I Was My Own Worst Enemy

This week I have been reminded that I can be my own worst enemy.

Years ago, through work, I took professional training called Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When the Takes Are High. (On a side note, if you are ever looking for a conflict resolution type training, this is the absolute best professional training I have ever taken and the book alone is absolutely wroth a read). One of the main things I learned in my course is that we can only control ourselves in a conversation. We can make a conversation safe for others to feel comfortable and safe to participate, but ultimately we can only control ourselves. We cannot predict the outcome of the conversation as we are only one half of the conversation.

While the course focused on the professional setting, and gave a tonne of great pieces of advice, I cannot count the times I have said in my personal life that I have returned to two particular points:

  1. I cannot control others in the conversation, rather just myself.
  2. I have no idea what the other person is thinking. If I try to think through their side of things, my “predictions” are nothing more than guesses and I end up just telling myself a story usually based in a lack of clear facts and therefore also based in usually the most negative assumptions that are the result of my own fears.

Often using techniques like speaking only in a soft voice, no matter how much I may want to yell, scream or cry. Talk intentionally slowly, slower then you normally do – people tend to start speaking quicker as their heart rate increases in a state of anxiety, and then we are unable to think through things in a rational matter. Pause when you sense the anxiety in the room increasing – I always bring a bottle of water or tea into any meeting or conversation where I anticipate stress so that I have an excuse to stop talking if I need to. (On a side note, if you are ever in an argument and want to drive the other person crazy, speaking slowly and without raising our voice will usually at first irate them even more, but eventually they usually fall in step so long as you stick to the approach without slipping up – the problem in my life now is that Mr. MPB knows all of this, so when I just want to yell he uses all of these techniques back on me).

So, what is the point of sharing all of this? The point is simple, earlier this week I did everything I’ve spent my entire career learning not to do professionally and often use in my personal life as well. First, I let my anxiety creep up and I didn’t make any attempts to give myself space to calm down – I let my mind and my heart run a million miles a minute and didn’t pause to think anything through.  And as my anxiety increased, so did my hurt and my sense of loneliness.  Second, in my thought process I told myself a story about how bad our families are and how they just don’t seem to care. I told myself a story about why they weren’t celebrating our adoption. I told myself a story rooted solely in my own negative assumptions and fears.  And the reality is, even though are families have not always been supportive of us in a way that we need, I don’t know the reasons for their choice not to celebrate our adoption with us right now.  I have no idea if they are malice in their intent or not, and I shouldn’t just assume they are.

Because we have been treated differently then our siblings when they’ve had kids the seemingly easy and normal way (i.e. fertile way), I let my fear that we will always be treated differently for adopting lead my thoughts. I am so fearful about what this different treatment will do to our child. I’m afraid of grandparents treating our child different then their cousins. I’m afraid of school yard bullies picking on them. I’m afraid that they will grow up resenting that they were adopted. Simply put, I am afraid of the unknowns and I am afraid of the things I cannot control. And I let this guide my thought process.

Instead of reminding myself that I don’t know how any of this will work out, I focused solely on being let down in the moment. I didn’t think that maybe our families still have many fears about our growing family, just like we did months ago when we first looked into adoption – we ran away scared for months, the difference is they aren’t able to. I didn’t think that maybe because we’ve made intentional steps to not include everyone in all the details at all the times, to protect our hearts, that maybe they just don’t know when or how to step in. I also didn’t think that maybe no-one knows how to celebrate right now, but they will want to celebrate when our child is born and joins our family. Simply put, I didn’t think outside of my fears and I didn’t show our families any grace. I didn’t ask anyone and I didn’t give them the chance to share their reasons, because I didn’t even tell them I’m hurting. Instead, I just jumped to the worst case scenario and let myself believe all my fears are true.

Ops.

I know these moments of fear and panic are normal and I cannot always stop them from happening and I’m sure my counsellor would tell me it would be unhealthy to try to. But I am also grateful that so many of you reminded me about this. I cannot promise that I will start to believe our families will come through for us, because in the past they’ve hurt us too many times for us to get our hopes too high.  But, I can promise to try to try to be a bit more fair to them as I continue to work to accept them for who they are.  And while I cannot promise that I will do better next time, I can promise to try.  Maybe, just maybe, one of these days I’ll strike the right balance.

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29 Comments on “I Was My Own Worst Enemy

  1. Very beautifully thought out!

    I will say, in reference to school yard bullies, I have a friend from HS who I didn’t know to be adopted until I met her parents –she was Korean (and acknowledged herself to be so) and her parents were clearly white. I am embarrassed that I probably looked puzzled when I met them, but that’s about it. She was never treated differently, and no one at school ever talked about her being adopted. She only mentioned it when talking about the fact that her parents offered to take her to Korea to look into her biological history.

    When she talked about her parents, she talked about them the way we all did –the same complaints, same love, same dad jokes. She made friends easily and had close friendships that went back to kindergarten. I hope this gives you some hope that your child won’t forever face some kind of stigma or bullying.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Steph, thank you so much for sharing this! I love hearing this story from your perspective, because I so hope our family is the same as your friends family! I love stories of hope, I think hope is what keeps most of us going day in and day out. 🙂

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  2. Perhaps your family is waiting until a child has definitely been placed with you before celebrating. It could be this is analogous to the period where you might have announced you were “trying to get pregnant.” Most families don’t say much during this phase, but will celebrate once a pregnancy is announced. It will be interesting to see how they react once you announce that you have been matched with a baby. All good wishes to you on your journey!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you so much for this Suzanne. I truly hope that my family is doing exactly what you describe, waiting until the match/placement is confirmed and finalized before they start celebrating. A girl can hope, right?

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  3. Wow. This really resonated with me! I’ve been fearful that our “IVF child” will be treated differently by my in-laws and not being able to control that freaks me out too. Btw, I’ve also taken Crucial Conversation 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love that you too have taken Crucial Conversations! I loved it. 🙂
      I know one thing for sure, both our children will be so loved by their parents! I hate that we both have these fears, but I also know that the good thing about us thinking about this now is that if they are hurt by others in-sensitivities we will have some strategies to help console them ready to go!

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  4. When B gets upset I tend to remain calm, and it makes him mad. (Mind you, it didn’t used to be this way, and we had many a screaming match between us! I just learned that it didn’t get us anywhere.) I’ll even go so far as to tell him that I won’t listen to him anymore until he can speak in a normal voice. Again, he gets mad, but eventually it works.
    I think we’re all allowed to be irrational and let our minds take us to places that may not be true once in a while. We wouldn’t be human if that didn’t happen. But at least you’re able to recognize it and pull yourself back, and that’s all that matters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for sharing Amy. I think you are right, it is healthy to let these emotions out once and a while – we cannot be expected to hold it together all the time, right? 🙂
      And as always thank you so much for your encouragement! Honestly, I think I’d be lost without you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re more than welcome!! I definitely don’t know what I would do without some of you on most days…you’re definitely one I look to for most things! Sometimes I wish the world was smaller…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I can see how you would have hurt feelings when it seems that your family is not being very supportive (yet) about your adoption. This is such an emotional time for you and I know for myself, I tend to expect more from my husband or family during emotional times, so I can feel extra hurt or let down when they don’t live up. Sounds like you did a great job of noticing your thoughts behind the hurt feelings. Not easy to do. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • This is so well said, thank you. There is something about expecting more from our families when we are going through emotional times, and clearly bringing a child into our lives is an emotional time (adoption or not) and clearly I am feeling let down by our family right now. Maybe things will change once we are matched/placed, and maybe they wont and I guess I have to hope that things change but accept that they may not.

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  6. I am always my own worst enemy whenever my family pops up. It’s a bad habit, and one that usually means I need back on my meds, honestly. 😉

    I think you’ve got it right here – they just don’t know what to do and when. They are probably scared of celebrating prior to anything being set in stone, and by then, you will have all the big stuff.

    I’ll be perfectly honest here – I still think it’s weird when family hosts baby showers. That’s my mom’s influence on me. I know times have changed, but I still think friends should host them, and I bet you have several who will offer once there’s a match!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for getting it – something about family just makes me crazy sometimes! And the adoption stuff and not seeing our family excited for us just really devastates me, I think in part because I’m so afraid we will always be “those” ones who just aren’t look at the same way. I dunno, maybe it will change when out child is here. A girl can hope, right?
      I think all baby showers are weird, not just the ones hosted by family! 🙂 Which is part of why I’m so surprised I’m disappointed about likely not having a traditional one.

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  7. Great info on conflict resolution btw, thanks! As for some of the fears you expressed-will they celebrate with us like they do with other family, will they treat our child the same-I so remember having those internal conversations with myself and a big old chip on my shoulder. When you have to work super hard to become a parent, there is a lot more analyzing, dissecting, ruminating. You are miles ahead of where I was when adopting our first-good for you for trying to put your fears aside and hoping for the best! In case you haven’t heard it recently, you’re doing a great job with a hard thing!!

    Like

    • Oh, the chip on the shoulder, some days I definitely have that too!
      Also, thank you so much for sharing that so much of what I am feeling is a common experience. I think you are right, once you go down the path of adoption you become an excellent research and that’s a good thing most of the time, but it also means we are thinking and analyzing stuff that is just a bit too much sometimes.
      And more then anything, thanks for the encouragement – I sure am trying to do our best over here!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. ” 1. I cannot control others in the conversation, rather just myself.
    2. I have no idea what the other person is thinking. If I try to think through their side of things, my “predictions” are nothing more than guesses and I end up just telling myself a story usually based in a lack of clear facts and therefore also based in usually the most negative assumptions that are the result of my own fears.”

    Such a necessary reminder.
    For all interactions and conversations.

    Like

    • I’m glad this resonated with you. I am usually pretty good at thinking this way professionally, but I don’t always do a good enough job in my personal life. There is always room for improvement. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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