I’ve been branded in my life. Burnt. Scarred. The names singed into my soul.
“Unwanted”, “unworthy”, “ungrateful”, “rotten”...
These are names my father branded me by as a young child. Names he shamed me as to the rest of the family.
I was a “burden”, an “embarrassment”...
I never understood where his vision of me came from. Don’t get me wrong, I always knew I was adopted. I just never felt adopted until my mother died. It was just a word before that. A word that meant our family was different but still a family.
I viewed this as my family, but the others didn’t view me as theirs. Nor their blood.
The only problem was, they knew this, while they were all I knew.
So, my father’s vision of me was confusing against how my mother viewed me. But his vision was always there.
At a young age, I didn’t know how to question it. It just was.
I grew up not knowing I had a choice not to wear his brands… So, I just did.
I wore them as his truth, seared into me, of what he saw when he looked at me.
That brand became all I saw in the reflection in his eyes when I looked back at him.
So, I wore it. Like a truth.
Over the years, I attempted to prove my worth in any way I could. I tried to show a gratitude they somehow never saw. I attempted to prove I wasn’t what I was branded as. I tried to act different. I tried to be more like them. I tried to be as I felt I “should” to a family that would never see me. All they saw was the charred flesh of the names they had given me.
Even though, somewhere in me I knew none of those words were true, I wondered if it was all others saw when they looked at me as well.
So, I tried something else. I tried to make my own way. I made out to survive by my self, on my own. I could thrive with my own devices. With the knowledge my mother left me with. The worth she saw in me. I could still carry her image of me along with his brand.
I set out to be independent. Self sufficient. And I was.
I faked a confidence, until I believed it, while also, at the same time, being alone.
Questioning if that brand could be true. Was I meant to be alone?
It has taken me years to dissect this truth. As I still see and feel the scar of that burn. But it has faded over time. The redness and irritation has gone away. It has healed and blended into my flesh. But it also will always remain, now a trace of a muted truth, but a truth I lived and misbelieved for so long.
I clung to this brand as the only connection to a family that never saw who I really was.
I grew comfortable in denying myself. I became an expert of the mask. A professional at camouflaging. A natural at blending in. A chameleon.
But, like every reptile, I have out grown that skin. I have finally shed it. And left it behind as I slowly slither forward. I look back at that old, dead skin behind me. I see the brand burnt into the translucent shell, remembering, haunted by, what it felt like to walk in it.
Misunderstanding this brand as a part of me instead of a misinformed label I was given.
The truth was I was living where I didn’t belong.
But now, I am free. Feeling the freshness of my new raw, underbelly while still seeing the remnants of that faded scar. Noticing how deeply it burned from a family I wasn't fully a part of as I step into these relationships with my biological family I am still meeting.
A family that has searched for me all the years I wore that “unwanted” brand.
All the years I walked through life labeled “Unworthy”, “rotten, “ungrateful”.
A family that has been praying and wishing for my return. Wanting me. Daydreaming about me. Missing me.
I see this scar while I see its lie.
A misbelief I took as an identity because the truth was unknown, hidden, masked, camouflaged.
I am meeting my brother today for the first time.
He and his family are flying out to meet me and mine.
From the first phone call with him, I have felt a closeness, a bond, a connection, I have missed my whole life.
I will get to hug him and touch him for the first time. My little brother I have pretended to have and pretended to take care of without even knowing he was real.
I am a mix of emotions... I am excited. I am nervous.
I am so grateful I get to finally meet him and sad I went a life without knowing him. I feel a loss it has taken so long to find each other, but also see the gift he has come at this time in my life. As I shed an old skin.
He has been a part of the shedding. That misbelief. He has shown and told me how much they looked for me. How much they wanted to find me. How much he wanted to protect me the same way I wished to protect him. While knowing I still enter his life with that old scar.
I may have grown up believing I had no choice in this brand I wore, but I see now I do. It’s not something I need to wear any longer. It's not something I believe. Only something that used to be a part of me. But continues to fade with time.
That memory of what life was like when I hid who I was as I embrace a new life of everything I am.
I am not anything I have been branded.
I am grateful. I am worthy. I am wanted. I am ripe… not rotten. I am ready to embrace everything I am and welcome all I’m becoming.
I choose a new brand for myself. One that doesn’t need to be etched or burned into my soul.
One that can just be. As is. One that is just me.
Wish me luck… I’ll keep you posted… ;-)