What makes us... us? Is it innately what we are born with? Or the does it come from the family we are born into? Or given to? What comes from us? And what is taught? Learned?
What roles does nature vs nurture play?
That is the question I have been excavating recently in my mind as I grapple with getting to know a new family and accepting the truth and loss, of another.
For all of you that don't know... I have found my biological family while, at the same time, I have let go of my adoptive one.
Of course, there are many, long stories of what has led to the estrangement... but I think and feel both parties, as sad as it is to finally admit, are better off without the other in my adoptive family.
But while I attempt to come to terms with that, I have found a family I have always yearned to find.
It’s a lot to unpack… but something I am determined to do. Not only for myself, but for all the relationships in my life.
I know, after the initial introduction of them, I haven't really talked about my biological family in these posts for a few weeks... its because I am still taking it slow. I have felt badly at how slowly I have moved at times… But it is the pace I am comfortable with.
I am trying to respect the uncovering of who we all are to each other. It feels sacred, special, and like something I should respect and cherish for the time being. While I'm careful not to expose too much about them as I uncover my own stuff. I'm very aware that writing so openly on this blog is my choice, not anyone else's. So, I want to respect their privacy as, at the same time, I share my experience.
Meeting my birth family has been surreal. An emotional, missing, identifying puzzle piece revealed. Exposing a greater image of who I am. While, at the same time, I’m letting go of an image I never was... but tried to be in a family that raised me.
I have that image I grew up with to contend with. The image from that upbringing. As well as the image that is unfolding in real time.
I am seeing the misbeliefs that I carried and told myself. Either, because of my circumstance. Or because I had never heard the real story. Or because no one around me knew it. Somewhere in there, I have created a narrative to fill missing pieces to make sense of it all… to now find out, that narrative was not only flawed, it was flat out incorrect.
I am seeing both truths and falsehoods I have been raised with or I have came to believe. I am also seeing how those false beliefs have molded my thinking into what it has been or why I have chosen certain things. Becoming someone that I might not have ever been otherwise.
So, I guess I'm deciphering what is innate versus what have I learned?
Nature vs nurture.
I have nurtured myself with misbeliefs based on how I was treated or what I didn’t know. Those thoughts or narratives have formed me into the person I thought I should be... which ultimately turns into who I became... but not necessarily who I chose to be. Nor necessarily who I really am.
This uncoding process is stripping me down to the core of not only what I am, and what I'm not, but causing me to ask myself what I want to be versus what I have been told I am.
I am also seeing, and understanding that choice is finally, completely mine. I may have always thought I understood that before this moment, but I don't think I really fully did.
As I share myself with this new family, and I hear more facts, I am getting a clearer picture of what is and what isn't. I am also getting to know myself at the same time I am getting to know them and letting go of everything that wasn't true... and seeing what I’m really not.
I'm getting to discover both who they are as well as myself in this exposure.
As I grapple with all this… I get a text from my little brother.
“Cranberries…. How do you prefer ‘em?”
A smile instantly surfaces on my face. How do I like my cranberries? He didn't ask, how have I been served them? Not, what is the tradition in my household? He asked… how do you prefer ‘em?
I had to be honest…
The canned jellied ones. That actually have the mold of the can when it slips out all congealed… You know what I mean… is that gross? … you?
His immediate response…
That was the PERFECT answer.
My smile grows… my heart warms… with each nugget of information I am sharing, I am seeing a piece of who I am at the same time as seeing who they are. No matter how small, I am feeling a connection… no matter how minuscule, I am seeing, admitting and accepting who I am. There is nothing to fear here. Only things to discover. About me. About them. About us.
His next message:
Totally legit or complete hokum”
Another smile surfaces… I tell him exactly how I feel.
He opens up telling me he is a Taurus and born the year of the monkey. He explains why that suits him. (I smile again.)
I tell him I’m Aquarius. Born the year of the snake.
“I know. I’ve been thinking about that. First two that come to mind are water moccasin or anaconda. Timid but venomous forest dweller or constricting ruler of the jungle. Either tickle your fancy? Aquarius is a water bearer or water itself. Water symbolizes fluidity and adaptability. Snake symbolizes craftiness or “Slippery”/evasive. Your key word is perseverance. You are a hard target to hit, even if you are stuck, you adapt quickly.”
I smile again.
"Hmmmm… ok… You’re furthering my faith." (Smiley face)
Then I add…
“Water is also soft but strong. It creates a path where it has flowed. Even if it moves slowly…(I also tell him how much I love his analogy about himself, the monkey and the bull… Which was very cute)”
I wanted him to know, I acknowledge how slowly I am moving…
He sends me back a big smiley face.
I exhale. Feeing more like myself than I ever have. In the tiniest of conversations with my little brother I have just met.
I am seeing I have experienced a lot… I am seeing both the wounds and the heart those experiences have created. I am also realizing how the narrative I was told, as well as the narrative I have told myself has been false. No matter if it has been a yell or even if it has only been a whisper... it was incorrect.
I am not my circumstance. I am not how I’ve been treated. I am a culmination of both what I am genetically as well as the experiences I have had.
Nature and nurture. And the nurture part can change. I can change it. For myself. For those around me. I can break the cycle of ever continuing. It was never who I was. It was never what I wanted to be.
I feel blessed I have found my birth family. I am also blessed to have experienced the life and journey I have.
Both have molded me. But it is ultimately what I choose to become that is the most important. And I choose to nurture myself…and nurture my connection to my family… no matter how slowly I go…
Until next week…