Chapter 8. Transporting Trauma – Finding Purpose in the Pain, One Adoptees Journey from Heartbreak to Hope and Healing, An Audible Memoir By Pamela A. Karanova

Chapter 8.

Transporting Trauma

Trigger Warning // Suicide // Physical Abuse

Approximately 6-8 hours after trying to leave this world, I woke up with a hazy and sluggish feeling all over my body and mind. I remember lying in bed thinking, “Damn, I woke back up! Wasn’t I supposed to be meeting the Devil at the gates of hell right about now?” I could hardly believe it.

Looking back over that time in my life, one of the most shocking things is that hell seemed like a better solution than living in my reality on earth. That is tremendous because I knew I was going to hell for everything I had done to deserve it, but I didn’t care because I was drowning in my sorrow. I just wanted the pain to go away.

Does this give the world a small glimpse of how significant my adoptee pain was? Possibly, for those who want to try to understand. I was crushed that I woke back up, I didn’t want to wake back up, and I had this enormous feeling of guilt that came over me that I couldn’t even kill myself right. I felt like a total failure despite all the other feelings I was dealing with.

I quickly clung to the bottle and drank myself out of my misery morning, noon and night. Drinking alcohol was the only way I could survive the pain I was feeling. For 27 years, It allowed me not to feel but opened a whole world of other problems that would have lifelong consequences.

Most people won’t understand this, but at times over the last five years, I have been presented with a question on various social media platforms that says, “If you were to tell your younger self something, what would you tell them?”

Sadly, the first thing that always comes to my mind, even at 47 years old, is “Take more pills!”

Still, to this day, I feel like if I could have found a way out, I wouldn’t have had to live with a lifetime of excruciating pain. I wouldn’t have passed on my pain to my kids and had so much to recover from. But instead, I would just be gone, with no legacy to leave other than a dead, deeply troubled adoptee and one that is nothing more than a menace to society.

However, the universe had other plans for me. I wish I could say I figured this out in my teenage or young adult years; however, it would be a long time before I understood this.

You would think this experience “changed me,” but what changed me the most is that I tried to kill myself, and not one single person knew about it or noticed. It felt like no one on the earth cared about me. It’s a hard pill to swallow. I didn’t “get better,” but I continued to spiral out of control.

I ended up taking Giovanni back, and our relationship was rocky, but we both confessed our love for one another. I won’t go into all the details of every dynamic of abuse I experienced with him, but it was a lot. We were both troubled and were constantly getting arrested for fighting.

Eventually, I ran away so much and continued to break the law that I found myself in a group home called Foundation 2. During my time in Foundation 2, I remember liking the structure there, just like I did when I was locked in drug and alcohol rehab. I remember staying several months, going home, and acting out repeatedly.

Unfortunately, Giovanni was back in jail, and we were separated again. I know Patricia looked at our time apart as a positive thing, but all I wanted was to be with Giovanni. When I say I loved him, I love him.

When I was 16, Patricia started talking about moving to Lexington, Kentucky, because she had a friend who lived there. So she planned a visit to look at jobs and the city. We arrived, spent five days sightseeing around Lexington, and saw the beautiful horse country we would soon call home.

I remember having mixed feelings about the move because I would be leaving the state where I hoped to find my birth mother. Wouldn’t it be more challenging for us to find one another states away? But, of course, I knew the answer was yes, and I always wondered if this was part of why Patricia wanted to leave Iowa because I never stopped asking about finding my birth mother. I would never give up on finding her, no matter what state I was in.

I was also conflicted because I would be leaving Giovanni and I have always felt like that was part of Patricia’s plan. While he was locked up, we wrote each other letters constantly, and I started to keep a collection of his letters in a big box, and after some time, it filled up. I would read them repeatedly, and they were my most prized possession. We would sometimes write to each other daily, sometimes receiving multiple letters each day. We hoped we would be back together again one day, and until then, we knew that even when distance separated us, we would always be in each other’s hearts.

I hadn’t seen Thomas, Laura, Melanie, or the boys in a long time when I stopped going for weekend visits. Our time spent together tapered off into nothingness.

We packed up a 22-foot U-Haul and arrived at our new three-bedroom home in Lexington, Kentucky, in the Fall of 1991. I didn’t know a single person in the whole town, but I was always great at making new friends anywhere I went.

I think Patricia had hoped I would turn a new page removing Giovanni from my life and luring me away from Cedar Rapids, where I was always in nonstop trouble combined with constant alcohol use. The thing is, I was still dealing with all the same issues, but the only thing that had changed was my surroundings.

I was 17 years old, in a new city, and she was back working the night shift again. The summer of 1992 rolled around, and the new Dr. Dre – The Chronic album had just come out. What did that mean? If you don’t know, never mind.

It was about to be on and popping in the city of Lexington because one thing is for sure, I was the life of the party anywhere I went, and I was always ready to get the party popping!

I was expected to enroll in an all-new high school that was predominantly black, and being a white girl from Iowa, and I started to make friends one by one. However, my time at Bryan Station Sr. High was short-lived. Patricia must have forgotten that I hated regular school, so I dropped out within a month, and at 18 years old, I was a high school dropout. However, I attended long enough to make new friends, and I made friends with some neighbors close to me.

I think my mind did sway a bit regarding the nagging desire to find my birth mother, but I feel that’s only because I was in a new city with new friends and new things to do. The deep-rooted abandonment was always there, but drinking daily forced it to take a back seat.

I remember going to my first party with my friend Dorthy who lived down the street from me. I didn’t know her that well, but after a while, I learned that we ended up at a crack house in East End. I remember being offered the drug and trying it. I would do anything to get out of my mind. It didn’t affect me, so I tried some more. I drank until the sun came down, sitting in a crack house surrounded by people I didn’t even know. I wanted to belong and be part of something, so I was along for the ride.

While the evening would wind down, everyone at the party was just getting started. So I decided I wanted to split, and although we didn’t have cell phones back then, I was pretty sure I could walk home and find my way.

I set off to walk home through East End and ended up waking up in the Fayette County Detention Center with a public intoxication charge. At 18 years old, I graduated from juvenile jail to the big house, and I remember not feeling anything about this reality. Once again, I felt disconnected from my body and did not care if I lived, died, or woke up in jail.

The internal hate I had for myself only traveled with me to Kentucky. While I know Patricia thought she was doing the right thing, my troubles only followed me, but now I was an adult, and my actions had real-life consequences. I called some of my neighbor kids who were friends of mine who had a brother that was 19 years old, and they came and got me out of jail. I was drinking the same day and didn’t learn a damn thing.

Patricia kept nagging me to get my GED or go back to school, but I shot down every attempt at a conversation, expressing that there was no point in returning to school because, in my mind, the world was going to end. I was profoundly depressed but masked every bit of this with drugs and alcohol. Finally, she nagged me to start therapy, and at 18, I decided to try it.

During round 382 of therapy, I sat in a new therapist’s office again. But unfortunately, of all the feelings I had pondered deep inside about my birth mother, my sadness, grief, and loss still never made their way into the appointment with the new therapist.

When we make our adoptive parent’s “dreams come true” to be parents, our feelings of sadness are automatically stuffed deep inside. It’s known in a very subtle way that feelings that aren’t positive, thankful, or grateful aren’t welcome. For me, there was a block there, and I don’t know how else to explain why adoption or the implications of separation trauma were once again never discussed. The therapist never brought it up or addressed it, so neither did I. To this day, I can’t wrap my brain around why adoption was never discussed in all the therapist’s offices I sat in throughout my whole life!

The therapists detected that I was suicidal and that I had no hope for the future. Duh. I did express that I never got along with Patricia, and I felt comfortable sharing with her all the things Mark did to me growing up and why I decided to stop going to Thomas’s house. This was the first time I had shared this with anyone.

She encouraged me to call Thomas and Laura while I was in her office to tell them about the childhood sexual abuse Mark is responsible for. She also wanted me to tell Patricia, so I did.

While speaking to Thomas and Laura on speaker phone, I expressed to them vague details of my experience with Mark, and they said they didn’t know why he would do such a thing, but they would reach out to his therapist and bring this topic to the table to get him some help. They speculated that maybe Mark was being sexually abused by the catholic priest at the church they used to drop us off at? No one knew, but they assured me they would address it with Mark. I didn’t get any resolve out of this other than bringing a secret to light and finally telling them what had happened. No one asked how this impacted me in my life or if I needed help with healing.

A big piece of me feels they want to blame my outbursts and acting out on the childhood sexual abuse alone, omitting adoption and separation from my birth mother is even a thing. How convenient of them.

Everyone seemed to sweep this under the rug, and we never discussed it again. Finally, when I told the new therapist I thought the world would end, she prescribed me Prozac and sent me on my way. I took the Prozac for a week and threw it in the trash. I never went back to that therapist again.

Not long after moving to Lexington, I learned Giovanni was arrested for burglary, kidnapping, and aggravated assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison in California. We still wrote off and on and professed our love for one another, but we tapered apart due to his lengthy prison sentence. He served 16 years, got out, and is currently back in prison as a persistent felony offender serving federal time.

I ended up in another abusive relationship that resulted in a broken nose, stitches between my eyes, and two black eyes. When people say you attract what you are, they aren’t lying. I felt horrible about myself, and I attracted horrible men.

Again, I numbed the pain with more drugs and alcohol. I was farther away from finding my birth mother than I ever had been, and I had little hope I would ever find her. Deep-down sadness and despair were masked with a fake smile and a party over at Pam’s!

Unfortunately, I had never healed from all the trauma I had experienced. Even transporting me to a new state, with a new school and new friends, my unresolved, unhealed separation and adoption trauma wounds transported with me. However, the other traumas from Diego, Mark, and Giovanni compacted the root traumas. I was a walking dead woman, feeling hollow and empty inside.

At 18 years old, I continued to find my way in the party lifestyle and made severe mistakes and bad choices along the way. I was going down a path of destruction, and most days, I didn’t care if I lived or died. I hated myself, the world, and everyone in it. I had so much anger and rage it consumed me. However, I always felt like my life would end early, and at this stage, I hoped it would.

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Adoptee in Recovery – When Forged Forgiveness Becomes Fatal 

1f6ae293-fe8e-4e1f-903b-0e9d69324cafTo my friends, David Bohl and GRH –   Thank you for giving me the courage to write about this! 

As I continue on my recovery and healing journey, so many things are coming to the light about different areas I’ve navigated over the years. One of those areas is the topic of forgiveness. This is going to be lengthy, so get a cup of coffee and be prepared. 

The world says “If you let go, by forgiving others you don’t have to hold onto resentment and anger” It’s said that forgiveness is necessary for personal growth. I can see this might be true in some circumstances and for minor hurts, but my thoughts shared here are relating to forgiveness towards traumatic events and situations because of someone else’s harmful actions. 

What is considered traumatic? That’s for each person to decide. What’s traumatic to me, might not be traumatic to you. My role in sharing this information is to shine a light about a topic that’s significantly complex, with many layers from the perspective of an adult adoptee in recovery. Everyone seems to have their own opinion about what forgiveness is, or isn’t and this is usually in alignment with the experiences that person has gained over their lifetime. 

I’ve heard about forgiveness over the years, but I was never in a position to apply it to my life, nor did I see a need for it when I was young. It wasn’t a topic of conversation but I also wasn’t on a healing journey as a child either. In 2012 I started my healing journey and things changed. This sparked a significant experience with forgiveness as I got involved with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and I started working the 12 Steps. Not long after I learned of Celebrate Recovery, and forgiveness was talked about even more but it was in a religious setting because Celebrate Recovery is a ministry. 

Although I have an appreciation for both of these programs and the concept of forgiveness, I’m now an outsider looking in because I no longer attend either of these programs and I’ve been reflecting on my experiences with both. 

Let me back things up to give you a little history. 

When I was 15 years old, I was lost, alone, broken, rage filled and I had no hope in life. Not only was I experiencing abuse in my adoptive home, but my fantasy of my birth mother coming back to get me was shattered, and reality was beginning to set in. 

SHE WAS NEVER COMING BACK. 

SHE was constantly on my mind, but where was she? Who was she? I acted out in every way possible and began using substances daily at 12 years old.  My struggles were 100% adoption related, but adoption was never talked about and never mentioned so I turned to substances, because I didn’t want to feel. I didn’t know how to feel. Most days I wanted to die, but somehow I found myself committed to drug and alcohol rehab in a locked facility at 15 years old. 

I will never forget being locked in an all white room, and a nurse came in and handed me the big book. I had no clue what the big book was, but for those who don’t know it’s the story of Bill W. who’s the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and he shares how to recover from alcoholism. It’s focused on the 12 Steps and 8 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. 

I asked myself, “did I hit rock bottom at 15 years old?” I hadn’t even begun to live my life yet. I had barely made it out of Jr. High, and I found myself locked in rehab, with a big book in my hand. I will never forget reading the first few pages, and the first few chapters. So let me get this straight, finding GOD was the cure all to this recovery thing? The only way I was going to graduate this drug and alcohol treatment program, and get out was finding GOD? And working these 12 steps. Today, I ask myself, ‘what were my other options?”  

I had none. 

So this huge gigantic responsibility was placed on me, TO FIGURE IT OUT. The entire treatment program and my recovery depended on it because the effectiveness of the entire AA program will depend on this decision to “turn my will and my life over to God, as I understood Him.”  

Let’s break that down a little more, “AS I UNDERSTOOD HIM.” I had no clue what this even meant, but I was either going with the punches, working these 12 steps or never graduate this program. Let me be honest. I didn’t care about any of it, because I just wanted to go drink and use again. I had no choice in this and I was forced to play along. I asked a few of the inmates (it was like jail so that’s what I will call them) what god they turned their wills and life over to in hopes to gain a better understanding. They expressed the God that created the earth, the bible was the word, and that was the only way this thing was going to work. 

I remember having experiences with that same God when I was growing up. My adoptive mom had us read devotionals, we went to church, performed in church plays, and she made us say prayers before meals. 

But now, my entire life depended on turning my will and my life over to God as I understood him. What did this even mean? To be honest, I didn’t understand him but I did what I had to do to get out. I finally worked all the 12 steps, and after about 8 weeks I graduated the program. During my time in this locked treatment facility, I never once worked on or talked about any of my root adoptee related issues, like relinquishment trauma, grief, loss, abandonment, the primal wound, etc. I got out, went and got high and drunk again as soon as I was free. 

I did NOT want to feel adoption, and at all costs and I didn’t.

 Of course, if the tools were present and I had help, I’m sure I would have been able to process but that’s not how things worked for me. I had no tools, no one opening up conversations about my adoptee reality,  it was a taboo topic. The less we talked about it, the better for everyone else. I felt truly alone in the world, but it wasn’t a happy alone. It was a deep, dark sad alone. I spent the next 27 years drinking alcohol, and using as many drugs as I could get my hands on as a way to numb my reality.  So many times in my life, I just wanted to die because my adoptee pain has been that great. Reality, I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore and I had no tools to work on my issues. In my mind, the only way to get rid of it is to go to sleep and never wake up again. Two times as a teenager I was unseccessful at trying to commit suicide, taking a hand full of pills each time, only waking up later regretful that the pills didn’t work. My adoptive parents never knew, and they still don’t. I just wanted out.  The next 27 years was a roller coaster of a ride. 

As 2012 hit, so did my next attempt at recovery and the 12 steps once again smacked me straight in my face. Here we go again. What other options were presented to me or available? 

None.

Even after seeing dozens of therapists all the way back to being 5 years old into my adult life.

NONE. 

The only way to get healing is turning my life and will over to God, and making sure I forgive all those who have harmed me, even if they aren’t sorry, and even if I hadn’t even worked on the issues at all. I also had to forgive God, and forgive myself, which was the hardest part.  As I set out on my recovery journey, I learned the rules to forgiveness in the religious realm are, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” – Matthew 6:14

I remember my time heavily in the church, surrounding myself with Christian’s and church people the advice and information I was getting was solely from them and I also researched forgiveness. As they shared, and the bible shared, I knew that forgiveness was such an important part of healing, and the 12 steps so I worked on figuring out the true meaning of forgiveness and what it meant to me. I knew it was something for me, not the other person. The more I learned, I applied this to my life, but I also shared it with others on many occasions, especially during the 4 years I served in leadership for the women’s chemical dependency group in Celebrate Recovery. I remember internally struggling with the fact that I had forgiven someone like I was told to do by the 12 steps, but I still had major issues with the situation or the person I had forgiven. This only made me feel more defective than I already felt. It made me feel worse, because I must not be doing something right. It was like a dark cloud hanging over my head, combined with my heart torn into shreds. It was a horrible life for many of my years on earth. 

I learned that in order for us to be forgiven by God, we had to forgive others who had harmed us. It’s said this “deal” could potentially send us to hell, and it would always keep us in bondage if we didn’t make the choice to forgive others, God and ourselves. I learned that once we make the choice to forgive others for them harming us and when we forgive ourselves, we then had to consciously decide to never bring it up again, and never discuss it or tell others about it, otherwise it wasn’t true forgiveness. Even when we thought about it again, we weren’t to speak about it, at all. 

In my mind, this is more like coerced and mandatory forgiveness, (forged) but not true from the heart and it’s also ABUSIVE.  Writing this today, I’ve come to the realization of how I personally feel this can be extremely damaging and even fatal for some people. I know in the AA Big Book, it says to find “God as I understood Him” and the forgiveness rules are possibly a little different than in the religious settings. But both of these ideas of forgiveness ignited the fact that I had to forgive others in order to make it out alive and complete these 12 steps. And what about there truly being no other choice towards healing, aside from working these 12 steps? 

Why wasn’t I given anymore options? 

Let me make this clear, I wholeheartedly believe that the 12 steps in AA and Celebrate Recovery have worked wonders and saved the lives of many individuals, and for that I’m very thankful. However, this topic is a critical thing, and it’s important it’s shared, especially with Adoptees in general, but specifically my fellow Adoptees in Recovery. 

I’m not addressing forgiveness for minor or petty offenses. I’m not talking about when someone TRULY makes a mistake, and they are sorry they did something and us forgiving them and giving second chances.  I’m not talking about those that don’t intentionally hurt us. We can easily say, “That person didn’t know what they were doing” but many times forgiveness is extended to people who knew what they were doing. Improper forgiveness can keep us in bondage, and it can set the forgiver up to be victimized again, and again, and again with the offender never being truly sorry or remorseful. This is ABUSIVE. THIS IS BONDAGE. 

Do you ever feel like forgiveness defends the abusers? I do. Do you ever feel like forgiveness feels like giving our abusers a free pass? I do. When someone has root issues that are trauma based, the whole idea of forgiveness can be very damaging, and oftentimes deadly. I can share this, because this is how forgiveness has impacted me, when it’s been presented in a way it has throughout my lifetime. Forced upon me by scriptures backing it up, and through programs I had to complete to LIVE, it’s clearly had me backed in a corner with nowhere to turn. It manipulated me to the core of my being. 

Until Now…

I realize that there are more resources today than there were when I was 15 years old, and even when I started my recovery journey in 2012. Today I’m thinking for myself, and I’m not being backed into a corner with no options.  I realize that I possibly didn’t have all the tools for recovery in my recovery tool box and there are more possibilities today than there was before. The more I learn about forgiveness, and all the different dynamics of it, the more I’m informed if it works for me or if it doesn’t work for me. 

I resent the fact that from the biblical concept of forgiveness and the world’s standards, I’ve felt 100% manipulated and duped into forgiving others, God and myself. What I wonder is, if I’m supposed to forgive all those who hurt me, myself and God and if I don’t God won’t forgive me, but he sends so many people to hell, so where is his forgiveness for others? Isn’t this quite the double standard and mental mind manipulation?  It’s lead me to question God all together, and rethink my entire approach on what I believe and what I don’t believe. I’m going to save that for another article, but it’s coming. 

I don’t know about you, but the idea that a person that has been victimized has a responsibility placed on them to forgive their perpetrator/s is pretty disgusting and a topic I’ve found to be very disheartening. Anyone who is pushing forgiveness onto others is doing it for their own gain, and their own agenda, not yours. A lot of the wounds people care are inner child wounds, and being forced or coerced to forgive others is extremely toxic and damaging!

For me, where I am today, what if I personally don’t believe in forgiveness based on my experience with it, but I believe in holding people accountable for their shitty actions? What if I make the choice if I want to allow them in my life or not without being manipulated into forgiving them? What if MY WAY isn’t the WORLDS WAY but who gives a shit, because it’s what works for me? Would you believe me if I told you that I’m at peace with things, but I haven’t forgiven anyone by the world’s standards? That doesn’t mean I still don’t have traumatic memories, or have trauma work to do.  What if I take forgiveness and everything about it and toss it in the trash? Shouldn’t we want to consciously and organically in our hearts want to give people second chances, be better people or come to peace with things on our own time without an entire belief system manipulating us into doing so? This manipulation with forgiveness has actually hindered me, kept me in bondage, and held me back from true authentic and organic healing. This is life or death for many of us. 

 Forced and Forged Forgiveness can add layers of shame onto victims, for not “getting over something” or for “sharing their trauma.” Once you forgive someone, you’re supposed to get over it, and move on with your life. What if you don’t get over it or move on? “Here you are talking about it again” … Shame comes in after we’ve said to forgive someone,  when you are simply having natural and very legitimate feelings associated with a very real situation for you. This isn’t helping people, only hurting them worse. I’ve had people09be5a42-2952-4e14-810c-0c40893545c9 silence me with scriptures, when I share very real feelings with them. “You’ve already forgiven yourself for that, the devil is only bringing it up again because he wants you to live in condemnation.”  Talk about BONDAGE and MENTAL MIND F&^KS. It’s becoming apparent to me that this belief system can cause great amounts of harm, and even become fatal to some. (I plan on writing about that later) 

Let’s touch on the our society’s “positive culture” that surrounds our lives today. Positive vibes, clearing any and all negative energies from our sacred spaces, and much of the time we’re denying our own feelings, stuffing them down and bypassing processing them just to fit into the mold of the world and the preaching of positive vibes. You see motivational speakers kicking into high drive, and spiritual circles silencing you with scriptures all to keep the positive vibes going.  Have you learned what Spiritual Bypassing is? I suggest you research it, and it’s a real thing. Also research Religious Trauma Syndrome. Your life will never be the same. 

As adoptees, it’s so important we understand that anger, and feelings of grief, loss and sadness are perfectly legitimate feelings, and they come in waves for many of us. Are you leaving room for these feelings within your friends and family and within your circle? If not, please reconsider because it’s life and death. I don’t have time to preach positivity when adoptees are dying! Once we are in a position to process these feelings, in natural ways we then start healing. When positive culture is shoved down our throats, like it is in churches, spiritual settings, and in society as a whole it leaves no room for us to share our pain. Just like forged forgiveness, this can be fatal. We really need to rethink our approach, and stop forcing this culture on everyone. We have to do better. 

Anger can be a very positive thing when used the right way. Anger can be used to fuel change, create visions, and put action behind them. We have to stop silencing people when they share it, and stop trying to dish out feel good juice, and learn to sit with people in their pain. I’m not talking about ANGER that abuses and hurts other people which is HUGE as well. This is when anger is toxic to others and it isn’t productive. We can each set our own boundaries if this type of anger influences our lives, or the lives of others. But before we get to the other side of healing starting, we have to process the anger FIRST. 

If you step out of the box filled with influences from your lifetime, please know It is entirely possible for someone to get to a place of acceptance, and peace about a situation and forgiveness has never been extended. Please know forgiveness culture can be very damaging when it’s forged and forced in anyway.   

What if I have been on a healing journey, and I’ve decided on my own that my goal is to come to peace with things in my life, and for me that process happens by accepting things are the way they are and there is nothing I can do to change them? What if forged forgiveness does more harm than good? What if expecting others to FORGIVE THOSE WHO HAVE HARMED US actually retraumatised us and damages us more than the actual offense itself? What if we’re placing an unrealistic and damaging burden on those who we expect to forgive who are perpetrators and those who hurt us and it only adds to our pain and trauma? 

“Forgiveness is for you, and no one else and it should never be forced on anyone” – Says the world.

Yes, this is true yet the world is set up as the opposite, especially in religious circles. The 12 steps are focused around forgiveness, and for me I was giving FREE PASSES TO PEOPLE WHO ABUSED AND TRAUMATIZED ME. Is anyone manipulating me into “coming to a place of peace?” No, no they aren’t. It’s something I do on my time, through healing (whatever that looks like to me), and trauma therapy, and TONS OF TRAUMA work. Not because GOD AND THE SCRIPTURES SAY SO. 

For me, forged forgiveness (a huge burden and responsibility) to forgive those who have traumatized and hurt me, was actually BONDAGE. Not the other way around. Forged Forgiveness feels like gaslighting to me, and that’s only adding trauma on top of trauma. It’s up to each of us to decide on our own, without any influences if we want to forgive someone or not. It should be from our hearts, not because of manipulation or to complete a program. If forgiveness has worked for you, that’s wonderful but we must understand what works for some doesn’t always work for everyone. Have you spent as much time sitting with someone, listening to them in their grief and pain like you have encouraged them to forgive their perpetrator/s? 

Today, I’ve decided I’m withdrawing my forgiveness claims, and reevaluating each and every situation on my own terms, in my own time. Right now, I have a clean slate and I have forgiven no one. From this day forward, as situations arise and thoughts come to my mind, I will process them organically either alone or with someone I trust and I will REMOVE any forged and forced idea of forgiveness from my mind. This is freedom to me. 

 If the idea of forgiveness comes naturally, then I will apply it to that situation. If it doesn’t, and I can come to a place of peace, then wonderful. Maybe I’m not at a place of peace yet about certain things, which means I still have trauma work to do. Maybe I will never get to that place, because trauma impacts us all in different ways. It can change our brain wiring, it can change our memory and our mobility. Trauma can change everything and not all trauma just goes away.  Sometimes acceptance that the trauma and it’s symptoms are here to stay is what’s needed to be able to cope. 

No two stories are the same, and we all need and want different things in life. This article is long, and it’s filled with a lot of thoughts. I’m sharing because this is a HUGE topic, and recently having someone tell me “MAYBE YOU SHOULD FORGIVE THEM” even after I shared many traumatic situations with that person, really rubbed me the wrong way. It made me reevaluate forgiveness all together, and made me really think how abusive it can be. It also made me realize how forged forgiveness has impacted my life, and how I’m the only one who can change things for my future. 

After reading ALL THIS, I’m not here to tell you forgiveness isn’t productive and it’s not for you. I’m here to share my truth, as my experiences back it up. I’m here to share there is a damaging side to forgiveness and I hope each person reading is given more tools than what I was given. I hope for each of you, forgiveness is a CHOICE that you choose.

I’m glad I got to share this, and I feel even more free than when I started typing it. I’m thankful I’m at a place of freedom where I can recognize the abuse behind certain areas that are portrayed to be positive things. The healthier we get, the more BS we can recognize. I hope to continue to share what’s worked for me, and what hasn’t worked for me. My hope is, it helps someone out there, specifically my fellow adoptees. Please understand, if you can’t bring it in your life to FORGIVE others, for ANY REASON please don’t allow others to place that BURDEN on you. You don’t deserve it, and it’s not yours to carry. You don’t owe anyone, I MEAN IT!

No matter who it is.

Don’t forget this article along with all my other articles are available in audio for your convenience, just look up Pamela A. Karanova Podcast on Google Podcasts, iTunes , Spotify. and Amazon Music. Interested in treating me with a coffee, to add fuel to my fire? Click here. Many thanks in advance to my supporters! 

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Love, love. P.K.

P.S. I know some might mean well, but if you feel the need to send me scriptures about forgiveness, please spare yourself the time. I’m not interested.

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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