It’s Not Your Fault….
By: Dinah Federer
You can see Dinah’s regular blog at www.withangelsandelephants.com
There are so many uncertainties in any NPE/MPE situation. Let’s look at just a few of the questions we face…
- Now that I have learned that one or both of the people who raised me are not my biological parent… Who is?
- Now that I know who my biological parent is, should I contact them?
- If I contact them, how should I do it… letter, phone call, what? And what should I say?
- Now that I know that I have new siblings, should I contact them? How? What should I say?
- Will they talk to me? Will they share medical information with me? Will they tell me about my family? Will they welcome me into their family? Will they like me? And on and on and on and on……
And these are just a few of the questions. We’ve barely scratched the surface. But even just these few are enough to be highly anxiety provoking!
When we do finally gather the courage to make contact, we sit on pins and needles waiting for a response. We know that we have a 50-50 shot at best… They might be kind, they might be resentful. It could go either way. Some people are welcomed with open arms. And when that happens, we all celebrate with them!
But what about those of us who are rejected by new family and are not met with kindness? What do we do and how do we take care of ourselves?
First of all… We have to realize that this can push very old buttons and open very old wounds. Many MPEs have pretty deep insecurity issues because we “sensed” that we were different, that we didn’t quite fit in our family. So being rejected brings all the old pain and angst right back. The messages just below the surface are… Not good enough, not likable, unlovable, too thin, too fat, not smart enough…. And all the other messages that our childhood mind came up with to explain why we felt that we were different…
***Before we go on… Now is the perfect time to remind ourselves that these wounds are real and deserve to be addressed. If you can relate to any or all of the above… Please consider seeking out a qualified mental health counselor to help you deal with all of this old baggage. Of course, the ideal counselor would be someone trained in issues relating to the NPE/MPE experience. But if you can’t find that… Someone specializing in grief and loss would probably be a good fit… You deserve to feel better!
OK, back to our topic…
How in the world do we begin to deal with being rejected by the new family that we worked so hard to find and that we were so incredibly anxious about contacting in the first place? How do we cope when our worst fears come true?
First of all… We remind ourselves over and over again that it’s not our fault! Their rejection has nothing to do with us! Take some time to really think about this. They don’t know us. They’ve never met us. So how could their rejection possibly be related to anything about us personally? The answer is… It can’t and it isn’t. Their rejection is solely about their own fear. Fear of what? Their fears are probably limitless also… Such as… How will my family deal with a new child? Will my spouse leave me? Will my children hate me? Will my extended family judge me? Is this new child going to come after me for back child support? Are they going to want financial help from me? Am I going to have to explain the past that I wanted to forget? And on and on and on… it’s easier for that new parent to slam the door. But again… That has nothing to do with you or with your deservingness.
If it’s a new sibling that is doing the rejecting, again… it’s not about you. It’s about their fear and shock. They’ve learned that their parent had a past that they didn’t know about. They feel betrayed or angry or hurt… Again… It has nothing to do with you.
It’s not your fault. Don’t take it on!
Of course it’s painful. Of course it feels lousy. Of course we wish that it would have gone the other way… That they would be kind and open and welcoming. But the reality is that not everyone gets the fairytale ending.
So, for those of us who don’t get that fairytale ending… We have to take care of ourselves. We have to do regular self inventories to see how severely this is impacting our lives. And if there is a significant negative impact… We need to do ourselves the favor of seeking a good qualified counselor. We need to regularly engage in positive self talk… Reminding ourselves that their behavior is completely about them and has nothing to do with us. We need to consider seeking out other people in similar situations and engage with them… We can learn a lot from each other.
Self-care isn’t selfish. Self care is what we do to stay healthy and present for the ones we love.
Wishing you all good things in your NPE/MPE journey.
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