All things found in the world and beyond
Are illusions created by one’s own concepts.
Grasping at them but further distorts perception.
Give up grasping and see things as they are.
H.H. Dalai Lama
My two memoirs are written. My story is finally going to be “out there” and yet, last night as I lay in bed, I thought about the person I used to be. I thought about the previous lives I’ve lived within this lifetime and there have been many.
From the time I was adopted I was forced to play many roles within that family. I was a maid, housekeeper, performer, model, pianist, choir girl, girl guide. I could go on and on. We all know, as adoptee’s, how we twist and turn trying to fit into the place given to us after we are given away. We never fit no matter how hard we play the roles and how we try to mould into a space that was never meant for us in the first place.
Over a lifetime of trying to fit in to the many subcultures of the 60’s and 70’s still didn’t work.. You know, deep down that you don’t fit and yet from experience and desire to belong we still try.
I go over these lives, the people that were part of the journey. I wonder where they are and what they are doing, knowing in my heart most of them are dead. Yet here I am, alive and telling my story.
This morning when I got up I reached for my stethoscope that hangs on the hall stand as a reminder of one of those lives. I was going to listen to my little Jangos chest, just as I did for many years with patients.
Where did she go? The very well respected, confident R.N. who thrived on stress and yet always remained so cool and calm. I remember how she felt each day she went to work excited for the challenge and unpredictability of the ward. I wonder where those I cared for are, how they are doing knowing, some are not with us, yet I think about them.
As real as those years were and the memories still are, it’s like a dream today. It reminds me of Buddha’s own words. “See this floating world as like a dream, like a mirage, like a fantasy.” I also remember, I think it was Yeats saying we are all actors in a play, on the stage of life and we can do, be anything we want.
I remember falling in love for the first time. I remember the overwhelming sadness when it didn’t last. I remember thinking I would never live anywhere but Toronto and that if I lived beyond 30 it would be a miracle. I remember people I loved dying and leaving me alone in the jungle of city streets soothing my pain with my drug of choice.
Several times I came home to an empty house, all of my belongs gone. Mostly I worried about my writing, my songs and my guitar. I still look when I see someone playing on the streets. It was the most beautiful Gibson 12 string and that pretty much was the total of my belongings, yet to start over so many times was just part of life back then.
Why is it so hard to let go? Let go of who we used to be. Let go of the reminders of what once was. I got rid of a box of pictures years ago because I was afraid when I died, my daughter would see who I really was and here I am writing it out for the world to see.
I remember, when I got off of the “streets” and my first living space was a purple and black hall closet. How safe and cozy I felt, confined in that tiny place because it was mine. I remember the body that was a speed swimmer and the feeling of gliding thru the sparkling water muscles working in unison and without pain.
I have an old shirt I wore when i was in India. Since then I’ve gained a huge amount of weight from illness and medications. I remember where I wore it and the smells and sounds I experienced and if I hold it to my face, i can still smell the Indian spices and Buddhist monastery incense. If I get rid of it, will I loose touch with those memories? Will I throw out and important part of who I am? Who will I be if I rid myself of everything?
As an adoptee that has been fragmented by reunion I know what it’s like to not know who you are, either before or after reunion. We have walked around for years in the roles we thought were such a big part of us. We adoptee’s know the emotional collapse of our psyche that occurs at some point in reunion. Other’s of course, have no idea. Why would they when they were standing on their own roots, grounded in the knowing of who they are.
We are all connected to people, places, things, traditions, beliefs, habits, ideas. Are we defined by these connections? I believe so, perhaps that is why adoptees struggle so much with identity. Without roots you have no ground to stand on, no stability in who you are, just the roles you play.
In Buddhism we are constantly reminded that these “things” represent our attachments, thus attaching us to the world. As in the previous post I wrote that our attachments are what cause us suffering. Because we are so focused on our attachments we don’t pay attention to the truth of our present moment, we fail to follow our deeper values.
Attachment is all about wanting and not wanting. Its about desire and dislike. What do you want most in life? What do you want least? I write about this because as a “post fragmented “adoptee who has spent the last years putting myself back together in a different order I can now reflect and see where my attachments were and how much suffering I set myself up for by clinging to things. It took me 3 yrs to stop paying my nursing licence even tho’ I knew I was too ill to ever go back and had also moved across the country. If I took that away at the time of physical and emotional crash during reunion what would happen. Who would I be?
I keep repeating this subject because I need to hear it over and over again. Writing makes it real for me. When I recall all of the attachments that have been let go I feel lighter and ready to take on the next chapter. Having strong internal boundaries as well as external control over your own behaviours has helped focus and refine my energy. My spiritual practice is deeper and more intense on a personal level. The sense of inner peace is growing and the inner attachments have lessened. Still a long way to go but the less you carry, the easier the climb.
By letting go of the inner attachments, the roles, the beliefs you open up a space in your heart. Growing virtues such as compassion and loving kindness packed in care emerge. Detachment doesn’t mean you become indifferent by any means. What it does mean is you are less vested in the outcomes. The real possibility of seeing everyone as equal and belonging to the same tribe becomes evident. Even personal loss may be better handled when detachment and understanding is attained.
So, who am I now? I feel lighter, more whole, more spiritual, more grateful, more grounded, less encumbered by the wanting of what could have been and never will be. Its easier to return to that place of peace than ever before. Always a work in progress. I am…
I am not my story and yet it is part of me but not the total of me. That is freedom. I am happy to just “be”. I am.