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

Adoptee Dreaming & The Island of Lost

[DREAM] – Indulge in daydreams or fantasies about something greatly desired.

[LOST] – Having gone astray or missed the way; bewildered as to place, direction, etc.

Dreaming – One more adoptee robbery to add to the list of LOST. The traditional concept of dreaming has been out-of-place for most of my life.

While other little girls were dreaming of what dolls they wanted for Christmas, I was dreaming of finding my birth mother, living in mental torment every day. She was nowhere to be found.

While other little girls were celebrating their birthdays, I was wishing my birth mother would come back to get me, feeling like an outsider on the island of LOST.

Being adopted comes with a heavy cost.

While other little girls were thinking about one day getting married and having children, I was obsessed with finding my birth family. Who were they? Where were they? Why haven’t they come back to find me?

While other little girls were dreaming about what college they wanted to go to, and what they wanted to be when they grew up, I was fighting the world to find out WHO I AM? Where did I come from? Who do I look like? Why am I so tall?

While other little girls were playing with barbies and baby dolls, I was searching for my people. Everywhere I went, I was looking for them. Who matches my hair and skin tone? Could they be my people? Is that my mother?  Is that my sister or my brother?

While other little girls excelled and enjoyed school, I was riddled with anxiety and fears about the previous nights traumatic experience in my home. Concentrating on school and school work was impossible.

While other little girls were playing outside with their friends, I was trying to escape the prison I was adopted into. Chore lists the size of poster boards was all I knew. The work was never done. Ever.

While other little girls were watching Saturday morning cartoons, I was searching in my adoptive moms filing cabinet looking for any clue as to who I really was.

While other little girls sit back in awe as they hear their birth story shared by their families, I had no birth story. When you have a birth story, you feel real. Feeling REAL has always been a struggle. Having no roots contributes to the magnitude of being on the island of LOST.

While other little girls were having sleepovers and telling their friends which boys they liked, I was rubbing my adoptive moms back, feet and legs. Brushing her hair and putting makeup on her. Running her bath water and scrubbing her back. Fetching her Pepsi’s and pills.

While other little girls were being spoiled by their grandparents, I was recovering from witnessing my adoptive mom trying to commit suicide. Over and over. Trauma wounds piled up.  

Mental torment was my constant companion, and I did not have time for typical little girl dreams. A childhood misplaced, but I have survived. It has taken me 46 years to feel even a little alive.

I must make up for all the lost little girl dreams, it seems.

I want to be free, with the sunshine all over me. I want to see the rainbows even on the darkest days and climb trees to the top. I want the teardrops to stop, to sit on the mountain tops and make new memories with those I love, nonstop.

I want to love and be loved with no agenda. I want to be surrounded by friends where I do not have to censor my thoughts. I want to connect with mother nature because we are one – This is just for starters.

I am not close to being done.

I must make up for whatever has been lost, no matter what the cost. The future belongs to me, but I must be the one to see. Brightness is all around, no more letting others let me down.

Smile. Be Free. The future is bright but only if you see that beauty surrounds us in everyday life. I have learned to embrace feeling LOST, because being adopted comes with a hefty cost.  I’ve learned that in feeling lost, I’ve actually been found.

Dream little, dream big, I must be true to me and do whatever it is I love to do. It is never too late to look myself in the mirror and embrace what I see, the key is learning to love ME.

This is my adoptee reality.

It’s time to take back what was stolen from me.

Learning to Just Be…

img_0319I’ve been working really hard at being okay with doing nothing, learning to JUST BE. I must be honest, It’s a new place for me. One more silver lining I give to Covid-19, but if I’m transparent,  it hasn’t been easy.

For 45 years of my life, I have been busy. Busy raising kids, busy finding my truth, busy working, busy with friends or family. I’ve been busy pouring my heart and soul into other things, a lot of the time being left empty. I’ve been busy with recovery and working on a million root issues. I’ve been busy over committing myself and over extending myself. I’ve been busy finding myself by learning who I am and what I like and don’t like. I’ve been busy creating resources and tools for the adult adoptee population and being an advocate for the community I hold very close to my heart.

Almost all of my commitments and life I’ve been taking care of other people. All the way to being born, and adopted into a family where my adoptive mom couldn’t care for me due to her own mental illness. She showed me that being still or resting was unhealthy, and I don’t want to be anything like her. I remember catering to her wants and needs from a very early age, (5ish). I took care of her, she didn’t take care of me. I was her caretaker.

At 21 I had my first child, and then I had twins at 24. They are all 3 the best part of me. I took care of and raised my 3 children 100% solo with no child support, and no help at all from their fathers. My kids are all adults now, and have turned out wonderfully considering they have come this far without their dads in their life. Not only was I their caretaker, I was mom and dad. I wouldn’t change a thing because they have been worth every bit of the struggle but I will never be able to make up for their dads being missing.

In 2005 I started taking care of a stroke patient for a living. This October I will be with her for 15 years. We’ve rode it out all these years, and she’s been the biggest inspiration of my life. The position I have is a Team Leader position where I’m on call 24/7, which is a significant responsibility. It’s kept me busy and has given me more rewards than you could ever imagine.

Being an advocate in the adoptee community has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my lifetime, however it’s been draining as hell! I am not lying and I have no way to sugar coat it. I wouldn’t change a thing, but I’m defiantly making changes for myself moving forward. I’m no longer always available like I always have been. I’m putting my mental health first and setting boundaries that work for me.

All of these caretaker roles all the way back to the beginning of my life have taken up5c223d79-ea3c-4e69-8089-92a20d21ba4f ALL MY LIFE. It’s safe to say care taking is in my DNA which is interesting because I don’t feel like anyone has ever taken care of me. Crazy how that works…

Part of finding myself and what I love to do has been such a wonderful and freeing experience. It’s been a lot of fun, and I plan to continue on this amazing journey. However, for some reason I’ve felt for the last few years that I’m running out of time. I plan on writing about “Time” soon, but it’s way too complex for this article. Running out of time makes me feel like every minute of my life I need to be DOING SOMETHING and BEING STILL has never been in my forecast. Being still makes me feel like I’m wasting my life away, and when time is running out that’s a NO GO.

I’ve always been a “Go Getter” and I’m a doer. I don’t just talk about things, I do them. I hate relying on others, because I always seem to get let down so I try to do EVERYTHING on my own, and normally I do a pretty good job at it. I’m all about integrity and I’m a woman of my word. If I say I’m going to do something I do it. I hate being late, and I’m very proud that 99.9% of the time I’m always a little early or on time. I’m always going, taking advantage of every minute of time I’m given, because after all I’m running out of time.

Over the last 8 years of being in recovery, it’s been a shit ton of work. I’ve worked on more “Self Help” topics that I can even share here. 8 Whole years of my life I can’t ever get back, but all those things I worked on have helped me arrive at the destination I am today.

I’ve never been a napper, or someone that rests. The only time I will be still is if I’m sick or my busy life catches up to me and I wear myself out and I make myself sick. Cell phones don’t help this, but enable the havoc we experience in our everyday lives. Having hand held computers at our fingertips, along with social media our minds never stop running. Little by little I’m prying myself of all the ways of the world, finding what works best for me. One of the biggest hurdles I’ve had to experience is to learn to just be.

Be Still.

Be Quiet.

Just Be.

But how?

How do I do this when I’ve been running for 45 years? 

As you can see, learning to JUST BE hasn’t been easy for me! 

One of the biggest rewards Covid-19 has done for me, (among many) is allowed me the space to learn to JUST BE. What does “just be” look like to me? Doing nothing, reading a book, resting my body, relaxing, going to bed early, calling a friend, writing, unplugging, sitting in nature, watching something I want to watch, etc. To me, “Just Be” is being still for awhile.

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It’s a whole new thing for me but I can tell my body is enjoying a break, and I’m taking on the full time responsibility of whispering to myself that it’s okay to JUST BE. It’s okay to be still, it’s okay to rest. I truly feel the alternate of staying busy all the time, over committing, over booking, and over stimulating my mind, body and spirit was only taking a toll on my emotional, mental and physical health. If I didn’t make these changes, I’m sure I would end up in the hospital at some point, likely sooner than later.  I think a significant piece of this journey is learning to love yourself, by yourself. Embracing your own company.

I decided to share this because being an adoptee, staying busy was an escape for me. I didn’t have to think about my adoptee problems. I worked 3 jobs at one point last year, and also managed to pull of Adoptees Connect, Inc. I was always afraid to be by myself, for idol time and to be alone. But not anymore. I have so many things I like and love to do while I’m being STILL. Writing is one, and I’m doing a lot more of that lately. As well as making time to talk to my friends on the phone. I’m 100% certain if I didn’t get my truth regarding who I am, I wouldn’t even be alive right now let alone in the space of learning to enjoy to JUST BE.

Finding a healthy balance between all these things has been exceptionally challenging if not impossible. I have tried, but I still was way too over committed for it to make a difference. If you can prioritize your life, and then eliminate things that no longer serve you a purpose, then you can find the healthy balance between those things that you decide to keep.

Let me share that there is nothing on this planet worth your health. Nothing. If you feel like you are being spread thin, please reevaluate your commitments and put yourself first. Whatever you can discontinue in order to put your emotional, mental and physical health first please do it. It’s so easy to be that person who’s always there for everyone else, but become depleted because no ones pouring into you or your cup is bone dry empty. If you can no longer keep commitments you have made, communicate that to the reciprocating party/s. Sometimes we have to learn to slow our roll. Put yourself first.

Everything in my life has changed since Covid-19 and I hope you are taking this opportunity to make the changes you need to live a happier and healthier life. No one is going to do it for you.  It’s all on you!

**What changes have you made for yourself since Covid-19 hit? Have you been able to find any silver linings? Do you have trouble resting and being still? How does that impact your daily life?

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