Personal Growth and Transformation

TRANSFORMING VICTIMIZATION: TRUE STORIES

TRANSFORMING VICTIMIZATION: TRUE STORY NUMBER 12

"When the bottom falls out of your reality, you then pay attention to yourself, your fears, dreams and needs in a very different manner. You have nothing to lose in letting the smoke screens in your life fall away. As you can learn to look at your life honestly, without excuses and self-imposed, preconceived conditions, you will find the levels of fear and anxiousness diminish. The willingness to re-evaluate the current Ďyou" and the possibilities for a new "you" is what turns limitation into opportunity and destructive, old patterning into viable, healthy new paths of growth."

Meredith Lady Young
Language of the Soul: Applying Universal Principles for Self-Empowerment

 

How does one heal and grow from an unthinkable traumatic experience? It helps each of us when others open their hearts and tell their stories. In this issue and several following, personal stories illustrate how we can move beyond staying a victim and how to use painful events to grow spiritually. Know that the events that wounded us, whether or not they are as severe as those in these stories, can deepen our relationship with our Self and be used for the upliftment of our consciousness. To raise our consciousness out of the consensus reality of victim/victimizer consciousness, takes tremendous courage and vigilance.

Allow these courageous people to impact you and show you the way out of trauma. Their sharing is very personal and each of them hopes to show you that no matter how challenging a life situation, there are ways to grow and heal from the experience.

Some of the best teachers and healers are the wounded healers who have healed themselves. In the following months you will read others. If you are drawn to write your story, send it to me. If you missed previous stories you can read them now:

Story number 1, Overcoming Sexual Assault

Story number 2, Moving Beyond Childhood Abuse

Story number 3, In Memory of Betty Sitzer

Story number 4, A TurningĖPoint in My Journey from Being Born with Spastic Cerebral Palsy
to Leading a Productive and Fulfilling Adult Life

Story number 5, Letting Go: My Life After My Teenage Sonís Suicide

Story number 6, Moving Beyond Blaming Myself for My Son's Mental Illness

Story number 7, The Silence Is NOT Golden: An Exercise In Dysfunction

Story number 8, Discarding Toxic Tapes from Childhood

Story number 9, Murder Visits My Family

Story number 10, September 3, 1999, the day that changed my life

Story number 11, Estrangement : A Whole New Dimension to My Life

 

Adoption: Lessons in Love and Understanding

By Diane Langley

Perfectly imperfectÖÖ.I try to remember that phrase when challenges spring up, but sometimes thatís hard, really hard. Of course, our children give us the greatest opportunity to learn this lessonósome more than others.

All I can ever remember wanting to be when I grew up was a mother. I was going to do a better job than I felt my mother had, though with the years I realized that she didnít do such a bad job and that whatever the quality of the job, she did the best that she could. In those years, I held the conviction that having a child and being the mother of a successful child only required love. Thatís true, but I now have some caveats to that statement. What I didnít understand was that love encompasses lots and lots of territory. For me the most difficult aspect of love was accepting that sometimes it means letting go and letting that child that you love fail, and fail miserably by almost any standards. And further that there might not be a quick turnaroundóit might take years and years, or even a lifetime or two.

Though not being an aggressive person, I still held to my convictions very tenaciously. As a young woman and wife I was just sure that I could fix all the problems in this world. Sometimes the solutions were so easy to see from the outside. Why wouldnít folks just see it? It took rearing a child, one whoís ability to deny anything she didnít want to see was her strongest personality trait, to begin to teach me that I couldnít really fix anyone except myself. Now, many years later, Iím still challenged to let go. Not just with my children, who are now grown, but in many many areas of my life.

It seemed to be a cruel twist of fate that I, who only wanted to be a mother, couldnít seem to have children. We went through all the usual testing and suggestions of that era, but I still didnít get pregnant. For me, the next logical step was to adopt. I mean, it was just a no-brainer as far as I was concerned. Convincing my husband was a little more difficult and I remember being almost amazed that he didnít just immediately see it as the next step. But he did come around without too much convincing. So, we began that process and did finally adopt a baby. I can still remember the utter joy of holding that wee child in my arms. There was a certain amount of trepidation too as I began to realize some of the ups and downs of parenthood: sleepless nights, restless bedtimes, colic, ear infections, etc. And I remember being almost overwhelmed with the responsibility I felt for the safety and wellbeing of this child. But I knew I could do it. Iíd just love her and provide her with all the other things I determined she needed to be a happy, well-adjusted child and all would be well. Ah, the Universe had some challenges in store for me.

As my daughter grew and went through all the milestones: walking, talking, cutting teeth, and such, she seemed right on track. She was extremely bright and could read by the time she was three years old. (I graciously didnít take credit for that, since I was pretty sure that was some inborn talent she possessed, not my good parenting.) She was warm and loving, eager to learn, though she had a tendency to ignore those aspects of learning she didnít like. Not so surprising, since most of us do that to some degree or another. She also had some fears that seemed a little out of proportion, but the pediatrician assured me that really that was just a sign of intelligenceóyou had to be smart enough to know something might be a problem in order to fear it, right.

Problems really started cropping up when she entered school and things were not always structured to suit her particular wants and desires. And as the school years progressed things just got worse and worse. By the time she was in middle school, I was beginning to be at my witís end. She had learned to hide out. Though her body was present, she would retreat within herself and no amount of coaxing, begging, pleading, rationalizing, cajoling, prodding, imploring, or loving could get her to participate in anything she didnít want to participate in. There were school problems, social problems, family issues (you know, room a disaster area, not respecting the rights and property of other family members, and such). I talked to respected friends who seemed to be more successful than we were at child rearing, read books, tried numerous methods of dealing with these issues, and we all went to counseling, our daughter individually and our family as a whole. Even that didnít work. It worked fine until our daughter realized that counseling would require that she make some changes also. That she was not going to do. It worked for the rest of us (her father, brother, and me); just not for her. I especially learned, at least to some degree, not to be triggered by her ploys. It was amazing to see her become ever more frantic during a confrontation between us when all the things she had done in the past no longer worked. Of course, I was not really prepared for how far she would go. No subject was off limits when it came to trying to turn an argument to her advantage. Children innately know that the best defense is a good offence. She was quite adept at finding issues to put me on the defensive. Any kind of verbal attack was on the table and my parenting skills and style were always at the top of the list. When that didnít work, it was her father and I werenít normal because we didnít have screaming matches when we disagreed, or we were just too boring because we had always lived in the same house, and, of course, there was her all-time favorite: we loved her younger brother more than her because she was adopted and he wasnít. That one didnít phase me at all since, though I knew I wasnít adopted, I could distinctly remember at the age of 12 or so thinking that I must be because otherwise no one could treat me as bad as my parents were treating me. Ah, the angst of growing up.

Some 20 years or so later, I can still feel the pain and anguish I went through trying to figure out what to do to help this beloved childóthis child with so much love and beauty inside of her that she just couldnít let out. How much of her pain was a result of being adopted and feeling different from others? How much of her pain was from feelings of being rejected that she absorbed in the womb? How much of her pain was just the result of different wiring in her brain? What part did her father and I play in this by our lack of the ability to help her? There were too many questions with few or no answers. There were so many times when I felt my sanity was slipping away and I was holding on by a mere thread. My heart was bereft as I could not deny the fact that we were losing, or had lost, our daughter. Were it not for the wise counsel and great friendship of my friend Suzanne, Iím not at all sure I would have made it through. I just couldnít believe that I couldnít "fix" this problem. What was I doing wrong? Was I being punished for some past life error? Almost every day during that period I wanted to run away from home. I wanted to go somewhere, anywhere, just someplace where I didnít have to confront this issue every waking moment of the day. The seemingly endless conferences with teachers, the endless arguments, being reluctant to answer the phone for fear that some new problem was being brought to my attention, the list could go on and on.

I grew up in a mainstream Christian church and still hold many of those principles in my heart, but the teachings just didnít seem to help me cope with the day-in and day-out dramas. I heard and read many stories of people who discovered Christianity when in crisis and it turned their life and their problem around. Many of those stories were so much worse than mine, so much more dramatic. Why wasnít it working for me? What was I doing wrong? (Always a theme for me.) From this struggle I began to seek answers in different places and I came to discover that life is perfectly imperfect. I could begin to let go of trying to "fix" everything and everyone. The operative word in that sentence being "begin." I learned that I could only change myself and that those who could not change and grow with me would become less pivotal in my life. Some would not even remain in a relationship with me. That, of course, brought me some more challenges. Naturally, I had thought that with this new understanding of universal laws, all my relationships would be miraculously healed. My limited understanding didnít at first grasp that all my changes would necessitate changes from those around me and they might not want to change. I just figured that everyone would see how much better I felt and how much better I was dealing with things and we could all celebrate together. They would willingly change with me. But that wasnít the way things happened.

Most did change to some degree or other, but some didnít. Our daughter didnít. She is so strong. I still wonder at what she could accomplish with her life if her ability to deny were to change to a positive perseverance to accomplish whatever she set her mind to. What I learned was to accept (not necessarily like, but just accept) that we are each here to learn and that each of us learns in our own way and our own time. Though I can and do wish a joyful life for her, I can accept that I canít make that happen. I can acknowledge that for each of us, that joyful life comes with some ups and some downs, with some successes and some failures, with some joy and some sorrow. It has never been easy for me to accept that I canít fix something that so obviously is broken. I am a peacemaker by nature. But my ups and downs, my successes and failures, and my joy and sorrow have brought to me an understanding that I donít know all the answers, sometimes not even any answers. And my seeking to know Spirit has given me the courage to let go of the guilt I felt for not being perfect myself. For just like you I am perfectly imperfect.

It would be nice for me if I could tell you that things finally turned around for our daughter. As far as I know they have not. We have not heard from her in almost seven years. About seven and a half years ago her daughter was removed from her custody by our state child protection agency. Our daughter was charged with child endangerment for the filthy living conditions in her apartment. All the trauma and stress that each of us (our daughter, granddaughter, my husband, and myself) experienced at that time would take volumes to explore and explain. The result of it all was that my husband and I assumed the role of not only grandparents, but also parents to our granddaughter. Not exactly what we had envisioned for our senior years, but something we have undertaken with great love and joy. So now we get to put into practice all those lessons we learned rearing our children. Some of them translate to this time, some of them not so much. One thing I do know: in this new opportunity to rear a young child, I am still learning to let go and Iím still absolutely sure we are all perfectly imperfect.

 

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