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. 

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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.

Beauty from Ashes

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The scripture says, “God will give you beauty for ashes.” Ashes represent our broken dreams, our failures, our disappointments and our hurts. Here’s the key: you have to let go of the ashes before you can receive the beauty. If you won’t let go of the old, you can’t receive the new.

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It was 5 years ago today I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. My adoptee issues were hitting me left and right and for 26 years alcohol numbed my pain. I ran from the painful reality of my beginnings and the trauma inflicted on me which I had no choice over.

I was an innocent baby torn from my mother.

ALL ADOPTIONS BEGIN WITH TRAUMA

I’ve lived a hard life.

Who’s hasn’t, right?

My adoptive parents divorced when I was a year old, my adoptive dad moved far away to raise his new family. I was left with my adoptive mother who was emotionally and mentally abusive. She tied us to chairs with dish towels, tried to commit suicide in front of us, and suffered from severe manic-depressive episodes. She was also addicted to prescription pain pills. You could say my upbringing was everything but “Normal”.

I grew up angry and started to act out as a teenager. I wasn’t the “Good Adoptee” that they had bargained for. I was the “BAD ADOPTEE”. I wished I was sent back home to my real family. I wanted to be anywhere than where I was. I dropped out of high school, got in fights A LOT. I ran away and was in the streets. I experienced more in the first 15 years of my life than most people do in their entire life on earth. I was in juvenile jail, detention, group homes and in therapy most of my childhood. I was sexually abused in my adoptive father’s home by an older step brother. I experienced a lot of traumatic situations out in the streets, rape, violence, breaking the law, etc.  At 12 years old running the streets was the beginning of my journey to find my way back home. I had no clue it would take me 26 years of searching, depending on alcohol to take the pain away, multiple abusive relationships to finally reach my destination. A lifetime of trauma, grief, pain and loss followed me everywhere I went. I never fit in anywhere and I was searching for my tribe, my people, my family.

I never stopped and it never left my mind.

I was broken & hurting.

Adoption was never talked about growing up but as a 43-year-old adoptee in recovery I am here to tell you ADOPTION IS THE ROOT of my issues and it always has been.

The pain of abandonment and rejection was impossible for me to tap into at an early age but as I grew up reality began to set in, and the fog began to lift. No one asked how it felt to be adopted.  I learned my greatest hurt in life, losing both of my birth mother and birth father and their families, and so much more was my adoptive families greatest gift. My greatest hurt was celebrated by society because adoption is such a beautiful thing, right?

How could I let anyone know I was brokenhearted inside and disappoint them?

My feelings didn’t matter.

I didn’t matter.

Anger and rage was simmering at the roots of my being. I began to hate who I was and looking in the mirror I hated what I saw. I was an ugly girl that nobody wanted. Every time I looked in the mirror I hated what was looking back. Year after year passed, and my hate for myself grew stronger and stronger. MY FACE WAS UGLY! The abusive relationships in my life just beat me down more and more.

WHO AM I?

WHERE THE HELL DID I COME FROM?

Was I even born or did I drop out of the sky like an alien?

Did I have a beginning?

WHO WERE MY BIRTH PARENTS?

WHERE WERE MY BIRTH PARENTS?

WHO ARE MY SIBLINGS?

WERE THEY LOOKING FOR ME?

WHO DO I LOOK LIKE?

 

My entire life, I wanted and NEEDED to know the TRUTH about these simple questions so many adoptees have that most of the world takes for granted. My mind was tortured every single day, wondering, fantasizing, dreaming, wishing, sad, hurt, angry, depressed, alone, isolated.  It’s impossible to know where we’re headed if we don’t know where we come from. The aching pain of the “UNKNOWN” plagued my life. It was all I could feel and all I wanted to know.

I never had any peace in my heart, because I was too busy searching for clues and information. I must have dug in my adoptive mother’s filing cabinet 100,000x searching for a clue growing up! Over and over, I searched through her papers as far back as I could remember.  If only I could find a clue, maybe I could find my birth mother and see this was all a big mistake and go back HOME.

I mean who gives their baby away and really means it?

ESPECIALLY WHEN SHE LOVES ME “SO MUCH?”

This must be some big mistake, right?

Fast forward to my adoptive mother coming “Clean” when I was 21 years old. She had the information I needed and wanted my entire life, she lied to me saying she didn’t know ANYTHING! Another devastating blow that the person I should trust the most. SHE LIED TO ME MY ENTIRE LIFE for her own personal gain. We’re raised to tell the truth, but somehow the truth is rarely brought to light regarding adoption.

Can someone explain that to me?

Am I nothing more than a piece of property?

Do my feelings not matter at all?

Over the next 16 years I meet both my birth parents. My high hopes in happy reunions turned into double rejection from both.

I waited my entire life for this?

I was crushed.

The aftermath was devastating.

It took me years to come to a place of acceptance of what was really happening. The pain was so great, I was running from the realities that the two people that created me and who I shared the same DNA with wanted nothing to do with me. This was and has been the biggest loss & heartache of my life.

Alcohol eased the pain.

If I take the original trauma or abandonment and add it to the trauma I experienced in my adoptive home and in the streets, with double rejection from my birth parents and failed reunions it equals a mixed bag of  ____________!!  < Fill in the blank.

My boxed wine was my best friend for 26 years but it was also standing in the way of me being who God created me to be…

ADOPTEE IN RECOVERY

But here we are August 13, 2017

It’s my “BIRTH”-DAY

I’m alive.

I’m physically well.

I have 3 amazing kids.

I have a wonderful career I love.

I have a place to live & a car to drive.

I’m generally extremely happy!

After finding both birth parents, I learned they were both alcoholics and it rocked me to my core.

HOW COULD I BE LIKE THEM BUT THEY DIDN’T EVEN RAISE ME?

WHAT IF I NEVER FOUND MY TRUTH, WOULD I STILL BE DRINKING?

Alcohol only made my problems worse. 5 years ago, today I had enough of myself and the way my life was going and I decided to throw in the towel on my drinking habit but I knew I couldn’t do it on my own.

My kids were my #1 motivation. They deserved a happy healthy mom, even if I didn’t feel I deserved to be happy and healthy myself.

I no longer wanted to run from the pain of my past abandonment, or the realities of rejection from my birth parents. I wanted to learn to process my pain in healthy ways.

I HAD NO IDEA HOW HARD THIS WAS GOING TO BE!

No longer drinking was the easy part, it was processing the adoptee pain I carried my entire life that was the hardest part. Feelings I had run from for an entire lifetime came flooding in and hit me like a ton of bricks.

Where was the manual on how to process this pain?

The FOG began to lift.

FEELINGS BECAME REAL

I started to view things in life from a distinct perspective. I cried a lot, I felt feelings like I had never felt them before, I isolated myself in many aspects because I didn’t want to burden anyone with my sadness. That’s been a huge struggle for me, GUILT for feeling the way I do so I do my best to hide it from the world and do a pretty good job most days.

Adoptees, we’re good at hiding our pain because we are expected to be thankful and if we’re not thankful we’re labeled ungrateful.

I realized that my running from processing my adoptee pain, drinking alcohol to cope not only hurt me, but it impacted my kids in many ways as well. If anything, I knew at that moment I not only needed recovery for myself, but for my kids. They deserved a happy healthy mom so I set out on a long journey of recovery to become happier, mind, body & spirit. I wanted to make amends with anyone I had hurt and those who hurt me.

This was not easy.

I put my faith in God, and God alone.

I knew he had been with me the entire way on my journey. People, not so much. Being an adoptee, disappointments come and many of us seem to be hypervidilant when they do. I don’t handle disappointments well, so at all costs I try to avoid being set up to get disappointed. I built a wall higher than the one that was already built. I became extremely selective as to who I let in, and I also let go of most of my old relationships and friendships.

Over the last 5 years I’ve set out on a pursuit to find myself.

You have heard the saying; “You have to change your playground & your playmates”. There were many people, places & things I let go of and I gave no explanations as to why I walked away in many cases. I don’t have to explain myself. That’s the thing I’ve learned is I am taking full responsibility as to who I allow in my life, and so much was always controlled for me regarding my adoption journey, it’s now time I take some of the control back.

I’m in charge.

I make the choices regarding my life.

I walk away from people, places & things that don’t serve a purpose.

I walked away from my church that was extremly controlling.

This control I have gained is healthy in my eyes.

FREE AT LAST!

So many aspects of being an adoptee between the C-PTSD, trauma, complicated grief & loss, abandonment, rejection and a lost sense of self. I could go on all day about the issues I have because of adoption, but the ones that impact me the most today seem to be that everyone is going to leave, so DON’T let them get too close! Always in my mind I’m waiting on the shoe to drop, and when people want to get too close to me I panic, and have anxiety. All of this is rooted and grounded in abandonment and fear. This is one example of many issues I’m working on but during my recovery I’ve could identify the triggers, such as ALL HOLIDAYS, the word “MOTHER” and seeing other people with their mother’s, Birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, I can acknowledge my pain, share it in my blog and use different techniques to make it through the episode. EMDR has been a good help. If you only knew how I process things and the triggers I experience every single day you would be in awe. They never end, but the sooner I accepted they were here to stay the sooner I started working on my responses to the triggers and how to process them. Connecting with my fellow adoptees has been my saving grace so many times! I love you all and wouldn’t be here where I am without you!

You know who you are!

 On a side note, for the life of me I can’t figure out how I can spend a lifetime in and out of therapy and not one therapist acknowledge ADOPTION as being a root issue, a trauma, and a huge part of my pain. This is one of the many reasons I keep sharing my journey because I know for certain adoptees all over this world are being let down, and no one truly seems to get the pain we carry unless it’s a fellow adoptee.

For anyone that is not an adoptee who might be reading, I would like to ask you to open your heart to the fact that not all adoptees are happy with being adopted, and to consider how you might feel if you were to lose 2 entire families, your ancestry, medical history, relationships with your siblings, the roots to WHO YOU ARE. It’s time people wake up and step out of denial about the damage adoption inflicts on adoptees, and address the very real trauma of the primal wound. With the adoptee attempted suicide rate 4x more likely than non-adoptees, we can’t afford to keep quiet.

TODAY I LIVE

After searching for an entire lifetime I’m still learning who I am. I know I operate best independently because I have control issues regarding my life because others controlled so much of it. I’m working on allowing others in, even if it’s just a little bit so I can attempt to have meaningful close relationships with a few people but I won’t lie, it’s a daily struggle for me. I run from needy & clingy people. I think growing up processing LIFE & ADOPTION all alone, I got used to it. No one was there for me, so I’ve learned how to adapt to being alone and I receive great solitude from it. Whatever I’m doing in life, I will always need my alone time.

FREEDOM

I’ve learned that I’m the happiest when I’m out in the woods, in nature. This is the closest thing I’ve found that feels like HOME. I remember being at my adoptive dads growing up and the woods being a safe place for me. I would run wild and free, pretend and fantasize I was a super hero and dream about my birth mother. I climbed trees, built forts, played in creeks, played hide and seek in the corn fields of Iowa and it was safe. Safer than any of the homes I grew up in. And a lot of the time I was alone. I love being alone.

BUCKET LIST

Naturally when I created my bucket list the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to visit all the waterfalls in Kentucky. I must admit, the last 6 months of my life have been the best and happiest 6 months of my life. My mind is moving forward ready to explore NEW THINGS. My adoptee journey has played itself out and although so much of it has been extremely painful I would not change knowing my truth for the world. Knowing my truth has allowed me to accept it, and be able to move forward towards healing. Therefore, all adoptees need our TRUTH so we can heal. 43 years of carrying that pain and being weighed down with alcohol dependency has been nothing short of a bad dream in many aspects. Many days I feel guilty for feeling defective with attachments and feeling like people care about me or love me. I feel like I’m alone on an island most of the time, and I know people say they love me but I never feel it. I think this has to do with the primal wound and the bond with my birth mother being broken. It saddens me, but at my age I have come to terms with the fact that it’s just how I am hardwired and I’ve learned to adapt to this part of me. I had someone tell me once, “Well I think that makes you more genuine of a person because you aren’t doing things for love, you’re doing them out of the goodness of your own heart”. This might be a gift in many ways but the cost to have it is a high price to pay.

I feel something is still missing and the adoption trauma will always impact me in this way. I feel like I have a hole in my heart, and the sooner I came to a place of acceptance that IT JUST IS, the sooner I could move forward with healing. Not accepting this only stalled my healing.

I’VE LEARNED A LOT

Adoptees are some of the strongest people I know. To experience what we have and to be silenced by the world regarding our trauma- WE ARE SURVIVORS!

Every single one of us!

I believe I’m someone who will always hold a unique value of time and memories because so much was lost in adoption I’m able to cling tight to time and memories with those I’m close too. Objects of material gain mean nothing to me unless they have some symbolic aspect to them, and being adoptees usually we’re left out of receiving anything of meaning from our birth families, at least I have been anyway. I’ve learned to love people in a way that they hopefully always remember the person I was and how I treated them. I’ve always tried to treat people with the love and acceptance I always wished I received.

SOBRIETY & RECOVERY

I will always be in recovery because the moment I’m not I could very easily slip back into old patterns that I have broken free from and that won’t be good. My kids have been my number one fans on my journey and my biggest motivation. They inspire me to be better, to love others more, and to think outside the box. They keep me young and they are, and always will be the biggest joys of my life. They are the reason I’m still alive today and I’m certain if I didn’t have them I wouldn’t be here. Recovery isn’t easy at all, but it’s so worth it.

I don’t have a desire to drink anymore and don’t even think about it. It’s no longer a part of my life. Today is 5 years since I’ve drank my last drink of alcohol and that’s something to be proud of. While my “BIRTH” day brings pain, I am working on celebrating my life from a new perspective. Regardless of the trauma that happened the day I came into the world, I’m something to celebrate. It’s taken me 43 years to get to a place where I’m thankful for being alive but healing from knowing my TRUTH is the only thing that has gotten me this far.

I pray for the same truth and healing to be revealed to all my fellow adoptees. We all deserve to be able to heal from whatever we find, and we all deserve our truth.

Today I have a zest for life, I have someone special in my life who I have a lot in common with. We are enjoying getting to know one another and you never know what God has in store. My mind is crystal clear and I’m freed by the truth.

John 8:32 “Then you will know the truth and the truth shall set you free”.

Today I celebrate 43 years ALIVE on this planet, I celebrate 5 years sobriety, I celebrate being a MOM to 3 amazing kids, I celebrate my TRUTH no matter how painful it has been.  I celebrate all those who have supported me near and far. I celebrate all my fellow adoptees who I have built relationships with that I love very much! I celebrate the future. I celebrate having my voice among the adoptee community and the GRACE God has given me to share the TRUTH on how it feels to be adopted. I celebrate nature and all the healing it has brought my way. I celebrate all the waterfalls I’m going to see and all the ones I’ve already seen. I celebrate the future hikes and working out at the gym. I celebrate once being an angry, bitter, rage filled person to someone with compassion, love, understanding and forgiveness.

So today and the days to come I’m working on making new memories, with new & old friends, moving forward and resting in the fact that I’ve made it.

I’m alive.

I survived.

The beginning of MY STORY isn’t a happy one, but that doesn’t mean the rest of my days can’t be the best of my days.

To God be the GLORY.

Thanks for reading my adoptee in recovery story.

“If it wasn’t for the struggle than I wouldn’t be me” – 2 chainz

XOXO

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How Adoptees Feel About Birthday’s

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This blog post was inspired because I know first hand how hard birthday’s can be for adoptees. There is healing in sharing how we feel so I wanted to seek input from my fellow adoptees and find out how they felt about their birthdays.

I was blown away to see so many of us feel similar ways about this day and the days leading up to the “Birth” day. Many of us are impacted as the days lead up to the month as well.

Some adoptees have no issues with this day.

No matter what experiences are shared here, I’m excited so share the feelings of so many of my fellow adoptees no matter how they feel. Each and every one of you matters, your story matters and your voice matters.

If you would like to add how you feel about your birthday please reply to this thread and I’ll add it to this blog post. Feel free to share with your online communities to help raise awareness on how it feels to be adopted.

Adoptee Voice #1.

  • My birthday month is August. I wish the month could go away. My birthday is the 10th. I don’t ever recall looking forward to my birthday. It feels weird when people wish me happy birthday. I don’t even know what the normal feeling is supposed to be.

Adoptee Voice #2.

  • It’s not your birthday. It’s your cake day., eat cake.

Adoptee Voice #3.

  • August 21st is my birthday so in the back of my mind counting down to the day. Not sure what plans are. I usually try stay positive but by evening the mind tends to take over a bit. I used to think it was the one day she would be thinking of me but found out she never remembered my birth date.

Adoptee Voice #4.

  • My birthday is December 21. So I get the holiday blues wIthiBONUS birthday blues. My mom passed just over a year ago, my dad has had a super rough time (wrecked the tractor last fall, other medical problems, depression) and I’m already dreading this holiday season.

    I’m actually thinking about taking a road trip. I could use the solitude and the break and it just might be the perfect time and place for the crying jag I never seem to let myself have.

    Last year I turned 50 and my aunt (my mom’s only sibling) surprised me at work with a big cake. It was nice of her, but it was also sort of surreal.

Adoptee Voice #5

  • It’s the time of the year I can’t “not think” of my birth parents. (BF is deceased) My birth mother lives less than 15 miles from me and a mile away from where I was raised. She pretends I don’t exist. If there is one day a year she thinks about me, that should be it, right? I do write her letters and send them, even though I never get anything back.

Adoptee Voice #6

  • I have an August birthday (the 28th). I HATE my birthday… As a child, it was never a happy occasion. Adoptive father was a violent drunk, and his drinking never took a vacation, no matter the day.. holidays, birthdays, weddings…. Adoptive monster was an enabler, and fed into his violence and never protect myself or adoptive brother. Birthdays were “family” parties until I was 10. Every year less and less people came, and I finally realized it was due to him. I always wondered what I did wrong.. But why in the world would you subject yourself to that disaster if you didn’t have to? And since I wasn’t blood to them, they just stopped coming. The final straw was at 16. Adoptive monster talked up a Sweet 16 party for years. Told me we would rent a hall, get a DJ, I could invite anyone I wanted… When it came down to it, it didn’t happen. It was downgraded to a house party in my garage. The day of ,I spent HOURS getting ready. Sat outside waiting and waiting. Hours after start time, I heard the adoptive monsters arguing. Adoptive father admitted the night before he called the entire guest list and told them it was cancelled…. NO JOKE. This is the deranged behavior I lived with my entire childhood. That was the last birthday I spent with them. Shortly after this, I fled in the middle of the night and was emancipated.

Adoptee Voice #7

  • My birthday is Nov 1 and I always got depressed and angry as it got closer. I’m 53. A few years ago I decided to start making it about others. I’d invite a couple of good friends to go out to a really nice dinner just to celebrate the friendships I have.
    I have a loving husband and family who wanted to bless me so I quit being a stick in the mud & let them and chose to enjoy what I have now instead of what I don’t have. Gratitude and choosing to bless others changed how I anticipate my birthday now.

    This was before I met my sister this past spring, and learned a lot about my birth parents who have passed. I am now looking forward to this year’s birthday.
    It’s all in perspective – I am here, alive, and have many things to be thankful about.

Adoptee Voice #8

  • Birthdays are hard for me. I have spent more than one birthday listening to John Lennon’s song “Mother” on repeat…

Adoptee Voice #9

  • I know some adoptees hated this, but I loved it. It made me feel special. My Adoptive Mom celebrated my adoption Birthday by taking me out and often giving me a special gift.

Adoptee Voice #10

  • The older I got the more I dreaded it. I only want to hear it from my son who I know loves me. And my boyfriend who I know loves me also. Everyone else I still wonder what they really think of me. No matter their loyalty or not….I still question it. It took me awhile to believe my boyfriend really loved me.

Adoptee Voice #11

  • Birthday, the day of happiness from all… Ugh it’s just a dreaded day of wanting to be alone.

Adoptee Voice #12

  • My birthday is in May and I just think of it as the day I was given to the universe rather than the day I lost my whole family.

Adoptee Voice #13

  • I have hated every single birthday I can remember. Everyone always thought I should love them and celebrate them! It never felt like my day or my birthday. Long story short at the age of 38 I found my birth mother 1 week ago. The day I had always celebrated my birthday was not the day I was born! I have no idea how I will feel for the next one….Feb always thought, March actual!
    Life literally changed overnight and upside down. I thought being adopted was hard, at this stage being reunited is even harder. My birth mother seems lovely and kinda “gets me” more than my adoptive mother. Huge journey/roller coaster ride about to begin.

Adoptee Voice #14

  • Growing up my birthdays were a mixed deal. The birthday party or events my parents had lined up were always fun things I really liked. But there is just something about the day I was born and always feeling like my biological mom did not even love me enough to keep me. Once I got into what my parents had planed it was always a fun day. But the lead up was bad for years. After I became an late teen and adult the day got worse. For years I would just ignore it, spending the whole day doing yard work, even mowing a relatives or a neighbors yard just things to keep my super busy and my mind off my birthday. The last few years have been better. I have dealt with my life much more working through it instead of burying it. I am beginning to feel I deserve to be happy or at least not sad on my day. Like others have sad feelings I have put in the work to earn my day. Wanting to show my biological mom this stubborn, loud, fussy baby turned out just fine!!!!

Adoptee Voice #15

  • It didn’t really seem much different than any other non-adoptees birthday, until I found out last year that by birth mother and I share the same birthday. I must have been the worst birthday present ever.

Adoptee Voice #16

  • For me I used substances for 26 years, so I didn’t have to process the pain of the realities of adoption. Birthdays were always a dreaded day filled with pain, loss, unconscionable grief and having to celebrate it was possible but only with alcohol in my life. 8/13/12 I decided I wanted to live a sober lifestyle and all the REALITIES of adoption came flooded in. I truly wasn’t prepared for it all. When you run for so many years how can you prepare. In the last 5 years I’ve worked towards handling these emotions in a healthy way. I am not gonna lie, there were birthdays I just couldn’t even get out of bed and it goes the same for the weeks leading up to that day. It was a dreaded day for many years, but recently I’ve given myself permission (because no one else in the world has) to be sad on that day, cry and share my feelings in my blog. I’ve learned it’s perfectly normal to be sad on the day I was separated from my birth mother. I wanted to erase the entire day and erase myself in the process! Thank God it wasn’t possible but I would have done it 100x over if it was. Today after almost 5 years of recovery and sobriety, my sessions of the pain of my birthday is still there, but each year I process and share my feelings and others validate them (THIS IS CRITICAL FOR US!) things get easier. This year, I will wake up on my birthday (Aug 13) and prob play a song that reminds me of my birth mother (My Way- By Frank Sinatra) and cry awhile. Why? Because it’s okay to cry awhile. Once I get that out of the way I might write about what I’m feeling and share it with those who understand, and get on with the day. I plan to go hiking with my kids and go see a waterfall and enjoy the rest of the day. You see, it’s critical we are able to process the pain because leaving it inside only KILLS us inside! Adoptees grow up, and they don’t stay babies forever. I wish someone would have told me it was okay to be sad on this day. If you are an adoptee who struggles with your birthday please know you aren’t alone!

Adoptee Voice #17

  • Birthdays for me, are somewhat hollow. There is an entire person who has never been acknowledged, celebrating his birthday, but as a different person. There is sadness and pain in any holiday for me. I still enjoy it. Just is different for me.

Adoptee Voice #18

  • We didn’t make a big deal out of birthdays or holidays while growing up. So, it’s still just that…not a big deal. A few people wish me happy birthday, but other than that it’s just another day.

Adoptee Voice #19

  • I always thought that the day I was born was the ultimate irony. I came into this world on Mother’s Day. I could never wrap my head around how that must have felt for my birth mother. My feelings towards my birthday fluctuate with the feelings I have for my biological parents. When I was younger, I had deep anger & spent my birthday wondering if they were thinking of me, hoping they were & hoping that it hurt like hell. My anger morphed into depression and my birthday has since caused me a deep sense of sadness & it is the time when I feel the greatest sense of abandonment.

Adoptee Voice #20

  • As a kid, I never thought twice about it. In the last 20 years it weighs on me, heavily. I’m now 42. My adopted father left as soon as the adoption was finalized leaving my mom and I. She passed away 4 years ago and I always think she loved me when no one else did. The date before the actual birthday is the toughest. Now that I have my own family I can remember every nuance of that day leading to their birth. Every year seems to be harder than the previous.

Adoptee Voice #21

  • I would never think twice about my birthday until I turned 16. I don’t know whether It’s because it’s an important milestone in our culture, or whether it’s because I was finally mature enough to understand the implications of adoption. From then on, a pattern began to develop. Each birthday would start off happy..until it didn’t. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing but out of nowhere I suddenly become overwhelmed with thoughts of my birth mother. Is she thinking about me? Does she get as sad as I do on this day? Has she been longing for me as much as I have been? Etc. Unfortunately, this feeling of loss has only continued to grow with each birthday.

Adoptee Voice #21

  • It’s my birthday, that’s all there is to it. I don’t have huge blowout gatherings or what have you, but I’ll do something to enjoy it. I feel blessed that people contact me in whatever manner they do to wish me well on that day!

Adoptee Voice #22

  • I remind people who love me it is an anniversary loss day, my body is grieving. I noticed a pattern likely in my childhood, usually crying on my birthday at the end of the day and not knowing why, had a full panic attach at age 19, and generally feeling sad for about 4-6 weeks around my birthday despite the happy celebrations. I love getting older but the loss does not seem to lessen with time, now almost 50, even after a happy reunion.

Adoptee Voice #23

  • It’s supposed to be such a happy day and every one wants you to be happy. But for me there’s always been something, something that spoils it. Something underlying that prevented me. It was only when I grew old enough to relate that it was the day “she” gave me away and chose never to see me again. To severe that 9 month bond and drastically change the course of my life without my consent.

Adoptee Voice #24

  • Like always, going through the motions, pretending to be happy because that is what everyone expects. Now, I am older, I choose to spend it alone with as little fuss as possible. This was a hard lesson for my natural siblings to learn on my first birthday post-reunion, they staged a birthday bash which I did not attend. It was always a painful period leading up to the actual day but it feels worse now, post-reunion. I was 5 years too late to meet my Mother and now, it just feels like the anniversary of when I lost her.

Adoptee Voice #25

  • My birthday doesn’t really bother me. I get really irritable around it, but on the day it’s always the best day. I try to make that day as happy as I can.

Adoptee Voice #26

  • I wonder if my ” mother ” thinks about me on my birthday.

Adoptee Voice #27

  • I can go into a full blown PTSD episode just because it’s that anniversary.

Adoptee Voice #28

  • It is simply the worst day of the year. Nothing fits.

Adoptee Voice #29

  • A yearly reminder that I was brought into this world to be given away, nothing more.

Adoptee Voice #30

  • I hate my birthday.

Adoptee Voice #31

  • It’s the saddest day of the year for me.

 

As you can see many adoptees share similar feelings regarding our birthdays. If you are an adoptee reading, please know you aren’t alone.

You matter and your feelings matter.

To all the adoptees who were brave in sharing their voices, THANK YOU for helping the world understand how it feels to be adopted. Keep sharing, keep using your voice!

If you are a non-adoptee reading this, thank you for making it this far. Your courage in having the willingness to want to learn how we feel is amazing alone. Please share this post in our online communities to help us raise awareness of how it feels to be adopted.

If you are an adoptee and would like to add how you feel about your birthday, please reply to this post and I’ll add it for you.

Blessings to all & thanks for reading.

Pamela Karanova

Adult Adoptee

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