Searching for Significance
by Pattie Mallette
For years this disconnect had me convinced I was adopted, because I always felt like I didn’t belong.
Every now and then something would drive that powerful feeling to the surface and I’d go on a rampage. I remember one time in my teens when I frantically searched the house for a piece of evidence— anything that would confirm I was adopted. I had convinced myself my birth mother was somewhere out there. Maybe she was even looking for me.
I threw open every cupboard in the kitchen, rattling the glasses and china like an aftershock. I opened and slammed shut desk and dresser drawers throughout the house. There had to be something somewhere. Just one measly document. I rummaged through closets, tossing aside old shoes, musty sweaters, and dusty boxes of God-knows-what. I turned the house upside down that day like a narc looking for drugs.
My mom must have thought I was nuts. “Stop it,” she begged. “What are you talking about?” She grabbed a pair of photos and shoved them in my face, comparing our baby pictures side by side. “You look just like me! Why would you even think you’re adopted?” But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. And I couldn’t calm down. Something in me was still convinced I didn’t belong. This was not my home. She was not my mother.
Damaging feelings don’t just show up out of nowhere. They’re birthed from experiences, from moments that wield the power to shape us. Sometimes we can’t even recognize the magnitude of those pivotal events until years later.
When my dad left us, it ripped a hole in my heart—one that began filling with thoughts and feelings that would challenge and ultimately damage my identity and self-worth. The wound of being abandoned travels deep and forever changes you.
Even today I can still close my eyes and feel the emotional chaos that marked my heart when he walked out. I was only two when my dad left, but I still remember it vividly, as if it happened yesterday. In fact, it’s my earliest childhood memory.
Pattie Mallette, known to most of the world as Justin Bieber’s mom, is more than just the mother of a world-renowned pop sensation. Pattie walks a rarely traveled road parenting her son through the unpredictable journey of fame. As a young woman and a single mom, she fought hard to rise above her painful past of abuse, shame, and poverty. Pattie hopes to encourage troubled youth, struggling single moms, and the broken-hearted through her story. She continues to expand her outreach to young women and youth (including her 1.3 million followers on Twitter) while overseeing the management of Justin and his team.
An accomplished writer, A.J. Gregory has collaborated with fascinating high-profile figures on nearly twenty books. She is also the author of Silent Savior and Messy Faith.