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

Leaving the Church, Quitting the Search

img_1536Finding time to write in my own blog has been nonexistent lately. WHY? Because I’m putting everyone and everything in my life ahead of myself. Writing has always been EXTREMELY therapeutic for me for so many reasons. You can see my blog goes all the way back to 2012 and I’ve been consistent until the last year or so.

I’ve decided for my own piece of mind, sanity, recovery, and self-care I need to keep writing in my blog! Writing is part of my recovery from life! Sometimes I might need to put it ahead of other things going on in my life. I really have allowed myself the grace and space to be okay with that. Hopefully everyone else will too.

This is something I’ve wanted to write about for a few years now. My family and I left the church a few years ago, and I have yet to share my experiences like I want too because anytime I mention anything about THE CHURCH, I have people come out of the wood works trying to silence me. This has only given me the opportunity to take a few steps back and gear myself up for sharing my truth as I see it here in my blog. I have so many thoughts and feelings and emotions about it that my mind is literally all over the place a lot of the time.

I’m so thankful for the very few close friends I have who don’t judge me, they don’t try to silence me, they just listen and hear me out. They have literally been my saving graces during this season of my life.  Thank you to each of you! You know who you are.

In this article I really want to touch base on the fact that I realize there are many wonderful and positive things that came from our previous church experience. You would expect this, because a church is supposed to the hospital for the hurting. I also want to share some things that have been very positive and exciting after leaving.  The church we belonged too was a place to belong, become, believe and build. Our family finally felt like we found our way home. We spent 4 years of attending, serving, leading, mentoring, dedicated wholeheartedly to this church. We put it above everything in our lives. Sometimes we would be at the church 4-5 times a week. WE WERE DEDICATED.

Being an adult adoptee, I’ve always felt like I was somewhere in the middle between 2 families. Abandoned and rejected by my biological parents, accepted by my adoptive parents, but I never was exactly what they had wished for when they adopted a child. I always felt like many adoptees feel. Like an outsider looking in, somewhere between lost and found trying to find my way in this world, feeling alone most of the time.

When we walked through the doors of this church, this changed. We were filled with this euphoric feeling being around a building of people who all seemed happy, fun, positive and wonderful to be around. Of course, there will always be those who you don’t jive with, which is to be expected. We started attending in February 2012 and after a few months of attending our lives were centered around church activities and commitments in serving in different ministries. At one period I was serving in 4 areas at one time.

August 13, 2012 was the day I had the last drink of alcohol. I’ve been living in sobriety ever since. I started Celebrate Recovery which is a Christ Centered recovery ministry which was one of the ministries at this church. Everything fell into place, so it seemed.

I found a new love for worshiping and from this moment forward, I became a worshiper at heart. My kids did as well. I had twins that were starting high school, and my oldest daughter was starting college. I loved hearing the word, and our pastor was on point! My kids became full time students in the youth ministry, and they were even serving in many areas themselves. We built relationships with countless amounts of people, served our hearts away, spent hundreds of hours dedicating our time to church activities, and for 4 years THIS WAS OUR LIFE.

When we walked out the doors as a family, it was around the time Donald Trump was elected. I know this was the same story-line for many people at many churches across the nation. My kids and I held on tight with one another and I knew that God was escorting us out the doors, not for one reason but for many.

Once again, I was back in the place where I was 4 years earlier. This “church family” I once clung so tight too, was no longer existent. Just like my biological family, and my adoptive families. I was on my own with my kids, and I knew it. I unfriended all the “church acquaintances” from my social media because I didn’t need the painful reminders of what we once had. I decided I no longer wanted relationships in my life that were conditional and dependent on if we went to the same spiritual place of worship.  This was okay with me because I prayed and asked God, if he intended for any of those people to TRULY be a part of my life, that he circle them back around organically and then I would know they were more than seasonal friends.

For the last 2.5 years my children and I have been in religious recovery from many aspects of our church experience. Religious trauma syndrome is a real thing! Spiritual Abuse is REAL!  Spiritual Bypassing is DAMAGING and happens in a lot of religious settings. It’s been an eye awakening experience to leave the church, and not only come out of the fog about adoption, but the church and religion as well. It’s left me with so many feelings and emotions I need to share. Just like adoption I’ve learned about 99% of the time if I share my feelings about church in a public setting, social media, etc. the norm is for others to want to silence me. They really don’t truly want to listen to what I have to say. This has left me extremely discouraged and aggravated on many levels.  Like any wound, if it’s not tended to it will manifest in many other ways in one’s life. For me, ANGER has permeated in many ways because of the lack of resources available for those who leave the church HURT. My anger has subsided, and I’ve prayed for grace so I’m able to share my views from a more compassionate space. It’s been 2.5 years of leaving, and it’s taken this long where I feel like I can write about it. Just like the lack of resources for adult adoptees to be able to process pain, the church hurt has only compacted due to no resources to help someone navigate what life looks like outside the church. Anger is a natural response to an experience like this. I know I’m not the first nor the last person to leave the church hurt. You might be asking, “What is the big fuss about?”.

I’m going to spend the next few months sharing my views on what my big fuss is all about. My experience is valid, and so are the experiences of my children. My views about Christianity, Church & Religion are also very valid. I’m going to spend some time interviewing them, asking them some questions as well as sharing some insight of my own. My overall goal is to heal through writing since it’s almost impossible I find the space in this world to share my feelings without others interrupting me. This is truly one of my favorite parts about writing. You can read, or not read what I have written, but no one will interrupt me.

I will add I’m no spiritual guru who claims to know the bible from front to back. I know some scriptures, I have read some of the bible and I’ve learned a lot from it. But I’m no longer speaking Christianese and I’m no longer interested in silencing people with the word of God. I’m not trying to control situations by manipulating people because I’m right and they are wrong based on what the bible says. Sadly, while I was in the church, I learned this to be a piece of the way of life. Even if they never intended for it to be this way, It was what we were taught. Here in this blog, I will be as transparent as possible, speaking from my heart as to what has impacted me in positive and negative ways, based on my experiences. I’m never going to say I’m right and they are wrong. All experiences are valid.

For privacy reasons, I won’t put the name of the church I attended, nor the names of those who we’re involved in the reasons we walked away. They already know who they are, and those close to me know who they are. My goal is not to cause them any harm, but to share my truth as I see it and to hopefully reach someone out there who’s left their church and religion and they find themselves in a dark place, confused and alone. That was once me.

I’m VERY disgruntled about how damaging the church and even Christianity has become, and at the end of the day I want to share WHY I FEEL THIS WAY. If you come across my blog, and you can’t relate to what I’m sharing here please understand that’s totally okay. I’m not sharing my views to try to convince others how to feel or what to believe. That’s the last thing I want to do. But what I am doing is digging deep down in my spirit and sharing legitimate situations, and things that do not sit well with my spirit. I don’t feel that keeping quiet about these things is helping anyone, especially myself. It’s only hurting me, and just like my adoption journey, I have a story to tell. Freedom and healing begins to happen the moment we feel heard and validated.

I know for certain there are people out there who will be able to relate to what I’m going to share. There are people who have left the church who feel isolated and alone. There are others who are trying to figure out what’s next after leaving the church. I’m sharing and writing for those people, the ones on the outside of the church.

As I begin to share about this very personal part of my life, and my family’s life, I ask you remain neutral and try to understand that church doesn’t work for everyone. It doesn’t mean those on the outside of the church are less than, or “bad”. With my experience I’ve learned to have an entirely new perspective of those who don’t attend church, which is opposite of how I felt when I was inside the church. Sadly, I’m ashamed of some of my thinking and thought process during the time I was in the church. Those are other things I want to share here.

Please also take note, because of our church experience and leaving it’s opened our lives up to some amazing and wonderful things. I also want to be transparent on where this has taken us, because at the end of the day an awakening process has happened. We no longer see things like we used to see them when we were inside the church. We’ve learned to love more, accept people more, and find God and our happiness outside the 4 walls of the church. I can promise you, IT IS POSSIBLE! It doesn’t make me bad, or my family bad. It doesn’t mean we’ve backslidden. We aren’t less than because we are no longer washed up in religion.

Stay tuned for more articles and I take you on the journey as to why we left the church in November 2016 and why we’re stopping the search. The firsIMG_1553t article will be about the vulnerability of the people who walk through the doors of the church, people like me.  I want to share how the overwhelming “LOVE” we experienced by walking through the doors grabbed a hold of us and reeled us in. Only to find out this “LOVE” wasn’t real love after all. It was built on a false reality, based on the CONDITIONS that we attend this church. I want to share how this has impacted our family.

If you feel a strong urgency to let me know “Not all churches are the same” or “You need the community” I would like to ask you to reconsider. That’s not what I want to hear at this present time. It will not help me at all. I ask you open your heart to understand the possibilities that maybe others can find God MORE outside the church. Maybe it’s possible that church doesn’t work for everyone. I would love to have a chance to share what’s changed for me, and what’s helped me greatly since leaving the church!

If you subscribe to my blog, you will receive these articles as I share them. If you don’t, feel free to do so now. If you can relate to any of what I’ve shared so far, please feel free to leave me a message!

Thank you!

Much Love,

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