Yesterday I threw myself a bit of a pity party before I went to the Awards Party with my book club girls, and as part of it, I watched a scene from my favorite Disney movie, Dumbo. It was the scene when Dumbo goes to visit his mother in the cell and she sings “Baby Mine.”
Afterwards, I thought about why, given my state of being, would I choose a song I knew would make me cry, and the only thought that came to mind was that it also gives me some sort of feeling of belonging. Somehow, I feel like Dumbo.
The fact that it is my favorite Disney movie is something my mother has often said doesn’t make sense to her.
Well, a good friend of mine once pointed out that I also really enjoy The Jungle Book (the Rudyard Kipling book, NOT the Disney version), and that it’s because both deal with being separated from one’s mother. I identify with them, and being ostracized for being different. Mowgli isn’t one of the pack, Dumbo looks different, but in the end both of them are able to rise above their differences (somewhat literally in the case of Dumbo) and become the star of the show.
He thinks (and I do, too) that I identify with both of these characters because I am adopted and don’t look like my family, and in many ways don’t think or act like them. Dumbo was essentially raised by that little mouse, Timothy Q. Mouse (at least for the duration of the movie, and then later as his manager), and Mowgli was raised by wolves (literally). Not that my family is comprised of animals, but we are in a lot of ways fundamentally different.
I’ve always known I was adopted. Both my parents are glow-in-the-dark white, and I look like everything from Indian to Greek, to Puerto Rican, to Egyptian, even biracial. I’m racially ambiguous. So there’s not a lot of hope keeping it a secret that I’m not biologically theirs. I’ve known for a long time that I was adopted.
But they didn’t use the word “adopted.” Instead they said:
“We went to the hospital and we picked you.”
Yeah, no pressure there. To be chosen only means that you can be unchosen! I spoke about this before, when I first discussed the Nature vs. Nurture debate. I spoke about how my mother says “I’m proud of you” instead of “I love you.” Add to that the feeling of being something picked out, like you pick out a car, and things get a little more muddled. Add the fact that my father feels about cars like most women feel about shoes, and you might begin to see why I have a slight abandonment issue…
Unlike Dumbo, I don’t get the happy reunion with my birth mother.
I’ve never looked, and maybe if I did, I’d find her waiting for me filled with the same fear, but the key is that she wasn’t there. There was no crying for her when I was growing up, and not much wondering about her now that I’m an adult. Just the nagging feeling that I don’t fit where I currently am, and that somehow I’m not worthy of anyone’s love.
I mean, after all, if the woman who gave birth to me didn’t want me, why would anyone want me?
It’s irrational, I know, but it’s pretty deeply ingrained in my psyche. I’m trying to remove it, but I’ve learned that there are very few people who truly understand me, and they often disappear from my life as soon as they realize how much work I am.
I am unintentionally high maintenance…
I don’t need expensive gifts, or to be around all the time, but I do need constant affirmation that I am wanted, and desired. A lot of guys misinterpret this need as me moving too fast and becoming attached. I’m not attached, I just need to know that he considers me worthy, so I don’t wonder if he’s going to up and disappear.
It means that any competition, even imaginary competition (as in fantasies), have the potential of damaging my calm and making me feel like I have to work harder, or be around more. This is something that is seemingly an easy fix. In theory, if a guy asks me to come over of his own volition, or reassures me that he wants to see me when I ask if he’s sure that it’s ok for me to come over or do XYZ, then I’m calm again.
So, is there a way to fix it when the guy who I’m seeing (or was, I’m still waiting to see if he’ll accept my apology) thinks that those reassurances are more intimate than he’s ready to be?
It means I have to find my own inner calm. I have to be willing to “hear” how he says he cares. I have to adjust and keep adjusting.
But he’s worth it.