Monday, February 19, 2007

Will The REAL Me Please Stand Up.

Another adoptee I visit regularly here in blog-land - Nina - posted about patterns she is starting to see in the way that she handles different life situations. And she got me thinking!!

Let me tell you a story about my weekend.

We (Family and I) were invited to a BBQ on Sunday for a 5 year old birthday girl.

To begin with, the celebrations were mainly for said 5 year old - and her various friends - then after 2 hours, parents and older children arrived for a more relaxed Sunday afternoon meet, greet and eat - with a few drinks thrown in for good measure.

Now, I have had a close circle of friends here for the last 6 years, but this celebration was with a different group of friends, many I had never met before.

We arrived for the earlier party, with mostly children attending - and I only felt slightly out of my comfort zone, but I kept myself busy helping out with the kids.

My body started to tense though, as at 1:00pm, other adults started to arrive. And there were faces that I did not know.

At that point - I think I was on the brink of scooping up my hubby and my kids - apologizing for having a 'migraine coming on' - and heading on home as fast as the family car would take us.

I didn't - I stayed - I told myself that we would all have a fun afternoon - and my 'happy-pleasing-on show' persona moved into top gear - and a couple of hours eventually seemed to fly by.

It wasn't until late in the afternoon (4-ish) - when we did eventually round up the kids and head home for dinner - that I realised how un-relaxing the whole event was - and how totally exhausted I really felt.

To any unsuspecting pass-by, the view of the afternoon would have looked like - hours of sitting on my butt making lots of conversation, attending to a few minor children scabbles, eating lunch and drinking a few glasses of champagne.

Not a major marathon in anyones books.

BUT - when I got home, after having a quick dinner with hubby and kids - a curled in a ball on the lounge, and fell into a very weird sleep. I could hear bits of conversations around me - and I even heard the phone ring at one stage - but I could not raise myself from the utter exhaustion that I felt.

I later woke at 10pm - looking around rather dazed - realized that hubby had bathed the kids, put them all in bed and prepared things for the day ahead - and I had slept the evening away.

After reading Nina's post, I realised how much work I really had been doing all afternoon - and the reason why I was so exhausted from a seemingly 'relaxing' afternoon.

I was so busy putting on my adoptee-mask - making people smile - making people like me - trying to fit in - that I put on a show worthy of an Academy Award - a genuine one-woman show.

It's got me thinking - WHO AM I?? - WHO IS THE REAL ME??

Is this the real ME who I present to new people in my life - or that I present to even my very close friends??? Am I always trying to please everyone - so that I won't be rejected - so that I will be loved??? Am I so busy working on this outward persona - that I never truly have time for whoever the real me is - somewhere deep deep down inside of me???

I hope I can find her.

I'm sure she's a loveable person.

I'm sure I want to give her a hug.


Blogger Nina said...

Well, I couldn't wait to read about YOUR experience and you described it so well that I could picture it...and practically FEEL the post-exhaustion myself. Oh no!!! You described it as a "marathon" and I think that's a great way to describe it. I hope you don't mind me passing on this suggestion from my therapist. It works for me in SOME cases if I am very mindful and I can emotionally detach a bit. She suggested that I allow myself some breathing room, become more of an observer in the social situation and take stock. "What do I think of this person? What do I think of what he/she just said? Am I comfortable and want to continue being around this person or do I want to move on?" If two people disagree, don't try to mediate. Just try to focus on what they are saying and measure YOUR reaction. You may be surprised. You may find that you are trying to please people you don't even like. You may discover that you are not as social as you think you are or whatever. Try to pay more attention to your instincts and act on them. Give yourself permission to say, I'm just not in the mood today to deal with crowds of people, and that's okay. Maybe your instinct that day was to retreat because you really don't like hanging with strangers. But you knocked yourself out trying to do the social thing. Maybe next time ask yourself, "What do I want to do?" then do it. And know that famous line about advice? Something like, "The only thing to do with advice is pass it on" Well, this is said in that spirit! And Golly, I hope I don't get charged with internet trafficking of unwanted advice!!!

19/2/07, 2:17 pm  
Blogger chez said...

All advice - especially from another blogging adoptee - is most welcome Nina - thank you so much for passing on your therapists suggestions.
Besides - what better value for money than sharing the advice from your well paid therapist!!?? I'm lapping it up - and taking notes!!
Will certainly give these things a try.
I'm sure that I've stuck it out with some that have been bad for my soul.
Now I'm going to start looking after ME.
Thanks Nina!!

19/2/07, 2:38 pm  
Blogger angel said...

I very much relate to this Chez. The whole putting up a front business, and wanting with every ounce of my body to be loved and accepted.

I'm guessing that my adoption, and that sense of abandonment from a baby, is key to why I constantly need reassurance in my relationships (with men) that they won't leave.

I've always been one who cares what other people think of me, but that is lessening with age!

These days, I very much speak my mind, and I don't feel the need to justify why I think a certain way. (However I do edit myself around some people, like my Dad.) I'm also much more selfish with my time - I don't do things just to keep up appearances. I do things that I want to do. For me.

It's probably much easier for me to do this, being single and not having kids yet.

Does any of that make sense? (am suffering a bit of mondayitis!)

19/2/07, 3:38 pm  
Blogger Nina said...

You ARE sweet, Chez! Yes, and maybe because I'm frugal, perhaps what I am doing is trying to amortize my therapy. Which, BTW, is covered by health insurance. A rarity, I'm sure. Actually, I think my therapist is quite good because she listens and is very supportive, so when she DOES suggest something it is very meaningful and helpful.

19/2/07, 4:25 pm  
Blogger elizabeth said...


Something I heard a long time ago, "You can't ever please everyone, so just please yourself!"

Also, "Not everyone is going to like you. That is a good thing."

Think about nasty mean people, do you want them to like you?

Just some thoughts since you said you welcome advice.

I'm sure if we met, I'd like you, and we'd sit on our bums drinking champagne and laughing at all the idiots in Adoptionland.

19/2/07, 6:32 pm  
Blogger chez said...

Alex - you made perfectly good sense - even with the dreaded Monday-itis!! And I agree - it is a little harder when I have to think of my hubby and my kids. I'm sure I wouldn't have even gone out on Sunday if it weren't for them!!! (just kidding - I also need human contact sometimes - or I really become a sad mess - bit of a catch 22 really!!)I think it's important to try to get to know who my kids socialise with - and their families - at least while I still have a little control over the situation. So - I accept invites to BBQ's and the like - and I do the happy adoptee dance!!! But I am much more aware of it now - and I shall endevour to just sit back and comment only when I really feel the need. And NOT because I think I have to. Thanks always for your thoughts.

Elizabeth - I'm quite positive that I'd like you also - and one day we WILL meet - perhaps in Paris - we WILL sit on our bums and drink copious amounts of the bubbly - and we WILL laugh our asses off at all the idiots in Adoptionland!!!!! Hubby has relatives in gay Paris - so it may well happen one day!!
For now - a toast to you my friend - and to all the people that we're glad that don't like us at all!!!

Hugs, C xxxxx

19/2/07, 6:51 pm  
Blogger LeRoy Dissing said...

Chez...Perhaps titling your post: "Will the REAL Chez Please Sit Down" would have been better :) You burned off a lot of energy Sunday afternoon going against the grain of who you are. Your instincts were trying to tell you something about the situation.

I think adoptees have great instincts - they have just been repressed throughout their childhood so that by the time they reach adulthood it sometimes is hard to identify what they mean and then how to respond to them.

The real you is there. We have read you, want to know you more and we would all give you (hugs) if we could. You can be free to be yourself here; to disagree; be angry; show emotions without fear (yes even if you are in your jammies!).

20/2/07, 12:38 am  
Blogger juliaNY07 said...

HI Chez,

Get coffee (or red wine) this is long...

Let me start by saying, please have more faith in your goodnes than just making it a "happy adoptee act".

And the next thing is, I love Nina's advice I think it is something I could try from time to time...sit back and watch the action rather than feel I have to contribute, be happy with my own silence and space.

Do you have any idea what I am going to say next - the D word again - bit like a broken record really. (becasue simetimes I feel like I am just keeping my head about water).. Please read about depression, not adoptee related but just clinical depresion. Everyone who is don't do it needs to stop for just a minute. You described so many of my own experiences, and I am not adopted. I am however human I do feel self doubt, insecurities, shyness, anxiety at meeting new people and I am such a good actor that most of the time no one has any idea how I feel. Like the day I cooked lunch for a buch of people I had never met because I felt we really should do something for Australia Day, and had a huge migraine, shortness of breath and a tummy ache for most of the morning. And the time I ran out of spotlight, leaving all my intended purchases in a heap because who did I think I was imagining I could create anything. And the time I did pick up my children and go home because I was so sick to my stomach and had a head ache at the thought of socialising with my neighbours. Please, treat your symptoms and not just put them down to being an adoptee, for what ever reason these feelings you are having are real and they may never go away completely because some of them are actually who you are. I don't have adoption to blame or an unhappy childhood, so I just fess up to being loopy and boy do I do a hell of a lot of self analysis, which is why I keep harping on this with you. Also I see you worry about getting too close to some one in case of rejection, I see you do that, it's ok. what you describe is so common and you need to acknowledge that you are not alone with these feelings, but you also have to deal with them and if that means getting help then so be it. Imagine yout guilt if you do not get better, your kids will miss so much of you. I think you are a happy person, you are bubbly and fun to be around, sometimes I see you feel and show sadness and tiredness and low motivation, then I see you so totally encomapssed in a project or a person that you leave no time for yourself. I see that you are scared of failure (and that would be uncle D's fault to some degree, what adults tell us when we are children no matter who they are, impact upon us very deeply for a long time). I see that you are very intelligent far more so than you have given yourself or been given credit for. You are very generous with your time and frendship to others you are loving and thoughtfull and fun to be with, and I hope that this is more than just trying to buy friends and make people like you. The real you is in there, it is part of everything you do every emotion, every response you give. Most of us are afraid of rejection or failure, I see you make lots of friends and they are not just your friends because you put on an act, they care about you becasue they see the goodness that you are. Oh and there are your beautiful children, you know they are the wonderful people they are because of you, don't question the good things you do and make them all an act of the "happy adoptee" I think you are selling yourself way too short and I wish for you clarity and confidence to believe that you are worthy of love and all the trust that your friends place in you and their adoration of you.

Your friend (I hope you will still have me) Julia

20/2/07, 11:15 am  
Blogger Joy said...


I want to give you a big hug tooooooooooo


20/2/07, 6:36 pm  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Possum, Oh how many times have I done that? I got tired of it and moved 200 miles to the country. Sometimes I come across as grouchy and there are days when I don't get out of my pajamas. You know what? There are people out there that like the REAL me. Maybe there aren't as many as when I lived in the city and worked at a well-known, huge Dr office but some people do like me. I can talk freely about my life. Both of my moms are mom and if they can't keep up with the convo, too damn bad. I stopped commiting to things that I didn't want to do...thing that I was doing to make other people happy. I crochet, I sew, I watch TV, I read, spend time with my sons and husband and fart around in the yard. My "old" friends think it's weird that I drive the lawn tractor...I was always so girls and put together...and live on a dirt road. I would rather have 5 friends that know and love the real me, than 50 who I have to show "the face". This is my long-winded way of saying I feel where you are coming from. Much love and hugs, Rebecca

PS. I think I'll email you the lawn tractor pic. It's pretty funny.

21/2/07, 1:13 pm  
Blogger Ungrateful Little Bastard said...

Hugs, hugs and more hugs. I was having memories left and right while reading this, of both family gatherings when I was a child, and family gatherings today. It's a whole post unto itself, but all I can say is THANK YOU for writing about the aftermath. I cannot tell you how many times I have been curled in the exact same ball on the exact same couch in that exact same disassociative sleep state after a family gathering. Just completely drained from the work of it. And I adore my husband's family, but I just find any type of social occassion completely draining.

I don't want to turn a comment into a post, but I did want to share something that both my son and one of my stepdaughters have done at family gatherings since they were about 9 years old.

They both hate them - I'll state that first. They just don't like large gatherings. They'll show up and make the rounds of saying hello, and then with no guilt or anything, retreat to some quiet corner or back bedroom with a book and read for the rest of the afternoon. What's so very nice about my husband's huge family is that this is considered A-OK if they want to do that, and they could care less. This type of behavior would not have been allowed in my family!

I'm not giving this as advice, 'cause I'll tell you now I wouldn't feel comfortable enough to do this, even though it would be with kind folks who wouldn't bat an eye. I think it's more of an observation on different family dynamics and what is and is not allowed or accepted.

And just a 'I GET YOU' type of thing, with a hey, get a load of how entitled these kids feel to *gasp* be themselves!!

21/2/07, 7:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i already commented on your most recent post, but this just had to be mentioned by me.
What a revelation!!!
i have just realised I do the exact same thing!!!! I tire myself out making twice the effort to show who I "really" am so people see I am more than my Korean face in order to not be rejected or passed off as a stereotype! I spend all my time wondering if new people I meet are inadvertantly racist and so try overly hard to prove I am Aussie and cool to talk to!!!!
thanks so much for writing this. I come across as an outgoing, confident young woman - but if I really was that confident, why would I "work" so hard to be noticed for "who I am"?
Starting university again and having to meet so many new people has triggered it all off for me again. It has been so much more nerve wracking for me. I wonder if even my fiance and family realise how much I put myself through mentally in these situations?? I only just realised!

1/3/07, 8:29 pm  

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