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.



So What Happens Now?

 I thought someone stole my life. At the time it was real.

Each hospitalization steals a piece of who I used to be, each reaction possibly  a death sentence. Between adoption reunion and a rare mast cell disease I feel like I’ve been fighting a war or working on one of those fishing boats being tossed around like feathers in an ocean of power.

 I still have a life only its very different from the one I had planned for retirement. Different from the one I anticipated as I worked my way down my “Places to Go Before You Die” list. Different from the strong, physically fit nurse running on concrete day after day. Different from my friends and family. Different

Thing is, I have a life and I am grateful.

SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?.

How does one manage, adjust, accept and live in the new world around them.

ACT AS If YOU KNOW

A few years ago before I got so sick I was at a retreat where the teacher used that phrase frequently. If you were asked a question and were stuck for an answer the normal reply is,”I don’t know “Thats why I’m asking you.” He would slowly curl his lips up in a smile and say, “Well, I know you don’t know. but if you did, what would the answer be?’ Immediately, people felt a shift and an answer became apparent.  You had it all along. It’s that simple.

I have had many times, many major times in my life, that in an instant, my life changed. These major life changes demand adaptation. Until you get re-grounded, Act As If You Know.

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When you experience major life changes such as we do in adoption reunion, serious life threatening illness, anything that comes out of the corner swinging when you least expect it, there are a few guidelines I’ve found quite helpful.

1.Change is part of life. Feelings of grief, sadness, anger are normal when experiencing a loss. Give yourself permission to feel that way but with limits. A day, a moment, a brief accountable time. Sit with the emotions but don’t stay there.  There’s no adaptation if you don’t move forward. You stay in a place of helplessness  and personally, i’d rather be in a place of hope and growth.

2.Take off the mask.  You know the one.  The strong, independent fearless warrior we like everyone to see. Let people see the real you.  The vulnerable, the frightened you, so greatly in need of help. The you that wonders if you’ll make it through another day. Only when others can see the real you are they able to offer help. Through vulnerability comes courage.

3.Remember you aren’t the first person to experience change and you won’t be the last. You Are Not Alone You always have yourself and you are surrounded by the energy of the universe, spirituality and love. Open the door just a crack and you will find many others feeling the same way.

4.People aren’t mind readers. They don’t know what you need, what you want and many have no idea what to say or do in your particular situation. Be specific and you will find people feel relieved because they had no idea and will gladly support you. If they have to guess, they feel helpless, just as you do. Empowerment comes from knowing.

5.Change takes courage but our ability to adapt is incredible. You need to believe that you can adapt and you will. Now that I have O2 24/7, it’s taken a great deal of adapting, inventing, climbing over obstacles I could never have imagined. You will find solutions for whatever is standing in your way. We are survivors.

6.Don’t lose hope. I know there are days it seems futile and the dark places try to pull you in but don’t go there. There is something, no matter how small, that you can grasp like a rope of hope.  Hang on, the ride is wild but know in your heart it will be alright, just different.

7.This journey, be it illness, death, adoption, reunion, whatever it is, is traumatic and it will change you forever. It changes how you see life and deal with things and right in the middle is the learning, the knowledge, the courage and strength you didn’t know you had. What’s happening around us, to us doesn’t change us as human beings. Stay centred and grounded and remind yourself you are okay.

Start right where you are now, in this moment, just accept it without comparison to your past life. We adapt. We survive. A habit takes 21 days to form. Neuroscience tells us our brains have extraordinary capacity to rewire patterns so get out of your own way. Meditate, walk in nature, listen to music, write.  Do what you must so you can see what’s around the next corner.

ACT AS IF YOU KNOW

Neither Here…nor There

In my last blog about energy I had a picture of the two necklace/pendants I wore at my book signing.  I believe strongly that everything holds energy, is energy and place great faith in my Buddhist Malas that have seen me through many troubled times, as well as the writing of Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets.

I wrote about the energy of the “horse pendant”, the Stallions, the wild horses that I love so much.  I left the story behind the other pendant until now.

A few months ago Kay Jewellers put out an ad for a new line.  Adoption jewellery …specifically a necklace that would be given to an adoptive mother upon the birth of “the baby”.  It sparked outrage from the adoptee community and was seen as an insult and offensive by many.  It was an idealized memento that failed to acknowledge the trauma, pain and disappointments involved in adoptive situations, never mind the adoptee primal wound trauma and what that leaves us with.

Conversations were bouncing back and forth in forums like boomerangs, some angry, some in disgust, some with disbelief.  Nothing about the ad was right or real.

We have such a brilliant group of people in the adoptee world.  It’s filed with advocates, writers, authors, musicians, therapists, teachers, social workers and…jewellers.

Tracy, from Tracy’s Gem Shop https://www.etsy.com/shop/TracysGemShop designed a brilliant and touching rebuttal pendant.  One that was real and to the point.  This is what I wore at the book signing.

IMG_0906  The Adoption Pendant

It was designed for adoptees or mothers of loss to adoption.  Take a close look.  What you see is a tattered, torn, tarnished heart signifying loss.  The stone is set wrongly into the setting to represent the adoptee never fitting in with the adopted family, birth family and/or world due to the loss of their original identity.  I chose the blue sapphire.   My birth mothers birthday was five days before mine in September.  How painful for both of us.

I had many comments at the book signing about both pendants but mostly about the uniqueness of the broken heart and the fact that adoptees generally feel we are Neither Here, nor There.

A sense of belonging is something I’ve never known.  In Finding Heart Horse you can read the many subcultures I tried to fit in, never quite feeling at home.

hiraeth

(n.) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past

As an adoptee, you are dropped into a family and expected to take part and act as if you belong..It’s like trying to put a square peg into a round hole..it just doesn’t work.  They know it and the adoptee sure knows it, and yet everyone pretends that it’s all just fine.  This secrecy breeds shame, guilt and a lack of knowing how to fix it.  In my case, certain requirements were to be filled, I was bought and paid for and should perform as requested.  That worked until I became of the age where one begins to develop your inherent biological traits and the desire to find who you really are.  I escaped.

It’s human nature to want to belong, to fit in somewhere. We have been called pseudo-species by some, survivors by others, generally residing just outside the mainstream of human existence.  As a group, we sound like brothers and sisters reminiscing about family.  It’s a private world, a tribe of outsiders holding secrets that bind us together.  Through these tribes, we have a chance at learning who we are.

 Those who have been through reunion know it’s a challenge at the best of times.  Years have been lost, history denied, memories non-existent and still, because finally we have “family” we so strongly want to belong, to fit in, to be part of all that we had lost from the beginning.

Even with a great deal of time and mutual support the reunion process is often misunderstood and challenging.  It’s a slowly evolving process which everyone needs to work at, walk through and heal.  Sometimes, that doesn’t happen.  Feelings need to be acknowledged and accepted on all sides.  No one can be left out.  Each person has been a part of the process in an energetic sense and everyone has to work together to heal.

In my adopted family, I have the history but not genetics.  In my biological family I have the genetics but no history.  My goal was to make memories, find my place among the group and finally belong to a family.  Unfortunately it’s not   that simple.  There is a piece missing.  An undefined, raw, unknown, just like the tarnished, off centre broken heart with the misplaced gem.

Neither Here..nor..There

These are my experiences and mine alone.  Some people find  home and family, some don’t.  Just as regular people in regular families feel they don’t belong, we are all different.  Oh…but I wanted it so badly.  I hung on to hope and prayed nightly, then cried myself to sleep.  That pull, that longing, that hiraeth is a strong force.

What I  discovered as I journeyed into the dark depths of my soul and began digging in the dirt was that unknown to me…I was home already.  Underneath the layers and layers of loss and pain the diamonds lay waiting..all I had to do was dig deep enough, shine them up, breathe and settle into my authentic self.

I AM

I EXIST

I BELONG