Down The Rabbit Hole With ICU-itis

“ICU psychosis is a disorder in which patients in an intensive care unit experience anxiety, auditory and visual hallucinations, paranoia, agitation and disorientation”

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November 22nd 2015 my life changed forever…again.

Exactly one year ago today.

It’s taken a year to sit with  the almost daughter, the experience still so vivid.  I can’t wrap my brain around everything that happened on that day and for weeks and months after. I’ve wanted to write a blog about my experiences. It’s an experience that family and friends are never prepared for and from a patients view terrifying. There are simple things you can do to help alleviate someones terror, someones hallucinations, delusions. I’ll tell you what those things are at the end.

I woke up with one difference that day. Centralized, excruciating, left, lower quadrant pain. Pain so severe that with any movement at all, a scream, dripping with tears would escape. I have a very high pain tolerance and dealing daily with a mast cell disease you are used to pain and feeling quite ill.  My rational brain said go to the hospital, the nurse/patient thinks it will go away.

Being chronically ill with a complicated mast cell illness along with ME and Fibro you tend to forget what normal is, what not being sick is, what acute pain feels like vs the constant deep bone, muscle and joint pain of disease.

By noon I was bleeding heavily rectally, in so much pain I couldn’t get up from the toilet. Within minutes, my friend and the ambulance arrived. They are familiar and know my mast cell protocol by heart.

This was different. We all knew it was bad. No words needed to be spoken.

 I had been feeling worse the past few months.I thought it was my mast cells acting up. I had recently started a continuous Benadryl pump with hopes of keeping my mast cells in check and me out of anaphylaxis and the hospital.

The diagnosis: pelvic abscess, bowel perforation, partially collapsed lung and sepsis.

Very quickly things became a blur. CT’s with contrast, meds, IV’s, surgery the only option. The surgeon informed my daughter and friends there was a good chance I wouldn’t make it through surgery. My systems were severely compromised due to the sepsis and of course, mast cell issues adding to the complexity.

After experiencing respiratory arrest in the OR and with continued problems with my oxygen levels I was sent to ICU. My O2 sats were 82%@7L, systems unstable, survival questionable.

Day after day, hour after hour,

moment by moment,

systems stopping and starting

Days passed.

There were brief moments of awareness, of tears and fears and then quickly I would be put back in the twilight zone. 15 IV bags being controlled by nurses, each system tweaked by moments.

Life and Death in The Rabbit Hole

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Critical Care would continue in the 3 bed step-down unit.  Constant monitoring by machines and nurses. I emerged from the rabbit hole for brief moments. I lay there attempting to reorientate myself. I tried to check out body parts but I couldn’t move. Tubes and bags hissing and whooshing were everywhere sucking out toxins and spitting into collection bags of assorted sizes.

I was very much in the danger zone, no guarantees of tomorrow.

Pale beige curtains surrounded me. I had my own tiny cubicle. Stains from previous tenants moved changing patterns as I watched in horror.

In Critical Care, the lights never go out,  noise never stops,  call bells constantly ring, the retching, the demands for pain meds, the cursing of another patient in The Rabbit Hole. Reality fades in and out like waves..

I hear them. I know….

They’re talking about me!

Stop whispering! Please!!

I know what you are thinking. It’s not true. They’re  going to take pictures of me. Their friend, I know all about him…he’s the guy that has been stealing medication from patients drawers and little old ladies purses while they wait for answers about their loved ones.

It’s true.

I hear them talking.

I whisper when my friends visit. Pointing, desperately gesturing in attempts to have them make sure my purse was safe…zipper side at the back. They don’t understand my desperation but they patiently show me that everything is there and quietly close the drawer exchanging looks of confusion.

A constant stream of doctors, nurses, phlebotomy staff, physio, dietary, more blood work, new bags of nutrition added to the several already hanging. A whirlwind of medical necessities keeping me alive. To them, I speak appropriately. I know my eyes show my terror. No one asks.

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 I can’t tell them about the guy across from me and his friend and the many changing patients beside me. I know they wouldn’t believe me. Each one is part of the rabbit hole. One is chanting Native prayers and putting spells on us with his computer coding which I know nothing about. The other, screams obscenities while he pulls out tubes, blood and feces splattering over the floor oozing under my curtain.

At night, the sounds are deafening, bells ring louder, a tangled tube is pulled out. I call for the nurse to help him.  I can’t yet move myself. My left side is so swollen, hot and painful, from shoulder to hip. My trusty mast cells coming to the rescue in crowds, building the fluids and swelling until it looks like a raw slab of meat plastered on my side. I drift off and awaken to screaming. My voice, screaming for help. The nurse said it was night terrors.

They can only get blood out of my foot. My body hangs on to each drop with vengeance. I don’t remember how many times I was taken down to have CT scans with contrast to monitor the abscess and lung. No easy feat considering the tangled puzzle of tubes and machines. The people in nuclear medicine wore makeup..heavy makeup.Almost like clowns I thought. I think they were making a movie or something. I didn’t dare ask. I was always left right by the nursing station where the other patients in their tiny cubicles could see me. I could hear the whispers between them. They were laughing because my book was on the TV but they didn’t believe I was the author. I didn’t correct them. I couldn’t look at them so I lay quietly, tears rolling down my cheeks, eyes closed. Even then the constant movie that played in my mind didn’t stop.

And no one knew.

So many other stories, all with a few pieces of truth. Helicopters so close I could hear the pilots and nurses talking. I was sure they were getting rid of me. The drones that my roommate would throw over and under my curtain. The look on certain nurses faces when I rang the bell. The chaos in the hall. They had placed tape around an area in front of the door. I couldn’t understand. I slept with my buddhist mala for safety, reciting mantras to keep the constant voices subdued in my head. It didn’t really work.

I tried sending random garbled messages, despite the fact I couldn’t see my phone letters. I had to get someone to help me. I managed one message.

All it said was HELP. No one came.

I could feel the energy drain out of me. The simplest conversation left me feeling spent, drenched in sweat, wanting it all to end. The pain was endless and uncontrollable. It was like being on a bad acid trip back in the 60’s. One that didn’t end.

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I don’t scare easily. Or at least that’s what I thought. Until the Rabbit Hole sucked me in, that is.

I’ve never been so terrified, nor felt so alone as my month-long journey dragged on.

You can experience flashbacks for up to a year and it creates PTSD. Another experience to add to my already full box with that label.

The prayers, the energy and most of all, my two friends pulled me thru. It’s times like this you find out who your true friends are.

I wanted to write about this because it’s not uncommon after someone has been in the ICU for a while. The multi cocktail of medications that keep you alive but living in the Rabbit Hole can often create ICU psychosis. Having been an RN for many years, the last 20 spent in Acute Care Psychiatry I felt I understood my psychotic patients. I didn’t. Now I do. It’s so real, so frightening, so isolating. My heart goes out to those that suffer with psychosis, schizophrenia or anything that creates a Rabbit Hole Experience.

Here are a few simple measures that help someone who is psychotic: Gentle reassurance that they are safe. Gentle touch, holding a hand, words of love and safety. Gently pointing out things that are real such as my “drones” that were sprinkler heads.

Understanding. Compassion. Love. Your presence, your composure and quiet voice.

This year has been challenging. Physically and emotionally. My Mast Cells are still not settled creating a physical nightmare. Some days, the tears flow freely and thoughts wander to places I’d rather not go. I now have a piece of my bowel on the outside of my body. My world is dictated by my medical issues and mast cells.

I’ve spent a year in The Rabbit Hole. I’m so tired, so sick. My life has been reduced to living in a bubble and hospitalizations.

I’m trying to find my way back.

Can you lend a hand?

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.



I Surrender……Finding Peace beyond Finding Heart Horse

IMG_1488Its been a struggle this week.  Well, lots of weeks actually but particularly this one….this moment.  Eagle feathers have always held special meaning for me and I’ve accumulated a nice sized collection.  All have appeared when my spirit guides have been watching, guarding and all-knowing, that in this particular moment, I need a sign.

A sign to continue, a sign to end, a sign to let go, a sign to be still.  They answer it all.  Yesterday, I went for a short walk and there it was.  Slightly hidden out of view with only the very tip showing.  Had I not been watching, observing, walking mindfully (which is all you can do when you are carrying O2 and being walked by a blind dog) I would have missed it.

I have been sequestered.  Sequestered because I’ve been in a terrible mast cell reaction.   Sequestered because I’ve just now, this very moment submitted the last edit of the sequel to Finding Heart Horse…

The Wall of Secrets

Memoir of The Almost Daughter  

The experience of re reading, re writing, re reading again, over and over and over during a mast cell flare is literally indescribable.  I’m also awaiting the call to travel to Vancouver for the birth of my first GrandOne at the same time I’m writing again, reading again about when I gave birth and the intense realization of my birth mothers pain.

Add in to the mix, National Adoption Awareness Month, National Adoption Day and this years taking back  the power to speak by adoptees #flipthescript.  The cyber world has been bombarded by post after post from all sides…trigger after trigger…It’s been a struggle, the tears have been many, the illness horrific, the editing exhausting, debilitating at times. There was a deadline but I also wanted it done before I set out to welcome a new being.

Though it all, the newest eagle feather sat beside me.  I was also fortunate to have a treasured adoptee friend  present, although miles away, with words of compassion and the understanding of how it is, what it is and the recognition that even a few words of kindness can make a huge difference…thank you Lucy.

The good news is, The Wall of Secrets is on its way!

Next step, designing the cover and building my platform which must be stronger for a new launch to a new place.

 A Place of Surrender

The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace.

Anything you accept fully will take you into peace.

This is the miracle of surrender

Eckhart Tolle

If you haven’t already, you must read Finding Heart Horse.  It’s a book of hope, strength, resilience

Life always returns to the Heart

Hay House Radio Interview

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.

 

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.

ESSAYS OF AN ADOPTION ACTIVIST by THE DECLASSIFIED ADOPTEE

I have just finished reading Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston’s new book “The Declassified Adoptee-Essays of an Adoption Activist”.  Twice in fact.

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I’m sure most of you know her as “The Declassified Adoptee” through her website, blog or The Lost Daughters network.

Amanda is the founder and editor of Lost Daughters as well as being a Social Worker, Author, Speaker, Award winning blogger, Feminist and Adoption Activist.

ImageI’m sorry, I don’t know who to credit for that description of what being an Activist means.  I felt it important to let people know just how important it is we all take this stance and learn from Amanda how important it is to speak our truth.

When I found Lost Daughters it was like finding my home.  Finally, a place where i belonged, where I fit in and knew I would be understood.  Having followed their blogs for some time I have been fortunate to experience the essence of what it means to be part of a sisterhood (and brother), to be with “those who get it”.

In JaeRan Kim’s foreword she puts it so eloquently in stating that Amanda, through these essays “calls for a more equitable and humane conceptualization of adoption.”

We, as adoptees are the last to speak.  Because of people like Amanda, others have found their voices in blogs, rallies, memoirs, and groups.  Because of this, CHANGE WILL HAPPEN.

That’s what being an activist means.  Creating a better future for those in the world of adoption.

  When she was born, I was 33.  Having participated in the Vietnam War Protests back in the early 70’s I considered myself, at the time to be quite the activist.  In my 30’s I was an R.N. working in Psychiatry fighting for the wounded, yet I was unable to find “my truth.”

Amanda, in 2009 at age 24, the age I would have walked in protest navigated the maze of government requirements and obtained her birth certificate and adoption file, thus eliminating the “secret information”.

 The Declassified Adoptee came into being.

I share my timeframe because it’s important for everyone to be included no matter what age.  This is a book of inclusion.

The essays within the covers of this book were born from her blog and cover the topics we all wish someone had spoken to us about before we began navigation and maneuvering  around  adoption land mines.  It holds information that is helpful to everyone touched by adoption.

I spent my life searching, finding my biological family when I was 50.  For myself, attempting to join, merge with a family already well established in how they functioned, was nothing I could have anticipated.  Perhaps, if we all had been better prepared in knowing what to expect, how to navigate the emotional roller coaster reunion is known for, our chances would have been better.  Having Amanda’s book would have shed some light on what has been a forbidden topic for years, especially in my era.

There are no wasting of words in this book.  I turn the page and the title is How to Listen to an Adoptee without getting offended.  I was tempted right then to scan the pages and send them out to the world.  It’s not an easy journey, this life as an adoptee, nor is it easy to unite with the family you were first born to.  This dialogue is needed between all of us, sooner rather than later.

Page after page I could feel the Love and Compassion in between the lines as she spoke about her adoptive parents and her first mother and family.

I was moved to tears in the essay “A Letter to my Prospective Adoptive Mother.  What that little baby might have wanted to say.”  She had a wonderful mother of adoption.  I know, despite the different environments we all grow up in that deeply ingrained beliefs lie in the tangled web of the limbic system.  It’s how and what we choose to do with them that makes the difference.

The need to know is there.  We search faces, countries, records..anything that will prove, that yes, we do in fact…exist.  Yes, we have a right to be here and yes…we do belong.

We need to feel empowered, not silenced in our search for self.  We need more Amanda’s in our world.  Each one of us must find our voice and let it be heard.

Tough topics are embraced in these essays.  From Abortion, Children of Rape, to Mother-Daughter-Mother Connection.  Her words are clear, concise and relative to each and everyone of us.

Adoptees live in a world of secrets.  From the lack of access to our own history and heritage to the amended birth certificates that so many of us still carry.  Secrets and Lies…How can we know who we are…when we don’t know who we were?

Amanda states she was around 11-12 when she first saw her amended birth certificate.  I was around that age as well.  It is, of course nothing more than a piece of paper with a lie written down, stating that your adoptive parents are in fact the ones who gave birth to you.  Like Amanda, I felt as though the wind had been knocked right out of me.  How could this be?  How could they lie about something so important.  As Amanda states, “the lies need to stop.”  I was intrigued with this essay and the research Amanda had done, because I, at 61 still do not have “a real birth certificate.”

Nearing the end of the book, I was left wanting more.  To read such a moving, yet provocative book of essays that apply to all of us, no matter what colour, what circumstances, what age, is inspiring and at the same time reassuring and comforting.  You are not alone.

For adoptees who have lived with secrets and silence for so long, these essays bring to light the many tough subjects that need to be discussed, written about and discussed some more.

I was so moved by the last couple of essays for many reasons.  Honouring each other’s stories with love and compassion and truth is vital to healing.  As Amanda is a Social Worker, she is acutely aware of all aspects of self disclosure.

To listen, truly, completely listen is a gift as well as an honour and so greatly appreciated.

To be heard, really heard and to be held in the hands of truth and love is where healing lives.

I feel honoured to be writing about this book and bear witness to Amanda’s story.

The Declassified Adoptee Essays of an Adoption Activist is a book I believe should be  on everyone’s coffee table, out in the open, where everyone involved can pick it up and ask questions, discuss the hard topics.  It needs to be in book cases in houses where adoption has touched lives in any way.

From the words in between this cover you will find your voice and you will be held with such compassion you will speak your truth.

Imagehttp://www.thedeclassifiedadoptee.com

http://www.thelostdaughters.com

Book available on Amazon.com

Video Release of FINDING HEART HORSE

It’s proper that right below me as I write is my last post “Don’t Believe Everything You Think”.  I need to practice this now in this very moment.  Since being ill with Mast Cell Disease I have gained at least a person in size.  When I was watching the video I had to fight with my self concept issues and get over the thought I have to hide because I’ve changed in personal appearance.  So here we go…Mission accomplished.  Acceptance discovered and even a sprinkle of compassion thrown in to a person who has been through the fight of their life and continues daily with this unpredictable disease.  Inside her, the little girl who suffered through the real journey is healing and feeling loved for who she was and is..right now, in this moment.

Namaste to all

Telling Your Story

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THICH NHAT HNAH’S WONDERFUL CALLIGRAPHY FROM OPEN HEART, OPEN MIND RETREAT 2011

So, it’s been awhile since I blogged. Each day when I sit to write I find the day has been taken up by Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets, the two memoirs on their way.

Finding Heart Horse is now in the publishing stages with Balboa Press, a division of Hay House. I had no idea how much work was involved even before you can submit a manuscript and have spent weeks trying to get it all in place. The pictures, the formatting, the words and finally I had what I considered to be the full file. My story all typed neatly in a specific package, specific file as requested.

My story. I told my story! Inside my story is a hundred other stories each one begging for validation, for someone to hear, for someone to see, for someone to understand.

Isn’t that what we all want?

To be heard. To be acknowledged and validated especially when your story involves the pain of abuse and violence, adoption and trauma upon trauma. We want and need people to listen.

This blog came about because for me, after 7 yrs of writing these books, working through each and every story emotionally, I felt free. I was no longer my story. I had to roll in the gutters of Hell along the way. Covered in the dirt and grime of life stories I emerged feeling lighter, integrated and scared. It was on paper with all of the guts and gore and pain endured. Not easy by any means. To walk through those stories as if I were there in time was beyond excruciating . Sometimes, in disbelief I would reread and reread and wonder how I had survived at all. I was FREE.

The truth will find us out, but it will also set us free. The trick is…you have to tell the good and the bad. The blog came from a few requests by the publisher to “retell” a rape scene because I was only 16 at the time and underage. I also had to get rid of what I considered to be some of the most important pictures.

My immediate reaction was one of anger. I mean, come on! A rape is a rape is a rape no matter how graphically you describe it or blankly leave out the guts and gore. I felt unheard, unvalidated, unseen and dismissed as I was so long ago.

It appears then, that while most of my story is on the paper and out of “me” therein lies some residual triggers and why wouldn’t there be?

I lived with secrets for 5 decades. You can’t change those deeply ingrained emotional triggers overnight. After sitting with these feelings and recognizing where they came from I was able to let go and rewrite the scene with less graphics and know I am heard. I hope they know that this is only one of many other scenes to follow!

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THICH NHAT HANH
OPEN HEART, OPEN MIND
2011

So I sat in reflection of how important it is to Tell Our Story. How important it is to listen to others tell their story. To listen with Compassion.

We all long for connection. When you tell your story it resonates with others. Person to person we connect, not in our pain but in the fact that we are healing, growing together by honouring each others stories and actually “seeing” the other person. The real person, all of the person, the good and the bad and ugly, if there really is such a thing. We are the ones that put those labels on.

In the superficial world of everyday life, people prefer to show their best side and hide any flaws out of fear perhaps or societal requirements. It’s when we tell our stories with truth and honestly, its when we make mistakes, or have to apologize or speak of failures that we become truly human and we connect with others in an authentic manner.

I see now in a different way Finding Heart Horse has blessed me with many lessons and will continue to do so as I work through each part of this publishing process I still need to work on healing my heart and telling my story is a huge part of the journey, I have to dig through the layers of hardened emotions if I want to rescue my heart that has so many cracks and patches already.

We all have these scars, but until we can look at our past in the eye and not blink, it will always be telling us to be less than we can be.

We carry our own pain but also part of the cosmic pain that connects our spirits together.

We really are one family.

Because we have room for our own pain, we have room for the pain of others and we can actually help to bear their suffering. Only then can pain be transformed into joy. When one heals, so does the rest of humanity, And when humanity heals, so will the planet.

Tell your story. Tell it in whatever way you choose. I’m listening with compassion.Image

Day 8 of Self-Love Challenge

This is what we say in the “mast cell world” when the mast cells take over.  My challenge for the last few days was to pay attention and take care of myselfImagesomething I have been known to avoid, ignore, not believe it was needed anything to just keep going.  I know I wrote about that in another post.  Obviously it’s something I need a lot of practice in.  

This past week, I had appointments with doctors on the last 3 days and that, was all I could manage.  I wanted to write, I sat down to write, but the words wouldn’t come and the eyes wouldn’t see…so I lay down where I should have been in the first place..

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

  If I am only for myself, what good am I?

    And if not now,, when?

     -Hillel

Growing up, there was no such thing as self-care.  I’m sure those of us from the 50’s know what I’m talking about.  Imagine…no spa’s, no holiday’s, no relaxing by the beach with a book, no yoga classes, no pedicures or dining out.

 Horrors!  I can hear it now…”What! No spa? No yoga class?  What did you do?  Well, my darlings…we worked.  We worked in the garden, we canned, we painted rooms and ceilings and floors and then washed the dirty clothes in a wringer washer that you had to manually stand and feed the clothes through the ringer..Yup…stand.  And then, it was time to get dinner ready.

We are now in an era of excessive self care…not excessive self love, let me make that clear but for many of us…now..us older folk..self love is the reason we don’t do much self care.. 

Did you follow that?  

There is nothing  you have to do to earn your self-love and self -acceptance. We are good enough, smart enough,

We aren’t broken and we don’t need to be fixed.  But, herein lies the paradox. If we are perfect just the way we are, then why are we on the self-improvement treadmill.  Why do we push ourselves to the brink of  no return.

Self acceptance people!  Feeling okay about where we are right now and just being in that space until it’s time to move forward.

How often have you attended to others when you yourself were tired and wanting?  How often have you filled someone else’s cup when yours was empty?

It used to be considered selfish and unkind to attend to ourselves first.  We, the older generation were taught to put others before ourselves always.  There has to be a balance.  To stay on our path, to focus on our visions there is something to be said for appropriate time for self care.  Many of us are still  relearning that belief to include ourselves in the care.

Thus, my last few days of unwritten blog entry’s were taken up by self-care.