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.

 

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

Triggers…Who’s Really Pulling Yours?

  “Ideas pull the trigger, but instinct loads the gun.”

Don Marquis

I’ve reflected on the last few years and my reactions to people and events..how many times they have been exaggerated and unpredictable.  At times totally out of context to the situation at hand.

Triggers consist of thoughts, feelings and events that seem to “trigger” an automatic response from us.  The word “trigger” is important here because our reaction occurs automatically.  It might seem as if the reaction is involuntary but the truth is…this reaction, like everything else, is a choice.  Learning to identify our personal emotional triggers is the first step to taking control over how we choose to respond.

Living as adoptees, adults of abuse or rape is especially challenging.  Not only for ourselves but for those around us who take the brunt of our reactions.  I’ve been told it’s like walking on land mines or on eggshells never knowing what “trigger” might be stepped on and the fragile shell come crashing down.

When I was first in “reunion” I was so triggered I was someone I had no experience with, a stranger.  I had no control over my tears, my body, my thoughts, my grief….nothing.  For someone who had been so tightly held together for decades every emotion exploded at once.  The grief, the deep..deep sadness was almost unbearable, yet no one, could understand, as everyone around me, had their mother.  Added in to the mix was that my Mast Cells were heading over the abyss in to Hell and I didn’t recognize, nor did anyone else, the physical aspect to my crash and burn.

Until we know how to correctly identify our triggers they will continue to rule our emotions.  It’s an ongoing process of learning for all of us.  The strengths that have helped us succeed are also our most significant triggers.  If you feel someone is not honouring that strength, emotions are triggered and in an instant we react.  Perhaps with anger or fear. Of course we immediately rationalize it so it makes sense.

The Key is to catch yourself reacting when your emotions are triggered.

If you can do that..you may discover the threat isn’t real at all.  Some of the most common emotional triggers, meaning that you react when you feel as though you aren’t getting or will not get one of these things that are important to you are in this group.

being included, acceptance, respect, be liked, be valued, be understood, be needed, be right, be in control, be treated fairly, loved, attention, 

Each of us has some that are more important that others.  Others may hold no emotional charge at all.  This list can be quite long and personal.  Having these needs isn’t a bad thing.  At some point in your life they served or saved you.  The thing is, we may become attached to these needs and when that happens your brain will be on the lookout for circumstances that threaten our ability to have these needs met.  At that point your needs become emotional triggers.

I can only speak from my place, where I sit now, in reflection of my past triggers and pain.  There was a time at the beginning of my reunion I was constantly in a flare.  A flare of Mastocytosis…yes…which plays havoc with my brain but also a place of such pain that the slightest threat to those above needs sent me into protection mode.  Especially, as I mentioned for those who have lived in the adoptee world or world of abuse where we needed to protect ourselves.  I grew up in the era where children were meant to be seen and not heard.  I had no voice in anything.  I had no say in even finding out who I really was, no rights, no love, no validation that I was meant to be on this earth.  I was abandoned at birth, abused and used.  Why wouldn’t I be filled with pain!

Remember when Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth exploded into the world?  It was all about Oprah and Eckhart then.  The online event that captured the world. Millions were brought together through Skype and cyber magic to work through this amazing book together with Eckhart Tolle and Oprah.

I remember the exact moment when I “got it”.  As many buddhist teachings I had been to when I heard the teaching put in a different way… I got it.

The Pain Body

I was going through a particularly difficult time.  My daughter had moved back to Toronto and my heart was broken….enter the pain body.  Huge trigger…abandonment, being loved, being needed, respected and heard.  You name it and IT was triggered.  There were also times in conversation I just lost it.  Pain body took control.  I didn’t see it at the time.  Again, mastocytosis and torn rotator cuff along with dislocated jaw disc created the feeding ground and the pain body gobbled it up and emerged the strongest.

When we have old emotional pain living inside us, as adoptees do, it’s called your Pain Body

This applies of course to anyone but I am speaking as an adoptee and survivor of abuse/rapes.  The pain body is an accumulation of painful life experiences that were not fully faced and accepted at the time.  It leaves behind an energy form of emotional pain and grows with time and experiences all energetic old emotion.

Pain body is the aspect of egoic consciousness.  When the ego is blown up by emotion of the pain body it gains tremendous strength,  taking over the situation.

The challenge is to recognize the pain body when it becomes active, when something triggers the strong emotional reaction.  At that moment, if it takes over your thoughts, the internal dialogue, which is dysfunctional at the best of times becomes the voice.  The actual event is coloured by old, painful buried emotion distorting everything.

For me, living alone gave my pain body the perfect feeding ground.  It gobbled up every negative thought, every painful moment and gained momentum and energy.  You know those times when you can’t sleep and the thoughts won’t shut off or you sit, thinking for hours about a specific hurt..The pain body thrives on those times.  It literally is eating you alive…just waiting for the next time it can emerge after a trigger.

Imagine then, if you are with someone who also has an unidentified pain body!  The ego/pain body loves other people, especially those who jump in and take part in the chaos of negativity.  It even pokes those people to trigger the response it needs to grow.  Of course, if you aren’t present in that moment and aware, you will immediately react….and now, there are two pain bodies feeding off of each other and loving the drama!

I started recognizing my own pain body and it then becomes so clear.  We carry so much unacknowledged pain even from generations past.  The challenge is, of course to acknowledge and recognize our triggers and where they originated.  A huge part of that is  being present.  Being able to step outside of ourselves and see clearly when the pain body is attempting take over.  Not an easy task but the more practice, the more awareness we have..the easier it gets and the pain body loses energy and power.

When you notice that you are emotionally reacting you have to shift your emotional state to think through what your trigger might be.

Relax…breath and release the tension in your body

Detach…clear your mind of all thoughts

Center…drop your awareness to the centre of your body, feel your breath

Focus…find one word that represents who you want to be or feel in this moment

Once you shift your emotional state, you are free to check if someone is actually taking something away from you or not.  You can then ask for what you need or let it go and move on.  Keep breathing and thinking of your keyword and you will deflate your pain body, your triggers and your patterns.

Freedom does exist

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Day 9 of Self-Love Challenge

No matter what I sit down to write it all goes back to that Primal Wound.  I know that adoptee’s don’t own exclusive rights to “feelings” of any kind or beliefs, or thoughts.  Everyone experiences these things to different degree’s.  There is something so deeply ingrained within an adoptee’s psyche that until you peel back the layers and are willing to do the dirty work you will never understand why you do the things you do.

I have spent many years peeling back the layers.  Like an onion, there have been many.  As I mentioned in a previous post it takes 21 days to change a habit, maybe longer if it is one that is so deeply ingrained we don’t even recognize at the time where it is coming from.

Today’s self love challenge turned out to be something other than I had intended.  I’m flexible, and as I began to realize the error of my ways I decided to once again challenge myself.

Growth is all about challenging the self we are comfortable with, the old habits, the old thoughts.  All old..and although I have been deliberately challenging myself these last few years I’m down to the core now.  That’s a deep, dark place that wants to hang on to the old beliefs.  It’s comfortable down there.  Nobody knows about you, thinks about you, cares about you.  The thing is, if you want to grow and be free of the old restrains you have to dig around in that dirt and pull out the diamonds and shine them up.

 i have been doing this for some time, and actually have found some shiny things down there.  Imagine that!  By shiny things I mean the dirty ol’ tapes and beliefs about me that not only came attached from birth but from a life of abuse and neglect which just reinforced what was already there.  I want to shine.  I want to feel joy and pleasure that I know intellectually.  I want to feel it in my heart and soul and to do that…well, ya gotta go deep.

It is my journey to dig in the dirt.  Maybe I was a gardner or miner in my past life.  My plan is to do as much digging as I can now so I don’t have to do it again when I return.  

We are all born with a buddha spirit, or a core of goodness and perfection with a side dish of self worth.  Well, some of us are.  They have proven now that a babe in utero actually feels and learns energetically from its mother.  If the mother is stressed and the babe not wanted, it knows it before it even enters this world.  If the babe is loved and cared for and anxiously awaited that too is transmitted.  Okay, so an adopted person then is one that is not wanted for whatever reason.  Energetically that passes to the babe for 9 months and then when you do take your first breath that is taken too.  The umbilical cord is cut and your mother disappears.  Even if she didn’t want you there still was a connection energetically and the Primal Wound has now occurred.

Some may not believe in energy.  If you are a non believer do some research.  We are nothing but energy, our thoughts, our bodies, our surroundings,  all energy running at different frequencies/speeds.

If you sit in a Monastery the energy is palpable, penetrating and wonderfully warm and all encompassing.  If you sit in a bus station, it too has energy of a different kind.  Chaotic, cold and impatient.  You can feel both and I know which one I choose.  That’s why I want to shine up my own diamonds so I can be in total chaos and yet be peaceful and centred.  So dig in the dirt I will.

I always, from a very young age considered myself independent.  I would imagine that was because I had to look after myself.  This independence followed me throughout the years becoming stronger and more tightly woven in it’s rational.  I didn’t need anybody,  I never asked for help.  I survived on my own and was sure I could survive anything without assistance.  I was rather proud of that fact.

What’s the saying, “No man is an Island”?  Yeah..sure…not in my world.  In my world you can’t trust anyone.  They always leave, or hurt you.  You can’t depend on them to be there when needed.  I mean, come on….If your own Mother didn’t want you, how could you be worthy of anything especially someones time or care, besides….I was good at being a survivor, of being a loner, of doing it myself.

What I was so proud of then, the independence turned out to be a lack of self worth.  Plain and simple.  How could I be worthy when in utero, i wasn’t wanted or loved and then given away.

The realization of this fact came in a rush of pain one day.  To think that all those years I was proud of my independence and in reality all it was….was that i felt i wasn’t worthy.  What did that mean then?  What did that have to do with everyday life as i lived it.  A lot, in fact, a huge part of life.

It’s been quite the process uncovering the layers of protection but as each one comes off I feel lighter, truer, more authentically the real me and I quite like it.  I have a few friends that I can thank for seeing me through the learning curve.  Small moments of kindness out of the blue bring me to tears and touch my heart in ways i never thought possible.

Small moments that most people take for granted and never give  another thought, I sit and think and analyze and question and quite often cry.  In my 6th decade I feel blessed to be digging deep and shining up my diamonds.  Some never find them, while others never look.

I am worthy of receiving.  I am open to breaking habits that don’t serve me well.

Cognitive Dissonance is what it’s called. A battle of the two worlds and the good guys are winning.  Not without a lot of discomfort mind you.  It’s warm and cozy to live in the world of old beliefs.  I’m breaking free and shining my diamonds as I dig in the dirt.

Thank you Bill.  I bet you didn’t expect to be the topic of today’s self-love challenge.  I graciously accept your offer.Image