There is an ache in my heart. One that won’t go away. No it’s not physical, nor is it spiritual. I can’t quite describe it. It’s an ache of loss. An ache of abandonment. An ache that ebbs and flows as the tides of the ocean but never quite goes away. An Adoptee Ache.
A friend recently lost a child. Another friend lost their First Mother/Birth Mother, as I have. Lost without the answers. Lost without the knowing or experiencing a Mother’s love.
When your heart breaks, in love, in friendship, in partnership and most of all in the loss of your mother, its very difficult and painful. When you are adopted and this happens, your heart is shattered like broken glass.
Modern neuroscience has discovered that the emotional suffering experienced registers in the same place as physical pain in the brain. When we feel abandoned, hurt, rejected, our bodies react as if we’ve been injured and our heart aches.
We go over and over in our minds what we could have done differently, said differently, acted differently until the point the story almost drowns you in despair.
Loss is the core of adoption. It’s no wonder we get swallowed up in the dark hole of grief when a first parent dies. I noticed along the way of my story just how many losses I had incurred before I turned 25. At least 10. Ten people that I loved. Ten people that I knew cared about me. Ten. That’s not counting numerous others after the young age of 25. Each loss opened a door to the ultimate loss. The loss of my Real Mother. The mother I never knew. The mother that never mothered me. The mother that I longed for, ached for, for five decades.
When you suffer such loss the first thing you have to do is regain your dignity and wisdom so you can bear the aching of your heart.
My wise teachers tell me that we grow most through suffering, loss and betrayal. Our capacity to lead an authentic and free life deepens. As we work our way through these difficulties, our ability to love and feel compassion deepens, along with the wisdom that will help us in the future.
We need to sit and hold our heart with love and with the appreciation it deserves. Recognize any feelings of unworthiness, of longing and fear, of loneliness or vulnerablility and neediness . Feel the soft side, the tenderness along with the grief.
We carry layers of pain as adoptees. All of the buried stories of abandonment and loss surface when we grieve the loss of our birth mother or rejection by others. I could feel it as I was reading my story. My chest tightened, my shoulders began to ached, my eyes became blurry, my back pained and my heart ached. I had to stop and recognize where my physical pain was coming from and release it with the honour a broken heart deserves.
is this pain who I really am? Is it my essence, my soul? Or do I just need to honour it, acknowledge it, open and expand it until I am able to breathe in peace?
I choose in my meditation to sit with my feelings. To feel the immense loneliness and sadness when it comes. I can breathe it all in and within that space, I find peace. I find my home.
I can recognize now as I look back in written word of my past losses that I am part of an eternal cycle of joining and separating. That this cycle is shared with all living beings, from all times. I think of the all the broken and aching hearts there are right now in the world and I am able to breathe with compassion for all of them.
Your heart can teach you many things when it’s aching or broken. It teaches you that through your suffering you become stronger. It teaches you that by passing through these trials you will come to learn who you truly are. You will find what cannot be torn from you, what can’t be lost. You will find your wholeness and well being.
We learn that people and things are not possessed by us. They are here for their purpose only. They come and they go. Despite our losses we remain whole. Betrayal and loss tear open the heart. If we look through the tear we find the wisdom and compassion to go on.
As I put words on paper and see just what I have lived through I also know it’s a process of renewal and healing that may take the rest of my days. I can now hold my heart with tenderness and love for it has many cracks, and as Leonard Cohen says…The cracks are where the light gets in.
I also know it’s not just about me. It’s about us. Life is difficult for everyone.
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness
May all beings be free from suffering and the cause of suffering
May all beings never be parted from freedom’s true joy
May all beings dwell in equanimity free from attachment and aversion