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

The Difference in Today, Feeling the Feels

I’ve come to a recent discovery after doing some self-reflection that I am someone that takes longer than your average person to process feelings, especially ones that are considered heavy or disheartening. I’m naturally a BIG feeler and a deep thinker.

While discovering this, it has been said that this is a “hang-up” or a “bad thing.” As I ask myself, “am I defective for taking so long to process things?” or “is something wrong with me for taking so long to process things?” I’ve been trying to process why I am this way, and I had an epiphany this morning.

I take longer than the average person to process things, because I’m feeling the feelings and processing them. I’m not side stepping or avoiding truly feeling and processing feelings. I’m doing the work, I’m evaluating my part, and caring enough about myself to not rush the process. This is self-care. This is self-love. This is putting myself first, and in return I can show up for others in a more grounded way. I spent 27 years drinking alcohol to numb my reality, to escape.

While running, I didn’t have to put in the work to feel the feelings and process the pain. I jumped from one shit storm to another for 27 years. I didn’t show up but a shell of me did. Avoidance worked until I decided I wanted to get real with myself, and all the problems I had been running from for 27+ years showed up at my front doorstep. I could only run for so long… 27 years is ALONG TIME!

The difference in today…

Today, I’m no longer running home to drink so I don’t have to feel. A shell of me is no longer showing up, but all of me is, along with my imperfections. As I approach a 9-year milestone in my recovery and alcohol-free journey (8/13/12) I am taking note of the way things are for me now, verses the way things used to be. I’m no longer depending on alcohol to take the pain away; I’m depending on myself to put in the work to do that.

This takes a while.

I’m not a robot.

While others might say this is a negative thing, or something they can’t live with or tolerate, I can say I’m proud of myself and how far I’ve come. It’s taken a lot of self-work, blood sweat and tears to learn how to process real and raw feelings after spending 27 years escaping them. No one has shown me how to do this, I have no mother, father, siblings, aunts, or uncles pouring into me. I have figured it out on my own.

Let me add, responding after a trauma response is triggered, is a whole new beast. Acknowledging the problem is half the battle. Admitting and committing to help is another piece of the battle. I’m a work in progress as we all are but I’m not sitting in denial. I have work to do.

It’s all a part of the growth process, I think. As we grow and move forward in life, we discover new things about ourselves. Some of them will make us pick our face up off the floor, and some we ease right on into depending on the circumstances. We’re all a work in progress, and we’ve all adapted to life’s circumstances using survival skills, some healthy and some unhealthy. It’s up to each of us to put in the time, work, and effort to figure out new ways to work things out, especially when the old ways don’t necessarily serve us a great purpose.

Sharing because if I’m ever late to the party, likely I’m over here processing and feeling the feels just so I can show up at all. But when I show up, I will show up with all of me. Not fragments or broken up pieces of me like I did for 27 years. I won’t show up avoiding my reality, masking my feelings with alcohol. I call it self-loyalty and being true to me. It’s not for everyone to accept and not everyone will understand this. That’s okay. I’ve accepted I’m not for everyone.

My main focus is on being true to me. Then, I can show up genuinely for others in a more well rounded way. Wherever you are in your healing and processing journey, be easy on yourself. You are right where you need to be. 💛

Pamela A. Karanova

R.I.P. RECOVERY

img_0181Never in a million years would I think I would be at a place where I would be writing about this topic, let alone feel like it is a piece of fabric intertwined into my journey.

So much has changed in my life in the last 6 months, like it has for most of us. For me, the good seems to outweigh the bad but that does not mean there was not a lot of pain to get here. I think if we are all honest Covid-19 has rocked our worlds to the core, followed by the racial injustices and racism we continue to see that is dominated the news and our worlds in the recent weeks. Let us be honest, it has always been there, we are just now seeing it at this magnitude.

I have been thinking recently about everything I have learned along my recovery journey all the way back to my childhood being in treatment at 15 years old. I have heard many times that once you consider yourself in recovery, you will always be in recovery. Like the saying, once an alcoholic always an alcoholic. I have heard that one too. I remember that one of the significant steps towards recovery was accepting that my recovery journey was a way of life, forever.

Ball and chain, ride or die recovery for life! 

One of the most wonderful things about growth is the ability to see ourselves differently from the person we used to be. For me, everything has changed in the last 8 years. On August 13, 2020 I will celebrate 8 years sobriety and let me tell you – It is a day I celebrate. It also happens to be my birthday. The day I came into this world and the same day I was separated form my birth mother forever, is the same day I celebrate my sobriety birthday. It might not be for the reasons you think, so let me share a little bit.

The last day I drank alcohol was the day I truly started living. That is when the shit got real, and adoptee issues smacked me straight in the face. They had always been with me, but alcohol numbed the pain at least temporarily. The last drink I ever had, was the end of the old me and I was welcomed by being an Adoptee in Recovery. It was a rebirth, a new life, and it has taken me 8 years of blood, sweat and tears to get to the space of arrival to where I am today. I could write for days at all the work I have put in to get here, but I don’t have time to write it and I’m sure you don’t have time to read it.

The reason I am celebrating that day is not because I was born that day. That is a very painful piece of my story, as it is for most adoptees. I gifted my kids a new mom that day, and I gifted myself a new life. That is why I celebrate that day. I also celebrate it as a reminder of all the heartache I had to go through to get to the place of sobriety for 8 years. I think I will always celebrate this day, and it means something different to me than almost everyone else. It is accomplishment, freedom, joy, and pain. I cried years of tears and sat with a lifetime of adoptee pain to finally get to a place where I can finally say “I’m Okay.”

That does not mean I do not have bad days or bad hours. It just means that I have accepted I am adopted and there is not anything I can do about it. I have accepted both my birth parents rejected me and my adoptive family was abusive and there is nothing I can do about it. I have walked through good days and bad days, and still process this pain daily. I have accepted that the pain is here to stay, and although it might get easier on occasion, I know it will always come back around because I will always be adopted. The layers of pain are just too great to disappear, so I have learned to welcome it and learn to sit with the pain.

Let me be clear, I will ALWAYS be recovering from the damage adoption has done! I will always share that damage, and my journey so other adoptees are inspired, and so they don’t feel alone. 

I’M NOT GOING ANYWHERE.  

I think recovery is something we move through. Some of us attach it to us for the rest of our lives, and some of us can move through it and let go of the label when and if the time is right. Whatever works for each of us individually is all that matters. It’s not a life sentence and I refuse to accept it is any longer.

img_0183

I no longer have a desire to drink, and quitting the alcohol was the easiest part for me. I have been asking myself lately why I must attach the label “RECOVERY” to my life forever? Because they said so? Those in the recovery realm have told me that is what I need to do to stay in sobriety? Yes, that is part of it. I have learned for years that the minute I no longer consider myself in recovery, is a pathway to relapse to my old life. This has truly been embedded into my mind and I have always been ride or die recovery because of it. The THOUGHT of removing that label has never entered my mind until now.

I learned in the recovery world, that working the 12 steps was an ongoing process. I remember working them back to back for years. One day it was like a light switch went off and I realized years had passed me by and I was on this merry-go-round ride going around and around on the recovery wagon nonstop. Countless time invested that I can never get back, however I would not change a thing. These experiences have brought me great understanding and wisdom not only about myself, but the world we live in.  In this flip I switched, I made more changes in my life. I withdrew from Celebrate Recovery to “find myself” outside of the rules and regulations of this ministry and recovery program.

Most of you reading understand my love for nature but I will be clear, I did not reconnect with this love until after I left the church and the recovery ministry all together. They were two things that sucked my time bone dry, and I did not have time to do anything else. Fast forward to now and it is 2020 and all I want to do in my spare time is escape to nature and I have found it to be the greatest aspect to my healing journey yet to date.

What if I have worked so hard and so long at recovery, that I really feel okay with my life now? What if I have pulled out all my root issues and worked on them for years and I have moved forward with my life? What if I am no longer stuck? What if I have decided I want to write my own pages of my story and I have finally decided I no longer want to refer to myself as being in recovery? What if I am comfortable with this?

What if the recovery world does not support me or if they judge me or tell me I am making a bad choice? What about Adoptees in Recovery? How will I identify myself moving forward? What will people think? Can I still share my recovery journey with others? Can I still celebrate my sobriety?

The moral of the story is, I genuinely do not care what anyone thinks. These fears have been on my mind off an on over the last few months, and I am finally ready to let them go while I make a public declaration that I am saying RIP to RECOVERY. Being an outsider looking in, although this is a piece of my story, I have noticed this label has hindered me in many areas of life.

I am determined to not let this change the fact that I am always growing and moving forward. I am always striving for greatness and continuing to improve my life in all areas, mind, body, and spirit. I truly feel all I am doing is dropping the label because I have put in all the work and effort that if I want to drop it, I can. I don’t like how this can be a life sentence. It’s up to us to write the pages of our story, not one is going to do it for us. No one has the right to try to confine us to commit to any label for the rest of our lives.

I want to just live my life.

I want to be happy and free from all the rules and regulations that go along with recovery and what that even looks like depending on what recovery program I am a part of. Yes, things still hurt sometimes, and they always will but I’m no longer interested in continuing with the ride or die, ball and chain link to the recovery world that I’ve invested so much time in for the last 8 years. Recovery has been such a huge part of my life for so long, it is going to take me some time to stop using the terminology but if I am being honest that is all it really was. Nothing is going to change aside from removing the lifelong life sentence of the label. I hate labels, all labels. They can and do cause a lot of damage, so one by one I am removing them.

Can’t I just be someone who doesn’t drink alcohol?

Sure I can!

I don’t have to cling tight to a label for the rest of my life to do this. 

I am writing my own story, and today I am Pam and I am happy internally. I’m healing daily, I am moving forward and growing. Instead of saying “I’m Pam and I am in recovery from LIFE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE” I am going to start sharing that “I’m Pam and  I have finally found a LOVE FOR LIFE!”

With this, I must go live it!

img_0182

Until I did the 8 years of time recovering, this would not be possible. I do not regret a thing. I just want to enjoy life; do the things I love and spend time with those I am close too. That is, it.

RIP RECOVERY

TODAY I’M FREE

d5a71516-b8fb-4335-9634-67a7c487301e