Forgive! Are you Crazy?

When we forgive, we set a prisoner free and discover

that the prisoner we set free is us.”

Lewis Smedes

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

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

They settled and I paid the price.

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

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

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

IMG_5739

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

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

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

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

Forgive?  You want ME to FORGIVE?

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

If you remember nothing else, remember that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read that one again and again…

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

You are worth having such a gift

Does it Ever End?

I’m feeling conflicted as I write.  So much in the adoptee world this week about adoptive parents killing their adopted children, keeping them in basements to abuse, selling them on the market for sex, and then, “rehoming them” when they get tired of the responsibility or have outlived their use.

After writing the review for The Declassified Adoptee’s book “Essays of an Adoption Activist” I felt the increasing need to be fighting for change in how the adoption system  works.  The conflict comes, for me, in my own physical ability to do just that, energy wise, because of being ill with Systemic Mast Cell Disease, then I realized that I am, in my own way, fighting as hard as I can by writing Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets  and putting my words, my life, my trauma out in the world for all to see.  It is because of adoption and abuse that I entered in to such a world of trauma.

My heart breaks reading about the last few little babes who were killed and how helpless they were to do anything, say anything.  We have to be their voices.  We can’t be silent any longer.  Each one of us must find our own unique way to advocate for change, foster education, end violence and abuse in the system.

I will be speaking with kids at Covenant House, street kids, adopted kids..kids like i was at age 15.  This will be my activism, practicing compassion, listening to stories and sharing hope.

Taking Wing

This photo by Robin Toma was taken in Vancouver, Downtown Eastside.  A place where I once roamed for a brief time after hitchhiking out west as a young teen.

TAKING WING

For those of us who have taken the journey of search and reunion know that what is lost can be found, but never fully recovered.

Most of us at one time hoped that we would experience a recovery of sorts, find a family, be part of, at last belong, be loved.  What we were seeking may return in many forms but never  the shape of  what might have been.

I’m sure the integration process is ever quite complete, never quite finished, never whole.  We may feel more grounded because we now know our story, or part of, but our lifetime will be spent grabbing onto brief flashes of insight that fly by with the wings on the wind.

Each  flash brings with it tears, grief, loss, sadness.  While reading  this past weeks news in adoption land I was overcome with a wash of sadness and compassion for all of us, for little Hyun-su and those who are still encased in the system

The Buddha taught that a person needs to develop two qualities: wisdom and compassion.  These two qualities work together like wings allowing us to fly or two eyes, allowing us to see deeply.

 Those of us who grew up without love, without a mother, or those stifled by abuse, rapes or violence find it extremely difficult to love ourselves.  Adoptees suffer from the primal wound and of course, if your own mother didn’t want you or love you….  How could you possible love yourself.

IMG_2548_0018

In this picture I was just a bit younger than the latest victim of adoption violence..Hyun-su.  His death twisted my guts in a knot and I felt ill, chills ran down my spine.  Even now when I look at my picture above I get the chills. It could have been me.  I have that blank stare, the detachment, the clenched fist.   Adoptees feel a visceral response to  an others pain.

 Why then is it so difficult to have compassion for ourselves, for our inner child that suffered just like Hyun-su.

It never ends…

It’s important we all work on our own self compassion first.  For many of us that means going back to that frozen place.  That place of abandonment where the other self waits, in tears,  yearning for his/her mother to soothe and love.

  It’s a must if we want to heal and be able to offer our compassion to others.  It all goes back to our deep-seated belief systems and our belief that we are separate from each other, from the universe.  We aren’t ..we are part of…If you hurt, I hurt.  Collectively we all hurt.  If we start being kind to ourselves, speaking with compassion and tenderness to ourselves and others, the world will indeed change.

A subtle form of Activism yet so powerful

Self-Compassion means to be fully aware and to fully BE with yourself in a deeply aware and non-judging way.  As I was writing these last 8 years I have had to relive that little girls pain of the primal wound, the teens pain of rape, the adults pain of not belonging, of not knowing love.  I had to sit with myself with care and concern, solitude, sensitivity, tenderness, acceptance, kindness.

I was terrified. It was so difficult to do.  I shed many tears just holding myself in that place that was so full of pain.  To see myself from a place of non-judgment and feel the pain without covering it up or trying to fix it has been the most difficult journey of all.

 It never ends.

At the core of every wound is a belief that we are not worthy of love.  It’s a belief. Ask yourself if it’s true.   Look at that little girl above.  Is she not worthy of being loved.  Absolutely.  It’s a belief, a belief only I can change or you can change. Self compassion=change.  We have the ability to change beliefs once we recognize they just aren’t true.

We all have our triggers.  As described in A New Earth, our pain body carries our triggers.  Any circumstance that triggers emotional pain is an opportunity to practice self compassion and sit with ourselves in tenderness on a deep level.  If we sit long enough, dig deep enough we find the core shame that is buried in the rubble of beliefs.  It’s an opportunity to heal…use it.

Accepting the circumstances surrounding our triggers is needed to move forward.  All the should have’s, would have’s, why me’s, are a waste of energy.

 It happened.

Ultimately, we are responsible for everything that we’re feeling, thinking, saying, or doing..not the other person.

No, it never ends, but we can make this world a better place by telling our stories with compassion and grace.  One by one.. we are doing just that.  There is a shift happening, not only with our adoption system but with the world and it starts with you, with your own self compassion.

It never ends…but it gets better..Find your Wings