It’s Hard to Smile Today – My Tribute to Adoptee Remembrance Day 10/30/2020

IT’S HARD TO SMILE TODAY

It’s hard to smile today, when so many adoptee smiles have been washed away. If you know an adoptee, let me take you on a ride in an Adoptees mind. Sit down and give me a few minutes of your time.

Imagine being in your mother’s womb, where there is only room for scared hearts beating as one. The day we are born should be as bright as the beaming stars in the sky.

Her heartbeat warms our hearts like the bright & shiny sun but quickly turns to gloom as soon as you make your grand entrance into the delivery room.

Like a thief in the night, your sacred heartbeat is gone. Disappeared. You are all alone, no longer one. Where is your bright and shiny sun?

She’s gone and she’s not coming back. Pre-verbal trauma will be carried around like a permanent backpack. We can run but we can’t hide, adoptee triggers bring on lifelong thoughts of suicide.

Adoptees are dying searching for their sun. Carrying so much pain because being separated from your mother is a deep rooted trauma and inhumane.

“LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED”

That’s a damn lie. No matter what they say, love isn’t enough or a house full of stuff. Buckle up for the ride called “The Fight of Your Life!”

Fighting the fight of your life with your very first breath, unattached to anyone because of the broken bond. Most days the only escape seems like death.

We might not want to die, but we want out of here. We’re sick and tired of the continuous emptiness inside, the heartbreak and never ending tears.

We’re tired of therapying the therapists. No one understands adoptee layers unless they are one of us.

When you say “Screw the world, I no longer want to live, I have nothing left to give!” I want you to know your adoptee tribe knows your pain. We love you with no ulterior motives and we have nothing to gain.

Everyday can seem like an uphill battle being tormented by things everyday people can’t relate too. They have no idea what it feels like to have your entire history erased or what it feels like to look in the mirror and see “Nobody’s Face.”

There was a nothing wrong with your views or how you feel. What’s wrong is relinquishment and adoption trauma being subjects that are considered taboo.

Rooted in relinquishment trauma, dark clouds are everywhere, most days feeling hallow and empty inside. Being born a burden is a heavy load to carry.

The world says “Be Thankful!” but they are clueless what it feels like to feel like a piece of property. Paid in full for a cash price. Only to make the dreams come true for another person’s life. Meanwhile, our entire lives are rooted in secrecy and lies.

It’s hard to smile today, but I wish I could wipe your teardrops away. If I had one more chance, I would hug you so tight and tell you wherever you are in life, everything’s gonna be alright.

It’s hard to smile today. You will always be remembered because your heart and smile are as big as the sky.

Please know we will never let your memories fade away, I wish I could take your pain away.

It’s hard to smile today.

RIH to all the Adoptees who didn’t make it by way of suicide or the hands of their adoptive parents. 💛

Acknowledging My Dance with Depression

This isn’t an easy topic for me to write about, but I feel it deep in my soul that it’s a topic I need to bring to light. Especially right now in our current times.

I have never acknowledged that depression has impacted me, and I’ve really never written about it. However much of my life experiences and feelings along the way have given me every reason to acknowledge it. There is a reason for this denial, and I would like to share it with you.

Adoptee sadness has riddled every area of my life, along with daily feelings of constant anxiety. I can guess it’s been similar for many of my fellow adoptees. Grief & loss due to my adoption experience is something I will process until I leave this earth and go to my grave. I’ve accepted it’s here to stay.  

But is grief and loss the same as depression? I think each persons journey is unique to them, as well as their struggle with depression. There is no cookie cutter one size fits all. I’ve never been good at gauging feelings and how I feel and putting it into words. I think it’s partly because no one ever asked me my feelings growing up, and the feelings I did have we’re pushed so deep inside due to gaslighting from my adoptive mom I never was able to process verbally how I felt. It’s still hard for me to do this but I’ve gotten better over the years. Here, I hope to articulate how I’m feeling.

One of the most significant examples of depression I have experience within my life is that of my adoptive mom. She was mentally ill in many ways, but major depression was one of the issues she had. She suffered from narcissism, manic depression, pill addiction, and the list could go on. Her pill addiction and the examples she set were very unhealthy ones that have impacted me my whole life. She was never a happy or healthy mom, ever. I think I remember 2 days of my whole life where she said, “I feel good today.” She was always in bed, crying, sleeping, or in the middle of a suicidal manic episode which overrode any positive experiences I ever had wither. I’m sure I have some, but the trauma in her home is bigger.

I have done everything in my power to not be like my adoptive mother or my birth mother. All I have ever wanted was for my kids to see a happy and healthy mom because that’s something I never had. Giving them less than that I feel like a failure as a parent, defective.

 I have always done a great job at hiding things, and I stop anyone from knowing my issues, because I don’t want to burden people. I have a few close friends who I can confide in when times get tough, but no one really knows the inner thoughts of me or my struggles daily. I will put on a smile, try to find the positive in every situation, and tell you everything is just great.

I’ve been able to find joy amid the pain and I have always preferred to share the joy with others in a way to bring them a positive outlook on what life can truly be. But what about when things change, and things aren’t looking so positive anymore? What if all the things that brought you inner and outer happiness are no longer able to be found? What if the same people you’ve been able to turn to are going through their own struggles? What if the pain is so great, you spend day after day just surviving, sitting in sorrow?

I feel guilty on top of feeling this way.

Things I think about, are the fact that other people are struggling much worse than I am. I still have my job, I have my physical health, I have 3 healthy kids, a home, and a roof over my head. I’ve survived a whole hell of a lot, just like all of us have. But I still am feeling sadness and sorrow daily. It’s not been something I can shake like I’m used to doing. Usually it comes for a few hours, or a day or two and it tapers off. Currently, I’m going on 6-8+ weeks. I realize some people have lived with depression their entire lives. If I’m transparent, I think it’s impacted me my entire life as well. However, I’ve denied it because I don’t want to be like my adoptive mom, or to show signs of being an unhealthy mom like she was.  

I realize currently many things can play into how we are all feeling. Let’s be honest, our current state of affairs are enough to let anyone feel this way all alone. Then you add real life struggles to it, or crisis situations, and it adds to the current situation. I think everyone is having a hard time right now, and it’s so understandable.

I noticed a few months ago when the situation happened with the adoptive mom/therapist (can read here) it was the beginning of a downward spiral for me and I haven’t been right since. It left me feeling hopeless. Seeking therapy, one more freaking time was a HUGE step for me. It was truly a last resort, and I was at a place where I was willing to do ANYTHING to not feel the way I was feeling and to work on adoptee triggers. I knew these experiences that drove me to therapy (once again) were rooted in RELINQUISHMENT TRAUMA but no one can HELP ME! I was faced with the hard reality that I will have to live with these issues for the rest of my life because I give up on therapy.

While this situation had me “down and out” another situation happened within a few days. My son and daughters close friend committed suicide, who was an adoptee. Sadness and sorrow sunk in for so many reasons. I knew this young man (22 y/o) personally for years, and I looked at him like another son. He reached out to me in June by phone. He said he was online, looking for adoptee resources because he was having significant abandonment and self esteem issues and he needed some support. He found my information regarding Adoptees Connect and called me. I was so happy he did. I let him know our group would be meeting again in August, and I would love to meet with him between now and then. We text several times between June and August, but we never got to get together in person. I had just text him the end of July to let him know our meeting time and date was August 2nd, and that I would love to see him. but I got no response. I also text him in July to see if he wanted to meet to talk, but I got no response. On August 11th was the day he decided to end it all and he committed suicide. If only I did more. I will always wish I did more. My heart is broken is an understatement.

The sadness that our entire family felt, and the sadness I carry is a sadness I don’t think I have ever felt in this way. It’s been constant, and I really can’t see past it for long. This situation happening, along with the therapy situation made me realize a lot of things. I always knew there really isn’t enough professional help for adoptees, but this hit so close to home. We’re on our own. If we don’t connect with one another, we will die alone and die trying. It really made me realize even more so how important Adoptees Connect, Inc. is to the adoptee community. However, we still can’t be responsible for walking someone through processing relinquishment trauma. We aren’t equipped! We aren’t therapy groups. We’re primarily listeners putting an emphasis on CONNECTING IN REAL LIFE. It’s made all the difference in the world to have this community, but even then it’s sometimes not enough.  

My thoughts have scared me the last few months. I have thought many times, daily sometimes hourly that I wish I could just die and end it all. There is a difference between wanting to commit suicide, attempting suicide, and thinking about suicide. Please understand I am not going to harm myself. I would never put my kids through that because I’m all they have. If I didn’t have them, I would have been gone. I hate adoption and all the pain it has caused me and all of my fellow adoptees I love and care about. Yet our fu*ked up world continues to celebrate mothers and babies being separated. Adoptees are dying from broken hearts, relinquishment trauma and adoption trauma yet they still celebrate our trauma. F*ck them and f*ck adoption.

I have a list of self-care things I do when I feel sad, or blue. They have been great for my mental health, but at this season they aren’t working like they always have. This is when I started to realize that I was struggling with more of a depression, than just grief and loss. I say they both intertwine for me at times because my grief and loss due to adoption is never ending. It’s been hard for me to tell them apart. I will also share; these are not the only situations that are currently on my plate. There are several more, however I wish to keep them private. I’ve become a professional at hiding my true feelings, all the way back to being 5 years old learning I was adopted. Isn’t that how us adoptees are programed and gaslighted from the beginning? “Be thankful you weren’t aborted” or “Be thankful someone took you in when your own mother didn’t want you.” We’ve had to break through mile high barriers just to tap into our pain. Some adoptees never get to that point, and they die taking it to their graves.

I took a few pictures on my birthday which was August 13. You couldn’t tell by the pictures that my heart and soul was ripped to shreds, yet I knew I needed to put on a dress, some red lipstick and a smile so at least when it’s all said and done, my kids will have some pictures of me to remember me by. At that time I was able to share how I have stayed sober for 8 years. That day was hard to get through with so much happening during the weeks that lead up to that day, but I was still able to find the goodness in life. Even celebrating my RE-Birthday , it took everything in me to celebrate that day, and I got my sh*t together just enough for my kids. I just wanted the day to be over.

I tried therapy, that didn’t work. As a last-ditch effort to straighten my mental health out I decided to ask my doctor for an antidepressant. I would like to stop feeling like I want to die. If you understand my history with my adoptive mom, and her pill addiction, and mental health issues you would understand why this was such a hard decision for me. I tried one medication, that made things worse. So, I’m currently trying another. If this doesn’t work, I give up on trying medication. I have no more options.

If you read over my blog all the way back to 2012 you can’t say I’m not trying to help myself. I think I’ve tried everything under the sun to heal relinquishment & adoption trauma.

I think there are several reasons I’ve decided to share this place in my journey. But first let me share what it costs for me to be here, pouring my feelings out on my website. I run the risk of the ENTIRE WORLD learning my feelings. Being vulnerable in that way isn’t an easy thing. I worry about prospective jobs finding my website, current employers, adoptive and biological family I have severed ties with reading it. I worry about people close to me reading and wondering what they will think. But most of all, I worry about my kids reading it. This article doesn’t show them the “Happy Healthy Mom” I so desperately want them to see. I hope they never read it, but if they do, I would like to tell them I’m sorry.

The other reason I’m sharing is for my fellow adoptees and that whatever they are going through they aren’t alone. I will share it all, if one adoptee can somehow benefit from my story. I also want to share that I believe deep down that this is a season. I refuse to accept depression and the way I am feeling is going to always be here. I think it’s been extra hard accepting the fact that this is it, this is the cards I was dealt and there are no more chances things will ever change for me regarding my adoption experience. Some days are harder than others.

It’s National Suicide Awareness month, and October is National Mental Health Awareness month. I hope me being transparent with my struggles, encourages you to be transparent with yours. Sometimes sharing can be a great healing tool. I’m not looking for sympathy or to be fixed or saved. I’m the only person that can figure this out.

Many of my fellow adoptees around the world are feeling the same way I am, and non adopted people too. I know I’m not alone although I feel like it much of the time. I’m thankful for this space where I can share my feelings. It’s been invaluable over the years. As I learn to be patient with the world, due to our current situations, I just ask others be patient with me. We have no idea what other people are carrying. I will keep pressing on, I’m behind in emails. Sorry. I’m isolated, as so many of us are. I’m doing what I must do to stay afloat, and I hope whatever you are doing, you do the same.

If you reach out to me, I’m going to tell you “I’m good” because I really don’t know how to talk about all these things, nor do I want to talk about them. It’s hard enough just living them and thinking them and feeling them. It does feel good sharing them here, but then there is always the risk of what others will think. But I honestly don’t even care anymore. I care more about the adoptee who might read this, who’s feeling isolated and all alone. I think we’re all in survival mode. All we can do is take it one day at a time.

I look forward to brighter days, and for a future where adoptees don’t have to carry their heartbreak and pain to their graves. I have a feeling many of us are feeling similar ways? If that’s you, what’s helped you?

Ignorance is Bliss, My Experience with Therapying the Therapist

At 5 years old I remember the first time I sat in a therapist office. It was my adoptive mom, my adoptive sister and me. She used triangulation tactics to turn my adoptive sister and I against one another. It was a regular scene at our home that all hell would break loose and things were chaotic on the regular. I’m not sure who directed the therapist visits, but if I were to make a guess it would have been my adoptive mom. It should have been social services or the courts but somehow, they never were called.  

I remember having alone visits with the therapist, as well as visits with all of us together. Adoption was a topic that impacted our family in every way, however it was never talked about in the therapy sessions.

What was talked about is our adoptive moms parenting skills, and our responses to them as children. When we would share the experiences in this home, the therapist would encourage us all to do some different things to help calm the house down. One of those things was going to our rooms to allow time to calm down when all hell would break loose. We tried to keep our end of the bargain; however, our adoptive mom would constantly come banging on our door, manic demanding we open them.

I didn’t have the language for it then as a child, but now I do. My adoptive mom was narcissistic, she would have manic depressive and paranoid schizophrenic episodes, she was addicted to prescription pain pills, and she was suicidal. She battled major depression and would try to commit suicide on the regular.

Anytime the therapist would guide her to do something different as a parent, she felt targeted. She stopped going to that therapist soon after, and eventually she would find another one. I remember therapist my entire childhood, but adoption was never talked about.

I started to run away around 12-13 years old. I hated this home and found being in the streets a new freedom I had never experienced before. I started getting arrested at 13, and spent my juvenile life locked up in detention, drug and alcohol treatment and I also spent a lot of time in group homes.

Compared to the house I lived in, I always felt a peace in any of the places I was locked up at, over the home I was adopted into. Structure was something I wasn’t used too but I liked it. It was peaceful. But you would never believe of all the places I was, and all the therapist I saw throughout my juvenile years, Adoption was never talked about. It was very much on my mind looking back, I wonder why I didn’t say anything?

I wonder why they didn’t say anything.

I remember sitting in from of my probation officer, Kathy Lake. She was very stern, and by the book when it came to probation, but she never once asked me, “Why do you keep getting in so much trouble? What is making you angry? What’s happened to you in life that’s hurt you so bad you keep breaking the law?” I always wished someone got to the bottom of adoption issues, but at that time the outbursts in the home were at the forefront of all hell breaking loose. I took my anger and pain outside to the streets.

Part of me feels like I didn’t’ mention adoption being the root of my pain because I didn’t understand the links between the way I was behaving and feeling and adoption. I also feel I was gaslighted from an exceedingly early age to be thankful and grateful that a family took me in when my own family didn’t want me. I was my adoptive moms greatest joy because I gave her the title “Mother.” How could I share my real feelings, especially when they all tell me to be thankful? My true feelings would hurt them. I didn’t know how to process this as a child.

 I think one of the biggest issues I had was being told to feel a certain way, but inside I didn’t feel that way at all. I wasn’t thankful or grateful. I hated the home I lived in. I didn’t have the language as a child to come up with connecting the dots on these topics and no one else helped me find this language or open conversations to talk about it. My adoptive parents, therapists or adults in my life ever helped me gain an understanding that relinquishment trauma very well could be the root of my issues, compacted by adoption trauma. I feel they all failed me miserably even all the way to seeing a therapist at 18, because I was suicidal. They never brought adoption up, nor did I but most of these years of experiences with therapy I was a child.

I can’t help but wonder if it’s the same way for my fellow adoptees who are children sitting in the therapy rooms today? Has anything changed? Have the therapist failed them too? Is this a big reason why adoptees are 4x more likely to attempt suicide, as well as over representing prisons, jails, mental health, and treatment facilities? I can’t help but wonder.

Where does the real problem lie?

It was up to me to do the self-work as an adult and try to get to the root of my problems. No one was going to do it for me. After spending 27 years addicted to alcohol, angry and mad at the world, running a rat race trying to get to the bottom of what my problem was, let’s all share a drum roll please…

Relinquishment Trauma was the root, compacted by adoption trauma. Surprise, surprise.  I have tried many times to get therapy as an adult as I’ve emerged out of the fog, and into my truth. There have been times my pain was so great, I just wanted to end my life. But instead I have hung onto hope for many reasons. Mainly my children, and my fellow adoptees.

As my experiences with therapy as an adult have been significantly different than when I was a kid, at the end of the day they have still failed me. I have tried several times to find a new therapist, begin to build a relationship and I find myself explaining all the dynamics to the adoption experience so that they can understand the magnitude and depth of my root issues. Complex PTSD, Complex Grief, Loss, Abandonment, Rejection, The Primal Wound, Relinquishment & Adoption Trauma, Bonding, (or lack of) Identity Issues, Anger, Rage, and the list could go on. Each time I have found myself therapying the therapist. At that point, I feel like I should be the one getting paid. At what point do I realize this therapeutic relationship isn’t going to go anywhere because this person isn’t educated on all these levels of adoption and relinquishment trauma so they can help me? It’s more like I’m helping them.

I’m tired of therapying the therapist.

I recently had an experience that left me with no hope that I will ever be able to receive therapy ever again. I shared on my website an article called My Experience with Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART). At the end of the second session ( I committed to four) my new found therapist lets me know she’s an adoptive mom, and she asks me if she could share my information about Adoptees Connect, Inc. with some of her friends and colleagues. I won’t lie, it was a huge red flag learning she was an adoptive mom. However, due to my two ART sessions being great experiences I expressed that would be fine, and they could reach out to me if they had any questions.

A few days later, I get an email from my therapist as follows:

The message above was copied and pasted to me via email, from my therapist. She did not include the identity of the colleague/parent/therapist.

I can’t even begin to express how upset this made me. First of all, there is one adoptive mom on this entire earth that I have had a great relationship with and that’s because she’s my friend of over 25 years, and she is 100% receptive to learning the adoptee experience in hopes to understand her adopted children better. She’s it for me. The rest of the experiences I’ve had with them haven’t been great. I will add this experience to the list of them.

When I read this email, my stomach sank. It’s been said by a friend close to me that she likely thought “I could handle it.” I think she’s right, but that doesn’t excuse the message that was sent concealing her colleague/adoptive mom/friends’ identity, meanwhile mine is wide open for her to learn. In her defense, I agreed that would be fine to share my information, but this was taking it was too far IMHO. Her friend should have contacted me directly. I found this to be very unprofessional.

As soon as I read the email, I felt like I had two adoptive moms against me and that I was all of a sudden in a position where I not only had to defend myself, but my nonprofit and also every other adopted person on the planet. It was an awkward and uncomfortable situation to be in. I immediately had to put my Adoptees Connect, Inc. hat on and that made me even more upset.

As feelings started to boil over, I woke up early the next morning to craft the email I would soon send to my therapist and her friend who are both adoptive moms. After this, I sent an email to this new therapist letting her know I couldn’t keep a therapist relationship with her due to the conflict of interest of her being an adoptive mom. I had someone mention that I let her off the hook, which is true. I resent that, but one more time I had to put my Adoptees Connect hat on, and it overrode my own feelings and I was really angry that I was put in a position where I had to do this.  As I crafted this email to these two adoptive moms, here I was once again therapying the therapist/s.

This situation tainted and ruined the once trusted relationship that I was trying to build with this new therapist. It was over. This situation left me feeling so discouraged and upset, it was the beginning of a downward spiral of sadness and emotions I hadn’t felt in alone while. I’m still not over it. This was a last resort for me. Not to mention this experience tainting the two positive therapy sessions I had.

I realize there are many adoptee’s who are stepping up to become ADOPTEE COMPETENT therapist, but there are none in my entire state, and I’m sure that’s the same for many of my fellow adoptees. Major kudos to all those who are adoptees and therapists, and those who are in the process of becoming therapist. I personally know many of you, and I am so thankful for what you give our community!

 I will share the list that is a recommended resources on the Adoptees Connect website and that’s Adoptee Therapist Directory if by chance you are an adoptee in search of an adoptee therapist please feel free to check this website out.

I genuinely believe there is an incredibly significant inadequacy when it comes to therapist and their general knowledge regarding all the different dynamics to relinquishment and adoption trauma. So much missing data and information to be learned and it’s so needed for the adoptee population. From my experience in therapying the therapist and their lack of being able to help me, is one of the reasons Adoptees Connect, Inc. was created and founded as a nonprofit. Because the world has failed adoptees, and we’re truly all we have when it comes to being able to share our experiences with others who get it. And many days that doesn’t seem like enough. We can listen and be there which is what the Adoptees Connect groups are focused on but we aren’t equipped to counsel other people’s trauma.

If you are an adoptee and have had a great experience with therapy, or even an adoptee who is considering therapy please don’t take my article as a reason to discontinue or disconnect from therapy. You might have a better experience than me. If you do, I’m happy for you. I encourage therapy if the relationship is serving the adoptee in a positive way and I feel it’s very needed to be able to heal from the adoptee experience. Unfortunately, after 46 years of being on this earth, I have yet to find that relationship but I’m happy for those to have.

Maybe one day all the adoptee therapist can get together and write some adoptee centric literature for therapist and adoptive parents that can help teach non-adopted therapist about the truth about adoption? I know it’s a far fetch, but it needs to happen. We need adoptee therapist and more adoptee centric resources; our lives and survival depend on it.  

For my fellow adoptees, can you relate to any of what I have shared here? If you feel up to it, please share your experiences.