family”. This was even more reason to keep things quiet. There certainly was no celebrating or excitement going on during the pregnancy. I’m sure as I grew in her belly so did my feelings of unwantedness and rejection from the woman who should love me the most. What happens when you are tied in a primal way to your mother, yet she rejects the pregnancy, rejects you, and she wants to get rid of the problem all together?
It’s easier to hand this problem over to strangers, and pretend it never existed.
That’s the easy way out but in “Adoption Land” they tell the mothers they are BRAVE.
That’s a whole different blog post!Bad baby, bad pregnancy, bad day being born.
For me, the day I was born was the worst day of my life. It was the day I lost everything, and the beginning of a lifetime of trauma, grief, loss and heartbreak. I always think about that day, with great sadness in mind. I obsess about wondering if my birth mother held me, did she name me?
Did she look at me?
Was she sad?
Was it the worst day of her life, like it was for me?
All the feelings associated with my life at the beginning, are “bad”. Then I get adopted into a home where it was never about me. It was about filling the needs of a infertile woman who was never capable of being a mother to me. My greatest pain and loss in life was her biggest blessing. How in the world could I ever share my sadness in this home? I didn’t but I internalized every bit and it came out in self sabotaging ways.
Growing up, I was busy tending to my narcissistic adoptive moms emotional needs, I was never cared for as a child. My adoptive dad divorced my adoptive mom, because she was manic-depressive, suicidal and he admitted she couldn’t take care of the first daughter they adopted a year earlier, but somehow I was adopted anyway. He knew she couldn’t take care of the first daughter, yet HE adopted another daughter with her, divorces her within a year and moved over an hour away. He remarried, and had a new family to raise.
He left us with her.
What was the result?
A BAD CHILDHOOD.
A TRAUMA FILLED CHILDHOOD.
Lots of people have a bad childhood, and bad experiences in their childhood. But what about the “better life” that was promised to my birth mother? What about the 2 parent household that was so much better than she could provide, that was promised to her by the adoption industry?
That’s another blog post as well.
Growing up in this home, my adoptive mom cried more than she served hot meals on the table. Her crying and manic-depressive episodes had an impact on me in many ways. I was the child that would console her and comfort her, and be there for her. I remember sitting next to her wherever she was crying, rubbing her back and saying “Im sorry mommy. I’m sorry” I must have been a bad child because she was always crying. I must have been the reason she was crying all the time. As an adult, I’ve realized her crying was in part due to mental illness, as well as a failed marriage and not coming to terms with being able to conceive her own children because of her infertility issues. None of it was my fault, and my memories comforting her go back as far as I can remember. It was my responsibility to make her “feel better”.
When I was a child, I had no idea about mental illness. I had no clue the chaos and total dysfunction in this home wasn’t “normal”. I had nothing of “normalcy” to compare it too. I had this feeling of being “bad” because I somehow as a child felt responsible for her behaving the way she did. She laid in the street while we watched, in horror as we waited on the next car to drive by and kill her. We must have been HORRIBLE kids for our “mommy” to want to die so bad that she would lay in the middle of the street in front of us…
Turned into a bad juvenile!
Arrested for the first time at 12 years old, burglary. Followed by multiple arrests for assaulting others, in drug and alcohol treatment at 15. I was in group homes, detention, and spent a lot of time in the streets. I was pregnant at 15, and miscarried due to being in a physically abusive relationship at the time. I went to an alternative high school, and it was for the “BAD KIDS”.
Then that juvenile grew up into a bad woman.
A VERY BAD WOMAN
I really can’t describe the feeling of “being bad” that has been attached to me my entire life. It’s there, it’s always been there. It’s an every day feeling that is attached to me as I rise out of bed. It have to CONSTANTLY remind myself, I AM NOT BAD.
As a child I was never able to fully apply myself in school because I was dealing with so much anxiety and trauma in the home I grew up in. I honestly feel like I missed so much, because I wasn’t able to concentrate and learn properly. No one was looking out for me, or my education. They didn’t know what I learned or didn’t learn and they had no clue about my learning issues. This feeling has been something I struggle with my entire life, even more reason to feel bad because I am BAD!
So here we have it… It’s February 11, 2018. I’ve carried this feeling of “BEING BAD” around with me every day for 43 years. I have no idea what it’s like to wake up and not feel it. It’s imbedded so deep that it is part of who I am.
All the way back to the womb…
If you think our birth mothers handing us over to strangers to raise doesn’t impact us in an extremely negative way, I encourage you to do the research of what happens when a mother and child are separated. Do the adoption agencies tell you we can be impacted for the rest of our lives?
How do you make a way when you have carried this heavy burden of being BAD your entire life? The burden from being born, unwanted by the woman who should love me most, and robbed of a childhood, never having a mother? I didn’t blow it in the “mother area” once, but TWICE! I cry silent tears every day of my life, and the sadness never leaves that the mother God gave me, didn’t want me and the woman that wanted me couldn’t take care of me. I’ve accepted it’s here to stay, but I do my best to hide it from the world. I don’t want to be more of a burden than I already have been but it never leaves my mind. Tears of what never was.For me, I have to constantly remind myself that I am not my past or the mistakes I have made or the mistakes my birth parents or adoptive parents have made. Who I am isn’t determined by being conceived out of a drunken one night stand with a married man. I have to be honest. It’s a constant everyday mind struggle. Self love has been a critical point to my internal happiness. I don’t care how many adoption agencies GLORIFY THE HELL OUT OF ADOPTION – I will never feel like my birth mother loved me so much – EVER! She took the easy way out, and because of it I’m left to do the “time” of this life sentence called ADOPTION.
I try to remind myself that although my life experiences have made me feel like a bad person internally, but I am not a “bad” person.
( this is a constant torment in my mind and an everyday struggle )
Can any adoptees relate?
In my heart of hearts, I know I’m a loving person, a loyal person, an honest person. I’m selective, cautious, reluctant and observant of others, and who I let in my space. I’m an introvert because I’m tired of other people inflicting hurt on me and my life. I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin, alone because no one knows me, like me. I have my guard up at all times, and I’ve learned to live my life and adapt to my hyper sensitive flight response. I smell trouble, drama or discontent – I’m gone.
Most of us work our entire lives to improve ourselves, mind-body and spirit. At least I’ve been working on this anyway. It seems if we aren’t in a constant state of “improvement” we would go stagnant in life, and what would we have to work towards?
For me, I’m working on taming the voices that have always told me “I’m BAD and My life is BAD” and I’m trying to remind myself daily of WHO I REALLY AM. I’m making a list of what other people say I am, but my big struggle is believing it. The voices of negativity are stronger, louder and more prominent and they always have been. I have so much that I am thankful for, but adoption isn’t one of them.
Here are a few things of what other people say I am, and even a few of what I know I am.
- A woman of my word
- A go getter
- Jesus Follower
I think I’ll leave it at that for now.
Recently, I created a shirt via Adoptee Merch. I titled “I AM” which is dedicated to all the adoptees in the world who have always had these negative voices about themselves. I wanted to create something that was a reminder of who we really are, who I really am. I think we all need that reminder every now and then. Click Here if you would like to see the women’s shirt and here if you are interested in checking the men’s out.
I don’t wake up feeling these things, but deep in my heart I know them to be true. Why is it that all the “negative” feelings, visions, memories have a way of overshadowing all the positive ones? Either way, viewing myself in a positive light is a full-time job. As I think many adoptees can relate to this.
I would like to ask you if you can relate to this at all and if you were to create a list of the positive things you think about yourself and what others say about you, what would that list say? Would you share it with me? I think I’m going to print mine, and put it on my mirror in my bathroom as a daily reminder. I can read it each morning and repeat daily.
A woman of my word
A go getter
Thanks for reading
I’m glad I was able to get your attention for a few moments…
Over the years, I have written a bit regarding certain times in my life where I wished my birth mother aborted me. I’ve also written other times about wishing I would die or wishing I was dead.
This doesn’t mean I promote abortion.
This doesn’t mean I promote suicide.
This means, this is how I have felt at certain times of my life and I have had enough courage to share my feelings with the world. Sometimes it might be in this blog or in online communities, or in real life.
It’s hard to have value for “life” when every day of my life has felt like I’m in a living nightmare in my mind regarding my adoption journey. How do you live everyday of your life with a broken heart? It’s hard to value LIFE when the woman that should love you the most not only abandons you but rejects you when you find her. It’s hard to value life when you feel like your entire existence on earth was to fill a void in someones life, but they never really cared about me. I was purchased for a price to the next adoptive parents in line. It was never about me. It’s hard to value life when no one on earth has ever given a shit about my feelings about the trauma, grief, loss and all the issues adoption has brought my way.
IT’S A EVERYDAY STRUGGLE FOR SOME OF US!
“Oh you just had a bad adoption experience!”
My views are, If we’re completely honest, every adoption experience is rooted as a bad experience because what any adoptee has to go through to get adopted is grounded in trauma and loss. The fact we are severed from our roots, history, medical history, ethnicity, birth parents, siblings, etc. is enough reason for us to say it’s a bad experience.
If you can view adoption as “beautiful” you aren’t acknowledging the trauma that comes with it, and that is a problem.
I’ll save that for my next blog post.
Trauma is not beautiful, it’s hard and complicating, and painful.
Do all adoptees feel like their adoption constitutes as a “Bad Experience?” Absolutely not. I can’t speak for all adoptees, I can only speak for myself and knowing hundreds of adoptees all over the world, I know MANY of us feel this way.
If I dig a little deeper and share why at times I’ve felt like I wanted to die I can assure you I was at a very dark place regarding my adoption journey. More than likely if I shared something like this online or in my blog it’s because I didn’t have any “safe space” in my real life to share these feelings. It’s because not only did I feel like I wanted to die, but I have always carried the burden for feeling this way on top of feeling how I felt.
As if feeling like I wanted to die wasn’t enough…
The feelings of wanting to die are usually triggered by different seasons of my adoptee experience. It comes in waves, and when feelings associated with abandonment, rejection, trauma, complicated grief & loss come flooding in it can easily take me out. What does take me out mean? I can slide into a depression, and during this time things are dark and grim. There has never been any help for me, (for many of us adoptees) so it can feel like a dark cloud is hanging over my head and there is nowhere to turn.
On occasion I’ve shared how I was angry at my birth mother for choosing life. It’s the truth and if you can’t understand it or grasp it consider yourself one of the fortunate ones. You also might be someone who doesn’t have the willingness to TRY to want to learn why I have felt this way or to try to learn why other adoptees might feel this way? Either way, I had to go through the emotions I was feeling. A few years back I worked on some areas of healing as I continue to do. One of the areas I was mad as hell about was wishing my birth mother aborted me.
THE PAIN HAS BEEN THAT GREAT!
Writing about it was one of the biggest healing tools I have yet to discover. Sharing it with others is also another healing tool. It takes it from a deep hidden secret of feeling this way, to a release by sharing my feelings that are very real with others who can hopefully understand, validate and let me know I’m not alone. In no way sharing these feelings was I ever advocating for abortion and I don’t appreciate anyone saying otherwise.
Situations like this that happen it’s another layer of what adoptees have to go through. Not only do we feel the way we do which is hard enough in itself, but we’re shamed by society for feeling that way. Our words can be easily twisted by someone who has never thought twice about reaching out to us in a caring, humane and concerning way. To top it off, there is usually no help for us, or no safe spaces to share these feelings so a lot of time online is our only source to share. Thank God Adoptees Connect is popping up in many cities and other adoptee support groups as well. Things are changing for the good but it hasn’t always been this way.
There are those who don’t agree with with others say and they can’t just move along. They have to make sure they point out why they don’t feel that way and why it’s horrible we do. “My friend who’s adopted doesn’t feel that way at all!” or “My husband is adopted and he never has felt that way” – Or better yet, and the most damaging of all, a fellow adoptee saying, “I’m so sad and disappointed so many adoptees have no value for life, and talk about wishing they were aborted or dead. I have never felt that way and I have made the choice to make something of my life. I wish they would do the same”
Don’t you think if we could just turn the switch on to be one of the “Happy well-adjusted” adoptees, we would do it? Don’t you think we would rather feel happy all the time than deal with these emotions? I think most adoptees would rather not have these issues, but when we are dealing with so many complexities and layers of trauma it doesn’t happen that way for many of us.
TRAUMA TAKES TIME TO HEAL AND EVERYONE HEALS AT DIFFERENT STAGES
The fact of the matter is, when people share their feelings online or in real life, it’s really best to try to validate their feelings and listen to what they have to say. Just because you don’t feel this way and you never have doesn’t mean you need to point it out to someone and disregard how they are feeling because it doesn’t line up with how you feel.
When people process emotions about wishing they were aborted or having feelings of wanting to die, and you happen to be on the receiving end of hearing them share these words please consider yourself honored. If someone is actually sharing something like this they may have kept deep inside for what can be a very long time. Your response is critical!
Don’t silence them, and try to make them feel guilty for feeling this way. Shaming them and making them feel guilty because you have processed your adoption issues, and they haven’t isn’t going to help, only hurts them.
“It makes me so sad to see so many adoptees talk about wishing they were aborted and wishing they were dead!” – Well HELLO!
It seems to me this world we live in might want to take a wake up pill because if so many adoptees are saying these things IT’S FOR A REASON. Many reasons actually.
For me, I had to face the pain of the TRUTH of adoption, MY ADOPTION and come out of the FOG and acknowledge the realities of how my life played out. Some days the pain has been SO GREAT I would rather DIE than deal with another day of this pain. Does that mean I’m suicidal? NO, for me I wasn’t suicidal although I have been in the past when I was younger. It means that at that moment in my life, dying seems like a better plan than facing the pain of ADOPTION. That’s how great my pain was. I never had a suicide plan as an adult, but that doesn’t mean some adoptees don’t. For me, I have a ton of reason TO LIVE and there are so many areas in life I love, my kids mainly. But there is far more to it than me just saying I wanted to die.
Does that mean other adoptees aren’t suicidal when they say they want to die or they would rather die? I can’t comment on that but because adoptees attempt suicide 4x more than non adoptees. I think it’s time society as a whole stop ignoring these staggering facts.
BE CAUTIOUS HOW YOU RESPOND TO HURTING ADOPTEES!
We really can’t afford to not listen to Adoptees.
If you are an adoptee and have been fortunate enough to move beyond your depression, and you’re wanting to die, and your issues with being adopted and you have come to a place of peace regarding your adoption journey that’s wonderful. But let me share, those adoptees who aren’t at that place yet don’t need YOU, their fellow adoptee telling them how sad and sorry you are they feel that way and minimize their feelings by sharing how you don’t feel that way at all. This only adds shame to how they already feel.
We don’t need it, especially from our fellow adoptees.
Never look down on someone unless you’re helping them up. – Jesse Jackson
I have a question for anyone reading, adopted or not.
If you learn of an adoptee or anyone for that matter share feelings in real life or online, about wishing they were aborted or wishing they would die have you reached out to them on a personal level? Have you said to them, “I’m so sorry you are feeling this way. My heart hurts for you. Can you tell me more about why you are feeling this way? How can I help you?” Do you have the willingness to reach out to these people and try to understand where they are coming from? Do you have the willingness to LISTEN without the intent to reply? Do you have the willingness to try to put yourself in this persons shoes, even when you can’t relate to what they are saying because “That wasn’t my experience!”
My reason for writing this blog post is to share I have had times in my life where I have felt anger towards my birth mother because she didn’t abort me, and I have felt like I wanted to die many times but this does not define who I am. It’s all been a part of my healing process. If I didn’t have so many deep-rooted adoptee issues, I honestly would be doing great in life. Just so happens, the pain from adoption has been the very same pain that has been my reason for starting Adoptees Connect and Adoptee Merch. It’s that same pain that God is going to turn around and use it for His good.
Are you meeting people where they are?
Pain and all?
Aside from adoption and the trauma it’s caused me I consider myself a survivor and I’m surviving daily. Adoption tried to kill me, but I’m here and alive. I have so many things to be thankful for. Some days I wonder why it’s so hard for me to be thankful for my life, which is something I feel guilty about daily. The best way I can describe it is that I’ve never until recently (out of the fog) ever felt like I was alive to begin with. I felt like the walking dead. I have no birth story. I have no roots grounded in anything. I don’t feel connected to anything other than my kids. I’ve spent my entire life grieving what should have been and what was lost. The same tears I cried in grief are the same tears the world celebrates because adoption is viewed as “beautiful”.
This adds more pain on pain on pain…
What has changed everything for me and given me a reason to live is my kids. They are the reason I’m thankful for my life because I’m thankful for them. They are the reason I get up daily because they are my motivation. They are the reason I’m still alive. It’s not for myself. If they weren’t here I wouldn’t be alive. I would have been dead many years ago. I would have no purpose and that’s MY TRUTH.
Now that I am processing through my pain, and I’m out of the fog, I’m at a place where I’ve learned my passion in life. Healing is happening, but it wouldn’t be happening if I could never share my feelings.
IN ORDER TO HEAL IT WE HAVE TO FEEL IT!
Even those adoptees who are sharing online they want to die and wish they were aborted!
God has placed a calling on my life to do what I’m doing in the adoptee community. If I’m able to frame it this way, being adopted has been the hardest experience of my life, but I know God is going to do amazing things and my pain will be used for good. In order to frame it this way I had to feel validated, heard, listened too.
So my question is…
ARE YOU LISTENING?
Because if you are inserting your opinion without ever asking a person why they feel the way they feel you really are out-of-order.
Do I still wish my birth mother aborted me? Sometimes those thoughts come over my mind, but they come and go like a vapor. Usually its the times when my pain is so great, I see no light and no way out. When I stay busy in life, the less time I have to think about the realities of adoption and the damage it has done in my life. Every day I can move forward towards healing is a new day I have to discover who I am and what I enjoy doing in life. There is more to me and my life than being an adoptee. I love being a mom. I love nature, hiking, chasing waterfalls. I enjoy the simple things in life-like sunrises, sunsets, bonfires, hot tea and coffee. I’m a caregiver by career and absolutely love what I do for a living. I have a small host of close friends and a few family members I am in touch with. Adoptee issues still surface and will always surface, for me it’s learning how to ride the waves.
So please, the next time you are around someone who is sharing their heart, no matter how your experience was or is, no matter who you know that was adopted who had a wonderful experience, know it doesn’t give you the right to tell us how we should feel. Also, please understand that just because you are at a peaceful place of your adoption, not all of us are. Let’s learn to embrace one another exactly as we are, not as you think we should be.
We’re already in a world that glorifies our trauma, we don’t need it from our fellow adoptees. Please, be kind and in that have compassion for others who are nothing like you. Try to understand them and put yourself in their shoes. Listen more.
Empathy goes along way.
Thanks for reading.
As we wrap up our first month of 2018 a few things have come to my attention. It’s so easy to get sucked into situations where we’re co-signing for online bullying and harassment, I thought a blog post about it might not be a bad idea.
I’ve noticed how one simple “tag” into a conversation or an innocent response to a post can be the door way to open-up an online episode of bullying or harassment. This can spiral out of control and it usually happens quickly.
I have seen from experience the damage this type of activity can do to others, and if I’m being honest when I’ve engaged in this type of activity I don’t feel better when it happens. I only feel worse.
My reason for writing this is because I’ve seen an increased amount of division created by online attacks within the adoptee community and it’s not okay. Witnessing these attacks, and even being pulled into a few I’ve found it to be very divisive among our community. We don’t need division. We need unity to move forward.
I can only speak for myself, but I have a life outside of “Adoptee City”. I love my online community of adoptees, but I have so many other things going on in life. Adoptee City is just a small piece of my life, but it does take up a lot of my time and I pour my heart and soul into the areas I participate in.
What does this mean?
I don’t have time for online drama.
If you are an online bully you will be silenced from my personal space. I can’t say you will be silenced online in other peoples spaces, but you will be silenced in mine.
Your either for me or you’re against me. If you are against me that’s okay, but be an adult and either come to me in a private message and talk to me or keep it moving. Whatever you decide to do, I can assure you I’m not losing any sleep either way.
If I get pulled into a situation online, I’m very careful how I navigate things moving forward. Much of the time if it’s a negative dynamic of unproductive communication between one or more people coming off in an attacking way, I don’t take the bait. I make the choice to “opt-out”. I don’t respond to that person directly. If someone lashes out at me in a nasty way, without hesitating I block them.
Let me say I’m not talking about a discussion where we are asked to share our experiences, peaceful or even not so peaceful debating that happens online. I’m talking about attacks that happen among online communities. Most of the time the person perpetrating the attacks is someone who has a history of being an online bully and has problems in various online communities for this behavior. More than likely they are blocked a lot and cause strife in many different areas.
Understand there is a dramatic difference in “Sharing Your Voice” and “Online Bullying & Harrassing”.
When we make the choice to talk about a person, place or business via social media or in an online forum. website, blog, etc. are we asking ourselves what our motive is first?
Is it to speak the truth as we see it? Is it because we have a point to prove and we want to do our best to get our point across? Is it to try to change other’s opinions and we share our truth as a guiding force for this to happen?
There are endless reasons why people share things online but before I share I try to ask myself is, am I trying to help someone or hurt them? Am I presenting my information in a way that others will receive it, or a way that is respectful to those who might read it? Am I coming from a mean, hostile, controlling or aggressive place?
I’ve failed many MANY times, and I’m the first to admit this and I’m a work in progress as we all are. An example for me is communication online between adoptive parents and birth parents and adoptees. I feel most of the time they run over how adoptees feel with what they think they know, and it only adds pain to our issues. Of course I can’t speak for all of them, which would be wrong of me to do but the majority I have come across online and in person this is my experience. It makes me angry, so I stay away from these types of situations where I don’t necessarily have the grace I need to have a healthy dialog with them. One day maybe this will change, but its just how it is right now.
When I see discord online, many times I see others jump on in and start in on the bashing of someone else because the bully aka the ring leader has sparked up some drama and there you go. An entire thread on the internet bashing and smashing others, while they aren’t given the time of day to defend themselves in an appropriate healthy dialog. They aren’t even asked who, what, when where and why BEFORE the perpetrator starts to lash out at the projected target. This is straight toxic foolery to be spun by GROWN ADULTS on the internet. I see kids behave better than this. It’s terribly disturbing.
Sadly, when we see this negative type of interaction going on we sometimes turn the other way, we don’t get involved to save our selves from being drug into the “drama”. I’m so guilty of doing this because I hate drama. I feel like I’ve worked my entire life to move away, change my life, grow up, and be a better person and a productive light to society that the last thing I want to get involved with is “INTERNET DRAMA”. It doesn’t excite me at all, many times I turn the other way and keep it moving.
What has come to my attention lately, is that by me turning the other cheek and walking away I am just as guilty as the person perpetrating the mean, hostile, controlling and aggressive behavior in the online communities. I don’t feel good about just wearing blinders and pretending I don’t see certain things.
What I have done is tread very carefully where I am present in online communities and I’m extremely cautious of who I let inside my personal space because anyone in my personal space has a potential to impact my life in a positive or a negative way.
We all must be careful in this way.
When we are a witness to cyber bullying and/or harassment we have choices we can make regarding how we respond. If it was someone close to us who was being attacked online, a family member or a friend you better believe most of us would jump right in to their defense.
If it’s someone we aren’t close to or we only know through the online world we can make a choice. We could ignore it and act like we don’t see it. We can confront the perpetrator in public or private or comfort the target in public or private. We could also document the behavior and report it as cyber-bullying and/or harassment.
There are many options, but we must realize is that someone is always watching somewhere, and our actions online could very well have some consequences in real life. Screen shots are forever and a lot of time can be used in court. I’ve learned that most people who are cyber bullies and/or cyber harassers are not someone you can even have a healthy dialog with, let alone a conversation where two people can discuss their views in a healthy way. They are so consumed with control, anger and rage they want to be the only one to be heard. There is no communication because their desire is to dominate at all costs, they will always “win” because they use the loudest voice in the online communities. They scare others and use this as a way to control people.
I will say my chances to insert myself into confronting this type of individual online is extremely slim. Why? Because in my lifetime I’ve learned that talking to someone like this is like talking to a wall. There is no point. They don’t have the willingness to listen and learn from others, and they desire to dominate and control. They are always right so what would be the point in confronting them? A lot of times narcissism is a possibility for these types of individuals. It’s all about them, what they want to scream from the roof tops in online platforms, they want to be the loudest and the voice that is never shut down AKA silenced.
I can assure you, most of the time these are the very same people who are blocked and banned from multiple online communities, and by other online people who simply have no time to deal with this type of drama. It’s usually not an isolated incident, but a reoccurring one. That said, for me confronting the person is probably out of the question but if I did feel lead to confront them it would be in a private message letting them know I see them and I’m not okay with their behavior online.
To not turn a blind eye to situations online that I might witness, it’s in my nature to reach out to the target in private and offer a word of encouragement and support. I would also encourage them to ban and block this person who is perpetrating these things onto them. With this kind of personality, most of the time a response will only add fuel to the fire. More than likely the perpetrator has online drama all over the place. Trust me, some people live to complain, and some people are mad at the world no matter what you say to them. Some people are negative from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. I’ve seen it, it’s true! These kind of people will suck the life right out of you!
I’ve learned that sometimes people live in fear or intimidation of those online who are bullying or harassing others therefor they “CO-SIGN” for them instead of blocking/banning them from their online safe space and they shiver at the thought of confronting them. I’m guilty, I’ve been there before but times have changed and I’m not co-signing for inappropriate behavior online anymore.
Confronting someone online who is a bully and/or harasser is something that I wouldn’t recommend. Usually that will unleash the beast that is already showing its true colors. Co-signing for this type of person can be as simple as liking a status they post that is attacking another person, place or business or commenting on something agreeing with them. It can be agreeing with them to keep “Sharing their voice!” without taking into consideration how they are doing it. How are they treating other people online, even the ones they don’t agree with or they have different views with?
Are they attacking a person, a place or a business? Are they being angry, mean, harassing, bullying or acting aggressive?
As the saying goes, “When people show you who they really are, believe them!” – Maya Angelou
Remember, it’s not what you say but how you say it. We are all in control of who or what we let inside our safe spaces. If I see someone else’s safe space is being violated I have a moral obligation to do something, and in most cases for me it’s report the bullying harassing behavior and/or blocking that person as well as encouraging the target to block that person.
No one, I mean NO ONE on earth deserves to get bullied in real life or online. It shouldn’t be tolerated online just like it shouldn’t be tolerated in real life.
Again, there is a HUGE difference in trying to teach and educate others about your mission and passion in life, weather it be adoption, nutrition, marriage, or whatever and coming off in an arrogant, rude, disrespectful, in a mean way.
Anger is a natural response to so many things in life. It’s okay to be ANGRY but It’s when we use that anger for good, doing positive things in positive ways is when it’s a healthy type of anger. When we get stuck in the anger, and our anger spills out into other people’s “Safe Spaces” is when it becomes a big problem.
What I’m seeing frequently online is ANGER used in unhealthy ways and sometimes it’s being put on a pedestal for “SHARING ONES VOICE”. It’s not healthy if it’s a mean spirited, aggressive, intimidating way which is impacting others safe spaces in a negative way. This is not okay. This is another way we can co-sign for someone’s unruly behavior and it’s just as bad as if you were the perpetrator.
I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but I am going to make a pledge to do my best to stay away from these type of online interactions and not put myself in vulnerable positions online where such chaos can and does occur. When it does happen I will reach out to the target, and block and ban the perpetrator.
I’ve noticed many times the perpetrators of this type of negative bullying is coming from someone who represents themselves using a fake name they hide behind, and they automatically think they have more power online because they can freely say what they want without anyone knowing who they truly are.
I would like to encourage anyone using fake names like this to be real, be the true you and stop hiding behind fake names just to be able to use it as a tool to cause strife and division in online communities. Stop faking who you are. If you want to be such a bad ass online, be the real you. What are you hiding from?
I used a “pen name” that I wrote under for about 3 years, but this wasn’t to stir shit online. It was because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to be true to who I really was and share my real true feelings from my real true self. I didn’t want to hurt those close to me so I hid how I felt. I was hiding from anyone ever knowing how I truly felt. Then one day I woke up and decided I no longer needed to apologize for my feelings and I had ever right to have them. The pen name worked for awhile and as I gained my confidence and as I shared in online communities I got stronger and I was able to heal in ways I didn’t think I could. Then I got rid of the pen name.
There is a difference in using a pen name to share feelings and using a pen name or a fake name to lash out at others online to hide from the consequences of what this type of behavior sparks. The term most people would use these days is “Trolling”. I’m not going to support this type of activity in my online spaces at all.
I like to call it spreading hate and this type of interaction only sucks the life out of others, and somehow this makes the perpetrator feel strong, big and mighty.
I ask myself, is what I’m typing online something I could stay to someone’s face in real life? Or am I just talking smack behind the keyboard? Am I spreading hate? Am I putting someone down?
I feel like we should all be able to have an educated discussion without putting others down, even when our opinions differ than the other. There’s always going to be someone who supports the opposite of what you support and people with visions that counteract with your visions.
It’s part of life and how we navigate these types of situations has a critical role in our message being received by another person. How about none of us are 100% right, and other opinions are valuable. Are we leading our cause in love? Or are we leading our cause in hate? Are we lifting others up or are we tearing them down? If we are spreading hate and tearing others down we are missing the mark and missing it greatly. Every time we come across this way online , every sentence we share that is filled with hate or tearing someone down because we don’t like their idea is a chance we had to express ourselves in a way that others receive what we have to say that is lost forever. If you come off abrasive be prepared to be blocked. People are turned off by this way of communication. Not only online, but real life as well.
I believe wholeheartedly there are ways to educate about our cause in a healthy way that doesn’t come off unethical, self-serving, mean spirited and intimidating to others. We can educate by being kind and considerate while taking into consideration that each person is entitled to their own opinions. Once we can come to this place of understanding is when we will be validated, listened too and our opinions will be valued and even appreciated online and in real life.
There was a time in my life where I was angry and mad at the world. A few years ago online, I came across a fellow adoptee who was selling a service to her fellow adoptees and it appalled me because the service she was selling is something we shouldn’t have to pay for- the information we should have never been denied to begin with. I will admit, I didn’t like her because of her vision and what she was doing in the adoptee arena. I called her out on Twitter, and it created WW3 online. What I realized was, WHO THE HELL AM I TO SAY ANYTHING TO THIS WOMAN about what she is doing in her life? I had to check myself and simmer down because I am no one special and my opinion is just that, an opinion. I was so convicted that I felt terrible and I ended up apologizing to her and telling her I was sorry for being an asshole online.
What I should have done, was sent her a private message asking her what her vision was, gotten some details to see where her mind is with what she is doing and then and only then in a private safe space express my feelings regarding this topic. I didn’t do that, but I had wished I did.
Thankfully she accepted my apology and we went on our merry way. I learned from this situation that certain times I might feel a certain way about things but it’s not my job to go roaring in like CUJO yelling it to the entire world I disagree with someone. How juvenile and pitiful was that of me anyway? I learned so much from that situation and there are several others that I have learned from along the way.
Thank God for learning experiences!
For anyone reading, I would like to challenge you to ask yourself before posting things online “Am I helping someone or am I trying to hurt them?” or “Am I co-signing for someone else’s online bullying and harassment or am I eliminating this kind of interaction from my life?”
Sadly, the perpetrator is only alienating themselves from perfect opportunities to teach others about their cause or passion but coming off as a bully and/or a harasser and this is only going to create division, cause strife and create negative interactions online.
I’m controlling my safe space these days and these types of people must go. I refuse to deal with any nonsense in real life and the same goes for the online world. When it’s all said and done we have to realize the words we choose to use online can have consequences and they can get us in trouble.
If you can come at me privately with an attempt to discuss things in a healthy dialog and I will be happy to converse but if you come at me sideways mobbing me in a public setting be prepared for the consequences. Just because you are online behind a keyboard doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences. If you can’t respect me even if you don’t agree with me I ask you to keep it moving.
If I see bullying happening online I have a moral obligation to reach out to the target and make sure they are okay, as well as encourage them to block the perpetrator. Sometimes we aren’t strong to make these decision on our own and someone else’s opinion or suggestion is all we need to put an end to a chaotic situation online. I encourage you to do the same.
If you are reading this and if the shoe fits, I would like to extend empathy to you and your situation. I know why people come off as bullies and have mean characteristics. My hope for you is, that healing can happen in your life, so you can take your anger and use it in positive ways. One day I hope you can say without a doubt you have changed so many lives for the good by spreading good vibes while using your voice and sharing your truth because it is possible. I hope you get to that space sooner than later. You deserve to be happy and healthy and you have purpose!
We all deserve healthy interactions and healthy dialog and we can agree to disagree.
Anything less is something I refuse to be a part of in real life or online. I’m the boss of my life and I choose who I allow in it, and who I refuse to let enter my safe space.
Thanks for reading.