There comes a moment when you look around, waiting for the person in charge to help you and then, you realize you are the person in charge. You are the grown up. You are the only grown up there…and you’re not very good at It.” –The Invisible Sign
Not too long ago I was talking to a friend about some of my past adoption issues and how they still linger years later. She asked me why I am so self absorbed and why instead of talking to adoptive parents about the things that I wish my adoptive parents would have known why I don’t focus on how good the adoptive parents are doing. I didn’t really have an answer other than to say, “because not all adoptive parents want praise all the time, some want to know what they can do to help their child feel more normal.” Content with the answer, I asked her further about the self-absorbed comment and she led in with the fact that I refuse to date and that my entire life revolves around me. It does. My life does revolve around me and it probably will for a while longer because I have never had time for me. For years, the first thing that I thought when I woke up was what can I do to make sure my family is okay and that everyone gets their needs met today? For so long I have focused on taking care of everyone else around me that I have never given myself time to take care of me. My needs have never come first. And so many times in taking care of others, I waited for someone else to come take care of me. I looked around for a grown up to come in and take charge; to make sure I was okay. Sometimes, when everyone else’s needs got met but there wasn’t enough to go all the way around I felt like screaming: But what about me? Why don’t I ever come first? Or second? Why is it that my needs always come last? And by the time I was adopted, I was old enough to take care of myself and so my needs continued to be my responsibility. So many times, even today in the family I have, the waiting happens. I look around and hope that one of the adults in my life with swoop in and say, “Hey, you’ve taken care of everyone for so long, let me take care of you.” I hope that they will ask me to participate in recreating my brain by allowing them to meet my needs. And they do. In their own way, each family has taken me in and is able to give me enough. They are able to help me fill a little bit of my needs. Even still it’s so hard not to push that expectation on them. It’s hard not to demand that one of them do it. Because when I look around and I realize that I’m the grown up, that my years of childhood are long gone and have been since I was a kid, it’s overwhelming to think that I have to continue to do this for another 70 or 80 years. It’s exhausting to know that my needs will forever be my responsibility and that I didn’t have the chance to get them met by someone else. And it’s mind numbing to think that one day, I might have to start taking care of other people again and putting my own needs last. So, I guess for me, and possibly others who’ve had to take care of everyone else their entire life, I am self-absorbed because I never had the chance to be. I am self-absorbed because I have to be. I am self-absorbed because my life has been a series of everyone else, but never my own. I am self-absorbed because I know that if I am not, at this point, I will not be able to get better. But just because I’m self-absorbed and choose to do the things I know will help me heal, help me be happy, and allow me to someday reach back out and give my entire self away again it doesn’t mean I can’t still care for others. It doesn’t mean that their needs and their wants are any less important than mine. Just because I’m taking initiative of my life doesn’t make theirs any less impactful for me…in fact, it’s empowering to know that they are self-sufficient enough to take care of them so that I can take care of me. Sometimes you have to stop waiting for someone else to take care of you and just take care of yourself.