Embracing Therapy as an Adoptee

förbi Oleg Lougheed, adopted from Russia to the USA. Founder of Overcoming Odds.

I remember the first time I went to therapy.

I was ashamed of it.

I disliked every aspect of it.

I saw it as a sign of weakness.

Out of all of the things I looked forward to, this was at the very bottom of my list.

I remember the drive over.

“Why do I have to go here?”

“I don’t need this.”

“This is stupid.”

With each remark, I became more and more angry.

I remember exiting the car.

Not a single word, arms folded together, sprinting ahead of my parents in frustration.

“Welcome!” said the receptionist.

I didn’t respond.

“Through the double doors to the right, please.”

As I opened the double doors, my eyes immediately met them.

A room full of kids who were much younger than me.

I scanned the entire room.

Everybody was doing something.

Some were putting together puzzles.

Others were drawing.

“This is not for me,” I whispered.

I made my way toward the spot.

The spot I became far too familiar with throughout my life.

The corner of the room.

I sat there in silence, waiting for the clock to strike 8 PM.

“How are you doing?” asked the therapist on duty.

No response.

It took weeks before I said my first words.

I remember sitting in the corner of the room when the therapist approached me.

I couldn’t hold it anymore. I broke down.

Fighting back tears, I told her everything.

I told her how much I missed my birth family.

I told her that I was being bullied at school.

I told her about the struggles back home.

I felt a huge relief with each spoken word.

Unfortunately, this was one of the last sessions.

I turned back to what I knew best, silence.

It wasn’t until 10 years ago, I spoke the word, “therapy” out loud.

I was a freshman in college.

I needed someone to talk to.

The past was on the back of my mind.

I went straight to the counselling/mental health department.

I wasn’t ashamed of it anymore.

I remember the walk over.

The feeling of empowerment with every step I took.

I accepted therapy into my life, on my own terms.

Going to sessions helped me tremendously.

They helped me process and reframe many of my past traumatic experiences.

They helped me get curious about the subject and the stories I chose to believe in.

The stories of it being seen as a sign of weakness, not a strength.

The stories of therapy as something I should be ashamed of.

Curiosity helped me change many of these narratives.

Curiosity helped me embrace therapy as a part of my identity, part of my life.

For more from Oleg, read his last blog Adoptee Fear and Vulnerability
Follow him at Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn @overcomingodds

Adoptee Fear and Vulnerability

förbi Oleg Lougheed, adopted from Russia to the USA. Founder of Overcoming Odds.

I missed my birth family.

I wanted to see them again.

But, it wasn’t possible anymore.

Instead, I had to settle for what was.

The phone.

Me, hearing their voice as it traveled thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean.

A voice that was filled with elements of fear and love.

Them, hearing my voice.

Reassurance of me being alive and that things were going well.

The wait between the calls was tough to handle.

Each call brought up many emotions.

Emotions I wasn’t prepared to deal with.

I wasn’t taught how to be with my emotions while living in Russia.

Part of me wanted to try something new.

I turned to my adoptive parents.

Yet, every time I’d turn my shoulders and open my mouth, it would immediately close.

I felt that sharing those emotions with them would make them feel less than or as if they did something wrong.

So, I kept them to myself.

Hidden, depths below the surface.

Invisible.

It wasn’t until some time later, I was able to share what I was going through.

The narrative that I believed in, making my parents feel less than or as if they did something wrong, wasn’t serving me anymore.

I broke down while sitting in my bedroom with my adoptive mom by my side.

Looking back at it, she played a huge role in helping me understand how to feel and talk about what I felt.

Her choosing to listen to me made me feel safe.

Her words after I was done sharing provided the much needed comfort and reassurance that was okay to feel how I felt.

Her curiosity in me and about me became a stepping stone in helping me feel for years to come.

For more from Oleg, watch his TedX talk, Overcoming Odds
Follow him at Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn @overcomingodds

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