I’m in a support group for women who have been sexually abused. Nice way to start a conversation, right? You know, keeping things light on this bright sunny morning in the Philadelphia suburbs. This is my third time around being in the group in the past few years. This organization has provided me with individual therapy and they also offered group. For the very low price of…zero dollars. So grateful to have places like this that exist! I am in this group of women and the group facilitator asked us about our families. Biological or who we consider family. Who we would put on our family tree if we were in-person playing adult arts and crafts without wine.Those people who have shaped our views of the world and our early childhood experiences. I immediately got triggered because family is a very touchy subject for a lot of people. I have been facing a lot of hard feelings lately and my trauma has been on the forefront of my mind. I have had struggles with family in general for a long time. I was adopted at the age of 16. By the time I was legally adopted I didn’t even want to be. I didn’t want to have the last name of people who abused me for years. Most people are adopted when they are babies. My biological parents were 17 and 18 when I came into this world. My parents both had troubled pasts and I feel like they really didn’t stand a chance at living ‘normal’ lives. They were both traumatized, mentally ill, and doing drugs. My bio mom ended up in the foster care system and my fraternal grandmother was her foster mother. Who get’s put in their boyfriends mom’s home while in foster care? I guess she got lucky. I came along and the story goes they tried to take care of me for about a week and couldn’t do it. Then I went to foster care for a few weeks and got pneumonia. I wasn’t doing well and my bio father asked his next-door neighbor growing up to care for me. My father grew up playing kick-the-can with my adopted siblings. They were the same age. After this woman took me in I saw my bio parents here and there for a few years growing up. I knew the woman taking care of me wasn’t my mother. She also had a boyfriend who was my bio fathers cousin coincidentally and he was an alcoholic. He had a rough past just like my bio father. Gotta love that generational trauma running through families. So I went on to live under their care indefinitely. My bio parents had a daughter a year after they had me. Shortly after my sister was born they broke up and my bio mom had new boyfriend. I would visit with my mom and my sister, maternal grandparents and great grandparents. My bio aunt told me that one time as a little girl I asked her, “Why does my sister get to live with my mom and I don’t?” When she told me this I cried. I cried for the little girl I was. I’ve been told by my bio family that as a baby I would just cry when people would hold me. I probably didn’t know where I belonged. My heart literally aches for my child self while typing this. As a 5 year old kid, I waited on the steps for my bio dad to pick me up to take me to the Please Touch Museum. The children’s museum in Philadelphia.He never showed up. I didn’t see him much after that if at all. I moved to the eastern shore of Maryland just before first grade with my caretakers. I do not know if I had any years without some type of abuse thereafter. My new parents never let me forget throughout my life that my real parents didn’t love or want me. These were the messages my small brain and heart grew up receiving. No wonder I have never been able to have a healthy intimate relationship. I am working so hard on myself to rewrite my narrative about relationships with people. I find it impossible to feel safe in relationship with a partner. Always waiting for the moment where they will betray my trust and cause me pain. It is really such shit to go on living this way. My memories, the traumatic ones, really stick out. I’m not sure about the depth of the details I want to share with the world. There are people who are still in my life who I am still actively trying to determine my relationship with because they have abused me. I could just go on and on in the ways in which I have felt harmed by these people who are on my hypothetically crafted family tree. This family tree with twisted and broken branches.I don’t know what it is like to have a healthy family. My family handed me all of their baggage and sent me off to the airport. For years I have been trying to unpack these bags with all of their compartments. Stuck zippers and hidden pouches. Damn, they had a lot of shit. I have my own children now and I’m trying to figure out what is healthy for us. Becoming a parent while actively experiencing symptoms of PTSD and complex trauma has been really hard. I have made so many mistakes but I am still here trying. Fighting for my life, my kids, and trying to break patterns.