Once ReMoved=Trauma=PTSD

This video keeps appearing.

 I watch it each time with new eyes and new thoughts.  You know how things keep coming up.. several posts, several blogs, several fb messages are all relaying similar messages, so I’m compelled to write about it.

This time the video was posted on Covenant House FB page.  A portion of Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets proceeds go to support their efforts in assisting kids to find their way in the world in a healthy way.

One of the Facebook posts last night was about PTSD.  The words were so clear that I can’t help but repeat it here.

The mind replays what the Heart can’t Delete

Battles-

wars of mind, of memory, of body

The brain and body don’t forget trauma

The Heart Refuses To

There are over 400,000 children in foster care.  This film brings to awareness what some kids experience and to help adults understand life throughout the children’s eyes.  At the end she says it all;

“I am loveable.  I am worthy of care.”

How applicable in the adoptees world.  I can’t even begin to discuss the “re-homing” issue that is so prominently displayed on Facebook.  Pages, organizations, Craig’s List.  Places where, if you don’t like the child you “got”,  if they are too difficult to manage,  if they don’t suit your “fancy” you are free to re-home them….no strings attached.  Just like the little girl in the video..every day, adoptees appear on Craig’s List as giveaways.

When I was finally taken home as an infant it was on the condition that they “foster” me for two years perchance a boy became available.  If that boy had become available…I would have been given back, just like the sweet child above.  Just like the kids being re-homed on Craig’s List today.

IMG_2473She, with her perfect curls and homemade dress was not aware that her time, resting on the hopeful obtaining of a boy.  In the meantime, she was already being trained to perform on command…just in case.

When you consider the added burden of trauma that most foster, adopted, re-homed children experience, how amazing that many are the most compassionate, caring souls that roam the earth.  It is those who have dug their way out of the dark places and found the light that have the most understanding.  Those, who have lived with little are the first to give to others as they know what it’s like to have nothing.  Those who have had no one love them, no one in their corner are always the first to reach out to others. They know what it feels like to be alone in this world.

You would hope that people dealing with adoptees  (as well as other children of the system) would understand the effects of trauma and PTSD and have more compassion.  Not always.  In the real world, not the work world, it is practically never.  Everyone is so caught up in their own ego driven world they fail to really See,  Hear, Be Present For,  Have Compassion For …those who have struggled to find their way to the surface.

I speak as an adoptee who has navigated many trauma’s, abuse and rapes.  I speak as an adoptee who had held out hope of finding family after decades of search.  I speak as an adoptee who navigated a reunion where there was a Mother and siblings.  The Family I longed for all of my life.

 Looking back, I wonder if I had better understanding, if they had better understanding of my history of trauma, my PTSD, my impending diagnosis of Mastocytosis…would it have been different?  The constant tears, the fatigue, the grief and sadness was partly just that.  I know now that a huge part was mast cell degranulation affecting mast cells in the brain.  If understanding had been on the table on all sides what a difference it would have made.  It could have been a family healing…could have been.   As Bert Hellinger says in his books on family constellations…energetically there is something missing in their world as well, something isn’t right, a piece is missing when a child is given away.  Healing must be done as a whole family.

There is healing.  As the sweet child in the film says at the end;

“I am loveable. I am worthy.”

We can, with practice, spiritual or otherwise,  experience beautiful moments of the heart, a return to dignity, to the wise and gracious spirit that is found within always.  As we learn to navigate our difficulties with compassion and grace,  Joy will also return.

Life is trouble.. according to Zorba, and yet, your difficulties and sorrows do not define you.

They do not limit who you are.  Sometimes, when life is really overwhelming and the struggles great, you can mistake them for your life.  They are not the end of your story, they are just a small part of it,  a part of your path to great love and understanding,   Part of the intricate dance of love and humanity.

My hope is everyone will watch the video and give pause to thought.  For all of us,  but especially those of us who have been that little girl….let the spirit of self-compassion grow in you.  Sense how you can carry the soul of wisdom and compassion within your own heart.  Know that you will get through your difficulties with dignity and your capacity to love.

You are more than your story,  more than your trauma and pain,  more than your PTSD,  more, more, more

Remember who you really are and know you are loved

Don’t Believe Everything You Think

ImageI have this bumper sticker and everyday when I get into the car I read it.  I know I’ve mentioned it before but I’ve done a great deal of thinking lately about how we and our thoughts about ourselves shape our reality.  I think it follows writing Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets.

I wish, I had known at an earlier age that I am, in fact, not my story but life has a way of unfolding just as it should, when it should.

I also know that I am not my thoughts.  I don’t have to believe them especially when what they are telling me isn’t what reality is showing me.  It causes a great deal of suffering when we let our thoughts control our life.

A great deal of conversation goes on within the adoptee community about PTSD but most of us suffer from other trauma’s, post primal wound, that also  classify as criteria for the diagnosis of PTSD.  Since this is Bell’s “Let’s Talk” week in Canada I thought it was a good time to bring up the subject again.  Having open conversation about mental health is crutial to eliminating the stigma and providing a way to speak out.

I don’t have to describe what the symptoms of PTSD are to most of you reading this and if you need further clarification, please take the time to look it up.  It brings me back to my many years of trauma, the rapes, the abuse, the feelings of unworthiness related to being given away.  It goes on and on.  It also boils down to believing those thoughts now or not.

I lived from a place of fear most of my life.  Fear of being found out, fear of not being good enough, fear of being unloveable, fear of not belonging, fear after fear.  All, based on thought.  Some of those belief systems as adoptees know, are so deeply rooted it takes years to uncover them and try to untangle the roots imbedded in our psyche.

Ultimately, everything we want, everything we are looking for is inside us already.  When you go inside and find your own happiness you discover that what already exists is unchanging, immovable, ever present….just waiting for you to find it.  You are the only one that can end your own suffering.

I know!  Go figure.  It’s as simple or as complicated as you chose to make it.  Even those of us with severe PTSD can, with work and love for self are able to emerge from the darkness we have existed in.  No teacher needed, although it helps to have a guide, a support, a spiritual base but ultimatly its you and only you that can change your thoughts.  You can decide to not believe everything you think.

There are, of course times we need various methods to assist us along the way.  Don’t get me wrong.  Appropriate care is mandatory if you are not at a place in your life where you can manage.  I can only speak for myself and now in my 6th decade as much as I accept that life works in ways that it’s meant to. I am astonished at the depth of pain and fear I lived in.  As an imposter.  As a chameleon.  As someone not present in today.

I’ve heard the lesson many times in my Buddhist teachings….If you are not living in your own life, if you are living in someone else’s  business you will only bring suffering to yourself.  So, if you are mentally living in someone else’s business and are feeling hurt or lonely pay attention.  You are not living in your own life.

Having lived in a state of severe PTSD and disassociation for many years I can now recognize with clarity the past triggers and the belief systems that kept me safe until I was ready to dig through the dirt and uncover them one by one.  Reunion was the catalyst and my writing became my therapy.  I relived each and every moment of trauma that had been locked away for so long.  I could smell the smells and feel the fear and pain.  I was there.  Right there.  Momemt by moment in each story told and I now understand why it was hidden for so long.  I had to live.  To survive.  To care for ailing adoptive parents and most of all care for my daughter.  There wasn’t time to open The Wall of Secrets.  There wasn’t time to allow myself to break down the walls and let the barriers fall.

I knew once I opened those drawers that held my secrets my world would change drastically and I wasn’t sure I could get to the other side in one piece.  I became totally fragmented during the process and everyone around me just figured that’s who I was, never thinking of the magnitude of the process of reunion and all the primal wound brings along with my life traumas.  Interesting, now that I can reflect on the past few years.  Why didn’t they see?  Why wasn’t there compassion and understanding instead of irritation and dismissal?

That’s why, this week is important.  People need to speak out, educate, speak their own truths about depression, anxiety, disassociation, whatever it is you suffer from.  The only way one will find understanding and throw off the stigma is to speak out loud or in-between the covers of a book.

Back to us…back to us and our thoughts.

A thought really is harmless unless you believe it.  It’s not the thought itself but the attachment to the thought that causes our suffering.  Once you attach to it, you believe it to be true.  Without inquiring, without question you/we believe it.

Imagine!  All those nasty, demeaning, harmful, despicable thoughts….are nothing more than that.  Yet, when we get attached to them we believe them to be so.  Can you imagine if…just if…it weren’t  so..if they weren’t true and all this time, you “thought” they were!

This subject, i think will have to be several blogs as it’s so much of human conditioning and I so want to write my way and your way through this process to a place where we KNOW we aren’t our thoughts.

You can’t control them.  Don’t let anyone tell you it’s possible, it isn’t but what you can do is meet them with understanding.  They will, then, let go of you.

It’s a practice.  It’s a process.  This being aware of our thoughts,  Inquiring if they are in fact true and then letting them go with perhaps a chuckle.  Say to yourself..hmm..now that was interesting..why on earth would I think that to be true.

A Facebook post has resurfaced the last few days.  One that is especially pertinent for trauma victims, PTSD, Adoptees.  Perhaps you aren’t aware it even exists.  We do the best we can at the time and as we grow and open our walls of secrets we learn that it’s okay to be uncomfortable and walk through the discomfort and pain to expose our coping skills and with time change them.  I’ll post it at the bottom and you can give its some thought.  I want to look at the thoughts behind some of my suffering over the years in my next post.  I have many and I’m still digging them out and I’m also discovering that most of them just aren’t true.  You will find the same.  I promise.

Image

Secrets and Lies….An Adoptees Nightmare

I’ve always wondered why I’ve been such a stickler when it comes to secrets and lies.  I just can’t tolerate even a little white lie told for my benefit.  Honesty is paramount in my world.  I don’t care if it hurts me I’d rather know the truth.  My insistence has caused many rifts in my growing years and been the cause of many relationships going down the tubes.  Most people take secrets and lies in stride, as a normal part of life.

 I don’t.  I can’t.  I won’t.

ImageI’m around three in this picture and already caught in the world of secrets and lies of adoption.  Stuck in the twilight zone and suffering PTSD at three is something no one would understand back then in the early 50’s.  I look at her and my eyes fill with tears.  I only have a few pictures and they all have the same blank look, the clenched fist and at that time I refused to wear socks for some reason.  My adoptive mother being the perfectionist she was, was always so angry at me.  Pictures that had must be perfect….were anything but.

 Smile..smile..come on smile.

 Over and over but never the perfect picture.  The truth always showed and she didn’t want anyone to know the “perfect family” was sick.  Sick with secrets and lies.

“A family is only as sick as the secrets it keeps”

John Bradshaw

Secrecy erects barriers to forming a healthy identity.  Sealed records  and false birth certificates implicitly ask for an extreme form of denial.  Nowhere in the history of psychology will you see that denial is a positive strategy for forming a sense of self and dealing with reality.  It wasn’t until I threatened with a lawyer when my daughter was around 6 that I finally got “my last name”.  Once you have your own child, the importance of finding out genetic information becomes priority and the search intensifies.  I had no information or medical history until I was 50 and by then, so much damage was done, but for my daughter, she now has something I never had.  Information, history, heritage, existence.

Nancy Verrier believes that the nine months spent in utero  establishes a connection with energetic transmission of either positive or negative emotions.  Then, with the severing of the connection, the primal wound is created.  This affects the adoptees sense of Self and most often manifests in a sense of loss, basic mistrust, anxiety and depression.  You lived nine months in utero trauma and were born only to experience the worst trauma of all.  You can’t tell me, if you really look at that little girl above that none of those things exist.

Within secrets and lies you find shame.  What a person withholds from another becomes a hidden truth when if fact, it’s reality might be questioned were it allowed to reach the light of day.  That’s why it’s so very important for everyone to tell their story, to share the traumas and secrets and set yourself free.  Even in everyday life, communication in an honest way clears up many illusions turned secret.

Brene Brown has many videos on her research about shame.  It’s epidemic and it’s fostered with all the secrets and lies we live.  No wonder we have such a physically and emotionally sick society.  Once you can bare your truest self to select people, it makes space for a new kind of connection in your lives.

As an adoptee you grow up pretending you are someone else’s child and of course, the topic is seldom discussed at least in my era.  You were trained , act as if genetically you belonged.  That only works so long until you begin to discover genetic traits that “your family” can’t accept.  Adoption isn’t talked about,  The church family don’t know you aren’t really who you say you are.  The people across the street, the kids you go to school with and sometimes, you don’t know yourself until a later age.

In some twisted way, when I look at the picture..how would she understand that her mother didn’t want her or couldn’t keep her.  How could an already traumatized child grasp that.  I can’t even get into the words used such as “chosen”.  Yet, the truth is what we need and want.

 A new direction in adoption needs to be followed where the truth is faced head on.  No matter what age.  A child can sense a parents discomfort and blame themselves.  These indirect messages such as relatives commenting on how much so and so looks like their mother affect adopted children greatly.  Blood related people don’t realize the frequency of these biological references but Adoptees do.

It’s no wonder then, that myself and many adoptees can sense a secret or lie hidden behind a false smile or statement and refuse to tolerate anything but open and honest relationships.

 It takes an instant to break the trust and a lifetime to repair the damage, if ever.

I’ve lived as most adoptees, a life of dualities..the person you show the world and the person you have no identity for.  Now that I’ve been able to fit some of the genetic puzzle pieces in the blank spaces and write my story I am lighter, free of the fear and shame of being discovered.

 I now exist.