Elizabeth asked an important question in the comment section that I thought was so interesting that I'd pose it to you, dear reader.
After you've responded, in the comment section, I'll lift them out and add them into a separate post. Not only is this much easier to read, it's more interactive and the more voices, the better.
So here's Elizabeth's question...which she addresses to everyone here:
Do you feel empty inside? I guess what I mean is that I feel like I am missing a piece of the puzzle, everyone else has it except me. I sometimes feel like an outsider or a fake trying to pass myself as a normal person. I don't think others can understand the hurt and pain we've been through. It feels so good to have feedback from this site. I glad I found you Nina, now I am not so lost!! get it??!!
Oh yeah, I get it!
I started this site because I felt lost and was trying to make sense of what had happened and I knew I couldn't do it alone. Yes, I did therapy and yes it did help and I learned some important coping tools, but I found that I needed to hear from others who went through the same thing.
Yes, I often feel empty and like I'm missing a piece of the puzzle. Like an outsider. And like a fake.
Here's some reasons why I think so. As yet another, separate post, I think we should address what we can do about it.
--We were not allowed to develop independently of our parents and what efforts we did make in that direction were discouraged.
In my case, my interests were mocked. I was mocked. I was mocked for being a book worm. For having opinions of my own that differed from theirs. For being "a little know it all" because I attended college. For having wild, thick hair so different from my adoptive mother (like I could do anything about that). For basically being me. Translation: I'm not okay the way I am. To survive, I had to pretend to be someone I was not. I had to wait until I moved far away to begin figuring out who I actually was. Which means I am a very, very late bloomer.
--We were not allowed our emotions. We were not allowed to be upset or needy. Maybe never.
My adoptive father says I was the perfect baby. He says I never, ever cried or whined. He says I wasn't like other obnoxious, needy babies. It never occurred to him that this wasn't normal. Why cry if there is no one to comfort you? If I was scared by a bully at school, I was blamed because I was a sissy. If I was scared by a dog, my mother would thrust me toward the dog and my father would make fun of me for being silly. If I fell down, I was told it didn't hurt, even when I broke my arm. When I cried because a boyfriend broke up with me, my mother slapped me and sent me to my room because I was being ridiculous and I'd scared her.
There was no one to talk to. No one to listen to us. No one to give us reassurance or constructive advice. We were either ignored or our worries and hurts minimized or dismissed. What else could we do, but deny those feelings of fear or discomfort or whatever. As a result, I suspect, we went numb. Other people around us, somehow, seem more real. We feel fake. Because we've had to fake.
--We don't feel loved or valued. Just needed.
This, perhaps, is one truth that's been the hardest to face. My narcissistic father is incapable of love. He doesn't know me. Not at all. How could he? I am 47 years old and have never, ever been allowed to finish a single sentence. Under torture, he couldn't tell you my favorite color, book, movie or anything about me except that I'm married and have two teenagers. When I was working, he only knew - vaguely - that I worked in news, but had no idea where or what I did. He does not value me...I'm just the person who will listen to him.
--Annihilation hangs over us.
If I dared to be me, my mother used the cold silent treatment that could last weeks. She stopped speaking to me for a year when I went away to college (because I betrayed her by leaving). The cold, silent treatment started when I was very young. If I didn't want to wear the clothes she picked out or wanted to have a sleepover or if I spent too much time reading and not paying attention to her. Which was terrifying. When you're little, you can't afford to have your mother freeze you out like that. It feels like death. (By the way, I had no idea this was abusive behavior until I read the work of Alice Miller, author of Drama of the Gifted Child.)
At first, my father seems like an affable, goofy, strange guy. But he's turned on every single person he's ever met. The second someone does something he doesn't like - meaning they demand their fair share of the conversation - he drops them and says all sorts of vicious things about them. I can't help but think if I really defy him in any way, he'll do that to me, too. And that's scary. As much as I can't stand the guy. Narcissistic or nightmare adoptive parents or not, they were the only parents I had.
Maybe we feel so empty and alone because...we WERE all alone most of our lives.