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A short poem about not belonging and wondering if I was adopted as a child. It's also about my new adopted recovery family.


Twelve or thirteen years old: 
Nobody hears me. 
I don’t belong in my family. 
I wonder if I was adopted. 

I don’t fit in here. 
Do I belong somewhere else? 
My parents ignore me. 
Or they threaten and berate me. 

They hang a photo of my grandfather 
when he was about my age. 
He looks too much like me. 
My hopes for adoption are dashed. 

I’m a part of this family, 
but I don’t belong. 
Nobody hears my heart. 
No one sees my inner confusion. 

I live with the volcano. 
Daddy-Monster may explode at any time. 
He will explode; I don’t know when. 
I live with the terror of his violence. 

He has quit drinking 
but still gets drunk with rage. 
He attends lots of meetings 
but he never apologizes. 

If I tell him the truth, 
he’ll slap me – or worse. 
I avoid him the best I can. 
I avoid eye contact. 

Mom copes by drinking – 
too much, too often. 
She’s more concerned with her next drink 
than with raising us up to adulthood. 

My reckless brother fights 
with everyone, including me. 
He has started his short life of crime. 
I know he will end up dead or in prison. 

My younger brother – 
he is lost and obnoxious. 
None of us belong in this family. 
But here we are. 

We are left to raise ourselves. 
No one to help, 
except maybe for a few teachers. 
We do a poor job of raising ourselves. 

Oh, if only they had adopted us. 
Then the chaos would make some sense. 
We belong to our parents, 
but they don’t want us. 

We are in their way. 
We are their scapegoats. 
They accept us into their home 
because they have to. 

Does anyone hear me? 
Not my parents. 
Not my brothers. 
Only one teacher. 

Do I belong? 
No, not here. 
Does anyone want me? 
I am stuck raising myself. 

Half a century later: 
both my brothers have died, 
one in a car wreck, 
the other by suicide. 

Daddy-Monster has exploded his heart. 
Mom and I are the only ones left. 
She’s been sober for decades 
but still drinks resentment and hostility. 

I now have my own new family, 
my recovery family. 
I have chosen this family, 
much healthier than my birth family. 

We share the truth with each other – 
and the world doesn’t explode. 
We help each other grow. 
We help each other overcome the past. 

We listen to each other. 
We learn boundaries together. 
We work the steps together. 
We support each other. 

Some of us are life-long friends. 
Together, we learn to reconnect  
with our wounded inner children. 
Together, we learn self-respect. 

This is my family of choice. 
This is my adopted family. 
This is where I belong. 
This is where I am free to be me. 

Are we perfect? 
No, of course not. 
But we love and nurture and grow. 
This is where I learn to love me. 

– Healing Heart Warrior (Tom M.)

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