What is defogging? I see a lot of people refer to it but I do not understand what it is and I can not find any articles online about it. The search about defogging sure wants to tell me how to defog my car but I do not think that is going to help me much.
Here is my take on defogging- I am sure others will chime in. It is when you realize that adoption has had an affect on your life. I grew up thinking it didn’t. But deep down I knew I was different. I had a longing to know where I came from, sadness on my birthday or just out of the blue for no reason. I had no one to talk to about it because I didn’t even understand why I felt this way. I just knew that the topic of adoption made others uncomfortable to I needed to push it down. So I did. I definitely have many of the traits that others here have. Fear of rejection, abandonment issues, anxiety, people pleasing, the list goes on.
But I started defogging when I found myself suddenly in reunion. I realized from reading others posts, listening the Paul Sunderland videos, reading The primal wound that many of my issues come directly from adoption. My life long belief that I am not good enough. If you love me you will leave me. So I have to be perfect. I realized it was ok for me to want to know where I came from- even normal. I can honestly admit I want to know. I can remember always being asked if I wanted to search, and always saying I Don’t know. I thought saying I did meant I wasn’t grateful to my family. And I was scared- I wanted to be found- not search. Because I didn’t want to be rejected.
So a long post to say defogging is coming to realize that adoption has had an affect on you. And wanting to know your story is normal.
For me defogging was a kind of sudden whirlwind of emotion around my origins and all the ways adoption has affected me, my daughter, everyone.
A lot of anger came to the surface, particularly toward my Mother and the agency. I experienced a lot of sadness, disappointment in people, had to face previously buried feelings of shame (this may be a continual issue it runs so deep in the unconscious), had to reconfigure my identity and how I came to be in the world. I also had to work through the fact that I was placed in an abusive home and have gone through extensive therapy to address it.
All this emerged when I undertook a gruelingly difficult DNA genealogy search for my father and figured out who he was. He was deceased some years prior. That was no small thing, to know that people kept his identity hidden from me and he died before I had a chance to even try to talk to him.
It is also all the things cmcshurley talks about, but I didn't know they are common traits for an adoptee.
Exactly as stated above. Defogging is when you realize you spent your life wondering what was wrong with you, but the one thing (adoption) that was in front of you the whole time was and is the problem. Usually you look back at how your life unfolded and realize just how affected you were by adoption, during de-fogging.
I find it useful to explain what the adoptee fog was for me. Obviously, I've never known what it's like to be raised by one's birth family. I don't know how what I've experienced is different. Add to that the standard adoption narrative that we're lucky, that we have no memory of our birth families (in the case of infant adoption) and that the love of our adoptive families is in every way the same as the love non-adoptees receive from their bio families.
Then we are told that our birth parents loved us so much they gave us to better families. Implicit in that message is that there is no love that is completely secure.
Because I was told that being an adoptee didn't matter, I failed to recognize the attachment issues I had. I failed to see that things that my adoptive parents did would have been acceptable with bio children, but should never be done to adoptive chilsren. They didn't know either because the adoption industry outright lied to them too. I was in my 50s before I realized why I'm so miserable on my birthday.
Defogging is the process of recognizing that so much of what we've experienced emotionally is tied to being adopted.
The fog is thinking adoption has nothing to do with your life, it is just an inconsequential thing that happened a long time ago.
At 30, I ended up in the hospital with an irregular heartbeat. The suggested it might be anxiety. This sounded crazy to me because I was mellow *on the outside*. The anti anxiety drugs fixed the heart beat, but the drugs just masked a symptom. I went to a therapist to get to the bottom of the problem. She asked me many times if I though adoption had anything to do with my issues. I wouldn't even entertain the idea.
The magnitude of being relinquished and adopted is why I shut down all emotion in the first place. It is like having a blind spot, an invisible elephant in the room.
At 43, I started reading books about reunion. In a few they mentioned adoptee issues. The first book on adoptee issues had some good points, but it was written by a birth mother, so I figured she had an ax to grind. I did get another book written by an adoptee and I thought he just had a bad experience. It was right infant of my face and I still couldn't see it. The third book was the Primal Wound and suddenly it began to click.
Omgosh, I am 50 and I felt all of those through the years'. So overwhelming, but here is the thing. My amom was amazing. My adad was married before, got fixed and could not give a mom a child. She(they)adopted a child, me, to love, nurture, and help shape me into who I am today. She was there to band aid my scrapes, stay up with me when I was sick, be there when I got bullied at school and cried my eyes out, stood with me when I got married, held my hand and breathed with when I gave her two beautiful granddaughters. Not my adad who walked out on us at 6 yes old. And not the woman that gave me up at birth. I thought about her throughout my life, wondering about her and what things would be like. But my mom was the one that was there. My amom died unexpectedly when I was 38. It about killed me. I spiraled down a very, very dark hole. And I am still hurting today without her. I never ever growing up wanted to hurt my mom, by looking for my bmom and to this day I feel like I betrayed her. Last Thanksgiving my girls and I took DNA test, with no intent to do anything other than find out our ethnicity. And Boom, Bang...my baunt finds me. I have a half sister and a half brother. Aunt and I talk. My bmom died a year exactly before my mom. Sadish, but not much feeling about the bmom. But after my mom died once a very emotional person, no longer has any feelings. To date I have probably cried a handful of times and that is either because of my girls or that my hubby pissed me off so bad I cried 😭.
Back to the aunt and sister. The want a relationship, they are so excited to find me and want contact continually. Now the brother wants nothing to do with me or even wants to talk about me. He shutdown and barely talks to his sister. I am in a complete whirlwind. Everyone in my afamily either died, both parents and my (mom)grandparents (who also totally the best, most loving, exceptional gparents both died a couple years after my mom), or aunt's and cousins who constantly reminded me that I was the adopted kid.
I decided to do meet sister and aunt. Had a great time. They are very different than me. But they kept talking about how much I look like, act like, laugh like and have mannerisms like the bmom. It was like an elephant was sitting on me. I couldn't breathe and felt things I can not even put into words. I still feel this way, today. I have withdrawn myself from my sister and aunt since seeing them in April. The last 3 months I literally have a panic attack when I see them calling me or texting me. I can not respond back. They are so hurt that I have backed away. I came across the Adoptees On podcast and I am obsessed. I heard about the Primal Wound. I started reading. I thought I would have some sort of feeling/emotions beginning to read this book. I feel absolutely NOTHING other that Anxiety and Depression 10 fold.
Why can't I start to come out of the fog. I have isolated myself from friends my whole life and even more this year. Went to counseling and was told if I was not willing to work on mending my relationship that there was nothing she could do for me. I stinkin don't know how or I wouldn't be there asking for help. I guess the moral to this story is ... Why can't I cry, why can't I feel some emotions, why can't I have some sort of a feeling about the bmom. And why can't I want to work on a relationship with my sister.
Why can't I cry, why can't I feel some emotions, why can't I have some sort of a feeling about the bmom.
I can't answer your questions for you, but I can tell you why I could not cry..... I hurt so bad that I shut down my emotions - it is called disassociation. When we can't stop the pain and it is too much we just stop feeling.
Wow- our stories are very similar. I had a great relationship with my a-mom. Unfortunately she was very ill at the end of her life, actually she was always ill or depressed. But she was severely drug addict to prescription pain pills and suffering from dementia at the end. So I was the caregiver for her and my grandmother- her mom. They lived together, mom was completely bedridden, Grandma was on oxygen 24 hours a day but mobile until hospice. So I took the brunt of everything. So our relationship suffered, plus half the time she thought I was dead or conspiring against her due to her dementia. Grandma passed, then mom a year later. Then 5 months after that I am in reunion. Suddenly due to DNA. My a-dad left too when I was 2years old.
You are fresh into reunion. You found a grave. Another death. I think the way you are feeling is totally normal. I know after my mom passed, then my b-mom rejected me I felt numb. I may be projecting here but I think your lack of crying or feelings is a coping mechanism. If I don’t feel I can’t get hurt. That is how I have felt. If I don’t care or feel then they can’t hurt me, or leave me. It goes back to the rejection and abandonment fears many of us have. It is had to mourn those we have met. But we do. You will. But you need to give yourself time.
May I suggest one thing and it is only a suggestion. You may want to communicate someway with the sister and aunt that you are just totally overwhelmed at the moment. That nothing they did or said was wrong but that you need time and space to process. Reunion is so emotional on all parties. And I am sure they would understand but not knowing us really hard. My b-mom ghosted me and won’t say why. So I sit and dwell on what I said or did.
Keep reading, keep listening to the Podcast- it really help me. And we are here for you. You can message me anytime. Hang in there
I've never met my b-mom/b-family and didn't have the greatest, healthy relationship with my a-mom, unfortunately... But I can relate to that inability to cry and isolating from others. For me, it was a coping mechanism. Like DavisP said-disassociation. It allowed me to avoid those really deep, painful feelings/memories that, on a certain level, I couldn't figure out how to navigate. That numb feeling or not crying was like the beginning stage of one of many grief processes for me. I think, what helped me begin moving through the emotions was listening to certain songs which allowed me to ease into my emotions and then also manage them. I would dedicate a small amount of time each day (for whatever reason, I preferred it to be really early in the morning) to just to listen to a few specific songs and feel them. Eventually, I began going out to see plays/performances that addressed subject matters around specific topics (death/grief, abuse, etc) with a few trusted friends to further explore my emotions safely (at the time I had stopped watching television completely). It's been about a decade but I still use music and other media as a method of my exploring my adoption related grief and other types of grief.
Just reading this thread. I didn't know what I did was de-fogging, but 6 years ago my stress and anxiety got to the boiling point and it was affecting my personal life and my work. I went to counseling and that is when I realized how I had stuffed so many feelings. I had severe separation anxiety from my aparents as a child and I was reprimanded for it. I realize they did not know better, but they did little abandonments through out my lifetime that just made my anxiety worse. I went through all the emotions of realizing how hurt I was from being relinquished, given back to the adoption agency and rehomed again. I felt like an unwanted dog who was passed around, given a different name every time, and didn't mean anything to any one. I had to figure out who I was, unrelated to my aparents. It took a long time, but I am in a good place. Now that I have found my bparents, I think it is easier (not easy) to handle than if I hadn't come out of the fog before.
There are some really great descriptions around here. Much better than my ones.
I also didnt know what this was about 3 months ago. Still a newbie.
But my description is this:
"A recognition that adoption effects an individual at their core. That it actually has an impact on a person's psyche and way in which they engage in the world around them"
That is the defogging.
Adoption is a primal wound, yet its also a wound which we are told to be grateful for.
It is also something, which in my humble view... has been researched very little. So the "defogging", is the removal of "everything is fine, adoption didnt effect me".
Thats my take.
I am also not one to jump to conclusions. I like data. I like science. Why? Because data and science doesnt give a fuck what you think. It is either true or false. Science doesnt care if you think water shouldnt boil at 100 degrees Celcius. It either does or it doesnt. Science doesnt give a fuck that you think water shouldnt have two hydrogen and one oxygen elements. It either does or it doesnt.
And if we look at the data for adoptees. Its quite compelling.
-x4 are more likely to suicide - Many exhibit similar personality traits, including:
- The need to please - Mirroring behaviour of those around them in order to fit in - Low self esteem - Suicidal ideation - Detachment - Over working at their jobs - Prone to addictive behaviours
To name a few. Maybe you could tick some of these off the list for yourself (?).
Anyway, that is my interpretation of it.
I guess... at least... my journey through this... through "defogging"... has been incredibly emotional. Id suggest to take things slow.
Another thing I want to add too, is ... with it came the realisaiton of... if these traits which were "me", were just a response to what happened to me... ie. they were not me... (expanding more.... ie. the true me doesnt have low self esteem, like to people please, over work, etc)... then.. if these traits were not "me"... then who the hell is me? Who am I? Who is me at the core? That is huge.
Defogging for me: I was thoughtful about adoption. I have a sister who was also adopted (not blood related). I had good friends who were adopted. My sister-in-law was adopted. My sister, sister-in-law, and best childhood friend went through reunion. I read "The Girls Who Went Away" when it came out (a while back now).
But still. It was only when I went through reunion myself that I truly defogged. The door opened on so many things about why I am the way I am, the significance that many childhood events had to do with adoption, the understanding of why I am the way that I am, the pain that I have felt, the rejection that I have felt, and much more. I do not understand it all. But it was all blown wide open. It happens to us at different times. Often, it happens during reunion.
We tend to be told it wasn't that significant. We tell ourselves that we were babies and were resilient and we were fine. People tell us that "everyone has problems". People tell us "Aren't you grateful" or "You should be grateful". People tell us that blood doesn't matter and in the same breath they talk endlessly about their family tree. My dear and well-loved father gives me a lecture on why his parents and their parents influenced me because they made him and he is my father.
Dad, I'm in my 50's. You don't have to tell me now how your parents influenced you and why that is important to me. It is. But I have lived this whole life thinking about adoption whereas you are just thinking about it in your retirement, because you are looking back on your life now. I started feeling it and thinking about it over 50 years ago when I was born, while you were happy to have a child, without even thinking about the fact that where and who she came from would matter to HER.
I love him but he acts like all of the biologicals do. No clue.
I love him but he acts like all of the biologicals do. No clue.
I told my husband that it is a weird feeling to know that my bfather and most of my bmother's family didn't/don't even know I exist, how I can be here and they have no idea I exist at all. He said that was really dark and I shouldn't think that way. Except IT IS TRUE! They have no concept of this dual existence/nonexistence.
De-fogging meant re-examining every relationship I ever had...and acknowledging that MOST of my relationships (current and past) were manufactured/manipulated...some by me. I knew nothing about "love", but I could write a book about SURVIVAL. When you are taken advantage of/indoctrinated (by being placed in a situation where your very life depended upon a set of complete strangers) - your mindset was formed by being terrified & angry. Your only goal was to survive. Identifying these patterns of fear/anger in my life was fascinating and mentally/emotionally challenging. Did I actually "love" my a-parents? (for me the answer was a life-changing NO!)
Was I manipulated by an entire society to love them/be superficially grateful? (YES!)
Was my relationship with them open/honest/based on respect? (again - NO!)...I could not form a deep bond with people who perpetrated evil/who manipulated my every thought - how the fck do you respect this sort of person?
This is extremely painful for many people - I came to understand that a lot of my emotional pain/discomfort came by trying to placate my adoptive parents. I did not have to be CRUEL to be completely honest. I set boundaries - and our relationship was never the same - but I was able to be kind. It is not my goal in life to "settle the score"...IT IS MY GOAL TO AFFORD MYSELF THE RESPECT THAT WAS NEVER GIVEN TO ME. I now speak for that 6 month old child who could not speak...but who screamed her lungs out every time faux-mother touched her. I now speak for the 3 year old who was forced to sit in a pew and listen for hours to words spewed from a book which did not represent her own beliefs. I now speak (LOUDLY) for the teenage girl in the wedding reception line who could not bear another moment of the entrapment this pointless gathering represented.
I can definitely say I did not heal until I made my own life/relationships/decisions...based solely on my own needs/honesty. I stopped forcing myself to feel ANYTHING. It is an amazing journey...it is worth every single effort.
I am so comforted to know that other adoptees feel the way I do. I used to think there was something wrong with me personally. For a long time I wouldn't search for my b mom b/c I thought that I wasn't good enough. She had given me up so I could have a better life, but I was a pretty unhappy person who never became very successful in a career or in my relationships. (And I think when we finally did meet, she was somewhat judgy.)
Defogging was hard, but it has left me being a more capable person.
My Mother was/is the same judgy way. She has her own issues of guilt and shame and thinking she knows it all, lack of true humility because of her limited thinking.
Sad we get this garbage from our mothers sometimes, but likely really has little to do with us and more to do with their distorted perceptions and inability to feel love and compassion even for their own child.
I have found it has helped to see her limitations and human frailty.