Have you met “Your Shadow” yet?

Carrying on from Generational Pain… we meet Our Shadow.  Have you met yours yet?  The shadow is simply the dark side of someones  personality. A person can easily meet their shadow since it lives in the projection upon others.

Carl Jung coined the term but its also what Freud called the personal unconscious.  When we begin the journey of self discovery related to adoption, abuse, rapes, abandonment…whatever it is that drives us to delve into our psyche the shadow is the first to be met.  Until we know intimately our own shadow it is believed that we are only living on the surface, or existing in a facade of who we really are.  Adoptees especially are good at living the life of a chameleon and so are victims of any abuse..living the secrets.

ImageI was always told if I didn’t perform correctly or behave in a certain way I “would be sent back”, only I never knew where back was.  Trauma victims live a life of duality.  We function in society as expected, while keeping the shadow locked away, hidden out of fear or shame.  As long as we hide our shadow or refuse to acknowledge its presence, it will be conveniently projected onto other people.  Finding my biological family, writing Finding Heart Horse and The Wall of Secrets put me into a place where I was forced to examine each and every aspect of my shadow.

Practicing Buddhism is like engaging in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy since it requires you to dig deep in the trenches of what you consider to be “self” and  suffering.

The first sign of shadow projection/suffering, shows up as a strong emotional reaction to anyone or anything in  your world that is not in line with your beliefs.  It’s that unconscious, gut reflex projecting onto others, usually in  an emotionally charged verbal onslaught of criticism and blame.  If you can be mindful of when this happens, you will recognize your shadow in it’s finest form.  You can also see clearly by watching who your person is attracted to, either negatively or positively and the outward perceptions which are attached to the attraction….this is your shadow showing you itself…pay attention.  It can be a good thing!

In Buddhism the first two of the Four Noble Truths state that: Suffering is the basic state of the human world and: that suffering arises from desire.  If you look at the roots of suffering you will find the desire, the concealed attachment from which the shadow projection erupts.  You can feel it physically,  The gut, the nervous system, the emotion, the anger..If you can see these things and respond with compassionate, non-judgemental awareness it is eventually possible to expose the desire and release it with kindness towards yourself….relieving the suffering/the shadow.

It’s seen all the time in Adoptee groups, the anger, the pain, the rejection, the fear based living and yet, we are fortunate to witness this, not only in ourselves but others.  It means we can become intimate with our own shadows, therefore becoming whole, healthy and healing in the process.

For all of us that have experienced trauma,  rapes,  abuse,  neglect, violence, its crutial we find our own shadow and make peace with it.  You will find it slinking around in the secrets, the dark slimy alleys and the ghost filled rooms of your heart and soul.

To have a shadow is not to be flawed, but to be complete.

You cannot defeat it.  Just accept that fact right off the bat.  What you can do is be friends with it and expose it to the light and find acceptance and compassion for yourself.

The world of Adoption if full of secrets as all the other worlds of trauma are.  We were (those in my generation) raised in a society that lived secret lives inside perfect houses and church three times a week.

 Finally!  Finally, thru the world of cyberspace and words on pages we are able to expose those secrets and lies and free ourselves from a chained existence.

 Projection doesn’t make the pain go away permanently.  What it does is create a constant state of inner-vs-outer fighting while fuelling the shadow

The solution is to un-create the shadow.  There is nothing in it that is beyond our power to dissolve.  Instead of allowing your shadow to victimize you, grab hold of the control switch and reclaim your true function as creators of a new future.

It takes time to create our shadows and hand over the power and we need to recognize those times when we are giving away our freedom to the shadow.

Keeping Secrets from yourself and others.  Forms of secrecy are denial, deliberate deception, fear of exposing who you are, and conditioning by a dysfunctional family.

Holding onto guilt and shame.  Recognize no one is perfect.  When you feel ashamed of your mistakes the shadow gains more power.

Making yourself and others wrong.  Judgment is guilt wearing a moral mask to disguise its pain.  If you can’t release your guilt/shame it’s so easy to pass them on to others.

Needing someone to blame.  If you decide your pain is a moral issue you will have no trouble blaming someone else you feel is inferior in some way.

Ignoring your own weakness while criticizing those around you.  This is the process of projection.  If you feel the problem is with another..you have projected your own fear instead of taking responsibility for it.

Separating yourself from others.  When it becomes “them” and “us” we always think outside is the good one.  Isolation increases a sense of fear and suspicion and the shadow loves that.

Struggling to keep evil at bay.  I know we have all survived incredible traumas but when we think evil is just around the corner (which is our own creation or illusion) we give the shadow huge amounts of power.

It’s a process for all of us.  Once you remove the power from your shadow by exposing the above processes that fuel it you need to make opposite choices to escape and be the one in control.  Yeah, I know.  Easier said than done..she says with a grin.  It’s challenging and tiring doing all this self exploration.  The freedom it allows is well worth it.

You have choices.  They all come with steps that I will write in the next blog.  Stop projecting.

Detach and let go.

Give up self judgment.

Rebuild your emotional body.

The shadow has persuaded us to blame others and not take responsibility.  It tells us we are unworthy of love and respect.  it promotes anger and fear.

The shadow lies…..

You Are Whole…Just the way you are

ImageIt’s five minutes after now.  Are you broken, damaged, hurting, unable to function?

If you are feeling like that, perhaps NOW is the time to let  that pattern go.  Start the New Year with a new image of yourself.

I, myself, have said so many times, “I’m so broken, i’ll never be whole.”  It’s not just us adoptees that feel this.  I’ve heard others say the same thing after a breakup or loss of some kind.

We, of course come into this world already having suffered the greatest loss of all…our Mother.

How many times have you said to yourself, because of my adoption I will never be ——–insert your own statement there?  I can think of hundreds.

Many times I’m sure, if I go by my own information. The thing is, it’s a Myth.  Yes..it is. Really.

If we commit to authenticity in our lives, to not leaving one stone unturned, we eventually find the little closets of conditioning that make us feel needy or unloved.  It’s easy to feel flawed, after all, if our own mothers didn’t want us who would.  Who could love us, who would love us.  We had to have had some horrendous flaw to be given away, after all….we were just babies.

 I agree with the documentation of the many clinical, medical and scientific studies that show “in utero” learning and the “Primal wound” connection to being hardwired for particular behaviours. Does that mean we are so damaged we can’t learn to live in a place of peace and acceptance?  I’m beginning to understand the answer..and believe that of course we can live in peace and acceptance.

When we identify with being damaged we are forgetting that we actually came into this world as perfect little beings.  We did arrive with several layers of protective false identity that has been shielding us from ourselves and our already prewired belief systems.  We needed that in order to survive.  Then.  Not now.

Now is the time to remember who you are.

With adoption comes living in duality until you search and put the fragmented pieces back together.  But, anyone can feel broken, not just us.  It may be different, deeper and more tangled for adoptees because of that primal wound but not an uncommon statement to hear.

As it gets closer to Christmas, the scars, the fears, the anxiety and pain from loss begin to surface.  It’s all true and real, yet some of it may be habitual thinking.  As a practicing Buddhist, I believe we are born with that buddha heart space, that perfection, the peace of stillness.  Even us, “the adopted ones”.

Then life hits.


Of course as adoptees alone and confused as babies we are thrown into isolation, perhaps rarely tended too or placed into the arms of some strange person who claims to be mother. Our needs are not adequately met.  How can they be. It’s all pretend and foreign. That’s the reality of adoption.

 Perhaps our feelings are rejected, maybe we are criticized, demeaned or even abused.  So now..not only do we have the prewired coping skills due to loss we, also begin to develop other belief systems and strategies to make our way in the world.

Layer upon layer upon layer the belief systems and coping skills accumulate  Our true nature, our perfect and pure little being, gets covered over and we take on the identities of being “unworthy” “fearful” “bitter”.

It’s like walking in a circle, over and over again until the dirt is so worn down and we are so deep we can’t see over the edge, never mind imagine that there is any other way out.  Our belief systems are so deeply ingrained just thinking about changing them or letting some go brings anxiety.  Some of them so ingrained we don’t see them until it’s pointed out.

 There we are….stuck…telling ourselves how damaged we are.

We are not damaged.  We are not damaged.  We are not damaged.

When I was small I developed calming methods for myself.  I would move my fingers around buttons, my hand, anything that was close.  I’d circle around and say. “i’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay” or I’m safe,  Always in threes.  Sometimes for hours when things were really horrid.  I still do it, only now with mala beads (tibetan prayer beads)

We can do the same thing with reinforcing our pure heart, our buddha nature, our authentic undamaged self.  We are whole, clear, and undisturbed, open to change and growth….if we want.

Now, is a good time to begin.

Now, is a good time to reclaim your pure nature that you are hiding under all those belief systems.  For adoptees, some cannot be erased.  It’s actually quite freeing to recognize that.  The primal wound is real and deep and oh so painful.  Imbedded deeply inside the amygdala and limbic system are places that perhaps cannot be fused together.  What we can do, is empower ourselves and learn to manage that little voice that says….but I’m so broken.  We can learn to manage the knowledge we may never know or feel loved and still be open to perhaps that isn’t true.  

It takes work.  A lot of work.

It takes patience and perseverance and love.

If you need these beliefs for now…make them your friend but don’t let them rule your life.  It will become clearer with time that there are other choices.

Figure out your patterns.  I mean, come on guys.  Adoptees are known for being insightful and introspective.  We know.  We really know if we take a step back and listen to others and see ourselves in their words.

Maybe a pattern served you when you were struggling but you don’t need it now.

Just be willing to be gentle with yourself,  Let your harsh words soften.

Try out a new response.  What have you got to lose?  Ultimately we are alone and in charge of our own lives anyway.  Can we stop blaming?  Stop being so angry?  Stop hurting ourselves and say yes..to life instead.  

Now, now is the time.  Not five minutes after now, but now.

 Life is too short.  In an instant it can change.

We will stumble.  Of course we will, who doesn’t?  Not a big deal.  Just begin again.  Chip away at the old and soon you will find the new.  

Someday, when you are sitting in stillness, you will realize that in the rigidity and habit occupied space, there is now peace, space and flexibility.  You will, because you are not damaged.  You are whole, just as you are.

The ways we have learned to protect ourselves are not who we are.

Now..now is the time.

“As long as you make an identity for yourself out of pain, you cannot be free of it.”

Eckhart Tolle


So, I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate the video into the post so it came first.

 The beginning of shame because I didn’t research how to do it!

I’ve been thinking a lot about vulnerability and shame.  I think, in particular because as you know, I’m getting ready to do my cover reveal for FINDING HEART HORSE.  I just approved the galley text as well which means the book goes off to print.  I have the Hay House Radio Interview and the Video Release next as well and THEN…..THEN…it’s all real.  I will hear it, see it, hold it and be it.

This is where the vulnerability and shame comes in. Intellectually, I know I am stronger because of the life I have lived, the suffering I have endured, the traumas experienced and yet…to share that in the public is one of the most frightening things I can think of.

I have listened to Brene’ Brown’s TED talks dozens of times and the number will go up as the release date gets closer.  She nails it.  She makes it clear that the only way is to just do it.  Put it out there, be courageous and vulnerable.  I so believe her, yet I still feel so vulnerable and shame sneaks in around the edges.

As I re read my galley text and take myself to the place of that young girl it breaks my heart.  She was so vulnerable and filled with shame at such a young age and it shattered her spirit and stuck with her…until she became me, sitting here writing this post.

Shame can be unbearable.  We can equate it with being worthless, unlovable, unredeemable.  It can fill us with terror that we will be abandoned yet again, fragmented, or overwhelmed with despair.  Adoptee’s are born with this ingrained.  That is not to say other’s don’t experience it as well, just that we are hardwired.

“If distress is the affect of suffering, shame is the affect of indignity, transgression and of alienation.  Though terror speaks to life and death and distress makes of the world a vale of tears, yet shame strikes deepest into the heart of man….shame is felt as inner torment, a sickness of the soul …the humiliated one feels himself naked, defeated, alienated, lacking in dignity and worth”

  Silvan Tomkins-1992

Shame really represents an entire family of emotions: humiliation, embarrassment, feelings of low self-esteem, belittlement and stigmatization.  Shame is often a central ingredient in the experience of being.  It can show its ugly face physically or in defence mechanisms because it interferes with our ability to think clearly.

As I was reading I was also thinking how people will judge.  I fully expect that..There is purpose behind my telling my story.  I survived.  I want others to know they can too.  Go ahead and judge.. because quite frankly, I don’t give a damn.  I did what i did in order to survive.

Many adoptees will recognize themselves in my book. Others that come from various walks of life will as well. The journey of searching for self.  The devastation and pain that arrives when you discover your own mother didn’t want you enough to fight to keep you.  Most lost daughters and sons tried to cope the best way they knew how.  The pain and despair is unbearable, even tho’ at the time you don’t recognize where it’s coming from. 

In my life, I ran from abuse at the tender and naive age of 15.  That automatically put me into the place of vulnerability.  Vulnerability is scary, even now.  But it’s also a place of power and authenticity.

I lived  a life of risk back then and still do now.  Having gone through “reunion” and placing myself in the most painful experience of my life, i know now, vulnerability is also the centre, the core and heart of meaningful human experience.  Just as Brene’ Brown says, its a place of uncertainty and emotional exposure with an unknown outcome.  It’s opening your heart wide knowing rejection may be the result.

As soon as I post my cover to FINDING HEART HORSE the external journey begins.  Of course, I’ve had people write reviews, and editors to critique.  Those are the warm up experiences because just sharing with them leaves me in a vulnerable place and embarrassed by the life I led.

I learned through reunion, being so vulnerable and open can also be very painful.  One needs trust when you are in a vulnerable place.  People need to earn the right to hear our stories.  It takes courage to show the battle wounds.  To open your heart knowing it may get stomped on.  Courage=Vulnerabilty

Brene’ Brown concludes about daring greatly:

“And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt.  But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”

And so..with her words behind me, and in me just like an ear worm I embrace my vulnerability and shame and will walk through the doors with my book in hand being held up by courage.