I have never felt like I fit in. I have never felt like I belonged. I have never felt unconditional love. I am terrified of abandonment. I have struggled with these issues my entire existence and felt a hole in my heart and soul that has yet to be filled. One therapist said it is common with later age Adoption and in my case, severe neglect and abuse at a critical age in development. Another said it was because while bouncing through the system, I was not in one place long enough to form the type of bonds necessary to establish meaningful and trustworthy relationships. The finger has been pointed at everything from my BPD to my depression and anxiety, and maybe it is a combination of all of the above, or perhaps, it just is. We spend so much time trying to speculate the reasons for everything that has happened to us, believing that if there were a tangible explanation, we could more readily accept it, deal with it and move forward.
I always knew I was adopted. Although many doubt the possibility, I remember the first day I was left to stay at my adoptive parent’s home. I think the only reason I can recall is because of the trauma involved; the fear of yet another “family” to hurt, neglect, abuse and then return me. This family turned out to be permanent for me and despite the years of abuse inside and outside this home, I knew that my mom loved me to the extent of her abilities, however, I still never truly felt like I belonged there either.
It is an odd feeling, not having any true sense of belonging or not knowing if you ever will. You feel you should not have been born, and a piece of you believes you will never be accepted by this judgmental society which is permeated with stigma and ignorance. It is as if there is a hole in your soul causing an incessant pain you innately know cannot be filled, but you’ll try anything and everything to do so. Many survivors of childhood sexual assault go through a period of promiscuity at some or many points in their lives. Although the experiences are severely traumatic, they ingrain in you a sense that negative attention is still better than no attention, hence the habit of looking for comfort in a self-destructive manner. There are drugs, and plenty of them. Some make you numb for hours, others for days, the common factor being they provide some relief and a break, albeit temporary, from the pain and emptiness, which is what you seek so desperately. For me the emptiness was so prevalent and compounded with the abuse, that death seemed like a state of peace and belonging. I am not religious, nor was raised in any denomination, but the thought of heaven to my 8 year old self was an ocean, a beach next to a soccer pitch with my dog and friends playing, carefree and void free. These thoughts have turned into actions a few times in my life, obviously with no success, but, as the hole isn’t filled the thoughts never truly wane.
I tried teams. I became good at most sports and accomplished in others with soccer becoming the first true sense of belonging I felt. Teams meant acceptance, purpose, reward and what I longed for most, something to be connected to. This had to be the thing that would finally make me whole and fill the vastness that had engrossed my very being. I played for over 30 years; travelling, meeting new people and finding a renewed sense of self confidence, but my soul remained as it always was, the hole inadequately plugged.
Amongst the confusion and chaos in today’s world, many if not most places have lost the sense of “community”. Long gone are the days where we are as concerned about our neighbor’s wellbeing as we are our own, the days we offered a helping hand to someone in distress rather than recording it on our phones. Most people know a bit about the people right next door, but how many people know more than a few families on your street? We are a society consumed with mistrust, materialism and egoism, replacing the certitude, modesty and empathy of days past. We don’t talk, we text and email. We are enthralled with the virtual world and its anonymity and sense of safety while hiding behind a screen. We have hundreds of Facebook friends, yet how many do we actually even know, and of those, how many are true friends? Another attempt to fit in, to find belonging failed, and sometimes when we search for something for so long to no avail, we give up. The hope in you is shattered, the diagnosis carries the weight of world, the void becomes an abyss, the only feasible relief being knocking on death’s door and praying for an invite, but reality deems otherwise.
So although the void will never be completely filled, and I do not believe I will ever feel a true sense of belonging, I have been fortunate enough to find a community where the kindness of strangers leads to an unexpected friendship. By not judging and providing a small sense of acceptance, they have given me enough support and kinship to lighten a tiny bit of the weight on my shoulders.