When an Adoptee Brain Goes Offline

A few weeks ago, my brain disconnected from my heart and my body. It was as if I was a computer and I crashed.

It was a “perfect storm” kind of day. When everything was perfect, happy, forward looking. Then, in a matter of moments, everything went down, spiraling and spinning and twisting in my being. I did not see it coming. I could not plan for the outcome. I could not save myself from myself. I just crashed.

I don’t know if this has happened to other adoptees, but it was an awful experience.

The brain is a complex and amazing part of the human body. The day I went off line, I felt as if I could actually feel the stress hormone Cortisol dumping into my brain. It felt like fire. I felt angry. I felt hurt. I felt like I wanted to push everyone who I knew away from me.

There is a thing we humans do when we experience stressful and intense situations. We Fight, Fly, Freeze or we Collapse.

The day my brain went off line – I froze. Then I went into flight mode.
Reflecting back on that day, I can only say that it was an experience that took me to a place of not wanting anything to do with anything related to adoption.

As an adoptee, I felt betrayed by adoption. I felt that even after all my efforts to work with families of adoptees to support healing, all my efforts to accept the narrative of my adoption story, to write, to offer support, to lead a adoptee group, to heal, to speak out, to be honest, to show my whole heart and to build meaning in my life around my adopted-ness, that NONE of it mattered because it was all too much and I was a complete failure, a complete fraud …. and this was when my brain went offline.

In a matter of an hour, I unfriended every adoptee I met on Facebook. I cancelled all plans with adopted friends, I pushed away all those who mattered to me. I went underground and wanted to hide from being adopted. I wanted it to burn into the night and to be destroyed. It was not pretty.

It was the single worst few hours I have experienced in many years.

Then, I had the intense feelings of shame that have lived just under the surface of my skin for so long. I knew I could not fix any of what I had done. I could not go back and take back what I said. I felt I had ruined so many relationships with people I have come to treasure in my heart and in my life. I cried and hid and kept my heart behind a metaphorically shut door. I could not face my own emotions.

I began to wonder how many other adoptees have done this very thing. Push away. Run away. Say all the words you regret. Then, once the dust is settled, feel the shame of all your meanness. Then, while all of that is churning in your mind and body, beg the very people you pushed away to accept you back.

Being adopted is full of feelings of rejection and abandonment. No one knows these feelings more deeply than adoptees. And, I know that no one knows better how to push away, reject and abandon others when I (we) feel the stress of life and the fear of failure, fear, fraud than an adopted person. It seems innate to our whole existence to run. Running is safety from hurt. Abandoning ourselves out of fear seems so logical in times of distress.

All of it is crazy making.

I still do not feel 100% myself. I feel guarded. I feel raw. I feel like I can not gain back what I pushed away.

What I do hope for is healing. It will all take time. And, I have to find a way to forgive myself for my adoptee-humanness. I so badly wish I could just never crash again, but I think that stress and perfect storm days could happen again. It just is what it is. Life. BUT, what I can do in the future is recognize the physical feelings of it all and work to reach out instead of push away.

I promise myself that I am worth the effort of healing. I fully accept myself, even though I am not perfect in relationships, friendships and at life. I can recognize that I love deep and in meaningful ways.

5 thoughts on “When an Adoptee Brain Goes Offline

Add yours

  1. Janet—sorry you had this crash. I so admire your courage and openness and perspective. You are dealing with some huge life challenges.

    The feelings you expressed reminded me of several different times in my life when I truly felt all in. I didn’t know how to move on.

    Believe me, you’ve made a huge difference to many and to me.



    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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