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

Trusting Ripples

So, I just wanted to say a little something about trust.  Of course, we adoptees have great issues with trust and intimacy which are so connected to abandonment and rejection.  It’s such a fluid movement back and forth, sometimes it’s difficult to separate them.

TRUST: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, of a person or thing; confidence

Trust is a fragile gift, easy to break, easy to lose and one of the hardest things to get back.  Why then, is it so casually tossed about?

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In an adoptees world trust is a huge issue.  In the words of Nancy Verrier, “its difficult to face the fact that by definition every adopted child is an abandoned child, who has suffered a devastating loss.”

This usually happens so early, in fact, can begin in utero that there may not be a conscious memory of it, but guaranteed it resurfaces like a dragon as soon as one detects betrayal of any kind.  In a flash, we may feel intensely sad or angry not realizing the root of it all.  Any situation where you feel that you have been abandoned may trigger this..and quickly and there goes the trust.

Adoptees also have this innate sensitivity and are able to detect deception or game playing faster than anyone I know.   I’m not writing about anyone, I’m writing about when the trust has been broken..what then.  A situation occurred that shattered…for an instant…a trusting atmosphere.  The reaction was swift and to the point.

This was going to be just a video but the sentences keep rolling so I’ll just go with it.  As a Ripple myself…watching other ripples become distraught I was thinking about how we can deal with these unfortunately frequent events in our lives where we feel the trust has been broken.

I think the first step is, recognizing our long-held belief systems and to begin taking back our power.  Checking in with ourselves about what is reality and what is a belief that needs to be challenged.   You know the big one…I was unwanted, therefore I am unworthy.  Time to take responsibility for the direction we are going and how we want to feel.  I, no longer feel like a victim.  I have dug so deep my nail beds were bleeding to haul out the roots of such grief and loss.

Ultimately, it all points back to us.  To everyone, to be our own best friend, to be the one we know we can trust.  To know that..we can love ourselves and that we are indeed worthy.

So in the midst of the Trust Storm that was rocking the boat last night I was happy to see…..

 ripples coming together as one, connected and still maintaining trust.  Perfect storm, perfect ripples to practice with.

The Magic of Energy…The Kind You Can’t See

ButterteaThis picture was taken in Sherabling Monastery north of Dharamsala.  I was blessed to experience the powerful spiritual energy transmissions while chanting with the Monks.  I have also been fortunate in having powerful spiritual teachers in my life instructing me in the importance of energy…spiritual, vibrational, healing..we are all nothing more than energy molecules moving at different speeds.  The chair.  The words I’m writing.  The desk I’m sitting at…all energy.

The most important of course is love and life.. as breath.  The words “qi”, “prana”, and spirit are all related in their respective languages to the verb “to breathe”.

Have you ever been in the presence of something or someone so magnetic, so full of life, so selfless and radiant you couldn’t take your eyes off of them?

Sitting in the Monastery chanting I could feel that energy vibrate within my soul.  Even in sitting alone and chanting, the force of spiritual energy flows freely.

I don’t intend on writing chapters about energy as there are many kinds and everyone has different experiences.  What I want to do is remind myself and others that our thoughts are energy as well.  Our words, our thoughts, our hearts, our breath.  If you knew,  really knew how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative one again.  They create our destiny and the world around us.

This post comes about from holding my book, writing the words inside the book,  signing the book and..the specifically chosen necklaces worn while doing the above.  Yes,  books hold energy if you are asking!  I wore a specific yak bone mala each time I sat at my desk.  Call me crazy but I know the power of energy held by that particular mala.

Daniel Goleman became aware of spiritual energy three decades ago in Asia.  He is the author of Emotional Intelligence.  He was there studying meditation and noticed that most seasoned practitioners exuded “a special quality, magnetic in a  quiet sense.”  “You always felt better than before you’d spent time with them and this feeling lasted.”

I bring this up because of the necklaces I have worn, the meditations and chanting I do and  the awareness I have of others around me when negativity is present.

Of course, in the adoption world and the mast cell world or any other group where pain exists, negativity is difficult to stay away from.  People are hurting and in pain both physically and emotionally.  The thing is…it perpetuates and creates the environment and builds momentum taking everyone’s energy into a whirl of angst.  Not that I don’t think we need to vent.  Of course we do.  Each of us is different in how long and how we grieve..what is..what has been lost, and where we are right in this moment.

IMG_3522The top pendant requires a special blog all of its own.  Most adoptees will recognize it and tomorrow, if my mast cells behave I will write about it.

The bottom pendant is an energy pendant of wild stallions done by an energy artist.  I thought it fitting as I was signing Finding Heart Horse and needed the extra boost of having wild horse energy with me.

The essence of this blog is about connection through energy.  We can do that by focusing on gratitude.  When you do that, automatically a stream of energy, of blessing, is flowing from the universal source as blood pulsates from the heart.  We can create a network of grateful, energetic living..we can.

Another way is self acceptance, beginning with kindness to what is.  I’m working moment to moment on this one, in relation to progression of my mast cell disease and worries about abnormal blood smears.   This compassionate quality is a reminder of who we are.  As we rest in this energy with others…they become our mirrors.  With this connection we gravitate towards peace and acceptance rather than negativity and destructiveness within ourselves causing suffering.

Energy.

Connection.

Together they resemble Love.  The kind of love that radiates unconditional warmth that arises naturally.  The embracing, unstoppable love I felt sitting with the Monks chanting as I was drawn in towards its own radiance.  We have access to this in our everyday lives with the connections we create with others, with the words we speak or write, with the energy of compassion that passes from me to you, within our communities.

 Change will come.

 I believe that.  In adoption.  In child abuse.  In world violence.

   It starts with each one of us.

So, as I re read this blog, I am aware that in this moment, my mast cells have most of the control over “my energy”,  my  rambling words that spill onto this page.  I’m posting it anyway.  Perhaps it’s my way of warming up the neurons for the next blog.

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…..