Feeling lost


Feeling lost


your avatar   Chris, 20-year-old man

As long as I can remember, I have just felt generally lost. I am currently a student but I have little motivation as far as career or life in general goes. I am definitely not suicidal; I know that would accomplish nothing and my religious views conflict with the idea as well. I have never been a cheery person, I have sought emotional help on several occasions and the psychologist has just passed it off as adolescence issues and low self-esteem.

I am adopted. Even after reading the other stories on this website it is still hard not to feel rejected in some way. A person's mother is meant to be the personification of caring and nurturing, and for one's own mother not to convey this (and give you away) is daunting no matter what angle you look at it. My adoptive parents could not have given me a better upbringing. They have taught me respect, common sense, manners, and morals. They are fine people and I am lucky to have them. However, sometimes I feel that I cannot communicate with them. My sister who was born to them after my adoption is much closer to them.

I have spent months in various self-help sites on the net, researching self-esteem, emotional intelligence, depression, and communication skills. One particular problem that I HATE in myself is that no matter how many positives I have in my life (e.g. great girlfriend, good university results, great friends and family, etc.) I tend to focus on the negatives in my life and the positives are pushed into the back of my mind. I can't really identify with myself and as a result, I can't really set decent goals. I am always stuck in fantasy, my mind trails off about movie plots and mystical creatures and sometimes it shocks me when I wake up and realize I've been fantasizing for hours. My relationship handling is what gets me down the most though. I have been involved with so many great girls and am with one now. I always focus on the negatives of the relationship and isolate myself. I can't communicate at all with my current girlfriend. I like her a lot but we have nothing in common...nothing. We are both very shy people and she can even be timid at times. Where do I begin finding what I want from this life or how to communicate my needs and break free of this shyness and ongoing feeling of being lost?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear Chris,

At first I thought that your question would be easy to answer. After all, I have responded to a distraught young lady who had been adopted, and to a great many people who were struggling with depression. For something like seven years of my life, I was severely depressed myself.

But the more times I read your cry for help, the more challenging it became. With most depressed people, the problem starts with the fact that they do not acknowledge anything good in their lives. Listening to them, you get the idea that everything is wrong, life is an unmitigated misery.

In contrast, you have had nothing but good to say about your own circumstances. Your problem is that you hate yourself and feel miserable DESPITE all the good things you know about yourself.

You started by stating the fact of your adoption, and my guess is that this holds the key. How old were you when you found out that your parents were not your 'real parents'? That your biological mother had 'given you away'?

Seek out some children of that age, and study them. I don't know how easy it will be for you to have access to kids, but you might offer to do voluntary work in a kindergarten or primary school. The effort will be well worth it.

You will also benefit by going to the University Library and borrowing some books describing the work of Piaget. This concerns the thought processes of children as they pass through certain stages, and will give you an understanding of what you observe with the kids.

Chris, a child's mind is not a less competent adult mind. When you were a little person, you thought in qualitatively different ways from the way your mind works now. The very mechanics of reasoning are different.

Certain of the immature thoughts of that little person are still within you, still influencing your thoughts, actions and emotions. I heard little Chris in the statement 'I am adopted and even after reading the other stories on this page it is still hard not to feel rejected in some way. A person's mother is meant to be the personification of caring and nurturing, and for one's own mother not to convey this but rather give you away is daunting no matter what angle you look at it.'

The language and conceptual structure are that of an intelligent adult. The thought expressed is that of the little child.

I can prove this to you. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, then become someone else: a girl of 15 who has just found out that she is pregnant. Her parents are screaming at her. She is terrified of what other kids at school will say and do. She is convinced her life has been ruined. She is ashamed and perhaps suicidal.

She could have an abortion, and no doubt she struggles with the issue. The family may well be deeply religious, or there may be other reasons. Perhaps she was in denial for some months, passing off the physical signals of pregnancy until her belly started to swell, so it would now be a late-term abortion: involving the killing of a fetus that might already be sentient.

Chris, do you still think your mother gave you away because she couldn't be bothered to raise a child?

You don't know her circumstances. Don't judge her too harshly, as you did when you were a tiny person.

Why don't you seek her out? It is possible to track down your biological mother. A friend of mine is now over 50. When she was a teenager, she got drunk at a party, and the next day she found she'd lost her virginity. She had no memory of how, or with whom. She got pregnant, and after a terrible time of it (as I described), she decided to give up the child for adoption.

She got over her grieving, and eventually married and had two other children.

Twenty years later, she got a letter from a young woman named Anna: her first daughter. They got together, and have been best friends since. The two younger kids often visit Anna, though she lives interstate from them.

Chris, you could continue to have your evident good relations with your family, and also acquire a second one. And shut up the hurt little boy inside, the one that tells you that you are horrible and useless and worthless, otherwise how could your own mother have given you away?

Please consider these two courses of action: understanding the thought processes of the hurt little boy inside you, and tracking down your biological mother. I think that together they will kill your depression and self-hate.

Get back to me and let me know how these suggestions sit with you.

All the best,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com

Take pride in your strengths, work on your limitations.
"Your body hears everything your mind says."
Naomi Judd
Don't try to be perfect. Accept that you are human, and forgive yourself for making mistakes.