THE WAY OUT….IS THROUGH

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.”

ORIAH

I was talking to a friend last night about our daily struggles, our adoption trauma that never ends, my little blind dachshund that is declining in health, my own declining health. Facing my own mortality, loss of what used to be a different life, loss of a mother, loss of a family. Loss of my friends in Nepal and so many other lives.

So many losses, so much pain. From the past, the present and the soon to be.

IMG_1034Instinctively, we try to avoid pain. It’s ugly and messy. In fact, these experiences come to teach us that joy and sorrow are two sides of one coin and you can’t have one without the other. Give yourself a shake, open your eyes to your dark nights of the soul. What is the lesson? What wisdom do they bring? What healing do they offer?

THE WAY OUT IS THROUGH

Actually, it’s the only way if you want to grow and move forward. I was thinking about my books this morning and realized I never talk about the rapes, the near death experiences, the violence, abuse and the effect it has had on my life. It is the way of psychiatry to dig deep, unearth those wounds and heal them…walk through the pain. I’ve gone that route but there is also another to see trauma.

In the Buddhist way it’s simply called The Realistic View.  How easy is that? Did you know that Buddha himself began his journey spiritually after losing his mother at a young age and experiencing great trauma? His prescription for the end of suffering is outlined in The Four Noble Truths. Realistic View held an important place. It became a critical component of what became to be known as The Noble Eightfold Path.

The reason I mention this is that The Realistic View means/says that trauma, in any of its forms is not a failure or mistake. It’s not something to be ashamed of, not as sign of weakness, and not a reflection of inner failing.

Its simply a fact of life.

This is the kind of post that can go on forever and I will continue taking about the path that takes you through to the other side to a place of peace in many posts.

Buddha’s prescription was one of self investigation and mental discipline.

Mindfulness and clear comprehension

You don’t have to be a buddhist to get to the other side with this method. It’s for everyone who wants to grow and move forward from trauma. This is the simplest explanation of what the Four Noble Truths are.

1.Life has inevitable suffering

2.There is a cause to our suffering

3.There is an end to suffering

4.The end to suffering is contained in the eight fold path

So often, I hear people saying things like: I just can’t take any more. I can’t continue to live like this. I don’t have a life. I’m in so much pain.

Adoption, reunion, rapes, abuse, mast cell disease, so many things to experience and live with at once. I’ve said all of the above myself.  It’s a fine line between everyday life and trauma. I can only speak for my own journey when I say Trauma is the way into the self, and the way out

To be free, to come to terms with our lives, we have to have a direct experience of ourselves as we really are, dark side, warts and all. The freedom the Buddha envisioned does not come repression, holding onto thoughts and feelings or from abandoning our suffering self; it comes from learning how to hold it all differently, holding space for ourselves and others and not getting attached to the many stories/traumas we carry.

MINDFULNESS AND CLEAR COMPREHENSION

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It’s Alive !!

The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say,

but what we are unable to say.

Anis Nin

I’ve been away for awhile….again.  Those uncontrollable mast cells have gotten the better of me lately.  I had planned on topics for several blogs in relation to the first memoir Finding Heart Horse.  Many exciting things are happening.

Today I realized as soon as I sent the final cover edits in…the book went live!

Today the cover reveal

If you haven’t read Finding Heart Horse, memoir of Survival  you need to.  The Wall of Secrets, memoir of The Almost Daughter is the sequel.

THE WALL OF SECRETS

MEMOIR OF THE ALMOST DAUGHTER

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Are You Starving?

Feeding The Soul

How many of you are surrounded by “things”?  Your space choked by the latest technology, the latest appliances, toys….. surrounding you, reaching out, trying to entice you to spend your days wandering around without specific purpose.

I know myself, as I sit with my morning coffee, catching up on the latest news feed, fb pictures, important posts, I look up and at least two hours has  vanished and my coffee is cold.

It’s November: Adoption Awareness Month, with all the awareness that this brings.  The gift that keeps on giving but never fills the empty spaces, the hunger and longing, the starving for connection and love.

It’s November:  Stores already have their Christmas displays out.  The latest toys flashing on the tv screens winning over children with the “I wants”.  The people already rushing about, pushing, shoving hoping to fill the hole where the hunger causes growling and rumbling pains.

It’s November:  The month that I receive with love and eagerness my first GrandOne.  I remember well, when I first looked into my daughters eyes at birth and saw for the first time a genetic connection, a love so profound I still have no words.  For the first time in my life, I felt full.

Each of these November events bring different types of hunger, values, desires.  Our insistent soul demands these agendas: transcendence, transformation, connection.

What I find interesting is that If, and only If….we find ourselves living in a mythological system where the energy of the images of our tribe, our family or culture in fact changes us, lifts us, connects us, then something abstract, contrived, and trivial like money loses its charm.

We are not hungry…..

But….while money is necessary, money for the sake of money, things for the sake of things, while seemingly so urgently relevant, leaves me wondering if it’s because millions of us are not able to experience effective spiritual lives.

Soul

The literal translation of the word soul is a Greek word psyche.

 It’s a word, a metaphor to describe what we consider to be our essence.  It is the energy that blows through us, that enters us at birth, animates our journey and then departs, at our passing.

When life is lived in accord with psyche’s intent, we experience inner harmony, supportive energy, connection and our lives become meaningful.

If the external things in fact fed our soul, we would not be so hungry all the time.  If they linked us to other realms, connected us in compelling ways to our tribe we would not have hunger pains.

We are affluent, yet starving….

A few years ago, before I became so ill, I spent time with the Hill Tribes in Northern Lao.  People who lived as it was, centuries ago.  Straw Houses on stilts, coffins built when a babe was born because life span was 35yrs.  The children had no toys, no clothes, no healthcare.  Babies were having babies,  Food was what you had around you.

And yet, I have never met such full, connected, loving beings in all my travels.  Lao, being a Buddhist Country was built on a foundation of inner, soul, heartfelt spirituality.

 To us, it appeared they had nothing.  In reality, they had everything.

Soul, Hunger, Loss, Love, Belonging, Tribe, Adoption, Pain

I think of these things a great deal.  As an adoptee I have a broken place in my heart that leaves me with hunger pains beyond description.

My saving grace is that I am filled with spirit, my soul is full, my heart open.

November

A good time to review what’s really important in our daily diet.  A time to reflect on what makes you hungry and what feeds your soul.

Loss…..When Your Heart Is Breaking

IMG_1488“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”

Rumi

I believe that.  I’ve been witness to the magic of allowing yourself to believe.  Many times over.  In fact, those feathers and many more in my collection are just one sign that someone I loved dearly is close by.  How precious is that?  To know you never lose the ones you love.

Many of us, myself included have experienced Loss and Grief recently.  It comes along when you least expect it and grabs your heart and twists it wringing out the tears leaving you raw and open.

As a former RN I believe in the Kubler Ross grief cycle.  Not only for the loss of a loved one but for any loss.  For those of us with Mast Cell Disease, Cancer, EDS, any type of debilitating illness or injury.  Your life changes and with that..you experience loss of many kinds.

We all experience grief in our own way.  It may come in waves and toss us around like tiny birds on an angry ocean.  Or perhaps it sits there, hidden until something triggers it and then it grabs our mind and heart squeezing until the tears are forced out.

According to Keubler Ross the five stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally acceptance.  Not in any particular order, perhaps jumping back and forth for however long it takes to get to acceptance and peace.

As a Buddhist I believe in Death and Impermanence of Life.  It’s part of the natural part of life, however, death is not the end of life.  It’s merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life.  Our spirit remains and seeks out new life.

When we come to the last moment of this lifetime,and we look back across it, the only thing that’s going to matter is,

“What was the quality of our Love?”

Richard Bach

As adoptees we arrive in this world already burdened with the unbearable loss of our mother.  We spend our lives in a place of darkness and sorrow, sometimes not even recognizing the depth of pain we carry.

It doesn’t matter that you understood that your mother was unable to raise you or she thought she was doing what was best for you, or perhaps too young and under pressure.

 IT DOES NOT MATTER.

She let go.  The whole family let go. They all let go.

“They” will never understand.  “They” were never let go.

It becomes a family of pain.  My Mother shut down.  She carried “the secret” inside her tortured heart for years.  My heart goes out to her.  The pain must have been unbearable.  I felt it the moment I gave birth to my daughter 36yrs ago.  I looked in her eyes and immediately felt my Mothers pain.

Adoptees never completely heal.  Neither do their Mothers.  After search and reunion even if it goes badly we at least have the potential for growth.  We have a chance to move from the traumatized self to the revitalized and transformed self.

Tomorrow is my Mother’s birthday, five days before mine.  She died a short 9 months after I moved across Canada to get to know her.  I found my Mother and Lost her all in the same breath.  I was so filled with grief and pain from the first loss and the loss at her death my Mast Cells took over my body and sent me into the mast cell abyss from Hell.

Her family will grieve for her.  They will reminisce with each other of the memories that holds them together as a family.  I will grieve for the loss of what could have been.  For the loss of heritage, genetic markers, memories that bind, love that stays, family that never was.  It never goes away, this grief.

To all of us in the past weeks that have experienced loss,

I dedicate this blog to you and those we have lost.

Look around you…notice the small things..the wind blowing softly past your ear.  The butterfly sitting on a flower.  The soft rain hitting window panes.  The brilliant red leaf as it flutters slowly from the tree.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

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Letting Go of Who You Thought You Were…

Who are you? Do you know? 

Who were you before?  Before what?  I would have to say, before many things.

Someone asked me the other day why I can’t just stop writing about the past.  My answer to that is that I never had a past before to talk about, well except for the one in FINDING HEART HORSE.  As adoptee’s we are void of history, void of a past and full of loss only.  Until….

Until we search.  Until we grab each piece of paper with bits of information on it and try and put it all together.  I’m sure all of us had a tin box in the closet like the one I had, or a shoebox that held tiny bits of information gleaned over the years.  If we are lucky and find our adoption papers or can apply for non identifying information we fill with anticipation in perhaps finding a bit more about who we are.

How can you let go of the person you used to be until you find out who that person is?

In writing FINDING HEART HORSE i went through layer upon layer of stories of who I thought I was only to discover after rewriting seven times….I was no longer my story.  The words between the covers now are the story, not me.  I was terrified for years that someone would find out who I really was and here it turns out…it wasn’t me at all.  It was just a story.

I wonder if I write another book on purely adoption if that would be the case  in the end.  Would I then not be my story.  The answer is no, nothing would change the reality of the primal wound and the damage done. 

If you don’t have the wound of a broken heart, how can you know you’re alive?

 If you have no broken heart, how do you know who you are?  Have been?  Ever have been?”  

  Edward Albee

We all have wounded hearts to some degree etched with at least a few of life’s scars.  If that is the case, how can we find peace”  How can we release our sorrow and move beyond negative memories and hurt?  How can we release our attachment  to the past?

One thing you never hear in adoptee groups is the prattle of well meaning friends who say things like “You need closure”,  “You need to move on”

Okay, I’ll get right on that.  Thank you!

I worked in Psychiatry for many years and I remember looking after a patient who had suffered great loss.  As we were discussing the stages of grief and closure,

I said.”Maybe it’s time to let go and move on.”  “Maybe it isn’t,” she replied..”Maybe i’m not done.”

I think of those words often especially in relationship to adoption loss.  Maybe in our case, we are never done.  All loss is painful but the loss of a mother in utero is one that goes beyond the normal realm of thinking.  It’s an energetic loss of self before we even enter this world.

When you suffer with PTSD… Adoption trauma , rape, abuse the grief is never “done”.  Mourning is part of the process as well as a deep and significant spiritual experience.  It drives us down into the core of our being, our authentic self.

There does come a time that we need to release the pain even tho’ certain losses remain with us forever such as in adoption.

 We need to regain balance by processing but the loss remains as part of our history.

That doesn’t mean we spend our lives grieving or living in our past.  We find ways to co-exist with our sadness.  We can embrace our pain and our losses and be greater and more authentically real for doing so.  We are never going to erase the deeply ingrained memory of our grief and loss and I don’t think it would be good if we did.  We would become unconscious beings

devoid of feelings and memories.

We do have to find peace and acceptance within the framework of our daily lives.  Finding a way to peacefully coexist with life’s losses takes courage, and inner strength and work.

It’s all Karma anyway.  Blowing in like the wind, in whatever direction it chooses.  We have no control over the blowing of the winds and the world around us but we are in charge of how we relate to those winds.

That’s what makes the difference.

If you want your life experience to be different, you have to do something different.

We all have choices.  We can change how we view the world.  Change is going to happen anyway so we might as well just embrace the idea and go with the flow of life.  Change allows for the constant regeneration and renewal of ourselves.  I’ve noticed its the times of crisis that have preceded the most growth and change for me.

Adoption has it’s own unique set of core beliefs, habits, protections, behaviours, attitudes, opinions and preconceptions.  Everyone has them.  Adoptee’s are just different, deeper perhaps and from a place that was hardwired pre-birth.

Once you begin to identify these and begin to let go, we begin to let go of who we used to be or who we thought we were.  With new vision and a new way of being we are open then to a new flow into that space now created by relinquishing those old beliefs.

Just imagine allowing all the positive energy that can now occupy a space once filled with such negative and painful beliefs.  You might even be able to say to yourself, that yes, I am loveable.  Yes, I’m worthy of good things and being happy.  Yes, I do belong.  I exist in this universe.  I may belong in a different way than I thought I would, but I belong…to myself.  Being at peace with …just being

‘There is no present or future-only the past….happening over and over again—now.

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That’s how we get through grief.”

 Eugene O’Neill

 

 

Emotion……Energy….In motion

ImageDo you know where your heart is?  Do you know what’s in it?  I mean, not in a medical way but an energetic way.  All logic has told us that our five senses cannot manfully explain or represent the existence of our soul, our heart, our energy.

Our five senses belong to the higher order of logic and understanding, therefore we need to pay close attention to feelings.  Because of this we have delegated the heart as the sensor to external energy and emotion.  Somewhere along the line we decided that feelings were nothing more than unnecessary add ons  that were capable of creating pain and dysfunction.  With this idea, most people tend to repress their emotions in fear of pain.

I was just over on Lost Daughters blogspot where a discussion about parenting was taking place and how adoption has affected our individual parenting styles.  As adoptees we come from a place of primal pain, primal wound.  A place so deep and dark many of us don’t even recognize that it’s there buried in the rubble of our fractured hearts.  It usually isn’t until we decide to search for our roots that we begin to peel back the layers and discover the buried trauma, the buried coping skills we have utilized to protect and save us from an unfriendly world.

When we close the door to our feelings we also close the door to the vital currents that energize and activate our thoughts and actions.  We can’t begin the process of understanding the effects of our emotions upon us, our environment and other people.  Without awareness of our emotions we cannot associate the effects of anger, sadness, grief or joy within ourselves or others…with their causes.

 There is no distinguishing between which part is personality and that part of us that is soul or heart.  Without awareness of our feelings we cannot experience compassion.  How can we share the sufferings and the joys of others if we cannot experience our own?

Everyone, not just adoptees needs to become intimate with their emotions.  Emotion is energy.  Becoming aware of this energy is the first step of learning how our experiences come into being and why.  For myself, with my multiple layers of trauma to peel back, it’s taken a lifetime of exposing, and expressing the layers as they became available and I’m not done yet.

Emotion reflects Intention.  If you are aware of your emotion then you become aware of your intention.  Sounds simple enough doesn’t it?  Not quite.  If you see a discrepancy between a conscious intention and the emotion that accompanies it you may see a part of yourself that requires healing.  For example, when I met my Birth Mother I wanted it to be a happy, joyful occasion but in fact, I was terrified and filled with such sadness it was unbearable.  Obviously, there was a great discrepancy.  I discovered a place of grief and loss i could barely stand it.

It’s all about understanding energy and how our emotions run on frequency spectrums.  As you work through your layers of emotion you begin to see that you can step away objectively and actually control your feelings.  Being aware brings you to a way of living in peace,  A place of being where when you are open to your emotions, to your place of pain. it will then bring you closer to your heart.  Being aware leads to an open heart.

Do you know what triggers your emotions?  Do you know how they impact every single aspect of your daily life?  Do you have any idea of the power of thought?

 Since being diagnosed with mast cell disease and really paying attention to my emotion and my energy, it has become so clear how the two are intertwined.  Each trauma I experienced early in life, from surgery to rapes, upped the ante and my disease progressed as if it were climbing stairsteps to the ultimate top where reunion sent it over the edge into the abyss of mast cell hell.  I can pinpoint each and every step.  Needless to say, I’m very careful with my self talk now and my energy.

If you have 70,000 thoughts a day, can you imagine if you thought negatively for 60,000 of those, the damage it would do to your body, life, relationships.  We are energy, our thoughts are energy and affect every cell either in a positive or negative way.

There are no shortcuts.  Life mastery stems from emotional mastery which comes from digging thru the layers and discovering what you are really made of.  Only then can you say you have achieved self mastery and an open heart.

It’s not an easy place to go… This deep cavern of emotion.  Once you get through one layer and know you survived, you begin to notice a feeling of lightness and exhilaration.  It requires perseverance but is something that will transform every aspect of your life.  Find those core beliefs, the ones we have lived with most of our life without awareness.  Dig them up and take a good look.  Ask yourself what purpose they fulfil  in your life and if they are really true, then get rid of them and live a compassionate life with your heart wide open.

I put that saying at the top because some of the most beautiful people I have met in my life have been through the most horrific experiences and yet they were just that…beautiful souls.

 As a nurse, many times I have had with the privilege to sit with and hold hands with, souls that are in the death process, children included.  The most amazing stories have been told and emotions shared, truths spoken….such beautiful souls.

 The stories on the streets you hear will break your heart and yet they look at you with kindness in their eyes and hide hearts of gold….such beautiful souls.

 In Northern Lao, when I visited the hill tribes who lived with nothing and yet were always smiling and willing to share whatever they had….such beautiful souls.

It is here adoption comes in and the many people I have come to know and love.  Our journeys shared and emotions bared….all with open hearts and a compassion so profound wrapped in such strength …..such beautiful souls.

It is here with fellow mast cell disease sufferers  I discovered such strength and heart  with endless compassion for another’s suffering despite dealing daily with such emotional and physical pain. themselves…..such beautiful souls.

They live among us.  Take time to get to know them,  to listen to them and learn from them.  They live with hearts wide open…..beautiful souls

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