Undones, Do You Have Them?

img_6630

 

Having faced death several times myself and recently experiencing the deaths of two very special people, I find myself preoccupied with loss.

Adoptees tend to do that of course. Our beginnings in utero had already started the prewiring necessary for our survival which was begun with loss of our mother.

Of course, I’d like to be thinking of sunshine and rainbows, but the reality for all of us is that death is inevitable. It could be tonight even.. It will come whether you’re ready or not. That is a certainty and we don’t have many of those in this life.

My life has been filled with loss as most adoptees are. The loss of our mother, our family, our heritage, our genetic markers, our family dynamics. Each future loss such as the recent losses I’ve mentioned open that old wound.

Then of course you add in the numerous losses one tends to accumulate over the years and suddenly life appears to hold nothing but darkness, silence, the sound of tears dropping, emptiness, loss of health. Living with an illness that could at any moment take my life brings it all to the frontline.

Being a practicing Buddhist I’m well prepared for the inevitable. I don’t fear death at all and in fact, at times would welcome it. Most people living with Mast Cell Disease can attest to that when you’ve spent days in excruciating pain, vomiting into a pail, fighting the anaphylaxis demons with epinephrine.

That in no way means I want to die. It means I believe one has to prepare for their own death in order to live. A close encounter with death can bring a real awakening, a transformation in our whole approach to life.

The Nature of everything is illusory and ephemeral,

Those with dualistic perception regard suffering as happiness, Like they who lick the honey from a razor’s edge. How pitiful they who cling strongly to concrete reality:

Turn your attention within, my heart friends.

The above is a verse of a poem by contemporary master, Nyoshul Khenpo. It clearly outlines the need to reflect deeply on impermanence. It’s very difficult to turn our attention within and so easy to allow our old habits, our set patterns to rule us! To reflect on this, slowly brings us wisdom. Watch how you repeatedly fall into the same old habits that always bring you suffering. Again, and again, and again. With observance and practice we can slowly emerge and change.

Your Undones…

Your undones are that persistent, niggling, feeling that is sent to you from The Universe, Your Higher Self, how ever you think of what is “out there”. It’s telling you that you have unfinished business. Business that will pester you, stress you and take your energy until you complete it. Mental nags are undones. They remind you that you have broken agreements with yourself and time and time again you’ll notice they rob you of your self respect. Creativity…gone. True joy…gone. Internal peace…gone. You are able to get back all of those things if you complete your undones.

Right now in your mind I’m sure you can identify several. I know I can. They could be unresolved conflicts, withheld forgiveness, appreciation not mentioned, love not given, goals not met, promises not kept. Your life is probably full of many more not mentioned. They come in every size, shape, and in each and every area of your life. Check your basement. It’s probably full of undones.

Let this sink in…You won’t find peace until these undones are completed. Just remember, life is short and very unpredictable.

Triggers…Who’s Really Pulling Yours?

  “Ideas pull the trigger, but instinct loads the gun.”

Don Marquis

I’ve reflected on the last few years and my reactions to people and events..how many times they have been exaggerated and unpredictable.  At times totally out of context to the situation at hand.

Triggers consist of thoughts, feelings and events that seem to “trigger” an automatic response from us.  The word “trigger” is important here because our reaction occurs automatically.  It might seem as if the reaction is involuntary but the truth is…this reaction, like everything else, is a choice.  Learning to identify our personal emotional triggers is the first step to taking control over how we choose to respond.

Living as adoptees, adults of abuse or rape is especially challenging.  Not only for ourselves but for those around us who take the brunt of our reactions.  I’ve been told it’s like walking on land mines or on eggshells never knowing what “trigger” might be stepped on and the fragile shell come crashing down.

When I was first in “reunion” I was so triggered I was someone I had no experience with, a stranger.  I had no control over my tears, my body, my thoughts, my grief….nothing.  For someone who had been so tightly held together for decades every emotion exploded at once.  The grief, the deep..deep sadness was almost unbearable, yet no one, could understand, as everyone around me, had their mother.  Added in to the mix was that my Mast Cells were heading over the abyss in to Hell and I didn’t recognize, nor did anyone else, the physical aspect to my crash and burn.

Until we know how to correctly identify our triggers they will continue to rule our emotions.  It’s an ongoing process of learning for all of us.  The strengths that have helped us succeed are also our most significant triggers.  If you feel someone is not honouring that strength, emotions are triggered and in an instant we react.  Perhaps with anger or fear. Of course we immediately rationalize it so it makes sense.

The Key is to catch yourself reacting when your emotions are triggered.

If you can do that..you may discover the threat isn’t real at all.  Some of the most common emotional triggers, meaning that you react when you feel as though you aren’t getting or will not get one of these things that are important to you are in this group.

being included, acceptance, respect, be liked, be valued, be understood, be needed, be right, be in control, be treated fairly, loved, attention, 

Each of us has some that are more important that others.  Others may hold no emotional charge at all.  This list can be quite long and personal.  Having these needs isn’t a bad thing.  At some point in your life they served or saved you.  The thing is, we may become attached to these needs and when that happens your brain will be on the lookout for circumstances that threaten our ability to have these needs met.  At that point your needs become emotional triggers.

I can only speak from my place, where I sit now, in reflection of my past triggers and pain.  There was a time at the beginning of my reunion I was constantly in a flare.  A flare of Mastocytosis…yes…which plays havoc with my brain but also a place of such pain that the slightest threat to those above needs sent me into protection mode.  Especially, as I mentioned for those who have lived in the adoptee world or world of abuse where we needed to protect ourselves.  I grew up in the era where children were meant to be seen and not heard.  I had no voice in anything.  I had no say in even finding out who I really was, no rights, no love, no validation that I was meant to be on this earth.  I was abandoned at birth, abused and used.  Why wouldn’t I be filled with pain!

Remember when Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth exploded into the world?  It was all about Oprah and Eckhart then.  The online event that captured the world. Millions were brought together through Skype and cyber magic to work through this amazing book together with Eckhart Tolle and Oprah.

I remember the exact moment when I “got it”.  As many buddhist teachings I had been to when I heard the teaching put in a different way… I got it.

The Pain Body

I was going through a particularly difficult time.  My daughter had moved back to Toronto and my heart was broken….enter the pain body.  Huge trigger…abandonment, being loved, being needed, respected and heard.  You name it and IT was triggered.  There were also times in conversation I just lost it.  Pain body took control.  I didn’t see it at the time.  Again, mastocytosis and torn rotator cuff along with dislocated jaw disc created the feeding ground and the pain body gobbled it up and emerged the strongest.

When we have old emotional pain living inside us, as adoptees do, it’s called your Pain Body

This applies of course to anyone but I am speaking as an adoptee and survivor of abuse/rapes.  The pain body is an accumulation of painful life experiences that were not fully faced and accepted at the time.  It leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain and grows with time and experiences all energetic old emotion.

Pain body is the aspect of egoic consciousness.  When the ego is blown up by emotion of the pain body it gains tremendous strength,  taking over the situation.

The challenge is to recognize the pain body when it becomes active, when something triggers the strong emotional reaction.  At that moment, if it takes over your thoughts, the internal dialogue, which is dysfunctional at the best of times becomes the voice.  The actual event is coloured by old, painful buried emotion distorting everything.

For me, living alone gave my pain body the perfect feeding ground.  It gobbled up every negative thought, every painful moment and gained momentum and energy.  You know those times when you can’t sleep and the thoughts won’t shut off or you sit, thinking for hours about a specific hurt..The pain body thrives on those times.  It literally is eating you alive…just waiting for the next time it can emerge after a trigger.

Imagine then, if you are with someone who also has an unidentified pain body!  The ego/pain body loves other people, especially those who jump in and take part in the chaos of negativity.  It even pokes those people to trigger the response it needs to grow.  Of course, if you aren’t present in that moment and aware, you will immediately react….and now, there are two pain bodies feeding off of each other and loving the drama!

I started recognizing my own pain body and it then becomes so clear.  We carry so much unacknowledged pain even from generations past.  The challenge is, of course to acknowledge and recognize our triggers and where they originated.  A huge part of that is  being present.  Being able to step outside of ourselves and see clearly when the pain body is attempting take over.  Not an easy task but the more practice, the more awareness we have..the easier it gets and the pain body loses energy and power.

When you notice that you are emotionally reacting you have to shift your emotional state to think through what your trigger might be.

Relax…breath and release the tension in your body

Detach…clear your mind of all thoughts

Center…drop your awareness to the centre of your body, feel your breath

Focus…find one word that represents who you want to be or feel in this moment

Once you shift your emotional state, you are free to check if someone is actually taking something away from you or not.  You can then ask for what you need or let it go and move on.  Keep breathing and thinking of your keyword and you will deflate your pain body, your triggers and your patterns.

Freedom does exist

IMG_5752

Forgive! Are you Crazy?

When we forgive, we set a prisoner free and discover

that the prisoner we set free is us.”

Lewis Smedes

The prompting for this post was a discussion of sorts on my friend’s blog. http://www.morningpageswriter.wordpress.com  Monsters of Our Childhood … last evening.  I can’t remember all the comments but it was about finding forgiveness for those that have abused us in horrible ways as children or adults.

I never even thought about forgiving the people who had abused me, raped me, given me away, caused me pain…the list is endless.  I was so filled with pain and disbelief in human nature that when someone said to me, “Someday, you will need to forgive them and move on,” I wanted to shoving their words down their throat.  How could I possible forgive.  I was handed over at birth with no name, no thought, no love.  Handed over to live in a nursery probably not even held for who knows how long and then fostered by a middle-aged couple for two years as they waited for a boy, which was what they wanted.  If a boy became available I would be “sent back”.  They finally settled.  She, not wanting children at all and he, wanting a boy to fish and hunt with.

They settled and I paid the price.

Forgive!  Are you crazy?  I’m given away only to be abused by strangers who didn’t want me in the first place.

Raped and nearly beaten to death, not once, but several times and you want me to forgive?

I could go on and on with the specifics which, now are just that…specifics.  It doesn’t matter how much has been done to me, with me, around me anymore.  I set out on a journey to heal and to heal I knew I would have to forgive and let go of the past.  I know the exact moment it began.

IMG_5739

The word is where we all get stuck, especially if you were indoctrinated as many of us were in religions where everything was our fault since we were born sinners anyway and meant to spend the rest of our lives atoning for our sins.  We were taught/brainwashed to believe that we deserved everything we got or at least I was.

If I fell and scraped my knee, I deserved it.  If I spent a night licking my wounds from words and hand mirrors, it was because i deserved it.

 Of course, then when I was first raped at 16, in my head I could hear her words, “Well, look what you were wearing, you are a child of Satan.  What do you expect.”

 When I was critically ill in the hospital at 17, I could smell her breath as she leaned over droplets of spit landing on my face and said, “Go ahead and die.  You weren’t meant to be born anyway.  You don’t deserve to be here.  You are dead to us.”

Forgive?  You want ME to FORGIVE?

I wish someone had said to me years ago, “You don’t have to forgive.  Forgiveness is for them.  Letting go is for you.  When you’ve expressed enough anger, enough sadness, enough fear, then you’ll be ready to think about letting go.”

If you remember nothing else, remember that.

The truth is that yes, forgiveness sets you free and yes, I did forgive and have compassion for her now.

Forgiveness is a form of realism.  It doesn’t deny, minimize or justify what others have done to us nor the pain we have suffered because of it.  What it does is encourage us to look squarely at those old wounds and see them for what they are.  It allows us to see just how much energy we have wasted and how we have damaged ourselves by not forgiving.

Forgiveness is an internal process.  There is no forcing it and it sure doesn’t come easy no matter what you call it.  What it does do, is bring a great feeling of wellness and freedom.

Forgiveness/letting go means we no longer identify ourselves by our past injuries and injustices.  We are no longer Victims.  We can claim that right to stop hurting when we say we are tired of the pain and want to heal.  At that moment, forgiveness/letting go becomes a possibility.  We no longer want to punish those who hurt us, the pain from the past will no longer dictate how we live in the present, nor will it dictate our future.

Part of the healing is finding our own voices, speaking our truth, being vulnerable and courageous and writing blogs and books, speaking out loud our long-held secrets.  Dig through this layer and you will rescue your heart.

 This will be one of the most difficult parts of our journey only because our Ego doesn’t want to let go of the power that comes from being wronged.

Read that one again and again…

As long as we feel hurt and damaged we give ourselves the right to blame and judge.  We are the Victims.  Ego can point the finger and feel a certain power.  The Ego has to be put on the shelf for this one.  Forgiveness is an act of compassion but it doesn’t mean we forget.  It just means that there’s no longer an emotional charge from remembering.  It’s a gift to yourself.

You are worth having such a gift

Have you met “Your Shadow” yet?

Carrying on from Generational Pain… we meet Our Shadow.  Have you met yours yet?  The shadow is simply the dark side of someones  personality. A person can easily meet their shadow since it lives in the projection upon others.

Carl Jung coined the term but its also what Freud called the personal unconscious.  When we begin the journey of self discovery related to adoption, abuse, rapes, abandonment…whatever it is that drives us to delve into our psyche the shadow is the first to be met.  Until we know intimately our own shadow it is believed that we are only living on the surface, or existing in a facade of who we really are.  Adoptees especially are good at living the life of a chameleon and so are victims of any abuse..living the secrets.

ImageI was always told if I didn’t perform correctly or behave in a certain way I “would be sent back”, only I never knew where back was.  Trauma victims live a life of duality.  We function in society as expected, while keeping the shadow locked away, hidden out of fear or shame.  As long as we hide our shadow or refuse to acknowledge its presence, it will be conveniently projected onto other people.  Finding my biological family, writing Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets put me into a place where I was forced to examine each and every aspect of my shadow.

Practicing Buddhism is like engaging in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy since it requires you to dig deep in the trenches of what you consider to be “self” and  suffering.

The first sign of shadow projection/suffering, shows up as a strong emotional reaction to anyone or anything in  your world that is not in line with your beliefs.  It’s that unconscious, gut reflex projecting onto others, usually in  an emotionally charged verbal onslaught of criticism and blame.  If you can be mindful of when this happens, you will recognize your shadow in it’s finest form.  You can also see clearly by watching who your person is attracted to, either negatively or positively and the outward perceptions which are attached to the attraction….this is your shadow showing you itself…pay attention.  It can be a good thing!

In Buddhism the first two of the Four Noble Truths state that: Suffering is the basic state of the human world and: that suffering arises from desire.  If you look at the roots of suffering you will find the desire, the concealed attachment from which the shadow projection erupts.  You can feel it physically,  The gut, the nervous system, the emotion, the anger..If you can see these things and respond with compassionate, non-judgemental awareness it is eventually possible to expose the desire and release it with kindness towards yourself….relieving the suffering/the shadow.

It’s seen all the time in Adoptee groups, the anger, the pain, the rejection, the fear based living and yet, we are fortunate to witness this, not only in ourselves but others.  It means we can become intimate with our own shadows, therefore becoming whole, healthy and healing in the process.

For all of us that have experienced trauma,  rapes,  abuse,  neglect, violence, its crutial we find our own shadow and make peace with it.  You will find it slinking around in the secrets, the dark slimy alleys and the ghost filled rooms of your heart and soul.

To have a shadow is not to be flawed, but to be complete.

You cannot defeat it.  Just accept that fact right off the bat.  What you can do is be friends with it and expose it to the light and find acceptance and compassion for yourself.

The world of Adoption if full of secrets as all the other worlds of trauma are.  We were (those in my generation) raised in a society that lived secret lives inside perfect houses and church three times a week.

 Finally!  Finally, thru the world of cyberspace and words on pages we are able to expose those secrets and lies and free ourselves from a chained existence.

 Projection doesn’t make the pain go away permanently.  What it does is create a constant state of inner-vs-outer fighting while fuelling the shadow

The solution is to un-create the shadow.  There is nothing in it that is beyond our power to dissolve.  Instead of allowing your shadow to victimize you, grab hold of the control switch and reclaim your true function as creators of a new future.

It takes time to create our shadows and hand over the power and we need to recognize those times when we are giving away our freedom to the shadow.

Keeping Secrets from yourself and others.  Forms of secrecy are denial, deliberate deception, fear of exposing who you are, and conditioning by a dysfunctional family.

Holding onto guilt and shame.  Recognize no one is perfect.  When you feel ashamed of your mistakes the shadow gains more power.

Making yourself and others wrong.  Judgment is guilt wearing a moral mask to disguise its pain.  If you can’t release your guilt/shame it’s so easy to pass them on to others.

Needing someone to blame.  If you decide your pain is a moral issue you will have no trouble blaming someone else you feel is inferior in some way.

Ignoring your own weakness while criticizing those around you.  This is the process of projection.  If you feel the problem is with another..you have projected your own fear instead of taking responsibility for it.

Separating yourself from others.  When it becomes “them” and “us” we always think outside is the good one.  Isolation increases a sense of fear and suspicion and the shadow loves that.

Struggling to keep evil at bay.  I know we have all survived incredible traumas but when we think evil is just around the corner (which is our own creation or illusion) we give the shadow huge amounts of power.

It’s a process for all of us.  Once you remove the power from your shadow by exposing the above processes that fuel it you need to make opposite choices to escape and be the one in control.  Yeah, I know.  Easier said than done..she says with a grin.  It’s challenging and tiring doing all this self exploration.  The freedom it allows is well worth it.

You have choices.  They all come with steps that I will write in the next blog.  Stop projecting.

Detach and let go.

Give up self judgment.

Rebuild your emotional body.

The shadow has persuaded us to blame others and not take responsibility.  It tells us we are unworthy of love and respect.  it promotes anger and fear.

The shadow lies…..