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

Self-Love Challenge….Kindness

ImageThe Buddha Maitreya’s name is derived from the Sanskrit “maitri”.

 “The very name “maitri” means “loving-kindness”…..Now, in today’s world, we really need maitri, Maitreya, loving kindness.

Dalai Lama

As I was sitting having my coffee this morning reflecting on the painful events of the past week I couldn’t help but notice the aroma of lavender and roses.  My plan for todays blog was actually going to be about Mast Cell Disease of which I have and have been fighting with all week.(it won this round but not the next)  I have MCAD, just one of the many mast cell activation disorders characterized by accumulation of genetically altered mast cells and/or abnormal release of these cells’ mediators, affecting functions in potentially every organ system.  The symptoms are debilitating and life limiting in many ways.  This morning i was in a great deal of pain and my eyes were blurry and crusted in disgusting substance rendering me almost unable to see.  My plan was, as I said to talk about my life with this horrible disease and what a difficult week it has been…my awareness of the wonderful smells told me different.

I just sat, eyes closed and took long deep breaths of the aromas and opened my ears to the delightful eagle conversations as they passed by my deck.  In the background the lulling music of Deva Premal played softly and I smiled as I recognized today’s blog wouldn’t be about how awful I felt, but how grateful I was to be surrounded by such peace.

Right in front of me, sitting on my mantle was the evidence of kindness shown to me by a good friend.  Above you see the Roses of Kindness.  I wish you could smell them as I am…a hint of lilac and rose mixed in with essence of love.

So, what is Kindness?

It is synonymous with Love, except that Love is a state of Being and kindness is a state of  Doing.  If you can create each human interaction to be a moment inspired by Love, you are practicing Kindness…..  Love gives us the ability to see people on our path as the perfect buddha beings they are, and then kindness allows us to bless them with loving acts or deeds.

For many of us that have experienced adoption or PTSD from other traumas it’s very challenging to accept acts of kindness, in particular when they come unannounced and from a place of love.  It all boils down to that basic belief, that ugly core that stores the information that we aren’t worthy of such generosity, such love.  

I tore my rotator cuff in 05 and was in excruciating pain for 2yrs plus.  I didn’t ask, more than the first time, for medication because I had admitted that 30yrs previous I had used drugs…back in the 60’s…Horrors.  I was judged by the physician so never asked again.  I didn’t ask for help to do anything even tho’ it was my right shoulder and the slightest movement would bring me to tears.  I was in the beginning of a reunion and wanted to be there for everyone as the “good little adoptee” would be.  Surgery was far away and I began taking cortisone shots to allow me to move and manage day to day.  One day, my orthopaedic surgeon was away and I was in such pain I had to find another doctor to do the injection.  Not many GP’s are comfortable doing it but finally I found one and sat in his office waiting for any relief.  I was so grateful for him doing this he was already top notch in my book.  After the injection into the shoulder joint he helped me on with my shirt as I sat.  When I got up to leave he reached up to my collar…pulled it slightly and arranged it neatly with a smile and pat on the shoulder.   I was so taken aback by this small gesture of kindness that came out of the blue, I burst into tears right there on the spot.

Kindness given freely with love overwhelms me, touches my heart in so many ways.  It’s something new and takes me into uncharted waters of my soul.  I have given it freely all of my life and now, at this time in my life I am open to receiving fully,  feeling fully the love that it carries.  

Kindess begins with respect for ourselves.  As an adoptee and survivor of many trauma’s and abuse it’s a lesson that takes years to practice.  On the outside, in the mask of whatever role we are playing we are respected, as I was as a RN, but it’s the hidden self that once set free after reunion that needs to relearn…respect for self.  When we experience difficult emotions, we can hold them in gentleness or we can beat up on ourselves in ways that erode our confidence.  If we make kindness the basis for our daily spiritual practice, we can contribute serenity, compassion and happiness to our complex world.

Today, may I mindfully cultivate compassion and understanding for myself so that through kindness I can add happiness, not pain to the lives of others.

 I will always remember my Kindness Roses from a garden just down the street…thank you Bill

Self-Love Challenge

ImageThe supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.

-Victor Hugo

You’ll notice I left out the day I am on in the Self-Love Challenge.  This is because, for me, it will continue on for as long as I have.  I discovered after peeling back the layers over the years the last and hopefully final layer is learning to love and value myself as the being I intellectually know I am.  

Deanna, over at Adoptee Restoration is the inspiration for todays words and also the fact that right now, in this very moment I need so badly to know I am loved and to get that, I must look inside.

Image

  • How terrible it is to be ravaged by doubt as a human being, an adopted being, a lost street person or anyone that has suffered in this world and perhaps been shunned   How sad to not know the impact we make on others, to not have the faith to know that we matter, that we are cherished.  These are traits of many, not just adoptees.  In adoption these beliefs are hardwired in and we wander through life wondering and trying to figure out what it is that makes life so  difficult for us.  Turns out, its those deep seated beliefs, that we are unlovable, even though we the first ones to give,  the unworthy even thought we are the first to praise others.
  • I look at “her”….that little girl that I will probably post many pictures of as I get ready to decide which ones will go in my books.  I am struck by the blank, lost, and forgotten look.  She is me..she needs to be loved and nurtured.  I need constant reminding of that.  A persons heart is like a gas tank.  It needs to be constantly topped up with fuel if we expect it to work sufficiently, to have energy to move forward.  When these tanks are low or empty in some cases, our energy is the same..non existent.
  • I went to an I CAN DO IT conference last April in Vancouver.  Hay House puts them on.  I had been told by others that once you go to one, you will always go back again.  Because I was getting ready to publish and I am in line with their beliefs I decided to go.  My body fights against these things by setting off the mast cell cascade that leads to anaphylaxis and it was making it clear I should say home, where my environment is controlled.
  • I’ve never been one to avoid a challenge in that sense and something was pulling me, pushing me to go, so I went.
  • I found out it was true what others had said about going back, about being inspired, about feeling the LOVE and CONNECTION.  

Image

You could feel the energy in the room.  You could almost taste the sweetness of loving words floating from the stage.  I was soaking it up, word by word and wrapping my fragile, weakened heart in the love that was so profoundly there with these strangers.  Wayne Dyer spoke all morning and one sentence he said, penetrated my soul deeply.

He said, “Come from a place of LOVE not FEAR”

How many of us live in a place of fear?  Fear of being hurt. Fear of being rejected.  Fear of not having the love returned.  Fear of being …

What if….what if we lived our lives from a place of love instead?  Imagine that.  Instead of coming from the pain body, the hurt heart..if we could get out of ourselves and our ego’s just long enough to see the other person, really see them and come from a place of love.  I don’t mean the superficial coats we all wear.  Those brightly coloured coats of anger and hostility and defensiveness..i mean the real essence of the person.  Their heart, their goodness, their true being.  What if we chose to look there, instead of our own fear based projections.

Come from a place of Love, Come from a place of Love, not fear.

Our complete purpose on this earth and in this life is to do just that.  So it’s difficult..big deal.  It’s what matters in the end.  It’s what matters now .

There are only four questions of value in life.

 “What is sacred?  Of what is the spirit made?  What is worth dying for?  What is worth living for?”

 And the answer to all four, is LOVE.”

-Don Juan De Marco

 Yet, to come from a place of love takes practice.  That little adopted girl up there never felt love, never knew love.  She lives within this grownup middle aged body and needs reassurance, not rejection.  Love, not anger and patience.  Unfortunately, or fortunately  I get that it has to come from within.  It would be helpful to have the luxury of outside confirmation but ultimately the love for her has to be found within.

Come from a place of LOVE, not fear. 

What will matter in the final days of our lives is love, nothing more.  

Today I will nurture that inner child with love and acceptance.  It wasn’t her fault.  She is worthy and wanted, giving and of grace.

 She is Love, pure and simple LOVE.

Day 12 of 40 day Self-Love Challenge

ImageToday, I will practice Gratitude.  I will get in the habit of saying thank you, even for the “problems” in my life because these challenges are valuable lessons I can learn from.  Gratitude is the key that turns problems into unexpected gifts.    

Melodie Beattie

I am behind in my 40 day challenge and I’m okay with that.  I feel no need to catch up.  This Self-Love “thing” is challenging enough thinking about never mind writing about.

I know someone today  in total meltdown, on the verge of giving up and that makes me sad.  I’ve been there many times and in retrospect (now that I’m old ) I see they were times of huge growth and change and were for my benefit.

The picture above was one I took in India several years ago.  He had nothing more than what you see in that picture.  No home, no money, no food, nothing.  To me, he looked on the verge of collapse in the 40 degree India heat and I offered him my water and some rupee’s.  He thanked me and said in his broken english.  “My heart is happy…what you see outside is nothing.” It was as if he could see my thoughts.

I think about him a lot actually.  When problems come into my life and my friends, we tend to blame ourselves.  That we were the one that caused it or the one to blame.  

We speak harshly to that inner child, cruelly at times as so many of us heard as children.  We continue the pattern because we think we have to.  Because we think we deserve to feel hurt, sad, alone, broken.  

We are responsible for our own thoughts and emotions.  We are responsible for our reactions to what others “do or say or act” towards us…not them.  Their actions belong to them alone.  It has nothing to do with us.

So many people aren’t grateful for their lives because they don’t see the miracles that we all are underneath the external trappings.   Gratitude in fact leads to happiness and happiness is an attitude afforded to us all…even my friend in India.

It’s within our power to feel happy through the ways we look at our lives. That’s why I chose to embrace the problems that come my way now instead of fighting with them and being discouraged that there are so many.

If you think of life as a collection of small moments, perfect moments as my friend did with a few rupees and a bottle of water.  A moment of bliss added to the mosaic of our lives here and there, scattered about with abandon in between the problems and uncertainty..we will keep going. 

Instead, most people think they should always feel happy, have it constant and continuous or else it’s not happiness.  One giant piece not little bits scattered around..that’s what is expected.

It’s not possible.  It wouldn’t be happiness.  With nothing to compare it to, how would you know?

You can be having a perfectly lovely day and wham…a parking ticket and the whole day is ruined.  What a shame that we toss out our sacred pieces of perfect bliss because we think they are to insignificant to call happiness.

To let one problem or even several negatives erase the perfect moments we have, creates a pattern and a spiral downward.  It’s okay to have a rough day, a bad day, a sad day.  It’s not the total picture of our lives and its difficult sometimes to remember that.  

Nothing is permanent in this life, neither the good, nor the bad and if we can choose our thoughts, doesn’t it make sense to view things in a different way.  A way that doesn’t cause us so much suffering.

As I write these books of my life I often wonder how I survived such

trauma and pain.  It’s all in how we choose to look at things.  Problems have given me resilience and strength because I faced them head on.  Each one a building block in the foundation on which I now stand firmly grounded.

Don’t let life steal away your perfect moments.  See them as they happen and take a moment to protect them and store them in your heart.  They are your life building blocks and problems you confront are lessons of gratitude in disguise.

Thank you for all of my life lessons. I look at myself now, knowing my strengths and weaknesses.    I am grateful.

 

Day 10-11 of Self-Love Challenge

 “Why have you valued yourself in pennies when you are worth a king’s         ransom?  Why did you listen to those who demeaned  you…..and far worse, why did you believe them?”

   -OG MANDINO

Today I acknowledge my worth despite the flaws I have and broken parts yet to be fixed.

Another label….broken.

 Were you labeled at some point in your life as “broken”.  I was.  From birth I was broken,  The words are painful to speak but they infiltrated my brain at a very early age and although I tried so hard to “fix” the broken part since I really didn’t know what it was the task was impossible.

Many of us were labeled broken,  The adoptees, the abused, the fosters, the discards.  They would have kept us if we weren’t broken..right?  Wrong!

Leonard Cohen sings so brilliantly about being broken, being “cracked” and that’s where the light gets in.  I so believe that.  I now love my cracks and am on my way to filling with light.

A few years ago I was in a store and saw a Buddha on a sales table with the label “broken”.  I picked him up and inspected him from head to toe and saw nothing.  I thought perhaps there had been a mistake made and asked the sales clerk.  “Oh no!” She said.  “See that little crack right there, that makes him broken and nobody will buy him with a crack”.  He came home with me that day.  He was no more broken than I.

It’s the labels that confine us.  The labels from life, from parents, from school, from society.  People are so willing to throw out labels, as if it is safer to put us in little boxes and the world will run better because we are neatly stacked in boxes with labels.

My labels came with a price tag.  My worth was calculated by how perfect i could look, behave, perform.  It all had to be perfect or my worth was nothing.  I wasn’t good enough.  Those labels rock a child’s self esteem and set them up for a lifetime of angst.  Those labels can be a heavy burden to carry into adulthood and taint everything in our world.

Often, especially with adopted children. When we reach puberty and begin to display traits that don’t “fit” the perfect mould that was expected and demanded, the trouble begins.  In reality, there is nothing wrong with us.  We are just being who we really are in genetics.  

For all people that don’t fit the mould…there is nothing wrong with you…NOTHING. 

Og Mandino wrote in The Greatest Miracle in the World.  “Never, until the end of time, will there be another such as you.”  Appreciate your uniqueness, your flaws, your cracks ,for they are yours alone.  

Understanding your uniqueness is what esteeming the Self is all about.  It’s realizing that you have been good enough, smart enough, worthy enough all along.

Buddha said “Everything we are is the result of what we have thought”

Today, I believe in my worth.  I am filled with the light that gets in through all of my “cracks”.  I am not broken and neither are you.  You are worthy and beautiful, flaws and all.  Start saying that and thinking and soon you will believe.

   Image

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