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.

img_0320

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?

d5a71516-b8fb-4335-9634-67a7c487301e

 

Mirror, Mirror – Mi Amor

img_2836

Something about a MIRROR has always been extraordinarily symbolic to me. From the beginning of my life, the mirror brought me great sadness and pain, as I looked at myself I had no idea who or what was looking back at me. I would look at my face, and watch tears drop to the bathroom countertops, wondering if anyone on this entire planet cared about the pain I was carrying not knowing who I was or where I came from? 

The little girl, robbed of her ancestry and culture, I grew up clueless of who I was and where I came from, the basic human right most people take for granted. I remember seeing myself, feeling hollow inside. Not knowing my truth kept me in bondage, dying inside. 

As I grew up, looking in the mirror grew exceptionally painful and in my early teenage years I started to develop a deep rooted hate for the girl that was looking back at me. She was ugly, unwanted, abandoned and rejected by the two people that should love her the most, her biological parents. This self hate manifested in many ways, and self love was non-existent. 

I couldn’t love myself and hate myself at the same time. Self hate, lead to harmful and reckless choices, and my life is filled with them. I don’t believe in “No regrets, just lessons learned.” That’s what the world wants me to believe, but I don’t feel that way at all. I have so many regrets, and yes, many lessons learned. 

As I grew into a young woman and had kids of my own, I was able to step outside of the way I feel about myself, and love my children to the best of my ability but self love has still been nonexistent for most of my life. 

When did things change for me? 

When I found my truth. 

The hard core raw, heartbreaking truth is what allowed me to begin the process of looking in the mirror from a different lense. In order for my spirit to be at peace, I needed to see the faces of both of my birth parents, so I can see the reflection of myself I had never seen in my entire life. In this process, I learned about them. I heard stories, I learned similarities we shared, and things we didn’t share. I learned that in many ways, I was so much like them, but other ways I was nothing like them. 

This process allowed me to see things FOR MYSELF, instead of adoption trying to PROTECT ME FROM MYSELF. This was life or death for me, and it’s life or death for most adoptees. It’s a NATURAL desire to want to see who we look like, so we can get a better understanding of who’s looking at us when we see the hollow person looking in the mirror. 

The mirror has brought me great pain most of my life, but because I’ve fought like hell to get my truth, I can now look in the mirror and I know who I am. Slowly, over the last 15 years or so, the sadness I once felt has turned into sorrow, and then grief, loss and processing. The self hate, from the unknown has slowly turned into self love. It didn’t happen overnight. It’s taken years of recovery, therapy, self reflecting, self work, self help, and lots of tears, grief, loss, anger, rage, and WORK! 

I truly know that the KEY for me, and been the TRUTH. While so many others are celebrating valentine’s day, I’m celebrating the fact that I no longer hate what I see when I look in the mirror. I’m celebrating the fact that now that I can see myself as a reflection of my biological parents, I no longer feel the hate for myself that I always did. I’m celebrating that now that I can see myself, in the MIRROR and love what I see, that allows me to be able to love others the way they need to be loved. I’m celebrating the fact that when I look in the mirror today, I see a strong, independent woman who’s gone through a lot in life, who fought every step of the way. I see a woman who is alive, even when adoption tried to kill me with secrecy and lies. 

Mirror, Mirror – Mi Amor. 

Today I look in the mirror and I see MY LOVE looking back at me. The one who’s always been there, the one who I should have been searching for all along, MYSELF. I see the one who’s never left me, the one who’s been 110% dependable, the one who keeps me company in the dark moments. I see the one who I love to be alone with, and the one who’s pretty. I see a woman who’s a mom, who loves her kids. I see a woman who wants to be happy and healthy so her kids and future grand-kids will never experience what she did in the mom area. I see imperfections, maybe even a dirty mirror and messy hair? But most importantly I see the imperfect truth.  I’m no longer looking in the mirror at secrecy and lies, looking at an adoptee internally dying. 

Mirror, Mirror – Mi Amor come and see. 

The truth is what I needed to see I’m not like any of them & I learned to love me. 

Happy Valentines Day to YOU and to ME!

EVERY ADOPTEE DESERVES TO KNOW THEIR TRUTH, EVERYONE DESERVES TO KNOW WHERE THEY COME FROM! 

dc4c333f-af6f-4443-8fe7-d7cd4b8bf04b

Adoptee Pain

img_4644

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are purely and entirely my own.  I do not claim to, nor make an effort to speak for all adoptees. – p.k. 

 

“I want you to be healed in Jesus Name!”

“Will the pain every go away?”

“Will the pain get easier?”

“You have to let go, and let God!”

“Oh she just had a bad adoption experience!”

“Adoption is a gift from God, sorry you had a bad experience!”

“Aren’t you thankful you weren’t aborted? You got life!”

The list could go on and on of things I’ve heard people say, and even things I’ve said myself. Over the last 8 years of coming out of the fog, I have learned so much and God has shown me so much about my personal experience and journey. I felt I needed to share some of it with my followers.

ADOPTEE PAIN

2010 I started the healing process. Healing from what? A lifetime of brokenness, heartbreak, grief, loss and trauma some of which is from my adoption experience, some is from other things that have happened in my life. Back in 2010 I was still drinking to numb my pain. I was a functional drinker, I went to work everyday and loved my career. I raised 3 kids, paid my bills, had fun and enjoyed my life to the best of my abilities.

I quickly learned that alcohol and the healing process didn’t work well together, and actually it was pretty catastrophic if I’m being honest. Mixing alcohol with trauma?  I learned that alcohol had actually stalled my healing, it made me not process my pain. It was my great escape. I was a runner, alcohol was my magic carpet and for 27 years I rode it ducking and dodging anything remotely painful. One thing I wasn’t doing was FEELING ADOPTION GRIEF, LOSS & TRAUMA.

When August 13, 2012 came rolling around I had enough of myself. At this point I spent 27 years running from the pain from my past and my adoption experience. August 13, 2012 was also my birthday. The day I came into this world, and the day my birth mother abandoned me and left me. It doesn’t matter who else was around to substitute HER. No one ever has, nor will they ever replace HER. They tried, but didn’t succeed!

I soon started a recovery ministry called Celebrate Recovery and spent the next 4 years working the 12 steps, mentoring other women, leading a women’s chemical dependency group and processing my pain! You read that right. Processing my pain. How do I do this? I never learned how to process my pain. Adoptee pain is ignored and denied to us by the entire WORLD!

Adoption is wonderful!

Adoption saved you!

Adoption gave you LIFE!

If I left it up to this world to help me, I would be dead right now. This world has never had any help for broken, hurting adult adoptees. We don’t fit the narrative of how adoption is perceived by society. Not only do many of us not fit in with our adoptive families, but many of us don’t fit in with our birth families. We don’t fit in with the world which leaves us more isolated and alone than you could ever imagine.

One by one, I started working on my adoptee issues. Triggers, memories, grief, loss, trauma, C-PTSD, abandonment, rejection, mother wound, father wound, sadness, depression, anxiety, aloneness, isolation, and the list could go on. ADOPTION IMPACTS EVERY AREA OF OUR LIVES. As my drinking came to a screeching halt my adoptee reality came rolling in like a ton of bricks. Smacked me straight in the face. Knocked me dead in my tracks.

The fog began to lift, and things got real and fast. Celebrate Recovery was somewhat of a safe space for me, but no one understood me. They didn’t get what I was saying, and they too had the idea that adoption was all wonderful so I was some ungrateful little brat for not appreciating the fact I wasn’t aborted. I had a small handful of close friends who were always there to listen and support me, but they didn’t understand it because they aren’t adopted. I was still isolated and alone in many ways and because Celebrate Recovery was a ministry the goal was to BE HEALED IN JESUS NAME!

Well, I showed up and I did the work. Day after day, week after week and year after year I kept going back and guess what? I still have the pain I did when I walked through the doors. I still am broken. I still have a broken heart, and I still have MAJOR ADOPTEE ISSUES. I remember feeling like I was doing something wrong and like I had to hide like I really felt because this healing everyone was talking about just wasn’t working for me!

“You are choosing to hang onto the pain!”

“You aren’t praying enough!”

“I think you need to fast!”

“Stop thinking of the negative and think of the positive!”

All of these things only made me feel worse about my situation and myself. It made me feel like I was the exception. I was the one that was never going to get the healing. I was the one God was punishing because I’m one ungrateful little b**ch and I’m not thankful I’m adopted. I hate being adopted. I heard people say, “There are reasons people don’t get there healing!”

What in the actual F*CK does that even mean?

*pardon the curse words, but I’ve come to the realization from some close friends that cursing can be therapeutic and it’s not all that bad. It feels really good to say a curse word every now and then and as part of my unconditioning out of the church, I’m allowing myself to say a curse word when I want. 🙂 

Do the people who say these things know how damaging this can be to people? I found myself running a rat race trying to BE HEALED in Jesus name and it never worked! What did work is the moment I left out of the church and began to process my REAL PAIN away from all the HOOPLA that the church pushed on me, I became much more free than I had ever been! I found healing in that freedom more than I ever did inside the doors of the church or inside Celebrate Recovery.

Now that I’m an outsider looking in I’ve learned so much in gaining a better understanding in my truth, the truth and God’s truth. Let’s dissect that for a moment. What does that even look like?

The more I share my truth, the more uncomfortable it is for non-adoptees to hear, read and learn about the damage adoption causes an adoptee. They want me to be healed so I shut up. They want me to “get over it” so they stop hearing about it. They want me to move on with my life, because they are done hearing the truth. Reality is adoption is damage and some of the damage can never be undone.

I’ve learned many times the truth hurts, and it’s hard to swallow. Of all the adoptee activism I’ve done in my 8 years of coming out of the fog, I’ve heard HUNDREDS of adoptee stories! If not thousands. I have put in the time, energy and work to learn from so many adoptees from all over the world and guess what. The MAJORITY of them have heartbreaking stories where adoption has negatively impacted every area of their lives, for an entire lifetime. I wouldn’t make this stuff up! I can’t unknow what I know.

If God is the way, the truth and the life, then GOD IS TRUTH. Let’s be truthful for a moment. What about the broken, hurting and lost adoptees? Who is looking out for them? Who is speaking for them when they don’t feel strong enough to speak for themselves? Where are the resources for them?

Because being a broken, hurting and lost adoptee myself I have only found that for myself in creating it for not only myself, but other adoptees in Adoptees Connect.

Do you think my fire and passion for this Adoptee “thing” came from nothing? No, it came from a very dark and painful place where I have had no choice but to reside for most of my life because of no resources for adoptees.

What if I become “Healed in Jesus Name”?

What does that look like?

Will my spark die?

Will my purpose dissolve?

Will my fire die for Adoptee City?

Will I walk off into the sunset as a “Healed Adoptee” feeling WHOLE and leaving all the broken adoptees behind to figure it all out on their own? Will I finally be happy inside and outside and the dark cloud be gone? Will I forget all about being adopted and how much it’s impacted every area of my life? Will my triggers be dissolved into none at all? Will my mother wound go away? Will my trauma disappear? Will my grief and loss be non-existent? Will my heart finally be WHOLE? Will my truth disappear?

If I answer all these questions, and if I’m REAL about it and if I share the TRUTH, if I let all these things go, what will I have? What will my purpose be?

If God heals, and he wants us to be whole, what about those of us who try that, and we don’t get our healing? How do you know it’s not for a good purpose or a God purpose instead of a punishment? please be careful what you say to people!

What if I’m alive here today so I can share the pain of what it’s like growing up in an emotionally and mentally abusive adoptive home, so that hopefully other adoptees who have experience this won’t feel alone? What if I’m here to bring light (truth) to the reality of the damage that happens anytime a mother and a child is separated? How do we know that my story, my pain hasn’t gone away because God wants the world to know that adoption TODAY isn’t what he intended for it to be? How do we know if all the secrecy and lies in adoption that impacted me in negative ways, is something God wants brought to light because HE IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE?

Why is this so hard for some people to accept about ADOPTION? Adoption is rooted and grounded in grief, loss and division! Secrecy and lies follow suit. What if I’m not “Healed in Jesus Name” so I can share my truth that is the same TRUTH thousands and thousands of adoptees have all over the world?

What if my pain is here to stay because I have work to do?

Should I trade my pain for complicity?

Nope.

Not me.

I will continue to hold it, keep it tight so I can continue to share the truth about the jacked up adoption industry and how negatively adoption has and will continue to impact adoptees in a negative way all around the world.

What a hefty price to pay, to carry this burden that has been placed upon my shoulders. At least in the process I’m being true to me, who I am and my experience. I’m being true to my fellow adoptees who are all over the place hurting, some on the edge of suicide, isolated and all alone. At least I’m doing something positive with this pain. At least it won’t go in vein. At least I’m sharing my truth as I see it. I’m not drinking to numb my pain any longer. This is the reality of being an adult adoptee. This is my reality.

Another reason I’ve hung onto this pain so tight is because it’s all I have of my birth mother. That’s extremely hard to comprehend to some people but for me, meeting her once, and her slamming the door shut left me with a lifetime of questions, pain, hurt and more severe abandonment and rejection issues than anyone on this earth can imagine or comprehend.  I wrote about the pain associated with my birth mother one time, and you can read that here; Mother May I but even after this writing it’s been impossible for me to let go of the pain associated with HER, my birth mother.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because it’s all I have of her. I don’t have the memories, I don’t have the lessons learned, I don’t have the relationship other people have or had with their mother. I have nothing of her, but the pain. The balloon at the top of this photo is a symbol for me that if I let go of the pain I will be sitting in an empty chair. I’ll disappear into a world of nothingness, more alone than before.

How do I let the pain (her) go?

For me, this has been one of the hardest things to do, that’s easier said than done. Mother’s Day I’m reminded of her, everyday I look in the mirror I’m reminded of her.  I’m her daughter weather she wanted me or not. I have her fingers, her feet, her skin tone, her alcohol issues, her stubborn spirit. I am her. If I let her go, I let myself go.

Does this make sense to anyone?

Anyway, as the poem “Mother May I” says, “But if I let it go, what will I have? There are no memories to remember, no future, and no forever. I thought of saving a piece, folding it up and putting it away. Then I can take it out on a rainy day. Because then you will know I never forgot you. I never want you to think I forgot about you”

Who would have ever thought that out of the fog, into recovery being an adoptee this MOTHER WOUND would be so deep and a wound that is such a mixture of emotions filled with grief, loss and pain. Even if I try to let the pain go, and let her go the wound is still there.

MOTHER LESS is what I’ll always be.

That impacts every day of my life in it’s own way.

For me acceptance has been key, and that is acceptance of the pain as well. If I get on the bandwagon of “Being Healed” that will go against my acceptance of the pain and this journey and it will only hurt me more. Have I healed in some regards? Absolutely. I’ve grown and healed a lot over the years and I believe I will grow and heal some more. It’s taking out the expectation that one day I will be totally be healed is something that’s been extremely important in my journey. There is too much pain from all different angles to ever believe I will wake up healed one day. For me, learning how to navigate the triggers when they come and sharing my pain in my writings has been healing for me. Knowing I’m not alone by networking with my fellow adoptees has also been a important part of my journey.  Validation has been critical to my acceptance and healing as well.

Because I have adoptee pain, it doesn’t mean I haven’t been able to find some beauty in my life. I have a million things I’m thankful for, and there are things I love about my life. There are things that bring me great joy, and comfort. Please don’t mistake my blog post as I’m someone sitting around mad, angry and mean all the time. That’s farthest from the truth. This happens to be part of my therapy, and part of my healing space. This is where I share my adoptee pain. #healingthroughwriting

Sharing my views on Adoptee Pain from my experience is something I’ve wanted to write about for some time now. For the adoptees reading, how have you handled your pain? How have you processed it? What has worked for you and what has that process been like for you?

Many Blessings,

img_4447

Pamela Karanova | Adult Adoptee