Chapter 8. Transporting Trauma – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 8.

Transporting Trauma

Trigger Warning // Suicide // Physical Abuse

Approximately 6-8 hours after trying to leave this world, I woke up with a hazy and sluggish feeling all over my body and mind. I remember lying in bed thinking, “Damn, I woke back up! Wasn’t I supposed to be meeting the Devil at the gates of hell right about now?” I could hardly believe it.

Looking back over that time in my life, one of the most shocking things is that hell seemed like a better solution than living in my reality on earth. That is tremendous because I knew I was going to hell for everything I had done to deserve it, but I didn’t care because I was drowning in my sorrow. I just wanted the pain to go away.

Does this give the world a small glimpse of how significant my adoptee pain was? Possibly, for those who want to try to understand. I was crushed that I woke back up, I didn’t want to wake back up, and I had this enormous feeling of guilt that came over me that I couldn’t even kill myself right. I felt like a total failure despite all the other feelings I was dealing with.

I quickly clung to the bottle and drank myself out of my misery morning, noon and night. Drinking alcohol was the only way I could survive the pain I was feeling. For 27 years, It allowed me not to feel but opened a whole world of other problems that would have lifelong consequences.

Most people won’t understand this, but at times over the last five years, I have been presented with a question on various social media platforms that says, “If you were to tell your younger self something, what would you tell them?”

Sadly, the first thing that always comes to my mind, even at 47 years old, is “Take more pills!”

Still, to this day, I feel like if I could have found a way out, I wouldn’t have had to live with a lifetime of excruciating pain. I wouldn’t have passed on my pain to my kids and had so much to recover from. But instead, I would just be gone, with no legacy to leave other than a dead, deeply troubled adoptee and one that is nothing more than a menace to society.

However, the universe had other plans for me. I wish I could say I figured this out in my teenage or young adult years; however, it would be a long time before I understood this.

You would think this experience “changed me,” but what changed me the most is that I tried to kill myself, and not one single person knew about it or noticed. It felt like no one on the earth cared about me. It’s a hard pill to swallow. I didn’t “get better,” but I continued to spiral out of control.

I ended up taking Giovanni back, and our relationship was rocky, but we both confessed our love for one another. I won’t go into all the details of every dynamic of abuse I experienced with him, but it was a lot. We were both troubled and were constantly getting arrested for fighting.

Eventually, I ran away so much and continued to break the law that I found myself in a group home called Foundation 2. During my time in Foundation 2, I remember liking the structure there, just like I did when I was locked in drug and alcohol rehab. I remember staying several months, going home, and acting out repeatedly.

Unfortunately, Giovanni was back in jail, and we were separated again. I know Patricia looked at our time apart as a positive thing, but all I wanted was to be with Giovanni. When I say I loved him, I love him.

When I was 16, Patricia started talking about moving to Lexington, Kentucky, because she had a friend who lived there. So she planned a visit to look at jobs and the city. We arrived, spent five days sightseeing around Lexington, and saw the beautiful horse country we would soon call home.

I remember having mixed feelings about the move because I would be leaving the state where I hoped to find my birth mother. Wouldn’t it be more challenging for us to find one another states away? But, of course, I knew the answer was yes, and I always wondered if this was part of why Patricia wanted to leave Iowa because I never stopped asking about finding my birth mother. I would never give up on finding her, no matter what state I was in.

I was also conflicted because I would be leaving Giovanni and I have always felt like that was part of Patricia’s plan. While he was locked up, we wrote each other letters constantly, and I started to keep a collection of his letters in a big box, and after some time, it filled up. I would read them repeatedly, and they were my most prized possession. We would sometimes write to each other daily, sometimes receiving multiple letters each day. We hoped we would be back together again one day, and until then, we knew that even when distance separated us, we would always be in each other’s hearts.

I hadn’t seen Thomas, Laura, Melanie, or the boys in a long time when I stopped going for weekend visits. Our time spent together tapered off into nothingness.

We packed up a 22-foot U-Haul and arrived at our new three-bedroom home in Lexington, Kentucky, in the Fall of 1991. I didn’t know a single person in the whole town, but I was always great at making new friends anywhere I went.

I think Patricia had hoped I would turn a new page removing Giovanni from my life and luring me away from Cedar Rapids, where I was always in nonstop trouble combined with constant alcohol use. The thing is, I was still dealing with all the same issues, but the only thing that had changed was my surroundings.

I was 17 years old, in a new city, and she was back working the night shift again. The summer of 1992 rolled around, and the new Dr. Dre – The Chronic album had just come out. What did that mean? If you don’t know, never mind.

It was about to be on and popping in the city of Lexington because one thing is for sure, I was the life of the party anywhere I went, and I was always ready to get the party popping!

I was expected to enroll in an all-new high school that was predominantly black, and being a white girl from Iowa, and I started to make friends one by one. However, my time at Bryan Station Sr. High was short-lived. Patricia must have forgotten that I hated regular school, so I dropped out within a month, and at 18 years old, I was a high school dropout. However, I attended long enough to make new friends, and I made friends with some neighbors close to me.

I think my mind did sway a bit regarding the nagging desire to find my birth mother, but I feel that’s only because I was in a new city with new friends and new things to do. The deep-rooted abandonment was always there, but drinking daily forced it to take a back seat.

I remember going to my first party with my friend Dorthy who lived down the street from me. I didn’t know her that well, but after a while, I learned that we ended up at a crack house in East End. I remember being offered the drug and trying it. I would do anything to get out of my mind. It didn’t affect me, so I tried some more. I drank until the sun came down, sitting in a crack house surrounded by people I didn’t even know. I wanted to belong and be part of something, so I was along for the ride.

While the evening would wind down, everyone at the party was just getting started. So I decided I wanted to split, and although we didn’t have cell phones back then, I was pretty sure I could walk home and find my way.

I set off to walk home through East End and ended up waking up in the Fayette County Detention Center with a public intoxication charge. At 18 years old, I graduated from juvenile jail to the big house, and I remember not feeling anything about this reality. Once again, I felt disconnected from my body and did not care if I lived, died, or woke up in jail.

The internal hate I had for myself only traveled with me to Kentucky. While I know Patricia thought she was doing the right thing, my troubles only followed me, but now I was an adult, and my actions had real-life consequences. I called some of my neighbor kids who were friends of mine who had a brother that was 19 years old, and they came and got me out of jail. I was drinking the same day and didn’t learn a damn thing.

Patricia kept nagging me to get my GED or go back to school, but I shot down every attempt at a conversation, expressing that there was no point in returning to school because, in my mind, the world was going to end. I was profoundly depressed but masked every bit of this with drugs and alcohol. Finally, she nagged me to start therapy, and at 18, I decided to try it.

During round 382 of therapy, I sat in a new therapist’s office again. But unfortunately, of all the feelings I had pondered deep inside about my birth mother, my sadness, grief, and loss still never made their way into the appointment with the new therapist.

When we make our adoptive parent’s “dreams come true” to be parents, our feelings of sadness are automatically stuffed deep inside. It’s known in a very subtle way that feelings that aren’t positive, thankful, or grateful aren’t welcome. For me, there was a block there, and I don’t know how else to explain why adoption or the implications of separation trauma were once again never discussed. The therapist never brought it up or addressed it, so neither did I. To this day, I can’t wrap my brain around why adoption was never discussed in all the therapist’s offices I sat in throughout my whole life!

The therapists detected that I was suicidal and that I had no hope for the future. Duh. I did express that I never got along with Patricia, and I felt comfortable sharing with her all the things Mark did to me growing up and why I decided to stop going to Thomas’s house. This was the first time I had shared this with anyone.

She encouraged me to call Thomas and Laura while I was in her office to tell them about the childhood sexual abuse Mark is responsible for. She also wanted me to tell Patricia, so I did.

While speaking to Thomas and Laura on speaker phone, I expressed to them vague details of my experience with Mark, and they said they didn’t know why he would do such a thing, but they would reach out to his therapist and bring this topic to the table to get him some help. They speculated that maybe Mark was being sexually abused by the catholic priest at the church they used to drop us off at? No one knew, but they assured me they would address it with Mark. I didn’t get any resolve out of this other than bringing a secret to light and finally telling them what had happened. No one asked how this impacted me in my life or if I needed help with healing.

A big piece of me feels they want to blame my outbursts and acting out on the childhood sexual abuse alone, omitting adoption and separation from my birth mother is even a thing. How convenient of them.

Everyone seemed to sweep this under the rug, and we never discussed it again. Finally, when I told the new therapist I thought the world would end, she prescribed me Prozac and sent me on my way. I took the Prozac for a week and threw it in the trash. I never went back to that therapist again.

Not long after moving to Lexington, I learned Giovanni was arrested for burglary, kidnapping, and aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison in California. We still wrote off and on and professed our love for one another, but we tapered apart due to his lengthy prison sentence. He served 16 years, got out, and is currently back in prison as a persistent felony offender serving federal time.

I ended up in another abusive relationship that resulted in a broken nose, stitches between my eyes, and two black eyes. When people say you attract what you are, they aren’t lying. I felt horrible about myself, and I attracted horrible men.

Again, I numbed the pain with more drugs and alcohol. I was farther away from finding my birth mother than I ever had been, and I had little hope I would ever find her. Deep-down sadness and despair were masked with a fake smile and a party over at Pam’s!

Unfortunately, I had never healed from all the trauma I had experienced. Even transporting me to a new state, with a new school and new friends, my unresolved, unhealed separation and adoption trauma wounds transported with me. However, the other traumas from Diego, Mark, and Giovanni compacted the root traumas. I was a walking dead woman, feeling hollow and empty inside.

At 18 years old, I continued to find my way in the party lifestyle and made severe mistakes and bad choices along the way. I was going down a path of destruction, and most days, I didn’t care if I lived or died. I hated myself, the world, and everyone in it. I had so much anger and rage it consumed me. However, I always felt like my life would end early, and at this stage, I hoped it would.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

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*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 7. Goodbye World – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 7.

Goodbye World

Trigger Warning // Physical Assault // Violence // Suicide

Eventually, we left the small two-bedroom Westover Road apartment. Instead, we moved to a bigger three-bedroom townhome closer to Lyndale Mall.

My relationship with Giovanni became my whole world, filling a massive hole in my heart from losing my birth mother. Finally, having someone I loved who said they loved me back was a fantastic feeling.

Patricia forbid us from seeing one another, just like she forbid me from seeing Tasha. The more she tried to control what I did or who I hung around, the more I rebelled. She would sometimes come home, and Giovanni or Tasha would be hiding in my bedroom closet. They knew how to climb in, and out of my bedroom window, so we didn’t sweat it. We were still going to spend time together regardless.

When Thomas got wind of me dating someone black, he sat me down and talked with me. “Back in my days, we didn’t mix races, but if you’re happy, I’m happy.” And that was the end of his talk about race-mixing! He didn’t shame me or threaten me with hell. I could respect that times were different when he was coming up, and I appreciated his sentiments of hoping I was happy at the end of the day.

About five weeks after being released from drug and alcohol rehab, I learned I was pregnant. I shared the news with Giovanni, and we wrapped our heads around the reality we would have a baby together. We both became excited, and then I had to break the news to Patricia. Her initial reaction was that of tears, of course. But after she overcame the initial shock, she also wrapped her head around the idea she would have a grandbaby.

Little by little, I started to buy baby items, and I stored them away in a small corner of the spare room we had in the townhouse. Deep inside, I became excited at the thought of being a mother. I would never give my baby away as my birth mother gave me away. Because I knew what that deep-rooted pain felt like, I would never inflict that abandonment on my child.

As the weeks passed, I became attached to my baby, and the thought of being a mother, even at the age of 15, this was something I was ready to take on. I stopped drinking alcohol and using drugs right away. No more fighting or running the streets like I was used to. Finally, I had something to look forward to.

I got a job at the local Pizza Hut by the mall and would walk back and forth to work each day. At this point, high school was almost a non-factor, but I would agree to go back to Metro, but this agreement was short-lived. On a Saturday night in the summer of 1989, I learned Giovanni had gotten in a fight and got arrested at a bar in Czech Village on the S.W. side of Cedar Rapids. It was all over the news and in the newspaper the next day.

I remember being upset because I had no idea how long he would be gone, but being pregnant worried me. However, he was released after a few days after appearing in court. This resulted in him being put on probation, and he would turn himself into a probation officer every month. If he did anything else to break the law, he would be sent away for at least three, possibly five years.

While our relationship seemed to get stronger because we were going to start a family together, Giovanni’s temper and rage only increased as time passed. He became paranoid and would accuse me of things I didn’t do, which resulted in frequent physical attacks that I just took. I never fought him back because I knew it would not end well.

One Friday evening, when I was approx. 12 weeks pregnant, he accused me of messing around with someone he knew. However, I denied it because it wasn’t true. He drew his fist back and punched me in my chest as hard as he could. I remember falling back, losing consciousness for a short time, and gasping for air, but he knocked the wind out of me. As soon as I thought he might have some sympathy for me, he choked me, making me admit to talking to the guy. But, again, I didn’t admit it because it wasn’t true.

I started to cry, and after a few minutes, he started to apologize for what he had done. Then, he started to get emotional, telling me how much he loved me and that it would break his heart if I were ever with someone else. Then, he stopped with the paranoid accusation and started to get sympathetic. I was in pain because the chest blow completely knocked me out for a short time. I had red marks around my neck from him choking me.

After he spent some time apologizing, telling me how much he loved me, I turned the page and acted as if these events didn’t happen. But he said he loved me and stayed, which trumped all the emotional and physical abuse he inflicted on me.

The following week after these events, at 15 weeks, I started spotting, and my chest continued to hurt beyond my ability to handle the pain. Finally, I found myself in the Emergency Room with Patricia, where the nurses and doctors asked me what happened to cause the chest injury.

I covered for Giovanni at all costs because only a snitch would tell the truth of what happened. So I told them I got in a fight a few days earlier, and that was all I said.

They did some x-rays and learned I had a periosteal contusion of my chest bone from Giovanni punching me. They also did some tests and learned that the spotting was from me miscarrying the baby. I asked Patricia to please reach out to Giovanni at the hospital so he could be with me.

Not long after, I asked Patricia for a few minutes of privacy. Giovanni entered the hospital room, where I was all alone. He hugged me, told me he loved me and would be outside waiting for me. Soon a doctor came in asking Giovanni to have a seat in the waiting room, and he performed a DNC, ultimately removing the baby’s remnants from the womb. I remember becoming deeply sad and in tears, and I hated that experience to the core of my being.

Giovanni never said he was sorry, and I never connected the dots at the time that there was a very significant chance that his actions of physical abuse could have very well caused the miscarriage. I think that reality was too much for me to bare on top of losing the baby. So I tucked it away and acted like it didn’t exist. It was my secret, and I never told anyone close to me either. Besides, I was scared to lose Giovanni; he was my whole world.

The miscarriage triggered some emotions in me that heightened more feelings about my birth mother. I remember a sadness set in like never before, and I would think of her. Was this how she felt when she lost me to adoption? Was she sorrowful? No one talked to me about grieving the loss of the baby I miscarried, yet I was expected to move on and never think about them again. Is that what my birth mother was told when she gave me up for adoption? Thoughts of her plagued my mind, as well as thoughts of the baby I would have given birth to less than six months away.

The days and weeks following the miscarriage became a blur to me. My sadness spiraled out of control. I was heavyhearted and grieving like I never imagined.

I had noticed a distance between Giovanni and me, but it was more a time distance on his part. We didn’t spend as much time together or see one another after I lost the baby. But then, I would learn that Giovanni was seeing someone else and finding this news out crushed me. I also learned he had slept with Tasha, who was my closest friend at the time. So I confronted him, only for him to completely deny the accusations.

While we tapered off from seeing one another like we originally had, my alone time increased because now, not only did I lose the baby, but I felt like Giovanni was slipping from my grasp. My friendship with Tasha was over because she told me it was true; she slept with Giovanni. I was broken-hearted and couldn’t seem to shake it. I dreamed of my birth mother daily, sometimes hourly. I wish she were close, and I wish I knew where she was. She would make this all better, but the painful reality was that she was nowhere around.

Just a few months before my 16th birthday, I decided I wanted to end my life. I didn’t have the energy to write a note. I didn’t have the strength to ask for help. I didn’t have anyone to talk to. So I went into Patricia’s room, grabbed a handful of her pills from her nightstand, and laid back in my bed. This was one of the darkest times of my life.

Why did I decide to share this piece of my story? Because at 47 years old, I genuinely believe the separation trauma from the loss of my birth mother impacted every area of my life. As long as therapists, counselors, adoptive parents, and others want to sweep this reality under the rug, adoptees will continue to be negatively impacted as I have been and so many of my fellow adoptees.

The abandonment I have felt my whole life has run deep to the core, and I believe I felt it in my subconscious memory and every fiber of my being. I believe that every decision I made growing up was a reflection of this trauma. I don’t have a fluffy adoption story that everyone wants to hear. I have a real story, and I want people to understand how abandonment and separation trauma from our biological mothers can impact us long-term.

I always share that I’m not into dishing out feel-good juice. I’m into dishing out the truth. I promised myself that I would always be true to myself and walk in my truth even when it might be uncomfortable for others. So this is why I am sharing MY TRUTH. This is not only for me, but so my fellow adoptees know they aren’t alone in feeling how they feel. They need to know they aren’t crazy. What’s crazy is removing babies from their mothers, expecting them to not have lifelong consequences. Adoptees are dying from the pain. If we want to make changes within the adoption arena, we have to stop softening our realities! My audible memoir is my adoptee reality.

I will never forget taking all the pills, swallowing five at a time with big gulps of water, taking at least 30 pills, if not more, hoping I could finally go to sleep and never wake again. This was because the pain I felt was too great and too much to feel. Finally, I truly felt I had nothing to live for, so I took the pills and nodded off to sleep.

Goodbye, world, were some of my last thoughts. I rocked myself to sleep all alone, as I usually did. Something about rocking made me feel close to my birth mother, and that’s all I wanted to be close to her in my last moments of life. I always wonder if she sat in a rocking chair pregnant with me?

During my last thoughts, I pondered with deep, heartbreaking sadness and tears streaming down my face soaking my pillow, that I would never get to look face to face with the woman I had dreamed of my whole life, my birth mother.

Facebook: Pamela A. Karanova

Don’t forget that I’m streaming my articles on several audio platforms for your listening convenience! 👇🏼

📱 iTunes – https://apple.co/3tKzT5f

🌎 Google – https://bit.ly/3JP6NY0

🎧 Spotify – https://spoti.fi/3Ny6h35

📦 Amazon – https://amzn.to/3JScoga

☕️– Buy Me A Coffee https://bit.ly/3uBD8eI

*The views and opinions expressed in this article, memoir, and podcast are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova

Being Adopted and The Significance of the Black Hole

Before sharing specifics, I need to bring Seasonal Affective Disorder to light. I suffer from this each year as fall approaches until early spring. Because of this, I feel what I describe as the “black hole” is much more prevalent in my life during that time frame. One of the dynamics of my healing journey is that idol time has proven to be a struggle for me. I have more idol time during the fall and winter months because I hate the cold, and can’t enjoy my number one escape, nature. When I’m trapped in the house, I experience a part of me that makes me feel guilty for resting, or when I’m not busy, a part of me feels dysfunctional. But, on the other hand, part of me always feels like I need to constantly be productive, active, doing something. 

Another part of me flourishes in a unique aliveness and sweet natural essence. I can see beauty in everyday life, and I find happiness within myself and my surroundings. The sunshine fuels my passion to be alive, and I strive to be active and never miss a moment to make a memory. Sometimes I run off into nature alone, and sometimes I take friends or family.

And then, there is a part of me that is missing; it’s hallowed and empty in that space that I call the black hole.

The black hole wants to be filled up, but it has no ending and depths. It goes on forever and ever, hallow. Sometimes I don’t think about it being there, especially in the summer and spring months. Other times in the fall and winter months, it’s screaming for attention. I describe it as an itch or a void. I have identified it’s significantly different from the black cloud that used to follow me everywhere I went, from all the sorrow I felt from adoption.  

I do my best to cover the defective parts and let happiness soar, but deep down, hidden from the world is a different story.  

Sometimes it feels like something inside is broken that created the black hole, and no matter what I try to fill it with, it never fills up. I filled it with alcohol for 27 years, but 9.5 years ago, I stopped that habit. Drinking alcohol kept me from noticing the black hole most of the time. The black hole has been screaming to be filled ever since. Sometimes its scream is more potent than others. 

How did this black hole come about? 

It used to feel like the black hole was in my heart because my heart was deeply saddened and sorrowful from my adoption experience. I always thought I would die from a broken heart, but I have learned over the years that it was grief and loss that were trying to come out. The broken heart feeling hung on day in and day out, never leaving. I have spent 10+ years working towards healing, and my heart feels better most of the time. 

Finally, around August of 2021, the sorrow and sadness I always carried deep down lifted, and I can’t quite explain it yet. Other than working towards healing for over 12 years,  I freed myself from an awful and unhealthy 9-month toxic relation-shit in my life, which is possibly one of my best decisions for my emotional and mental well-being. After this fake connection was severed, I have felt exceptionally FREE because it just wasn’t a good fit. 

I am finding a distinct difference between the broken heart feeling and the black hole feeling. It’s at the center of me, and it reaches the deepest parts of my mind, body, and soul. Most of the time, it doesn’t hurt. It’s just there, but it has a nagging and itching desire to be filled up.

It doesn’t want to be empty.

Can it ever be repaired? 

I suspect the black hole was created when the natural bonding process with my biological mother was interrupted, and the separation from her has left a black hole that can never be repaired. Acceptance of this reality has been a KEY component of my healing. 

Do all adoptees carry this? 

I constantly find myself trying to fill it up, but the most significant thing has happened. I can identify when I’m trying to fill the unfillable black hole with unhealthy choices. 

What are the unhealthy ways I try to fill the black hole up? 

  • Sweets
  • Unhealthy food
  • Over-eating
  • Dating
  • Overextending myself
  • Trying to “save” others
  • Wanting to move
  • Starting a new job
  • Not setting boundaries with people
  • Creating a project adding more responsibility to my plate
  • Finding something new to fill the hole.
  • Buying material things I don’t need
  • Temporary satisfaction with unhealthy things
  • Making commitments, I don’t want to make
  • People-pleasing aka fawning
  • “Treating myself” with unnecessary things 
  • Creating a new “bad habit.”
  • Being impulsive
  • Over-planning
  • Filling the void with people, places and things
  • Acting on other peoples ideas and plans for my life before I think thoroughly if that is something I want to do
  • Being lazy, giving the black hole what it wants
  • Acting on obsessive thoughts and feelings 
  • Not spending enough time to think about things before I act on them
  • Avoidance from dealing with reality

One day I might try to fill the black hole with food where I overdose on sweets and food that I know isn’t good for me. One day I maybe have the itch to start a new project that I know I don’t have time for. Another day I might be searching for a new job I don’t need or a hobby that I like, that causes me to spend money I don’t need to spend. Another day, I might be trying to create something unique that no one has ever done before adding an unnecessary responsibility to my life.

I spent a lifetime trying to fill the black hole with Jesus, but that didn’t work permanently. It did work short-term, as long as I avoided the reality of the black hole. It only left me feeling like I was ashamed and defective even more because Jesus is supposed to cure it all. But I am the exception. I gave up on him, and I am glad. That was like running a never-ending rat race, always falling flat on my face in the end. Pretending that the hole didn’t exist or praying it away caused more harm than good. It was a constant war, and it was a game I decided I didn’t want to play anymore.

I won’t lie; it’s not easy to soothe the black hole. When I think about things thoroughly, and I walk away from an unhealthy choice or sporadic decision that attempts to fill the black hole, it sometimes feels like walking away from a drug I have been strung out on for a very long time. Sometimes it feels like death. I recognize that giving into filling the black hole will fix the empty feeling it carries, but only temporarily. A little time passes, then I am faced with something new that will temporarily “fix” the black hole. But, of course, it never goes away, but I can soothe it by choosing healthy things, or I can take a hit of the unhealthy choice, and it also temporarily fixes it. 

Everything changed when I started to look INSIDE MYSELF for the answers, instead of looking for things outside myself in other people, places and, things.

I’ve accepted that something is always going to be missing from my life, due to separation trauma compacted by adoption trauma.

The most amazing thing has happened in the last few months, but it’s not been easy to discover. Finally, I have IDENTIFIED when I have unhealthy feelings and thoughts that directly fill the black hole! Recognizing this is the first step, and I am thankful that I am at a healing space in my journey where I can acknowledge this and RECOGNIZE IT. Some people go to their graves, never making it to this point. While I had alcohol in my life almost daily for 27 years, it wasn’t possible to even identify this dynamic, let alone dissect it, acknowledge it and, work on it. Alcohol blocked me from tuning into my true self and stood in the way of me truly feeling my feelings.

Some people might say, “How do you know this is directly related to the separation from your birth mother?” 

From deconditioning and coming out of the fog regarding my adoption experience, it has opened up 12+ years of research on the topic of adoption. In learning to navigate all of the emotions and feelings that I have stuffed my whole life, I have learned that the primal wound, aka the mother wound compacted by separation trauma and adoption trauma, can impact every area of an adopted person’s life. Sometimes it’s more intensified for each of us, and some adoptees seem to be more well adjusted and they don’t have very many issues. 

Everyone responds to trauma differently. We must learn to recognize that mothers aren’t interchangeable. The void and trauma damage that happens from the separation of our biological mothers can and does leave lasting imprints on an adopted person that can last a lifetime. 

For me, adoption has always bothered me to my core, and I have done everything under the sun imaginable to fill the void. However, I am now learning that the void adoption has left created a black hole that I keep trying to fill. Conclusion: The reality that I can not fill this hole has been life-changing for me. Now that I can distinguish this dynamic, I can ask myself, “Do I really want to do this, or am I just trying to fill the unfillable black hole?” I make a conscious choice to do my best to choose the healthiest option for me, but I fall short all the time and that’s okay. I am a work in progress like we all are.

What that looks like for me is making myself wait on making decisions and giving myself time to sit with them and process them thoroughly before I act. Sometimes this takes me a while, and people don’t always understand that. Why is she taking so long to process? 

Well, that’s actually because I am PROCESSING trying to make the best decision possible for myself, instead of reacting and acting from a DYING place to fill the black hole. The most significant piece to the black hole is acknowledging it, learning more about it, and not running away from it. So I am opening up about it and having conversations about it. I recognize it’s not present all the time, although it is always there. 

I suspect non-adopted people have this black hole feeling, but maybe they don’t describe it this way. I think the black holes can come from different traumatic events in life or things that have always been missing. Our mothers and fathers missing or absent would likely be at the top of the list for many people. I think abuse of any kind can provoke a black hole, as well as accidents or situations that spark C-PTSD and PTSD. Abandonment and rejection of any kind can spark a black hole feeling. 

Self-awareness has been vital and learning to listen to my mind, body, and spirit when it comes to how I’m feeling. Tuning into how other people make me feel when I am around them and acknowledging how I feel by myself has been instrumental in my healing and growth journey. Even when others might pressure me to move faster or respond quicker, I take my time. 

Today, I welcome the black hole, and I realize that it’s something that might be here for the rest of my life. I’m learning to replace it with positive aspects and to be easy on myself if I fail. I am not numbing it with substances; I’m not running from it. I do not deny it’s there. But, I’m learning to make friends with it, which helps us understand one another more profoundly. I am also celebrating the fact that today, I AM FEELING. So many people stuff these holes with drugs and alcohol, and I am doing none of that.

This alone is a cause to celebrate! 

For my fellow adoptees – have you ever experienced a feeling that feels like a black hole?

Does it come and go?

How would you describe it, and where do you think it comes from?

How do you handle it and deal with it?

Biological mothers – Does losing your child feel like a black hole or would you describe it another way?

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Thank you for reading,

Love, Love

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova

When Your Biggest Blessing Invalidates My Greatest Trauma

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When your biggest blessing invalidates my greatest trauma it sets me up for a lifetime of pain, suffering and isolation. It facilitates a lifetime of suicidal ideation, because the pain is just too great to process. It makes me feel more isolated and alone than non-adopted individuals can ever imagine. It makes me wish I was aborted and feeling like I want to die for most of my life, because my pain is greater than my desire to want to live. It drives me to attempt to take my life as a teenager, because you fail to admit I have lost anything. It drives me to a place of addiction, because at the end of every day the only way to manage every day life is to numb the pain. When you use bible scriptures to defend your blessing, it makes me question the bible and the God you are speaking of. When your biggest blessing outshines my reality, it makes me feel unimportant and insignificant. When you refer to me as a blessing, it hurts because you are invalidating my adoptee and relinquishee reality.

My story went something like this:

Me: Mommy, did I come out of your tummy?

Adoptive Mom: No, you were adopted. Your birth mother’s choice to surrender you for adoption was my biggest blessing and a dream come true.

Me: What do you mean?

Adoptive Mom: She loved you so much she gave you to me to raise, and I will always love her and be thankful for her decision.

Me: Who is she? Where is she?

Adoptive Mom: We don’t know, honey.

Me: Experienced the most significant mental mind fu*k of my entire lifetime.

I was approximately five years old when this conversation took place, and it’s clear to me that my life was never the same. Every day, I was haunted every hour and every minute wondering, wishing, and dreaming about finding HER.

No matter what questions I had or what mental torment I experienced from this moment forward, my adoptive mom’s joy and happiness trumped everything. My feelings didn’t matter when I was her biggest blessing in life, and her joy  of being a mother trumped my feelings of sadness every damn day.

If I’m transparent, my adoptive mom likely didn’t know the pain and heartache I was experiencing but if she did, her happiness was highlighted over my pain. I was adopted in August of 1974, and my adoptive parents were told to sweep the entire idea of adoption and what it meant under the rug. They were also told the less we talked about it; the better things would be. This is how many adoptions were back in those days, but today is a new day and a new year. It’s 2020, and when you know better, you do better.

However, I ask myself if my adoptive parents knew this, would it have changed anything for my five-year-old self, who was desperately searching for my REAL MOTHER?

I genuinely believe as a 46-year-old woman, if I were able to process my trauma at as early of an age as possible, my healing journey wouldn’t have started at 36+ years old. I wouldn’t have been addicted to substances for 27 years of my life. I recently celebrated 8 years sobriety, however I feel like I’ve spent my entire life not only suffering from the trauma of relinquishment and adoption but healing from the lifelong aftermath of these experiences.

I have barely started living my life yet, and if I’m lucky, it’s over half over. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but I try to remain grateful that I’m here and I’m alive because I know so many of my fellow adoptees are not. This is why I keep sharing and writing. Adoptees are dying!

Adoptions continue to happen all over the world. We cannot continue to fail to acknowledge that before the blessing of an adopted child is brought into a family, it is equally intertwined into the very beginnings of our life, which is a traumatic experience. We must also recognize that relinquishment is trauma, and so is adoption. These are two very different dynamics to the adoptee experience. The sooner society steps out of denial about these truths; the sooner adoptees will start to heal.

Better yet, if our adoptive parents knew these truths from the beginning, would they still choose to adopt anyway? In my experience spending the last ten years networking in the adoption community, most all adoptive parents I have talked to have expressed they TRULY had no idea what they were getting themselves into when they adopted. The adoption agencies and attorneys never shared the truth with them. When they learned what they were up against, it was too late, and they were stuck with this child who has come with deep-rooted relinquishment trauma, or they rehome them and send them back.

Let me be clear, we can have wonderful and loving adoptive homes and love our adoptive families greatly, but the original trauma of relinquishment still remains the same. Networking with adoptees for over 10+ years and hearing their stories, building relationships with them, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt most of us don’t get happy and loving adoptive homes! If you are that one adoptee or know that one adoptee who’s “Just fine” with being adopted, spend more time getting to know more adoptees. That one adoptee story doesn’t compare to the hundreds of thousands of adoptees who have nightmare adoption stories and adoptive homes. Remember, adoption trauma always compacts the original relinquishment trauma.

In what ways does relinquishment and adoption trauma surface in an adopted individual? It can be acting out at an early age or teen/adult years with anger, rage, self-harm, substance abuse, breaking the law, running away, testing the waters in every way possible. Depression, anxiety, abandonment, mental health issues, self love, self hate, rejection, and Complex – PTSD. Let’s not forget grief and loss. Grief and loss show up in more ways than non-adoptees can even imagine and it lasts a lifetime! We struggle with these things for our entire lifetimes and many adoptees never get the help they deserve, taking this pain to their graves. We don’t wake up one day and it’s gone. It follows us, like ball and chain. For many of us, it feels like we’re doing a life sentence for a crime we didn’t commit.

While our adoptive parents, their friends, and family are celebrating adoption blessings, the truth is that adoptees will continue to attempt suicide at 4x the rate of non-adopted individuals. We will continue to grieve our grief and process our loss alone for a lifetime. We will continue to feel helpless in a world that celebrates our relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma. We will continue to live a life riddled with anxiety, depression, and sadness. We will continue to feel isolated and alone. Many and most of us take these things to our graves, because there has never been any help for us.

Instead, you celebrate our trauma and normalize the separation of a mother and her baby. Nothing about relinquishment and adoption is normal, and all the feelings adoptees feel and how we respond to relinquishment and adoption trauma is normal considering the circumstances. What’s not normal is relinquishment and adoption trauma!

Back in 1974, adoptees weren’t baring their souls to share their stories in hopes of shining a light on the truth about adoption and how it’s made them feel. If they were, there might have been very few of them. Today they are, and it’s making a difference. One of the biggest things I have experienced that’s been a significant hurdle to overcome is that our world celebrates adoption the way they do. Can you imagine our world celebrating rape or child abuse? Can you imagine our world celebrating someone being held hostage at gunpoint? Can you imagine our world celebrating a mother and child dying in childbirth?

Only in adoption is our most tremendous trauma of relinquishment not acknowledged, but it’s celebrated. The mental mind fu*k this causes for relinquished and adopted individuals can’t even be explained. Let me be frank; it’s a big giant clusterfu*k.

While our adoptive parents and society are celebrating, they don’t equally acknowledge that we are being is severed from our roots before any adoption occurs. This is the most significant loss of our lifetimes. We lose genetic mirrors, biological connections, medical history, siblings, grandparents, ethnicity, homeland, and so much more on top of YOU CELEBRATING IT. Stop celebrating mothers and babies being separated!

If you’ve made it this far, I will encourage you to challenge yourself in stepping out of denial about the FACTS that what you were told and what you learned about adoption might not be accurate information. I ask you to open your eyes, ears, and hearts to the truth that relinquished and adopted individuals need you to equally acknowledge all we have lost before you consider celebrating it.

We’re not your blessing. Until you can do this vital step to help aid us in our healing process you have no business celebrating us or calling us a blessing. When our adoptive parents are our elders, we follow suit in what they acknowledge as we are children. If you recognize this, we will realize this. Conversations about grief, loss, relinquishment, abandonment, rejection, culture, genetic mirroring, searching, and reunion need to happen. As children, we will NOT be able or equipped to open these conversations on our own. Without the support of our adoptive parents, we will suffer, and we will suffer greatly.

I hate to shatter the fantasy that your adoption is a blessing, but the truth is before every adoption takes place, relinquishment trauma happens first. Adoptees are dying. Please stop celebrating our relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma, and if even after learning all this, you still choose to celebrate, at least equally share the truth by sharing the painful pieces as well. If you don’t, you will regret it, and please know you are assisting in the stalling of your adopted child’s healing. A lifetime of pain will follow no matter what, but if you choose to assist by opening these difficult conversations, it will help!

If you are the adoptive parent of an adult adoptee, you can still apply this information to your journey, life, and relationship with the adopted individual in your life. I don’t know your story, nor do I need to know it. Start talking about the TRUTH in adoption. Start talking about uncomfortable topics. It could save your relinquishee/adoptees life.

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters!

Thanks for reading.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author, Pamela A. Karanova. Reproduction of the material contained in this publication may be made only with the written permission of Pamela A. Karanova

My Experience with Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)

I  wrote an article not long ago titled “RIP RECOVERY” I recently was triggered by previous traumatic events in a current way. Gah! This has created some mixed emotions, many based in anger and sadness. I credit ADOPTION: The gift that keeps on giving! I’ve created a bench, a safe space to welcome these “episodes” as I call them to come and sit down with me. I allow myself the space to sit with them, and welcome them. Then the work begins. No more running. Here I am, writing about it.

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What is ART?

Accelerated Resolution Therapy works to directly reprogram the way in which distressing memories and images are stored in the brain so that they no longer trigger strong emotional and physical reactions. The word accelerated means that sometimes people can see significant results in 1-4 sessions. I liked this idea a lot, and I am not digging these episodes so I’m willing to try ANYTHING.

A few weeks ago, I had a total meltdown. Without going into all the details of what triggered it, I will say that I know it was linked to some specific terror & traumatic episodes I experienced in my childhood, although I wasn’t thinking anything about them at the time at all.  However, I did not need to be. They were stored in my brain and body and they caused my body to react even when the current situation had absolutely nothing to do with them. I truly had no control over it and although I was able to make the connections between the two, I could not bring myself out of the meltdown. It lasted almost the whole weekend.

What feelings were I having? I would describe it as an impending doom, a terror feeling that literally took over my entire body which paralyzed me. I could not function properly, like the “normal me.” I was in bed all weekend long and I felt horrible. My body was riddled with fear, I was overwhelmed and sad because as soon as I feel like I am 10 steps ahead of the game, something like this happens which I consider to be somewhat of a setback.

Is adoption ever not going to impact me in a negative way? Even 10+ years into SELF WORK, I am still dealing with this bs. It brought on a lot of emotions for me that were difficult to navigate through, on top of the traumatic memories being triggered. I have not felt this type of feeling in a long while. But here I was, back at what seemed to be square one. FML was all I could think. All I was thinking was that I would rather die than feel this way.

One of the best parts about this situation was the fact that I did not react to it. I have come far enough in my journey to learn a few things. One is that I was able to make the connections to the way I was feeling, to the way I felt as a little girl and a newborn baby being relinquished by my birth mother. I was also able to distinguish that the reaction I was having was something from the past, because the current situation that triggered the response was not “that big of a deal.”   The other is that I did not allow myself to react. I also knew that I had to move through this situation, until my brain was able to shake it off.  I just did my best to sleep it off until that happened, because that is the only way I can shut my brain off, and I did a little self-care in the middle. I will not lie; the self-care was not easy. The only thing I could force myself to do was to get out of bed, put clothes on, and drive to get one of my favorite salads on Sunday. Then I went and got a large blizzard from Dairy Queen.

As soon as I was done, I came back home and got right back in the bed. Slept until Monday morning. Work was the pushing factor that snapped me out of this deep, dark hole I was in. I had to get up and go to work.

One of the things I believe escalated this meltdown was that I did not have any weekend plans. It was supposed to rain Sunday, so I did not make any plans. The rain came for a short while, the rest of the day was sunny and beautiful. I do not do well with idol time, and it is not healthy for me. So here I was feeling worthless like I wasted my whole Saturday and Sunday away, which is time I can never get back on top of the emotional traumatic episode being triggered.

Over the years, I have learned of several therapy types that have been extremely effective for adoptees. One is EMDR therapy, and the other is Brainspotting. I had never tried either, but I have heard that they are wonderful for adoptees, if you have an adoptee competent therapist.

I knew I needed to get to the bottom of this, because as stated above – I would rather die than feel this way. It is the worst feeling in the whole world. Monday morning I started reaching out to some local therapists, on top of Brooke Randolph who I consider a friend. She is an adoptive mom, and a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and she specializes in many areas, but one is brainspotting. We have had the chance to meet at several conferences over the years, and I respect her greatly. She lives in Indiana, and I am in Kentucky. She was able to offer some suggestions and guide me in the right direction on the next steps. I appreciate her kindness in taking the time to assist me during what I feel like was a crisis in my life.

I ended up finding a local therapist here in Lexington, KY. I read over her website and I was impressed by it. I reached out to her and we set up a consult appointment. I explained my issues, what triggered them and set up a plan to move forward. On Friday I had my first appointment with her, and I can share with you it was one of the most enlightening and amazing experiences of my lifetime!

I will not lie; I was nervous at first because I did not know what to expect. She has listed on her website many areas that she is experienced in regarding types of therapy she uses like brainspotting, EMDR, Daring Way, etc.  The key factor was that she will not use just one technique on me, she will use a combination of techniques, depending on what works best for me. I liked that idea because what works for someone else, might not work for me and each person is different.

Now to the good juice.

Between our consult and our first meeting I was able to trace back in my early days of 4 different experiences that I feel created terror and traumatic memories that have been stored in my memory, some of it subconsciously.

Here they are.

  1. Relinquishment Trauma – Being separated from my birth mother at the beginning of life. I have always had haunting visions of what the delivery room was like that day, and all the sorrow and sadness that was present. No one was welcoming me, no one was happy. I know I cried in terror, learning to self soothe as soon as I came out of the womb. How long did I cry? Likely until my spirit broke and I had no more energy to cry. I have visualized this over the years because I have no birth story. Most adoptees do not so we are left to create our own images.
  2. A Reoccurring Dream – Around 5 years old I learned I was adopted, and from that moment on I started having a reoccurring dream that lasted at least 21 years of my life. They stopped after I found my birth mother but are still very vivid memories. I was on the labor and delivery unit at St. Frances hospital where I was born. This was the last place I knew my birth mother was before I lost her. I was a 5-year-old little girl, in a small white hospital gown. I remember vividly there were no people in sight, but I was searching for her. I saw a long hallway; everything was cold and white. I remember running down the hallway barefoot, jerking every single curtain back searching for her. I saw a clock, and time was running out. I was hysterical, and the hallway went on forever. I never found her, and I never stopped running trying to find her. The terror I felt in this dream, being lost looking for her is like the terror I felt during my meltdown. It’s the same terror that frequents my life. I feel it when I get lost.
  3. Adoptive Mom Laying in the Street – My adoptive mom was manic depressive and suicidal most of my life. One episode of a lifetime of episodes, is something that I have never been able to remove from my brain. She had a manic-depressive episode where she went and laid in the street to try to kill herself while we watched from our 3rd floor apartment window. The terror and trauma this inflicted on me as an 8-9-year-old child is something I will never forget. The visions and memories are clear, and they have always haunted me. I specifically remember how I felt during this episode, and
  4. Adoptive Mom Locking Her Bedroom Door, Telling Us She’s Killing Herself – Another terror and traumatic situation as a child was the repeated actions of my adoptive mom taking her whole “box” of prescription pain pills to her bedroom, locking us out and telling her she’s going to kill herself. I WILL NEVER FORGET BEING HYSTERICAL OUTSIDE HER BEDROOM DOOR BEGGING HER TO NOT KILL HERSELF. This created lifelong traumatic memories I have never been able to shake. I remember being so tired from crying and begging that I could not cry anymore. I just slumped down by the door, fell asleep and eventually after some hours, she would open the door like everything was perfect. This happened many times.

So here we are, trying to piece things together and figure out which of these traumatic experiences still has a tight grip on my emotional and mental health. Which one is triggering an emotional response in my present life?

That is a good question, and the only way to figure out is to go through each one step by step. It could be a combination of them all. It could be related to preverbal and previsual trauma I experienced before birth.  I know that the only way out is through, so here I was getting a new therapist, making a commitment to get to the bottom of this so I could hopefully heal these wounds that seem to creep up at different times of my life. I knew I was the only one that could do this as no one else can fix our junk for us but us.

I decided to start with #1 because it goes back to the beginning. Although I feel the true beginning was being in my birth mother’s womb, but I don’t have any visual memories of that. It might be something I have to circle back around and work on later. For now, we are starting with the first memories which I describe in #1 and the second session I worked on #2.

This is what I remember of the first ART session, but I am fairly sure I might mix my words up, and maybe not describe things perfectly, but I will do the best I can from what I remember.

Traumatic memory #1.

As already shared, I was a little nervous because I did not know what to expect. However, Jessica made things amazingly comfortable. We set up our first video zoom call and got the ball rolling. Jessica, had me hook my two thumbs together, and hold them at the top of my chest and I tapped on my chest with my fingers. Kind of like a butterfly. I closed my eyes and I started to rock as I did this which came natural for me. We had a brief discussion on my needing to rock, and we were able to trace this back to the original separation from my birth mother and an adaption tool I automatically picked up as a newborn baby as a way to self soothe. She wanted me to go back to the very first vision which I concluded would be visions of the delivery room where I lost my birth mother.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

As I closed my eyes, my visuals of the deliver room were front and center. I was crying in terror for my birth mother to come back, but she never came.  It was like a scene from a movie. I was able to focus on 3 different clips (visions) for this one scene and drew out as many details as possible. As Jessica guided me through the process, I started to erase each clip one by one. After I erased the first clip, I picked a color and painted over it by a paint brush or spray paint. I picked yellow like the sun for the first clip, blue like the sky for the second and grassy green for the third.

Next, I moved on to create new visions for each clip. The first clip I painted a picture of one of my favorite waterfalls. The second I painted a picture of the sun. the third clip I painted a picture of the forest. All 3 of my favorite things on earth, that bring be great joy and comfort. I made sure I did not leave anything behind regarding the old clip. As the new “Conductor Scene” was created by me, I was not sharing all the details with Jessica. She asked a few little questions like what color did I pick and what new vision did I place over the old one. But I did not have to RELIVE each traumatic memory in her presence, which I really liked. That is the part I was most nervous about because I have been reliving those scenes my whole life in my head, I did not want to relive them again, especially in front of someone else.

Once I had the conductor scene created, it now took the front seat to any of the delivery room memories. It was a refreshing scene that made me happy just thinking about it. Not only that, but it is my real life. Most people that know me know my love for Mother Nature, waterfalls, and the sunshine.

Now what? We had to seal the deal. Eyes closed, still tapping – I was instructed to take any painful memories or pieces of the beginning of my life regarding my birth mother and I put them in a box. One by one, I tossed them in the box. Next, I created a bridge that took me to the new conductor scene, but my kids, pets, close friends, and family all walked with me to the other side of the bridge.

I got to decide what to do with the other side of the bridge that I was leaving behind. At first, I visualized setting it on fire, but then I decided I wanted to blow that bitch up. (sorry for the cursing) Up in flames it went, with an atomic bomb style boom…

Forward I walk, into my new destiny with all those I love. Waterfalls, sunshine, and the forest that is forever my sacred space.

Ending this exercise, I had a new spark about myself. I was incredibly pleased with the experience.

Fast forward to the next week and my ART therapy session.

Traumatic memory #2.

I applied the same concept that ART guides, with my eyes closed. Thumbs hooked like a butterfly on my chest while I tapped my fingers, and I rocked back, and forth which comes naturally to me.  I focused on two clips that I visually saw pertaining to this specific traumatic experience that I saw in a reoccurring dream. (please read #2 above for details) I erased them and covered them with pastel pink and yellow as the colors. Then I created the “Conductor Scene” that replaced this traumatic memory #2. I decided to apply a field of butterflies to the first one, and a rainbow on the other. I took all my feelings and memories that I thought about regarding this time in my life and piled them up in a box. Then I got to do what I wanted with the box. I decided to push the box off a cliff at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Never to be seen again.

In the middle of this exercise as I searched for my birth mother in the dream, Jessica encouraged me to go to the Parent Store and pick out new parents. I decided I did not want to pick out a father, because the mother wound has always been much bigger to me, especially with it being compacted by two mothers! The father wound and mother wound/s do not even compare to me.

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I was on the hunt. I looked for the perfect mother in the parent store. She had all the things I needed as a little girl, she was beautiful and affirming. She was happy and healthy. She was encouraging, supportive and complimenting. She was 100% on my side. She loved me unconditionally, without any ulterior motive. After I found her, I got to name her.

The name WILLOW came to my mind, because Weeping Willow is my favorite tree because I feel like they are so welcoming and beautiful. I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A HEART TIE TO THESE TREES. I named my mother Willow after the tree, and after my love for nature.

I expressed to Jessica something I have shared many times. I feel Mother Nature has been much kinder and more compassionate to me than any of my appointed mothers on this earth. They also do not compare at all. I was also able to make a shift from Willow being an actual person to entertaining the thought that Willow could be all the trees in nature, specifically Weeping Willows. If I am honest, I feel a connection to all trees. However, I needed to put something specific to Willow, because she is my new mother figure, I have missed my whole life. I can vividly see her, but you cannot. The closest thing I can tell you is that she is a lot like mother nature or mother earth, with a possible twist of mixing an earthly mother with mother earth. She is designed specific for me, by me so she is not something many others will understand or comprehend.

I was able to create a scene where Willow gets to meet my kids and she shares some uplifting and encouraging words about my parenting these 3 amazing human beings.

img_1388At first, I was skeptical of these exercises because I am a person of TRUTH, especially being an adoptee. But adoptees are also professionals at fantasizing things because we have been left to do this our entire lives. In a small regard, I was thinking I am not down with these shenanigans of playing “make believe” and “pretend.” However, I am also a firm believer that we can all rewrite our lives and our stories. I feel if I have one chance to write it the way I WANT IT TO BE WRITTEN – I would like to have the chance to be creative and do it. I know I am writing the future, but this allowed me a chance to rewrite the past.

Gradually as I did these exercises, the entire process allowed me to rewire my brain replacing the traumatic memories with ones that are inspiring, beautiful, and designed by me specifically.

I still have 2 of the traumatic memories related to the mother wounds to work on, but I am hopeful they will go like the first two.

I want to draw the pictures I see in my head about #1 & #2 being replaced because I would love for others to see. I am fairly sure I will start working on this soon. I cannot wait to draw the conductor scenes, and I cannot wait to draw WILLOW.

If you have made it this far, I commend you. I know this has been a long-winded article. I wanted to share as much details as possible so my fellow adoptees can possibly gain a spark of HOPE in the traumatic memories they might deal with in their lives. This has given me hope like I never had before.

It might be EMDR or Brainspotting work for you, and when and if I try them, they might work for me too. Right now, I was 100% satisfied with my experiences with Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) I am excited to see how this exercise helps me in my daily life moving forward.

For my fellow adoptees, I am curious how you have been able to get healing from traumatic memories and what’s worked for you? As always, I love learning from others because I feel we can all learn so much from one another. Can you relate to this article in any way?  I would love to hear from you.

Sending Sunshine, Love & Light

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Is Open Adoption The Answer?

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Time to seek input from those of us who have the most expertise in the adoption constellation- The Adult Adoptees!⚡️

The topic of OPEN ADOPTION keeps being brought up as a solution to closed adoption, and I’m seeking wisdom from the adoptees here to share your input on open adoption vs closed adoption. Of course none of us have been able to live both, but we do feel adoptees still have the best advice based on living adopted. They certainly have more experience than the adoption agencies, adoption attorneys and adoptive parents. As well as the birth mothers who make this choice thinking it’s the better option.

To the adoptees here, Is one better than the other? Why or why not? Do you recommend open adoption? When someone asks you if it’s better than closed adoption, how do you respond? Share as little or as much as you like!

Comments will not be censored! Here are responses from 22 adoptees who had enough courage to chime in on this topic. Thank you to each of you!

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  • In some ways, yeah. But on the other, growing up, I just wanted to be “normal”, and “normal” wasn’t having 2 families. I still struggle with that idea and feel like I need to be “rid of” one of them. At the end of the day, I don’t think adoption is an answer at all because there’s no win situation for the adoptee. – Alexis
  • Phuck adoption. Adoption needs to be killed. Legal Guardianship. That’s the answer – Danny
  •  I don’t believe it is the answer. It is a band aid over a bigger situation. The only thing with open adoption is that the child has the opportunity to know where he/she comes from. But in the end there is still trauma for child. Confusion. And again it is not in the best interest of the child. – Elva
  • Guardianship is the answer. Whereby contact to parents is open where its safe to do so, where the child keeps his or her birth certificate & identity intact and where the child isn’t Gas Lighted into believing adopters are the birth parents. The Guardianship concept isn’t likely to happen anytime soon so where open adoption isn’t the answer , its better than nothing . But legislation needs to put in place so that adopters cannot close an open adoption. Legislation allowing the child to return to his or her mother and or father should be put in place to remove the permanency of closed or open adoption. And with open adoption, I believe it is in the child’s best interest to not only see their mother often & with regularity, but that mothers should be encouraged & welcomed into the child’s home environment too. Not keen on the idea of an adoptees mother being shut out of the child’s home. It must feel odd & strange that a mother or father is kept locked firmly out of the child’s home. If it is safe for the child to have contact to their mother then it is safe for the mother to be welcomed into the adopter home so to create a stronger working relationship between mothers & adopters which in turn would make a child feel much more at ease & therefore happier. – Gordie
  • No, it most definitely is not. Legal guardianship is. – Janice
  • I cannot imagine how heart wrenching it must be to see your mother periodically and then watch her go back to her life and family without you over and over again!
    I was in a closed adoption so cannot speak from experience, but, in my view it would be unsettling to say the least. Let’s just reform adoption to be a last hope Guardianship only when a child has been proven unable to live with any of their own family. And if possible should lead to help for parents and eventual return to family. Let’s make adoption work for adoptees instead of hopeful family builders. – Kimberly
  • I wish there was no adoption at all. I can understand that there will always be those who are unable or unwilling to parent their child and I would rather see the child with a family than an institution. What I have a HUGE problem with is stripping away a child’s identity. Furthermore, forcing a child to pretend that they are from the adopted family. Because of this, if there have to be adoptions at all, (and why cant there be legal guardianship instead of adoption?), I would rather see open than closed. I feel closed adoptions should be eradicated completely. I wish more than anything I would have been able to grow up knowing my siblings. That hurts me to my core. I am grateful to know them now, but I will never have that shared history with them, and it is very emotional and hard to see them interacting with each other and with my parents in a way that I can’t. Children deserve to know where they come from and who they come from. They are entitled to see what their parents look like and know how to get ahold of them. Adoptive parents should never be able to close an adoption or stop contact with the bio family. My two cents worth. – Denise
  • I’ve never understood how open adoption is the right choice for the child. Wouldn’t that cause more confusion and anger for the child? – Krystyna
  • No. Just no. No adoption until a child is old enough to choose. – Sammy
  • My adoption 60 years ago was Gray Market. Not totally legal baby selling ring people who made arrangements to traffic babies between Maryland, NY and NJ. I grew up in NY. The baby sellers often falsified much of the information (names, ethnicity, etc.) Found out in an argument when I was 15 that I had been adopted. They gave me the information, yet took away a great deal of trust + given the shock of the news shared in anger. Not to say these ring folks placed babies in bad homes, however, they got in serious trouble for their extensive role in the practice. Met the Lady that gave birth to me. Nice, open, vulnerable, kind, lost, and not ‘mother’ material, therefore open might not have mattered, plus my parents might have felt insecure given all of the dynamics. – Roxan
  • I don’t feel that open adoption is a solution to closed adoption. Adoption, in its entirety needs to be overhauled. Adoption should not be an “option” to “build a family”. Buying a womb wet infant is baby selling, plain and simple. Guardianship and kinship placements should be considered first if in fact there is a pregnant woman who really and truly cannot, shouldn’t or won’t parent. I believe in most instances, mothers do want to parent, but may be in a temporary situation that makes it impossible or impractical to parent. Help with the temporary hardship should be the goal of every social worker out there. A birth certificate should never be changed, parents should never be replaced with lies. An OBC and a court order if guardianship should be enough documentation to register for school, get a license, passport, SS card, etc. Why is a falsified piece of paper proof of your identity? Closed adoption is horrific because there are so many questions, so much missing information, that it can be hard for a child to feel “real”. Open adoptions are potentially more problematic in that the child is repeatedly ripped from their natural family and may wonder why they aren’t good enough to stay with them or a myriad of other feelings of otherness. There is no win-win for children in these scenarios. – Daphne
  • I can’t imagine how an open adoption would feel as a kid growing up. I was in a closed adoption so can only recount that experience and hazzard a guess about open adoption. Whilst I wondered and made up stories of my birth mother it wasn’t something that affected every waking hour. It wasn’t every moment I looked on a mirror or got told off for being naughty. Indeed it really was as I grew older into adulthood that I started to explore how I felt more deeply. I’m fortunate to have reunited with my birth mother so the circle was closed with no gaps. She was adorable. I never thought after meeting her that I’d wished she’d kept me for my life would not be what it is now if things had been different. I sat on an adoption panel for many years and to place some of the children in an open adoption would have been harmful to them. I like the idea of letterbox contact which we do in the uk. Exchanges of letters and pics maybe twice a year via the adoption agency. Both sets parents remain anonymous but the kids get to keep in touch with their history. I think open adoption would work too if both parties are open and caring enough not to let their egos fight over the child. I used to explain to my own kids that their are so many sorts of families and parents and that each had reasons for being as they are and that is how the world works. I am happy with both open and closed adoption as long as it’s the adoptees interests that are at the forefront of any decision. – JoJo
  • All adoption is abuse of a child’s human rights. There is never a need for adoption for a child who is genuinely in need of (frequently temporary) care. Kinship care (never adoption) should be sought in the child’s father and mother’s family/extended family so that a child can grow up within their own family, having mirroring and feeling grounded. Knowing who they are, their family, place and culture. Failing this, a Legal Guardianship is kindest to the child; puts the child’s welfare first and has regular checks. Adoption has become a multi billion dollar industry by supplying babies who belong to one family to infertile people who feel entitled to a child when they can’t have their own children naturally, or to saviour attention seeking types. That a person could even think like that, ie, that they are entitled to someone else’s child, is beyond me. Adoption involves child trafficking and skullduggery of every kind and lies and deceit. Infertile people go to great lengths, fundraising on facebook, having bake and garage sales to buy a baby. How disgusting. There is never ever a thought for what the baby would want, only what they want. Adoption: First, it severs a child from the mother the child already knows and is waiting to meet. A baby knows their own mother by scent. Second, it cuts a child off from all that is rightfully theirs by birth. Their name, their birth certificate (is replaced with a fake birth certificate naming strangers as their parents), their family, their neighbours, their place, their history and heritage, their culture and country. Third, it forces a child to live a pretend life. Pretend these strangers are your parents. Pretend you are their son or daughter. It forces a child to try to be what the owners/adopters want, as adoption promised them the child would be “just like them,” and they truly believe, delusionally, that if they cajole, manipulate and bully the child enough, it will be moulded into what they want. The child tries to cooperate because he or she fears further rejection from the owners. This child usually develops Stockholm Syndrome and is loyal to his or her captors and parrots all they tell her. “Adoption is beautiful”, oh yes, adoption is beautiful! For this child to look at the truth of what was done to them is too painful. When a child is just him or herself, this is unacceptable to the owners/adopters as it reminds them they are really NOT the child’s parents. The child is being true to his or her own inherited traits and it really upsets them and they feel they were conned and didn’t get value for their money. This child is the black sheep, the receptacle for the narcissists vile projections. So many adopted people tell of their lives being destroyed by adoption and by narcissistic adopters. Recent studies have shown that most female adopters are narcissists. The amount of adopted children worldwide who are being abused in every way but especially sexually, who are being beaten, starved, imprisoned and murdered by their loving adopters should be enough to get this barbaric practice stopped, but its not. Too much money is being made off the backs of innocent children and mothers. Adoption has no follow on checks so adopters can do what they like to the innocent children they got their hands on. The idea that someone else’s child can be legally owned by infertile or other types of people who ‘want children’ is beyond appalling and reprehensible. The child loses their mother/father and family and the life they should have had all because some strangers want a child? More regard is given to puppies and kittens than to human children. Its outrageous and it needs to be seen for the child abuse it is and outlawed. Legalized child abuse. Taking someone else’s child is NOT a cure for infertility. Acceptance is the cure for infertility. Surrogacy is another breach of children’s human rights and we are seeing many of those purposely created children now with broken hearts just like adopted people have…. longing for their fathers and mothers. The same people who shouted about children being separated from their parents at the border have no problem coveting and taking someone else’s child themselves. They disgust me. – Geraldine
  • I think it’s the best way to go. I wish mine had been! – Courtney
  • Open Adoption Well for a start in N.Z there is no such Legal Law. Its only on the word of the Adopting Parents which they can break at any given time. Then on the other hand the Birth Mother can also walk away, perhaps she has a new partner, so that new family is her main concern, or new partner says NO to contact with her first child. Its a very mixed bag. Its like everything some work most don’t. Again the Adopted child pays the price. – Josie
  • I don’t recommend any adoption but open is better than closed. I grew up with no real information about my parents. The non-identifying information did not answer any of my questions and only prompted more questions. I didn’t even have a photograph of my parents. I had nothing and that was horrible. I would have appreciated having access to my parents, siblings and grandparents. But since my APs were abusive what I really needed was to return to my real family. Adoption of any kind can really mess with your head but having access to information would have been better for me. – Lorene
  • No – Julia
  • I have already read and heard many stories about the so-called “open adoption”. Often the mother is persuaded to agree to an “open adoption”. She is presented with a fantasy. However, in 99% it is turned within 1 year so that a closed adoption is approved by the judge because the adoptive parents convince the judge “that the contact is very confusing and slaughter for THEIR child. !!! The mother has no right to speak, so all adoption is bad for mother and child. – Barbara
  • No adoption is the answer be accountable for your actions. – Elizabeth
  • ONLY if the CHILD wants to be. Why can’t you can’t adopt without changing their names? Without stripping them of their identity? Without taking away their relationships with their families? – Britney
  •  I think abortion is the answer. If a woman doesn’t want, or isn’t able to keep a child, she shouldn’t have it. – Kris
  • Open adoptions aren’t any better IMHO. Can you imagine being ripped away from your biological mother over and over again? Every single time that happens a trauma occurs. All relinquishment, open or closed is rooted and grounded in trauma. We have to stop co-signing for trauma. The only way to eliminate such trauma is abolish adoption as we know it. Only in abusive situations we need to focus on keeping the child in the family first, (kinship) and if all options have been exhausted in that area then guardianship should happen. In guardianship, no names are changed, histories aren’t sealed and our lives aren’t based on secrecy and lies. Our truth AND ALL OF IT must stay in tact! This idea of “protecting us” from the truth needs to be stopped because it’s killing adoptees! We can’t heal from secrecy, lies and half truths no matter if its closed or open adoption. I can never support adoption or open adoption until 100% of our truth is disclosed. We also need to be 100% for family preservation NOT adoption separation. Open adoption is not better than closed adoption. Abolish it, and stop keeping secrets. The truth needs to be mandated and the truth means nothing hidden. – Pamela

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Adoptee in Recovery – When Forged Forgiveness Becomes Fatal 

1f6ae293-fe8e-4e1f-903b-0e9d69324cafTo my friends, David Bohl and GRH –   Thank you for giving me the courage to write about this! 

As I continue on my recovery and healing journey, so many things are coming to the light about different areas I’ve navigated over the years. One of those areas is the topic of forgiveness. This is going to be lengthy, so get a cup of coffee and be prepared. 

The world says “If you let go, by forgiving others you don’t have to hold onto resentment and anger” It’s said that forgiveness is necessary for personal growth. I can see this might be true in some circumstances and for minor hurts, but my thoughts shared here are relating to forgiveness towards traumatic events and situations because of someone else’s harmful actions. 

What is considered traumatic? That’s for each person to decide. What’s traumatic to me, might not be traumatic to you. My role in sharing this information is to shine a light about a topic that’s significantly complex, with many layers from the perspective of an adult adoptee in recovery. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about what forgiveness is, or isn’t and this is usually in alignment with the experiences that person has gained over their lifetime. 

I’ve heard about forgiveness over the years, but I was never in a position to apply it to my life, nor did I see a need for it when I was young. It wasn’t a topic of conversation but I also wasn’t on a healing journey as a child either. In 2012 I started my healing journey and things changed. This sparked a significant experience with forgiveness as I got involved with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and I started working the 12 Steps. Not long after I learned of Celebrate Recovery, and forgiveness was talked about even more but it was in a religious setting because Celebrate Recovery is a ministry. 

Although I have an appreciation for both of these programs and the concept of forgiveness, I’m now an outsider looking in because I no longer attend either of these programs and I’ve been reflecting on my experiences with both. 

Let me back things up to give you a little history. 

When I was 15 years old, I was lost, alone, broken, rage filled and I had no hope in life. Not only was I experiencing abuse in my adoptive home, but my fantasy of my birth mother coming back to get me was shattered, and reality was beginning to set in. 

SHE WAS NEVER COMING BACK. 

SHE was constantly on my mind, but where was she? Who was she? I acted out in every way possible and began using substances daily at 12 years old.  My struggles were 100% adoption related, but adoption was never talked about and never mentioned so I turned to substances, because I didn’t want to feel. I didn’t know how to feel. Most days I wanted to die, but somehow I found myself committed to drug and alcohol rehab in a locked facility at 15 years old. 

I will never forget being locked in an all white room, and a nurse came in and handed me the big book. I had no clue what the big book was, but for those who don’t know it’s the story of Bill W. who’s the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and he shares how to recover from alcoholism. It’s focused on the 12 Steps and 8 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. 

I asked myself, “did I hit rock bottom at 15 years old?” I hadn’t even begun to live my life yet. I had barely made it out of Jr. High, and I found myself locked in rehab, with a big book in my hand. I will never forget reading the first few pages, and the first few chapters. So let me get this straight, finding GOD was the cure all to this recovery thing? The only way I was going to graduate this drug and alcohol treatment program, and get out was finding GOD? And working these 12 steps. Today, I ask myself, ‘what were my other options?”  

I had none. 

So this huge gigantic responsibility was placed on me, TO FIGURE IT OUT. The entire treatment program and my recovery depended on it because the effectiveness of the entire AA program will depend on this decision to “turn my will and my life over to God, as I understood Him.”  

Let’s break that down a little more, “AS I UNDERSTOOD HIM.” I had no clue what this even meant, but I was either going with the punches, working these 12 steps or never graduate this program. Let me be honest. I didn’t care about any of it, because I just wanted to go drink and use again. I had no choice in this and I was forced to play along. I asked a few of the inmates (it was like jail so that’s what I will call them) what god they turned their wills and life over to in hopes to gain a better understanding. They expressed the God that created the earth, the bible was the word, and that was the only way this thing was going to work. 

I remember having experiences with that same God when I was growing up. My adoptive mom had us read devotionals, we went to church, performed in church plays, and she made us say prayers before meals. 

But now, my entire life depended on turning my will and my life over to God as I understood him. What did this even mean? To be honest, I didn’t understand him but I did what I had to do to get out. I finally worked all the 12 steps, and after about 8 weeks I graduated the program. During my time in this locked treatment facility, I never once worked on or talked about any of my root adoptee related issues, like relinquishment trauma, grief, loss, abandonment, the primal wound, etc. I got out, went and got high and drunk again as soon as I was free. 

I did NOT want to feel adoption, and at all costs and I didn’t.

 Of course, if the tools were present and I had help, I’m sure I would have been able to process but that’s not how things worked for me. I had no tools, no one opening up conversations about my adoptee reality,  it was a taboo topic. The less we talked about it, the better for everyone else. I felt truly alone in the world, but it wasn’t a happy alone. It was a deep, dark sad alone. I spent the next 27 years drinking alcohol, and using as many drugs as I could get my hands on as a way to numb my reality.  So many times in my life, I just wanted to die because my adoptee pain has been that great. Reality, I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore and I had no tools to work on my issues. In my mind, the only way to get rid of it is to go to sleep and never wake up again. Two times as a teenager I was unseccessful at trying to commit suicide, taking a hand full of pills each time, only waking up later regretful that the pills didn’t work. My adoptive parents never knew, and they still don’t. I just wanted out.  The next 27 years was a roller coaster of a ride. 

As 2012 hit, so did my next attempt at recovery and the 12 steps once again smacked me straight in my face. Here we go again. What other options were presented to me or available? 

None.

Even after seeing dozens of therapists all the way back to being 5 years old into my adult life.

NONE. 

The only way to get healing is turning my life and will over to God, and making sure I forgive all those who have harmed me, even if they aren’t sorry, and even if I hadn’t even worked on the issues at all. I also had to forgive God, and forgive myself, which was the hardest part.  As I set out on my recovery journey, I learned the rules to forgiveness in the religious realm are, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14

I remember my time heavily in the church, surrounding myself with Christian’s and church people the advice and information I was getting was solely from them and I also researched forgiveness. As they shared, and the bible shared, I knew that forgiveness was such an important part of healing, and the 12 steps so I worked on figuring out the true meaning of forgiveness and what it meant to me. I knew it was something for me, not the other person. The more I learned, I applied this to my life, but I also shared it with others on many occasions, especially during the 4 years I served in leadership for the women’s chemical dependency group in Celebrate Recovery. I remember internally struggling with the fact that I had forgiven someone like I was told to do by the 12 steps, but I still had major issues with the situation or the person I had forgiven. This only made me feel more defective than I already felt. It made me feel worse, because I must not be doing something right. It was like a dark cloud hanging over my head, combined with my heart torn into shreds. It was a horrible life for many of my years on earth. 

I learned that in order for us to be forgiven by God, we had to forgive others who had harmed us. It’s said this “deal” could potentially send us to hell, and it would always keep us in bondage if we didn’t make the choice to forgive others, God and ourselves. I learned that once we make the choice to forgive others for them harming us and when we forgive ourselves, we then had to consciously decide to never bring it up again, and never discuss it or tell others about it, otherwise it wasn’t true forgiveness. Even when we thought about it again, we weren’t to speak about it, at all. 

In my mind, this is more like coerced and mandatory forgiveness, (forged) but not true from the heart and it’s also ABUSIVE.  Writing this today, I’ve come to the realization of how I personally feel this can be extremely damaging and even fatal for some people. I know in the AA Big Book, it says to find “God as I understood Him” and the forgiveness rules are possibly a little different than in the religious settings. But both of these ideas of forgiveness ignited the fact that I had to forgive others in order to make it out alive and complete these 12 steps. And what about there truly being no other choice towards healing, aside from working these 12 steps? 

Why wasn’t I given anymore options? 

Let me make this clear, I wholeheartedly believe that the 12 steps in AA and Celebrate Recovery have worked wonders and saved the lives of many individuals, and for that I’m very thankful. However, this topic is a critical thing, and it’s important it’s shared, especially with Adoptees in general, but specifically my fellow Adoptees in Recovery. 

I’m not addressing forgiveness for minor or petty offenses. I’m not talking about when someone TRULY makes a mistake, and they are sorry they did something and us forgiving them and giving second chances.  I’m not talking about those that don’t intentionally hurt us. We can easily say, “That person didn’t know what they were doing” but many times forgiveness is extended to people who knew what they were doing. Improper forgiveness can keep us in bondage, and it can set the forgiver up to be victimized again, and again, and again with the offender never being truly sorry or remorseful. This is ABUSIVE. THIS IS BONDAGE. 

Do you ever feel like forgiveness defends the abusers? I do. Do you ever feel like forgiveness feels like giving our abusers a free pass? I do. When someone has root issues that are trauma based, the whole idea of forgiveness can be very damaging, and oftentimes deadly. I can share this, because this is how forgiveness has impacted me, when it’s been presented in a way it has throughout my lifetime. Forced upon me by scriptures backing it up, and through programs I had to complete to LIVE, it’s clearly had me backed in a corner with nowhere to turn. It manipulated me to the core of my being. 

Until Now…

I realize that there are more resources today than there were when I was 15 years old, and even when I started my recovery journey in 2012. Today I’m thinking for myself, and I’m not being backed into a corner with no options.  I realize that I possibly didn’t have all the tools for recovery in my recovery tool box and there are more possibilities today than there was before. The more I learn about forgiveness, and all the different dynamics of it, the more I’m informed if it works for me or if it doesn’t work for me. 

I resent the fact that from the biblical concept of forgiveness and the world’s standards, I’ve felt 100% manipulated and duped into forgiving others, God and myself. What I wonder is, if I’m supposed to forgive all those who hurt me, myself and God and if I don’t God won’t forgive me, but he sends so many people to hell, so where is his forgiveness for others? Isn’t this quite the double standard and mental mind manipulation?  It’s lead me to question God all together, and rethink my entire approach on what I believe and what I don’t believe. I’m going to save that for another article, but it’s coming. 

I don’t know about you, but the idea that a person that has been victimized has a responsibility placed on them to forgive their perpetrator/s is pretty disgusting and a topic I’ve found to be very disheartening. Anyone who is pushing forgiveness onto others is doing it for their own gain, and their own agenda, not yours. A lot of the wounds people care are inner child wounds, and being forced or coerced to forgive others is extremely toxic and damaging!

For me, where I am today, what if I personally don’t believe in forgiveness based on my experience with it, but I believe in holding people accountable for their shitty actions? What if I make the choice if I want to allow them in my life or not without being manipulated into forgiving them? What if MY WAY isn’t the WORLDS WAY but who gives a shit, because it’s what works for me? Would you believe me if I told you that I’m at peace with things, but I haven’t forgiven anyone by the world’s standards? That doesn’t mean I still don’t have traumatic memories, or have trauma work to do.  What if I take forgiveness and everything about it and toss it in the trash? Shouldn’t we want to consciously and organically in our hearts want to give people second chances, be better people or come to peace with things on our own time without an entire belief system manipulating us into doing so? This manipulation with forgiveness has actually hindered me, kept me in bondage, and held me back from true authentic and organic healing. This is life or death for many of us. 

 Forced and Forged Forgiveness can add layers of shame onto victims, for not “getting over something” or for “sharing their trauma.” Once you forgive someone, you’re supposed to get over it, and move on with your life. What if you don’t get over it or move on? “Here you are talking about it again” … Shame comes in after we’ve said to forgive someone,  when you are simply having natural and very legitimate feelings associated with a very real situation for you. This isn’t helping people, only hurting them worse. I’ve had people09be5a42-2952-4e14-810c-0c40893545c9 silence me with scriptures, when I share very real feelings with them. “You’ve already forgiven yourself for that, the devil is only bringing it up again because he wants you to live in condemnation.”  Talk about BONDAGE and MENTAL MIND F&^KS. It’s becoming apparent to me that this belief system can cause great amounts of harm, and even become fatal to some. (I plan on writing about that later) 

Let’s touch on the our society’s “positive culture” that surrounds our lives today. Positive vibes, clearing any and all negative energies from our sacred spaces, and much of the time we’re denying our own feelings, stuffing them down and bypassing processing them just to fit into the mold of the world and the preaching of positive vibes. You see motivational speakers kicking into high drive, and spiritual circles silencing you with scriptures all to keep the positive vibes going.  Have you learned what Spiritual Bypassing is? I suggest you research it, and it’s a real thing. Also research Religious Trauma Syndrome. Your life will never be the same. 

As adoptees, it’s so important we understand that anger, and feelings of grief, loss and sadness are perfectly legitimate feelings, and they come in waves for many of us. Are you leaving room for these feelings within your friends and family and within your circle? If not, please reconsider because it’s life and death. I don’t have time to preach positivity when adoptees are dying! Once we are in a position to process these feelings, in natural ways we then start healing. When positive culture is shoved down our throats, like it is in churches, spiritual settings, and in society as a whole it leaves no room for us to share our pain. Just like forged forgiveness, this can be fatal. We really need to rethink our approach, and stop forcing this culture on everyone. We have to do better. 

Anger can be a very positive thing when used the right way. Anger can be used to fuel change, create visions, and put action behind them. We have to stop silencing people when they share it, and stop trying to dish out feel good juice, and learn to sit with people in their pain. I’m not talking about ANGER that abuses and hurts other people which is HUGE as well. This is when anger is toxic to others and it isn’t productive. We can each set our own boundaries if this type of anger influences our lives, or the lives of others. But before we get to the other side of healing starting, we have to process the anger FIRST. 

If you step out of the box filled with influences from your lifetime, please know It is entirely possible for someone to get to a place of acceptance, and peace about a situation and forgiveness has never been extended. Please know forgiveness culture can be very damaging when it’s forged and forced in anyway.   

What if I have been on a healing journey, and I’ve decided on my own that my goal is to come to peace with things in my life, and for me that process happens by accepting things are the way they are and there is nothing I can do to change them? What if forged forgiveness does more harm than good? What if expecting others to FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE HARMED US actually retraumatised us and damages us more than the actual offense itself? What if we’re placing an unrealistic and damaging burden on those who we expect to forgive who are perpetrators and those who hurt us and it only adds to our pain and trauma? 

“Forgiveness is for you, and no one else and it should never be forced on anyone” – Says the world.

Yes, this is true yet the world is set up as the opposite, especially in religious circles. The 12 steps are focused around forgiveness, and for me I was giving FREE PASSES TO PEOPLE WHO ABUSED AND TRAUMATIZED ME. Is anyone manipulating me into “coming to a place of peace?” No, no they aren’t. It’s something I do on my time, through healing (whatever that looks like to me), and trauma therapy, and TONS OF TRAUMA work. Not because GOD AND THE SCRIPTURES SAY SO. 

For me, forged forgiveness (a huge burden and responsibility) to forgive those who have traumatized and hurt me, was actually BONDAGE. Not the other way around. Forged Forgiveness feels like gaslighting to me, and that’s only adding trauma on top of trauma. It’s up to each of us to decide on our own, without any influences if we want to forgive someone or not. It should be from our hearts, not because of manipulation or to complete a program. If forgiveness has worked for you, that’s wonderful but we must understand what works for some doesn’t always work for everyone. Have you spent as much time sitting with someone, listening to them in their grief and pain like you have encouraged them to forgive their perpetrator/s? 

Today, I’ve decided I’m withdrawing my forgiveness claims, and reevaluating each and every situation on my own terms, in my own time. Right now, I have a clean slate and I have forgiven no one. From this day forward, as situations arise and thoughts come to my mind, I will process them organically either alone or with someone I trust and I will REMOVE any forged and forced idea of forgiveness from my mind. This is freedom to me. 

 If the idea of forgiveness comes naturally, then I will apply it to that situation. If it doesn’t, and I can come to a place of peace, then wonderful. Maybe I’m not at a place of peace yet about certain things, which means I still have trauma work to do. Maybe I will never get to that place, because trauma impacts us all in different ways. It can change our brain wiring, it can change our memory and our mobility. Trauma can change everything and not all trauma just goes away.  Sometimes acceptance that the trauma and it’s symptoms are here to stay is what’s needed to be able to cope. 

No two stories are the same, and we all need and want different things in life. This article is long, and it’s filled with a lot of thoughts. I’m sharing because this is a HUGE topic, and recently having someone tell me “MAYBE YOU SHOULD FORGIVE THEM” even after I shared many traumatic situations with that person, really rubbed me the wrong way. It made me reevaluate forgiveness all together, and made me really think how abusive it can be. It also made me realize how forged forgiveness has impacted my life, and how I’m the only one who can change things for my future. 

After reading ALL THIS, I’m not here to tell you forgiveness isn’t productive and it’s not for you. I’m here to share my truth, as my experiences back it up. I’m here to share there is a damaging side to forgiveness and I hope each person reading is given more tools than what I was given. I hope for each of you, forgiveness is a CHOICE that you choose.

I’m glad I got to share this, and I feel even more free than when I started typing it. I’m thankful I’m at a place of freedom where I can recognize the abuse behind certain areas that are portrayed to be positive things. The healthier we get, the more BS we can recognize. I hope to continue to share what’s worked for me, and what hasn’t worked for me. My hope is, it helps someone out there, specifically my fellow adoptees. Please understand, if you can’t bring it in your life to FORGIVE others, for ANY REASON please don’t allow others to place that BURDEN on you. You don’t deserve it, and it’s not yours to carry. You don’t owe anyone, I MEAN IT!

No matter who it is.

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters! 

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Love, love. P.K.

P.S. I know some might mean well, but if you feel the need to send me scriptures about forgiveness, please spare yourself the time. I’m not interested.

The Girl in the Grocery Store

I wasn’t 100% sure I was going to write about this but it’s been on my mind pretty heavy dd3b937b1788b74f542f5891f1128b73--drawings-of-eyes-crying-sad-face-drawing-sketchesso I decided to get it off my chest. I’m also curious if any of my fellow adoptees have experienced anything similar?

Let me share, I’m a 43 year old adult adoptee. I’ve been single for many years, I’ve raised my kids as a single mom. I’ve had a lot of alone time and I’ve embraced it and I actually love to be alone because it seems to be the safest space for me. After many years I recently ventured out into the dating world and I’m currently seeing someone. As we’ve gotten to know one another over the last few months, I have shared a little of my adoption experience with Him. He’s listened and taken in what I have shared, but he doesn’t seem to have much to say in response which seems to be the norm for most non-adoptees. I can dig it because what is there to say? Usually one has to be able to relate to an extent so a conversation dialog is created and there the conversation goes.

In all honesty I haven’t shared all the dynamics of what it’s like to date an adopted person, me specifically. I have only shared with him a few details and some of the things on my list of “Special Needs”. O_O

One of the main things is COMMUNICATION. I made sure in the beginning I let him know how important communication is to me because areas of UNKNOWN are a area of FEAR for me. Maybe I didn’t say “Communicate with me at all times because if you don’t I start to freak out inside and my mind goes haywire and I need you to communicate with me!”… But chances are I said similar, but in a nicer way that said “Hey, communication is important to me so please communicate with me as much as possible”.

Do you have any idea how daunting it is to explain to someone all your adoptee issues? The great thing about this handsome man is I haven’t even had to tell Him all of these issues and one by one they seem to play themselves out. I want to be honest with him, yet what is too much especially in the beginning of a dating relationship? Again, FEAR of sharing too much is always at the forefront and wondering if he will leave like everyone else has, is on my mind so not saying much at all until the situation arises seems safer?

I think in time things reveal themselves so the need for me to vomit all my adoptee issues all over his lap is not necessary. I must say I’m rather sad and somewhat depressed I can’t seem to just forget all about this adoptee crap and get on with my life. As soon as I feel like I’m on top of the world, boom I crash and fall. If you read my blog years back you will see I have done the work! I have tried EVERYTHING! The highs and lows from this adoption thing seem to follow me all over and chances are they will follow me for the rest of my life.

It’s sad and depressing to me.

When I get to this “Space” all I want to do is sleep. I lose my MOJO and go into what I call a “FUNK”.

I never know when the sadness is going to rear it’s ugly head. All I know is when it comes I have to embrace it and KNOW that my response to current situations that might happen are based on the little girl that was abandoned as a baby and child. A non-adoptee reading might have no clue what I’m taking about and might just think I need to check myself into a mental ward, which might not be a bad idea. BUT I promise you if you do the research like I have, and understand that many of our responses to current situations are based on unprocessed stored memories from the beginning of conception and on, you will see that my responses as well as many adoptees aren’t all that “OFF” for the situation at hand.

I know this is A LOT.

Being adopted is A LOT

I hate being adopted.

“Well why are you so negative and why can’t you find the good in being adopted?”

I will save that answer for a totally different blog post because I’m not trying to go off today.  Stay tuned.

Back to the girl in the grocery store…

I turned into a little girl in the grocery store!

Laugh while you can!

It was humiliating!

I went with my guy to the grocery and I had to use the rest room. He was just getting a few things and we walked to the back of the store and found the rest room. I said “I’ll be right back” and walked on in. A few minutes later I came back out and I didn’t see Him. Where did he go? I just knew he had to be right around the corner. I walked a few steps and didn’t see him. I walked a few more steps and didn’t see him.

WHERE WAS HE AND WHY DID HE LEAVE ME HERE?

I TOLD HIM I WOULD BE RIGHT BACK.

My heart starts to do some flips because now I know he’s gone. I didn’t see Him anywhere. My mind starts racing and I started to walk up and down the isles and as I passed each isle, my panic button was being triggered more and more. Every step I took where I couldn’t see Him my fear increased. I felt like I was split in two. The real me KNEW he had to be there somewhere, but the little girl in me knew I was lost. The FEAR from the little girl was much MUCH stronger than the reality of Him being there somewhere.  I was in a full blown panic episode at 43 years old in the damn grocery store!

I walked to the front of the store, and even looked out the front window and thought, “Maybe he went to the car and he’s waiting on me?” or “Maybe he’s hiding around one of these corners trying to play a trick on me?”.

Up and down the isles, faster and faster, searching… I was so upset that he left me. I got tears in my eyes, and I kept looking for Him. In my mind he left me. I continued to search, but I hated the way I was feeling. As I walked all the way to the opposite side of the store I got tears in my eyes. I kept searching. I was frantic.

After many minutes and a dissecting the store in search of HIM I finally laid eyes on Him. A sigh of relief came over me.

He’s here after all and he didn’t leave me…

By this time my mind was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I’m pretty sure I was pouting as I got closer to Him and my eyes were tearful. I’m pretty sure if I said what I was feeling he would have been totally taken back by my reality and considerably shook at my revelations.

I remember saying, “Why did you leave me?” He said, “I told you I was going to find the milk and chicken”. Obviously I didn’t hear that part.  I’m pretty sure he could tell I was visibly upset. I told him I didn’t hear him.  I’ve been beating myself up ever sense then and I am still upset about it because I feel like as far as I am on my healing journey I should have been able to flip the switch on that one.

He said, “Do you really think I would leave you?”. I just looked at Him. I couldn’t even say anything after that because me feeling what I felt at that moment I felt LEFT & LOST. Knowing he would never leave me in the grocery was at a parallel ends of the spectrum of how I was feeling at that moment.   I  had the feeling like I had been abandoned in the grocery at 43 years old by my BOO! WTF! At that time, I either wanted 1 of 2 things to happen. I wanted Him to hug me tight and tell me he’s never gonna abandon me or leave me in the grocery store or ever for that matter, OR I wanted to go crawl in my bed and pull the covers up and never come out again.

I couldn’t do either. I had to just pretend that this episode didn’t happen and I didn’t share with him my feelings about it because I thought it would be just too much for anyone to take in. I do love to communicate and I would like to share it with Him. This is one of the many “Special Needs” that many adoptees might face that our significant others need to know about so they know how to help us and handle us better.

REALITY= I was at the grocery store in the town where I live. I knew where I was. I wasn’t lost but that isn’t how I felt.  I felt abandoned and lost, like the little girl I always was searching for her birth mother.

My thing is who the hell wants to deal with this crap? Seriously? It’s something so small to so many but to me it was a huge deal. I’m disappointed and I’m sad in myself for responding this way, although I feel had no control over it. It was a much deeper psychological episode than I felt I could control. I’ve been working on triggers and how to respond when I have them which is ALL THE TIME but this one swooped up on me and I felt helpless in my response. It was almost like the feeling of coming down on a drug, terrible terrible feeling.

I would rather DIE than feel this way!

I’m not freaking kidding either!

 

THE DREAM

 I was about 5 years old around the time I found out I was adopted.

After this I had a reoccurring dream as a little girl and through much of my life. I was in a hospital around 5 years old wearing a hospital gown. I remember the long hallways going on forever and ever and I was running up and down the hallways looking for my birth mother. I could very vividly remember being frantic, running and pulling the curtains back on each hospital room searching for HER. It went on forever, and I never did find her in the dream. Again, I had this dream over and over through out my life.

This searching FEAR is the exact same way I felt in the grocery when I felt like I was LEFT & LOST.

I’ve always been triggered by feeling lost, and I definitely associate this to adoption. If I can’t find my car parked coming out of the grocery store and I have to walk all over looking for it, I feel lost and I start to panic inside and get tears in my eyes. Worst feeling ever.

The feeling of your mother abandoning you and never coming back, ever. A deep homesick feeling and nothing or no one can help it.

That’s how it feels.

Let’s turn the coin and talk about living real life searching for my biological mother everywhere I went my entire life. Most adoptees can relate 100%. This isn’t a dream. This is real life. I mean today, September 7, 2017 I know where my birth mother is.

She’s dead.

I no longer search for her  but these episodes sparked by FEAR of being abandoned and rejected, LEFT & LOST take me back to the unresolved emotional wounds that are under the surface from being an adoptee.

It’s scary!

It’s complicated.

Adoption is complicated.

All adoptees are different.

Not all adoptees can sympathize with this type of issue, yet some can.

It seriously messed me up and I still haven’t gotten myself back right yet.

I want to tell my guy, but I don’t want to burden him or anyone else with my issues so I have shared it here instead. Maybe one day I’ll get up enough courage to share this blog post with him, until then I will keep it to myself for fear of……

To me, this is one example of so many I could share how adoptees are tormented by emotional and psychological issues we carry regarding being adopted. It might seem small to some, but this type of thing happens daily for many adoptees, and sometimes hourly and more. It’s a constant mental struggle and it’s exhausting just to be alive most days.

Adoption is a permanent solution to what is most of the time a temporary problem and adoptees are the ones doing the life sentence. We pay the price for life, while the rest of the world glorifies how they think we should feel, gratefulness.

I’m sick of adoption. Because of all the real true dynamics, I know and feel and live regarding all the pain, grief, loss and trauma that happens when a child is adopted is why I am deeply saddened anytime a child is adopted and separated from their first families. I am me alone, yet I see and hear the pain and heartache from hundreds of adoptees all over the world that I’m acquainted with. Please believe I am not singing this tune all alone. We create our own army and support one another and validate one another.

If you are an adoptive parent and you have made it this far I commend you for reading. I appreciate it. It takes courage to make the choice to try to learn from adult adoptees. Please look up my tab that says “Adoptee Blogs” and save it as a favorite and you will have never ending knowledge based on real TRUE experience from those who know adoption the most- The Adoptee.

Adoptees, can you relate?

Have you ever had anything like this happen?

How did you diffuse out of it?

Thanks for reading,

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Pamela A Karanova

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