I met my birth mom at age 38. Although I had many years of therapy under my belt, and had devoured countless self-help books, her arrival in my life forced me to have to come face-to-face with my very last, lingering piece of relentless rejection.
I spent most of my life feeling as though I was always everyone’s second choice. That somehow I just didn’t measure up the same way everyone else did. It wasn’t a conscious thought I had – it was this underlying deep-rooted belief I held.
I had absolutely no idea that this belief had been directing the movie of my life until I was well into my mid 30’s. But it had stealthily defined and informed everything I did, every encounter I had, and every single relationship in my life.
The funny thing was, once I began wanting to explore my reasons for my fear of rejection, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why on earth I felt that way, or how it really even came to be.
I was adopted at 3 months old, and my older brother and younger sister were adopted as infants too. I grew up with a very supportive and loving family, and while it wasn’t without its problems, our home was full of praise and lots of love.
This made it a lot harder for me to understand my fear of rejection.
Our mom and dad always told us that, as our adoptive parents, they loved us more than anything, and that we were extra special because we were ‘chosen’. They also instilled in us that our birth parents, too, loved us more than anything, and had wanted the absolute best for us.
Needless to say, I happily spent my childhood reveling in the knowledge of being chosen and extra special. However, I discovered that adoption, for me, was a double-edged sword.
For someone to ‘choose you’, first someone else had to ‘choose’ to give you away. And this little fact, unbeknownst to me, was the perfect fertilizer to plant a tiny seed of rejection.
And as hard as I tried, I couldn’t reconcile what was, for me, an irreconcilable truth. Being ‘given away’ or ‘placed’ for adoption, felt deeply like rejection and not at all like love.
Nothing changed the fact that, regardless of the reason or motive, my birth mother made a final decision not to have me in her life.
And there is where that little seed of rejection, lingering below the surface of my awareness, found its drop of water. In an inaudible voice, it whispered that I wasn’t worthy, I wasn’t loveable and I was definitely disposable
It all rose to the surface when I met my birth mother. It brought to light my unspoken belief that if my own mother couldn’t love me, then I must not be loveable.
I couldn’t get around that belief no matter which way I turned it. There it sat, like a cold hard fact – the ugly, undeniable truth that I wasn’t enough.
In the course of getting to know my birth mother and connecting with her, I kept bumping up against huge discomfort any time she expressed the fact that she loved me. It was always unsettling, and I realized it was because I didn’t believe her.
I was sure it was a lie.
I couldn’t accept that she loved me, and consequently, everything she did or didn’t do was more evidence for my belief that she didn’t love me.
“A miracle is a shift in perception,” as Marianne Williamson says, and my miracle came one afternoon while quietly reading a book – Robin Sharma’s The Saint, The Surfer and the CEO.
It read: “Each and every one of us sees the world through our own personal stained glass window. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are.”
I sat there with my book in hand, trying to take those words in.
It went on to say that, “you will never be able to experience anything beyond what you are telling yourself is true.”
What happened in that moment was a miracle for me. I could literally feel a shift taking place as I began to consider those words and explore what they meant for me.
If we’re all seeing the world through our own individual lens, then there is no absolute truth. There can’t be. It’s our stories that create how we experience everything.
I realized in that moment that the only truth that was real was the one I was telling myself was real. The one that I chose to stand in alignment with. I realized that I can’t ever know what the absolute truth is about whether my mom loves me or not.
If her telling me she loved me didn’t make it true – what would? I was choosing to believe my own story of being unlovable, and in so doing, was making that story my experience.
I sat very still thinking and thinking this over. And each time I looked at it, the veil was lifted a little more and I could see and hold possibilities I hadn’t been able to before.
I sat there a little dumbfounded at my new perspective. ‘If I’m seeing the world through my own lens, then I’m creating my experience based on what I’m choosing to believe is true. And I’m suffering with this belief that I’m not worthy or loveable because I am choosing to believe it’.
And then the question bubbled up, ‘Why on earth am I choosing to continue to believe something that’s making me suffer? What would happen if I just let it go – if I changed what I’ve always believed about this? What if I decide to believe that she loves me? What would that feel like?’
And. In. That. Moment. Everything. Changed.
I knew I could make a decision to hold onto my painful belief, or to let it go and change everything.
It’s always a decision to believe things that lift me up, connect me with my highest self, with possibility and joy, or to believe things that are painful and keep me small and disconnected from love and happiness.
Maybe she doesn’t love me the way I’ve always wanted and expected her to, but I could decide that she loves me to the best of her ability. What would it feel like to decide that was true?
It was like standing at the very edge of a cliff trying to decide if I was going to jump. Do I take that leap and trust that the water is warm and sandy instead of cold and rocky? Take the leap and just choose to let go of the belief I’ve held on to my whole life?
I jumped. And instantly the switch flipped. The shackles of self-doubt, uncertainty, and unworthiness were gone. I’d decided to believe I was loveable and worthy – and love and worthiness were my instant gift.
As Martha Beck says, “our job is to disbelieve any thought that causes us pain”.
I’m inviting you to find one belief you have held onto that keeps you from your highest self, and decide to disbelieve it.
You can do it. Jump – I promise the water is warm.