I am on an island. Alone. I am an outsider looking in. I am never really “one of them,” always an afterthought. I don’t mean to dismiss or minimize the family connections I have but I do mean to speak the honest reality.
My adopted family, because of the boundaries I have established as a result of the abuse, exclude me. This is done purposefully and as a punishment. When there is a “family” dinner, a get together with cousins or quasi-Aunts and Uncles, a birthday gathering, a funeral and yes, even a holiday we are not invited. But, it is more than just not receiving an event invitation. We are often told an “event” is going on and, in some cases, offered an opportunity to see visitors on a one-on-one basis but never as part of the “family”. The choice was made many years ago, my adopted Father is more important than I am. It’s the harsh reality but one that cannot be denied. Christmas with my adopted mother has either been well before December 25 or well afterward. She is always busy with her grandchildren during the holidays…well most of her grandchildren. We spent one Thanksgiving with this family after my daughter was born which led to me firmly drawing the boundary lines. While I know I am doing the right thing by having such strict boundaries, I am reminded more often than I like that I am an outsider in “their” family.
My biological mother’s family tries but they often forget to include me. It’s hard to blame my siblings when we never grew up under the same roof and there is quite an age gap. My Mom carries so many shadows with her when it comes to our interactions that she is cautious and seemingly finds a way to keep a distance from me but works very hard to include my daughter. While I appreciate this effort with my daughter, who really only knows my biological mother as a grandmother, since my adopted mother’s involvement is intermittant, I still am an outsider.
My Hawaiian family – technically, they only found out about me in January 2018, although my Dad knew I was out there in the world. He tries to include me but…it’s still new and there are thousands of miles between us, a language and a shared history that is so different.
Today is a great example of feeling this “outsider” effect.
I received a text from my Uncle (adopted mother’s brother) saying he is flying to town for a memorial service for a relative that recently passed. Hmm. I had heard of her passing but of course not of the memorial service…aka event. Outsider. Not included.
I also received a voicemail message from my Mom (biological) saying she is coming to town this weekend to visit and staying with my sisters. Well, I will be out of town this weekend but she didn’t ask what my plans were you just that she was was coming. Afterthought.
In some ways, I don’t mind being on an island. I have the autonomy to use the outsider effect as an excuse not to go to family events. But, really…deep down inside…I hurt just a little for not belonging.