Are You Kind?

I can’t stop thinking about something that happened to me or rather, for me, the other day. For many reasons it affected me profoundly.

Perhaps, because I’ve been so ill. Perhaps, because for the last two years death and dying has been such an invasive subject. Maybe, because I’m alone without human touch. Or is it because I’ve lost trust, had my heart-broken, struggle to find hope purpose and joy in the “in-between moments” of pain and illness. Is it because I was adopted and abused?      Who knows. It just is. Most likely all of those things.IMG_2662 I love Brené Brown’s quote above for many reasons. It’s very challenging for many people including of course, adoptees, people who have been abused, neglected, are chronically ill, or just trying to move forward. The experience I had, I realize now, was only possible because I allowed myself to be vulnerable.

At this point in my life, nothing is off-limits. I’m an open book. My heart is wide open. My mind accepting, forgiveness comes easily when your time on this earth is unpredictable and could change any moment. The truly important things become obvious.

The definition of Kindness is rather simple.

the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate, affection, warmth gentleness, care

Kindness is synonymous with Love except that Love is a state of being and Kindness is a state of doing. When you can make each human interaction a moment inspired by Love, you are practising Kindness…you are taking the step. Love allows us to see the people on our path as the Buddhas they are, and then Kindness allows us to bless them  with loving acts.IMG_2010

I know what i experienced was far deeper than “just kindness”. It was authentic compassion. Authentic empathy. Authentic gentleness offered by a very kind soul.

So many people say they’re kind, perhaps even truly believe they are. Unfortunately for the receiver, you can feel the disingenuous energy and know it’s feeding their own ego being.

Many adoptees I’ve encountered over the years experience the same feeling when offered authentic kindness morsels. It’s overwhelming often leading to tears. The fact that someone truly cares and is offering you a piece of their heart in their hand can be overwhelming to say the least. How sad that such a deeply ingrained belief can still be present even at my ripe old age. From the time you absorb the negative energy in utero, you have the belief you aren’t worthy of love. Of course you know it’s not true. It’s just so deep that until someone comes along and offers you authentic kindness and you let yourself be vulnerable and open to receiving it, that you realize what you’ve lost.

Of course, I’m speaking for myself here, but I know others have experienced the same.

Here’s the story. As I mentioned, I’ve been dealing with my own mortality and all that it entails. Dying is a lot of work! Paperwork, emotional work, medical work, constant thinking work, saying goodbye work. A great deal of work. It’s especially challenging when you are alone. I’m blessed to have a couple of dearly loved friends, the ones that pulled me through my near death hospitalization. We had dinner one night and laughed until we cried as we discussed my death. Now, those are good friends!

Oh right, the story.

I was in a meeting. A business meeting with a business person I’ve known for many years now. I’m filling him in on some of “the story”. You know, the one that is over. The story of the last few years, condensed of course! I’ve been very tearful since my last admission to hospital last week. Part Mast Cell Madness, part facing reality and the exhaustion of it all. I felt a tear slip out of my eye and roll down my cheek. When I looked up, there he sat. His hands were stretched out to me, palms up. His eyes focused on mine. At first i was confused. What does he want? A “low five”, “patty cakes” “a book”?

What? What?

Then it hit me!

I’m supposed to put my hands in his! OMG! He’s being authentically kind! He’s oozing empathy and compassion. I reached over and gently lowered my hands onto his. He slowly rolled up his fingers wrapping my hands in the warmth of connection. I could feel the energy, the caring. I could feel his gaze. I forced my eyes to move from our hands to his eyes. He looked and said softly, “I’m here for you. Do you hear me? I’m here for you.”

It was authentic and my heart burst open, leaving me flailing in vulnerability and tears. For that moment, I felt the healing energy of..

Compassion, empathy and authentic kindness

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I wonder why more people can’t speak from the heart through actions. Words mean very little unless accompanied by actions.

I wonder if others take this for granted. I wonder what it would be like to experience this daily. I can’t stay there too long because I’d know all I’ve missed. What I can do, is encourage everyone to connect, to care, to be kind every chance you get. You will never know what a gift you have given to someone. A gift that may have changed the course of their life.

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“We are each of us angels with only one wing.

And we can only fly embracing each other.”

 Luciano De Crescenzo

 

 

 

 

 

Being an Almost Daughter…Here’s to all the Motherless Daughters & Sons

I was so sure I would be able to stay away from the computer today.  So sure, so determined.  Here I am, unable to “not write”.  I’m usually pretty good at not letting “special occasions” get to me now.  It’s taken a lot of work and reprogramming of those deep-seated beliefs.

Mother’s Day, of course is a tough one when you haven’t had a mother.

Yet, here I sit.  The Almost Daughter..one of the thousands of Motherless Daughters.

Hope Edelman wrote a book called Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of loss.  She was writing about the death of her mother but the loss applies to those of us who have lost our mothers from birth as well.  We also are motherless daughters in a different sense,  especially if you didn’t have mothering in your adoptive home.

“There is an emptiness inside of me–a void that will never be filled.  

No one in your life will ever love you as your mother does.  There is no love as pure,  unconditional and strong as a mother’s love.

 And I will never be loved that way again.”

Hope Edelman

How does one begin to understand or explain the depth of what it means to have never experienced a mother’s love.  For the last few days my news feed has been inundated with pictures of flowers and dinners and moms and children.  I look at them and smile, happy, that for them, the day holds memories of nurturing and love.

 Inside..deep inside..there is a place that screams of loss, of pain, of not knowing what that feels like.  Of recognition that I will never know.

My adoptive mother never wanted, nor should she have had children.  There was no nurturing there, no love, only the harsh reality of not being wanted which was reinforced daily.

I have great compassion for her now.  She’s been dead for years and I have forgiven.  Of course, none of its forgotten and the wounds still spill out their pain every now and again..like today.

I met my birth mother in 2003 after searching over most of my life.  I was 50 and terrified to meet this woman who gave me away.  It doesn’t matter why you are given up.  The primal wound still exists.  The in utero knowing of “not being wanted” the energetic connection that was severed early, even before I entered the world.

She never saw me.  She never named me.  I never existed.

She lived in my heart and I lived nowhere.

I moved my life across the country to get to know “my family, my mother”.  Life changed forever when I got that first call that there was a family.  A family that had existed all of my life but without me.

Thirty years before that, I had found a cousin.  Everyone knew I was looking except my siblings who never knew I existed.  I often wonder if we had the fortune of meeting then, would things be different?

Our kids could have grown up together.  We could have grown up together.  It would have been 30 yrs less of secrets and lies.  Would we have been able to heal at a younger age?  Would my mother have loved me then?  Would she have been able to mother me then?  So many would haves, should haves, could haves.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe things happen for a reason and I suppose the time wasn’t right…but then when is it right?

There is never a right time to expose  a secret for the one who holds it close.

I will never get over the loss.  I try to embrace the tiny bits that emerged to connect us.  She loved horses and of course Finding Heart Horse describes my passion for horses and my search for my Heart Horse.  We both had a standard uniform of white shirt and blue jeans.  The first time I saw her picture I was speechless.  It was like staring in a mirror.  Never before had I seen myself reflected back so vividly, so genetically.  My daughter was my first biological connection.  I can look at our pictures now and see the resemblance but for the longest time I didn’t know what “I” looked liked so couldn’t see me, in her.

The Almost Daughter: not wanted in my adopted family, they wanted a boy

The Almost Daughter: my real mother died 9 months after I moved across the country to get to know her.  On this day, mothers day, 8 yrs ago.  I never got to be mothered.  I never had the chance to be her daughter, nor she my mother.

As I’m writing I understand why I’ve fought so hard NOT to write on this day.  It’s difficult to express authentic emotions in our society.  We tend to push them down and not release them.  We speak in social talk which I’m so not good at anymore, nor do I want to be.  In the adoptee world the social talk is translated into meaningful connections with honest words.  Much has been talked about with the work up to this day.  I thought I could just let the day be a day..

I found my mother and lost her all in the same breath, on this day.  I hold great compassion for her as well.  How terrible to have lived with that “secret” for all of those years.  How painful, what a terrible loss to hide from everyone.

I had to “grow myself”, raise myself in an environment I was never meant to be in.  Even running away at 15 didn’t solve the problem.  I grew up on the streets looking for where I belonged, where my family was, where I fit in.

The Wall of Secrets has finally been submitted and the self publishing process begins again.  Perhaps you will understand me better knowing my journey or perhaps you aren’t really interested, it doesn’t really matter either way.  This journey,  my journey, my healing, is the gift I am able to give to my daughter on this mothers day and that’s all that really matters.

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To all of us..To the Motherless Daughters and Sons of adoption and death I am holding you all in my heart today as we grieve our loss together.

 

You Are Whole…Just the way you are

ImageIt’s five minutes after now.  Are you broken, damaged, hurting, unable to function?

If you are feeling like that, perhaps NOW is the time to let  that pattern go.  Start the New Year with a new image of yourself.

I, myself, have said so many times, “I’m so broken, i’ll never be whole.”  It’s not just us adoptees that feel this.  I’ve heard others say the same thing after a breakup or loss of some kind.

We, of course come into this world already having suffered the greatest loss of all…our Mother.

How many times have you said to yourself, because of my adoption I will never be ——–insert your own statement there?  I can think of hundreds.

Many times I’m sure, if I go by my own information. The thing is, it’s a Myth.  Yes..it is. Really.

If we commit to authenticity in our lives, to not leaving one stone unturned, we eventually find the little closets of conditioning that make us feel needy or unloved.  It’s easy to feel flawed, after all, if our own mothers didn’t want us who would.  Who could love us, who would love us.  We had to have had some horrendous flaw to be given away, after all….we were just babies.

 I agree with the documentation of the many clinical, medical and scientific studies that show “in utero” learning and the “Primal wound” connection to being hardwired for particular behaviours. Does that mean we are so damaged we can’t learn to live in a place of peace and acceptance?  I’m beginning to understand the answer..and believe that of course we can live in peace and acceptance.

When we identify with being damaged we are forgetting that we actually came into this world as perfect little beings.  We did arrive with several layers of protective false identity that has been shielding us from ourselves and our already prewired belief systems.  We needed that in order to survive.  Then.  Not now.

Now is the time to remember who you are.

With adoption comes living in duality until you search and put the fragmented pieces back together.  But, anyone can feel broken, not just us.  It may be different, deeper and more tangled for adoptees because of that primal wound but not an uncommon statement to hear.

As it gets closer to Christmas, the scars, the fears, the anxiety and pain from loss begin to surface.  It’s all true and real, yet some of it may be habitual thinking.  As a practicing Buddhist, I believe we are born with that buddha heart space, that perfection, the peace of stillness.  Even us, “the adopted ones”.

Then life hits.

 

Of course as adoptees alone and confused as babies we are thrown into isolation, perhaps rarely tended too or placed into the arms of some strange person who claims to be mother. Our needs are not adequately met.  How can they be. It’s all pretend and foreign. That’s the reality of adoption.

 Perhaps our feelings are rejected, maybe we are criticized, demeaned or even abused.  So now..not only do we have the prewired coping skills due to loss we, also begin to develop other belief systems and strategies to make our way in the world.

Layer upon layer upon layer the belief systems and coping skills accumulate  Our true nature, our perfect and pure little being, gets covered over and we take on the identities of being “unworthy” “fearful” “bitter”.

It’s like walking in a circle, over and over again until the dirt is so worn down and we are so deep we can’t see over the edge, never mind imagine that there is any other way out.  Our belief systems are so deeply ingrained just thinking about changing them or letting some go brings anxiety.  Some of them so ingrained we don’t see them until it’s pointed out.

 There we are….stuck…telling ourselves how damaged we are.

We are not damaged.  We are not damaged.  We are not damaged.

When I was small I developed calming methods for myself.  I would move my fingers around buttons, my hand, anything that was close.  I’d circle around and say. “i’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay” or I’m safe,  Always in threes.  Sometimes for hours when things were really horrid.  I still do it, only now with mala beads (tibetan prayer beads)

We can do the same thing with reinforcing our pure heart, our buddha nature, our authentic undamaged self.  We are whole, clear, and undisturbed, open to change and growth….if we want.

Now, is a good time to begin.

Now, is a good time to reclaim your pure nature that you are hiding under all those belief systems.  For adoptees, some cannot be erased.  It’s actually quite freeing to recognize that.  The primal wound is real and deep and oh so painful.  Imbedded deeply inside the amygdala and limbic system are places that perhaps cannot be fused together.  What we can do, is empower ourselves and learn to manage that little voice that says….but I’m so broken.  We can learn to manage the knowledge we may never know or feel loved and still be open to perhaps that isn’t true.  

It takes work.  A lot of work.

It takes patience and perseverance and love.

If you need these beliefs for now…make them your friend but don’t let them rule your life.  It will become clearer with time that there are other choices.

Figure out your patterns.  I mean, come on guys.  Adoptees are known for being insightful and introspective.  We know.  We really know if we take a step back and listen to others and see ourselves in their words.

Maybe a pattern served you when you were struggling but you don’t need it now.

Just be willing to be gentle with yourself,  Let your harsh words soften.

Try out a new response.  What have you got to lose?  Ultimately we are alone and in charge of our own lives anyway.  Can we stop blaming?  Stop being so angry?  Stop hurting ourselves and say yes..to life instead.  

Now, now is the time.  Not five minutes after now, but now.

 Life is too short.  In an instant it can change.

We will stumble.  Of course we will, who doesn’t?  Not a big deal.  Just begin again.  Chip away at the old and soon you will find the new.  

Someday, when you are sitting in stillness, you will realize that in the rigidity and habit occupied space, there is now peace, space and flexibility.  You will, because you are not damaged.  You are whole, just as you are.

The ways we have learned to protect ourselves are not who we are.

Now..now is the time.

“As long as you make an identity for yourself out of pain, you cannot be free of it.”

Eckhart Tolle