So What Happens Now?

 I thought someone stole my life. At the time it was real.

Each hospitalization steals a piece of who I used to be, each reaction possibly  a death sentence. Between adoption reunion and a rare mast cell disease I feel like I’ve been fighting a war or working on one of those fishing boats being tossed around like feathers in an ocean of power.

 I still have a life only its very different from the one I had planned for retirement. Different from the one I anticipated as I worked my way down my “Places to Go Before You Die” list. Different from the strong, physically fit nurse running on concrete day after day. Different from my friends and family. Different

Thing is, I have a life and I am grateful.

SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?.

How does one manage, adjust, accept and live in the new world around them.

ACT AS If YOU KNOW

A few years ago before I got so sick I was at a retreat where the teacher used that phrase frequently. If you were asked a question and were stuck for an answer the normal reply is,”I don’t know “Thats why I’m asking you.” He would slowly curl his lips up in a smile and say, “Well, I know you don’t know. but if you did, what would the answer be?’ Immediately, people felt a shift and an answer became apparent.  You had it all along. It’s that simple.

I have had many times, many major times in my life, that in an instant, my life changed. These major life changes demand adaptation. Until you get re-grounded, Act As If You Know.

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When you experience major life changes such as we do in adoption reunion, serious life threatening illness, anything that comes out of the corner swinging when you least expect it, there are a few guidelines I’ve found quite helpful.

1.Change is part of life. Feelings of grief, sadness, anger are normal when experiencing a loss. Give yourself permission to feel that way but with limits. A day, a moment, a brief accountable time. Sit with the emotions but don’t stay there.  There’s no adaptation if you don’t move forward. You stay in a place of helplessness  and personally, i’d rather be in a place of hope and growth.

2.Take off the mask.  You know the one.  The strong, independent fearless warrior we like everyone to see. Let people see the real you.  The vulnerable, the frightened you, so greatly in need of help. The you that wonders if you’ll make it through another day. Only when others can see the real you are they able to offer help. Through vulnerability comes courage.

3.Remember you aren’t the first person to experience change and you won’t be the last. You Are Not Alone You always have yourself and you are surrounded by the energy of the universe, spirituality and love. Open the door just a crack and you will find many others feeling the same way.

4.People aren’t mind readers. They don’t know what you need, what you want and many have no idea what to say or do in your particular situation. Be specific and you will find people feel relieved because they had no idea and will gladly support you. If they have to guess, they feel helpless, just as you do. Empowerment comes from knowing.

5.Change takes courage but our ability to adapt is incredible. You need to believe that you can adapt and you will. Now that I have O2 24/7, it’s taken a great deal of adapting, inventing, climbing over obstacles I could never have imagined. You will find solutions for whatever is standing in your way. We are survivors.

6.Don’t lose hope. I know there are days it seems futile and the dark places try to pull you in but don’t go there. There is something, no matter how small, that you can grasp like a rope of hope.  Hang on, the ride is wild but know in your heart it will be alright, just different.

7.This journey, be it illness, death, adoption, reunion, whatever it is, is traumatic and it will change you forever. It changes how you see life and deal with things and right in the middle is the learning, the knowledge, the courage and strength you didn’t know you had. What’s happening around us, to us doesn’t change us as human beings. Stay centred and grounded and remind yourself you are okay.

Start right where you are now, in this moment, just accept it without comparison to your past life. We adapt. We survive. A habit takes 21 days to form. Neuroscience tells us our brains have extraordinary capacity to rewire patterns so get out of your own way. Meditate, walk in nature, listen to music, write.  Do what you must so you can see what’s around the next corner.

ACT AS IF YOU KNOW

Who Do You Trust?

“I’m not upset that you lied to me,

I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

–Friedrich Nietzsche

Do you honestly love yourself?

Maya Angelou believes that unless you love yourself, you really can’t be trusted.  She quotes an African Saying which is:

“Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.”

Because of relinquishment, trust is difficult for adoptees.  I know everyone experiences trust issues over their lifetime and most are able to repair the damage.  With adoptees, that first betrayal never leaves.  On top of that you have no genetic markers, no history.  In my childhood I wasn’t able to trust my adoptive parents, and running away experiencing life on the streets as I describe in Finding Heart Horse certainly didn’t foster trust.

When trust is destroyed at such an early age in adoption, it takes effort and practice to regain. Whether it’s in reunion, or with relationships in general, everyone has an obligation to “show up” while the relationships are forming, sometimes for years depending on what both sides want.  Because of the imprints of distrust on the early neurological system, positive, trusting experiences have to be integrated into the limbic system as well as understood by the neocortex.  Deeply ingrained, biological, neurological.  So important to recognize this.  Continue until…….

Sounds complex,  not really, just takes time and practice and people willing to stay for the journey.

Trust doesn’t mean never having to say you’re sorry.  Trust means that you can count on the other person to have your best interests at heart.  They don’t have to agree with you, just care about you.  Interestingly, the word trust originated in Scandinavia; akin to Old Norse..traust.  I’m Scandinavian.

In reunion since 2003 when I first heard my biological families’ voices, I’ve experienced the roller coaster that most of us happily jump on, not knowing the psychic chaos it will bring.  I opened my heart for the experience, hesitantly mind you. I trusted.  Something about finding your mother cracks that locked up heart pretty fast.

Unfortunately, every time I started to relax, and trust that I was accepted as part of an already established family, something would happen to fracture the relationships.   Ten years later their lives remain constant, as they were before my appearance and mine has completely changed.  One by one they left.  At the worst times possible, when I was most vulnerable, right after the death of a friend I was “unfriended” for speaking up.  A sister needed to “look after herself”.   Sometime later I was told I wasn’t “ready for a sister relationship” and unfriended by another sister and lastly the trust I had built with my brother was smothered by anger at a time I desperately needed a brothers support.  A statement made in an adoption group that was referring to bio family, not meaning the immediate family, shattered what I thought was family.  How could that be?  I trusted.  History won.  I lost my family.  Would I ever trust again?  How many times can one be rejected and still keep an open heart?

I often think of the “what ifs”.   Had I known what to expect, had I known how physically ill I was then (many of the symptoms such as exhaustion, constant crying, were due to mast cell degranulation), had I been medically treated, had I not pushed myself over the edge energy wise, had we worked as a family to heal,   had I not had my heart broken….had I not found my mother only to lose her…what if…….

Part of trust is respect.  One must respect and love themselves first, then you can love and respect others.  Most of us need to go right back to the basics and learn to love ourselves first.

IMG_3621So how do you build trust? In yourself and in relationships?

You have to know yourself first.  Trust yourself to do the right thing.  Believe in yourself.  Understand that you can survive on your own.   Face your Demons.  Be vulnerable but selective with who you share with.  Acknowledge your accomplishments.  Adoptees need to remember life isn’t black and white!

Resolution is possible.  We need to push through the fear of being hurt again.

Be Honest

Listen to the other side’s feelings without judgement

Let go of the past.  Stay in the now.

Focus on what you want today not next year.

Trust takes time.  Go slowly but go..

Continue on..over and over and over again…until…

You Trust

Trusting Ripples

So, I just wanted to say a little something about trust.  Of course, we adoptees have great issues with trust and intimacy which are so connected to abandonment and rejection.  It’s such a fluid movement back and forth, sometimes it’s difficult to separate them.

TRUST: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, of a person or thing; confidence

Trust is a fragile gift, easy to break, easy to lose and one of the hardest things to get back.  Why then, is it so casually tossed about?

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In an adoptees world trust is a huge issue.  In the words of Nancy Verrier, “its difficult to face the fact that by definition every adopted child is an abandoned child, who has suffered a devastating loss.”

This usually happens so early, in fact, can begin in utero that there may not be a conscious memory of it, but guaranteed it resurfaces like a dragon as soon as one detects betrayal of any kind.  In a flash, we may feel intensely sad or angry not realizing the root of it all.  Any situation where you feel that you have been abandoned may trigger this..and quickly and there goes the trust.

Adoptees also have this innate sensitivity and are able to detect deception or game playing faster than anyone I know.   I’m not writing about anyone, I’m writing about when the trust has been broken..what then.  A situation occurred that shattered…for an instant…a trusting atmosphere.  The reaction was swift and to the point.

This was going to be just a video but the sentences keep rolling so I’ll just go with it.  As a Ripple myself…watching other ripples become distraught I was thinking about how we can deal with these unfortunately frequent events in our lives where we feel the trust has been broken.

I think the first step is, recognizing our long-held belief systems and to begin taking back our power.  Checking in with ourselves about what is reality and what is a belief that needs to be challenged.   You know the big one…I was unwanted, therefore I am unworthy.  Time to take responsibility for the direction we are going and how we want to feel.  I, no longer feel like a victim.  I have dug so deep my nail beds were bleeding to haul out the roots of such grief and loss.

Ultimately, it all points back to us.  To everyone, to be our own best friend, to be the one we know we can trust.  To know that..we can love ourselves and that we are indeed worthy.

So in the midst of the Trust Storm that was rocking the boat last night I was happy to see…..

 ripples coming together as one, connected and still maintaining trust.  Perfect storm, perfect ripples to practice with.

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.

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  • 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.  

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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.