My exterior is very different to my interior. I’m very good at putting on a front. If you asked people what their first impression of me was, they would more than likely say that I laugh and smile a lot, I’m friendly and sociable, even the life and soul of the party sometimes. But inside I’m cringing. I desperately need these people to ‘like’ me although, more accurately, I don’t want them to ‘dislike’ me. I don’t want to get it wrong, I must do the right thing and please people. It’s very hard to differentiate between wanting people to like you and attention seeking but, to me, there is a huge distinction. I don’t want praise for doing the ‘right’ thing, I just need to know that I haven’t done the ‘wrong’ thing. I desperately seek approval; if I am going somewhere or doing something and my close family are pleased about it, then I can enjoy the situation much more, knowing that they are happy with my actions. Ridiculously, I also feel that when something beyond my control goes wrong, it is in some way my fault; I will willingly take the blame for anything (or so it seems!).
There does seem to be an animal instinct inside us that binds us to the person who gave us life. The ‘nature versus nurture’ debate rages on, and genetics are very powerful. My ‘adoptive’ mum (I hate the term ‘adoptive’ – she’s my mum – but I use it in order to distinguish between the two at this point) and I are very similar indeed, which points to nurture. However, despite never even having met my birth mother since the day she gave me up, let alone spent any time with her, my half-brother tells me that there are alarming similarities between us too. On more than one occasion, he has been amazed at a gesture or reaction of mine because it was so much like those of my birth mother, hence pointing to nature. If certain traits are ‘inherited’, then there must be a tie between mother and child, despite who actually brings the child up.
Why am I torturing myself by raking up the very distant past? To absolve myself from any blame. To reassure myself that I was given up because of circumstances, because of being an unplanned baby, just another statistic, not because I’m ‘me’. I didn’t do anything wrong, I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I wasn’t sub-standard, a reject, a cast-off. I don’t need to prove my worth to anyone, I can just be myself and be happy to be myself. Writing this paragraph is the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time because it is the first time I’ve ever sought – and found – a reason for my searching. To free myself from guilt and responsibility … easier said than done, but now I’ve said it, I will have to do it.