Guilty as Charged: Survivor

We all go through it at some point in our lives. Victims of rape, live to tell their stories and then are able to make a difference….sometimes.

Victims of Narcissistic parents survived the often cult-like “family” life they were raised in,  are alive and often ready to speak against this form of rearing.

Those who were sexually, physically and emotionally abused as children, teens, and adults have survived unspeakable acts that will shape them for the rest of their lives.

We all live in a place of denial though, thinking at times that it did not really happen the way we experienced it.

At times for me, I’ve had to think back and even “reconsider” whether what happened to me was real. The fact that I can’t really give myself an age for when the assaults began, and I can’t really remember where exactly the assaults happened, often tells me that I am suffering from Survivor’s guilt instead of accepting where I am today.

“How did I survive such insanity?” How did I survive the home invasion? How did I survive the first three years I was in the orphanage (no food, locked in a dark room with little sunlight)? How did I survive the years that followed my adoptive parents cutting me out of their lives?

Why me?

Am I meant for something more? What is my purpose in life? Am I meant for something better? If so….why didn’t they survive? Are they not as valuable as I am?

The guilt is so strong. I describe the guilt being similar to a crime that I did commit and the jury justly found me guilty. Everything inside your body tingles, you want to throw up, and your entire existence ceases to move forward once you hear the verdict being read.

“We find the defendant, Mrs. Maline, guilty of surviving the horrific circumstances she lived. We finder her guilty on all three accounts; forced into a religious family cult, being raped before she became a teenager, and living her life in a manner where she would NEVER subject her children to this treatment.”

Guilty of surviving?


How is surviving bad?

And yet, as the verdict is being read to me, I am emotionally forced to wear the invisible handcuffs that will then lead me to my prison cell which is my soul.. And the keys are thrown away after they close the door to my mind.

Another prison, just at a different time. As a child, I was in prison, now as an adult I can’t get out. I’m stuck thinking that somehow, I should not have survived. Why me? and why not them?

I’d rather they be guilty of surviving. This way the pain would not be so great. This way I can sleep in peace, this way the dreams will stop causing me to wake up in tears.

For adoptees, this is a common feeling. Why were we chosen, and the rest had to stay? It goes even deeper…why were we chosen, and our families were left to suffer?

They were left behind.

Many of us are raised in these new families where we are cared for, loved to some degree, educated, and expected to succeed. Sometimes we are treated like one of them, other times we are the “hired” help-except we don’t get paid, instead we are the ones repaying.

Because our adoption was expensive, you know?

But we grow up, and eventually have family of our own. And many of us live our entire lives without knowing our roots, without being able to express who we really are-we are taught to fake it-because we “made it”.

We survived…we are Phoenix.

We survived but we are in shackles, we are in chains. Because we are told we are “lucky” but not for the right reasons. If my luck means others need to suffer, I don’t want that luck.

I don’t want to have to feel that my survival means that I owe someone.

And yet, for so many adoptees, this is EXACTLY what it means.

But Adoptive parents don’t get that. When they choose one child but not the other, they are creating unexpected animosity, jealousy and hatred that may not manifest in their child until later.

When they choose to adopt, instead of sponsor a family, they are choosing to break up a family, to destroy it at its very foundation. They are choosing to create a family, one that requires breaking down, before building up.

They are subconsciously choosing to kill before they give life.

Because you can’t give life to something that already has life, because we become alive only after we have been dead.

Adoptive parents don’t understand that when you make a child your own, you are essentially killing what they were.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again. And adoptees learn to believe that they were once dead and it is you who have now given us life.

“You were born in the mud of Haiti’s soil, and you would have died in the mud of Haiti’s soil had we not adopted you” is the phrase that is stuck at the back of my mind. This was said to me all throughout my time growing up in the cult-like family I called “home”.

And yet my birth siblings were born in the mud, and their happiness, and love for life, and each other is stronger than mine will ever be. Why? Because they didn’t see themselves as dead.

They saw themselves fully alive.

I am not saying life was not hard for them. Every day they tilled the field, went out to earn their keep, lived a life of honesty, but they stayed true to their beliefs. And this is what kept them alive, together, and as a family.

There are so many reasons as to why adoption happens. After speaking with my birth aunt for the first time ever, I learned that my mother had no choice. And I am thankful to her for doing what she felt was best. But it was not my decision, and not my choice and definitely not my FAULT.

And yet I will always live with this guilt inside of me because my survival was different than their survival.

If I had a say, I would have chosen their survival, because it kept them alive, never fearing they were dead in the first place.

My survival has kept me dead in so many ways. I feel that being able to connect has been nearly impossible-until my aunt found me. And she tells me that I am not responsible for what happened, I am the product of what happened.

Adoptive parents, in what ways will you help your adoptive child understand that you are with them when they are feeling the shackles on their feet and cuffs on their hands? It is a real feeling. Where are you when their heart has been hurt and their minds have been closed because they feel they won’t ever fit in?

What do you say to them when they ask you why they could not stay with their birth family?

Do you believe in family? If so, why did you not sponsor your child’s family instead of adopt them? Why did you not find a way to keep the family together?

Adoption is expensive. Imagine putting  that money aside, and using it to keep families together.

Will your children then feel guilty that they survived and the others were left behind?

Are you guilty of creating survivor’s guilt in your children?

Who is guilty as charged?

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