The Wilderness is My Rehab, Nature is My Church, Mother Earth is My Mother, Waterfalls are My Worship

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It’s taken me 44 years to figure out what works for me and what pulls on my heart strings from the inside out. Some people spend an entire lifetime and never get to this point. My hope is, I can share a little about how I got here, in a way to help inspire others, specifically my fellow adoptees. I know so many of you are waking up daily, hurting and broken in a million pieces.

I’m sorry. I feel your pain.

All of the experiences I’m sharing are intertwined into my adoptee experience, my recovery journey, my leaving the church, and my lifelong mother wound from my adoptive mother and biological mother, failed therapy, chasing everything under the sun to attempt to feel whole and find happiness.

This is what worked for me.

The Wilderness is My Rehab – The wilderness has always given me the gift of freedom like I’ve never experienced in any other way. To fill the void from adoption, I’ve spent my entire life chasing different things and all the way back to my beginnings, the wilderness has always embraced me. It’s rolled out its beautiful red carpet, and touched me in a way that inspired me to come on in and explore. The wilderness has provided me with the gift of a greeting, a welcoming of sorts every single time I choose to visit.  It’s provided me with a secure escape away from all life’s problems, even if it’s only for a little bit. It’s life changing for me, ever time I go into the wilderness, into the wild. The birds sing to me as if it’s a song dedicated just for me.  The breeze of the trees provide a soothing tone I’ve yet to experience anywhere else. The dew drops in the early mornings remind me of a new day, a new chance to make a difference in this world. As the sun rises and kisses the tree tops, sparkles illuminate glimmering down over the beautiful green lush plants and shrubs grown in the wilderness.  Green is one of my favorite colors because it reminds me of the wilderness, and yellow is also a favorite because it reminds me of the sun. I escape into the wilderness as much as possible either alone or with someone else. It’s always a divine experience no matter how short or how long the visit. Practicing mindfulness in the wilderness has been a key factor to my healing and happiness.

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Nature is My Church. – I’ve finally found the church I’ve been searching for all these years! For most of my life, I’ve been told how I need to do certain things and one of them is finding and attending a church in my community. I’ve been conditioned to believe this is an extremely important part of one’s spiritual journey, to find the right building and visit every Sunday. One dynamic that keeps playing over like an echo is other’s telling em I need the “COMMUNITY” of believers in my life and how important that is. Why do they have to be believers? Over my experience, the community of believers is no different than a community of non-believers. My experience showed me that the only way that community is going to be real is if you attend the same church. Walking away from the church, I’ve learned those aren’t the relationships I want in my life. I want real, true and organic relationships and I won’t settle for anything less these days.

When I experience nature, a new found freedom takes over my mind, body and spirit. Suddenly I’m back to being the 3 year old little girl that would run free in the country of Iowa playing and laying in the fields. My memories of finding the closest creek come back, searching for crawdads and frogs. We would build tree forts, climb trees to the highest tip and shout as loud as we could with our voices echoing across the fields.

Nature has always made me feel safe and it’s always embraced me. It’s the place I run too to feel God’s presence therefor I feel nature is my church. I’ve finally found what it is I’ve been looking for. Nature is the only place I feel at home.

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Mother Earth is My Mother – This might be a little too deep for some people, but I feel most of my fellow adoptees will be able to understand and relate. Out of two chances in the mother area, I’ve never felt love, compassion, acceptance or valued in a healthy way. I’ve actually been one of the adoptees who’s experienced two very VERY deep mother wounds, that still impact me to this day. My biological mother surrendered me for adoption, and after spending a lifetime of searching for her she rejected a relationship with absolutely no explanation. She slammed the door shut, locked it up and threw away the key. My adoptive mother was never able to be a mother due to extreme mental health issues. I was her caretaker held captive for 31 years, until one day I got up enough courage to leave. I packed up a 22 foot uhaul and my kids, and moved across the country. I consider it my great escape and one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my lifetime. Essentially, I started my life over so my kids could have a better life, and so I could one day become a happier, healthier mother to them which is something I never received.

I say Mother Earth is my Mother because when I look at the bigger picture, she’s been far more kind and compassionate to me than any mother I’ve came across here on earth. From a spiritual standpoint, I’ve always been a believer in God,  I’ve been able to look at God as my Heavenly Father where it helped ease my pain with my father wound. I was able to look at my brothers and sisters in Christ as spiritual family, but at the end of the day there was never any help with the MOTHER WOUND. None. Of all the things that have happened to me here on this earth, the Mother Wound has been by far the biggest wound I’ve experienced and for my specific journey I’ve experienced it two times. I think the hurt and pain from my experience has been the fueling fire for all my adoptee advocacy, because I know there are other adoptees out there like me who have gigantic mother wounds, and they have no idea how to heal them. I’ve purchased a host of books about healing the mother wound, I’ve tried therapy, etc. I’ve written about it until I’m blue in the face. The mother wound is DEEP.

Nothing has helped me until I mindfully started to explore nature going on healing nature walks and hikes. During these adventures, I set out to truly connect with nature, like I hadn’t done since I was a child. Some of my first memories and connection with nature were climbing trees to the top, reaching out and touching the sky because the sky made me feel close to my birth mother. It was the tree that assisted me in touching the sky, so my memories and connections to trees and nature have been a part of my life for most of my 44 years on earth. I write a story about feeling close to my birth mother by being closer to the sky. If you are interested in reading click here.

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When I was a child it was innocently part of my life, but it was in my DNA from the very beginning. The forREST became a place of rest for me. It embraced me, took me in and was kind and compassionate to me like no Mother has ever been.  It was always there, with open arms and a dirt trail to meet me at whatever place I was in my life at the time. As my body would enter these sacred spaces, untouched by man of the earth my moods began to shift and change. I got happier inside. My spirit lifted, and joy would come strong and take over my mind. All the things in my life would fall to the side, while I had this time with Mother Earth, everything became relaxing and all my problems seemed to go away for that moment, with HER.

Over the last few years, I’ve been seeking HER more and more, and I’ve healed more and more. I have more internal peace than every before. When I escape into the wilderness, I find it to be extremely relaxing and restorative. Not only does it help my physical well-being, but my emotional and mental state as well. This has helped me in so many ways, and this is why I feel Mother Earth is my Mother.

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Waterfalls are my Worship – A few years ago when I decided to step down from my leadership position as a small group leader for a Women’s Chemical Dependency group for the ministry called Celebrate Recovery, I decided to focus on myself. What that looked like for me was finding out what Pam liked and loved. So many adoptees struggle with identity, and many other issues. Of all the issues adoptees can face, I believe I’ve struggled with every single one of them and then some. My family also decided to walk away from our church of four years due to many different dynamics that I don’t care to share in this article. Needless to say, we we’re all come to the ending of different chapters in our lives, but it’s also the start of something new which has a potential to be beautiful.

I’m rewriting my story. 

I had never taken time out of my busy life to look myself in the mirror and figure out who I am. First thing, adoption created such a void that my deep seeded issues we’re rooted in not knowing who I was or where I came from. I would not be where I am today without finding my truth, and all of it. When I discovered my love for waterfalls, I had no idea at the healing that would follow. In my process of self discovery, I decided to do something I had never done before. I decided to create a bucket list. In this process, I learned that my great state of Kentucky has over 600 waterfalls. I learned so many people add things to their bucket list that are sometimes so far away from achieving because of financial reasons. I set out to create a bucket list that was attainable for me, and as I did this I learned that so many adventures were in my own back yard, and the state of Kentucky had so many hidden gems, waterfalls, and beloved spaces in nature I set out to discover as many spaces as possible. Over the last 3+ years that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve seen dozens of waterfalls, all within a few hours from my front door. Most of them I’ve been to a half a dozen times, because I love taking friends and family on these adventures with me. That’s half the reward, is taking those you love to experience the solitude nature has to offer.

When I set out to find waterfalls, I experience an excitement I can’t describe. I’ve never experienced something so lovely, that it makes me forget all about my past, my future, and it allows me to focus on being present in the moment. Although I’m working on living a mindful lifestyle (focusing on the present moment)  daily, anytime I have a chance to run away to nature and soak up something that’s so beautiful, untouched by man makes me feel closer to God than ever before.  The water and the birds are the music, and the serenity of the surroundings fills my spirit like nothing else has ever done. This is why I seek out to find waterfalls, as they have been a huge part of my healing journey.

Below are some of the photos I’ve taken as a way to capture some of my most amazing moments, so I can share them with you and others. My hope is, I can inspire my friends, family and fellow adoptees to seek nature for healing because it’s worked for me, and it might work for you too!

To my fellow adoptees, what’s worked for you?

How are you rewriting your story?

 

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Sending Renewed Love & Light,

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Reclaiming. Recovering. Recreating. Retreating. Repeating. 

Saying “Hello” to Adoptee Grief & Loss

img_5766I decided to write a short article about this topic, because over the years of coming out of the fog and being in recovery it’s come to my attention that so much of the adoptee experience is rooted and grounded in grief & loss. If we leave it up to the world we live in, they not only deny us the right to have anything but positive feelings, they also deny us the right to grieve our losses.

Can you imagine everyone around you celebrating your trauma? Can you imagine living in a world where your trauma is considered something wonderful? Can you imagine always having to hide your true feelings, because everyone in your life can’t understand that adoption is complex, and in order to heal it we must feel it. Can you imagine there never being any space to share your grief & loss because in adoption, grief & loss is something we are denied, yet society tells us we should he happy about it! This is adoption in our world today.

No one ever told me processing grief and loss was a natural part of the adoptee experience. Navigating this journey alone, it’s honestly been the hardest experience of my life. For me personally, being adopted has carried more weight than multiple brutal violent traumatic experiences that I’ve had in my 44 years of life. Yes, you read that right. I’ve survived MANY brutal violent traumatic experiences, and relinquishment trauma compacted by adoption trauma have impacted me far worse than any other experience, even the brutal violent ones all put together. That’s how BIG the wound from relinquishment trauma has been in my life. The adoption trauma only added to it.

Yes, Adoption Relinquishment is TRAUMA 

For me, adoption, by far has hurt the worst and it’s had the most complex dynamics to it. It hits deeper layers, and the recovery time seems to expand throughout ones entire lifetime. I’ve accepted that full recovery is never going to happen, so I’ve embraced it and welcomed the uncomfortable feelings when they come. Multiple brutal violent traumatic experiences have healed much faster than relinquishment trauma. That should tell you something about relinquishment trauma. Real lived experiences trump everything you have been told about adoption.

It’s hard to come out of the fog on your own like I did. Seeking therapy for the complexities of my adoption experience has always been a dead end for me. I’ve tried and gone to therapy since I was 5 years old. I’m not knocking anyone in therapy and I encourage it wholeheartedly. It just didn’t work for me. I pour my heart into therapying the therapist, and leave with little to no relief other than having one hour to share my life with someone who doesn’t’ “get it” in the long run. If they aren’t adopted, they have no clue what adoptees experience. Thankfully more adoptees are therapists these days, and things are changing.  When I was a child in therapy, they didn’t even talk about adoption. When I was a teenager crying out in rage and pain, they didn’t even talk about adoption.  When I was in juvenile lock up, group homes, drug treatment, the mental health hospital as a teenager and in jail and a mental ward as an adult, they never talked about adoption. When I tried to commit suicide multiple times, they never talked about adoption. When I was in alcohol addiction for 27 years, they never talked about adoption! Let’s be honest, I was groomed to never talk about it either, conditioned from a very early age. But I hold therapists to a higher standard. All these therapists of my lifetime failed me. I should be dead right now, but I’m not.

Today, I say “hello” to the waves of grief & loss as they come into my life instead of turn them away.

Today we’re talking about adoption!

Relinquishment is is the root cause!

I was in addiction for 27 years to ESCAPE! Alcohol took my pain away but only temporarily. Now that I’m in a place of 6.5 years of sobriety, I have even more wisdom to share about being an adult adoptee in recovery. As I navigate close to 10 years of coming out of the fog and 10 years of being in “Adoptee Land” one thing that keeps circling back around in my life is grief and loss. I’m recognizing how I’m feeling at the moment and how I’m feeling day to day about my adoption experience. I’m acknowledging those feelings as they come. I say HELLO to them. I welcome them. Of course I’m going up against what our world says, which is just be thankful and grateful!

I spent some time in a religious setting, and always made me feel like I wasn’t praying enough or I wasn’t fasting enough. I even heard I was CHOOSING to hang onto this pain, or better yet “You must not be receiving your healing because you aren’t right with God! I’ve heard it all, and today I consider it all to be MUMBO JUMBO and I want no part of it. It only caused me to AVOID the TRUTH and NOT FEEL THE PAIN! Because heaven forbid you actually process your traumatic experiences, or grieve your very legitimate losses!

I’m just saying, I’ve gone around the wagon a million times trying to be HEALED from relinquishment trauma! I have some wisdom to share, that’s why I keep writing. For you all and for me. The fact is, grief and loss are perfectly normal for a not normal situation. Nothing is normal about adoption, although our society and world have normalized it. It’s NOT normal to be severed from your roots at the beginning of life, to be handed over to strangers.

Adoption is not normal, and it’s time we STOP normalizing it.

Adoption is traumatic, relinquishment is traumatic and if adoptees aren’t allowed the space to process this trauma we will continue to see the jails, prisons, mental health facilities and treatment facilities overflowing with adoptees! We will continue to see adoptees attempt and succeed in suicide. The earlier we start to address the truth about adoption, the sooner adoptees can start to process our grief and loss.

As a child, I wouldn’t have had the language to process my pain if I wanted to have it. I didn’t know as a child what I know now. I’m here to tell you if SOMEONE, ANYONE would have told me it was okay to be SAD I lost my birth mother, or it was okay to be ANGRY she left me, my whole entire world would have changed growing up. I didn’t have that language, so my adoptive parents should have helped me find it. Yeah, I know it was 1974 and things were different then! TRUE! But they are different now too, and once you know this TRUTH that I’m sharing here based on my 44 years of lived experience being adopted, you can’t unknow it. Please, do what you can to help your adopted children access feelings of grief and loss, and HELP THEM process them!

For my fellow adoptees who have made it this far, I’m asking you how you are processing your grief and loss? What have you been able to do to tap into your real true feelings? Are you at a phase where you are numbing them and running? Or are you working towards processing them?

For me, saying HELLO to my grief and loss has been a critical part of my healing process. I’m no longer running the rat race to be healed! That doesn’t work for many of us. Being SAD about your adoption experience is NORMAL. Being ANGRY about your adoption experience is NORMAL. It’s what you do with these feeling is what’s KEY. Acceptance of them is KEY.

Saying HELLO to them is acknowledging them. Sitting with them awhile, writing about them, or sharing them with someone you love or trust is processing them. Getting alone in nature, doing your yoga, jogging, biking, hiking, and anything outside can help you release some the build up you have, and so many adoptees have anger and rage deep inside, bursting to come out. It’s going to come out in healthy ways, or unhealthy ways. What have you picked for yourself?

I picked unhealthy for 27 years, but it wasn’t because I wanted to pick it. It was because I didn’t have the tools to work on my adoptee issues. Remember, we live in a world that celebrates our trauma and celebrates adoption! This is why it upsets me when people say we are choosing to stay STUCK. Don’t you think if every single adoptee had a flip to switch, on was happy and off was sad/angry we would choose the HAPPY SWITCH? Seriously, so many of us are stuck because that was me for 40+ years because we had no tools. Thank God times are changing! –  Adoptees Connect.

The best part is, once we know that grief and loss is a normal response, and once we know it’s time to start processing it in healthy ways we can then make the choice to put one foot forward and try to walk it out TOGETHER.

Is it scary? Damn straight it is! I always say adoptees aren’t sissies! They are some of the strongest people on the planet! But I did it, and you can do it too! So my question for you is, when are you going to start saying HELLO to your grief and loss? Welcome it, embrace it and keep it moving. Only you can do this because one thing I’ve learned is that if we want something in the adoptee community or for ourselves we will have to seek it, create it, or find it ourselves! No one is going to do it for us, especially when they are so busy celebrating our trauma and they don’t acknowledge we have any losses to grieve.

It’s up to us. It’s up to me. It’s up to you.

What are you going to do?

Sending Renewed Love & Light,

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Reclaiming. Recovering. Recreating. Retreating. Repeating. 

 

 

 

Happy Mommy Dearest Day

Times Two 

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Mommy Dearest #1 is the mommy that gave birth to me. She relinquished all rights to parent me. She left me at the hospital then decided to flee.

Mommy Dearest #2 is the mommy that adopted me. It took me a lifetime to discover, she was mentally ill and didn’t have capabilities to parent me.

I spent my entire life searching for Mommy Dearest #1 because she had to be a better mommy than Mommy Dearest #2.

“But she gave you away, she didn’t want to parent you!” they say.

“But she loved you so much” they say.

Conflicting stores, leaning towards my birth mother wanting to see me because I believed that “She loved me so much.” How could a mother not love their child? She must be searching for me too, to rescue me from Mommy Dearest #2.

Mommy Dearest #2 had some good qualities if I’m honest. She loved gardening, plants, lavender, and the colors blue and white. She liked watching soap operas, cutting coupons, talking, and figure skating. She was a nurse, and her greatest gift was my birth mothers ultimate sacrifice.

ME.

Mommy Dearest #2 wanted to be a mother more than anything in this world, but here’s the drawback. Her husband, my adoptive father left us when I was 1, because he knew she couldn’t parent us. He moved over an hour away, remarried and raised a new family of his own. Leaving us with Mommy Dearest #2.

Mommy Dearest #2 was manic depressive, always sad and cried daily, and said over and over, “I’m not a good mother, I just want to die.” I was her caretaker my entire child hood and most of my life. Recalled memories of terror that have overpowered any good she brought into my life. Her laying in the street, trying to commit suicide. Flashbacks. Flashbacks. I will never forget it. Her locking herself in her room with her box of pills, saying she was going to commit suicide. Being a little girl banging on the door, crying hysterically for hours sometimes begging her not to die. Over and over, memories never leave my mind. Flashbacks. Flashbacks. I didn’t know about mental illness as a child, I just know because of her being undiagnosed, and untreated I paid the price and will have memories of this trauma for life. Read more about my experience with her here. 

I was the ultimate sacrifice.

Was this the “BETTER LIFE?”

WHY?

Why did Mommy Dearest #1 decide to flee?

I had to find her, because she had to be better than Mommy Dearest #2. Sadly, I learned my fantasy of her wasn’t true. Even when I wrote her a poem that went something like this…

“My prayers were answered, my dreams finally came true, all of this occurred the day that I found you”

The truth is, she wasn’t searching for me, and she didn’t want to be found. She met me once, but she never wanted me to come back around. She slammed the door shut, she locked it and she threw away the key. As long as she was alive on this earth, I never threw away the hope that one day she would want to see me.  20 years passed, I waited and waited. Then I got the dreaded call, “Your birth mother has died.” With her dying, my hope of ever seeing her again died too. I was told it broke her heart that my adoptive parents divorced because if I was going to be raised on welfare, food stamps and in an abusive environment, she would have kept me! This made her ANGRY!

2010 Mommy Dearest #1 is dead.

She would rather die all alone, than have me in her life. I would have been there in a heartbeat if she would have picked up that phone.But the world says I’m supposed to be thankful.

I’m thankful that I found her, I’m thankful that I met her one time but that doesn’t change the fact this has traumatized me for life. I’m not thankful I was adopted. I do have a million things in my life I’m thankful for, but adoption isn’t one of them.

Mommy Dearest #2 died 7 years later.

But not before I escaped by moving across the country in 2005 so my kids and I could have a better life. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is making the choice to sever ties. I changed my name, embraced my recovery journey, and started my life over.

2 Corinthians 5:17

BRAND NEW!

I didn’t sign any adoption paperwork!

As soon as Mommy Dearest #2 died my soul was set free, I finally felt like I could breathe. The weight lifted. I didn’t feel any sadness from her dying, than the same sadness I’ve felt every day of my life NOT. HAVING. A. MOTHER. I still have dreams about her, and memories of my childhood flashback frequently. I continue to remind myself that I don’t live there anymore, today I’ve made the choice to open a new door.

A new life, with new possibilities.

Moving forward, I made a vow to myself, I would always be true to me! 

Honesty is KEY!

I’ve moved forward with my life, and the 2 women that should have loved and cared for me the most, have hurt me the most. The damage that has been done is something I’ll be working on for the rest of my life, but today I’ve accepted it and acknowledged its here to stay. It’s part of who I am, it’s part of my story but it’s not all of who I am or all of my story.

I’ve been working 10+ years on my recovery and healing journey. Not all adoptees have something positive to hang onto, but we can take the pain and find something to pour it into! Passion and purpose seem to make it all worth it. Many of us have been dealt a hand of trauma all the way around the paradox. Mother’s Day for many of us is not only a day of remembrance of the woman who carried us for 9 months, handing us over to strangers, TRAUMA! abandoned but it’s also a reminder that the woman we were handed too couldn’t parent us. Trauma times TWO!

If this isn’t you, that’s wonderful, because we all deserve a wonderful mother. The fact is, some of us don’t get it even when we’ve been given 2 chances by being adopted.

How do you strike it out 2x in the mother area?

Some of you will say “It’s all a part of God’s plan.”

 Newsflash: God doesn’t plan trauma so stop blaming him!

What has this experience taught me? It taught me that no matter what anyone says, mothers aren’t interchangeable. It’s taught me that adoption of the world today isn’t from God, and man has totally messed this thing up and they have the audacity to say God is in control! It’s taught me this is MAN’S PLAN, NOT GOD’S. God never plans on separating mother’s and babies.  It’s taught me I’m strong and a survivor to be alive, making it through this nightmare. It taught me that even when I’ve been adopted on paper, I’ve really raised myself. The examples I had as mothers, not only one but TWO were something I never wanted to be.

So, what did I do?

I have done everything in my power to break generational curses and heal from the hurts. I want to be a better mom to my kids, than what I ever had. I want to be a happy healthy grandma to my future grandkids, which is something my kids never had. I want to take all this pain and trauma and find purpose in it. –  Adoptees Connect! I want to take back everything that was stolen from me. I’m finding happiness within myself, because I’ve never found it anywhere else. After I’ve found it in myself, I’ve been able to find it with others. I want to help other adoptees who feel isolated and alone, because if I can survive this THING, they can too. If your adopted and reading this, you are NOT ALONE!

This writing is me acknowledging my pain, and my experience with both of my “mothers”. I’m no longer sitting in this space, but when my feelings come, I need to share them. My website has always been a safe space for me to share. I don’t want to take any more of your time, by sharing this sad story of mine.  I acknowledge it, process it, and move forward with my life. I’ve been stuck for far too long.

So, this year, I’m sure my kids will want to celebrate ME, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I’ll celebrate the fact that I’ve been a mom to some amazing kids, who I cherish more than life. That’s a TRUE gift and a focus for me on Mother’s Day. In the back of my mind, these memories and my story will always be. I have no mother to celebrate. But if you do, I’m happy for you. If I’m a little distant, or it takes me awhile to respond it’s because I’ve pulled away from electronics, and the television where everyone is gloating about their mothers. I just can’t deal.  Self-care is something I put first.

Hugs to all my fellow adoptees who lost your first mother, who have a hard time with Mother’s Day. MEGA HUGS to all my fellow adoptees who not only lost your first mother, but your second mother wasn’t what you deserved. I’m crying with you all. If you made it this far, you are a survivor. It hurts, let yourself feel the pain. Write about it, draw, color, paint, run, jog, hike, cry, scream.

Feel free to leave your thoughts here if it will help you in some way. Please take care of yourself in the coming days!  Do whatever you need to do, to take care of you.

I decided to post this before Mother’s Day because I don’t want to interfere with those celebrating this day, in anyway. I’m not looking for sympathy or to be “fixed.” Just sharing my story, healing through writing one click at a time. Thank you for being a part of my journey! 💛

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Reclaiming. Recovering. Recreating. Retreating. Repeating.