Loss…..When Your Heart Is Breaking

IMG_1488“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”

Rumi

I believe that.  I’ve been witness to the magic of allowing yourself to believe.  Many times over.  In fact, those feathers and many more in my collection are just one sign that someone I loved dearly is close by.  How precious is that?  To know you never lose the ones you love.

Many of us, myself included have experienced Loss and Grief recently.  It comes along when you least expect it and grabs your heart and twists it wringing out the tears leaving you raw and open.

As a former RN I believe in the Kubler Ross grief cycle.  Not only for the loss of a loved one but for any loss.  For those of us with Mast Cell Disease, Cancer, EDS, any type of debilitating illness or injury.  Your life changes and with that..you experience loss of many kinds.

We all experience grief in our own way.  It may come in waves and toss us around like tiny birds on an angry ocean.  Or perhaps it sits there, hidden until something triggers it and then it grabs our mind and heart squeezing until the tears are forced out.

According to Keubler Ross the five stages are Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally acceptance.  Not in any particular order, perhaps jumping back and forth for however long it takes to get to acceptance and peace.

As a Buddhist I believe in Death and Impermanence of Life.  It’s part of the natural part of life, however, death is not the end of life.  It’s merely the end of the body we inhabit in this life.  Our spirit remains and seeks out new life.

When we come to the last moment of this lifetime,and we look back across it, the only thing that’s going to matter is,

“What was the quality of our Love?”

Richard Bach

As adoptees we arrive in this world already burdened with the unbearable loss of our mother.  We spend our lives in a place of darkness and sorrow, sometimes not even recognizing the depth of pain we carry.

It doesn’t matter that you understood that your mother was unable to raise you or she thought she was doing what was best for you, or perhaps too young and under pressure.

 IT DOES NOT MATTER.

She let go.  The whole family let go. They all let go.

“They” will never understand.  “They” were never let go.

It becomes a family of pain.  My Mother shut down.  She carried “the secret” inside her tortured heart for years.  My heart goes out to her.  The pain must have been unbearable.  I felt it the moment I gave birth to my daughter 36yrs ago.  I looked in her eyes and immediately felt my Mothers pain.

Adoptees never completely heal.  Neither do their Mothers.  After search and reunion even if it goes badly we at least have the potential for growth.  We have a chance to move from the traumatized self to the revitalized and transformed self.

Tomorrow is my Mother’s birthday, five days before mine.  She died a short 9 months after I moved across Canada to get to know her.  I found my Mother and Lost her all in the same breath.  I was so filled with grief and pain from the first loss and the loss at her death my Mast Cells took over my body and sent me into the mast cell abyss from Hell.

Her family will grieve for her.  They will reminisce with each other of the memories that holds them together as a family.  I will grieve for the loss of what could have been.  For the loss of heritage, genetic markers, memories that bind, love that stays, family that never was.  It never goes away, this grief.

To all of us in the past weeks that have experienced loss,

I dedicate this blog to you and those we have lost.

Look around you…notice the small things..the wind blowing softly past your ear.  The butterfly sitting on a flower.  The soft rain hitting window panes.  The brilliant red leaf as it flutters slowly from the tree.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

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Tethered….Are You?

Oxygen tubing...50ft...TetheredWhen I was thinking about writing this blog, I of course was focused on the fact that I am now

TETHERED

…permanently to tubing supplying my air. 

The definition of tethered is:

1. a rope, chain by which an animal is fastened to a fixed object

2. to fasten or confine, restricted by bonds

3. at the end of one’s tether=resources, patience or strength

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The subject of my words was to be my battle with Systemic Mast Cell Disease in order to educate. I feel all of those examples above. Out of the the last few months only a couple of weeks have been spent at home.  I was tethered in a hospital to more than one tube.  My goal was to describe my experiences of hospitalization and the reality of now requiring constant oxygen because mast cells have taken over a pieces of my lungs.  One more organ in combat with mast cells for survival.

IMG_4012IMG_4014This is life now.

Tethered in many ways.

A metaphor for life in general.

Tethered.

To beliefs, to thoughts, to emotions, people, situations.

It all relates to being attached.  This is my new normal.  Just as with each layer of trauma peeled away in my writing of the two memoirs…a new normal emerges.  It really is up to me how to live in this new place.

 It can go either of two ways: curl up on the couch giving in to the idea…or: adapt to life and living, only in a different way.

 To fight and grow and accept what is.  To learn to live around the coils of tubing or thoughts and beliefs and change what I can, when I can.

 I also relate this to living with the effects of trauma.  Adoption, abuse, rapes….  It all ties us to the pain of suffering and if we chose to remain tethered to the past or our thoughts about it and belief systems.

 When we settle into the present moment,

we can see beauties and wonders right before our eyes-a newborn baby,

the sun rising in the sky.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

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When you find your thoughts heading towards the couch, challenge them, ask if it’s really true or can we perhaps do one thing today, even if it’s getting off the couch and moving to the chair.

 

Is it true you are really tethered, or is it your thoughts that are confining you.  I’ve had a lot of practice with challenging my thoughts in the last few years. Adoption reunion, recognizing your deeply ingrained belief systems, pulling them up to examine them like roots on a tree, one by one.  It’s not easy work but then, being attached to something that causes you pain is the alternative.

Toni Bernhard in her book How To Be Sick quotes her favourite Zen Haiku Master, the eighteenth-century poet, Kobayashi Issa.  He suffered terribly with many losses and yet managed to write many haikus, some of which will always bring a smile.  She states, “Zen helps”.

The world of dew is the world of dew

And yet, and yet…..

The last line tells us what we constantly must remind ourselves of…nothing is certain.  Dew quickly changes before our very eyes and so does life.

For those of us that live in a physical or emotional state of being tethered…

Adoptees, Trauma survivors, Mom’s of Loss, anyone suffering…know in the world of Zen there is always…

And yet, and yet, and yet….

Yes, Zen helps.

“dew” can be illness, adoption, trauma…..and yet, and yet….

 

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.

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