THE WAY OUT….IS THROUGH

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.”

ORIAH

I was talking to a friend last night about our daily struggles, our adoption trauma that never ends, my little blind dachshund that is declining in health, my own declining health. Facing my own mortality, loss of what used to be a different life, loss of a mother, loss of a family. Loss of my friends in Nepal and so many other lives.

So many losses, so much pain. From the past, the present and the soon to be.

IMG_1034Instinctively, we try to avoid pain. It’s ugly and messy. In fact, these experiences come to teach us that joy and sorrow are two sides of one coin and you can’t have one without the other. Give yourself a shake, open your eyes to your dark nights of the soul. What is the lesson? What wisdom do they bring? What healing do they offer?

THE WAY OUT IS THROUGH

Actually, it’s the only way if you want to grow and move forward. I was thinking about my books this morning and realized I never talk about the rapes, the near death experiences, the violence, abuse and the effect it has had on my life. It is the way of psychiatry to dig deep, unearth those wounds and heal them…walk through the pain. I’ve gone that route but there is also another to see trauma.

In the Buddhist way it’s simply called The Realistic View.  How easy is that? Did you know that Buddha himself began his journey spiritually after losing his mother at a young age and experiencing great trauma? His prescription for the end of suffering is outlined in The Four Noble Truths. Realistic View held an important place. It became a critical component of what became to be known as The Noble Eightfold Path.

The reason I mention this is that The Realistic View means/says that trauma, in any of its forms is not a failure or mistake. It’s not something to be ashamed of, not as sign of weakness, and not a reflection of inner failing.

Its simply a fact of life.

This is the kind of post that can go on forever and I will continue taking about the path that takes you through to the other side to a place of peace in many posts.

Buddha’s prescription was one of self investigation and mental discipline.

Mindfulness and clear comprehension

You don’t have to be a buddhist to get to the other side with this method. It’s for everyone who wants to grow and move forward from trauma. This is the simplest explanation of what the Four Noble Truths are.

1.Life has inevitable suffering

2.There is a cause to our suffering

3.There is an end to suffering

4.The end to suffering is contained in the eight fold path

So often, I hear people saying things like: I just can’t take any more. I can’t continue to live like this. I don’t have a life. I’m in so much pain.

Adoption, reunion, rapes, abuse, mast cell disease, so many things to experience and live with at once. I’ve said all of the above myself.  It’s a fine line between everyday life and trauma. I can only speak for my own journey when I say Trauma is the way into the self, and the way out

To be free, to come to terms with our lives, we have to have a direct experience of ourselves as we really are, dark side, warts and all. The freedom the Buddha envisioned does not come repression, holding onto thoughts and feelings or from abandoning our suffering self; it comes from learning how to hold it all differently, holding space for ourselves and others and not getting attached to the many stories/traumas we carry.

MINDFULNESS AND CLEAR COMPREHENSION

IMG_4831

Resurfacing….

Love seeing the blank writing space before me!

 My fingers shake and my eyes are prednisone blurry.  Slowly, I’m resurfacing.  As most of you know, I’ve been hospitalized most of the last several months dealing with Mastocytosis reactions/complications which I will write about next.  Today, I’m just dipping my toes in to the cool word stream.

I want to relaunch, review, revive

 Finding Heart Horse

I also want to let you know that the second memoir,

 The Wall of Secrets

waits patiently in the wings to be born as my strength allows..

It’s good to be back

I’m home

finding heart horse2952

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

Book Signing..Toronto Hay House I Can Do It Conference

IMG_3408

I have been slow to blog these past few weeks as you would have seen in my recent Mast Cell blog I’ve been down for the count.  Yes, it was worth it!

I have many thoughts about my experience at the book signing being as it was my first and it still feels surreal that it was actually me sitting there signing a book that I had published!  I really just wanted to touch base with you and share a few pictures.  The best moment of the experience was when I was grabbing a few mouthfuls of lunch outside of the lobby and a couple of women came out after buying Finding Heart Horse to ask if I would sign it for them.

I was stunned!  Me?  You want me to sign my book?  You mean me?  To have purchased it and then sought me out was beyond my realm of being a newly published author.  Both were adoptees and yearning for more information and we spent some time discussing options that could be found online and in books.

Those moments I discovered, are the reason I’ve spent over eight yrs crafting my stories and putting them between the covers of Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets.

Those moments..are what it’s all about.  Those moments make every tear, every minute of reliving traumas so worthwhile.

For those of you writing, or thinking about writing, don’t ever stop.  Don’t give up no matter how many times you feel your words aren’t important enough, no matter how tired you get doing rewrite after rewrite.  Your stories will change people’s lives.  They will validate others and allow them to speak their truth.  Best of all…you will heal during the process and be free…finally.

IMG_3411IMG_3443IMG_3359

Have you met “Your Shadow” yet?

Carrying on from Generational Pain… we meet Our Shadow.  Have you met yours yet?  The shadow is simply the dark side of someones  personality. A person can easily meet their shadow since it lives in the projection upon others.

Carl Jung coined the term but its also what Freud called the personal unconscious.  When we begin the journey of self discovery related to adoption, abuse, rapes, abandonment…whatever it is that drives us to delve into our psyche the shadow is the first to be met.  Until we know intimately our own shadow it is believed that we are only living on the surface, or existing in a facade of who we really are.  Adoptees especially are good at living the life of a chameleon and so are victims of any abuse..living the secrets.

ImageI was always told if I didn’t perform correctly or behave in a certain way I “would be sent back”, only I never knew where back was.  Trauma victims live a life of duality.  We function in society as expected, while keeping the shadow locked away, hidden out of fear or shame.  As long as we hide our shadow or refuse to acknowledge its presence, it will be conveniently projected onto other people.  Finding my biological family, writing Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets put me into a place where I was forced to examine each and every aspect of my shadow.

Practicing Buddhism is like engaging in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy since it requires you to dig deep in the trenches of what you consider to be “self” and  suffering.

The first sign of shadow projection/suffering, shows up as a strong emotional reaction to anyone or anything in  your world that is not in line with your beliefs.  It’s that unconscious, gut reflex projecting onto others, usually in  an emotionally charged verbal onslaught of criticism and blame.  If you can be mindful of when this happens, you will recognize your shadow in it’s finest form.  You can also see clearly by watching who your person is attracted to, either negatively or positively and the outward perceptions which are attached to the attraction….this is your shadow showing you itself…pay attention.  It can be a good thing!

In Buddhism the first two of the Four Noble Truths state that: Suffering is the basic state of the human world and: that suffering arises from desire.  If you look at the roots of suffering you will find the desire, the concealed attachment from which the shadow projection erupts.  You can feel it physically,  The gut, the nervous system, the emotion, the anger..If you can see these things and respond with compassionate, non-judgemental awareness it is eventually possible to expose the desire and release it with kindness towards yourself….relieving the suffering/the shadow.

It’s seen all the time in Adoptee groups, the anger, the pain, the rejection, the fear based living and yet, we are fortunate to witness this, not only in ourselves but others.  It means we can become intimate with our own shadows, therefore becoming whole, healthy and healing in the process.

For all of us that have experienced trauma,  rapes,  abuse,  neglect, violence, its crutial we find our own shadow and make peace with it.  You will find it slinking around in the secrets, the dark slimy alleys and the ghost filled rooms of your heart and soul.

To have a shadow is not to be flawed, but to be complete.

You cannot defeat it.  Just accept that fact right off the bat.  What you can do is be friends with it and expose it to the light and find acceptance and compassion for yourself.

The world of Adoption if full of secrets as all the other worlds of trauma are.  We were (those in my generation) raised in a society that lived secret lives inside perfect houses and church three times a week.

 Finally!  Finally, thru the world of cyberspace and words on pages we are able to expose those secrets and lies and free ourselves from a chained existence.

 Projection doesn’t make the pain go away permanently.  What it does is create a constant state of inner-vs-outer fighting while fuelling the shadow

The solution is to un-create the shadow.  There is nothing in it that is beyond our power to dissolve.  Instead of allowing your shadow to victimize you, grab hold of the control switch and reclaim your true function as creators of a new future.

It takes time to create our shadows and hand over the power and we need to recognize those times when we are giving away our freedom to the shadow.

Keeping Secrets from yourself and others.  Forms of secrecy are denial, deliberate deception, fear of exposing who you are, and conditioning by a dysfunctional family.

Holding onto guilt and shame.  Recognize no one is perfect.  When you feel ashamed of your mistakes the shadow gains more power.

Making yourself and others wrong.  Judgment is guilt wearing a moral mask to disguise its pain.  If you can’t release your guilt/shame it’s so easy to pass them on to others.

Needing someone to blame.  If you decide your pain is a moral issue you will have no trouble blaming someone else you feel is inferior in some way.

Ignoring your own weakness while criticizing those around you.  This is the process of projection.  If you feel the problem is with another..you have projected your own fear instead of taking responsibility for it.

Separating yourself from others.  When it becomes “them” and “us” we always think outside is the good one.  Isolation increases a sense of fear and suspicion and the shadow loves that.

Struggling to keep evil at bay.  I know we have all survived incredible traumas but when we think evil is just around the corner (which is our own creation or illusion) we give the shadow huge amounts of power.

It’s a process for all of us.  Once you remove the power from your shadow by exposing the above processes that fuel it you need to make opposite choices to escape and be the one in control.  Yeah, I know.  Easier said than done..she says with a grin.  It’s challenging and tiring doing all this self exploration.  The freedom it allows is well worth it.

You have choices.  They all come with steps that I will write in the next blog.  Stop projecting.

Detach and let go.

Give up self judgment.

Rebuild your emotional body.

The shadow has persuaded us to blame others and not take responsibility.  It tells us we are unworthy of love and respect.  it promotes anger and fear.

The shadow lies…..

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.

FINDING HEART HORSE Pre Release Review

Image

 

Finding Heart Horse will break your heart, then stitch it back together with hope, gumption, and something we fellow adoptees like to call “adoptee resilience.” Although the first installment of Claire Hitchon’s memoir isn’t specifically about her adoption, we can see the fallout from a flawed institution that left her to be raised by an abusive mother and an emotionally impotent father. Claire knows deeply that something is wrong with them, but incorrectly believes in her young adult years that the fault ultimately lies with her-self.

But there exists something deep within her, a strength, an awareness of her basic goodness that allows Hitchon to survive living on the streets, prison and debilitating abuse of all kinds. The author uses her raw creativity and considerable artistic talents to find solace from her own personal demons, ultimately allowing her to connect with that enlivened horse spirit that she knows is buried under layers upon layers of trauma, self-hate, and utter confusion as to how to live life.

Hitchon leaves no holds barred in relating the exciting, yet devastating lifestyle she leads while coming of age in Toronto. I cannot wait to read the second installment of her memoir, The Wall of Secrets.

Laura Dennis

 Adult Adoptee in Reunion

Author of Adopted Reality, A Memoir

please like and share