Adoptive/Foster Behaviour

Working with clients who have been adopted and/or been a ward of the courts, and clients who gave children up to adoption, as well as my own experience in the system, has led me over the years to notice some common issues/beliefs.

There seems to be overwhelming attachment issues with folks from the system.  Some of these symptoms are wanting to be loved instantly by people who come into our lives, pushing people away before they can leave you, (push/pull scenario), and/or not trusting at all.  My mother told me a story about me shortly after I was adopted at age 5; she went into the bathroom and closed the door, (rightly so), and I apparently sat right outside the door upset because I thought she may never come back out and I would be alone again.

The above mentioned issues don’t just occur for the adoptees, but happen with birth parents when their birth children present themselves.  The birth parent is oft times reluctant to engage in a warm, encompassing relationship.  They talk about their feelings of guilt, which they thought were buried.  They talk about the guilt they feel for their current family should they want a relationship with their birth child.  They have talked about how to untangle this new relationship because they see how it doesn’t fit and doesn’t work.  There are just as many trust issues from this perspective as from the adoptee’s perspective.

Anger is another common thread amongst those who were or are in the system.  Anger towards the birth parents, towards the Ministry, towards foster care givers and homes.  Some adoptees did not end up in healthy homes.  I did, I was one of the lucky ones.  So imagine the compound effect of already feeling worthless or less than and then having people take you in only for the money and abuse you time after time.  How does one overcome that?

Passive behaviour is another result of being adopted or in the system.  If you believed as a child that it was your fault that you were put into care, then being an agreeable child may seem to be the answer.  Unfortunately this communication/personality style carries on into adulthood.  This is really feelings of unworthiness and low self-esteem born out of incidents that should never happen to a child, and incorrect thinking.

All of us from the system are and were wonderful people who got lost somewhere along the way.  I know of many adoptive people who have wonderful relationships with both their adoptive family and their biological family.  What a wonderful gift.  The reality is that I know many many more who are broken and sad from being abused through the system.

How can they love themselves when they feel that the person who gave birth to them didn’t love them?  In many cases the birth parent did love you, loved you so much that they wanted you to have a better life.  Then there is the birth parent who used adoption as a means of birth control, like in my situation where there were 5 of us from 4 different men all given up.  Two of those 5 were never even taken home from the hospital.  Then there is the birth parent who have their children taken from them either at birth or in early years due to the birth parent’s addictions, abuses, inadequacies.

Whatever the reason someone ends up in the system, it is imperative that society as a whole love that child, make them feel special, attach, even if slowly, but always, always, let that child know they are wanted.  After all, children are our future.

Posted in Counselling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Professional Women and Burnout

Hello my female cohorts!  Have you ever found yourself so tired that even a vacation didn’t ground you?  Well, know you are in good company.

Women tend to strive more for excellence; to prove themselves.  Not that men don’t feel they need to prove themselves, but women have an extra push to show that they are smart, knowledgeable, capable, and able to handle just about anything and everything.

Women were the nurturers, the ones who stayed home and took care of the children and the familial home.  They were nurses, transportation experts, teachers, coaches, lovers, disciplinarians, cleaners, bakers, cooks, gardeners, and social secretaries.  Along came the 60’s and “we burned our bras and we burned our dinners. And we burned our candles at both ends, And we’ve had some children..” (Lyrics K.T. Oslin).

Professional women tend to still burn the candle at both ends.  As we continue to strive for equality in the workforce, we also continue to be the caretakers of the familial home.  Yes I know times are changing and there are some men who stay home, but let’s face it, it is not the norm.  There are more women who work and take care of the home than men.

Why the push to be the best at everything we do?  Have you ever examined the way you were raised?  What were the set of tenants that you lived your life by?  What era did you grow up in?  Were you from the era where it was important for the males in the family to have the education and you were to find a husband?  Were you raised before the women’s movement happened?

I know that I was a divorced mother of two by the time I was 24.  I worked 2 jobs and went to night school.  Although I may have role modelled determination, I also left my children to be latch key kids and grow up with babysitters.  Why did I strive so hard?  Because in my case I was in an abusive marriage and I set out to prove that I wasn’t “useless, fat, and ugly”.  I wanted people to be proud of me; my children, my parents, and I wanted to show that deadbeat that I WAS somebody.

That drive never left me.  I didn’t realize how tired I was until I quit working two jobs and started to travel more.  I absolutely love what I do for a living; being in the helping field.  I also know that I AM valuable and I require time to recharge.

So women, if you don’t take the time to look after yourself how do you expect to help look after others.  The analogy I use with my clients is the airplane analogy:  If you are on a plane with a child and the oxygen masks drop you are to put yours on first so that you will be capable of helping out your child.  If not you may faint and your child will be left without help and could die.  You MUST take care of yourself first.

Boundaries, and balance in life are essential and especially for those professional excellence seekers.  You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be the best you that you can be.  Happy in yourself will be happy in the lives of those around you.

HappinessIt is important that we remember we are women and we are already excellent.  Please nurture yourself because the world needs you.  Be kind to yourself.  Love, Love, Love!

Posted in Counselling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is something that so many people struggle with.  I have worked with many people over the years who have had very traumatic experiences.  The idea of forgiving someone who has wounded you so deeply is sometimes difficult to wrap your head around.

Some of what I am writing here may seem trite or like a platitude, but the reality is there is truth in what I write.

Forgiveness = Freedomness.  Forgiveness is NOT about accepting, condoning, or forgetting someone else’s bad behaviour; it is about you being free of toxicity.  It is about you learning what triggers the emotions and feelings and having the tools to deal with them when they arise.  The old adage by Nelson Mandala is, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”  Putting this into context, it is you full of toxicity (poison) and hoping the person who you believe caused your wounds, to die.  It won’t happen.

The person whom you believe wronged you has already gone on with their life.  You are the one left behind holding onto anger, resentment, bitterness, hatred, fear.  All of these negative emotions have a negative effect on your physical self and on your psychological self.

You may suffer from: migraines, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, upset stomach, nausea, knots in your stomach and chest, sore back, all over fatigue, soreness in every muscle in your body, body sores.  Clenching your jaw, your fists, and your eyes.  Hair turning white!  Nightmares, obsessive behaviours (binge eating, drinking/drugs, sex, gambling, work), insomnia, difficulty concentrating, depression,stress, anxiety, high and lows.

While you take sick days, have difficulty getting out of bed, difficulty managing small tasks or concentrating, relationship issues; the person who you believe wounded you is bounding through their life.  So it begs the question of why you have decided to give up on yourself/life while someone else goes forward free of regret.

Let’s look at what steps you can take:

1.  If you have guilt, what did you think you could have done differently in that situation?  You probably did the best you could with the knowledge and skills that you had at the time.  Let it go and move forward!

2.  Take your power back!!!!!  The more you think of the other person the more you put that person on a pedestal and give them power.  Think of evil as a great sucking machine.  In order for evil to survive it needs power and every time you get angry it is the machine sucking the life out of you and into it.  Every time you feel guilty the machine takes action.  Every negative thought that you have regarding the situation puts the machine into action and deflates you, your soul, your morals, values and beliefs.  Let it go and move forward!

3.  Ask your self is there anything positive I can do about this situation?  If yes, then what are the steps and then when will you take action, now or later.  Do the steps then Let it go and move forward!.  If the answer is no, then Let it go and move forward!

4.  Meditate on the situation and listen to your inner self.  Your gut reaction is the one to listen to not the negative thoughts in your head, heart, muscles, and chest.  Then Let it go and move forward!

5. Pray for their soul and let yours rise and shine again.  Pity them for they are living an empty life.  Then let it go and move forward!

6.  Start keeping track of all the things that you are grateful for!  Then Let it go and move forward.

7. Finally the hardest one of all, what positive came out of the bad experience.  E.g. abusive relationship – forced me to become assertive and gave me a “you will never beat me again at anything” attitude!  Have this caused you to help out others who have been in a similar situation?  Did this situation have you seek professional help?  Did this situation send you back to school or research?  What is the positive out of the negative?  Then, Let it go and move forward!!

Above all, Take Care, Stay Safe, and Be Kind!

Posted in Counselling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Friendships

I have done a lot of thinking about friendships of late.  I have seen some long term relationships come to an end.  Friendships can be a delicate and fragile balance or they can be strong and healthy.

In most cases we forgive much more in our friendship relationships than we do in our partner relationships.  Things that might annoy us in our daily partner relationships we let go in our friendship one and mostly because it isn’t a daily living situation.

I believe there are many levels of friendship as well.  There is the friend that you shop with, one that you do sporting events with, one you may travel with, one you party with, one you keep up with on birthdays and other celebratory occasions, then there are the friends that you would tell everything to and and trust everything to.

Like all other interactions in our lives, these relationships are there as a learning tool.  We will always find something to learn from them even when it is sour.

How much would you give to a friendship?  When is enough enough?  When do you pull back?  When do you push forward?

For me, when I look back over the years of friends I see how I learned to distance and learned to crave.  Sounds like an oxymoron I know.  As a young girl I was in foster care and made a great friend in foster care.  When I was adopted, my parents could not afford both of us so my relationship with the one person I trusted was wiped out.  I was a scared little girl who didn’t know anyone until school started.  I met some kids but that soon was put in the past as we moved to another city where I attended high school for one year before we moved yet again to another province.  I made some friends in the beginning and was looking forward to going to high school with them.  However, the first day of school I was called to the principal’s office and told that because my family was Catholic I would have to go the Catholic School.  So once again I left my friends behind and went to yet another school.  That was for one year and then into senior high where I was with my friends again.  However that too was short lived and we moved back to our original province and I attended high school for 2 years.  So it would seem that there really was never time to solidify those relationships.

As an adult I looked for people I thought I could confide in, laugh with, trust and respect.  That has not always been the case.  When I was diagnosed with cancer, two people that I thought were my closest friends hung up.  These 18 years later I have still not heard from one of them and the other I heard from after 9 years.

I don’t think I would change the people that I have interacted with in my 60 years.  As I said earlier, every person has been in my life for a reason and a season.  Even though at times I wish I had not been so trusting, I do know that person had a purpose for me.

No matter how much we believe we know another human being, we do not know it all.  It only takes one shift in momentum to have someone’s true behaviour surface.  It can be quite shocking and certainly it may feel like betrayal.  How could you put so much love, trust, and respect towards another human being and be so wrong?  I have no answer for that but I do know that I personally, will not change who I am as a human being.

How much would you give to a friendship? Personally I will continue to give all the love and respect, laughter and trust that I have.

When is enough enough?  When do you pull back?  When morals, values, and beliefs are violated.  Morals, values and beliefs are important and therefore stand by them even when “my friend” doesn’t.

When do you push forward?  When you are being a friend out of the truth of love, caring and sharing.

A Course In Miracles says, “Forgiveness is the key to Happiness”.  So chose to forgive and move on.  There are still many people to trust, respect, love and honor.

“There are those who are your friends and those you think are your friends”
Posted in Counselling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating can become a habit and/or an addiction.  How do we  work through emotional eating?

1. Any habit or addiction requires daily work. Understanding what the triggers are is the first step. Then finding a replacement for the food when you are triggered. Keep a journal and figure out your triggers in context with the five senses (1) hearing (2) seeing (3) smelling (4) taste and (5) texture (feel).  May of us have good memories when we smell something baking or simmering.  It can take us back to a simpler and safer time with Grandma (if that is your experience).  However, we get triggered by the bad memories and we go about a typical behaviour attached to that memory.  For some it is emotional eating.

2. Filling your stomach with food instead of filling the empty/void inside you. Keep a journal of when you eat (day, night, morning), what has just happened (use your trigger journal), and what you eat. Try to find the common denominator.

3, People who have been sexually assaulted often have a weight gain. This is about protection. So ask yourself what are you still protecting yourself from.

4. Meditation, yoga, mindfulness, walks, drumming, smudging, 9 second breath (whatever works to relax you and distract you)

5. A great support network

6. Keep track of your dreams as they will tell you what is going on in your life>  My introduction to dreams is on June 16 at 1:00 via joinme.com.  Please let me know if you are interested and I will send the particulars to you.

Our bodies have memory cells. The brain is wired to know that when you feel ___(fill in the blank) you will eat and send that cortisol (the stress hormone). Our brains are plastic and capable of being rewired. Because your body has developed the habit of turning to food to release stress (even if you don’t consciously know you are doing it) the signal from the brain will be to eat something that you find comforting. These foods are usually carb and sugar/fat based.

Think about Chocolate and how that makes people feel good for a few minutes because it has released a feel good chemical to the brain. However too much and we have the crash from the sugar high. Which then prompts the brain to send the signal to eat again.

So you can see how the addiction cycle gets fed (no pun intended).

Posted in Counselling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SECRETS AND LIES

What is the purpose of secrets and lies?  Secrets are insidious; they eat you away inside.  When someone has a secret they can no longer hold onto they pull someone else into it.  The second you share your secret with another you feel somewhat unburdened but you have now burdened another with heaviness.

This is a sample from my book, SECRETS AND LIES

WHAT TYPE OF PEOPLE GET INVOLVED IN SECRETS AND LIES

Hmmmm, how many of you are saying that it is the down trodden, those less fortunate, those less educated?  Whose standards are those?  Well it is your neighbor who secretly wears women’s clothes, uses drugs, is embezzling from their work place.  It is people in authority.  How many times have you picked up a newspaper or turned on the news to see and hear that a judge, priest, teacher, police officer, parent, politician, has just been charged or sentenced.

What about those who struggle with finances in today’s microwave/techno society. Sure let’s blame them for not being successful.  At What?  By whose standards?  What about the single mom of three who came to our country for a better life for her children.  What happens when the stress of owning/operating a business clashes head on with parenting?  Helping with homework, attending school functions, watching after school games and activities.  The mom who just needs to keep going because if she stops there is no one to take over the kids, the household, the business.  The mother reaches for a way to stay awake to get everything accomplished.  Fit in the drug of choice here, cocaine, oxy, crystal meth.  When she realizes she needs it and can no longer afford it, she is already in too deep.  The consequence of smuggling?  Not seeing her children graduate, or go tot heir first prom, see their child’s first date, see her child win a trophy.  This is a high price to pay for trying to be a good mother.

Who has made a wrong choice?  Remember that you can.

Posted in Counselling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MEMORIES

We have memories that bring warm thoughts to us.  When I smell minestrone soup cooking on a stove I remember my grandmother’s house with a pot on the wood burning stove.  It brings up feelings of warmth, love, and nurturing.

We have memories that bring on smiles.  Some smiles that are secretive, or full on.  Certain songs bring out a smile and make me want to dance as I remember the boy or event that was attached to that song and era.  Sometimes I reflect on a moment when my grown daughters were small and I laugh out loud.  In December 2012 my grown daughters and I came back from a vacation where it was lovely and warm.  The second we were crossing the border into Canada my youngest daughter (37) said, “I feel my tan leaving”.  I still laugh out loud.

We have memories that arouse bittersweet memories.  When I think of my mother I have such a feeling of love but even 6.5 years after her death I still miss her greatly. I still wonder if I could have done more.  The same when I think of my father who passed 5.5 years ago, it brings sadness that I might have been able to do more and happy that he isn’t in mental or physical pain anymore.

We have memories that bring us pain.  This is where the body cells come into play.  Our body cells remember, (despite what scientist state), as well as our brain.  We can hear a word and be transported back in time.  For me the word is “stupid”.  My first husband used to call me stupid all the time.  So depending on my view of any given day I could either be upset with someone who uses that word or I can remember that the feeling is a memory only and not about this moment and time.

Trauma has a way of replaying itself if we don’t learn to distinguish between a historical event and the “here and now” event.  A smell, a sound, a taste, a touch, a song, a place, an object can all transport us back to a traumatic event.  This can be debilitating for some.  How do we work through this?  Working on what is rational and what is irrational thinking is helpful.  Sometimes you need a professional to help you heal and find your true self inside.  CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) is a wonderful tool.  No matter what, find someone to help you walk through these painful times and learn to grow and not stay stunted in the past.

Songwriters: DALY, JUSTIN THOMAS
MemoryMidnight
Not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her memory
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight
The withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan
Memory
All alone in the moonlight
I can smile happy your days ( I can dream of the old days)
Life was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the memory live again
Every street lamp seems to beat
A fatalistic warning
Someone mutters and the street lamp gutters
And soon it will be morning
Daylight
I must wait for the sunrise
I must think of a new life
And I must’nt give in
When the dawn comes
Tonight will be a memory too
And a new day will beginBurnt out ends of smoky days
The still cold smell of morning
A street lamp dies ,another night is over
Another day is dawning
Touch me,
It is so easy to leave me
All alone with the memory
Of my days in the sun
If you touch me,
You’ll understand what happiness is
Look, a new day has begun…

Posted in Counselling, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment