A Word of Acknowledgement For Adult Orphans

There's not a man on this planet who can "son" me and that might be my biggest problem.

A Word of Acknowledgement For Adult Orphans
It's the hard knock life, for us!

There's not a man on this planet who can "son" me and that might be my biggest problem. That's not to say that there's no man on Earth whom I can learn from but rather, there's no man who can claim authority over me. Someone having authority over you can often feel like a negative thing but there's also a positive side to authority because with authority comes responsibility and with responsibility comes value. My father's inability to take responsibility for me as a child greatly contributed to my internal sense of value and the unworthiness wound that dictated much of my life until I became aware of it and began to heal it last year. But with healing the wound also comes an acceptance of the fact that there are just some things that I'll never get to experience in this life and having a father whom I respect physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is one of them. Having a father whom I can look to as a guide for advice or support is something I am unfamiliar with and will likely never know. I love and respect my father as a person and I'm grateful we have a relationship these days but in no way, shape, or form do I feel like he's my parent. Due to this, when my mom passed away back in 2016, I became an orphan.

When we think of the word "orphan" we typically picture little orphan Annie, Oliver Twist, or some other child who never knew their parents but in reality, most of us will become orphans at some point in time. My colleagues grandma died recently and he was telling me about how much it was affecting his dad who is in his 40s and it really made me think — regardless of whether your mother dies when you're 6, 26 or 66, it's likely going to have a substantial impact on you because your mother is always the first relationship you have. Your mother is your first friend, your first love, your foundation, and your primary connection to the physical world. So when you lose her, regardless to the age you are when it happens, it's going to be disorienting. This is doubly true if you also don't have a father or father like figure in your life. Because, the fact is, life doesn't come with an instruction manual. So when we lose the people who were supposed to guide us through this mystery, it often feels like we're alone and abandoned — wandering aimlessly through the void.

This weekend I'm back home in South Carolina to see my little brother graduate from college. While sitting in the audience waiting for the ceremony to start, I looked down at the soon to be graduates and saw many of them turn around and gaze hopefully into the crowd trying to locate their families and then watched the relief, excitement, and happiness wash over them when they finally located their supporters waving to them. It reminded me of a tiktok (that I watched on instagram because I'm an adult 😛) I saw not long ago where a man was super emotional from watching videos of kids locating their parents in the crowd during school events because it transported him back to his own childhood where he was often the kid who didn't have anyone supporting him in the crowd.

I was also often that kid. While my mom did her best to come support when she could, the reality was that she often had work or other obligations to attend to. It also made me think of my little brother and what he must be experiencing on his graduation day knowing that our mom wouldn't be there to show support in the physical form. Though I'm sure he's grateful that me, our older brother, his aunts, and grandma were there, I'm also sure that it hurt to see other people with their parents and to not have either of his own in attendance. No matter how old we get, we'll always be someone's child. No matter how old we get, we'll always have an inner child who is innocent, a bit naive, a bit lost, & a bit insecure who greatly desires having influences in its life that will help it feel secure. And reflecting on my little brother's situation, as well as my own, really inspired me to provide some acknowledgment for those of us who no longer have the privilege of parents in the physical form.

To my fellow adult orphans, I see you. I may not know your pain specifically but I deeply empathize with the variety of ways that being without parents in the physical form affects you. People love to tout "adulthood" as a phase when you should no longer need or even desire to be guided, taken care of, or nurtured anymore but I know, just like you know, that that's bullshit. To be human is to be vulnerable and to be vulnerable is to want to be cared for and protected. Even though me and my mother often did not see eye to eye, even though I didn't feel fully seen or understood by her, even though she hurt me a lot, she also helped me a lot. She also did not play about me (and still don't!) and there's no doubt in my mind that she would have died to protect me. Just hearing her voice when I was super stressed had a way of regulating my nervous system and helping me feel like everything was going to be okay. I'm proud of the man that I'm becoming and I acknowledge that a big part of who that man is is due to my father's absence during my development but that doesn't mean that there isn't still a part of the little boy inside of me who wonders what it would have been like to have a stable male presence in his life. That doesn't mean that there's not a part of me who wishes there was a man he could call up and ask for advice or to spar with philosophically or to learn how to fix things from. I know how frustrating it is to deeply long for a needed conversation with a living parent who just doesn't have the capacity for it.

Which leads me to my last point, I also want to acknowledge the adult orphans who aren't missing parents literally but figuratively. Being a parent is not just about a showing up in a physical way but also in having the capacity to emotionally nurture and mentally guide. Unfortunately, it is rather easy for two people to have sex and create offspring. It is much more difficult for those two people to raise that offspring in a present, healthy, and loving way. While I do think that parenthood is a human right I also feel that not everyone is qualified to be a parent. And though I know it's a slippery slope to try and police who should and who should not have kids, I do wish we lived in a society that placed more importance on the responsibility that raising child is — not just for the health of ourselves but for the health of society and the world at large. Though I don't plan on having kids of my own, much of my work over the past decade has been reparenting myself. And what I can say for sure is, if I ever do end up with a child in my care, it will become the one of the greatest responsibilities of my life and I will do everything in my power to ensure that that child never feels like an orphan in this world.

What's going on with me?

Like I mentioned earlier, I'm in South Carolina for a few days with my family which means I'm being pulled in several different directions. That being said, there's no growth challenge or further study this week as I'm running low on time and mental bandwidth but still wanted to fulfill my commitment to myself, and to you, to put out a newsletter every week this year. To be honest, I've also been a bit distracted (and highly entertained) by the ongoing beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake and that's actually what inspired the theme for this month's newsletters "Family Matters". This month we're going to take a deep dive into family dynamics and how those dictate and influence our relationships with ourselves and those around us.

Dee Dee's kids. 3 adult orphans. 3 college graduates.

Knowing just how hard it was for me to continue sometimes after the death of my mom has garnered a whole new level of respect for my little bro and his ability to graduate, not only from high school but also college, effectively as an orphan. Though I've done my best to be there for him in every way I can, I know there's only so much I can do. I know his journey is his own. And I know that there's nothing I could ever do to replace the presence of his father and mother. But I do feel my mother's pride coming through me for him for what he's been able to accomplish and I know that she'll continue to care for and guide him in the Spirit, just as she's done for me.

I love you all and I hope this newsletter finds you well. We'll get back to our regularly scheduled re-programming next week.

With love,

Micheal Sinclair 💜