Are You Kind?

I can’t stop thinking about something that happened to me or rather, for me, the other day. For many reasons it affected me profoundly.

Perhaps, because I’ve been so ill. Perhaps, because for the last two years death and dying has been such an invasive subject. Maybe, because I’m alone without human touch. Or is it because I’ve lost trust, had my heart-broken, struggle to find hope purpose and joy in the “in-between moments” of pain and illness. Is it because I was adopted and abused?      Who knows. It just is. Most likely all of those things.IMG_2662 I love Brené Brown’s quote above for many reasons. It’s very challenging for many people including of course, adoptees, people who have been abused, neglected, are chronically ill, or just trying to move forward. The experience I had, I realize now, was only possible because I allowed myself to be vulnerable.

At this point in my life, nothing is off-limits. I’m an open book. My heart is wide open. My mind accepting, forgiveness comes easily when your time on this earth is unpredictable and could change any moment. The truly important things become obvious.

The definition of Kindness is rather simple.

the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate, affection, warmth gentleness, care

Kindness is synonymous with Love except that Love is a state of being and Kindness is a state of doing. When you can make each human interaction a moment inspired by Love, you are practising Kindness…you are taking the step. Love allows us to see the people on our path as the Buddhas they are, and then Kindness allows us to bless them  with loving acts.IMG_2010

I know what i experienced was far deeper than “just kindness”. It was authentic compassion. Authentic empathy. Authentic gentleness offered by a very kind soul.

So many people say they’re kind, perhaps even truly believe they are. Unfortunately for the receiver, you can feel the disingenuous energy and know it’s feeding their own ego being.

Many adoptees I’ve encountered over the years experience the same feeling when offered authentic kindness morsels. It’s overwhelming often leading to tears. The fact that someone truly cares and is offering you a piece of their heart in their hand can be overwhelming to say the least. How sad that such a deeply ingrained belief can still be present even at my ripe old age. From the time you absorb the negative energy in utero, you have the belief you aren’t worthy of love. Of course you know it’s not true. It’s just so deep that until someone comes along and offers you authentic kindness and you let yourself be vulnerable and open to receiving it, that you realize what you’ve lost.

Of course, I’m speaking for myself here, but I know others have experienced the same.

Here’s the story. As I mentioned, I’ve been dealing with my own mortality and all that it entails. Dying is a lot of work! Paperwork, emotional work, medical work, constant thinking work, saying goodbye work. A great deal of work. It’s especially challenging when you are alone. I’m blessed to have a couple of dearly loved friends, the ones that pulled me through my near death hospitalization. We had dinner one night and laughed until we cried as we discussed my death. Now, those are good friends!

Oh right, the story.

I was in a meeting. A business meeting with a business person I’ve known for many years now. I’m filling him in on some of “the story”. You know, the one that is over. The story of the last few years, condensed of course! I’ve been very tearful since my last admission to hospital last week. Part Mast Cell Madness, part facing reality and the exhaustion of it all. I felt a tear slip out of my eye and roll down my cheek. When I looked up, there he sat. His hands were stretched out to me, palms up. His eyes focused on mine. At first i was confused. What does he want? A “low five”, “patty cakes” “a book”?

What? What?

Then it hit me!

I’m supposed to put my hands in his! OMG! He’s being authentically kind! He’s oozing empathy and compassion. I reached over and gently lowered my hands onto his. He slowly rolled up his fingers wrapping my hands in the warmth of connection. I could feel the energy, the caring. I could feel his gaze. I forced my eyes to move from our hands to his eyes. He looked and said softly, “I’m here for you. Do you hear me? I’m here for you.”

It was authentic and my heart burst open, leaving me flailing in vulnerability and tears. For that moment, I felt the healing energy of..

Compassion, empathy and authentic kindness

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I wonder why more people can’t speak from the heart through actions. Words mean very little unless accompanied by actions.

I wonder if others take this for granted. I wonder what it would be like to experience this daily. I can’t stay there too long because I’d know all I’ve missed. What I can do, is encourage everyone to connect, to care, to be kind every chance you get. You will never know what a gift you have given to someone. A gift that may have changed the course of their life.

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“We are each of us angels with only one wing.

And we can only fly embracing each other.”

 Luciano De Crescenzo

 

 

 

 

 

Undones, Do You Have Them?

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Having faced death several times myself and recently experiencing the deaths of two very special people, I find myself preoccupied with loss.

Adoptees tend to do that of course. Our beginnings in utero had already started the prewiring necessary for our survival which was begun with loss of our mother.

Of course, I’d like to be thinking of sunshine and rainbows, but the reality for all of us is that death is inevitable. It could be tonight even.. It will come whether you’re ready or not. That is a certainty and we don’t have many of those in this life.

My life has been filled with loss as most adoptees are. The loss of our mother, our family, our heritage, our genetic markers, our family dynamics. Each future loss such as the recent losses I’ve mentioned open that old wound.

Then of course you add in the numerous losses one tends to accumulate over the years and suddenly life appears to hold nothing but darkness, silence, the sound of tears dropping, emptiness, loss of health. Living with an illness that could at any moment take my life brings it all to the frontline.

Being a practicing Buddhist I’m well prepared for the inevitable. I don’t fear death at all and in fact, at times would welcome it. Most people living with Mast Cell Disease can attest to that when you’ve spent days in excruciating pain, vomiting into a pail, fighting the anaphylaxis demons with epinephrine.

That in no way means I want to die. It means I believe one has to prepare for their own death in order to live. A close encounter with death can bring a real awakening, a transformation in our whole approach to life.

The Nature of everything is illusory and ephemeral,

Those with dualistic perception regard suffering as happiness, Like they who lick the honey from a razor’s edge. How pitiful they who cling strongly to concrete reality:

Turn your attention within, my heart friends.

The above is a verse of a poem by contemporary master, Nyoshul Khenpo. It clearly outlines the need to reflect deeply on impermanence. It’s very difficult to turn our attention within and so easy to allow our old habits, our set patterns to rule us! To reflect on this, slowly brings us wisdom. Watch how you repeatedly fall into the same old habits that always bring you suffering. Again, and again, and again. With observance and practice we can slowly emerge and change.

Your Undones…

Your undones are that persistent, niggling, feeling that is sent to you from The Universe, Your Higher Self, how ever you think of what is “out there”. It’s telling you that you have unfinished business. Business that will pester you, stress you and take your energy until you complete it. Mental nags are undones. They remind you that you have broken agreements with yourself and time and time again you’ll notice they rob you of your self respect. Creativity…gone. True joy…gone. Internal peace…gone. You are able to get back all of those things if you complete your undones.

Right now in your mind I’m sure you can identify several. I know I can. They could be unresolved conflicts, withheld forgiveness, appreciation not mentioned, love not given, goals not met, promises not kept. Your life is probably full of many more not mentioned. They come in every size, shape, and in each and every area of your life. Check your basement. It’s probably full of undones.

Let this sink in…You won’t find peace until these undones are completed. Just remember, life is short and very unpredictable.

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.