BY CATHERINE ST CLAIR
FOUNDER, NPE FRIENDS FELLOWSHIP
I’ve thought a lot about this the past few days. No one enjoys being rejected.
But, I think NPEs have a really raw place in our hearts filled with fear and dread of being rejected. It is only natural. We want to be accepted into loving open arms. The Inner Child in us needs this. And some of the stories we have here end with just that image… being welcomed with open arms and smiles and happy tears.
But the reality is there are just as many (or more) who face brutal rejection. And a fragile psyche can be destroyed. That is why I am urging you to take a step back and consider approaching this subject from a different perspective.
Your Inner Child is alive and well inside you. (My Inner Child is a girl, so this will be worded that way, but for our men here, just substitute the feminine pronouns for masculine ones.) You can suppress her and deny her all you want, but she’s still there. You can be a strong and confident adult and feel like your psyche is strong. But, when it comes to coming face to face with your DNA connection, that Inner Child is excited and eager to run into those open arms.
So, before you arrive in the moment where you are face to face with your DNA connections, meditate on this. You, the adult, loves your Inner Child. You, the adult, are responsible for protecting the fragile heart of your Inner Child. Your Inner Child leads with their heart. You, the adult, should lead with your head. Would you want someone in your child’s life who could hurt them? No.
So, anytime you are already aware that your Inner Child is going to surface, you, the adult must step between the Inner Child and whatever or whoever makes that Inner Child vulnerable.
For me, when I first met my two new half-sisters, I set the stage from the very beginning with a tone that – without using these words – still got my message out.
You and I are strangers. Not sisters. Not even friends. We are strangers. Therefore, I shall move forward cautiously because I don’t leave my Inner Child alone with strangers.
I have a very clear agenda. I want medical information and a photo of my biological father. If all I receive from you is this, then my task is complete. I don’t expect or feel entitled to anything else.
I am curious about you and would like to know more about you. I am also open to sharing more about me, if you want to know. But, while I am hopeful that you will like what you learn about me, my focus is more on if I’m going to consider you a candidate to be more than an acquaintance in my life. In short, this is a “vetting process” that you may not even be aware you are going through. However, I am wise enough to know that you are vetting me, too.
I hold on loosely. And I expect you to do that, too. I am turned off by anyone who dives in feet first and wants to be joined at the hip. Not happening. Plus, I expect if I did that to you, you might turn and run. I don’t want you to run. I want you to stand there and stay curious about me so I can assess you more. If you hold me loosely, and I hold you loosely, neither of us will feel intimidated or smothered. And we can take the next step.
Now that you have proven yourself to respect boundaries and you seem satisfied with my respect of yours, I might consider stepping you up to be my “friend.” You won’t be my family for a very long time. That is earned through life experiences.
If at any time I sense that you are stepping back, I will be totally ok with that. I value myself and my Inner Child enough to know that there are hundreds of other people who honor me and love me. I won’t chase after someone who can’t see that value in me. And, frankly, I don’t want you in my life if you can’t see it.
With this frame of mind, I’m not exposing my underbelly and getting hurt. I am protecting my Inner Child and reminding her of all the people who love you and – if necessary – that will be enough. I won’t let anyone hurt her. And, I’ll teach her that she doesn’t want anyone in her life that won’t love her the way she deserves.
You don’t have to agree with my perspective. In fact, I encourage you to look inside yourself and figure out what you need to do to protect that vulnerable Inner Child. Don’t let her have lofty expectations or fantasies. Keep her feet on the ground. It won’t hurt as bad if she falls.