How do you celebrate being unwanted?

By: Maya (Guest writer)

April 22. The day started out as the happiest one of my life. I was being adopted by my current mom. I loved my new family and couldn’t believe someone actually wanted me as their daughter. I would have two parents, siblings—a whole, a real family. In my heart, I couldn’t wait for the holidays. For birthdays. For all the life moments that I previously dreaded. I looked forward to having a real mom, my own mom, to learn from and spend time with. Nothing could steal away the happy bursting inside of me.

Something felt off at the courthouse though, and after the adoption, she acted upset but didn’t say why. I didn’t know what was going on. I held back my excitement, my joy trapped with no outlet for expression. I didn’t know what to do with myself or how to respond. Did she change her mind? Did she no longer want me as her daughter?

I stomached my insecurities as if oblivious to the tension around me. In truth, my insecurity at her lack of joy skyrocketed inside me. I just wanted a place to hide and cry. My emotional age plummeted so low that I couldn’t process my feelings.

The last time I had a mom, she lay on a hospital bed with her eyes closed and an oxygen mask over her face. I wanted so desperately for her to wake up. I wanted to hear her voice just one more time. But she never did and I never got to say a goodbye.

Stomaching pain is something I’ve always been good at. Culture teaches this well—hold in what hurts and find a way to get over it. The military taught me that “pain is weakness leaving your body.” While that may have been intended to address the physical pain that came with intense training, I looked at pushing pain down as a strength to be proud of instead of the reality that it’s a brave and powerful thing to deal with what hurts. To let it out.

My adoption birthday is just two months away. This year I don’t want to force myself to stomach what hurts or refuse to embrace blessings. I can allow myself to feel both sad over what was not there and thankful for what good things were. Every day that I push forward towards health and healing is a win. A win against the battle with rejection, against the effects of abandonment, against the scars that come with being a motherless daughter.

When my adoption birthday comes this year, I’ll not focus on feeling unwanted. I’ll celebrate those daily wins. A little girl still lives inside me, and she deserves to be valued. I’m continuing to learn that I have the power and the strength and the tools to value myself.

And that journey is worth everything.

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