Cogito, ergo, sum

You’ve heard it everywhere: the story that you tell yourself, or the story that you tell others about yourself, greatly impacts how you view yourself, what you believe to be true about yourself. And you act on your beliefs. I think, therefore I am in this case has never been truer. And if we want to change how we think of ourselves, who we believe we are, what things we think are true about ourselves, we have to change our story, our frame of reference, how we tell it. The power of words is immense. I’ve done some hard digging, and I’d like to share with you my discoveries, and my triumphs.

I’ve always struggled with not feeling good enough. Like I’m not worthy enough. Over the past few years, I’ve recognized where that comes from, and reacted to it in literally all directions. But now I think I’m finally done reacting. And am ready for some retelling.

The story I told myself was that I was abandoned as a baby because I was unwanted. The One-Child Policy confirmed that only one child was wanted, that the preferred child was a boy, and I was not what was wanted. I was not wanted because I would grow up to eventually abandon my original family to take care of my future husband’s.

I grew up believing that I wasn’t wanted. I changed the words “unwanted” into “unloved”. That the two people in this world who were “supposed” to love you, for doing nothing except being born into their lives, didn’t. That I wasn’t worthy of being loved  as a helpless baby when every other helpless baby was. This story, paired with high expectations from my adopted mother, festered and grew out of proportion. It made me uncomfortable with who I was. In order for me to be okay with myself, I had to be extra. Extra smart, extra funny, extra kind. ‘I’ am not good enough, ‘I +’ am good enough. Living at 200% is exhausting. Feeling like 100% is a failure is frustrating. Being 0% is terrifyingly unimaginable. It’s a self-sabotaging, self-pitying way of life, one full of anxiety and no chill.

Then I discovered that if I do some research, the story changes. Things are not black/white, wanted/unwanted, loved/unloved. The more informed story goes like this:

I was left as a baby because of hard circumstances. The One-Child Policy wrecked fear into everyone 18 years before I was born, and wasn’t fully repealed until 18 years after I was born. Preferring a boy over a girl is true, but that couldn’t have been the deciding factor. Especially if research has been done showing that rural Chinese girls still grew up and took care of their parents. They had it tougher than men financially, but they didn’t abandon their families for their in-laws. I was let go as the lesser of four (illegal) evils: abortion, infanticide, abandonment, or to keep a daughter in a poor rural town until they were caught and severely punished. Of all these options, setting her up for adoption was the kindest, bravest, most loving way out. She could have a chance at a better life, mom and dad wouldn’t have the permanent loss of a daughter: she would be out there somewhere, and some other family who couldn’t have a daughter, would have their dreams come true.

I’ve spent years struggling with the idea that my birth parents must not have loved me ‘enough’ to keep me around. When in reality, they loved me more than to keep me in poverty, or raise me in fear. They wanted what all parents want for their kids: to live a better life than theirs.

Externally, their wish has come true. I don’t live in poverty, I’m well educated, and I have the resources and opportunities to build whatever life I want for myself. And so far, I have. Internally though, the irony is that I was still raised in fear. Afraid of the consequences of my choices, afraid of failure, afraid that I wasn’t good enough. They didn’t want that for me. They let me go so I wouldn’t have to live in fear. Silly Krista, why cage yourself in anguish? The truth shall set you free. And the truth is, I was never any of those things to begin with.

How liberating.

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