Learning to Live and Hike with Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT)

This is unequivocally the last topic I want to be writing an article about, but here I am. Acceptance is a real MOTHER!

Up, at the crack of dawn early on my second Saturday morning, to share a topic that’s one of my least favorite to talk about, let alone acknowledge and accept. I especially have a hard time sharing it with others.

My reason for sharing is because I don’t have the energy to explain some of my actions in recent months, and I feel I owe it to my friends, family, followers, and readers so they understand my actions better. I have had to back out of some things that I previously committed to. I have had to clear my plate of all items that are not 100% needed and necessary. I’ve had to walk away from communities, commitments, and even people to release some things from my life that we’re no longer adding to it the way I needed them to. The other part is me stepping out of denial that this is even a “thing” for me and stepping into the light that sharing this IS a real thing, and I hope a piece of my journey might help someone else.

A little back story:

In April of 2018, I started experiencing reoccurring signs of a heart rhythm upset, but I had no clue what I was dealing with, so I ignored these signs and continued my everyday life. Until eventually, it caught up with me. But that’s usually what happens when we ignore things. They always circle back around.

In May 2018, after a regular day at work, I visited an urgent treatment center when my workday ended for symptoms of chest heaviness, a racing heart, nausea, and fatigue; I was suddenly rushed to the emergency room by ambulance. My heart rate was stuck between 160BPM and 170BPM, and I was not running a marathon, hiking a trail, or walking fast. Instead, it was sitting still at work. This lasted for over an hour before I went to the urgent treatment.

The memories of that experience are vivid to me because it was the first time I had rode in an ambulance before. In transit to the ER, I remember the nurse giving me an IV and saying that I would feel weird, but he would have to provide me with some adenosine medicine in my IV to restart my heart.

Restart my heart?

WTF…

I remember things getting blurry, grey, and a hot flash came over my whole body. Finally, I faded out and back into consciousness only to hear him say, “It didn’t work I need to give you some more.” After another dose of adenosine, slowly, my heart rate finally started to come down. When I arrived at the ER, it was in the 130 BPM range.

The average BPM for healthy adults is 60-100BPM, and the normal resting for me is 80BPM. But, of course, if we’re exercising, running, walking, hiking, jogging, etc., it is higher, but average BPM starts to come down as you slow down activities or stop them.

As I arrived at the ER, they hook me up to more machines to monitor me, and they give me some medication to bring my heart rate down some more. Keep in mind, I’m a healthy person for the most part, so this was a significant shock to me to end up in the ER for heart-related issues. It would be helpful if I had my medical history from my maternal and paternal biological parents and families, but being adopted we don’t all get that luxury!

Eventually, the doctor comes in to explain that I have had an SVT episode. So, of course, my initial reaction is, “What is SVT?”

Supraventricular Tachycardia (SVT) is an abnormally fast or erratic heartbeat that affects the heart’s upper chambers. SVT occurs when the electrical signals that coordinate your heartbeats don’t work correctly. SVT occurs when faulty electrical connections in the heart set off a series of early beats in the atria. When this happens, the heart rate becomes so fast so quickly; the heart doesn’t have enough time to fill with blood before the chambers contract. As a result, you may feel light-headed or dizzy because your brain isn’t getting enough blood and oxygen. A normal heart rhythm is 60-100BPM. During an episode of SVT, your heart beats about 150 to 220 times per minute, but it can occasionally beat faster. Sometimes it can last a minute or two, and sometimes it can last hours, even days. Some people have no symptoms, and others have many. I have all the symptoms when an episode hits me, and they last between a few minutes and 6-8 hours. Sometimes I have to seek medical attention, and sometimes I have handled it on my own.

Signs and symptoms of supraventricular tachycardia may include:

  • Very fast (rapid) heartbeat
  • A fluttering or pounding in your chest (palpitations)
  • A pounding sensation in the neck
  • Weakness or feeling very tired (fatigue)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Fainting (syncope) or near fainting

I had a few choices that the doctor presented me with while in the ER in 2018.

  1. Do nothing and risk the possibility of more episodes, which could cause damage to my heart if left untreated.
  2. Take beta-blockers 2x a day for the rest of my life.
  3. Take beta-blockers as needed.
  4. Have a surgical procedure called a catheter ablation to correct the faulty wiring in my heart.

I thought long and hard about this, and I decided to take beta-blockers as needed if an episode arose. However, I’m not a pill person; actually, I’m not too fond of pills, so taking two medications a day for the rest of my life was something I wasn’t ready to commit to.

I was discharged with beta-blockers in hand.

Life went on its merry way – until it didn’t.

In June 2018, the middle of summer, I decided to hike with two other women to one of my favorite newfound gorges not far from my house. They knew this gorge well, and we had plans to show me around to become more familiar with this gorgeous area of Kentucky.

We met at the trailhead at 3:30P and off we went. This particular gorge, we had to hike approx a mile in a creek that took us to the top of a huge waterfall. Once we hit the waterfall, we adventured down a steep scramble to the bottom. Once we got to the bottom, we hung out a bit, and then we ventured up another steep scramble to see a bat cave on the other side of the mountain.

By the time I made it to the top, my heart rate was beating 210BPM. Then, I sat down and took a break for close to an hour, and my heart rate was still 210BPM.

I realized I forgot the medicine.

I was screwed.

The following six hours of my life is a time I will never forget. It took us over five hours to get out of the gorge it took us one hour to get into because I could barely breathe, walk, or talk with my heart beating so fast. I took five steps, sat down, almost passed out dozens of times. Then, finally, I would sit down again because I couldn’t go any further, and then I would get up enough energy to take a few more steps. Sweat dripping, and my chest was hurting. I was exhausted. 

H O U R S seemed like days.

I honestly thought I was going to die in that damn gorge. But the ladies I was with were so kind, patient, and understanding, and they were not leaving me behind. Of course, they had no clue what they were signing up for that day, but I will always be thankful for their presence. 

We finally made it out, my heart rate was still 210BPM, and I drove myself home. I should have gone to the ER, but I had to work the next day, and it was already dark by the time I made it home. I was so weak I couldn’t get upstairs to get the meds, so my son brought them to me. I was so tired; I couldn’t even tell him what had just happened. So I just sat there in the living room in the dark – hot, sweaty, and exhausted.

I took a beta-blocker, waited a few minutes, and crawled upstairs, barely making it into my bedroom. Somehow I got enough strength to get into the shower, almost passing out. I just wanted to rinse my body off so I could lay down and go to sleep. I knew once the pill started to work, my heart rate would come down eventually.

By the time I made it to my bed, I didn’t even have enough strength to put clothes on. I wrapped my towel around me, wet hair and all, and laid down. I couldn’t believe what I had just gone through. Little by little, the beta-blocker did its job, my heart rate finally lowered, and I eventually dozed off to sleep.

The next day I felt like I had run a 10K marathon. It took me days to recover and feel semi-back to normal. At this point, I decided I wanted to get the surgical procedure to fix this problem because I never wanted to go through this again.

E V E R

I reached out to my Electrotheseaologist and made an appointment to set up the surgery. I expressed how active I am, my recent upset in the gorge, how scary it was and how I never want to go through that again. He said many avid hikers like me choose to get the surgical procedure for the same reasons. So in July 2018, I was scheduled for a catheter ablation, which I was hopeful would fix this problem.

The surgery was a success, and I was discharged the same day and spent some time recovering. After that, the SVT episodes dissipated into nothingness, and I felt like I had my life back.

June & July 2020, things seem to shift a bit. I started showing signs of SVT again. I have also had symptoms resulting in getting up out of chairs, getting out of my car, and bending over.

Sometimes I would be awakened in the night with my heart racing 130-140BPM. Sometimes I would be sitting at work or home doing nothing activity-wise, and it would go up and come back down on its own after some time. I ended up going back to the Cardiologist in August 2020. I was sent home with a new monitor, but after a week of wearing it, I decided I didn’t want to be bothered with anything heart-related. Maybe if I just pretended like it didn’t exist, it would go away?

I just wanted it to go away.

Life went on, and some symptoms would come and go over the next year. I took note, but basically, I ignored them as they were minor compared to the episode in the gorge. I have been hiking on trails that are various levels of difficulty in that time.  I have seemed to do okay since the catheter ablation. I have been hiking a lot in that time, and I have never stopped.

July 2021, I had a significant episode come on me while I was at work, sitting still doing nothing active. I noticed my resting heart rate was 120-130BPM which a standard resting heart rate for me is 80BPM. This episode lasted off and on for 10-12 hours. I ended up taking a beta-blocker I had on hand to bring it down because I was hiking the next day, and I wanted to enjoy my hike and forget I was having this issue.

It’s always in the back of my mind, but again I just wanted it to go away.

Around this time, I decided that I need to start putting my health in my own hands, which goes for physical, emotional, and mental. If I got honest with myself, my plate was overflowing in all areas of my life. Some of the triggers for SVT are doing nothing. However, some are anxiety and stress, as well as many other things. Doing my part, I started to slowly clear my plate of all items that aren’t 100% necessary in my life for my health. All extra commitments and responsibilities had to go. One by one, over the last few months, I have been clearing my plate. I can no longer participate in anything that is emotionally or mentally upsetting or draining. I’ve had to make some significant changes, and some of them have been heartbreaking, but I know I have to do what I have to do for my overall health and, in return, happiness. I’ve been setting major boundaries for myself. This has been life or death for me, because at 47 years young, heart problems are the last thing I want to be dealing with. But here I am, dealing with heart problems. If I haven’t mentioned this to you before, sorry. I don’t like talking about health issues, and keeping it private has aided me in staying in denial.

Today is a new day.

It’s only apparent that I have to make some changes for myself.

Things have begun to shift in my personal and professional life, and I had to evaluate the things that mean the most to me and let go of things that aren’t a priority in my life or they might have been a priority, but not good for my emotional and mental wellbeing. So there has been a lot of getting alone with myself and soul searching, thinking about the life I want to live and the future I want to have for myself.

August 20, 2021 – I flew to Salt Lake City to spend my post-birthday weekend with my best friend. We decided on Saturday, August 20, we would hike a canyon to Fifth Water Hot Springs. We had never been too hot springs before. This was a gorgeous hike, approx—five miles in and out. The incline was pretty significant the whole way in, but making our way to the hot springs was so worth it.

We decided to spend about an hour basking in the hot springs before we make the trip to the bottom of the trail. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, especially with my best friend. The ambiance was out of this world. We got out of the hot springs to gather our things, and I noticed I felt light-headed, dizzy, and totally off balance.

This is so not like me.

I sat down to get myself together, but I still felt sick. I decided to look at my heart rate as I felt it beating out of my chest. It was between 150-160BPM. I waited for it to come down, and it didn’t come down. We were sitting still in the hot springs, and even after resting out of the water for 30-45 minutes, it was still stuck between 150-160BPM.

Here we go again.

We waited longer, but it showed no lowering signs, so I decided to get up and keep it moving. At least we were going down an incline (instead of an elevated slope) going out, which would be easier for me. So we made it out, taking many breaks, and 1.5-2 hours later, my heart rate slowly started to come down on its own after about 3 hours at 150-160BPM. This episode was similar to the episode where I was stuck in the gorge, and if I was coming out up any incline like I was at the gorge in 2018, I’m pretty sure it would have been even harder on me. Don’t get it twisted. I love a challenging hike, steep scrambles, and I consider the difficult hikes something I enjoy to the fullest!

By the time we made it back to my friend’s house, I was exhausted because when my heart beats that fast non-stop, it does a number on me. I was feeling the impacts of this episode for the next 4-5 days, maybe even longer.  I realized I hiked a strenuous hike, around 5 miles, my heart rate was stuck for several hours, and I traveled by airplane. When I returned home, I was dead to the world.

I made it to work last week, but I was only showing up in a half-ass way most days. I could barely complete my routine tasks, and after work, I was home in bed. I had no energy, and I did not feel well. Finally, by Thursday and Friday, I started to feel semi back to normal. Tuesday, I made it into the heart and valve clinic, and after discussing this episode with my Cardiologist, it’s evident that the SVT is returning. I was told when I had the ablation that there is a possibility that the SVT could come back for a variety of reasons. I was also told other issues could come about after the ablation. I knew it was a possibility, but I didn’t want to believe it would happen to me.

So now what?

I sat in the Cardiologist’s office and failed miserably at holding back tears. Snot slanging, and my emotions overwhelmed me. I expressed my feelings of forcing myself to step out of denial that this is even a thing for me, and my hope of the problem being solved was shattered. I mentioned hiking, especially alone, is the number one thing I love doing in my life, and I didn’t want to be scared to hike alone or give such a precious thing up. So I told him I refused to give it up.

If I get one thing from both my birth parents, it’s stubbornness. I’m not a quitter, and I’m not going to let this heart issue stop me from doing the main thing I love to do. But, I won’t lie, this has been a difficult transition to step into.

The Cardiologist convinced me I needed to wear another monitor to catch an episode in action hopefully. He also ordered several tests to make sure its nothing else going on.

The thing with SVT is that everyone has different experiences with it, and it usually isn’t life-threatening. However, it depends on an individual’s lifestyle and the frequency and duration of the episodes on how it impacts each of us. Especially when I have the episodes hiking, it affects me significantly; it’s impacting my quality of life.

I have a few choices to make. I can let this paralyze me into stopping doing the things I love, or I can push through it and try to step out of denial that it’s even a thing so I can step into a space of truth that if I want to keep doing the things I love, I need to make some changes.

If anyone knows me, I will never stop hiking and chasing waterfalls as long as my body will allow me to go and run wild in nature! This is one of the things I live for. So I have chosen to push through and continue to hike. However, I am working on preparing myself; if things go wrong, what will I do?

I have invested in a new Apple iwatch six series that has some benefits for someone in my situation. They can now check your heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and they can monitor an ECG.  I will need to invest in a GPS (they are expensive!) device that will work when I lose a cell signal and almost always lose a cell signal hiking. I will have to let someone know where I’m going at all times and carry the medication with me if I should be triggered into an episode. I will have to talk to my close friends and family about what to do when I have an episode, and I will continue to research natural ways I can help myself when episodes should arise.

I’ve learned about the Modified Valsalva Maneuver, which helps reset someone’s heart when having an SVT episode. It seems pretty dramatic watching it; however, it looks like it does the job effectively!

One of the most important things I can do for myself is to walkway from the things that have been causing my plate to overflow along with anything that causes consistent stress or anxiety. I can control this, and I have been working on backing out of things and clearing my plate for a few months. I can honestly say it’s been exceptionally freeing to get to this space, but denial can keep us stuck and, in return, sick.

I am determined to kick SVT’s ASS around the world and back again. It will not paralyze me, and it will not control my life. It might slow me down sometimes; however, listening to my body is so much easier with less shit on my plate to tend to.

I’ve spent the last few weeks stepping into a space of acceptance that even with another catheter ablation, this might be something I deal with moving forward. This is important to me and could save my life at some point. However, acceptance hasn’t come without many tears because I don’t want to deal with this at the end of the day.

I’m reminding myself this is similar to when Covid hit us all, and we suddenly had to make some choices on what was the most important to us regarding our time and presence. So we cut back on many things to stay safe and keep others safe in return.

For me, this is my health and my life, so making these choices to step into a lighter role with less stress and anxiety will allow me to step into a space with more love, more laughter, and more quality time with those I love. Because of that, I am thankful.

One last thing I would love to share is that when someone is going through heart issues or any issues, it’s never okay to place a burden on that person as if they have done something or things to create this situation. We all live with stress and some levels of anxiety in life; however, it’s up to each of us to prune our lives to get to a place of peace and joy. Sometimes people are stuck; however, it’s not helpful to say things like “You need to calm down, and not be so stressed all the time” or “You are bringing this on yourself, don’t you think you need to let go of some things and your health might get better?”

It’s hurtful and can keep someone isolated from sharing important health information with those close to. I have gotten this stance several times over the last few years, so I just stopped communicating about this topic. Even when I had a legitimate heart condition, followed by a surgical procedure, it was nothing I could control, people have said these things to me.

Stress, anxiety and such can trigger our hearts to react a certain way, but it’s up to each of us to eliminate as much stress and anxiety as possible. Not those we love placing a burden on us that we are causing these problems; therefore, it’s our fault for the health condition. This is not helpful.

I’m not sharing all this to look for sympathy or prayers. I don’t need pity at all; however, if you are someone close to me and I have backed out of an event, or a relationship, commitment, tasks,  etc., this is likely the cause. Changes have had to happen, and in return, it’s opened my life up to a new path of freedom, even learning to live, love, and hike with SVT. It’s been emotional for me, but I have arrived at the place of acceptance. If you are a close friend of mine, I don’t need anything from you aside from a listening heart and understanding because if we are ever together and this happens, I would love for you to be prepared to handle the situation.

Stay tuned for a fabulous article on how I celebrated my 47th Birthday along side my 9 year sobriety birthday! I was surrounded by those who mean the most to me, my kids!

Are you an active hiker with SVT? I would love to hear others experiences.

Thanks for reading.

Love, Love

My Adoptee Awakening and Cutting Through Spiritual Shortcuts

Disclosure Statement: If you are someone who considers yourself a Christian, Jesus Follower, Church Goer, Religious Guru, Or if you believe your way of spirituality is the only way, I am asking you to save your comments, judgments, and opinions and share them on other platforms as there are many churches, online platforms and religious circles that would love to use the glory in your story to promote their church and religion. Please don’t come here to use your story to discredit mine. This page and article isn’t for you. We are all free to have our personal spiritual beliefs and journeys. My space’s boundary is not allowing others to use their personal stories to belittle mine.

Chapter 6.

“Spiritual bypassing frequently presents itself as an opportunity to fast-track spiritual progress, a shortcut through delusion to enlightenment. The real delusion here, of course, is the very idea that one can actually cut corners in spiritual practice. All of our attempts to dodge the messy world or difficult relationships, unpleasant emotions, and whatever else we would rather avoid only sidetrack and obstruct us, eventually generating enough suffering to draw us back to the steps we skipped or only partially took — of honoring, digesting, embodying, and integrating the essential lessons in our lives.” – Spiritual Bypassing, When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters. Page 37.

In the recovery world, in my world, this concept of Spiritual Bypassing actually set me up for a false reality that I was healed and that I had done the work to get to authentic happiness and wholeness. Don’t get me wrong, I did the work, but it was fast-tracked as if I was running out of time.

Part of my reality was, I never accepted my adoptee truth in a way that allowed me the space to sit with the feelings as I was groomed to bypass them from my early childhood. I never learned it was legitimately okay to be sad about being adopted and that my sadness could last an entire lifetime. I never understood that the grief and loss process is something I would be navigating from the moment of being born by being separated from my biological mother and processing relinquishment trauma for the rest of my life.

Instead, I learned to be hyper-focused in my adult years on being healed because of the spiritual teachings I learned, which stalled my healing and disrupted it. I was set up for a downfall I had no idea how to process. I was made to feel disgraceful and not good enough all the way back to the spiritual concept of being born a sinner. Expectations to be thankful weighed me down for as long as I can remember. My adoptive moms’ feelings of happiness were always highlighted and celebrated, while her happiness was at the expense of the most significant loss of my life, my biological mother.

 As a child, teen and adult, I was still feeling anything but pleasant and happy thoughts about being adopted, which caused more damage. I was told my feelings were a choice, and it was my choice to hang onto them or “let them go and give them to God.” I was also told that God was in control, and being adopted was all a part of God’s plan for my life. Gaslighting at its finest.

If I was still feeling pain from adoption, it was clear I was doing the praying, fasting, and serving all wrong. My heart must not be pure enough; I must be sinning too much. Maybe I wasn’t grateful enough?

Relinquishment Trauma isn’t something you can just let go nor is adoption trauma. Trauma can and will impact us for life unless we seek professional guidance and therapy to work on these root issues. No amount of praying has helped erase the trauma, as it always finds a way to circle back around. It’s no wonder, so many in spiritual settings and religious circles are walking around on the pink cloud, yet they are walking dead men and women deep down. That was me for so many years.

I will never forget the beginning of my recovery journey back in 2012; a woman in my step study said sarcastically, “Must be nice, Pamela, to be so high up on that pink cloud!” and I had no clue what she was talking about.

What is the Pink Cloud?

“A life of addiction causes so much pain, hurt, and grief, so sometimes it’s assumed that in recovery, everything will be different. While life in recovery is much more rewarding, it’s not always flowers and sunshine. In early recovery, people often experience a mixture of highs and lows as they gradually adjust to living a life without the influence of drugs or alcohol. Sometimes though, they may experience a short period of elation and euphoria known as the pink cloud.” Eudaimonia Homes

I can relate to this now, but I was taken back by it then. I can no appreciate the fact that I was sitting on my pink cloud, but my activities in the church and with Christianity helped escalate me to my pink cloud. I like to think of the pink cloud as similar to my experience with spiritual bypassing and how these two concepts can be intertwined. The truth is, the whole time I was in the religious and spiritual settings, I was spiritually bypassing all the hard things I had run from processing my entire life. I might have skimmed over a few topics regarding my birth parents and adoptive parents, but I didn’t sit in it or sit with it, but it was always there. They don’t talk about trauma in church, but they love, support, and promote adoption, which is the root of my trauma.

Outside of church, I was a big part of Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered recovery ministry for 4+ years, and I began talking about my adoption/adoptee in the recovery journey there.

Before this, I attended AA for a few months, and it was apparent to me that it wasn’t somewhere I was welcome to share my grief, loss, and trauma from adoption. That’s a whole separate article in itself. While most people were talking about what took them to the rooms of AA, I was focused on what caused me to drink for 27 years.

What was the root of my issues?

Although I believe they are fantastic resources for many, It was clear to me I didn’t belong in these rooms or spaces. At AA, sharing tears and sadness about the loss of my birth mother, siblings, history, family knowledge would easily be laughed at if I was brave enough to share. So occasionally, I shared at Celebrate Recovery but never in AA.  The story they wanted to hear at Celebrate Recovery was the story of how “I Gave it all to God, and he healed me!”

I won’t deny, I wanted to believe I had given it all to God, and I tried. I also tried to forget about my pain and that it even existed. It was hard to pretend all the time, but adoptees are the kings and queens of pretending anyway! This created an extra layer of who I was presenting myself to be, but I was not healed deep down. From an early age, I learned to live with a broken heart and how to put on a front for the world. It’s no wonder I fit right into the church and Christian circles. I was an imposter from day one.

One of my many dangerous and traumatic experiences with God, religion, church, and the bible is that I was groomed and conditioned to NOT tune into my feelings because they are evil, immoral, and corrupt. I was lead to believe I should not listen to them or put action behind them as they can’t be trusted. In other words, I should never trust myself and my feelings were sketchy at best. The level of damage this has caused is something I can’t put into words. The spiritual practices of fasting, serving, praying were all pacifiers to keep me busy, floating around on the pink cloud pretending I was whole inside.

I found an interesting article – Feelings Are Not Facts,

“Are Feelings Reliable?

I don’t believe God intended for our feelings to guide us. He wants that job. God wants to be our guide. Our feelings should not be what drives our decisions but rather an indicator of what’s going on inside us.  We must put our trust in what God says and check our feelings at the door with the Word of God. Living by faith means allowing God to be our guide and not our emotions.” – by Starla Hill

This toxic and disgusting article is precisely what I mean when I say we are wholeheartedly conditioned not to trust ourselves but put our trust in God and God alone. Little girls are growing up learning this turn into young ladies and women with a deep entrusting feeling not to trust themselves or how they feel. Even boys, growing up to be young men and men, are damaging on every level. So how am I supposed to believe in the bible when so much of it is oppressive? It’s simple; I have no argument for your scriptures because I no longer believe in them. I can’t believe in something I know to be harmful. See, it’s much more than my bad church experience.

Being adopted, the layers of being taught not to trust our feelings and intuition combined with being told how to feel about our adoption experience and our feelings are always the back seat to others in our lives, specifically our adoptive parents. We’re entirely silenced for many of us, and it’s no wonder so many adoptees have deep-rooted issues, rightfully so. As if relinquishment trauma isn’t enough, we’re placed in the middle of a complete mental mind fu*k left to navigate it all alone.

I have witnessed Adoption, Religion, Christianity, Church & Institutions set up to separate, divide and destroy people, and they are destructive in more than one way. So, no, I didn’t just have a bad church and adoption experience! I will be writing about that soon!

“We are all in such a hurry to get it, whatever it may be. Greed for speed – fast food, fast money, fast relationships, fast spirituality. Drive-through divinity with organic fries and easy-to-swallow highs. Who wants to spend years doing spiritual practices when the same results can apparently be gained – given a sufficiently open mind and a wallet – in just a weekend! We may even be told that the only thing that could prevent us from seeing the desired results from such a weekend is OUR LACK OF BELIEF IN THE PROCESS. And so the shearing of the sheep goes on. Business as usual.” – Page 41. Spiritual Bypassing.

One of the many dynamics of Christianity’s damage that I have experienced is shaming that we are guilty of not believing enough or being good enough. But, unfortunately, this is usually used in the context of us not receiving the healing or wholeness we desire.

Many years ago, I asked some church friends to come to pray for a terminally ill friend with Cancer just a few weeks before she died. It was the end of her life, yet she prayed to be healed and wanted to live to be with her three children. As they prayed for her to be healed, even with cancer-consuming her body, organs shutting down, etc. when they left her house and walked to the car, they whispered, “Wow, she must have been harboring anger, resentments, and unforgiveness for God not to give her the healing she wanted.”  

This is one of the many examples of my experience with my journey in Christian circles that I am ashamed of to the fiber of my being. I remember being so confused by this and not understanding it at all. So God didn’t heal her because she was “bad?” What if she didn’t have the tools to work on her anger, resentments, or unforgiveness? What if she tried to work on them, but she wasn’t where she needed to be yet? This is why she didn’t receive her healing?

This was one of the many deciding factors of me leaving the fold and no longer co-signing in favor of this Christian God everyone spoke so highly of. One example of many I have had that didn’t sit well with my spirit and intuition now that I had walked away and could FEEL MY FEELINGS and acknowledge them.

Equally intertwined into the fiber of my being adoption and relinquishment trauma combined with religious trauma from Christianity, it’s a miracle I’m here to share my story. I see many parallels to conditioning beliefs from very early ages and being told how to feel. Christianity was introduced to me at no choice of my own, and being adopted was a considerable part of my life that was made at no choice of my own.

Of all the years of my life, I spent trying to stay alive, trying to figure this mess out. Finally, in 2012, I found myself in secular recovery programs dedicated to the church, God. After spending several years in these environments, my healing started to happen when I walked away from all of these systems, institutions, and what I was told to believe.

Straight out the door…

My healing started to happen when I looked deep within myself and started to believe in myself like I believe in God, people, places, and things outside of myself. (church, biological family, adoptive family, etc.) It began to happen when I learned to listen to my body and respond to my feelings. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen overnight when we spend most of our lives being told not to trust ourselves and our feelings don’t matter. It’s a slow and organically moving process. No one told me how to do this, and without God on my side, as I had always believed in my past, I went through a grueling process of no longer believing in this higher power but finding the glimmer of hope I needed to believe in myself. It was scary when I was told not to believe in myself and sacrifice myself for God and my adoptive parent’s happiness. It’s like everyone was happy but me.

But once again, I felt like I was alone on an island, but adoption prepped me for this. I already felt this way, but it was scary for me, and I had to process grief and loss all over again. I lost the church and church family I had spent years investing in and pouring into literally at the flip of a switch. It was a new chapter and a new door, and a harrowing one. I put up walls and swore to myself I would never allow so many people to get close to me again for fear of losing them all over again. And I haven’t, and I won’t. I’m very cautious of who I let in my space, and not many make the cut.  

I walked away from the church in 2015, thinking I would find God outside the church more than inside. I did to some extent, but that was an awakening process as well. To walk away from the church and God all at the same time is a terrifying thought. It’s taken me 6.5 years to find my voice and to have enough courage to share my life experiences with Christianity. While I began sharing my adoptee experiences and feelings in 2010, it took me 35 years to get to that point.

More healing started when I began sharing my feelings about these experiences OUTLOUD and writing about my adoption journey without apologizing for how I felt. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do this while I was in religious and spiritual settings (church) because of the happy and positive mindset believers are supposed to have. I also couldn’t share my adoptee feelings until I was estranged from most of my adoptive family. So it’s been a hell of a painful journey to be here to share my story.  

I had to get ALONE with MYSELF for this spiritual awakening process to begin, and while years have passed, I’m still evolving and discovering who I am and who I’m not every single day. For me, one of the keys was finding my biological family, and although what I found (rejected by both parents) was heartbreak on top of heartbreak, at least I know my truth. Adoptees need to see it for themselves instead of everyone else telling us or secrets and lies standing in the way.

I’ve been on a spiritual awakening, deconditioning, and deconstructing journey for over six years now when it comes to Christianity. I have been coming out of the fog with my adoption journey since 2005. I entered the recovery realm in 2012 into a new path, living life alcohol-free. I have walked away from everything I have always known on three different occasions to find who I am, so I could be a better version of myself – the one I lost when I was surrendered for adoption. I might as well have been stripped butt naked on a mountain all alone because that’s how it’s felt coming to terms with the realities of all of these areas of my life.

Finally, I’ve been able to look myself in the mirror and shed off all the old things that I carried I no longer wanted to carry. But the depts of everything I have had to lose to get here is something I can’t even begin to put into words. I feel like I’ve lost everything over and over again, but today I am humbly reminded that at least I have myself. I promised myself that no matter what happens in life, I will be true to myself even when my feelings don’t line up with the popular narrative.

There is a lot to be said about being true to oneself. But, unfortunately, many people spend their entire lifetimes fitting in the mold, not wanting to ruffle any feathers, just going with the flow, swimming to their graves.

Not me.

At the end of the day, as lonely as I feel and as painful as it’s been to get here, feeling like I’ve lost everything three times over, at least I am honoring myself and being true to myself in the process. I’m not giving all the glory to an invisible being who has allowed me to be in pain and suffering all my life since birth. Instead, I’m patting myself on the back for finding the glimmer of strength needed to get up every day and try to find happiness amid a lifetime of pain. I’m cheering myself on when I feel like giving up. Finally, I’m getting up enough strength to share the painful pieces of my journey in hopes of reaching other deconstructing adoptees so they don’t feel as isolated and alone as I have.

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading. I am thankful for my followers and hope to gain support from those who have different beliefs and views from me; however, I am prepared to lose some. But, when I’ve already lost everything four times over, I’m used to it. Being born and relinquished, I didn’t have a choice. I have chosen all the others, but it was to honor myself and be true to myself.

Four times in 46 years, I have lost it all.  

1.   Being born & relinquished on August 13, 1974 – the original root issue of relinquishment trauma.

2.   Coming out of the fog about adoption, moving across the country, legally changing my name, starting my life over in 2005

3.   Starting my Adoptee in Recovery Journey August 13, 2012 (Alcohol-Free after 27 years of dependence)

4.   Deconstruction, walking away from the church, religion, & spiritual conditioning. 2015.

I have lost a lot, but I have my true authentic self, and for me, that’s everything.

For my fellow adoptees, have you ever had to walk away from everything in order to find yourself? What was that experience like for you? For those who consider themselves deconstructing, can you relate to any of what I have shared here?

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

Disseminating my Deconstruction with Religion, Christianity, Church and Adoption

I’ve recently come to a empowering place in my recovery journey where I’m starting to share my deconstruction experiences with Christianity, Church, Religion and Adoption. They are so similar in so many ways. I’m writing as a healing tool for myself, but for others who might be on a similar path so they know they aren’t alone.

Below are a few posts that I’ve recently shared on my Facebook page – Pamela Karanova

Trust me when I tell you, this is only the beginning.


June 16, 2021 Hello Friends, It’s been awhile since I put any personal thoughts and feelings into this page. However, I’m back and ready to roar! I have a lot to share as I’m continuing to evolve, grow and reach destinations in my personal journey I never thought I would reach. Some of the experiences, views and opinions I carry are quite controversial to most. But here, I’m going to try to share them not only to free myself, but to hopefully be a light to other adoptees who might feel similar ways.

While we live in a society that celebrates adoption, do they realize they are celebrating mother’s and babies being separated?

Do they understand when they support adoption, they are supporting secrecy, lies and half truths?

Do they understand that adoptees are dying every day not knowing their truth?

Do other adoptees feel that coming out of the fog about religion is parallel to coming out of the fog about adoption? If so, have you been lonely in this journey? I see you, because I have felt this way too…

In adoption and religion, I see so much damage being done to innocent people, including myself & my family. I can not stay quiet.

While adoptions continue to happen, adoptees are stepping up to share insights on how this has impacted us, and also share areas we feel need highlighted and improved, sometimes even abolished.

As I share my story of coming to terms with the parallels of coming out of the fog about adoption and religion, I will focus on the purpose of healing and allowing others to know they aren’t alone if they might be going through similar experiences.

It’s been a long and lonely journey to get to this space, but I have arrived.

Thank you for following along, and embracing me as I share my journey with the world. – P.K.

June 16. 2021 For me, coming out of the fog about religion has been comparable to coming out of the fog about adoption. It’s been a long and lonely journey for me, but I have arrived at a space of freedom and strength where I am pushing myself to share my story. I am continuously taken back on how similar my experience has been coming out of the fog with adoption, as it’s been coming out of the fog about religion.

It’s eerily similar!

Just like adoption, I can no longer sit in silence as I continue to experience the unjust practices of religious beliefs, Christianity, Church (or adoption/relinquishment trauma), and how they damage, hurt and impact people I know and love and myself… & even people I don’t know and love.

My moral compass will no longer allow me to stay silent, especially when so many people are in agony and pain over these religious beliefs, practices, and circles. Let me point out adoption and relinquishment trauma have a million of the same parallels.

I’m calling out the contradictions, inconsistencies, and appalling discoveries I have made, and I am not backing down or hiding or censoring my feelings! Much of what I share will likely cause some buttons to be pushed, however it doesn’t change my truth (experiences) and how I feel about these topics. – P. Karanova

June 18, 2021 This is my brain when I try to process religious, adoption and relinquishment trauma.

A big majority of it is fear based, and more is trauma based. For the last 10+ years I’ve been on a journey of healing, evolving and self discovery. The larger part of this time I’ve been raising my kids to adulthood as a single parent.

Life has been busy… and hard.

When I think of all the dynamics of my deconstruction journey, and coming out of the fog about adoption and relinquishment trauma and even embracing a new recovery journey living alcohol free after 27 years of dependence, my brain goes into instant overload.

I’ve been trying to process it all as they have happened at separate stages of my life. But when I try to compare them or put the experiences together it’s almost like my brain shuts down. That’s the trauma.

It’s obvious it’s too much.

But I’m still going to try to try to do my best to push forward and share these layers of my experiences in hopes to not only help myself heal, but others who might be suffering alone. I would like to ask for understanding while I share. My words my be off, I might not share in the right order, and sometimes what I share won’t make sense to you.

Lastly, when someone is sharing areas that they feel have been traumatic for them, they don’t need you to swoop in and protest by standing up for the exact thing that has traumatized them. Please STOP before you even start and think before you comment.

Would you tell someone sharing about their heartbreaking divorce how wonderful your marriage is?

Would you tell someone who just lost their child to a horrible illness that your child survived that illness and is thriving well and that wasn’t your experience?

No, no you wouldn’t so don’t please don’t do it to me. It’s not helpful even if you don’t agree with me, and have a different experience I ask you to keep it moving! I appreciate it in advance.

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