Twenty Seven Years of Wishful Drinking Died Nine Years Ago, So Did I

AUGUST 13, 2012 – MY WHOLE LIFE CHANGED!

“NEW BEGINNINGS ARE OFTEN DESCRIBED AS PAINFUL ENDINGS” – LAO TZU

August 13th – This was not only my earthly birthday, but it’s my re-birthday.

What’s my re-birthday? It’s the day I decided to live alcohol-free.

I have double reason to celebrate, so I shall.

I can hardly believe I’ve made it to this milestone of nine years alcohol-free. I remember nine years ago on that day, I was utterly lost, frightened, and all alone and had no idea what the next 24 hours had in store, let alone the next nine years. While I continue to walk forward towards a new season, it’s clear parts of the old me are dead and gone.

A little back story, I started drinking at twelve years old. I grew up in a small town in Iowa and was introduced to alcohol very young. Twenty-seven years after that introduction, on August 13, 2012, I was finally at a place where I decided alcohol was no longer for me.

Twenty-seven years is a long time.

I would be confronted with many life-altering situations; however, the need to keep alcohol close by was constant. I remember the days where I didn’t think I could survive without alcohol. And in my mind, I couldn’t, so I didn’t. It was my best friend and my confidant. It was always there for me and created a bridge I happily crossed every time I consumed alcohol. My reality was too much and too hard to process.

Alcohol created many fun memories and vibes, and it also made a lot of traumatic ones. The traumatic ones caused lifelong altercations on how I view the world and also myself. 

When I walked away from alcohol

August 13, 2012 – I had no idea it would cost me damn near all my friends, but it did. I walked anyway. I went from an extensive group of people I hung out with to literally less than five. 

What was I going to do with my time now? 

What person would I become? 

What hobbies did I have that didn’t involve alcohol? 

WHO WAS I? 

The truth is, I had no effing clue. Alcohol was the center of my life for my entire life. I stepped into a new space and a scary one. They say when you drop addictions, you have to replace them with other healthy things. I started going to church regularly, and the next thing you know, church friends, church activities, and church serving took up all the space I used to use partying. Then, Although I have different views on the church now, it did step in and create a bridge I needed to get to where I am today, and because of that, I am thankful. 

When you remove the center of your world, the walls come crashing in and you have to pick yourself back up and rebuild yourself and your life. It was like I died that day when I stopped drinking alcohol, and every day for the last 9 years I’ve been rediscovering who I am without alcohol, slowly coming back to life again. It’s like a brand new baby being born but for me I was re-born. Not the giving my life to Christ reborn, as that ship has already sailed and sank. I’m talking about every fiber of my being being transformed into a new me, not what other people told me to be or what my environment influenced me to be. Between beliefs, conditioning, and experiences I had to break out of the old and step into the new.

“You don’t know this new me; I put back my pieces, differently.” – unknown

This quote fits perfectly.

Over the last nine years, my life has progressed to great lengths and many times I’ve had to look myself in the mirror and I’m finally at peace with what’s looking back at me but not without a lot of blood. sweat and tears FIRST. I’ve had to get alone with myself to find myself. I’ve been single the majority of the last nine years, and even when I have been in brief relationships or been in the dating world, I continue to find myself learning more about the new person I have become. Hardships help us grow, and so do those we have around us inside our inner circles. Even with heartbreak, I’ve learned lessons that are of great value to me. 

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” – Cynthia Occelli

I’ve loved, and I’ve lost, and I’ve been betrayed and hurt. The kicker is that now I’ve learned that processing difficult emotions and feelings isn’t something I need to run from. Drinking alcohol every day for 27 years, I was clearly running from processing pain. I couldn’t sit with my sober self and alcohol was the great escape. This is one of the most significant dynamics of my career with drinking alcohol. I didn’t know how or want to feel those feelings of abandonment from my birth parents and the trauma I experienced in my adoptive homes. When I stopped drinking, all my adoptee problems showed up at my front door, and I was forced to sit with them, and I’ve been sitting with them for nine years now. It’s been painful but humbling at the same time. Crying and showing emotions is like the dried up well is living again. Finally, I can look at myself in the mirror and know I am not going to die like my birth parents, and I have done the work on myself to turn the page to live a happier and healthier life. 

Not just for myself, but my kids and future grandkids and my legacy. 

I have always had a tough time with my birthday, but this year was different.  Things seemed lighter and happier. I decided I wouldn’t wait for anyone to celebrate me because I had enough reasons to celebrate me. Waiting on others leads to disappointment. I have learned that I need to put my happiness into my own hands. I had a brief moment of sadness, which I feel was part of my processing the realities of the day I was born. My birth mother left me at the hospital, and I lost everything that day. Being adopted is always a hard pill to swallow. I had challenged myself in recent years to allow space for those feelings and process them and save room to enjoy my day because even when my biological mother abandoned me that day, one badass woman was born. 

Here’s an article on How Adoptees Feel About Birthdays if anyone is interested. It’s not just me; it’s many adoptees who struggle with our birthdays. 

I’ve been stuck in the dark sadness long enough. I’ve paid the price and done the time. I’ve put in the work to overcome the damage adoption has caused and lived a sober life doing it. THIS IS A MIRACLE! I will be working towards healing for the rest of my life; however, it’s critically important that we equally carve out space to enjoy our lives. We must find the balance not to let our adoption journeys dominate our lives. I’m guilty of doing this for the last 11 years, but today is a new day. 

This year, my gift to myself is to step away from almost all things adoption-related and step into a new life that I should have been living many years ago before the adoption trauma and alcohol tornado took over and consumed every fiber of my being. I think as adopted people; we owe that to ourselves. When we remove something unhealthy from our lives, we have to replace it with something healthy. My career with alcohol was unhealthy for me, not to mention what 27 years of consuming alcohol has done to my body. Adoptionland hasn’t been a healthy place for me either, for the majority of my time being present in the adoptee community. I stepped away from most of it long ago, however I still have areas I’m stepping away from in attempts to make my load lighter and my life happier.

This year, I had my birthday month all planned out for myself to bypass the familiar disappointment I get from outside sources. I also had a sweet friend tell me that I needed to celebrate my birthday month, not just the day. So while I didn’t exactly celebrate the whole month, I did celebrate a few weeks. 

The weekend before my birthday, I met with one of my forever friends, Christi. I took her on an adventure to Pine Island Double Falls, located in London, KY. We had a blast and enjoyed spending the day running wild, as we youngins love to do. 

The following week before my birthday, my youngest daughter accompanied me on a mini-photo shoot at one of my favorite parks in Lexington, not far from my house. The purpose was to celebrate my 9-year milestone of living alcohol-free with my MOTHER, AKA Mother Nature. I had a nine balloon, and my daughter took some lovely photos to capture this celebration beautifully.  

August 13, my actual birthday and re-birthday, I decided to take a mini road trip with my kids to Joe’s Crabshack to get some Dungeness Crab BBQ, one of my favorites! All I wanted was a little time in the presence of those I adore the most and who mean the most to me. My kids! It was a surreal experience because as I walked into Joe’s Crabshack with my kids, I realized the last time we had been there together was nine years earlier, TO THE DAY. The last day I drank alcohol on August 13, 2012. I wanted my birthday dinner to be at Joe’s Crabshack in Louisville. While this fact dawned on me, I couldn’t help but reminisce about where I was nine years ago and where I am today. WOW, at the difference nine years makes. We ate a lovely meal, went outside to take some pictures of the sunset of the river, and had a precious time together. Then, we drove back to Lexington to have cake together, my favorite pistachio from Martine’s Bakery here in Lexington. It was a perfect day to remember, with those who make my world go around. 

The following day, I decided to run off into the wild on a self-care solo trip to Tennessee to Cummins Falls State Park. This was an adventure to remember, and I must do it again and stay a weekend to explore the area more. There were two waterfalls I made it to, Cummins Falls and Waterloo Falls. Being able to be solo and hike this gorge was an excellent experience. But, sometimes, we have to take off and go live life. 

The following week on August 20, I flew to Salt Lake City to visit my best friend. It was the first time seeing her in almost three years. You can learn more about that visit by reading my article “Learning to Live and Hike with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)”  We had a super time together, and it was fantastic to have my first hot springs visit with her, despite the SVT. It was also exciting catching up with another friend, seeing my best friends cute little family, and spending time with them. 

Here are some photos I would love to share with you! 

The changes I’ve made in the last few months have resulted in a lighter feeling with life in general, and I’m optimistic about the future and the path I have set for myself. 

Little by little, letting go of the unnecessary things makes room for the things that matter. I don’t want to waste more time on things that set me back and keep me stuck. I will write about that more soon. 

Special thank you to everyone who made my birthday special and to those who donated to my birthday fundraiser, sent me texts, called me, mailed gifts, and made my day one to remember. Special shout out to my close friends, family, and supporters near and far. I appreciate you all! Thank you! I love you!

Love, Love

 Social Media Distancing – The Time Clock is Ticking

fe98b18a-8e0e-42f1-b675-2eda5ebd4e90Allow me a few minutes while I share my new guidelines for social media distancing. I am making some major changes in my personal and professional life, I hope to have more time to write about different topics of being an adoptee in recovery, and nature, wilderness wellness and more. My time is the most valuable thing I have on this planet and there are certain things I will no longer waste it on.

As so many mixed emotions, situations, and feelings have risen for most individuals due to this Covid-19 virus sweeping through our world, it has literally changed everything for me personally and professionally. Some of it has been painful, and some has been enlightening. Some has been a mixture of both. Most of us have been able to find a silver lining, if not many of them.

Spending the last few months glued to the television, seeking any and all guidance from the mainstream media, our government and traditional news outlets, I’ve made the personal choice to discontinue tuning into this for my own mental health and well-being, not to mention I’ve found most of it to be propaganda based on lies.  I have also found this to ring true for certain social media platforms. I have found it to be a toxic addition to my life, and I am making the choice to opt out of certain platforms.

I have seen people fall out on social media at the flip of a switch because narratives are presented with certain articles, views or ideas and someone wants to make it “I’m right and you’re wrong.”  I have found this line of thinking to be toxic, as well as the friendships that are based on the foundation that in order to be my friend, you have to believe like me, act like me and talk like me. Sounds like religious circles, right?  To be true to myself, these are not the type of people or relationships I want in my life, even on my social media.  Because of this, I’m implementing my own social media distancing guidelines. The older I get, the more things change. I want a small, true, and genuine circle of friends. More friends is not better, it is actually worse.

One thing the Coronavirus has done is allow people to show their true colors, especially on social media platforms because many love to get big and bold behind the computer screen. Reality is, if they talked that trash in real life, they would likely get punched straight in the face. I personally partake in a particular type of social media etiquette and carry myself a certain way when in the presence of so many other people because I feel its the kind thing to do. When I see something posted by someone else that I do not agree with on social media, I politely pass that post by. If I notice someone I know on social media sharing posts that I feel are toxic to my mental health and well-being, or it’s something I don’t agree with,  I kindly snooze them for 30 days, or unfollow them all together or simply ignore it. I am not on social media to pop on everyone’s timeline and create discord on their posts and pages and that is never what I have been on social media for. Social media used to be fun, but at this present time in our current affairs, I have found it to be anything but fun. It’s draining, triggering and exhausting.

Apparently too much time in the house has others who are out to argue or prove someone else is wrong and they are right. Let me be perfectly honest, in my opinion social media all alone has created an illusion that all these people are our friends, and all these people like us, support us and “love” us. This might be true to an extent because I have many people on social media I like, support and LOVE. I think we all do, however the other side of this is a lot of people are connected to us in some form or fashion that are just people taking up space. Their opinions really do not matter to me, and if I am being completely honest, most of them are likely no one I would ever hang out with off social media in real life. Who are these people and why are they on my social media? I sometimes ask myself this question daily. I do social media cleanses often, unfriending people who I don’t really know but I realize we all have different outlooks on social media. I respect what others use it for and understand we might have totally different views on this.

I think I have been clear on how I feel about internet interactions, due to the creation of Adoptees Connect, Inc. and this resource having the soul purpose of building relationships with adoptees in our communities in real life. In person friendships and meetings are so much more genuine to me than anything that can be built online, and these are the connections I want in my life. I also apply this to my real life, not just Adoptees Connect, Inc. I do have a small circle of close friends from the adoption community, who I consider my ride or dies. I am not talking about them. They know who they are.

The new normal of others being stuck at home due to the Covid-19 virus has really done a number on people, understandably so. It’s done a number on me too, and I’m 100% certain my life will never be the same.  Some people are out of work, some are trying to find food for their kids, some are at a complete loss on how they can pay their rent this month. I get it and I have great sympathy for each person and each family.

I have experienced my own setbacks due to this virus, although I do not care to share them publicly, I am consciously aware that we are all at different spaces and places in life. I am aware many people are on high alert, and much of what they share comes out in what they post on social media. I know when to allow others grace and turn the cheek and when to keep it moving.

As for social distancing, some people are doing the things they are doing to survive, and what that looks like to them, looks like defiance to someone else. I am set on never casting judgement on people for doing what they need to do to survive. Many people are dealing with mental health issues, and others are extremely lonely. The internet is good at making people feel as if they are connected and because of this, social media has been a wonderful tool for many. Isn’t that what so many of us desire, is that ultimate need to feel connected?

Normally I do not post politically motivated topics, or topics to be overly sensitive for many reasons. Over the last few months, I have shared a few posts that could be looked at as controversial, and I do not regret sharing them at all. However, the open mindedness I would hope most people would have was almost non-existent. Instead of reading the topics, and learn something they wanted to be right, and express that I was wrong for sharing them. These are not the type of people I want in my life, and this is not the type of activity I want to be wasting my time on. We are only allowed a certain amount of time granted to each of us in every single day we have here on earth, and the time clock is ticking.

I am taking responsibility of allowing social media to fill a space in my life that really could be filled with other things that are productive to living a happy and healthy life, even with the Covid-19 virus in full effects. In recovery we can make excuses all day long but ultimately, we must take accountability for our own lives and make changes when things do not suite our needs. Just like the church, religion, and so many other areas of life, it is easy to fall into a trap of co-dependency regarding social media and how much time we spend on there.

I have struggled with the entire concept of so much good coming from social media, at the expense of my unbelievably valuable time. With my time I want to be educating myself and learning new things. I want to be outside in the sunshine reading books I have had on my bookshelf for 25+ years because motherhood dominated my life for so long, I had intentions to read them but never could. I’ve read two whole books in the last week from beginning to end. That hasn’t happened in over 25 years. Now, my kids are older, I want to spend time with them which is my biggest priority. I am free to explore the world and different areas of my state. (Before and after Covid-19, obviously) I have hammocks, and camping gear and a car filled with gas. I want to be adventuring in my area and state and forget all about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as much as humanly possible.

My mental health is always better when I am outside, connected to the earth in full sync and harmony with nature. Being glued to computers, cell phones, tablets and all electronics are just things I do not want to be doing anymore. If I do, I want my time spent in these areas to be as productive as possible. I believe all the social media platforms that are around and being created are truly just distractions from us all living the true life we were meant to live.

It’s so easy to get sucked into the enticing aspects of the fun and convenience that social f18beb15-8b90-4cc1-9674-4fd5be3d3ebdmedia brings, but I woke up one day and realized if I don’t make some changes I will be a slave to social media forever. I have addictive personality, so monitoring my time on social media does not work for me. I have tried it all, just like I did with alcohol for the 27 years of drinking. If I do not make changes, time I that could be spent feeding my spirit to be as happy and healthy as possible will have slipped by me, poof…  Gone, like a vapor. No one knows how much time we have on earth, and I am living each day like it is my last, even in quarantine.

Stress is a huge problem for many people in work, at home and life in general. I can tell you one thing, stress will eat you from the inside out and take a toll on your mind, your body and spirit. I have let the stress from Adoptees Connect, Inc. and social media platforms dominate way too much of my time. Due to the nature of social media becoming a toxic playground, I have made the choice to take a break from most of the platforms I have normally been continually active in for many years. I have had a love/hate relationship with social media and technology for many years. This comes from wanting to be healthy and happy, and becoming happy and healthy you notice more, especially toxic things and toxic people. It is no wonder I am at a breaking point because it’s been in the works for years!

I care more about my personal friendships with people that I do about being right and others being wrong to even care to participate in these platforms and conversations. I have learned that when leaving social media platforms, 99.9% of the people do not even notice you are gone, because relationships have become so generic due to the illusion social media gives off which is really a sad thing. I am not falling into this illusion anymore.

What I desire in my life are true genuine connections with people in real life. Of course, I still want to keep the relationships with people that aren’t close in my city, but I feel we are close enough that we can and will still keep in touch despite my farewell to many social media platforms. Those are the connections and relationships I have built in the last 10 years at a distance that are scattered all over the world. Most of those people have my phone number, and email and we can stay in touch. They know who they are, so I do not have to share names.

The people who I want around me in my real life, are the people who don’t always have to be right, and those who allow the possibility of others experiences, strengths and wisdom to be people we can all learn something from one another. The “I’m right, your wrong” mentality is a dangerous space to be in, and that is not where I am at.

Social media in my life has become a thief of time, and I write all the time about how time is the most valuable thing I have left to give, and the most valuable thing anyone can give. So why continue to give so much time to something that really is not bringing me the fulfillment it once was but in return it is stealing my time?

106f31ed-3f27-4e3c-bf09-050cad01eca0I have clearly outgrown it.  I have a whole list of things I want to tend too in my personal life that have all of a sudden become more important than feeding into the social media illusion I’ve been addicted too for many years now. I have developed this co-dependence that I wish to discontinue, and that is where I am at in this present place of my life. First, I discontinued Twitter, then Instagram and now my public Facebook page. I’ve kept my Facebook “like” pages for now, but I don’t plan on spending much time on them and I had to keep my commitment in keeping my Adoptees Connect, Inc. group alive, as well as the AC Facebook page. Keeping these pages alive are for my fellow adoptees, not for me.

I have taken care of people my whole life, and it has been my career for 15 years. Now it is time to take care of myself. My hope is to write more on my website, as well as read and be outside. I want to build on my small circle of close friends by intentional connections, by reaching out to them and spending time with them when the world opens back up again. Until then, I want to talk on the phone and make plans to see one another. The superficial illusion of social media is no longer controlling me.

Another thing I am working on is my addiction to SUGAR. How is it SUGAR has been harder for me to beat than alcohol? I have figured it out, but I will share in future articles I write. In recovery we learn people trade addictions for addictions. I have found this to be true regarding my toxic and unhealthy love for sugar. This is another reason why eliminating stress is KEY because stress can trigger all kinds of addictive behaviors and patterns. While valuable time on social media is out, I am putting myself first so I can be the happiest and healthiest version of me. Be on the lookout for more articles, more writing, and more genuine connectivity from me! Although I am off my personal Facebook page, you can contact me by my public page by clicking here. You can also find me on LinkedIn. Please introduce yourself. I do not add strangers to my LinkedIn.

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading! I would love to know what boundaries you are setting for yourself during the Covid-19 pandemic? What have you found that is not working for you? What is working? Are you taking care of yourself? If so, how? If not, why not?

I hope you make the choice to put yourself and your happiness first. By all means necessary, do what you need to do to eliminate as much stress as possible from your life. Your health and happiness depends on it. XO – P.K.

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Passing A Blessing

Hi everyone,

I hope you are all doing well and the New Year is treating you right!

As some of you know I’ve decided to back away from much of “Adoption Land” and the “Adoptee Arena”. If you didn’t know I’m sorry. I’m not disappearing but I have found I have pull back on some areas of my life for my own sanity as I know many of my fellow adoptees can relate to making this move. From what I thought might be a temporary break has seemed to turn into more of a long term event.

In 2012 I created the “How Does It Feel To Be Adopted? community on Facebook.  In 4 years it’s grown to over 4000 “likes” and thousands of active adoptees. This page has reached adoptees all over the world. It’s been my honor to have been in touch with so many of you over the years, to build relationships with so many of you and to be a hopefully positive person for support.   Not long after Ask An Adoptee was created in a little over a year it has over 800 “Likes”. If you would like to know details about these pages please visit the “About” section of both. I had no idea how big both of these pages would get, but I knew they were helping people, specifically my fellow adoptees. They were created for you all, yet impacting the entire adoptee arena. Finally a safe space for us to share our feelings, where no one else from the adoption equation could tell us how to feel.

Over the last 4 years I’ve rode through the highs and lows of life, navigating through the valleys all while managing these pages on my own. I loved being able to come up with such a healing place for my fellow adoptees. I’ve grown in so many ways just by being able to read so many similarities and bond with so many fellow adoptees near and far. I have thoroughly enjoyed so much of this. For some time now I’ve struggled with healing in my own journey with so much of my life spread out all over the place. It was clear to me that I was doing to much.

As I’ve posted before Facebook has become a huge non-stop trigger to me and has for quiet some time. As an adopted person who had to move across the country just to provide my children with some normalcy, away from all “family” it’s sombering. It’s hard to see everyone post about holidays, mother’s day, father’s day, family reunions, etc. It adds salt to the very real wounds that are still present today. I’ve found Facebook to be a breeding place for fake relationships. I’m not saying I don’t have relationships with many of you. I’m saying I want real true genuine relationships in my life. Not those who think they know me, but have no idea what’s really going on in my life because they base knowing me by what I post on Facebook. I’ve just grown to dislike it in every way.  I deactivated my page a few months ago and I feel a HUGE weight lifted. We are all in control of our own lives. If something or someone isn’t serving is properly we must make changes to make things better. In recovery I’ve learned to avoid triggers. Being adopted, triggers are everywhere every day. Navigating what to “Let go of” vs. “What to work through” has been challenging at times. I know my fellow adoptees understand much of this.

I want to pick back up writing my memoir “Adoptee in Recovery- One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope & Healing”. I have a story to tell and I want to share it with you all. This memoir will take readers on a journey of hope & healing, and focus on other areas of my life. I will still be managing the How Does It Feel To Be Adopted Website where adoptees will be sharing their stories with the world. I will still be blogging here on my page. I still have twitter although I have a new name. Feel free to follow me! @therealpwishes  I’m not totally dropping of the radar! Promise! 

If you haven’t shared your story yet, please visit the page! You deserve to be heard!

A few months ago I feel God has put it on my heart to release my Facebook like pages to someone else, and my time was up in managing them. I gave it 4 years, which is a long time. I have felt sad about it because I feel like I’m letting so many adoptees down. I feel guilty for this.  It’s either feeling guilty of letting my fellow adoptees down or the burden of carrying something God has clearly told me to let go of.  The voice of God is something I have to put ahead of all things, even my own feelings, needs and wants. My heart was set on finding someone to manage them, who had a heart like me but the question was: WHO WOULD WANT THIS TASK?

I began to pray about it.

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Well God seems to always have a plan! The key is to TRUST HIM to reveal and see us through. As I prayerfully awaited for God to move with this situation my fellow adoptee and sister in Christ Haley Radke reached out to me as she often does, to check in. She’s one of my favorite people on the earth! Over time we’ve built a special friendship and can relate to each other on so many levels. I would have never dreamed of asking her because she has her hands beyond full with her podcast AdopteesOn. My hope was to touch base with her and see if she had any ideas for me of who would be a good candidate to ask about taking over the pages.

After spending a little time talking to Haley I am here to announce to you today she has the willingness to manage the pages and take them over from here forward!  Can you say EXCITING??? What a blessing for this! I never would have thought she would be interested due to her previous commitments, not to mention she’s a mommy and a wife, and has a busy life of her own.

I wanted to share this with the page readers so they are aware of the change, and aware that the pages are in the amazing hands of my friend, sister in Christ, & fellow adoptee- HALEY RADKE!!!

Haley, the adoptee community welcome’s you and we are honored to transfer these pages to such a sweet, amazing, warm and caring person such as yourself. THANK YOU for having the willingness to fit this task in your busy life to keep the legacy of the pages going for your fellow adoptees. Healing is so important and I can’t wait to see what God is going to do through you while you use Him to manage these pages! You are AMAZING!

Thank you siSTAR! 

If anyone needs to reach me, feel free to tweet me, message me here or email: pamelakaranova@gmail.com 

Love & Blessings, 

Pamela Karanova

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