GOT TRAUMA? Write it out…

Memory is the diary we all carry about with us.

Oscar Wilde

Last night I couldn’t sleep. As I lay there in deep contemplation of all that has happened in the last few years I thought about Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets and the traumas held between their covers. Many of them had been buried so deep and were so painful I couldn’t bare to think about them for years. If you are familiar with my books you  know about The Wall of Secrets.

wall-of-secretsI hid my secrets, my traumas in the drawers for years.  It was the only way to survive. To disassociate until I was able to deal with the immense amount of pain I knew was wrapped around each trauma. I didn’t know if that time would ever come or if I would be strong enough to push through to the other side. I did and I was.

I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for a long time and mindfulness is one of the most important practices Buddha teaches. Also, one of the most challenging.

Sati-Buddha chose this word for Mindfulness meaning “to remember”

There are two kinds of memory:

implicit: which is learning a skill and remembering automatically, like riding a bike.

Explicit: narrative memory, functions through self-awareness accessed thru thought, not body

Trauma is implicit memory. Fight or flight. It encodes itself in the mind and body.

Mindfulness is not only being aware of present but also how trauma embeds into our daily experience. Re-remembering also means bringing that which is disassociated back into the self. It’s recognizing , rejoining something into consciousness that has lurked outside our awareness.

First, I was set afire by the process of finding my birth mother. The primal wound was let out of its cage. I found myself curled up in fetal position many times howling like an injured animal. A guttural sound coming from a place i didn’t know existed. I didn’t understand then what was happening to me. The drawer that held that first trauma had been opened and one by one the rest were beckoning me to open them.

I’m sure everyone around me would tell you that I was an emotional disaster, reacting, reliving without recognizing. I also had a biological family that I so desperately wanted to fit in, yet had just met. It wasn’t until I completely crashed, partly because my mast cell disease had taken over my body and partly because I was so traumatized I was unable to function. No one recognized either, including myself. I had many labels cast in my direction trying to explain things, none fit.

Trauma isn’t held in normal memory because the feelings associated with them are unendurable. They never make it into the part of the brain that makes sense out of emotional experience.

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As the Primal Wound which is our first trauma is based on the neural pathways deep in the amygdala, they operate outside the influence of conscious thought. In an instant trauma can hijack our mind, destroy our awareness. It slips us out of time, no past, no future when one is overtaken by it. It feels like it is happening now. This was Buddha’s philosophy as well. We colour our experiences thru prisms of our own mind. Unresolved trauma waits patiently for opportunity to express itself. Unfortunately, it can be enacted with little self-awareness.

As I was writing, for eight years I lived, breathed every moment of my traumas. I was now in contact with biological  family that constantly reminded me of what I was not part of. The pain of hearing stories, seeing pictures knowing I was missing, had missed 50yrs of being a daughter, a sister, an aunt. For the books, I surrounded myself with visual reminders of old wall paper, pictures, furniture. I felt each moment. I smelled the smells, felt the pain. At times overwhelmingly so. I knew each drawer must be cleared out. There would be no more secrets. In order to find my authentic self, my freedom I had to walk, crawl through the world of traumatic pain to get to the side where peace lived.

As the Buddha taught mindfulness he was aware as psychotherapists are today that trauma encoded in implicit memory could become objects of meditation.

Mindfulness creates a container for our pain. By moving our ego’s to a neutral place of observation we can heal. As I wrote, I collected my dissociative elements and brought them back into self. It’s a very humbling experience but one of relief and healing. As I now hold my traumas in my awareness I can move forward in peace.

Write it out. Even if its for no one but yourself it’s transformative and healing. Come on. Pick up that pen, tap those keys. You can do it.

UNDER CONSTRUCTION; Mind, Body, Soul and Website

So, I know you have been wondering where I have been these last weeks. Right? IMG_5149Let me tell you.

I’ve been everywhere and nowhere.

Easy part first. Slowly I’m creating this blog into a better, more accessible, website. I did say slowly didn’t I?

Mast Cell Wise its been a rough time. Plenty of anaphylaxis, the insertion of a PICC Line which will lead to continuous medications via a CADD Pump and weekly hydration, not to mention the injections of Xolair monthly. My body is tired..very tired. The pain at times unbearable. I have hope that these new trials will provide a better quality of life. Hope is a wonderful thing,. even when you are clinging to it by your fingernails as we often do.  It keeps us going.

SOULSEARCHING

Life on a couch allows one plenty of time for contemplation, meditation and wonder. I have dates set up for readings at library’s, interviews being organized. I need to do these things because, as you know, the books are for Covenant House, Vancouver. The kids, my kids, our kids.

I get worried I won’t be able to honour my commitments and try to stay conscious and awake to my true feelings. Self betrayal comes easy for adoptees, well everyone, but adoptees especially. It can be a habit we don’t even know we have. As adoptees we were born without our truth which you need to be your authentic self. The discovery takes time, energy, search, fragmentation from reunion or discovery and then rebuilding on a stronger foundation.

What do YOU want for a change?

Go with your feelings. Ask yourself when and with whom do you swallow your truth. Why do you swallow your truth? Why do you hide your authentic self? Do you give in to others easily? Why? Are you not worthy of being true to yourself?

Having lived a life of search and discovery I see clearly now as my authentic self. That little whisper of a voice you hear, that sense of spirit, intuition…it belongs to you. That is what you need to tune in to, pay attention and listen to. Overtime, if you don’t follow that inner wisdom, you will feel a loss of energy, power and a sense of spiritual deadness.

Have you given up your own personal story for that of another?

Have you sold out yourself?

Behind that.. lies the voice of fear. Don’t let fear run your life. Ask yourself questions, face fear straight on.

People may judge but in the end it is yours to live, just yours. Embrace yourself and your story. Time passes quickly, life changes. Find your authentic being.

Live loud and strong.

As I contemplate my recent losses, my recent discoveries, my new normal in the physical/medical world, I know I’m now living from my heart and spirit.

David Whyte, the poet reminds us that the soul would rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else’s.

Times will present themselves where you are given the option of which direction to go.

Which will you choose?

FINDING HEART HORSE Memoir of Survival…..one year later

You must declare who you are in public. Public declaration is the highest form of visioning.

Neile Donald Walsh

(That’s the quote from chapter 15.

My Soul Is Not for Sale)

Yesterday Facebook sent me a “memory”.  It was pictures from the book signing at the Hay House I Can Do It Conference in Vancouver last year..exactly a year.

Arriving home from that conference I was ill. Very, very ill with my mast cells taking over pretty much every system in my body. It was also the year of Summer in the hospital. In honour of FINDING HEART HORSE, Memoir of Survival I will post a few lines of how it all began…..

About a Horse

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            I always wanted a horse. I’ve wanted a wild horse, a Palomino horse, an Appaloosa horse, a racehorse, a pony horse and even a miniature horse. I would have settled for a rocking horse, a stuffed horse or even just a picture of a horse when I was a child, but even those small pleasures were prohibited. And so it was that when I was eight years old, I gave myself my own horse, my imaginary Heart Horse.

I’ve had this strong attraction to horses for as long as I can remember. Like a magnet, they have always pulled me in and held me close. They appear in my dreams and on blank pages in my sketchbook. They calm me when I’m disturbed and excite me when I’m bored. My nose longs to inhale their warmth and my fingers crave the feel of their soft wet nuzzle. My eyes are drawn into their own dark, all-knowing eyes and I immediately feel an inexplicable connection. This must be what it feels like to be loved, I think, whenever a horse looks into my eyes.

I never want to leave their safety even if they are not real. But when they are real and standing there before me, it is all the more astounding. How can such a powerful animal be so gentle, and such a gentle beast so beautiful, I wonder.

There is a magical essence I feel when I am with a horse. It’s as if they know me and love me just the same. They see right into a person’s soul and know immediately who they are and what they need.

A horse was the only thing I ever put on my Christmas list when I was a child. It was a huge request I realized, when even the smallest desire was always denied. Gifts were considered indulgences that would only spoil a child, and toys were just distractions from my chores. When I would receive a gift from someone, it almost always disappeared, relegated to a hidden box to remain out of sight, or given to another child who was considered more deserving.

But I never gave up my quest to find a horse of my own.

more to follow …..

Lost Daughter’s Review of Finding Heart Horse & The Wall of Secrets

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Two Memoirs by Claire Hitchon: Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets
Those of us who speak out in favor of adoption reform are frequently accused of being angry and maladjusted due to having a bad adoption experience. We are dismissed as anomalies. Show us the happy adoptees who are on your side, many say. Most adoptees are happy about their situation, don’t you know? Most adoptions give children better lives than they would have had otherwise.

We feel compelled to make the case that there are so-called “happy adoptees” in our ranks who also recognize problems within the institution of adoption that need to be addressed. But what about those of us who did, in fact, have a bad adoption experience? Are we not entitled to speak? Do we not count in the big picture of adoption?

This was the thought I couldn’t shake as I read Claire Hitchon’s first memoir, Finding Heart Horse. Labeling her adoption experience as “bad” would be a gross understatement. She was placed with a physically and verbally abusive adoptive mother who clearly had no love for her and a meek adoptive father who did nothing to intervene on her behalf. To make matters worse, the family attempted to keep her adoption a secret, even from Claire herself.

Young Claire had a passion for horses and found escape from her daily abuse by creating an imaginary pet, the way some children turn to pretend friends for solace:

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“I always wanted a horse . . . And so it was that when I was eight years old, I gave myself my own horse, my imaginary Heart Horse.”

But not very long after she leaves home at fifteen, Claire makes her way to the rough streets of 1960s Toronto where she becomes entangled with another horse—Street Horse, her private name for heroin.

The title of the book refers to her quest to find a real Heart Horse, both literally and figuratively. The memoir chronicles her struggles on the streets with dangerous substances and relationships. All the while, Claire holds tight to a vision given to her as a child by a kind uncle—that out West, there was a place where wild horses roamed the land. She retreats to this place in her mind, imagining she will someday find her Heart Horse there, while in the real world she strives over and over again to create a home and family for herself.

Finding Heart Horse is a difficult book to read, because Claire’s early life was very painful. Yet, it is also a hopeful book about finding strength within oneself to keep trying, to never give up, even when there seems to be no one and nothing you can count on. Claire learned to count on herself and ultimately was rewarded. The tenacity of her spirit could not be broken.

Her first memoir left me with questions that I was pleased to have answered by her recently released second book, The Wall of Secrets. In addition to her imaginary pet Heart Horse, the young Claire also concealed her most private secrets in the wall of antique bank deposit drawers in her father’s library—the place where she would hide to escape from her cruel mother.

In her second memoir, all metaphorical drawers are opened, their secrets revealed. We learn how she discovered that she was adopted when she was eight and that her adoption was more complicated than even she had ever imagined. We see all the ways her adoptive mother continues to torment her into adulthood and how her adoptive father shrinks under the weight of his wife.
Claire Hitchon
Despite the devastation of being virtually family-less, we watch Claire grow into a capable, caring woman who raises a daughter on her own and cares for her aging adoptive parents—even the mother who has been only vile toward her. None of the bad that’s been done to her can squelch Claire’s true, innate nature as a compassionate human being, though her ability to trust in other people’s love for her seems to be indelibly damaged. Claire is a good person, worthy to be loved, yet she struggles to see herself as worthy.

At the age of fifty, Claire resumes the search for her birth mother that she started and then abandoned when she was thirty. All of the drawers in her wall of secrets are finally emptied.

“. . . I was standing in the same spot I’d been standing in just minutes before, but I’d become an entirely different person.

I was someone . . . .”

Along with her original identity, she finds the reason for physical ailments she has struggled with her entire life. Reunion does not mend all wounds—she calls herself the “almost daughter”—but it allows her to view herself and her difficult life with a new perspective.

“Life is not without suffering of some kind. It doesn’t mean that something is necessarily wrong. It just usually means we are clinging to the hope that things will be different.”

Although all is not resolved, The Wall of Secrets concludes on a hopeful note. I wanted Claire to be okay, and by the end of her second memoir, I felt confident that she would be.

Of course, her being okay now does not—and should not—erase all the wrong that was done to her via her adoption. Nor does it mean that she no longer struggles or that she is always happy. None of us who have endured a difficult adoption experience should be expected to never struggle or to keep quiet about it. It is only by opening up all of these walls of secrets that we can understand where changes need to be made to ensure that every future adoption truly brings more good than bad to a child.

Claire Hitchon’s two memoirs describe myriad ways in which adoption affects a person throughout the entirety of her life. Rather than dismissing adoptees like Claire, we need to be listening and learning.

Thank you to Karen Pickell from the amazing website http://www.lostdaughters.com for taking the time to read and review my books.

Lost Daughters Reviews of Finding Heart Horse & The Wall of Secrets

Years ago, when I began my last search in 2003, I didn’t have a computer, books, support, not even a person to talk to about what I was about to do.  In no time at all, a family was found living on the other side of Canada.

A birth mother with three siblings.  I can’t explain the shock, the wonder, the fear that appeared in an instant just saying those words.

After initial reunion…

After getting a computer and embracing the cyber world, I found that adoptees were out there and in fact connecting with each other to support, to assist, to understand.  I was struggling with so many things …alone and not understanding.  I came across a website called LOST DAUGHTERS.  It was me.  I was a lost daughter.

Lost Daughters had a profound effect on me.  I felt for the first time in my life, a sense of belonging.  A place that understood.  A place where other lost daughters came together in compassion and solidarity.  I was home.

I feel honoured that they have been a part of my journey and now have reviewed both FINDING HEART HORSE & THE WALL OF SECRETS

NAMASTE

http://www.thelostdaughters.com/2015/02/two-memoirs-by-claire-hitchon-finding.html

Hay House Radio Interview for Finding Heart Horse

                                          THE WALL OF SECRETS

MEMOIR

OF

THE ALMOST DAUGHTER

I’m working on the final edit of the cover and text.

Within a few days I will reveal the cover and it’s a good one!

To understand The Wall of Secrets which is the sequel to Finding Heart Horse you must start from the beginning…

The Almost Daughter & More

I’m sorry, it was pointed out the link wasn’t working.

 I think I’ve rectified that.  Have a listen…

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HAY HOUSE RADIO INTERVIEW

FINDING HEART HORSE

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I Surrender……Finding Peace beyond Finding Heart Horse

IMG_1488Its been a struggle this week.  Well, lots of weeks actually but particularly this one….this moment.  Eagle feathers have always held special meaning for me and I’ve accumulated a nice sized collection.  All have appeared when my spirit guides have been watching, guarding and all-knowing, that in this particular moment, I need a sign.

A sign to continue, a sign to end, a sign to let go, a sign to be still.  They answer it all.  Yesterday, I went for a short walk and there it was.  Slightly hidden out of view with only the very tip showing.  Had I not been watching, observing, walking mindfully (which is all you can do when you are carrying O2 and being walked by a blind dog) I would have missed it.

I have been sequestered.  Sequestered because I’ve been in a terrible mast cell reaction.   Sequestered because I’ve just now, this very moment submitted the last edit of the sequel to Finding Heart Horse…

The Wall of Secrets

Memoir of The Almost Daughter  

The experience of re reading, re writing, re reading again, over and over and over during a mast cell flare is literally indescribable.  I’m also awaiting the call to travel to Vancouver for the birth of my first GrandOne at the same time I’m writing again, reading again about when I gave birth and the intense realization of my birth mothers pain.

Add in to the mix, National Adoption Awareness Month, National Adoption Day and this years taking back  the power to speak by adoptees #flipthescript.  The cyber world has been bombarded by post after post from all sides…trigger after trigger…It’s been a struggle, the tears have been many, the illness horrific, the editing exhausting, debilitating at times. There was a deadline but I also wanted it done before I set out to welcome a new being.

Though it all, the newest eagle feather sat beside me.  I was also fortunate to have a treasured adoptee friend  present, although miles away, with words of compassion and the understanding of how it is, what it is and the recognition that even a few words of kindness can make a huge difference…thank you Lucy.

The good news is, The Wall of Secrets is on its way!

Next step, designing the cover and building my platform which must be stronger for a new launch to a new place.

 A Place of Surrender

The moment you completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace becomes transmuted into peace.

Anything you accept fully will take you into peace.

This is the miracle of surrender

Eckhart Tolle

If you haven’t already, you must read Finding Heart Horse.  It’s a book of hope, strength, resilience

Life always returns to the Heart

Hay House Radio Interview

Finding Heart Horse Book Signing at Vancouver Hay House Conference

IMG_4050I wanted to post some pictures of the book signing at Vancouver Hay House I Can Do It Conference before I start talking about

The Wall of Secrets, Memoir of The Almost Daughter

Most of you know I’ve been in the hospital most of the summer so I’m quite behind in all of this blogging and booking.

It was an amazing experience being with such incredibly inspiring authors and spiritual beings.  You can’t leave a conference and not be inspired by the stories you hear and the people you meet.  If you get a chance

…go…listen, be inspired

 go for your dream

I Am

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