Another Paragraph …or Two

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Above you will find the Hay House Radio Interview I did for Finding Heart Horse

I thought I would post another sneak peek for those that haven’t read it. Remember, the proceeds go to Covenant House, Vancouver, B.C.

There is always hope.

This is from the prolog About A Horse. You can find the first part in my previous post Finding Heart Horse…one year later.

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When my parents took me to visit my aunt and uncle who lived on a farm, I quickly and quietly made my way into the world of the barn where the horse’s lived. I would nestle into the golden straw, inhaling the fragrant honey dust, as hours magically disappeared. Listening to an orchestra of barnyard sounds while enveloped in the dusty air brought me a perfect peace.

It was into that perfect peace that my Heart Horse first made his appearance.

Just as if he were a real horse, my Heart Horse danced and pranced and snorted with joy. Sometimes when he was afraid, I could feel him inside my own heart, racing around frantically, as if to warn me of pending danger. Other times he stood quietly in the grass, munching on crispy red apples and appearing deep in thought, as if to just let me know he was near. And sometimes he galloped wildly free of restraint, tickling me with his unrestrained joy. But those happy and free rides were rare. Mostly he stood guard.

Old Uncle Willy understood my love of horses. He understood my connection to them and my ache to be closer to such a strangely forbidden desire. Uncle Willy always seemed to know where to look for me whenever we went to the farm. And he always seemed to know to look for me, when others hadn’t thought to.

One morning when I was huddled under a mountain of straw in the corner of Ginger’s stall; Uncle Willy came looking for me. He found me hiding there, buried under a pile of golden grass and crying, as Ginger stood over me with her warm breath tickling my neck as if to say, everything will be okay.

I was hiding in there because my cousin had told me, yet again, that I wasn’t real family. It seemed that each time she said that, it hurt a little bit more. Sometimes she even said it front of my mother, but instead of telling her to stop telling such awful lies, my mother would just agree. That really stung. And it made me sad.

I wasn’t sure what they meant by not being “real” family, I was just as real as they were, but I was sad that they even thought such a thing. After all, I had the pictures. My parents holding me when I was a newborn, teaching me piano when I was a toddler, posing me in front of furniture or houses or relatives to take my picture when I was a child. What could they possibly mean that I wasn’t real family? I didn’t understand at all, but I knew that there was something about me that was different. I just had no idea what it was.

Uncle Willy seemed to understand why I was crying, but he didn’t ask me about it. Instead, he told me a story about the Rocky Mountains and the wild horses that lived there. With his soft and comforting words, my uncle told me all about how magnificent it was to see a thundering herd suddenly appear in a lush green valley in the mountains. What Uncle Willy told me that day in the barn gave me the strength and desire to survive the cruel and hurtful comments of my cousin.

“Claire, you wouldn’t believe how amazing these horses are!” he told me. “They sound just like a train going by at a hundred miles an hour when they come galloping out of the mountains. Their manes blow behind them in flashes of black, silver and gold, like flying flags!” I listened to Uncle Willy’s fantastic story, enthralled.

“Tell me more, Uncle Willy! Tell me more!” I pleaded.

“Oh, it’s amazing, Claire, just amazing. You can even hear the different types of snorts and whinnies—they sound just like they’re talking! Then all of a sudden in a gust of wind and dust they’ll be gone. But . . .” and he looked left and right, like he was about to tell me a secret, then lowered his voice to a near whisper, “When they’re gone, you’re left with a feeling of magic. You know what it’s like to be free and wild but still be a part of a family. A really big family!” The images Uncle Willy conjured completely enchanted me, and I’d practically forgotten my cousins’ spiteful words.

“I tell ya girl,” he added, “Someday you have to go there. It’ll change you forever.” I watched as he got a faraway look in his eyes and sighed as if he were there that very moment. I snuggled into the straw and closed my eyes, wishing I were there, too.

“Someday,” he promised me, “when you’re older, you can go there. You’ll see for yourself how beautiful those horses are. And here’s the best part!” He smiled, and then said, “If you can catch a wild horse, it’s yours! It will belong to you and only you for the rest of its life. That’s the rule.” Uncle Willy tousled my hair and pulled me upright with a grin. “Come on, now. Let’s go inside and get some ice cream!”

I couldn’t believe my ears. If what Uncle Willy said was true, and it had to be or he wouldn’t have said it, I could actually have my own horse some day! I brushed all the straw off of my clothes and went back to the house with Uncle Willy for two big bowls of chocolate ice cream. But I couldn’t pay attention to anything else he said. All I could think about were those wild horses.

As excited as I was about pursuing wild horses, in the weeks and months that followed I knew better than to talk to anyone about my dreams. I had learned how quickly people will snuff out your dreams if you say them out loud. So I buried those words inside my Heart Horse, assuring him he would have company some day. He whinnied softly inside my heart, swaying back and forth as if to say, we will wait, we will wait, we will wait.



Trusting Ripples

So, I just wanted to say a little something about trust.  Of course, we adoptees have great issues with trust and intimacy which are so connected to abandonment and rejection.  It’s such a fluid movement back and forth, sometimes it’s difficult to separate them.

TRUST: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, of a person or thing; confidence

Trust is a fragile gift, easy to break, easy to lose and one of the hardest things to get back.  Why then, is it so casually tossed about?

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In an adoptees world trust is a huge issue.  In the words of Nancy Verrier, “its difficult to face the fact that by definition every adopted child is an abandoned child, who has suffered a devastating loss.”

This usually happens so early, in fact, can begin in utero that there may not be a conscious memory of it, but guaranteed it resurfaces like a dragon as soon as one detects betrayal of any kind.  In a flash, we may feel intensely sad or angry not realizing the root of it all.  Any situation where you feel that you have been abandoned may trigger this..and quickly and there goes the trust.

Adoptees also have this innate sensitivity and are able to detect deception or game playing faster than anyone I know.   I’m not writing about anyone, I’m writing about when the trust has been broken..what then.  A situation occurred that shattered…for an instant…a trusting atmosphere.  The reaction was swift and to the point.

This was going to be just a video but the sentences keep rolling so I’ll just go with it.  As a Ripple myself…watching other ripples become distraught I was thinking about how we can deal with these unfortunately frequent events in our lives where we feel the trust has been broken.

I think the first step is, recognizing our long-held belief systems and to begin taking back our power.  Checking in with ourselves about what is reality and what is a belief that needs to be challenged.   You know the big one…I was unwanted, therefore I am unworthy.  Time to take responsibility for the direction we are going and how we want to feel.  I, no longer feel like a victim.  I have dug so deep my nail beds were bleeding to haul out the roots of such grief and loss.

Ultimately, it all points back to us.  To everyone, to be our own best friend, to be the one we know we can trust.  To know that..we can love ourselves and that we are indeed worthy.

So in the midst of the Trust Storm that was rocking the boat last night I was happy to see…..

 ripples coming together as one, connected and still maintaining trust.  Perfect storm, perfect ripples to practice with.

Generational Pain – Breaking the Cycle

As I research all things connected to my life journey, such as adoption, PTSD, rape, self-worth, loss..well you know where it’s all going.  The list is long, very long for all of us.  One thing we never think about..in our thinking of our own pain is that we carry generational pain.

When I wrote the last post “Don’t Believe Everything You Think” I wanted to continue in posting how much our thoughts affect all aspects of self, physical, emotional, day-to-day function and more.

We are easily carried away by some overwhelming feeling in any given moment I just want to remind you to see that as an alarm clock of awakening to the idea, that you hooked.  Picture the fishing hook and know you are hooked into believing the thought.  It’s not real.  You are living in a story that doesn’t belong to you if you feel depressed, fearful, unworthy, unlovable.

Before you had that particular thought…were you suffering?  You have to stop and ask yourself if it’s really true.  If you were to hold your hand over a candle…do you wait for a thought to tell you to move it?  No, of course not.  It’s automatic.  The same thing will happen if you ask each time you are suffering because of some thought.  Practice and soon it becomes automatic.

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Ok, so they are my adoptive family but when I think how much pressure i felt as a child to live up to my namesake I shudder.  She was the first female principal of a High School.  Huge for Women’s Rights back in the day.  While I was not genetically related I experienced generational pain just from being subjected to the daily brainwashing.

When we can think past our own ego and momentary thoughts and reflect on  Generational Pain it creates a gap between ego and others.  Eckhart Tolle explains it in a concrete way in A New Earth when he speaks about “our Pain Body”.  I would encourage anyone suffering with pain to read his description of how we accumulate generations of pain in our body’s and with the least little trigger we explode, experiencing what we think is our pain but is in fact, negative, painful experiences handed down for generations.

Our minds and our bodies contain the blueprint of our heritage.  In Buddhism, the belief is, that seven generations of our ancestors unfinished business is still alive in our cells.  Can you imagine?  Seven generations!  That’s a lot of pain considering the earlier generations weren’t so “into” healing and self work.

This pain is cellular, alive, jumping at the chance to be triggered and allowed to  take over and inhabit our souls, while we sit there, thinking it ours to bear.  If we don’t acknowledge it objectively, it may lead us to fates that do not belong to us.  For years we suffer confusion, anxiety, depression and pass it on unknowingly to the next generation.

For those of us who are dealing with Adoption Trauma, PTSD from rapes, abuse, violence, loss,  the impact is monumental.

It’s not just in Buddhism that this belief stands strong but in Native American, First Nations, African traditions and general psychology beliefs, so it’s time we gave this some serious thought and start breaking the cycles of our past.

 When things are not going right in our immediate life, we need to look deeply at the unmet needs of the past generations and it’s only when we are able to find and shine a light on the pain legacies we’ve been hauling around that we can become free and break the cycle.  Can you think for a moment on the burden you’ve been carrying deep in your bones, in your cells of your nervous system that has survived generations…until you uncover the truths.

When I gave birth to my daughter was the moment I experienced full on, the pain my Birth Mother must have felt as “they” disappeared with her first-born.  Her never having seen me, held me, named me.  Her pain was mine now to carry in that instant.  It was so profoundly clear it rattled me for days.  I couldn’t bear to not have my daughter in my sight and back then, babies were kept in the nursery.  She had to undergo light treatment for jaundice and I parked a chair outside the window and refused to move, much to the nurses angst.  When she cried, I cried.  It broke my heart wide open every time they took her from my arms to return her to the room full of babies.  I thought a great deal about the woman who gave birth to me.  I cried for her a million tears and a piece of my heart became hers because I now understood.

Later, I learned that her father had died when she was a child.  More pain, not just for her but for her mother as well.  The pain, the shame, the raw emotion of everything negative was now mine to carry.  I vowed to break the cycle so my daughter won’t have to carry this burden of suffering.  It’s not easy, as you know because  it’s at a cellular level and needs deep insight and work to unravel the threads of suffering and heal them.

The amazing thing is..

If we do the work.  If we can step outside of ourselves long enough to really see our suffering for what it is.  If we can challenge the beliefs behind our thoughts…If we can honour the unresolved pain legacies of our ancestors instead of viewing with anger..

We can put to rest what is already behind us.  We can break free from the strong arms of the loyalty to suffering and become free.

 Our bodies, our minds will be free, powerful, creative.

 The cycle will be broken.

The Aching Heart

Image       For the last few days I have been re-reading my 2nd memoir  The Wall of Secrets.  I have been deciding on quotes and chapter titles and reading yet again the journey I have taken, so far.

There is an ache in my heart.  One that won’t go away.  No it’s not physical, nor is it spiritual.  I can’t quite describe it.  It’s an ache of loss.  An ache of abandonment.  An ache that ebbs and flows as the tides of the ocean but never quite goes away.  An Adoptee Ache.

A friend recently lost a child.  Another friend lost their First Mother/Birth Mother, as I have.  Lost without the answers.  Lost without the knowing or experiencing a Mother’s love.

When your heart breaks, in love, in friendship, in partnership and most of all in the loss of your mother, its very difficult and painful.  When you are adopted and this happens, your heart is shattered like broken glass.

Modern neuroscience has discovered that the emotional suffering experienced registers in the same place as physical pain in the brain.  When we feel abandoned, hurt, rejected, our bodies react as if we’ve been injured and our heart aches.

We go over and over in our minds what we could have done differently, said differently, acted differently until the point the story almost drowns you in despair.

Loss is the core of adoption.  It’s no wonder we get swallowed up in the dark hole of grief when a first parent dies.  I noticed along the way of my story just how many losses I had incurred before I turned 25.  At least 10.  Ten people that I loved.  Ten people that I knew cared about me.  Ten.  That’s not counting numerous others after the young age of 25.  Each loss opened a door to the ultimate loss.  The loss of my Real Mother.  The mother I never knew.  The mother that never mothered me.  The mother that I longed for, ached for, for five decades.

When you suffer such loss the first thing you have to do is regain your dignity and wisdom so you can bear the aching of your heart.

My wise teachers tell me that we grow most through suffering, loss and betrayal.  Our capacity to lead an authentic and free life deepens. As we work our way through these difficulties, our ability to love and feel compassion deepens, along with the wisdom that will help us in the future.

We need to sit and hold our heart with love and with the appreciation it deserves.  Recognize any feelings of unworthiness, of longing and fear, of loneliness or vulnerablility and neediness .  Feel the soft side, the tenderness along with the grief.  

We carry layers of pain as adoptees.  All of the buried stories of abandonment and loss surface when we grieve the loss of our birth mother or rejection by others.  I could feel it as I was reading my story.  My chest tightened, my shoulders began to ached, my eyes became blurry, my back pained and my heart ached. I had to stop and recognize where my physical pain was coming from and release it with the honour a broken heart deserves.

is this pain who I really am?  Is it my essence, my soul?  Or do I just need to honour it, acknowledge it, open and expand it until I am able to breathe in peace?  

I choose in my meditation to sit with my feelings.  To feel the immense loneliness and sadness when it comes.  I can breathe it all in and within that space, I find peace.  I find my home.

I can recognize now as I look back in written word of my past losses that I am part of an eternal cycle of joining and separating.  That this cycle is shared with all living beings, from all times.  I think of the all the broken and aching hearts there are right now in the world and I am able to breathe with compassion for all of them.

Your heart can teach you many things when it’s aching or broken.  It teaches you that through your suffering you become stronger.  It teaches you that by passing through these trials you will come to learn who you truly are.  You will find what cannot be torn from you, what can’t be lost.  You will find your wholeness and well being.

We learn that people and things are not possessed by us.  They are here for their purpose only.  They come and they go.  Despite our losses we remain whole.  Betrayal and loss tear open the heart.  If we look through the tear we find the wisdom and compassion to go on.

As I put words on paper and see just what I have lived through I also know it’s a process of renewal and healing that may take the rest of my days.  I can now hold my heart with tenderness and love for it has many cracks, and as Leonard Cohen says…The cracks are where the light gets in.

I also know it’s not just about me.  It’s about us.  Life is difficult for everyone.

May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness

May all beings be free from suffering and the cause of suffering

May all beings never be parted from freedom’s true joy

May all beings dwell in equanimity free from attachment and aversion