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.



Interview by Karen Pickell from Lost Daughters

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2015

We Are Not Our Story:

An Interview with Author and Adoptee Claire Hitchon by Karen Pickell from http://www.lostdaughters.com
I recently reviewed Claire Hitchon’s latest memoir, The Wall of Secrets, in addition to its predecessor, Finding Heart Horse (you can read those reviews here). Claire’s life has been affected by adoption in profound ways, and I thought she might be able to give important insight to those of us who continue to struggle with processing trauma from our own adoptions.

I am grateful to Claire for the open and honest answers she’s given to my questions on difficult topics. There is encouragement here for all of us. It is soothing to hear Claire’s words.

How did you become comfortable talking about the difficult circumstances of your childhood and adoption? What types of reactions have you received from others, both inside and outside of the adoption community?

I survived by disassociating at a young age from the pain of abuse, rapes, and street life. The Wall of Secrets was a real wall in my parents’ library. I carried it in my mind until my adoptive mother passed away and I found my biological family in 2003. I could relay my story to anyone and not feel anything, until then…then the drawers started flying open and my worst nightmare became real.

It wasn’t until I began to write that I actually crawled into the places that hurt the most. I relived each and every secret. It was the most painful journey I’ve ever experienced. It was as if, once I found my birth mother the secrets had to be hauled out, one by one. I was already fragmented from reunion and all the secrets had to be dealt with in order to become whole and healthy. I went into seclusion, exhausted and physically ill. There were many times I wondered if I would ever reach the other side.

Each rewrite became a bit less traumatic and finally, the parts I had disassociated from were spread out in front of me in words, including the primal wound of adoption. Only then could I speak freely and without hesitation knowing I had dealt with, processed, and accepted all of it. The story that had been inside me, poisoning me, was now nothing more than words between the covers of books. I was no longer my story.

I’ve received various reactions, more positive than negative. You’re in a place of complete vulnerability when you share a story such as mine. I decided those that judged were not the people I wanted in my life anyway. Reactions have been from absolute horror and shock and being told, “Things like that are best left untold” from an older woman at a book reading, to tears of gratitude and validation that one is not alone. I’ve had women of my generation open up about their experiences with narcissistic, mentally ill mothers, comments from young adults about finding hope, to people unable to listen or read as it is a trigger, a piece of their pain not yet processed.
Have you connected with other adoptees who also experienced abuse in their adoptive homes? If so, have you discovered any commonalities in how adoptees who have been abused process that trauma throughout their lives?

I’ve been able to connect with others in various settings. I was an RN in psychiatry for over twenty years and many histories of patients held the secret of adoption in them. Most of us survive by disassociation from abuse suffered at the hands that were supposed to care for and love us. We tend to self-medicate when we get older with alcohol or drugs, not realizing the core issues of our pain. A disconnect keeps us from being re-traumatized or even loved. We live from a fear-based place. I’ve seen some that act out and then there are those of us who crawl up inside and just go on, carrying the pain until we are ready to look at it, if ever. There is a need for search even if it doesn’t lead to reunion for most of us to face our initial trauma, the primal wound. All adoptees begin with the initial trauma of loss. You can come from an adoptive family full of love and still experience similar issues; the abuse is just another layer to dig through.
As an adult, you cared for your adoptive mother for many years until she died, which seems remarkably compassionate considering her treatment of you. How were you able to reconcile your complex feelings toward your mother during that time?

I held on to the hope that things might change for many years. We all want our mothers to love us, adopted or birth. I realized nothing was going to change so I had to find a way to care for her without destroying myself. I had to work and I had a daughter to raise. I was a practicing Buddhist, yet finding compassion for her as my mother was beyond my abilities then. I had to look at her as a psychiatric patient, nothing more, just an ill person needing my care. I was an only child, there wasn’t anyone else, my father had died years before. I felt an obligation as one human to another. It wasn’t until years later that I was able to find forgiveness and also compassion for her.
Did you receive an explanation from your birth mother about why she relinquished you for adoption? If so, were you satisfied with her explanation?
Claire Hitchon
No, unfortunately my birth mother was quite ill and also emotionally detached when I met her. My understanding is that her mother insisted she give me away. This was in the early 1950s. She was twenty-five years old, not a young girl. She went on and had two more girls and a boy and kept them. Her mother even moved in with them to help. I have no words.
In The Wall of Secrets, you discover that your birth mother had two other daughters. What is your relationship with your sisters today? Have you been able to develop a close connection with them?

Yes, she also had a son. The two sisters and I share the same father although she wasn’t married at the time. I grew up, as I mentioned, an only child. To find siblings was beyond my wildest dreams. So many synchronicities and similarities we immediately connected. (This is so very painful to even think about.) Unfortunately, trying to integrate into a family after fifty years of absence is difficult. I looked at reunion as a chance for the whole family to heal and grow together. I found my birth mother and lost her. I found my family and now they are lost as well. The second and third rejection only magnifies the pain and loss of not growing up with them. Adoption affects everyone. History won.
What advice would you give to other adoptees who have experienced abuse or disconnection from their adoptive families? What has been most helpful to you in coping with and recovering from the trauma of your early years?

Understanding that it wasn’t your fault is huge. To know that all babies are born innately pure and none of us deserved the pain handed down from generations past. As adults, we have to take responsibility for re-parenting our inner child, healing the wounds and discovering that we are not our story. We have to break the cycle for our children. You must clear your life of toxicity no matter who it is. Leave the negativity behind and create the life you deserve. One filled with love and acceptance of self.

Thank you Karen Pickle from the amazing website http://www.lostdaughters.com for this interview.

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CARPE DIEM

We each have a finite number of heartbeats, a finite amount of time.  But we have enough heartbeats and enough time to do what is important in our lives.

Susan L Taylor

“THAT DAY” is over…Valentines Day of course.  For those of us alone, depressed, adopted, abandoned, abused, lost… it’s a day we hide from. Who wants reminding that they are any of the above let alone not loved?  Not me, that’s for sure.

CARPE DIEM-SEIZE THE DAY

This saying contradicts what i just said above doesn’t it.  What if we really are and just didn’t know it, couldn’t feel it, couldn’t believe it…what if?

I know it’s a big what if for most of us who have experience with the underbelly of life..but why not try..just for today..to believe it? Myself included.

Byron Katie says that the truth is, that our mattering is innate….no one or nothing can make us matter and no one can take it away.

Is it true?

This is one of her questions of inquiry which I use often.  If this is true, how much time have we lost in feeling like we don’t matter, like we aren’t loved.  Each moment that goes by that we feel like we don’t matter is a moment lost forever.

Ask yourselves..why would we be not loved, why wouldn’t we matter?  I know it’s not easy, far from it.  Our wounds go deep, the pain unbearable, yet underneath all of that lies our perfect buddha self.  Nothing external can bring us the feelings of “mattering or being loved”. Our willingness to dig deep enough to uncover the beauty within, along with the discovery of our strength and courage will allow our vulnerability to shine.

 Just do it.

Seize the day, the hour, the moment.

Activate your warrior energy, the fire within your heart.  Don’t wait until tomorrow because tomorrow might never show up.  Put aside the excuses and do the work.  You do matter,  You are loved.  Someone told me that today and I said I would sit with the words until I believed them. Thank you.  I will…until…

In fact, perhaps I’ll keep THE WALL around and fill it with moments of love and  mattering.  Moments of belonging and wonderment, that after six decades, I too, am worthy of what many take for granted…LOVE & MATTERING

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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.

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

Setting Heart Horse Free

ImageSitting on my table for the last few days has been the story of life until age 20.

I’ve held it, opened it, moved it around, read a line or two, shed a tear or two and felt very vulnerable.

I’m finally, after 8 years of writing, setting the first part of this journey free.  Into the world Heart Horse goes, and I’m ready.  Bring it on.

Bring on whatever you have to say, in fact, I really want to hear it.

I want you to convince me adoption doesn’t have ramifications.

I want you to convince me abuse doesn’t leave scars.

I want you to convince me that the Primal Wound and  In Utero Learning doesn’t exist and create a lifetime of ingrained belief systems that make it so difficult to know and feel loved.

 I would love to know that all those things mean nothing and the slate will be wiped clean with a bit of therapy.  I know better.  The damage is done.  The scars are deep and the pain unrelenting, affecting everyone around us.  All we can do is learn to “manage” these beliefs.

Brene’ Brown’s interview with Elizabeth Gilbert was inspiring.

 Elizabeth said, “I live a creative life, and you can’t be creative without being vulnerable.

 I believe that Creativity and Fear are basically conjoined twins;  they share all the same major organs, and cannot be separated, one from the other, without killing them both.  And you don’t want to murder Creativity just to destroy Fear.”

FINDING HEART HORSE is my journey of search and survival.  There are things in  Finding Heart Horse that will make you squirm in distaste and repulsion.  There are horrors described by a 16 year old that no one should ever endure.  The raw life of living on the streets in the late 60’s when drugs and peace were the norm.  Unfortunately it quickly turned into wars and violence that spilled into my world.

 Looking back I now see that my entire life has been spent in the never-ending search.

The search for where I belonged.

The search for acceptance and love.  The search for my tribe, my family, my roots.

The only thing that kept me alive was “Heart Horse” and the dream of someday catching a wild horse.  Without him, i wouldn’t be here to write.

It’s only one part of the journey.  The Wall of Secrets will be out soon and is part of “the all”.  Without The Wall filled with drawers to store my many traumas and secrets, I would not have survived.

As I hold my book and feel it’s energy…..books do have energy you know…a sense of peace, a vibration of knowing and acceptance radiates from the pages.  As Heart Horse  is being set free, so am I.

Mark Epstein in his book “The Trauma of Everyday Life” says;

By not fighting with his internal wounds, by not insisting on making them go away,

by not recruiting everyone in his intimate life to save him from his feelings of abandonment,

by simply resting with them the way we do in meditation, he could learn,

as the Buddha did, that he already was the love he thought he lacked.”

FINDING HEART HORSE is now available on Amazon, Chapters.Indigo

It will be a brave journey you take when you enter my world.  Please leave and honest review.

Learn what adoption does to a person, what abuse creates and together we can and will make a change.

A portion of the proceeds from these books will go to Covenant House, Vancouver

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