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If God is within me, where was He when I needed Him, or His power, to take away my suffering?
By Rev. Kenneth Byrd Chance


Isn't it interesting that although we believe in God's divine nature, we want Him to behave in human ways, like a super hero that fixes all ills, all problems and overcomes all difficulties.
This is something we all need to contend with - the nature of God. Is God really a superhuman that sits at the ready to come and "save" us?
To think this way is limited thinking. It puts God in a definable position when in fact, the essence of God is ineffable.
Countless sages have spent lifetimes seeking to know God's nature, volumes have been written and yet no one can say definitively what God truly is, other than the simple verse, "God is Love."

If God is within us, then indeed where is He when we need him the most? God is spirit. He's pure principle, motivated to create by the power of Pure Love.
As spirit, God is within everything that has life.


(A brief note concerning the dividers on this page... they're pictures of waves. Waves are strange things. They're strong, they're dangerous, but they're essential for fun, sport, beauty and maybe even more reasons. The power behind the wave is often compared to our surges of emotions & feelings. I added these dividers on this page to say, while the waves of pain, hurt, sadness and disappointment may be continual, consistently difficult to face, and frightening; they can also prove to be a sign of your growing strength of mind, your internal power, your faith in yourself and the beauty that the Lord allows us to reflect to when we are mindful in spending time with nature.) 


As principle, God is nowhere, physically speaking and everywhere, psychically speaking. When we say God is "within me," we mean that the nature of God's spirit, or the essence of God, is also part of our essence, or spirit.
As principle, God exists in our true nature. Think about the ocean and waves metaphor. The ocean is God and the waves are God's creations, we humans.
We, as waves, are created out of the ocean and exist briefly in a unique form. We come out of the ocean, exist as a wave and then return to the ocean, only to return as another wave.

As humans, our essence is God; however, we also have an ego, or personality and a rational thinking machine, or brain. Humans have 2 brains, the old (subconscious) and the new (conscious) brain.
It's this new brain that makes us different than any other species. We're able to rationalize and comprehend to levels yet unknown. In our conscious mind, we can make judgments about people, places and things. Thru the process of socialization we learn certain behaviors and adapt to our surroundings.
We're taught whatever our society deems important to teach us. One of those teachings has created more chaos and turmoil, more pain and anguish, than any other thought I know. This thought is the basis upon which all other error thought is built.


What is the thought? That we're separate from God. That the wave is separate from the ocean. With this thought in place, religions have evolved that instill fear into our minds & hearts.
Societies are built upon governments that work with religions to keep social order thru fear. This fear is a terminal disease for it keeps us from the very Life Source we so desperately need to have peace & joy in our lives.

Now, where's God when we're sick, distraught & afraid? God is in the same place that He is when we're happy, joyous & free. God is omnipresent & as a result, God is always here now.
Then why don't we feel His presence? Because, we've moved, we aren't present in the here & now.

We experience God in consciousness. When our consciousness is in tune with God, our lives are blissful. When our consciousness isn't in tune with God, our lives become difficult & heavy, tiresome & bleak.
What is consciousness? It's the general state of our conscious mind. We don't have to be thinking about God to have God-consciousness.
A state of mind that is full of love, compassion & empathy is God-consciousness. A state of mind that is irritable, depressed & sad is not God-consciousness. What we need to do when we don't feel the presence of God is to stop what we're doing & focus our attention on God.
Rather than ask where God is when we need Him, we should ask where are we?
Are we in fear?
Are we ill?
Do we feel abandoned?

When Jesus hung on the cross, he cried out, "Father, why have you abandoned me?"
Even this man, who was the Christ, the divine image of the Father in human form, felt abandoned.
Did God move? Had a super-hero God rescued Jesus from the cross, how would the miracle of the resurrection occur? If God rescues us when we feel abandoned, how can we then experience the miracle of a spiritual resurrection?


Several years ago I was praying the Lord's prayer in the quiet of a hotel room. When I got to the part about "thy will be done? I stopped & pondered this phrase.
I asked God what His will was for me. After several moments of quiet, the word "Return" came to mind. As I considered that word, another thought came to me that I didn't have to die a physical death to return to God.
The thought came to me that I could return to God here & now, at any moment, simply by quieting my ego driven thinking machine & listening to that still small voice within. God is. God always is & ever shall be.
As principle, God's Perfect Love is always active in the universe. As spirit, God's essence is always present in all life. At any time that I don't feel the presence of God, I'm the one who needs to return.
If I'm sick, afraid, depressed or angry, it's me who needs to do something.


When you're feeling abandoned by God, try this exercise. Find a quiet place, or if there's no quiet place, try to find an out-of-the-way place where you can stop whatever you're doing for a few minutes.
Get still & close your eyes. Breathe slowly & pay attention to your breath flowing in thru your nostrils & out thru your mouth. Relax your shoulders & neck. Then think about the following idea. Imagine an ocean with many waves cresting & falling. Imagine yourself as a wave on the ocean.
Notice how little time it takes for the wave to appear & then return to the ocean. See how the wave is attached at all times to the ocean. Notice that no matter what happens, the wave always consists of ocean water. There's no separation of the ocean & the waves. Say to yourself,

"I and the Father are One.
The Father is present here with me now. I am okay.
I and the Father are One.
The Father is Love and I feel loved.
I and the Father are One.
The Father is Peace and I am peaceful.
I and the Father are One.
The Father is all powerful l and I am assured of a miracle in my life now."

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Feeling Abandoned within a Relationship
by Kathleen Howe
Relationships; two people interacting with each other - my favorite website, dictionary.com says this for defining relationship:
"a connection, association, or involvement"
 - how much do you really know about what determines a relationship? The dictionary also says there are relationships that are "through blood relations and marriage," but what make a relationship healthy or unhealthy? Who teaches the class, relationships 101, while we're growing up - first as a child, then a teenager and then as we emerge out into the world as an adult?
We all know that there's no such class. Just like there's no such class, "parenting 101," life happens most of the time through trial and error. We do things, make mistakes, sometimes we learn something and sometimes we don't. Sometimes we don't retain a darned thing that happened because as an individual - in our own "self" - we're so messed up in our thinking - our belief system, our thought processes and in our processing of emotions and feelings that we just aren't ABLE to relate to someone - make that important "connection" relationships need.
So now you find yourself in a relationship with someone - whether it be through blood, through marriage, through a connection, involvement or association and you aren't happy with the way things are going. Let's look at this topic rationally. I'm not saying that there is always an element of irrationality involving relationships, but relationships are often highly intricate interactions involving highly energize emotions and feelings. Sometimes we're not always rational when dealing with our relationships. Let's look at the topic first in the rational direction.


In Childhood
In childhood we begin our interactions with people and begin to learn how to form relationships. We don't participate in a class, "relationships 101," that I mentioned previously - instead children look around at adults and see what they're doing within their relationships. First they look at their parents. They spend most of their time with their parents. They observe how their parents interact and they copy them. It's true. It's absolutely true. Now think back in your mind.
Do you remember being a child and observing how your parents interacted? Did they fight, argue, act loving towards each other or did your mother and father hardly interact at all? Did your father do his thing and your mother took care of the house and the kids? Did you observe them problem solving, discussing things, or talking about their hopes and dreams? Every bit of interaction between your parents, you soaked in like a sponge. No parents? Were your parents divorced? Separated? Were you raised in a foster family? or by another family member? Think about who you observed as a child.
Next, what about your relatives? How did your family interact with their family? How did your parents interact with their parents and siblings. How about aunts and uncles? Did you know your cousins growing up? Every connection - through blood relation in your lifetime has had an impact on you whether or not you realize it or not.
Now think about your teachers at school and if you were involved in church, how about those leaders in your life? Sunday school teachers, ministers, pastors, and anyone within a leadership role in your life has had an impact on what you believe and how you think about relationships. You develop your belief system from your parents or whoever raised you - as well as how you think. Take a short walk through your history and evaluate what you observed as a child with the relationships that were modeled in your childhood.


In making this self assessment of how you learned about relationships, take it a step further and think about your teenage years - then if you went to college - think about those relationships. Include your work relationships between you and your co-workers and you and your bosses. Look at how you interacted with these people and what you learned from these people.
What are you looking for?
In your assessments what do you look for? Let's make a list of different relationship factors and traits.
  • Did your parents have a healthy marriage relationship?

What makes a healthy marriage relationship?

  • The University of Baltimore, Maryland says this: click here to read, "Qualities of a Healthy Marriage."

A brief synopsis of the long list of qualities reveals that both people in the marriage relationship need to be "real" people, genuine and authentic." There are also some important factors such as forgiveness, trust, responsibility, honesty, empathetic, compassionate, understanding and each participant must adhere to a commitment to continue to grow as a person and as a couple.

So as you think back in your mind, take a piece of paper and write down examples that you might remember of interactions you observed in your lifetime that would have taught you each of the different aspects listed in "Qualities of a Healthy Marriage." I could go through a list of other websites to give you an even broader sense of what you need to know about relationships, but this list is a very good representative list to begin with.

After you make your list and think back - perhaps you can gage how you learned about relationships and compare it to your current belief system and the way you think. Much of what is wrong in our current relationships must be pointed inward - towards ourselves first. Within a relationship between two people - the percentages are simple.

Relationships are a 50-50 balance. It's not all you, but it's not all the other person. Each of you must be secure within your own selves before you can have a healthy relationship with two people involved. It won't work any other way. So if you have self work to do - personal growth, unresolved past issues, recovery issues, an undiagnosed mental illness - dysfunctional family origins - you must look inward first before tackling what needs to be worked on together as a couple.


Now, setting the scene for abandonment issues - it's important to consider your past relationships - and that's why we've done the preparation by writing down examples of what we learned from people - as mentors - as role models - for our educational background concerning relationships. Abandonment often comes out of great fear. Whether you are the abandonee or the abandoner - the huge face of fear - most likely has crossed your pathway.
If you experienced abandonment in your childhood - you will possess a huge fear of abandonment in your current relationships. (I suggest you click on "a huge fear" to learn more about what fear can do.) So instantly, once abandonment is included into your repertoire of emotional wounding you're at a disadvantage in developing a healthy relationship in your life. The fear of being abandoned or abandoning someone again will haunt you into relationship ruination.  
If you need an example of how this happens, just think of abandonment as a physical wound instead of an emotional wound. Perhaps you suffered a broken leg and it wouldn't heal. This happened to me. There's a name for a fracture that doesn't heal - a non-union fracture. What can you do?
  • You can wait for it to heal - I spent almost two years in a wheel chair waiting for my fracture to heal
  • You could try bone grafts - I had several bone grafts - finally the last one took
  • I also had a bone stimulator implanted into my leg, which sent electrical currents into the fracture in hopes of stimulating bone growth
  • Now there's a new fix - it's like an epoxy or liquid bone that doctors can apply to the fracture and it is fixed

After receiving an injury like this - and receiving the treatment I described above you can imagine that there are some scars involved with this treatment. I have many scars. I also have an area in my hip that is numb due to the surgery in which bone was taken from my hip. Sometimes the nerves are affected in that area. My fibula is also detached. Where my fibula had broken right next to my tibia - it was healing so that it pressed against my fracture in my tibia thus causing pressure that wouldn't allow the bones to meet. The doctor just cut out a piece of the fibula, because you don't need that bone - to stop it from pushing against my tibia.

Enough of the medical lesson, but the point I'm trying to make is this - once you've experienced the trauma of abandonment - and it is emotionally traumatic - you will have scars from that wound. You will have emotional wounds that will never be the same. You will have "triggers" just as those who are diagnosed with PTSD have. They experience a situation that reminds them of their trauma and the symptoms escalate. This happens with abandonment.  

The problems in relationships lies in the fact that we don't know all of this stuff because no one teaches us about it. Our mother doesn't even know that because her husband, our father, left us that this is going to cause us problems with our own self - and with every relationship that we encounter in our lifetime. No one knows this stuff. We are beginning to understand the depths of abandonment. Researcher are finding out that certain emotional wounds have a bearing on our brains. Physiological effects are certain in our brain chemistry from experiencing certain traumas. Abandonment is a trauma. 
If we don't figure out these things about our own selves are relationships are sabotaged from day one.


When you consider the other counterpart of a relationship - the other person - and their past - their learning experiences from their relationship coaches, so to speak, what if they irritate each other's woundings? What if an abandoned person meets up with an abandoner and is drawn to that person? Can each of these individuals relate to each others' needs, wants and hurts? Can there be forgiveness and understanding? empathy? compassion? Do you see where I'm heading with this? Instantly, although for some reason they've been drawn together - they are opposites of the coin and they will butt heads continually. Fears will escalate and behaviors will clash. They go together - the negative behavior will prompt the fears and the fears will prompt more negative behavior. This happens with other things, not just abandonment.
Each party in the relationship needs to find emotional health and stability. To change the face of marriage as we've known it in the past few decades of changing values and morals - we must look inward before considering attaching ourselves to another human being. Our inner wounded self wants to attach - desperately attach - it wants someone to give stability - to give reassurance - to give unconditional love - but our wounded self can't appreciate those things if we get them because we haven't healed our own wounds. We haven't resolved our unresolved abandonment issues. We can't give what we don't know. And when we don't return what we're given in a relationship - it causes imbalance. Imbalance causes problems.
Additionally, people in marriage situations who are having problems with abandonment fears sometimes think having a child will stabilize the relationship and solve their problems. This is so sad, because having a child isn't the answer to anyones' problems. Another sad experience is when someone with abandonment issues is a single parent and introduces a third person into the family. The single parent most generally still hasn't realized that her relationship didn't work because of her/his own abandonment issues that were never resolved. Introducing another person into the relationship is perpetuating the wrong behaviors as a role model for the children to learn by.
They will again, witness yet another dysfunctional relationship and learn that this is how relationships work. They get their own ideas from observing others' relationships. They are so far off tract that you can wonder how they ever developed the ideas they believe to be true. So what does a person do? Stop everything! Stop self sabotaging, stop getting involved in relationships, and stop whatever you were doing in your relationships and wipe your slate clean. Just stop for enough time to gather yourself together and wipe your slate clean.
It's a journey you must undertake. You don't have a choice if you want healthy relationships. It's time to find a therapist who deals with abandonment issues. It's time to get yourself together emotionally, mentally and then you can emerge, healing, growing and healthier. You can find the right direction to go in. You can re-parent your children. You can teach them the right and wrong things involved in relationships. Even if your children are adult children - you can re-parent and share with them what you have learned about your own world; a world that they once observed as children.


You can go back and research parenting skills. Looking into each parent - how did you grow up? Compare notes. Research what professionals have discovered about parenting kids and how you are their role models. No matter what you've already done as a parent - if you've unknowingly caused damage, it's fixable. Once you know the difference in what you were doing that might have been poor parenting - you can make a change and acknowledge to your children that no one is perfect. You can explain that parents haven't had manuals that come with their babies and that they rely on how they were raised to raise their own children.
These conversations can be very healing for children who were being exposed to poor parenting skills. What more would you like to hear if someone has treated you poorly? An earnest and honest apology is always acceptable. No parent should ever cause a child to think that their parents were infallible. No one is perfect and there's nothing wrong with imperfection. Things happen and people learn from mistakes, trial and error and self education. The same goes for abandonment issues. Discussing them enables education, understanding and causing change to take place.
Look at this example of considering how to learn more about parenting skills. Have you and your marriage partner had the same ideas and habits concerning healthy parenting skills?
  • Click here to visit a website that talks about healthy parenting relationships

Click on the different topics in their navigational panel and ask yourselves how you rate on your belief systems concerning the factors being addressed, your thinking processes and how you were raised as a child in regards to dealing with the different issues.

These are exercises that need to be introduced into relationships long before marriage and long before parenting. Looking into your own mind, your own heart and your own soul to answer life's difficulties is perhaps the most cleansing experience you will encounter. Learning how to eliminate fears by introducing truth and honesty into your life and y our relationships will help to eliminate your abandonment fears as well. Safety, security and trust can be maintained even when someone has been wounded by abandonment. It just takes work. You can do it! You are worth the effort!


Unresolved Abandonment

Unresolved abandonment - the source of our insecurities, addictions, compulsions and distress.

Unresolved abandonment - the insidious virus invading body mind and soul - the culprit for the anxiety we're forever trying to self-medicate with food, alcohol, shopping, people and a host of other self defeating behaviors.

Unresolved abandonment - the roadblock to reaching our potential - the invisible wound that drains self esteem from within - the hidden trap that keeps us stuck in patterns of self-sabotage.

Unresolved abandonment - the chronic insecurity that becomes the scourge of human relationship.

Unresolved abandonment - the internal barrier to fully connecting to others. Fear short-circuits our attempts to find love - we struggle to find & keep relationships. We become abandoholics.

Unresolved abandonment - the elusive grief so many seek therapy for and can't seem to overcome - an undifferentiated emptiness often misdiagnosed as depression and inappropriately medicated.

Sometimes its stress and agitation are persistent enough to create chemical imbalances that do, in fact, respond to drug therapy.

Unresolved abandonment - simplistic methods like 'positive thinking' or just going to therapy don't deter it.

Programs like Co-dependency, Alanon and Adult Child have attempted to assuage the erosion of energy and self worth caused by unresolved abandonment.

But for all of their positive 'affirmations', they haven't been able to address the system of drainage that lies buried within.

Likewise, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alanon and Over-eaters Anonymous, etc. have been extremely effective in dealing with the addictive amd co-addictive problems secondary to abandonment, but are unable to go beyond the symptoms and treat the underlying abandonment wound itself.

Self-help books have tended to have a placebo effect. They offer reasonable enough sounding advice, like "Find happiness from within." But these truisms are easier said than done.

Many abandonees feel inadequate when they try to perform them and aren't able to "Just let go" and "Move forward."

Unresolved abandonment - people continue searching for one more tape, one more lecture, one more book that will finally free them.

But all of the self-medicating and soothing words in the world will not eradicate the distress, disturbance and dysfunction caused by unresolved abandonment.

For that you must go beyond insight. You must take action.

Abandonment survivors need more than symptom management and feel-good relief. They need an approach that facilitates not the illusion of change, but real change.

This can only happen when you realize that the magic bullet isn't in any book or program. It's within you. It's you ability to integrate awareness with action.

Why do we carry a torch for so long when someone has broken up with us?

NEW SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH EXPLAINS WHY HEARTBREAK HURTS SO MUCH. Someone who leaves you becomes very powerful to your emotional brain. They become powerful simply by being able to inflict so much pain. Being left is perceived by your mammalian brain as an attack upon your personal being.

It etches an indelible impression in a primitive part of the brain that acts automatically to protect you. It conditions your mammalian brain to react with fear each time you encounter the person whom it perceives as dangerous to your well being. Acting beneath your conscious awareness, it maintains a constant vigil on your abandoner.

You experience this as being temporarily obsessed with the person. Your nerves are set to 'go off' if you should unexpectedly bump into them later on or see them with a new love.

This enduring emotional reactivity is known as 'carrying a torch.' You're confused into thinking that if the pain can last that long and feel so strong, the person must have been very special.

But this isn't so. You can feel this way over anyone, even someone who had nothing special to offer. It's just your mammalian brain efficiently trying to warn you not to make the same mistake again.



Mall Shootings: When Hurt People Hurt People
By Mark Gregston
Dec 19, 2007
Most young people who go on a rampage of shooting others in malls or schools, do so because of a combination of two things... hopelessness for their current situation, and a sense of abandonment by others. It's an attempt to "pay back" mankind for their misery, forcing others to feel a similar hurt that they have been carrying for years.

I always wince a little right before a newscaster shares the name of the shooter who took out his aggression, anger, or disappointment with life through the senseless killing of many at a mall, school or a church. I wince not just because I have a tough time hearing of such a tragic event, but I wince with the thought that in the next second I may hear the name of a young person from a family I know.

I wonder about this 19-year-old kid in Omaha, Nebraska and what his motivation was to shoot and kill 9 innocent people and injure several others in a crowded mall on December 5 - the deadliest mall shooting in US history. Did anyone sense that something like this could happen? Where were the shooter's friends? Where were Mom and Dad? Why did he feel that the killing of others would compensate for loss in his own life? Where did his hopelessness and rage come? Don't you find yourself asking the same questions, trying to "make sense" of it all?

Many of the increasingly common mall, school and church shooting tragedies are met with comments from friends of the shooter that say in some form, "I never knew that this person would do this..." or, "We did all the right things...how could this have happened?" or "This young man was a Christian kid, how could he have....?" These are questions that we probably won't know the answer to this side of heaven. But, I'm convinced of this. We live in a hurting world that hurts people. And those hurt people, hurt other people.

Hurt people, hurt people. And if we can help those who hurt, it will stop them from hurting others.

Hopelessness is a tough state of mind to be in, no matter who you are. And hopelessness left alone can breed depression and even contempt. In a state of depression people just don't think well. They feel isolated. They feel that no one likes them. They feel "dark." They are sometimes consumed with irrational thoughts like, "Why was I even born?" or, "I'm nothing but a failure." Left alone and untreated, these people can justify just about anything....ending their own life, an uncaring attitude about other's lives, and a mindset that "things will only get worse." It's a tough place to be.

If those thoughts are fueled by the unkind actions of others, whether actual or perceived, it can be enough to send a hopeless and depressed person over the edge. As rare as these incidents are, they capture our hearts and attention, and should cause us all to reflect on what could have been done to prevent such tragedies, since in many more cases that we don't hear about, the hopeless teenager simply ends it all without a fanfare.

An understanding of what is driving these young people to plan and carry out mass murder can help bring a sense of "sense" into the "senselessness" and a plan to help ensure it doesn't happen with a teenager you know.

I am sure that I have met many young people just like each of these shooters. Had they not worked through their "issues" and developed new coping skills in our Heartlight counseling program, it would not have surprised me to hear their names on such a newscast. I know, because I have sat and talked with them for hours, weeks and months helping them through it - helping them get to the other side.

Now, there are people that have psychological issues far beyond the common person's ability to help them. In most cases, these issues are quite apparent and good doctors and medications can help. But there are many more people, and teenagers in particular, who silently struggle. If we never try to reach out to those silent ones who are struggling, they will continue down their dark path.

"Faithless is he who disappears when the road is dark." - J.R.R. Tolkien

If you think you cannot help a teen through such a situation, let me assure you that it doesn't take a degree or some great skill. It takes a "with-ness"....being with someone as they struggle through tough times, to bring light to those dark places.

Here are a few ways to bring light to the life of a hopeless teenager:

1. Brush off the Push-Off - Don't avoid what you think is a person's attempt to keep you away. Always offer yourself in ways that let a young person know that there is nothing they can do to push you away.

2. Just Listen - Spend time "being" rather than "fixing." Be with them and don't try to fix everything. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and don't get mad when they say things that are "sharp" or confused.

3. Encourage Help - Encourage the help of others. Counselors, doctors, therapists, pastors, teachers, school staff, and even law enforcement if things get beyond what you think you can handle. Just don't give up. Hang in there with them. The reason many people don't reach out for help is because that action would confirm in their own minds that there is something wrong with them. So any way that you can help them feel and understand that it's okay to not have it all together. The best way to transfer this concept is to let them know that you don't have it all together either.

4. Be Watchful - If you see something that is suspect, get other people involved. Don't just ignore what your heart is telling you. I'm not saying that you should have a license to be paranoid about everyone you see, but I am convinced that there are many people out there, that would welcome a helping hand to literally cling onto as they walk through their struggles.

5. Keep With It - Stay in relationship for the long haul. Hurt people take time to heal. Let them know that you will walk with them on the "long walk," not just the "short stroll." Don't abandon them.

And if you need more help,
bringing light to dark situations with teenagers is what the full-time Heartlight residential counseling program in East Texas is all about. It has helped thousands of kids get on the other side of such issues.
Author's Bio

Mark Gregston is the Founder & Executive Director of the Heartlight Residential Counseling Center for Teens (www.heartlightministries.org) & author of "When Your Teen is Struggling." He can be reached at www.markgregston.com.


Attracted to Love and Wounds?
By Alex Blackwell

You bring love and an honest commitment to your relationship. You are attracted by your partner’s well-meaning heart, his or her good looks as well as their personality and engaging mannerisms.

Even though you may not realize it, you also bring the wounds you suffered as a child to your relationship. And you may also not realize you are probably attracted to someone who you believe will give you a different outcome for these wounds.

Simply put, you become attracted to someone who may possess some of the similar traits and attributes as your primary caregiver did when you were a child. But with this person you are hoping for a different outcome – a chance for the wounds to finally heal or to never have been afflicted in the first place.

Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it?

Why would you be attracted to someone who may be unable to help you heal your wounds and has the potential to make your wounds grow deeper?

To answer these questions, you must understand that every single one of us has been wounded as children and we have brought these wounds to the marriage for repair. Conflicts in our relationships stem from these wounds.

In addition, Imago Relationship Therapy points out that your unconscious mind makes you attracted to undesirable traits that are identical to your caretaker’s (typically a parent) which resulted in your wounds. Furthermore, consciously we are looking for someone who may resemble the traits of our caretakers, but not an exact replica per se.

If you are constantly fighting about unwashed dishes, says Dr. Hendrix, co-found of Imago Relationship Therapy, "It's not about the dishes...there's a symbolic connection...that triggers a deeper feeling."

Dr. Hendrix also suggests that intense and reoccurring arguments are a good indicator that one or both partners have unresolved childhood wounds such as abandonment, rejection, smothering, shame or helplessness.

My Marriage

Mary Beth and I “trigger” each other at times. My attraction to her was to find a woman who would be strong and independent – a woman who would not rely on addictions for comfort and escape. I wanted to marry a woman who could be strong and love me, too.

However, a source of conflict in our relationship involves physical contact. I’m not talking about sex necessarily, but things like hugging, holding hands and kissing. When we go through times when our physical contact is infrequent, I become triggered. I begin to feel like a young child not knowing if my mother would be respondent or aware of my needs.

So, my partner has similar tendencies as my primary caregiver did (her independence is construed by me as detachment), but I’m looking for my partner to give me a different outcome. Yes, there will be periods of physical detachment. But at the end of the day, I know authentic love is waiting. This is the best ointment for me.

Personal Activity: Unfinished Business

To help you uncover your childhood wounds, complete the following activity. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time (about 30 minutes). You will also need some writing paper and a pen or pencil to complete this activity.

Begin by thinking back to your earliest memory of your childhood home. See yourself as a child in this home.

1. Think about the people who cared for you? Who are they?

2. Choose 2 or 3 of these people. They can be a parent, relative or family friend. Try to remember and write down both their positive and negative traits.

3. Why did you enjoy being with them? What didn’t you like about them?

4. Finally, for each person, write down what you wanted from them but didn't get. Be real with yourself and don’t hesitate to express your anger or sadness.

5. What similarities can you draw between people from your childhood and your current partner? Do they have common traits? What are you not getting from your partner, but would like to have?
Activity for Couples

When you and your partner are in the middle of an argument, try asking yourself these 4 questions to get at the root of your pain. Have your partner do the same.

1. How do I feel when my partner acts this way?

2. What thoughts do I have when my partner acts this way?

3. What deeper feelings might underlie these thoughts and feelings?

4. Did I ever have these same thoughts and feelings when I was a child?
Author's Bio
Alex Blackwell is the author of The Next 45 Years - a website dedicated to sharing and creating happiness, life balance and success for the rest of our lives. To read more inspirational stories and articles, please visit: www.thenext45years.blogspot.com


Hasty Divorce
By Richard O'Connor

Divorce is so common in our society today that it's a shame people don't do it more carefully. Too often it's just another stage of self-deception, doomed to disappointment - an out of control emotional process, the dark side of falling in love.
Though occasionally mature people can agree that they've grown apart and need to go in separate directions and occasionally there are couples who bring out the worst in each other and really need to separate, for the most part divorcing couples are fueled by anger, projection and blame.
Divorce brings out our strongest feelings of anger and rage. What's interesting is that the rage feels good. It's righteous indignation. It comes out of very basic needs to protect our own self esteem, as a way of saying it's not my fault, it's her/his fault.

who will your child see in the mirror as an adult?
who will your child see in the mirror when there's trouble with marriage?


The "Father Knows Best" family, with Dad the sole wage-earner and a marriage that lasts a lifetime, is now down to about 5% of the total population.
The divorce rate is currently about 49% & seems to have leveled off at that point after rising for the last 20 years; but it shows no sign of declining.
Of children today, about 45% will go through a parental divorce. More than twice as many children of divorce compared to those from intact families will see a mental health professional in their later lives.
In a national sample, men and women who were 16 or younger when their parents divorced reported significantly higher divorce rates, more work-related problems and higher levels of emotional distress than those who grew up in intact families.


A great deal of the reason why divorce is so difficult on children is that parents are so caught up in their own needs in this intensely emotional process that they're no longer able to function effectively as individual parents, to say nothing of the effect of the breakup of the home on the children. I have a list of all-too-common reactions of parents during divorce.

Parents who see the child as a pawn or symbol in the divorce power struggle. If Johnny cares for me more than her, that proves I've won. This is what many custody battles are really about, despite parents' protestations that they have their child's best interest at heart. (see parental alienation)
Kids are extraordinarily sensitive to parental hypocrisy and will feel that whatever genuine unselfish love is there is tainted, selfish and probably false.
They may feel this even without expressing it; for their own self protection, they may get good at playing parents off against each other; but they develop a warped sense of human relationships.
Parents who have to withdraw from the child into taking care of the self. Mom may feel abandoned and defeated in the divorce process and has to put energy into restoring her self esteem, as well as perhaps having to earn a living.
Dad may feel uncomfortable with the children, guilty because he sought the divorce. We see a number of young adults who come in with a range of problems, mainly a lack of identity, self destructive actions of one sort or another.
We find that many of these have come from divorced families, have been the kind of kid who seems unaffected by the divorce. I think they've been aware of parents' vulnerability, have decided unconsciously to stifle their own needs and have grown up with a false front - looking competent but feeling deeply needy and inadequate and without the permission to bring those feelings into conscious awareness.


Parents whose neediness turns to the child. They become depressed as a reaction to the divorce and use the child as a sibling or caretaker.
This is typically mom but it can be dad; it's whoever spends time alone with the children. It's hard for single parents, it's hard to spend afternoons, evenings and weekends with the kids and not abdicate the parental role - and it feels good, is immediately gratifying, to get into "girl talk" with the adolescent daughter, to act like "best friends," to reveal your own doubts and uncertainties.
The trouble comes later, when you have to put your foot down, to say be home at midnight or else. The daughter doesn't want to hear this from her best friend - and this feeling is justifiable.
You can't use your child as a confidante when it suits your needs and then try to be an authority figure when that's convenient.


Parents who blame the child. This is a common scenario between moms and sons. Mom may feel abandoned, may carry an intense rage for the no-good bum who left her, may resent the child's needs and if son looks like father, acts like him, or misses dad, the son may become the target for mom's rage.

Parents who endow the child with the power to make the parent happy. The parent's self esteem depends on doing a good job with the child. So you have parents who spoil their children, who can't say no or set limits, or parents who push the kids into being models of the social graces, or into being successful at things the parent, not the child, desires.
Parents have to be able to feel good about themselves regardless of their child's behavior. Otherwise the child has a tremendous weapon to use against parents - most unfortunately, this usually has self-destructive consequences, as when the child messes up in some dramatic way.
Parents who feel so guilty about the divorce that they constantly look to the child to undo the guilt. The child must be made to be happy at all times and so is catered to, not disciplined. The scenario is similar to the one just mentioned. The child will comply at first, because compliance is immediately rewarded, but will eventually rebel.

If you recognize yourself here, get some help. Talk things out with a trusted friend, your clergy person, or a mental health professional. Divorce is the hardest thing most people go through in life; there's no shame in needing help with it.

are you looking at the "you" in the mirror?

On the other hand...
What's going on when our marriages seem so right to begin with, we have children, we're successful in our careers, we have the house, we have the car, we go to church, we have plenty of playthings.... but we still feel an intense sense of abandonment within us ... much like a ghost of times past haunting us?
Why is it that instead of looking within, we look at everything else around us? We search out the things that anger us, annoy us, that make us work harder to get around, instead of looking at our own selves to find the problem?
When will we look within first to find out why happiness eludes us instead of blaming others, getting angry, or looking for the easy way out?
The sad fact here is... unresolved abandonment issues can ruin a marriage. It's such an intimate relationship that it eats away at the core factors needed to sustain a marriage, most importantly - trust.

are you looking at the "you" in the mirror?

When you're fishing for something to self medicate away those blues that continue to cause you to feel empty, sad or blue.... get with nature, go for walks, talk to a competent, experienced mental health professional with experience in abandonment issues. Just ask before you make the appointment and make sure the receptionist sounds confident in the answers to all of your questions!
Don't ruin the lives of your children, by just "getting a divorce." Why are you getting divorced? Irreconcilable differences? What's that all about?
Look within first. Unhappy? Look within first. Feeling needy? Look within first. Talk about these concepts with your spouse. It's time to get real with life.
Who will think about this? Who will take a chance without a safety net? Who will not be selfish and not take the easy way out?
Where will your marriage be when your children are getting married? Will you be just another divorce statistic? If the disintegration of your marriage is based on your inner issues, hey... do something about your problems, solve them... do it for yourself, for your children and for your marriage!



Healing Abandonment Wounds

By Dr. Margaret Paul

I have counseled individuals, couples, families and business partners for the past 35 years and authored 8 published books. Every individual I've worked with has had some abandonment wounds to heal and most relationship problems stem from abandonment wounds.

It isn't possible to grow up in our society without some abandonment wounds. The following are some of the ways it can occur:

  • Being torn away from mother at birth and put into a nursery.

  • Being left to cry in a crib or playpen.

  • Being given up for adoption or being left in foster care.

  • Being physically &/or sexually abused.

  • Being emotionally abused - ignored, yelled at, shamed.

  • Being pushed aside at the birth of a new sibling.

  • Having a parent or caregiver who is emotionally unavailable.

  • Being unseen or misunderstood by parents or other caregivers.

  • Being lied to.

  • Being unprotected by a parent or caregiver.

  • Being left alone in a hospital during an illness.

  • Losing a beloved parent or grandparent at a very young age.

  • Divorce.

  • Being teased or left out with siblings or peers.

  • Being ridiculed by a teacher.

  • Being forgotten - not being picked up from school or other places.

  • Being left at a young age to care for oneself, a parent, or other siblings.

When we are deeply wounded  at a young age, we can't handle the pain, so we find ways to dissociate from the intense feelings.

Then, later in life, especially when we fall in love, these old wounds can get activated. Our beloved gets angry, withdraws, gives attention to someone else, says mean things, doesn't tell the truth, doesn't stand up for us, comes home late, wanders away in a crowded public place, misunderstands us and so on - and suddenly the pain that has been pushed aside all these years comes roaring to the surface.

We think that we're reacting to the present situation, but what's really happening is that the old, unhealed abandonment wound has been touched off. We might find ourselves suddenly enraged or falling apart with intense tears. Our reaction seems too big for the situation, yet we can't seem to stop the inner pain. We might start to shake violently as the old terror finally erupts.

We want our beloved to take the pain away by stopping his or her behavior. If only he or she wouldn't do the thing that activates these feelings, we'd be fine. Yet until we actually heal these old, deep wounds, we'll not be fine. We'll always be vulnerable to having these wounds activated.

Healing the abandonment wounds doesn't happen overnight, yet it doesn't have to take years either. Step one is to tune into your feelings with a willingness to take responsibility for your pain.

Once you're aware that deep pain has been activated, seek the help of someone who can hold you and nurture you while you go into the abandonment pain. If no one is available, hold a doll, bear or pillow and bring in love to the hurting part of you.

Open to your concept of God or Spirit and allow this source of love and strength to nurture you.

It's often not advisable to seek the help of the person who activated the wound because:

  1. he or she may still be stuck in their own wounded place, the place that touched off your wound
  2. you might become dependent upon your beloved taking care of you and taking the pain away instead of actually healing the pain

Once you're with a safe, nurturing person, or even on the phone with a safe person, hold a doll or bear or even a pillow very tightly and breath into the pain.

Open to learning and allow the Inner Child who is in pain to give you information about the original pain that's still stuck in the body. The body holds the memories that you repressed at the time and now the body is releasing these memories.

Many images may come up as you open to learning with your Inner Child.

Be sure you have your spiritual guidance with you, holding you, surrounding you with love and comfort as you open to learning about this deep pain.

In order to truly understand your present reaction, you need to understand what happened to you when you were little. Keep breathing deeply and allowing your Inner Child to inform you, even if you're crying.


Tell the person helping you what your Child is telling you about what happened to you when you were little. It may take awhile, but gradually you'll calm down. At that point, tune into what false beliefs you may have embraced as a child that are affecting you now & what else your Child needs right now to feel loved and safe.

Being there for your wounded child this way will gradually heal the abandonment wounds. Ignoring your feelings, trying to make them go away, or trying to get someone else to take them away will only serve to re-wound you. It's only when you no longer abandon yourself that the old wounds begin to heal.

Eventually, another's behavior that previously triggered your intense reaction will no longer do so. You may feel sad or lonely when a loved one gets angry or withdraws in some way, but as long as you continue to show up for yourself, the intense pain will not be there.

If the pain seems stuck in the body no matter what you do, then you need to seek out a practitioner who knows how to release old pain out of the body thru acupressure or other bodywork.

Once these old wounds are healing, you'll feel a new sense of personal power. Others' behavior can no longer trigger you into these intensely painful feelings.

However, a word of caution:

we may think it's healed, only to discover another level when we move into a more intimate relationship, or more intimacy with a present partner. The closer the relationship, the deeper the wounds get activated.

That's why the primary relationship is the most powerful arena for healing there is and Inner Bonding - the process outlined here - is a most powerful tool!

This article is © Dr. Margaret Paul and has been re-produced here with the author's permission


By Nancy Reeves
You can’t take it with you and you can’t carry it around everywhere. As therapists, we have to learn to "let go" so we can help others do it. We need to know what it means and how to do it ourselves.
Some synonyms for "let go" from the thesaurus:
  • dismiss
  • part with
  • release

However, we also associate these words with "letting go":

  • surrender 
  • abandon

In psychological terms "letting go" means:

I accept what is; I may not like it, but I can accept it. I relinquish my need to control. "Letting go" gives me room to grow. I don't have to trouble myself with obsessing about it. I have no need to be manipulative and play games. I can trust that a power greater than I will handle the details. This may not be what I need to hold on to; it’s not really in my best interest. My heart must learn to give and receive freely, joyously and without expectations.

We practice "letting go" of the thoughts and emotions that keep us stuck. We learn to release:

The best part is that in "letting go" of behaviors, thoughts and outgrown emotions that no longer serve us is that a space is created for something new and different.

"Letting go" gives us room to grow and change. It's movement, no longer frozen in the past. Growth and change may involve passage into darkness, a kind of psychic death.

"Letting go" can also be viewed as an opportunity disguised as loss.

"Letting go" requires that you must learn some new skills:

Begin to change the thoughts that create fear. Learn to wait patiently. Focus on the good things in life. Get in touch with the love in your heart. Have intentions that are loving and good for you and for those you love.

Practice pure, clear thoughts. Stay focused in the present moment. Have no expectations that you cling to. Handle all your emotions maturely and gently. Refuse to beat yourself up mentally. Refuse to obsess about what can’t be changed.

Set limits and boundaries in your relationships and observe them. Accept what is. Learn to love yourself freely without judgment. Suspend criticism.

Remember that "letting go" is NOT giving up, giving in, or accepting defeat. It isn't quitting, resigning, relinquishing, nor abandoning. It isn't throwing in the towel!

Learning to "let go" is a process of healing, self-change and restoration to health.

source: selfgrowth.com


A Sincere Suggestion:
Read the article above and below. Ponder, reflect, think, pray, meditate, do what you need to do to make a thoughtful and sincere decision. This decision is a sobering one. It's not to be taken lightly. Do you want to go on in your life to personally grow and recover from the grief, sorrow, rage, anger, pain, hurt and sadness that abandonment has caused you. Be aware, the person who abandoned you may not have been mentally or physically well, aware of the consequences of the abandonment or able to cope with whatever was happening at the moment of the decision that was made.
See if you can find the intensity of your desire to feel good. Consider the possibilities of finding peace of mind and happiness in your life. I urge you to take this seriously and be with your thoughts at great length before making your decisions.


Gas Prices Are the Highest They’ve Ever Been
By Kathleen Howe
Five years isn’t a very long time; but it seems like a very long time when you are struggling to notice every inhale and exhale, every step your foot takes, every smell you breathe in, every single thing that you touch, all the sounds that you hear and the struggle involves becoming aware of each of those factors I’ve mentioned. I know this because I’ve been consumed with doing this very thing for the exact amount of time - five years.

I’ve been aware  of my diagnosis, my need for recovery and personal growth from a wide array of dysfunctions, illnesses – both physical and mental, an eating disorder, and several dozen traumas for five years. Four marriages, five children, a few abortions, one custody fight, and many abusive relationships have colored my past as well. Can you believe I hadn’t been aware of what I was coping with for forty-five years until I began this recovery journey?

I was "unaware." For five years I’ve been working on the average of eight hours a day – seven days a week, including all holidays without pay and working harder than if I were being paid millions. I’ve been reading articles, books, pamphlets, and anything that included information that was related to experiences, illnesses and dysfunctions I had experienced. For five years I’ve been typing on my keyboard, designing a network of what I have now accomplished – 28 websites.

I’m not finished with it, but it’s a far cry from what I believed I was faced with five years ago when I started out with one website that I mistakenly believed would be large enough to envelop all the information one would need to recover. I wanted to sort through all those articles out there in the Internet world, to bring the best, most concise and clear information to those who were like I had been five years ago; struggling.

I understand now, how vast the horizon really is when you set out to recover from a lifetime of pain. I do have difficulty understanding how to relay to others who want to recover as I’ve been; the very important intensity of the desire you must conger up in order to begin to grow personally. It’s intense, earnest, gut-wrenching arduous work that brings sweat to your brow. It’s a thirst that can’t be quenched. It’s consistent, unwavering and so gradually promising that you sometimes forget to be aware of your accomplishments!

I discovered a short-cut that I am very happy to offer to anyone who thinks they might be able to use it. When I very excitedly begin describing my theory of helping yourself through helping others, their smiles begin to fade and I somehow always hear their tone of voice become faint. I can literally feel the intensity of their desire to recover becomes extinguished. Why is that?

I made a commitment to myself when I began my journey. I was tired of being mentally ill, consuming food all night long in sugary binges that left me with a food hangover the next day. I was tired of living in the depths of fear which had totally consumed me. I told myself, “Self, if we begin to recover, we will not stop until we feel as though we’ve recovered. I will not involve other people by designing a website for self helpers if I’m going to quit and abandon the site in a month or two. I will complete the site."

I’ve only made two commitments to myself in my life. I’ve so far kept both of them. I’m hoping that all of you smarter – more learned authors out there have a way to describe the intensity of this desire that you must have to journey in your own recovery. I’m a great cheerleader, but I’m not sure I’ve had the time to learn how to describe that initial vital factor.

You can’t begin to journey in your car until you’ve put gas into the gas tank; is about all I’ve been able to figure out so far. And you’ll need a whole bunch of gas to do 50 years worth of driving! Find your desire to recover, recognize it, identify it, and be with it awhile to get to know it. Then let it take you, let it take you to the point that you make that very important commitment to yourself to recover. It’s worth the gas money, even with today’s prices!


Aspects of Trauma at Birth

By Phyllis Klaus, MFT,CSW

Events are traumatic and create feelings of powerlessness when they are dangerous, are actually or appear life-threatening to self or loved ones, are sudden, (change quickly from "normal" to dangerous,) without explanation and when the situation appears overwhelming.

There's no time to prepare, no way to plan an escape or to prevent something from happening. A number of events during labor or birth such as emergency, unexpected or unwanted interventions, serious problems in the mother, physical damage, a sick or compromised infant and separation from the baby, can be classified as traumatic with a capital T.

Major trauma for a woman occurs in childbirth where she has inordinate fear and is in a situation where she has no control. Other aspects of trauma are more subjective and relate to how a woman is treated, how she perceives her experience and how she feels about the experience.

These experiences are often man-made and cause shame, humiliation and stigma. Both parents bring their whole life history to the birth and this also affects their experience, either consciously or more often unconsciously.


Some Causes of Trauma during Birth

  • betrayal: (caregiver, partner, family), own body

  • feeling abandoned, neglected, or rejected

  • negative perception of personnel

  • injury to body, lacerations, bleeding

  • exhaustion

  • severe pain

  • humiliation

  • feeling powerless, helpless

  • lack of knowledge

  • no sense of control

  • no decision making

  • unwanted interventions

  • anesthetized, feeling numb, disconnected

  • unexpected interventions, emergency C-section

  • other illness in mother or difficulty in delivery

  • negative beliefs about herself and her performance

  • medical problems with the baby, NICU, interventions,

  • baby's or mother's problem with breastfeeding

  • separation from baby and loved ones

  • isolation

  • triggered past trauma, illness, loss, abuse

  • previous traumatic birth


Description of Major Areas of Frustration and Dissatisfaction


Unexpected Level of Pain

  • extreme back pain - back labor

  • not ever getting on top of contractions, if precipitate labor

  • or if after induction

  • forced , Ineffective pushing

  • epidural that didn’t work

Later on:

  • persistent pain from episiotomy

  • back pain from injured tail bone or epidural spinal headache

  • the cesarean section incision

  • pain in perineum, birth canal

  • unexpected breast pain and uterine pain

  • not being believed, pain exacerbated


Lack of Control

  • over decisions concerning narcotic medications

  • unwanted interventions, unexpected and having no voice

  • breaking water

  • limiting fluids and activity during labor

  • use of forceps during delivery

  • having or not having an epidural, EF monitor, enemas, induction, episiotomy, time with baby

  • distress with lack of control over one's own body and reactions

  • inability to move after the epidural

  • lack of control and no input over decisions concerning one's care, the medications received and many obstetric practices


Lack of Knowledge

  • about specific topics such as what pain might be like, back labor, effect of pain medications and epidurals, understanding of the effect of induction, lack of knowledge of ways to push to avoid forceps, large episiotomies, etc.

  • lack of knowledge or understanding of what's happening at any point

Negative Perceptions from caregivers

  • experiencing rude behavior, non-caring interactions, unwanted interventions, feeling devalued, humiliated

Manifestations of Trauma

  • anxiety

  • fear

  • depression

  • resistance to take on new pregnancy

  • panic

  • physical distress


  • medical and somatic reactions

  • physical disorders, such as chronic pelvic pain, eating disorders


PTSD (some components)

1. Exposure to an extreme stressor of the usual range of human experience and feelings of helplessness, fear of dying, pain

2. Re-experiencing the event through memories, dreams and flashbacks,  nightmares

3. Avoidance of stimuli associated with trauma of anything that reminds one of the trauma

4. Numbing of general responsiveness

5. Increased arousal, hypervigilence or exaggerated startle response

6. Extreme distress when something brings back memories


  • Flashback to the event

  • Nightmares or sleeplessness

  • Intrusive thoughts

  • Feelings of panic and increased arousal when reminded of the event

  • Avoidance

  • Irritability or outbursts of anger

  • Crying, feelings of guilt, shame, Inadequacy

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Lack of emotions, closing down

  • Want to avoid social contact

  • Feeling of no future, avoid child-bearing

  • Can feel estranged from the infant or angry at the infant as well as over-concerned about the child

  • May affect attitudes toward breastfeeding

  • May feel less patient with one’s partner or children

  • Angry that partner may not be empathic

  • Sex life is affected, may feel emotionally depleted, but guilty


Risk Factors are events or experiences in a woman's life that can impact her birth experience as well as her comfort in taking on her infant & her recovery in the postpartum period. Both parents' life experiences impact the birth of the child.

They include the following:

Risk Factors, One

  • previous history in self or family of anxiety / depression

  • unwanted pregnancy

  • unsupportive spouse / partner / significant marital problems

  • previous losses around childbearing, miscarriage, neonatal loss

  • sick / premature infant / intensive care nursery

  • problems with caregivers

  • divorce / separation

  • significant losses in past 2 years, death of parent

  • problems with fertility, difficulty becoming pregnant

Risk factors, two

  • other traumatic births

  • high number of labor & delivery interventions

  • Significant breast problems

  • very high expectations of birth & parenting

  • history of negative childhood

  • abuse: physical, emotional, sexual.

  • unresolved own birth trauma

  • illness, hospitalizations

  • substance abuse

Risk factors, three

  • major life stresses / changes - current or in recent past

  • medical / psychological symptoms in pregnancy or postpartum

  • social isolation

  • perfectionist personality

  • transfer from home to hospital, if home birth planned


Immediate help for mothers who are traumatized by the negative birth events

1. If possible, keep mother & baby together

2. Respect privacy & timing

3. Keep interruptions to a minimum.

4. Create a supported rest period, recognize the need to rest, recuperate.

5. Provide help with physical concerns, guidance for self-care & care of infant

6. Provide guidance for nursing

7. Never push baby on breast

8. Be present for help as needed

9. Recognize & validate unexpected outcomes & the distressful feelings she has

10. Have plan in place for partner or close person to hold baby if mother not able to:

1. Recognize time she needs to take in the new baby

2. Plant seeds of accomplishment, even if difficult birth

3. Validate what a great baby she has

4. Recognize effects of medication on baby so mother doesn't feel like a failure

5. Organize baby, help into quiet state of consciousness, calm, comfort, talk to baby, therapeutic touch

6. Validate & give suggestions for things to do to re-create the early missed experience.

VII. Methods to heal & resolve the negative birth events
Women & their partners need help to integrate the birth experience. They must be helped to acknowledge their distressful feelings in order to move past them. They need permission to feel the pain, anger, disappointment & to have time to grieve over the experience & eventually find meaning & be able to move forward.
Caregivers must first open the subject, listen & validate the reality & give information on the trauma aspect.
1. Reflective listening
2. Review the birth
3. Use a variety of methods to help her release, grieve & heal the unexpected or traumatic events.
4. Role play
5. Imagery
6. Stress management & self-care 
7. EMDR on any remaining distress.
8. Use of EMDR positive cognitions & appropriate imagery for future potential.



1.Interview during pregnancy

  • Know risk factors

2. Process unresolved past pregnancy and childbirth events and postpartum (especially negative breastfeeding ) experiences, as appropriate

3. Provide knowledge about labor, birth and postpartum

4. Plan for continuous support at birth (doula)

5. Help mothers have breastfeeding class and breastfeeding plan

6. Listen carefully for questions and concerns, review possible areas of distress for labor, for breastfeeding and develop together possible strategies for handling them

7. Maintain flexibility and alternative options

8. Make sure of continuity of information and care

9. Recognize and provide for the immediate needs of the new mother right after birth

10. Explore and plan for unexpected outcomes, such as understanding that even if c-section or healthy premature, mother can have baby as she is ready

11. Help mother plan for appropriate support at home

12. Discuss postpartum reality

13. Have follow-up visit for emotional and practical support on breastfeeding and check on mother’s emotional well-being.

14. Process birth experience afterwards

15. Remember partner’s needs and feelings.

16. Importance of couple’s communication.


Along the recovery journey....
kathleen howe
I've written about deciding to make the recovery journey and I've continued to share important pieces of my journey by building new sites containing additional information concerning the recovery steps I'd found to be essential. But there is one thing that I've omitted in expounding upon.
As time has gone by, I'm as adamant about the decision to commit for recovery to be successful as I ever was. I've learned volumes that perhaps only the most astute and learned psychology professors or doctor or researchers have come to know throughout their careers. I've learned it the hard way though; through studying my past experiences and studying thousands of articles, speaking to hundreds of people experiencing different life altering negative experiences, and mostly from my accrued understanding of awareness and mindfulness. I know that sometimes we, the "stubborn children" of the seventies have had to go the "hard way" in fighting against dysfunctional relationships, addictions and the much dreaded mental illnesses we developed throughout our lifetimes.
I'm not proud of my dysfunctional past. It's very negative. It's very encouraging to me that I have had little trouble leaning on my faith that God forgives. One thing that has forced me to realize what faith must be built upon is my never ending supply of hope - hope for something good - to enter into my life. I have questioned the Lord time after time, "How can my life be full of only negativity?" I was stuck in a whirlwind of telling my story, completely, a never-ending tragedy... it was holding me captive; my story was.
Don't mistake my source of realization of this "being stuck" in telling my story as a statement against "telling your story," but take in a deep cleansing breath and close your eyes and remember letting go of the pain from an injury, the severe symptoms of a cold or flu or chronic illness, and know that the examination, diagnosis, and re-check as well as important notations were very much needed in preparing to "recover."
Telling one's story is essential in learning how to let it go... let the feelings and emotions go - eventually - after looking back in time, recalling the long buried emotions and feelings, rousing them up again, identifying them in the present, sitting with them for awhile and processing their very crucial properties - then realizing all by yourself that you no longer "need" to experience your story over and over. You've completed a long needed task. The past can stay in the past and you are ready to live fully in the present moment.
This is a step - a very huge step - in the recovery process that I have found to be vital in my present feelings of well being.


Forgiving Your Parents
By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
"My parents were distant, unaffectionate people. I don't remember ever being held by them. They were never interested in how I thought or felt. I never felt important to them at all."

"My mother was crazy - nice one minute and the next a screaming maniac. My father was sweet but he was never around, and he never did anything to stop my mother from the emotional abuse."

"My father was an angry violent man and my mother was weak and pathetic. He often beat us and my mother did nothing to protect us."

"My mother didn't believe me when I told her that my father was molesting me. She is still with him, and still doesn't believe me."

Many people grew up with parents who didn't know how to love them in the ways they needed to be loved. Others grew up with parents who not only did not love them, but who were physically, emotionally and/or sexually abusive. Unloving and abusive parenting has far reaching affects on our lives.

Many people spend years trying to heal from their childhoods. Often, at some point in their healing process they ask, "Should I forgive my parents? Would it be healthy for me to forgive them? How would I go about feeling forgiveness toward them?"

Forgiveness is not a feeling that you can just decide to have. Many of my clients who decide that they want to forgive their parents find that the forgiveness doesn't last. Something happens and they find themselves once again angry with one or both of their parents.

In my work with my clients and with myself, I have discovered an important thing about forgiveness:


If your parents ignored you and you didn't feel important to them, as long as you continue to ignore your own feelings and needs, you will not be able to forgive your parents.

If your parents were judgmental toward you, as long as you continue to judge yourself, you will not be able to forgive your parents.

If your parents were physically or sexually abusive to you, as long as you abuse your own body or allow others to abuse you, you will not be able to forgive your parents.

Most of our parents were unhealed, wounded people, doing the best they could. Since they were our role models, they passed their woundedness on to us, so that the wounded part of us is generally a carbon copy of the wounded parts of them.

When you decide to embark on a healing journey, it is this part of you - your wounded self - that needs healing. Healing occurs as you compassionately open to learning about the false beliefs of your wounded self - the beliefs you absorbed as you were growing up. The more you understand the fears and beliefs of your wounded self and learn to live from truth rather than from these fears and limiting beliefs, the more loving and compassionate you feel toward yourself and others.

You will find that your anger and resentment toward your parents gradually fades away as you learn to treat yourself in the ways you always wished your parents would have treated you. As you learn to feel compassion for the wounded parts of you, you will naturally feel compassion for the wounded parts of them. Forgiveness is the natural outcome of doing your own inner healing work.

However, just because you forgive your parents, doesn't mean that you want to spend time with them. If they continue to be unloving or abusive people, you might decide to forgive them from afar. It is wonderful for your wellbeing to let go of anger and blame and feel forgiveness in your heart, and it is also wonderful to give yourself permission to not be around your parents if it is not in your highest good to do so.

If your parents have mellowed over the years, you might find that you enjoy spending time with them, regardless of what happened in the past.

source: self growth.com


Your Self-Esteem is Up to YOU
By Molly Misetich & Alexandra Delis-Abrams, Ph.D.
Self-esteem is a condition, a state of being. Unfortunately, it is not something we can put in a box with a fancy ribbon and hand out on occasion. It is observable in behaviors, but other than that, it's an inside job. According to the National Association of Self Esteem (NASE), self-esteem is,
"The experience of being capable of meeting life's challenges and being worthy of happiness."
How we arrive at a condition of high or low self-esteem has been the subject of extensive debate. Are our parents responsible? Our friends? Our spouse? Our co-workers? Can we change our self-esteem or are we stuck with the same 'condition' forever? How many people feel truly capable of meeting life's challenges or perceive themselves as worthy of happiness?

Data gleaned from the Internet suggests there are many who have an interest in self-esteem. A search on Google revealed 1,210,000 references to self-esteem. Despite the avid interest, according to statistics, there are an estimated 50 million Americans who suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, ranging from depression to eating disorders.

The stigma frequently associated with emotional disturbances and mental illnesses can lead to low self-esteem, and also prevent many from seeking help. According to the recently released reports by the President's New Freedom Commission on mental health, mental illnesses and/or emotional disturbances affect almost every family and leave no school or workplace untouched. Stigma should no longer be an issue!

Substance abuse is known to be associated with many of the above disorders, whether a result of efforts to self medicate or a possible contributing factor in the onset of some of the disorders. It has been documented that there is a relationship between low self-esteem and violence, school dropout rates, teenage pregnancy, suicide, and low academic achievement. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that suicide worldwide causes more deaths every year than homicide or war.

Based on the wide use of prescribed and illegal mood altering drugs, excessive alcohol consumption, and untreated mental health issues, it seems likely that few of us have truly high self-esteem. Hence, we're probably not ". . .capable of meeting life's challenges and being worthy of happiness." Which came first - the esteem issue, the mental health or substance abuse problems, or all of them, side by side, chiseling and wearing away at our happiness and self-esteem? Whose problem is it anyway?

Whether you were raised by 'perfect' parents, neglected, criticized or abused most of your life will have an impact on your self-esteem, and the choices you make.
However, it isn't reasonable to assume that people with low self-esteem all come from dysfunctional families and those with high self-esteem had a perfect childhood. Many factors can contribute to self-esteem, but the road to higher ground is similar for all of us.
Now, here's the hard part for many. Once we're old enough to recognize our self-esteem is in trouble, we're also old enough and responsible to take action for change. No, we're not stuck with the self-esteem to which we've grown attached; we can change. One factor that impacts our self-esteem hides in personal choice. Yes, choice!

A lifetime of troubles might lead back to one small, inappropriate and uncorrected belief and subsequent choice. Virtually everyone on the planet has made a decision they wish they could undo. If we had the capacity to go back, many of us would choose differently.
The fact is, the baggage of guilt, remorse, and fear of repercussions follow bad choices, and it often becomes easier and less fearful to add one bad choice to another until it becomes a lifestyle. The intolerance, lack of forgiveness or encouragement of those around us often compounds the problem. Most of us would benefit by learning to be open, supportive, and tolerant of others. Chances are, we may need the same support and encouragement ourselves.

Our world is filled with diversity of experience, multiple types of families, various methods of parenting, and differing social and economic circumstances. We have differences of opinion on everything from politics to religion and values.
The fact is, certain held beliefs may impede our personal growth, but there is no 'right' way to live or 'right' way to think. No matter what our exposure, at the magic age of self awareness and ability to acknowledge our feelings, we gain the right to choose our perceptions and behaviors. It is possible to grow past long-held beliefs that impede our personal happiness.

So, what does come first, low self-esteem and then poor choices, or poor choices leading to low self-esteem? It becomes obvious they both are true. Either way, your self-esteem belongs to you.
Once you're ready to see positive changes in your life, and are willing to claim the happiness that is your right, you can begin to make choices that will lift you up rather than tear you down. Each new choice becomes part of a fresh, new foundation for your life, with one good choice building on another.
Like a savings account, the process can seem hopeless, but given time, it will grow. Unlike money, good choices have an exponential type of growth, exploding your self-esteem as your commitment grows, and as you receive the support and encouragement of others. It is absolutely never too late to take responsibility for your choices.

Anxiety, worry, doubt, confusion, neediness, being driven for success, acknowledgment from others, or validation all contribute to a false sense of who we are. This is a façade rather than true self-esteem. Arrogance and a constant need to DO or perform generally indicate low self-esteem, whereas, high self-esteem goes beyond appearances and positively affects all aspects of life.

We are multi-faceted beings. Consider a common chair as an example, with four legs offering solid and reliable support. Imagine that you are the chair and each leg represents an aspect of who you are, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
How would that chair function if it were missing one leg? How do we function when one aspect of our life is out of balance? Seeing ourselves in this way can help us see the puzzle of our lives and to redirect our motives, desires, behaviors, and intentions.
As we begin to recognize we are more than just our physical senses, we learn the importance of keeping life in balance and to interact with others in a more open, respectful and supportive manner. With each facet in balance, we can see self-esteem stemming from something much greater than our appearance, accomplishments, or the things we have acquired.
While each might contribute, none alone determines our worth. Just like the chair demonstration, one aspect out of balance will affect the stability of the whole.

You can begin by looking at just one leg of the metaphorical chair, (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) and start to examine YOU. For many of us it is easiest to begin with the physical side of life and save the emotional and/or spiritual for when we're ready to jump into the mysterious ocean of inner SELF.
You might begin by asking yourself how accepting you are of your current physical self. Make a list of what you like or what you would change.
What changes are you willing to make to restore that aspect of your life to a level acceptable to you?
Ask yourself how often you can say "I like who I am and accept me the way I am".
L.S. Barksdale, a prominent researcher on self-esteem, suggests we affirm, "I accept myself totally and unconditionally as a unique and precious being, ever responsible for my own life, ever doing the best my current awareness permits, ever growing in wisdom and love."
If you need help with some of your feelings, find someone you trust, a friend or a counselor to help you explore your experiences. Use this process for every 'leg' of your life. It is a method that can take as much time as you need.

Knowing that our self-esteem is up to us can be empowering. We no longer look to others to buoy us, nor do we allow them to send destructive messages our way. We begin to choose our perceptions of circumstances rather than reacting out of habit.
Our feelings become the gauge for determining the best choices under all circumstances, and our choices will be based on awareness of our own intentions.

Begin to explore and discover what will restore balance to the puzzle of your life. Take back the responsibility for your self-esteem, and treat yourself to the life you deserve!

Author's Bio

Alexandra Delis-Abrams, Ph.D.
Alexandra is President of ABC Feelings, an organization she founded to encourage communication of feelings. In addition, she is a transpersonal psychologist in Sun Valley, ID and adjunct faculty at Boise State University. Molly Misetich, is an associate at ABC Feelings where she works in marketing, sales and management. She is a freelance writer, Vedic astrologer, 'Personal Profiler', and resides in Coeur d' Alene, ID. Either author can be reached at 800.745.3170, ABC Feelings, Inc.,
http://www.abcfeelings.com Copyright August 2003

source: self growth.com


7 Ways To Improve Your Relationship
By Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
Good relationships don’t just happen. I’ve heard many of my clients state that, “If I have to work at it, then it’s not the right relationship.” This is not a true statement, any more than it’s true that you don’t have to work at good physical health through exercise, eating well, and stress reduction.

I’ve discovered, in the 35 years that I’ve been counseling couples, 7 choices you can make that will not only improve your relationship, but can turn a failing relationship into a successful one.


This is the most important choice you can make to improve your relationship. This means that you learn how to take responsibility for your own feelings and needs. This means that instead of trying to get your partner to make you feel happy and secure, you learn how to do this for yourself through your own thoughts and actions. This means learning to treat yourself with kindness, caring, compassion, and acceptance instead of self-judgment. Self-judgment will always make you feel unhappy and insecure, no matter how wonderfully your partner is treating you.

For example, instead of getting angry at your partner for your feelings of abandonment when he or she is late, preoccupied and not listening to you, not turned on sexually, and so on, you would explore your own feelings of abandonment and discover how you might be abandoning yourself.

When you learn how to take full, 100% responsibility for yourself, then you stop blaming your partner for your upsets. Since blaming one’s partner for one’s own unhappiness is the number one cause of relationship problems, learning how to take loving care of yourself is vital to a good relationship.


Treat others the way you want to be treated. This is the essence of a truly spiritual life. We all yearn to be treated lovingly – with kindness, compassion, understanding, and acceptance. We need to treat ourselves this way, and we need to treat our partner and others this way. Relationships flourish when both people treat each other with kindness. While there are no guarantees, often treating another with kindness brings kindness in return.
If your partner is consistently angry, judgmental, uncaring and unkind, then you need to focus on what would be loving to yourself rather than reverting to anger, blame, judgment, withdrawal, resistance, or compliance. Kindness to others does not mean sacrificing yourself.
Always remember that taking responsibility for yourself rather than blaming others is the most important thing you can do. If you are consistently kind to yourself and your partner, and your partner is consistently angry, blaming, withdrawn and unavailable, then you either have to accept a distant relationship, or you need to leave the relationship. You cannot make your partner change – you can only change yourself.


When conflict occurs, you always have two choices regarding how to handle the conflict: you can open to learning about yourself and your partner and discover the deeper issues of the conflict, or you can try to win, or at least not lose, through some form of controlling behavior.
We’re all learning many overt and subtle ways of trying to control others into behaving the way we want:

All the ways we try to control create even more conflict. Remembering to learn instead of control is a vital part of improving your relationship.

For example, most people have two major fears that become activated in relationships: the fear of abandonment – of losing the other - and the fear of engulfment – of losing oneself. When these fears get activated, most people immediately protect themselves against these fears with their controlling behavior. But if you chose to learn about your fears instead of attempt to control your partner, your fear would eventually heal. This is how we grow emotionally and spiritually – by learning instead of controlling.


When people first fall in love, they make time for each other. Then, especially after getting married, they get busy. Relationships need time to thrive. It is vitally important to set aside specific times to be together – to talk, play, make love. Intimacy cannot be maintained without time together.


Positive energy flows between two people when there is an “attitude of gratitude.” Constant complaints creates a heavy, negative energy, which is not fun to be around. Practice being grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Complaints create stress, while gratitude creates inner peace, so gratitude creates not only emotional and relationship health, but physical health as well.


We all know that “work without play makes Jack a dull boy.” Work without play makes for dull relationships as well. Relationships flourish when people laugh together, play together, and when humor is a part of everyday life. Stop taking everything so seriously and learn to see the funny side of life. Intimacy flourishes when there is lightness of being, not when everything is heavy.


A wonderful way of creating intimacy is to do service projects together. Giving to others fills the heart and creates deep satisfaction in the soul. Doing service moves you out of yourself and your own problems and supports a broader, more spiritual view of life.

If you and your partner agree to these 7 choices, you will be amazed at the improvement in your relationship!



Adoption: Trauma that Last a Life Time

Vicki M. Rummig
English 103
Instructor Steve Jaech
June 11, 1996
They just cannot understand. The perfect child Mr. & Mrs. Smith adopted 15 years ago is now skipping school, talking back, experimenting with drugs, and is involved in a sexual relationship with her 20-year-old drug addicted boyfriend. Until a year ago she always had good grades and enjoyed spending time with her parents; she was the ideal child. They have sought treatment from a family therapist. Nevertheless, they just cannot seem to get through to her. There have been no new stressors in the household. What could be the problem?

For many years adoption has been viewed as a perfect arrangement for all involved. What has not been taken into account are the emotional effects adoption has on all members involved, most specifically, for the purpose of this paper, the adoptee. These effects, or issues, can be managed as long as they are recognized and acknowledged. Adoptees’ psychological issues need to be addressed by mental health professionals in order to recognize and effectively treat symptoms of low self-esteem, lack of trust, and dissociation.

The adoptees’ trauma begins the moment she is separated from her birth mother. Some psychologists believe that an infant is not able to differentiate her mother until at least two months of age. At the same time they believe that the infant does not know she is her own entity (Kaplan, 1978). What do mental health professionals believe the infant thinks for these first two months? They will suggest that she is in some type of limbo, that she does not have the capacity to think or know until two months of age.

Yet, she somehow knows to cry when she is uncomfortable and how to ingest her food. Psychologists will call this instinct, but we should also look at the possibility of the newborn instinctively knowing who her mother is. After all, they were connected for 40 weeks.

Since an infant does not see herself as a separate entity, we must believe that she sees herself as part of the person she was physically attached and bonded to for 40 weeks (Verrier, 1993, chap. 2). When separated from the one thing to which she has connected, the infant will feel she has lost part of herself.

Many doctors and psychologists now understand that bonding doesn’t begin at birth, but is a continuum of physiological, psychological, and spiritual events which begin in utero and continue throughout the postnatal bonding period. When this natural evolution is interrupted by a postnatal separation from the biological mother, the resultant experience of abandonment and loss is indelibly imprinted upon the unconscious minds of these children, causing that which I call the “primal wound.” (Verrier, 1993, p. 1)

When the adoptee is separated from her birth mother, she undergoes extensive trauma. She will not remember this trauma, but it will stay in her subconscious as she lived it (Verrier, 1993). An event from a person’s infancy can and will stay with them through life. An example of the subconscious effect of an early experience would be Marc.

Marc was in an orphanage for the first year of his life. Because of the lack of human touch, he would rock himself in his crib. Marc is now 42 years old and still rocks himself whenever he is watching television, listening to music, or sitting on a park bench. He does not remember rocking himself as an infant, but this practice has stayed with him through his subconscious his entire life.

The adoptee will always carry this issue of abandonment with her wherever she goes. It is no different from when a husband leaves a wife. She may remarry to a wonderful man, but will always wonder if her new husband is also going to leave her. She must work through the abandonment issue to regain trust. The abandonment issue has to be acknowledged, before it can be resolved.

Even if the “primal wound” as described above was not a factor in the adoptees’ emotional well being, the knowledge of abandonment will always be there. She may have been told she was “chosen” by the adoptive parents but it will not be long until she figures out she was abandoned by the first set of parents.

Julie P. responded to a question on the Adoptees Internet Mailing List (an Internet support group that consists of approximately 1000 members) about the feeling of being adopted, “No, I am not depressed, miserable, angry, or negative...but I have always felt second best. Sure I was told that I was the (chosen) one, but first I was rejected.” Regardless of the circumstances, it will always feel like abandonment to her.

The adoptee is given very little information about her relinquishment. She is expected to leave the past behind and concentrate of her present and future. Out of respect for the adoptive parents, she will often not ask questions or talk about her adoption if it is an uncomfortable subject in her home. She will wonder about her relinquishment and her birth mother. To attempt to fill in the gaps she will create fantasies of acceptable scenarios of the circumstances of her conception, birth and relinquishment, that she can emotionally handle.

As a small child, she will not understand how a mother could give her up, or abandon her. Adoptees may feel they must have been a bad baby or that the birth mother was an uncaring person. Other thoughts will occur, such as she was stolen from the birth mother, either by public authorities or her adoptive parents. Often children will fluctuate in their thoughts and fantasies depending on their perception of the adoptive parents at any given time. (Lifton, 1988 &1994; Verrier, 1993; Brodzinsky, Schechter & Henig, 1992; Reitz & Watson, 1992; Adopting Resources, 1995) She will generally outgrow believing her fantasies and begin to see them as just that, but a part of her will always wonder.

The “chosen” child story also has negative affects on a child for other reasons. The child may feel that she has to be perfect to live up to her “chosen” status. Her role model adoptees include Superman and Jesus. This is a hard image for the average child to live up to. She may either become the compliant “perfect” child or she may act out and misbehave to test the commitment of the adoptive parents.

Either way, often times she is not being herself, but rather acting a part. This acting can be very emotionally draining and confusing, and may last until the early adult years and beyond. When the adoptee can not live up to her perfect “chosen” status, it will contribute to the feeling of low self-esteem. This will be further exacerbated if the adoptive parents are not aware of the issue and their actions reinforce the adoptees beliefs, i.e., sending her away for residential treatment or openly wishing her to be more like themselves.

The adoptee is also aware of many ghosts that follow her through life. These ghosts include the person she would have been had she not been adopted, the ghost of the birth mother and birth father, and the ghost of the adoptive family’s child that would have been (Lifton, 1994, chap. 6). She may find herself trying to connect to her ghosts through her actions. Either being her image of her birth family, living her life according to her fantasy birth family, or acting as her vision of the adoptive parent’s natural child.

When the adolescent adoptee acts out it may be her way of trying to connect with the image she has of her birth mother or may be that she does not feel worthy of the adoptive parents love. Adolescence is a confusing time for any child, but the adoptee has many more identity issues to deal with. She may also be testing the commitment of the adoptive parents, seeing if they will send her away for being bad.

A great many of these young people are in serious trouble with the law and are drug addicted. The girls show an added history of nymphomania and out-of- wedlock pregnancy, almost as if they were acting out the role of the “whore” mother. In fact, both sexes are experimenting with a series of identities that seem to be related to their fantasies about the biological parents. (Lifton, 1988, p. 45)

As the adoptee begins to become aware of her adoptee status she will notice the differences she has from her peers and other family members. I noticed in my family that I did not have the nose or ears of any of my adoptive family. This is normal for an adoptee and can make her feel left out or misplaced in her family.

A particularly tough time for the adoptee is when first learning about genetics in school. The first lesson in heredity and genetics usually is regarding eye color. If the adoptees’ own eyes do not fall into the proper genetic pattern she is left with a distinct feeling of not belonging. There are many instances in growing up when she is again faced with the knowledge that she is different; when asked about family history by a doctor, when asked if she has a sister because the inquirer knows someone who looks just like her, when asked about ethnic background, in regular day to day conversations.

Physical differences are not the only ones that are noticed. A difference in personality or talents may further misplace the adoptee from her family. In talking with other adoptees, I have described this feeling as “feeling like my adoptive family is in a big circle but I am on the outside looking in.”

With the adoptee not having a role model who resembles her physically or psychologically, it is more difficult to define where her life shall lead. She may come from a biologically artistic family, but adopted into a scientific family. She may not only feel the need to follow in her adoptive family’s footsteps, attending similar colleges, choosing similar careers, but she did not have the artistic role model to show her that way of life. This further complicates the identity formation of the adoptee. “One’s identity begins with the genes and family history...” (Reitz & Watson, 1992, p. 134)

Adoptees also lack the ability to see their physical characteristics as they will present themselves in the future. A natural born daughter would be able to tell how big she is going to be, if she will have a tendency to be overweight, or if she is going to go grey early in life, but the adoptee is denied this genetic role model and will not know these things until she reaches that stage in life herself. This adds to the curiosity of wanting to know their genetic background.

Rachel says that families are a hall of mirrors, “Everyone but adoptees can look in and see themselves reflected. I didn’t know what it was like to be me. I felt like someone who looks into a mirror and sees no reflection. I felt lonely, not connected to anything, floating, like a ghost.” (Lifton, 1994, p. 68)

The adoptee will feel even more dissociated when conversations regarding other family members or peers births are brought up. She is missing the story of her birth parents meeting, her conception, her birth, and in some instances, some time after her birth. On the Adoptees Internet Mailing List one member described this feeling as the “floating cosmic blip.” It is often commented that the adoptee feels hatched not born or that they are some type of space alien.

Non-adoptees take their own life story for granted, but the adoptee is acutely aware that theirs is missing. So now, not only does the adoptee feel dissociated from her adoptive family, but also from her peers, for she is different.

Adoptees are faced with a feeling of loss and grief that they are not allowed, by society, to actively mourn. “With adoption, the child experiences a loss (like divorce or death) of an unknown person, and doesn’t know why.” (Adopting Resources, 1995) She is aware that family members are lost to her, but is expected to not mourn the loss of this family member she has never known. She will often be chastised when asking questions of her birth family from her adoptive family.

Not all of these issues affect adoptees to the same extent. Some may spend a lifetime dwelling on it, others may not even appear to notice. This would be true of any group of people that lived through trauma, such as Vietnam War Veterans. It should be noted that adoptees are over represented in residential treatment centers.

The number of Adoptees in the adolescent and young-adult clinics and residential treatment centers is strikingly high. Doctors from the Yale Psychiatric Institute and other hospitals that take very sick adolescents have told me they are discovering that from 1/4 to 1/3 of the patients are adopted. (Lifton, 1988, p.45)

In recent years there have been more works written on the subject. In 1978 Sorosky, Baran, and Pannor wrote the Adoption Triangle. This was one of the first written books that spoke specifically of the psychological issues of adoption. In one reference book written for psychologist by Reitz and Watson (1992) it was noted:

Despite the proliferation in recent decades of the literature on both family therapy and adoption, there has been little focus on the treatment of families involved in adoption. We offer our approach both as one sample of the current state of the practice art and as a way to generate hypotheses. Little, definitive, formal research findings are available, we have cited them; we believe, however, that findings from practice are valid field research. The clinician’s skills in observing recurrent themes and patterns resemble those of the formal researcher who looks for patterns in statistical data. Both clinicians and researchers must then interpret their findings. (preface)

In the early 1960s Dr. Marshall Schechter, child psychiatrist, was challenged by social workers when he first made the observation that there were a disproportionate number of adoptees in his clinic (as cited in Lifton, 1988, p. 44). He later teamed up with Brodzinsky to research the psychology of adoption and to write various books (1990, 1992) on the subject.

There are many books written by members of the triad (refers to the three sides in adoption; adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees) that are geared toward their triad peers. (Lifton, 1988 and 1994; Verrier, 1993). These are an excellent resource for triad members to begin to explore the issues of adoption. Although they are not written with psychologists in mind, they would be a good first step for mental health professionals to begin to also understand adoption.

In researching basic child psychology books, if adoption is mentioned, it is in the following context: “It should be obvious that neither I or anybody else knows enough about the psychology of adoption to offer any firm advice.” (Church, 1973)

Although there are both more studies and writings on the subject, mental health professionals remain ignorant of adoptees’ issues. Thomas Danner, PhD, a local family counselor, discussed some of his educational experiences and views on adoptees issues (personal communication, May 17, 1996). He stated he had not given the adoptees issues any prior thought. When presented with some of the repercussions of adoption, he was in agreement that these things could play into the emotional well being of the adoptee. He was open in disclosing that he had little knowledge of adoption issues and was willing to accept the ideas this paper has to present.

Betty Jean Lifton, PhD, Adoption Counselor/Author and adoptee, also commented on the subject (personal communication, May 20, 1996). When asked what lead to her studying adoption issues. Her reply was: ‘Are you an adoptee...then you know.’ This illustrates how most of the research done on adoption issues has been raised by someone who has been touched by adoption. It is easy to understand how someone who has not lived it, would not give the subject much thought. Mental health professionals need to be made to give the subject some thought or they will be doing a disservice to their adopted patients.

The first step to communicating the psychological effects of adoption to mental health professionals is to educate the public in general. There have been more recent books, movies, and such on adoption but they fail to acknowledge the special issues. Through accurate media representation, the general population can receive information needed to better understand the adopted person. In turn, the mental health professionals can begin to study the subject and explore alternate treatments for their adopted patients.

College and university professors need to begin teaching the special issues and treatments unique to adoption, just has they teach unique approaches to dealing with sexual abuse, divorce of parents, Attention Deficit Disorder, and the many other problems youth are faced with today. The subject must also be included in the college text books or the students must utilize the reference books written on adoption (Reitz & Watson, 1992; Brodzinsky & Schechter, 1990).

Adoptive parents must also be aware of these special issues so they can find a counselor who is trained to deal with them. Too often, counselors of adopted children are not aware that special issues exist and they attempt to treat the least disturbing problem and thus they fail to get to the core issue of adoption. Parents who called me have taken their child--usually an adolescent adopted at birth--from therapist to therapist, without ever having come upon one who is knowledgeable about adoption. The child now has become what Kirschner calls a “secondhand patient.” Therapists who do not see adoption as a core issue cannot reach the child. The Adoptee remains isolated and continues to act out... (Lifton, 1988, p. 273)

After realizing all the different issues adoption holds for their daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Smith received a referral for an adoption specialist in their area. They are now attending family counseling and making some progress toward their daughter’s recovery through open communication and understanding of the trauma she still experiences.

Works Referenced
  • Adopting Resources (1995) Common clinical issures [sic] among adoptees. [Online]. Available: World Wide Web, http://www.adopting.org/commmonis.html.
  • Brodzinsky, D. M., & Schechter, M. D. (1990). The Psychology of Adoption NY:Oxford University Press, Inc.
  • Brodzinsky, D. M., Schechter, M. D., & Henig, R. M. (1992) Being adopted: The lifelong search for self. NY:Doubleday.
  • Church, J. (1973) Understanding your child from birth to three. NY: Random House.
  • Kaplan, L. J., (1978) Oneness and separateness: From infant to individual. NY: Simon & Schuster.
  • Lifton, B. J., (1988). Lost and Found: The adoption experience. (2nd ed.). NY: Harper and Row Publishers, Inc.
  • Lifton, B. J., (1994) Journey of the adopted self: A quest for wholeness. NY: Basic Books/HarpersCollins Publishers, Inc.
  • Reitz, M. & Watson, K., (1992) Adoption and the family system. NY: Guildford Publications.
  • Sorosky, A. D., Baran, A., & Pannor, R., (1978) The adoption triangle. NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday
  • Verrier, N. N. , (1993). The Primal Wound: Understanding the adopted child. Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc.

    source site: http://www.vsn.org/trauma.html

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    A Brief Look at Adoption and Abandonment
    Guest Author - Karen Ledbetter

    Rejection appears to go along with abandonment. Everyone probably feels rejected at some time or other, but the feelings of rejection and abandonment can be different for an adopted child. Why did she (birth mother) leave me? Did I do something wrong? Did I cry too much as a baby? Will my adoptive parents leave me, too? What will happen to me if I don’t please my adoptive parents enough? What if I get into trouble? Will they still love me and want me? What if my friends at school find out I was adopted? Will they still like me? Will my teachers treat me differently?

    Adopted children may begin facing abandonment issues as soon as they begin understanding exactly what adoption is. At our house, this was around age four or five, with questions that we answered honestly. Why didn’t she keep me? Wasn’t I cute enough? Does she love her other kids more than me?

    According to authors, Jayne Schooler and Betsie Norris, in their book, Journeys After Adoption, during adolescence, an adoptee’s feelings of rejection can override all of the positive nurturing and love that his/her adoptive parents give. Unfortunately, these feelings can spill over into other relationships in an unhealthy way; and adoptees may have trouble maintaining long-term relationships.

    According to other resources, an adoptee may not feel comfortable discussing these feelings with his/her adoptive parents. Will they think I’m being ungrateful to them? Will talking about my concerns make my (adoptive) parents feel uncomfortable? Sometimes professional counseling is a reasonable alternative.

    I was surprised to learn that adoptees can have feelings of shame and/or guilt secondary to feelings of abandonment. An adoptee can feel like s/he never does the right things to please others, especially his/her adoptive parents. Some adoptees may feel like they never fit in. According to author, Lewis Smedes, in his book, Shame and Grace: Healing the Shame We Don’t Deserve, there are three self-discoveries to facing shame:

    1. I am someone to whom someone made an unconditional commitment from the beginning.
    2. I am someone whose parents consider me worthy of the love they give.
    3. I have the power to own myself: I take responsibility for my life, I am proud to be who I am, and I have joy in being myself.

    I would like to add to that:

    1. God made me, loves me, cares for me, and will never, ever leave me.
    2. I am worthy of love, respect, and dignity.

    Some adult adoptees, whose births and adoptions took place in the adoption days of shame and secrecy may grow up not knowing they joined their families by adoption. When finally presented the truth, an adult adoptee can face a myriad of emotions, including rejection, abandonment, and distrust.
    At this point, the adoptee may or may not be able to deal with his/her emotions in a positive way, forgive his/her family for withholding the truth, and get on with a productive life.

    Adoptees in traditionally closed adoptions may experience abandonment and rejection upon searching for birth families, especially if not prepared to be disappointed. Searchers need to keep in mind that not all birth parents want to be found by the children they placed for adoption decades ago, and that not all birth parents want an on-going relationship after a reunion. Sometimes an adoptee searches, only to discover that his/her birth parents are no longer living.

    Facing fears and emotions is a part of life. Some are easier to face than others. Figuring out what works best for each individual is the key to facing many issues life throws at us, including abandonment and rejection.

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    Parenting the Adopted Teenager

    By Denise Witmer, About.com


    Adolescence is a trying time of life for both teenagers and their families. The physical aspects of adolescence - a growth spurt, breast development for girls, a deepening of the voice for boys - are obvious and happen quickly, whereas mental and emotional development may take years.

    The main challenge for teenagers is to form their own identity. An achievement not nearly as simple as it sounds. It means, according to adoption experts Kenneth W. Watson and Miriam Reitz, that teenagers must define their values, beliefs, gender identification, career choice and expectations of themselves.

    In forming an identity, most adolescents try on a variety of personas. They look for, imitate and then reject role models. They examine their families critically -  idolizing some people, devaluing others. They shun or embrace family values, traditions, ideas and religious beliefs.

    Sometimes they have enormous self-confidence; sometimes they feel at loose ends and think of themselves as utterly worthless. They may believe something one day and then change their minds and think the opposite the next day. Ultimately, they must come to terms with the big questions: Who am I? Where do I belong?

    Adoption adds complexity to parenting adolescents. Adopted teenagers may need extra support in dealing with issues that take on special meaning for them. Let's take a look at these issues one at a time.


    Identity Formation
    Identity issues can be difficult for adopted teens because they have two sets of parents. Not knowing about their birthparents can make them question who they really are. It becomes more challenging for them to sort out how they are similar to and different from both sets of parents.

    Adopted teenagers may wonder who gave them their particular characteristics. They may want answers to questions their adoptive parents may not be able to provide: Where do I get my artistic talent? Was everyone in my birth family short? What is my ethnic background? Do I have brothers and sisters?

    Sixteen-year-old Jennifer explains, "I'm trying to figure out what I want to do in my life. But I'm so confused. I can't move ahead with my future when I don't know anything about my past. It's like starting to read a book in the middle. My big family with cousins and aunts and uncles only makes me aware that I'm alone in my situation. It never bothered me when I was younger. But now, for reasons I can't explain, I feel like a puppet without a string and it's making me miserable."

    Some teens may feel more angry at their adoptive parents than they have ever felt before. They may be critical of how their parents helped them adjust to their adoptive status. They may withdraw into themselves or feel they need to stray far from home to find their true identity.


    Fear of Abandonment
    Jayne Schooler, an adoption professional in Ohio and the author of Searching for a Past, writes that it is not unusual for adopted teenagers to fear leaving home. Leaving home is scary for most adolescents, but because adoptees have already suffered the loss of one set of parents, it is even more frightening.

    Seventeen-year-old Caroline, for instance, who was adopted as an infant, seemed to have her future well in hand. She was offered a partial scholarship to play field hockey at an out-of-state university and she planned to pursue a career in teaching. Her parents were eager to help their daughter move on to this next part of her life.

    However, perplexing changes occurred halfway through Caroline's final semester in high school. She began skipping classes. She was "forgetting" to do her homework. She spent more time than usual alone in her room. When her parents mentioned college, she ran into her bedroom and slammed the door.

    At first her parents were puzzled. But they soon became alarmed when her grades dropped and her personality changed. They encouraged her to talk to a family friend who was a clinical psychologist. Several months of therapy helped Caroline and her parents understand that moving away from her family and familiar surroundings scared her. Perhaps if she were at school, her parents would forget about her. Maybe there would be no home to go back to. After all, it had happened before.

    At her parents' suggestion, Caroline decided to put her college plans on hold for a year. She and her parents continued to participate in counseling to sort out the issues that were blocking her development.

    The Badeaus of Philadelphia are the parents of 20 children, 18 of whom were adopted. They see a number of differences in the way their birth children and adopted children cope with separation.

    "Now that our birth children are adolescents - one's 12 and one's 14," says Sue Badeau, "we see that they are already talking about college…what they want to do when they grow up and how they can't wait to get out of the house! It's the complete opposite for our adopted kids. It seems really difficult for them to imagine themselves as independent people. They seem almost afraid to leave the security of the family."

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    Impact of Adoption on Adopted Persons
    Fact sheet for Families
    Author(s):  Child Welfare Information Gateway
    Year Published:  2004

    Often when people hear the word "adoption," they think of an infertile, childless couple delightedly gazing into the eyes of their recently adopted newborn baby. They are thrilled to finally be parents, and are totally involved in meeting the immediate needs of the child. But what about the years that follow? Do the effects of adoption stop the moment that a child comes home to the new parents?

    Those closely associated with adoption-adult adopted persons, birth parents, adoptive parents, and their friends and families-know that its effects can be felt for a long time, in fact for a lifetime. Adult adoptees often talk about them.1

    For example, Steve Harris, a 39-year-old program director at a Dallas radio station who was adopted as an infant, has been plagued with low self-esteem throughout his life. Marie Haverton, a 24-year-old office manager who was adopted at birth, has always been afraid that people are going to leave her, whether it is the men she dates or the people with whom she works.

    Mary Lou Roman did not know she had been adopted until she was 17 and about to be married. Her parents could not produce her birth certificate, but instead handed her the legal document stating that she had been adopted. Suddenly she knew why she had so many identity problems in her early teenage years.

    Most people at some time in their lives have feared rejection or have felt badly about themselves for one reason or another. But adopted persons have a unique issue that distinguishes them from their peers - they were not raised by their biological parents.

    Some adoptees spend a lot of time wondering why their birth parents placed them for adoption, and what their life would have been like if they had not been adopted. They wonder if something was wrong with them from the start that caused them to be placed with other parents.

    Some adopted persons link all of their problems to the fact that they were adopted. Others do not make that connection or insist that having been adopted has not interfered with their ability to live a happy, fulfilling life. Others feel very positively about their adoption experience, but realize that adoption brings with it certain issues.

    Just about everyone who has been adopted faces issues of identity and feelings of loss, especially at milestone events-such as graduation from high school or college, marriage, the birth of a child, or the death of an adoptive parent. Adopted persons may wonder how their birth parents would feel if they knew their child had reached these milestones.

    Some adopted persons are able to work through their feelings on their own or with the support of friends and family; others seek professional help to deal with the range of emotions they feel about having been adopted.

    "Adoptees suffer from a fear of loss. They see loss all over the place," stated the late Dr. Marshall Schechter, who was a psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Medicine and a nationally recognized expert on adoption. "Even those adopted in infancy feel the loss," he said "If it happened once, it can happen again."

    Many adopted adults who were in therapy with Dr. Schechter came to him with complaints of depression, alcohol or drug use, marital problems, or problems with their children. Frequently they were having difficulty maintaining intimate relationships.

    While Dr. Schechter warned against making generalizations about all adoptees-some feel remarkably free of conflict - he and other therapists found that many wrestle with the concerns that adopted adults identify, including questions about identity and self-esteem, feelings of abandonment, and an interest in obtaining information about their genetic background. This fact sheet discusses each of these issues and presents some methods for coping.

    Identity and Self-Esteem

    Establishing one's identity is the major task of adolescence. Teenagers, whether adopted or not, must deal with such questions as, "Who am I? Where do I fit?" and "What do I want to do with my life?"

    For those who were adopted, the search for personal identity is complicated every step of the way by the mystery of their genetic background. They wonder who gave them their particular characteristics, and they want answers to questions their adopted parents may not be able to provide: "Where do I get my artistic talent? Was everyone in my birth family short? What is my ethnic background? Why was I placed for adoption?"

    Often the undeniable fact that an adoptee does not resemble other family members stimulates intense feelings of isolation. In most families, even when a child does not look like his or her parents, there is usually someone else to point to-Aunt Sarah, Grandpa Harry, etc.- to make the comparison.

    Adopted children may feel particularly or overly sensitive about the fact that they do not resemble other family members and believe "that their parents have settled for second best," reported Dr. Schechter. "No amount of reassuring can diminish what adopted persons perceive as a stunning difference (between themselves and other family members). They may develop fantasies, both positive and negative, about their birth family, and it often hampers their ability to move on with their lives."

    Feelings of Abandonment

    Adoptive parents discuss adoption with their children in different ways. Some parents can talk easily about the subject and encourage their children to ask questions and share their feelings. Others, often because of their own insecurities about their right to be parents, say little about adoption, or even say negative things about a child's birth parents. In these situations, children may feel that there must be something shameful about their past and, thus, begin to feel shameful about themselves.

    As adults, these individuals may feel they do not have permission to grieve the loss they feel from not growing up with their biological families. According to Lois Melina, co-author of The Open Adoption Experience, they may become "stuck" in their anger and sadness.

    However, even when adoptive parents say all the right things, such as "your birth mother was not able to care for you and she wanted you to have the best home possible," some children who have been adopted have strong feelings of abandonment. They think that since their mothers abandoned them, others in their lives will also abandon them. As a result, as adults they do not expect much from other relationships.

    They may fear rejection, have trouble making commitments, and avoid intimacy. Intimate relationships, in fact, can be quite difficult for some men and women who have been adopted. Fears about abandonment and low self-esteem often lead them to sabotage their relationships. They may perceive this as the only way to insulate themselves from being abandoned again.

    According to Dr. Schechter, some adoptees feel that "being vulnerable is just too risky. They fear that a person they invest in will leave them-just like their birth parents did. It causes them to be wary of how close they can get to people."

    For some adoptees, the scenario may be similar to that of Catherine, who at 31 had been unable to maintain an intimate relationship for longer than two months. She would fall passionately in love, become intensely involved, then suddenly feel dissatisfied and break off the relationship. It happened as soon as her partner suggested a more permanent emotional commitment. "I would panic," Catherine says. "I always wanted to leave them before they left me. That way I could be the one in control and not get hurt."

    Some adoptees avoid intimacy because they are uncomfortable with the openness and vulnerability that such relationships entail. "Many times, entering into an intimate relationship will force someone to admit secrets he has kept hidden even from himself," say the authors of Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self. "For an adoptee in a new, intimate relationship, this can mean expressing feelings about being adopted that have previously been dormant or suppressed."2

    Other adoptees may thwart their intimate relationships by being too clingy. For example, Steve Harris admits, "As a child, I was always hanging on to my mother. Whenever she would leave the room, I would cry. Later, I transferred the same behavior to the women in my life. I was always afraid they would leave me, so I pressured them so that they had no choice but to back off. I didn't even realize I was doing it."

    This is not to say that all adoptees have problems with feelings of abandonment in their intimate relationships. However, many come to understand that they have an additional sensitivity to the issue.

    The Interest in Genetic Information

    Another issue facing adoptees is that they often lack family medical history and other family information. A visit to the doctor's office, where one is likely to be asked about one's family medical history, makes adoptees acutely aware of how they differ from those who were not adopted.

    When an adoptee plans to get married or become a parent, his or her need for genetic information may become more intense. People have different questions about the child they will produce, such as what the child will look like, and if the child will inherit any genetic disorders, such as sickle-cell anemia. Unfortunately, the fear of the unknown has kept some adoptees from having their own children.

    Most people take for granted the fact that they have access to their genetic and medical information. For those who were adopted, however, it is very difficult to obtain updated medical information unless birth parents have updated their file. Many States allow adopted persons to have access to their non-identifying information. Some have mutual consent registries that provide identifying information to the parties in an adoption only if all have agreed that they wish to be found. Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, and Kansas are the only States with an open record policy.

    Some adoptees are quite angry at the obstacles placed before them in trying to recover what they consider their birthright-full access to their adoption records, including identifying information. "It is outrageous that society should decide that I have no right to my records," says Florence Fisher, founder of the Adoptees Liberty Movement Association (ALMA). "Why should I pay taxes to a country that won't give me my birth certificate?"

    "I was told I would need my adoptive parents' permission before anything could be released to me," says 45- year-old Bonnie, who was similarly outraged at being unable to obtain her birth certificate. "I have two adult children of my own and they are telling me that I need my 68-year-old mother's permission to find out my history." Adoptions arranged 45 years ago never included a provision for ongoing contact between adoptive and birth parents. Over the past 10 to 15 years there have been a number of changes in adoption practice.

    Nowadays, even if there is not full openness in an adoption there is often a mechanism for willing parties to communicate with one another through the agency or attorney who arranged the adoption so that updated medical and other non-identifying information can be shared.

    How Adopted Persons Cope

    "Being adopted is a lifelong issue" says Marie Haverton. "Even if it doesn't haunt you, even if you have a job and a family and a good self-image, the fact that the family that you grew up in is not the family whose genetics you share never goes away. Some of us live in denial. Others of us make an uneasy peace with our situations. Some seek kinship in support groups. Some, like me, have to find our birth families."

    Support Groups

    National organizations such as ALMA, the American Adoption Congress, or local support groups such as Philadelphia's Adoption Forum, offer solace, sympathy, and an opportunity for those who have been adopted to exchange feelings and information. For many, it is one of the few places where everyone understands the unique aspects of adoption and feelings can be expressed openly. It is an environment in which adoptees can tell their stories and hear about other people's experiences.

    "People in your life try to be sympathetic," says Barbara Bucharis, "but there is no way you can understand what it feels like not to know where you came from. No matter how many books you read on the subject or how much research you've done, you can never understand-unless you've lived it-what it feels like to have this mystery in your life."

    "Support groups help validate your feelings," confirms Marie Haverton. "You see that what you are feeling isn't crazy. There are a lot of people in the same boat and they are there to help you along." Hearing in support group meetings how others have coped with their feelings of abandonment, rejection, and loss can inspire troubled adult adoptees to work through their own issues. They might decide to talk to a counselor about these issues, possibly going to one that someone in the support group found helpful, or they might decide to search for their birth family.


    Some adult adoptees find individual counseling with a counselor who is knowledgeable about adoption issues to be very helpful. An experienced therapist can help adult adoptees untangle which of their concerns are adoption-related and which are adjustment issues that many people in their stage of life go through.

    According to Detroit-area adoption therapist Linda Yellin, MSW, who is an adoptee, "Therapy can assist adoptees in a number of different ways. It can help them with their interpersonal relationships; the integration of their adoption experiences; their struggles around adoption issues; and with their healing process.

    Therapy can also assist adoptees in sorting through the decision about whether or not to search for birth relatives. If a search is undertaken, the counselor can assist in preparing an adoptee for a possible reunion, and in understanding and integrating the new information and newly found family of origin as well as the upheaval of emotions that often accompanies a search and its aftermath."

    For instance, some adoptees' reunions go very well. They find their birth family and they like them very much, and everyone is happy to have been found. For those adoptees, the issues in therapy may be the grief and loss they feel at not having been able to grow up with that family.

    For those who were adopted at an older age from the foster care system, therapy may help them deal with the consequences of the abuse or neglect they endured when they were younger. Even if they are happy with their place in their adoptive family, they may still be dealing with the effects of their early life experiences. Therapy is a resource that adoptees, adoptive parents, and birth parents can use to help them handle whatever emotions they are feeling.

    Occasionally, therapists who are knowledgeable about adoption issues offer therapy groups in which all of the participants are adopted adults, or are touched by adoption in some way. Participants could be adoptive parents, birth parents, or perhaps a sibling of an adoptee. These groups go into more depth than the type of support group described above. They actually combine the best elements of a support group and individual counseling: members of the group all have the adoption experience in common and the group is facilitated by a skilled mental health professional.

    The Search for Birth Parents

    In the past, it was assumed that a healthy, well-adjusted adopted person would have no desire to delve into his or her birth history. Those who insisted that they needed this information and access to their birth records were considered to be ungrateful at the least, and seriously disturbed at the worst. It was startling, therefore, when the May l971 issue of the Pediatrics journal printed the following: "There is ample evidence that the adopted child retains the need for seeking his ancestry for a long time."3

    Later in the 1970s, a research group in California led by Arthur D. Sorosky, M.D., a clinical professor of child psychiatry at UCLA, and social workers Annette Baran and Reuben Pannor revealed that by late adolescence and young adulthood, just about all adoptees in their study felt a sense of "genealogical bewilderment," defined as "psychological confusion about their genetic origins." The researchers found that adoptees search for their birth family because of both a sociological and a biological need.

    Indeed, recent research indicates that it is normal and healthy for adopted persons to want to know more about their genetic background. "There is a significant difference in the way adoptees perceive themselves when they have some information about their birth family's background," says Marcie Griffin, an adoption counselor at Hope Cottage Adoption Center in Dallas, Texas. "When adoptees learn something about their birthmother's education or special talents or are given some explanation of why they were placed, they begin to have greater self-esteem and a better idea of who they really are."

    Nonetheless, adoptees thinking about searching hear many voices. One voice tells them not to open Pandora's box-they may be devastated by what they find. Perhaps they will experience rejection or find a birth parent who needs emotional or financial support they are not prepared to give.

    What about the rights of the birth mother who may have carved out a life for herself and does not want the intrusion? Adoptees must also consider their adoptive parents and the grief that a search may bring them. Adoptive parents may feel unloved, unappreciated, and hurt by their child's need to find his or her "real" parents.

    Experienced adoption therapists say that while adoptees may want to take other people's real or imagined feelings into consideration, their own feelings are also important. In most cases, they did not have any control over whether they were placed for adoption, or with whom. Searching is a way for them to get back some of that control, fill in missing pieces, and move on.

    If adoptees have a strong urge to seek out the people to whom they are biologically related, most therapists say they should follow it. In addition, adoptees planning to search for their birth parents and hoping to have a reunion should have a support network in place while going through the process. The support network can be the adoptee's spouse and children, adoptive family, good friends, therapist, support group, or a combination of several of these.

    "One of the misconceptions that adoptive parents have," explained Dr. Schechter, "is that they have done something to make their child want to search. They haven't. Everyone needs to feel that they are part of a continuum of a family. It represents a normal need in people to know, for instance, why they are artistic but their family isn't, why they are gregarious and their parents are quiet. As more is learned about genetics, scientists are discovering that many talents and personality traits have a genetic basis." In fact, a successful search, with the support of adoptive parents, often makes relationships between parents and adopted persons closer.

    Dr. Sorosky and his research team found that almost all adoptees in their study wanted to know about their genetic past. Perhaps some did not focus on their adoption and were able to resolve issues surrounding it on their own, or had enough information about the circumstances of their adoption to satisfy them. Adoptees who are basically curious and questioning may decide to undertake an active search. In either case, their decision is not necessarily related to the quality of the relationship between them and their adoptive parents.

    For those who do search, the goal should be the truth. They must be willing to accept whatever they find. Even for those adoptees who have searched for birth parents only to experience rejection again, the result is still viewed positively. Many believe that searching helped them to finally achieve adulthood, lay aside childhood fantasies, and accept themselves as a whole person.4

    For many, searching can be an important step toward resolving questions of origin. However, even meeting one's birth family will not magically restore self-esteem or erase the sense of rejection that adoptees may have felt through the years.

    Post-reunion issues themselves take a lot of work; for instance, deciding how involved to be with birth family members after finding them and how to combine those relationships with adoptive family relationships. Gaining the birth family as an adult cannot make up for the years that were not spent together on a day-to-day basis. But it certainly can bring an added dimension to one's life.

    Steve Harris remembers, "The night I spoke with my birth mother for the first time-we spent about three hours talking on the telephone about our likes and dislikes-closure was brought to a part of my life. I can remember waking up the next day feeling great. It was the most peaceful night's sleep I'd ever had."


    For adoptees, adoption brings with it certain core issues. As adopted children grow into adulthood, they carry their thoughts and feelings about being adopted with them. Adult adoptees may have no, some, or great difficulty dealing with these thoughts and feelings. Some will struggle with the added dynamic that adoption brings to their life, and for others there will be little or no struggle.

    We hope this fact sheet has been helpful in at least pointing out to adult adoptees that they are not alone, whatever their feelings about being adopted. There are many helpful resources available to them, among them Child Welfare Information Gateway.

    Child Welfare Information Gateway can help adult adoptees in three ways. First, Information Gateway publishes a related fact sheet called "Searching for Birth Relatives." In addition to discussing the issues, the fact sheet also provides a State-by-State list of all the known national and local adult adoptee search and support groups in the United States.

    Second, Information Gateway provides referrals to a growing list of adoption experts, some of whom are psychotherapists (counselors) who specialize in working with adult adoptees and others who are touched by adoption. Third, Information Gateway can supply bibliographic information on many other books and articles on relevant topics.

    For any of these resources, contact Child Welfare Information Gateway at Child Welfare Information Gateway, Children's Bureau/ACYF, 1250 Maryland Avenue, SW, Eighth Floor, Washington, DC 20024 or by phone at 703.385.7565 or toll free 800.394.3366.


    American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adoption. "Identity Development in Adopted Children." Pediatrics, vol. 47 no. 5, May 1971, pp. 948-949.

    Brodzinsky, David M., Ph.D.; Schechter, Marshall D., M.D.; and Henig, Robin M. Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self. New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday, 1992.

    Griffin, Marcie, M.S. "The Adult Adoptee: The Biological Alien." Adoption Therapist, vol. 2 no. 2, Fall 1991, pp. 8-9.

    Klunder, Virgil L. Lifeline: The Action Guide to Adoption Search. Cape Coral, FL: Caradium Publishing, 1991.

    Lifton, Betty Jean. Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter. New York: Penguin, 1977.

    Lifton, Betty Jean. Lost & Found: The Adoption Experience. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.

    Lifton, Betty Jean. Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness. New York: Basic Books, 1994.

    Melina, Lois Ruskai and Roszia, Sharon Kaplan. The Open Adoption Experience. New York: Harper Collins, 1993.

    Rosenberg, Elinor B. The Adoption Life Cycle. New York: The Free Press, 1992.

    Small, Joanne W. "Discrimination Against the Adoptee." Public Welfare, Summer 1979, vol. 37 no. 3,pp. 38-43.

    Sorosky, Arthur D., M.D.; Baran, Annette, M.S.W.; and Pannor, Reuben, M.S.W. The Adoption Triangle: The Effects of the Sealed Record on Adoptees, Birth Parents, and Adoptive Parents. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/ Doubleday, 1978.

    Strauss, Jean A. S. Birthright. New York: Penguin, 1994.

    Zeilinger, Richard. "The Need to Know vs. the Right to Know." Public Welfare, Summer 1979, vol. 37 no. 3, pp. 44-47.


    1 Some names used in this factsheet have been changed to protect privacy. (back)

    2 Brodzinsky, David M., Ph.D.; Schechter, Marshall D., M.D.; and Henig, Robin M., Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self, Anchor Books/Doubleday, New York, 1992, p. 130. (back)

    3 American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adoption, "Identity Development in Adopted Children," Pediatrics, vol. 47 no. 5, May 1971, p. 948. (back)

    4 Sorosky, Arthur D., M.D.; Baran, Annette, M.S.W.; and Pannor, Reuben, M.S.W., The Adoption Triangle: The Effects of the Sealed Record on Adoptees, Birth Parents, and Adoptive Parents, Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1978, p. 155. (back)

    A perspective of an adoptee

    more info within the network where other emotions & feelings are touched by abandonment...
    the new battered page at emotional feelings, 3: the article: Looking For Love in All the Wrong Faces By Susan Peabody

    A New Perspective Concerning Abandonment... by Kathleen Howe
    Recently, I lost a very good friend to death. I wrote my monthly column, "i've just gotta say it!" about his death because I was caught unaware of the intensity of my grief. You see, my friend and I had never met personally. We were pen pals online, having met through his inquiry into my thoughts concerning his situation with depression - here at the emotional feelings network of sites. You see, sometimes I become very good friends with those who write in, even after their questions have been answered, and their concerns have been addressed.
    Another aspect of our friendship was different and that factor was our ages. He was 18 when he began writing to me and I was 49. He lived across the Pacific Ocean in another world practically and I here in the states. He had lived in the states in his youth, but had moved overseas with his family when he was around ten years old, I believe.
    He had suffered with a case of childhood cancer; which could have been the true source of his depression - biologically. He had experienced a tumor in his brain; treatment being surgery, chemo and radiation. He had lost a certain amount of thought processing and memory, we never delved too much into it, but I was aware of his depression and the fact that he took medication for it.
    I also take medication for post traumatic stress and depression. I will most likely take medication for the rest of my life should I be fortunate enough to keep my medical insurance that long so I can afford it.
    We really had a deep bond between us. Strange as it was for that to happen, we seemed to have similar types of thinking for some reason. We liked to ponder deeply the meanings of simple things, and we liked to at least hear from each other every other day in our correspondences because it made us feel needed and special. His emails to me caused me to believe he had very few friends he could count on and myself, well, I know tons of people but as for a close friendship - it's been years for me since I experienced that.
    What does this all have to do with abandonment? I'm getting there so hold your horses. It's important that I lay down the ground rules!
    After my friend's death I was contacted by his sister. I do not know how she knew that her brother would have wanted me to be contacted in case of his death, but I do know that she stated that she knew it would be important to him that I was contacted. I couldn't believe it when I read her words. I wanted to believe it was a hoax. Why or how would a young vibrant young man, just beginning his years at the university come to such an untimely death? I had questions, but no one had any answers. It was an accident they guessed - my friend had been alone when it happened. No one knew what actually had occurred, but he had taken a fall and after a few days in the hospital and surgery, succumbed and never recovered. It was just so sad.
    Finally I corresponded with my friend's parents. I felt horrible. They didn't know that their son was corresponding with a woman of 50 years old that he had met on the Internet. I suppose they thought the worst - that it had been what many people seem to experience - a false friendship of sorts based on lies and some other negativities, but I hope I had cleared that up with them and I even offered to send them every correspondence that we had written so they might see more into the mind of their son through our friendship.
    And so the heartache began for me. I began going through the emails, copying and pasting them. At first, I only included his e-mails to me, making notations about what we had been talking about so it would be easier to understand, but after awhile his parents asked me to send my letters as well; if I still had copies of them. Some I did, as you all know - sometimes one will reply back using the same email, therefore, your emailed letter would be included with the other and sometimes that happens for many turns. Unfortunately, I had a habit of starting out anew because I didn't care for replying every time. I liked to start out fresh. But I did as they asked and I re-read each e-mail that had transpired through our friendship. I highlighted the parts where my friend mentioned his family members as well.
    Part of me ached to hear new words from my friend, and part of me yearned for a chance to relive the past with a new understanding of what he had been telling me. It seemed in light of his death, there might be a different context involved in his loneliness, states of depression and flights of despair. I was crying endlessly it seemed as I continued to read through the e-mails and there were many. We had corresponded for almost two years every other day or so and sometimes more than once or twice in one day. On one day that I had heard from my friend's father via e-mail the father had asked me about something I had mentioned in my monthly column as I had steered him to my websites to read what I had written about his son. I knew that parts of what I had referred to were in some e-mails that I hadn't gotten to as of yet. I was copying and pasting them into word documents so it would be easier to read them.
    I so wanted the e-mail copying and pasting to be over with. I was crying so much and it was making me sadder and sadder. My grief was still on fire with the newness of his death and my life was feeling emptier without his beautiful thoughts and funny experiences he would relay to me. I was finding myself waiting for an e-mail from him although I knew there would never be one. I would still check my inbox, hoping by some miracle that I would see his name on an email received. But that particular day, I went to the e-mails immediately to search for the father, what I had been referring to in my column. As I searched I found an e-mail that I didn't remember existed. My friend had told me that suddenly he felt that he wanted to kill himself. He said he wasn't depressed. He said that he had been having a good day. He didn't know why he was thinking those thoughts, but he just felt as though he wanted to end his life.
    As I read those words, my heart sank. I had allowed the thought to enter my mind once I found out the circumstances of his death, that no one knew what he had been doing there - on top of a building... but I didn't want to believe that he would do this. I panicked. I thought that perhaps his father had thought the same things I had and I knew it would be my responsibility to send him word of this e-mail I had found. And so I followed through, sending him what I had discovered. I typed to him through my tears that I hoped it wasn't true. Then I realized that his father had thought it might be true through the wording in his last e-mail to me. I just had to re-read it and it was all falling in place for me.
    And now my friends, you might see where I am going with this. Abandonment. How many of you out there are experiencing feelings of abandonment through suicide? What about the family of the man who hangs himself in his garage? What about the children whose father decides life is too painful to live anymore and he takes his own life with a shotgun? What about the children surviving both of their parents' deaths from murder, suicide instances? My heart began to beat wildly. I just refused to believe that my dear friend would take his own life without talking to me more about it.
    I have heard the news over and over of this happening to other people and yet even in light of what I had just discovered about my friend, I had to make a choice of what I believed. I know why I had forgotten about that one e-mail he had sent me about feeling like he wanted to end his life. We had never discussed it. I still don't remember what I thought when I read it because all I could read into what I had left of our conversation concerning it was that everyone has days that they feel like that. Everyone, including me, I think I had told him, has felt like it would be easier to end our life than live through the difficulties we always seemed to be experiencing.
    I thought hard about it all - cried more about it - and then came to a decision. I finished with the e-mails that very afternoon. I had to. I couldn't go on thinking about it anymore. Re-living the examples of his loneliness and his appreciation of our friendship was so hard. He was full of life and his family all loved him so much. He had a TWIN sister. Yes! He was a twin and he has two other sisters and a brother. His life was full. He visited his extended family as well. I knew that he was loved. He admired his father and mother. And yet there was a huge raw, sore, "dug-out to China" pit of loneliness within him. I know it because I've felt it as well within me.
    He had trouble trusting people because he said he didn't want to be hurt anymore by people. I don't know where that came from either. I do know that I empathized with him about it. I gave up trusting people long ago - sometime around my third marriage - during the custody fight and the case of parental alienation I had to endure. I knew exactly what it was like to be lonely with the chaos of several people all around you and animals and phones ringing and e-mails to answer. I knew how much he hurt with loneliness. I'm there now it seems. I'm there now without him.
    I wrote back to his father and said, "I know that Joseph didn't kill himself. He loved you all too much to hurt you all. I choose to believe that he was looking down from that third floor, to see what type of interesting picture he could take from whatever angle he could find and he had always told me that he was clumsy. He told me because of his surgery that his balance had been affected. I choose to believe that he lost his balance and fell. I'm so sorry he was alone when it happened."
    What I didn't tell him is that because Joseph was alone, it only made that loneliness pit so much deeper. And now I'm here to think about the possibilities although you know what I'm choosing to believe. But still this little voice deep inside me sometimes chirps out... "He's abandoned even you, Kathleen." I imagine it being just like those stories of OTHER people. I imagine it being too difficult for him to talk to me about. He didn't want to hurt me with that kind of talk. Although, he was always telling me that he had something important that he wanted to talk to me about. He would always say, "I'll have to remember to tell you next time..." But he never did.
    Please, if you have been abandoned like this, do not take it personally. I read all those emails again and again that Joseph had sent me. I didn't see it. He loved hearing my stories and loved just sending me an empty email because he was thinking of me, but didn't have time to write or was just too tired. He did this because he knew it would make me smile. To be thought of like this, as a friend, someone knowing what it means to have that sense of closeness to share with someone. Joseph trusted me, but maybe not enough. I really don't know. I miss him so much. I really do. His death had nothing to do with me, I'm sure of that.
    If you know someone who has lost someone like this, in this type of experience, being abandoned maybe through suicide, but you're not quite sure - or maybe you do know - please don't tell them they've grieved too long or that they "shouldn't" feel the way they do. Give that person support, kindness and empathy. Practice compassion and loving kindness. Remind that person that their loved ones death had nothing to do with them. It was about something else entirely.
    Please be understanding. It hurts so badly to lose someone in this manner. If you've lost someone like this and would like to share your experiences, please email me with your story and if you would like to share it with others, I'd be honored to post it for you. You will see an email opportunity at the top of every page. 
    God bless...

    Abandoning Your Marriage


    When my mother asked me, "What will you do if marriage isn't what you thought it was? What will you do once you know who this man is and you don't like him?" I remember thinking briefly, about 2 seconds of time actually, then replying...


    "I'll get a divorce!"


    I was dead serious. After 8 years of marriage, 2 beautiful daughters & feeling so alone, miserable, sad, lost & unloved, I got that divorce.


    The truth:


    Somewhere deep down inside myself, I knew that I was making the biggest mistake of my life when I married my first husband, but I was so hurt, angry and seeking revenge that I married him anyway. At 18 years old I moved 2000 miles away from everyone I knew to live with a man I had only known for 6 months.


    My idea for what I would do after high school was completely opposite of what my father thought.


    I brought him the paper work one day after school. I was nervous about facing him. I was actually really afraid. He was drinking, but he always was drinking so I didn't have the luxury of a sober moment, so I gave him the college applications anyway. I explained that I needed him to fill out the paperwork about the financial side of college. I told him that I didn't have a clue as to what to fill in there when his humiliating, intimidating, evil laugh bellowed out to fill the air.... I froze. I took one step back then, froze.


    He stepped back as well. I was watching him, frozen where I stood, unable to move at all, I watched him very closely. A very small bit of drool seemed to fall from his mouth, as he sucked it back in with that horrible slurry sound drunks make sometimes. His empty rocks glass in one hand, the applications in his other, and his novel tucked up under his armpit, he swaggered a bit while establishing his ground.


    He looked empty, used up, old, tired and very miserable. His shirt was half tucked in, half out, his hair always looked greasy, his body was no longer the pencil thin frame he had always enjoyed; now he was lumpy. That's what he was, lumpy. His skin white and lumpy, he was what was left of a father that I no longer knew. Mostly he looked like an engineer. That's what he was. That's all he could talk about. He didn't ever come down to the normal level the rest of us lived on. He had become someone else throughout the years, someone that none of us really knew.


    Then the words he spoke filled the air, stinging, biting words filled with animosity, intimidation, and anger.


    "Who do you think you are? I won't even look at these stupid applications. Who do you think you are expecting to go to college?" he paused only to steady himself again and then take a deep breath to continue his tirade with a short mocking laugh, "Women don't go to college, understand? Women get married; they have a bunch of kids, that's what they're raised to do! Don't ever speak to me about college again!"


    He passed by me, dismissing me, dismissing my feelings, the tears of my face - throwing the applications into the trash can. Turning only to order me away from him with his closing think,


    "Why don't you go meet some guy and do just what I said, now!"


    As usual, I turned on my heel & ran quickly to my room. Forced to hold back any tears or gasps of humiliated disbelief, my father didn't allow the showing of emotions or feelings, my mother just complied with his wishes to keep him quiet.


    Falling into the comfort of my quilted bed, my first pillow, the only soft place I knew, I sobbed violently. Choking back the loudest sobs, to keep him from barging into my room, offering to give me something to cry about...I forced myself to stop thinking about every going to college. 


    the time went on quickly from that point...


    Soon I had met the man I was to marry. It was a blind date set up by my brother. To this day, he's sorry he did it. But my brother was a caddy at the golf course & the teaching pro was a nice guy to score points with. He introduced us, we both liked onions on our hamburgers, as we ate lunch at the golf course, we discovered that we both had dogs named, "Jason."


    It was a good enough match for me. I set my sights, six months later we walked down the aisle. Six months later, that's all... just a few weeks & I'd done exactly what my father told me to do... I married the first man that crossed my path & I got pregnant. I married him & moved 2000 miles away to be that good wife & mother as far away from my father as possible. 


    Little would I know that the man I married would betray me over & over again.


    He didn't love me. He only loved himself. And while I'd seen danger signs, flashing warning lights & knew deep in my gut that it was the worst mistake I could ever make, I still married him.


    Before we got married he had tried to have sex with my girlfriends, succeeding only once. He was addicted to pot. He was a hot headed Italian boy, a golfer. Soon after we met, only weeks, I moved into his apartment with him. One day I found out that he had been living with a girl for quite a long time before he met me. She had just moved out to go back to Florida, where he was from. I got pregnant just a few weeks before the wedding. 


    I knew it would end in divorce from the first day we were married.


    I can honestly say that I wasn't without fault; for who was I to tempt fate? I knew full well that my only goal was to accommodate my father's wishes. Ever since that day he had refused to help me get to college I had felt my spirit was slowly fading. I had begun to drinking heavily.


    After the move, the 2000 mile move, away from everyone that I knew, I cried for days. My mother-in-law lived directly upstairs, over our apartment. And while Palm Beach was certainly a beautiful tropical paradise to live in, I was miserable. My husband told me that he didn't want to keep the baby. Actually, he was afraid it might be someone else’s. My brand new husband forced me to have the abortion weeks after arriving in Palm Beach. He became ugly and distant with me. I didn't really like him anymore.


    I tried to back out of the abortion. My mother had already forced me into an abortion at 16 and it ruined my life. I left the clinic on our first visit there. He dragged me back there and spoke to the doctor, leaving no chance for misinterpretation as to why we were there. The doctor ordered a shot of Valium, and a few days before my first Thanksgiving away from home, I was forced to kill my baby and eat Swanson's turkey pot pies. 


    For the first year of my marriage, I was in total hate with my husband for what he did to me.


    I got a job at Gucci on Worth Avenue! as a secretary. I didn't really have any skills to speak of, but I learned very quickly. I became a telex operator, did general office work and loved being at Gucci. I made some friends. That was nice. For the rest of our first year being married, we spent very little time together. I went out with my friends, drinking, dancing, partying, and I just tolerated my husband.


    Year Two....

    We were moving to Burlington, Vermont for the season. I was pregnant with our first child.


    During my pregnancy was the first time he ever hit me. He gave me a black eye because I had awakened in the night, unhappy, crying, not feeling well, I had interrupted his sleep. He was really mad about it.


    A few weeks later I found him in bed with one of the old lady members of the country club. She had invited us for dinner. I got sleepy and asked to lay down for awhile. I fell asleep and when I woke up the house was dark. I walked thru the maze like hallways, seeing a light in the distance. It was then I heard them. They were in her bed. I looked in, briefly, then fled. I fled from the house, barefoot, pregnant, and not knowing where I was.


    I was crying, and all there was, everywhere I looked - were trees. Huge towering pine trees, which cast shadows out over the roadway loomed on each side of the road. The moon was full, but there were no sidewalks, no houses, just darkness and trees. I kept walking, crying, sobbing, and knowing that I had asked for this kind of treatment, but it still hurt. It was all my fault. I was so angry and hurt. The police passed by and stopped, backing up after seeing a barefoot pregnant woman crying on the side of the road, they asked me if I needed a ride. I told them what had happened. They knew the lady that my husband was with. She had a drinking problem. Things like this always happened with her....


    They took me to our hotel. We hadn't even found a house to live in yet.... that situation really hurt me. 


    Our life continued like this for years. It was always something different, but on the same theme. I was lonely. I was always alone with the kids. He would work, come home, eat and go to sleep. We didn't have a relationship. We had some sex. But it wasn't love making. It was degrading. He hit me again. I kicked him out of the house. It was New Year's Eve. I thought the divorce would take place then, but it didn't.


    But it did take place; when my girls were about 2 & 4 years old. It was ugly and I didn't know how to take care of myself, never mind supporting two children. It was a very horrible time in my life.


    Twenty years later, I'd been married 3 more times. I never got it right until now. While recovering from all those years of dysfunction, I have come to some realizations. Those of you getting married, it's for real, it's forever. It's not as easy as, "I'll get a divorce if it doesn't work out."


    It's just not like that. I was asked to speak to a woman who was experiencing some domestic violence. She had maybe four or five children. Her husband had no job, was depressed and she was fed up with the terrible way he treated her. She was a Mormon woman. I pondered and reflected upon the experiences that I had endured throughout my lifetime. What would I tell this woman?


    What would I do if I could do it all over again? Suddenly like a lightning bolt of electricity, I knew the answer. I would have stayed married to my first husband. I would have worked things out with him. I would have worked things out with myself first, and then with him. I now understood that my problems with myself, were the most important problems facing me. If I had been able to figure it all out, I would have stayed in that marriage. After seeing what divorce does to children, over the years, I'd seen my own children suffering from it, I would have stayed married.


    I would have insisted on boundaries. I would have insisted on counseling. He would have gone along with it. He didn't want to get a divorce. I just gave up because I didn't want to face anything back then. I just wanted to escape. I didn't know how to work out problems. I just knew, that I had to tell this woman, this Mormon woman, that she had to stay with her husband, work things out, it was the best thing she could do for herself and her children.


    The woman listened to me. She thanked me and I went on my way. She stayed with her husband. Long story short, they worked things out. He straightened up. She ended up with breast cancer and he supported her thru it. The family endured. The family grew stronger and remained intact. It was a good thing to see her husband, smiling at me, shaking my hand, with a smile on his face, something I had never seen before. It was the right thing that I told her. Don't abandon your marriage. Marriage is about working things out. It's about staying together to fix it all. It's about growing up together. It's about admitting you might have some faults too.


    She went to college to become a nurse. He got a job. They're very happy now or they appear so. She can hold her head up with respect for herself, she has dignity, she has character, she is a good mother. I believe she's doing well, even now, as I just saw her a few weeks ago. It's not easy being married, it's just one day of hard work after another, but it's worth it. If you keep the commitment.


    I told my older kids this story. I openly admitted to them, if I had it to do all over again, I would have stayed with their father and worked it out with him. I would have done it for them, for me and for the marriage. I admitted the pain and heartache I had caused them in growing up in a divorced family. Then my re-marriages that they had to cope with. Their father remarried and that was a problem with the kids as well. I just told them, when you get married, it's for good, it's forever, so make your choice wisely. It's not even an idea that if it doesn't work out, you'll get a divorce. Divorce isn't an option.


    The other day my daughter, who lives in Florida called me. She's my oldest daughter, 28, single, struggling; but such a great girl and she asked me if I remembered this couple that she used to be friends with. The girl had started using drugs, they had a couple of very young children, the husband was drinking way too much. Then the girl started having an affair. The whole marriage was a huge mess. It seemed like their only option was to get a divorce.


    My daughter told the girl what I had told her about doing things differently if I had it to do all over again, and that I would have worked it out. She told her that I had been remarried, had more kids, and about all the horrible experiences that I had gone through. She told the girl about the feelings of hurt, anger, frustration, and so many others that she and her sister had experienced being separated from their father.


    She told the girl about the abusive step father that I had provided her with. (see immediately below this article) Her father's wife had kicked her out of their home when she was still in high school, only 16 years old. It's just been a huge mess. Their family on her father's side are all estranged from each other. She and her own sister were separated in a huge debacle thru their step mother, and remain estranged to this day.


    She didn't hold much hope that the girl was even listening to her until almost a year later when her phone rang late in the evening. It was the same girl we had just been talking about. The girl relayed to my daughter that she had thought long and hard about their last conversation concerning her marriage. She just wanted to thank my daughter for her encouragement to stay married. She and her husband had worked everything out between them.


    It hadn't been easy because they both had addiction problems. There was the affair that the wife had when they were close to splitting up that they had to have some marital counseling over. They both went to individual counseling. They got involved in a church. Their kids love going there. They got it all together, and were living happily, gratefully, and their children are doing so well. She wanted to ask my daughter to call me and tell me that after thinking about what I said, she knew it was true. She had to keep the commitment she had made when she got married.


    When things are really bad, take a time out. Spend some time in some personal reflection. Where is your head at and where is your heart at? What are you feeling? What can you do to improve your own attitude? What can you do to show unconditional love?


    Now don't get me wrong about domestic violence. I don't believe a woman should ever stay with someone who is abusing them. There is a point that if both husband and wife agree to go to counseling, agree to work things out, that they may be able to get things straight. I've been trapped into staying into a marriage rife with domestic violence.... it's not good. But if there is a willingness on both sides to make things right... get professional help!


    Don't ever stay in a relationship if your children are in danger either. Things can be worked out over time, even in this type of situation, if everyone is in agreement to get professional help.


    What I am saying is....

    Before things get totally out of control, don't be quick to blame. Take the time to look within. Don't be eager to abandon your marriage. It'll mean more to your children if you can work things out. I know that it seems like the grass will look greener out of the marriage or with someone else, but truly... fix what you have if it's possible!


    If you have questions about what I'm trying to say here, send me an e-mail!



    I felt abandoned by my husband when he suddenly told me he was unhappy with me & he felt that he needed "a break" from our marriage. He informed me that he was moving out of our rented home, to move into a house that a young bachelor cop owned. He worked at the same department my husband had worked at. They knew each other briefly.
    I was confused. I didn't know what to think about it all. I had moved across the country to live where he had grown up, leaving my oldest two childrens' father, the ocean & all that I had known since leaving home at 18. I'm not even sure why we were moving up north from the state of Florida. He just insisted upon selling our house & moving, stating he felt that he would be killed in his job as a police officer in south Florida if we had stayed there. He also felt it wasn't a safe place to raise children.
    I had relinquished child support at my husband's insistence so as not to hold up the move because of having to settle custody differences in court. He had assured me we'd be fine without the money. But then suddenly he was leaving me. I was working full time, but I wouldn't be able to handle paying the rent & all the bills without any money from him. He wasn't giving me any money. I thought about contacting an attorney & mentioned it to him. He assured me that I didn't need to, that everything would be fine.

    I didn't know what to do. I was panicky. I couldn't pay all the bills. I went out & got a part time night job, waitressing. My oldest daughter was old enough to babysit. I was then going to have to support three children & myself in the well to do suburb town of Kentwood, Michigan. It was right outside of Grand Rapids. 
    I never had any family support. I had always lived thousands of miles from my family. I guess you could have called me the "black sheep" of the family. I didn't have but one good friend & her husband worked with my husband as a cop as well!
    I had been mentally, physically, verbally & sexually abused by this husband & still, I felt abandoned, lost and in severe pain. I had no self confidence. I had no real life skills concerning supporting a family alone. I had suffered a horrible first divorce. I was being taken advantage of, I just didn't know it.
    If this ever happens to you - if this all sounds too familiar - you must seek help immediately. Go to the state and apply for welfare. Force your husband to be responsible. Try to find legal help thru legal aid. Sometimes you can find someone that is offering lower fees depending on income!
    Keep a journal. Write everything down. Be diligent about being a good mother. Stay home with your children when you're not working. Don't drink. Quit smoking. It's a lousy time to be cleaner than usual, but your husband knows what he's doing. He'll avoid paying child support. He may even quit his job like my ex-husband did. He then took me to court for custody.
    You're being set up. So dig in. You can deal with your feelings of abandonment later on. You must come to terms with reality and protect yourself & your children. I promise things will work out if you look for every piece of community help you can find & you trust your own instincts and intuition.
    Email me anytime if you have any other questions or concerns. Abandonment feelings can cloud your mind with fear, hurt feelings and extreme inner pain. Now is not the time to succumb to helplessness. Protect yourself & your children.

    A Matter of My Opinion ....

    Kathleen Howe


    I find that after researching feelings of abandonment or the fear of abandonment, I can instantly identify with those that consider themselves, betrayed and "abandoned."


    I've pondered the percentages of baby boomers who might feel the same way. The reason being, it appears that as baby boomers, our mothers & fathers were totally inept in the concept of "giving us unconditional love." Whether or not it was the fault of their own poor parenting skills isn't a factor, because I'm not wasting my energy on blaming them for it.


    The fact just remains, the parents of the baby boomer generation who were inadequately prepared for parenting especially in the matters of emotional well being; often left us, the baby boomer generation, feeling abandoned by anyone who was supposed to have loved us. Some of us were angry about our parents, some of us felt betrayed and others didn't know what they felt because "feelings" remained the property of our fathers.


    The baby boomer generation now in the throes of a well deserved "recovery period," after being set up for a lifetime of failure within what needed to be - our intimate relationships, are using survival behaviors and still discovering open wounds surrounding our emotionally battered souls. For what our parents unknowingly imparted upon us, the baby boomers, the largest generation ever recorded was nothing short of abuse.


    Baby boomers, representing the startling percentages of divorced families in the US are finding themselves vulnerable not again as I once believed, but for the first time realizing how vulnerable that they had always been - as vulnerable as children. And now this conglomerate of humans who experienced a stunting of their emotional growth as children are finding their ways into the offices of mental health professionals all over the world to discover how wounded they are


    Some are not able to become humble enough to take on a personal growth recovery journey - I believe they're the angry ones. They never knew how to use anger or any other emotions and feelings to their advantage - so they remain "stuck" in a personal circle of extreme anger and rage.

    As for myself, I am still struggling with knowing when I'm angry and trying to understand how I can behave to use anger in a positive way for my own benefit. In the past, all I understood of anger was violence. Living in domestic violence for most of my life - whenever someone seemed "angry" around me they were violent and usually someone got hurt.

    So when I felt threatened enough to be angry I would react violently as well. People didn't understand that my actions didn't speak what I was truly feeling. They never really knew me well and I didn't even know who I really way either - so how could anyone else know? It's a sad testimony when you're not sure what your worth is, who you are or what you are supposed to do with your life.

    Surviving the false belief systems of our parents, whom we longed to embrace, we find ourselves still pushed back away - leery of them - often pushed back to maintain a distance of safety from "feelings & emotions," as they still haven't recognized the fact that we can't deny them. They have continually hurt us, and we have continually let them; now we begin to realize that theirs was a world of illusion. They only lived for the sake of appearances no matter how they felt; hardly a realistic concept to hold onto for security's sake.


    We're now breaking free of the beliefs that were forced upon us:

    • "Children were to be seen & not heard."
    • "You shouldn't feel that way."
    • "You have no reason to cry."
    • "If you don't stop crying, I'll give you something to cry about."
    • "If you tell the truth, you won't be in trouble." 

    to find that being human, we do have reasons to cry, to feel and be heard. We have certain needs that all humans have. We survived our parents demeaning us with their usual taunt, "If you tell the truth, you won't get in trouble," but shortly thereafter our owning up, would lean us over bended knee to extend the ultimate humiliation of pants down, and soundly spanked; teaching us the pain of ultimate betrayal.

    For those of us who were intuitive enough to know that love couldn't be this painful often wondered if our parents loved us, cared about us or even wanted us in the first place - found ways to self medicate all that pain and uncertainty away. After thinking about it for some time, I had to admit that my parents probably felt the same way. They had been expected to marry, reproduce and pass down the same belief systems that they had been indoctrinated into. They were afraid to ask questions.


    They had to deal with things like "parental blackmail" if they didn't do what was expected. They might be labeled as "social outcasts" which was a fate worse than death to them. They most likely resented the situations they found themselves in - loveless marriages, housebound with children and aspirations of careers and intellectual stimulation - then again - as I saw my own mother, becoming more and more depressed.


    The unforgettable lessons learned as children from our parents' actions were tied into the false beliefs we've carried on as adults. Whereas when we were children, we lived in fairy tales. We memorized limmericks, fairy tales and nursery rhymes that promised us prince charming, happily ever after & fairy godmothers. Our fantasies consisted of skipping down the yellow brick road of life, to grow up, get married, have children without a single problem or worry.


    Our parents perpetuating the unreality of these myths, by imposing their "Leave it to Beaver" lifestyles upon us. Everything was always fine. Everything was always good. Everything worth anything was about being happy. Everyone was comfortable. Everyone was alive. We were isolated from negativities in life. We weren't ever exposed to the realities of death, the poor, prejudice, intolerance or hatreds. Everything was always fine, dear.


    "What's that? You hate Janie? Why no you don't dear! We don't hate people. We like everyone. We don't ever hate. That is just not nice!" 


    When our parents began to experience the waves of turmoil over the changing times, the new generation, the Vietnam war, and the new acceptance of "doing your own thing," they found themselves unprepared for the hardships. No one ever prepared them for relationship disturbances. Everyone had always had their roles, it was set in stone. Equality for women rocked their glass bottom boats.


    An entire generation of young adults reached out for the only escapes they'd seen their parents turn to, often "the bottle." After all, who didn't remember that the world stopped around 4 o'clock in the afternoon for happy hour? It was permitted, socially accepted self medication by almost everyone.


    Drunks were accepted, although often frowned upon should they become disorderly, they were always protected. Men beating their wives was permitted, because the wife had stepped over her tightly formed boundaries, causing the attack herself. And the children of these parents always knew that something was wrong, but could never put their finger on it, because for appearances sake, parents never fought in front of their children.


    Children, being kept isolated from adult social functions, never knew the extent of their parents escapism. When the bottle became an inescapable "need," often times, the responsibilities parents once held in such high regard & automatically programmed to perform, often fell to the wayside. In many a home, the daddy's little girl, was suddenly put aside, no longer welcome in her daddy's lap, causing an overwhelming sadness, emptiness & depression. Open affection, giggling & tickling and the telling of grand secrets was forever banned in their kingdoms, as the baby boomer generation began to truly feel the grips of their parents' dysfunctional marriages.


    I was one of those little girls, banned from daddy's lap, suddenly, mysteriously, only to think that an evil curse had been cast over our household. Should my mother bite into a red shiny apple, she might drift off into a dead sleep, only to be awakened by her prince charming, who had obviously - left the castle.


    The open portal of unresolved feelings of shame, guilt & rejection combined with painful hurts and repressed feelings & emotions from our parents' steadfast rules already explained above, (children should be seen & not heard, you have no right to feel like that, you should be grateful for all that you have, stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about...) began to roil & turn deep within our beings. Our stomachs hurt. We got headaches. We began to isolate ourselves, not wanting to play outside with our friends anymore, especially now that we weren't wanted, or loved, or acknowledged at all by our preoccupied parents. They didn't have the time or inclination to even tell us how we should feel anymore.


    Then the sixties hit us, when divorce became suddenly acceptable. As if a great sunami enveloped the shoreline of the Americas, couple after couple, neighbor after neighbor, wives & husbands across the entire spans of the United States became "divorced," causing the undoing of the American Family that we once appeared to have.


    Fathers moved out to date other woman. Mothers who had always stayed home with the children, had to get jobs. Some mothers, too overwhelmed with their inability to function in the workforce, were led to suicide, alcoholism & mental illnesses. Single families began to struggle, as household incomes were separated into halves. Children were left alone at home to fend for themselves. And then some fathers fought to have their children live with them. Parents were always talking about, "child support." The movie, "Kramer vs. Kramer" was number one at the box office. 


    Resentments, feelings of abandonment & desperate feelings of worthlessness became thrown into the open portal of childrens' inner beings. We didn't know what happened. No one explained anything to us. It was just the way it was, we were forced into accepting that our parents weren't together anymore. We'd always had an inner instinct, intuition of sorts, knowing that our fathers weren't leaving us for another woman, they were simply attempting to fill their own selfish needs


    Sometimes, if we closed our eyes tight enough at night, we could see our family the way it used to be. We dreamed of our fairy tale lives, knowing that someday, we'd find our prince charming and live happily ever after as promised. If we could only make it through childhood.


    With this sunami, there was no federal or state aid. Are you kidding? Congress was too busy trying to swallow Ted Kennedy's excuses for Chappaquidic, to somehow protect his drunken misadventure of saving himself - to leave the woman to drown in her loneliness. Divorce was good for the economy it seemed. No one came to the rescue of the idealized American family. Suddenly a whole generation of daughters were left fatherless. Sons became angry seeing their mothers crying and despondent, no longer an ally, only an empty shell, robotic, and helpless.


    Oftentimes, fathers didn't show up for visits anymore. It became months and months between visits. Our fathers remarried and had new families often forgetting their first ones. The baby boomers were beginning to realize how easy it was for them to forget us. We were stunned with the incoming waves of abandonment we felt.


    Our mothers began to either date or enjoy the freedom going out for happy hours and dancing until the bars closed. Then we were left with the dysfunctional remnants of teenage babysitters, who were angry, confused & impatient. It wasn't a pretty sight, but as we grew up, we kept filling our portals of all of our feelings & emotions that we had no right to have. We withheld our tears in fear of being given something horrible to cry about. We were now abandoned by both parents. It was a lonely existence.


    The baby boomer generation is one of the largest generations in history. After wartime in the US, many young families had been expected to marry and replenish the earth. And when the replenishment became teenagers, we had big issues. Really big unresolved issues that revolved around that huge open portal of hurt & pain within us, now ruled our lives. We acted out. Free love, marijuana & peace flowed throughout the generation. We self medicated through all of these means. Our developing identities and relationships were forever scarred before they began. Vietnam, draft evaders moving to Canada, religious objectors - I remember it well. I heard the men say - "we're old enough to fight but not old enough to drink." Politics reared it's ugly head when Nixon resigned.


    Roe vs. Wade was forced into action. How else could government allow this massive generation of irresponsibles continue to procreate freely? Our parents weren't to blame for our ignorance - they were expected to marry immediately out of high school - still children - and to have babies as soon as possible! Social acceptance of all things once held contemptible, caused an irreconcilable mark on once held sacred family values & morality. Yes, it happened that way. I was there. I was undeniably wrapped up in it.


    I was an alcoholic teenager who got pregnant. I had been abandoned by my father. I had been abandoned by my mother. I had been abandoned by love. Humans don't work well without it, but strangely still, I didn't know what to do with any of it.... any of those feelings or emotions, I'd never been allowed to feel anything before. None of had been allowed; how extreme, an entire generation of emotional cripples... how extreme.


    And now as the baby boomer generation comes close to retirement, we've open that huge portal of unresolved feelings & emotions. Some of us later than others, already experiencing multiple marriages, custody fights, parental alienation, alcoholism, drug addictions, oh the list is so long.... we're just realizing that we have been feeling unloved, abandoned, and worthless.


    A comparable example would be the young child, riding his bike in Beaver Cleaver's neighborhood, suddenly struck in the street by a semi truck, leaving him or her, disabled, dismembered, emotionally crippled, but the child goes on. After his injuries heal, the child continues to plod on with life. Suddenly realizing after an entire childhood of many disabilities, that there are missing limbs, horrible scars and frightening nightmares of the tragic event.


    The child is unable to cope with it all. The realization of an unrecognized injury is devastating to say the least. Of course, this couldn't happen physically, but mentally it can. Our emotional dysfunction has been escalating throughout our lifetimes, leaving heartache, and unbelievable pain without being recognized for what it truly was.


    We're all existing in our dysfunctional lives, wondering what the hell happened to us. We were abandoned by our parents' generation, that's what happened. We were living in the land of the lost children, just like the boys & Wendy & Peter Pan. We lived with our false beliefs, distorted thinking, and disadvantaged attitudes for so long that we just existed throughout our lives, coping however we could. It has been a painful existence for many of us. Very painful.


    But now we know what happened. We're feeling like children again. Learning about truth, emotions, feelings, attitudes, tolerance, diversity, intuition, insights and so much more. There's resistance to change run amuck. Light bulbs are illuminating in the minds of an entire generation. It's an amazing transformation. It's too long in coming, but it's here now, and we're embracing it. Long live the days of personal responsibility!


    And now that we've begun to ground ourselves & recover from our lifetimes of dysfunction, we have children who are either already grown or halfway grown. They've lived through our enormous ineptitude as parents. They have survived, but they remain injured. It's our jobs as parents to correct our madness. We must learn to relay the messages we're learning daily.


    It's up to us to re-shape their minds by introducing our pearls of newfound wisdom. We can't remain silent. We need to set them straight, introduce the seeds of knowledge that can lead them to emotional & physical well being years earlier than we've been afforded. After all, if we had been properly equipped as parents, we would have already shown them the way to awareness, mindfulness, peace, tranquility and well being. If we fail in this venture, another generation will be affected. We must take on the challenge with open minds, warm hearts, with acceptance, and hugging.


    It's time to settle our differences, end our family feuds and conflicts, transforming the world into an a peaceful loving place. We must breathe, talk and even sing of unconditional love. We must lead by the best examples possible. We must honor our changes as we make them; keeping they are well earned and representative of a rebirth.


    We're no longer living the fairy tale, we're generating our own positive realities.

    How Do You Abandon Yourself?

    By Dr. Margaret Paul

    often do you feel
    sad, alone and empty inside?


    How often do you feel anxious, depressed, hopeless, angry or hurt?


    These are the feelings we experience when we've abandoned ourselves in some way. Discover how you abandon yourself and what to do about it.

    There are many ways of abandoning ourselves. We abandon ourselves when we:

    Emotionally withdraw by staying in our heads or spacing out from our own inner experience rather than stay in our body and attend to our feelings.

    Abandoning Myself...


    I believe I checked my true self out of action around the age of 17. By that statement I mean that I haven't been my true self since then, maybe before some of my childhood traumas. I've been in a state of mental decline since then, leaving room for other person to take residence in my brain, it just wasn't me at all anymore, not the person I originally was.


    After a lifelong struggle of crises & traumas that began to occur shortly after I was born, my state of mental health continued to decline steadily, but no one ever recognized it or paid any attention to how I was feeling.


    This happens quite often with children today. Because of the stigma mental illness continues to attach itself to, mothers & fathers are too ashamed to admit that there may be a "mental infirmity" within the family tree. This is true especially of the parents of the "baby boomer generation." Appearances were of vital importance to them.


    But at age 17, it certainly appeared to anyone that came into contact with me, that I was in my glory, as most teens are. I had recently experienced yet another trauma; being dumped for the first time by a finance, we were engaged, I had a diamond; after a long cross country trip to celebrate his release from months in the hospital suffering with osteo-myelitis.


    I was simply not spoken to from the state of Colorado to the state of Pennsylvania where he was forced to speak to me when the steering column of the car was obviously, "caving in" causing the left front tire to tilt at an angle. I had noticed his "silence," but I had attributed it to the fact that while it was my turn to drive, all I wanted to listen to on the tape player was, "joni mitchell." I guess that could drive a guy crazy.


    We stopped at my aunt & uncle's house where my wonderful aunt & uncle allowed us to take a break in traveling while they diligently fixed the car in their garage at no cost to us. They loved me. I knew it. They would do anything for me. My uncle Wayne, he gave me a present that was worth everything to my self esteem, I believe that's why I held onto the very small iota of self esteem that I seemed to muster up sometimes; he told me one night when I was staying with them for a few weeks in the summer, as we watched the Miss America contest that, "You could be the winner of that contest, you're so beautiful." I've never forgotten that comment.


    Imagine being dumped for an "older woman," as a teenager! The epitomy of teenage despair I'd think it would be for most & it certainly was for me. He didn't even have the nerve to tell me to my face! He just dropped me part way home in upstate New York to stay with my grandparents, "Hey, I think I'll let you stay here & have a visit with your grandparents. That would be nice for you wouldn't it?"


    It was totally unexpected. He called me when he got home in New Hampshire to tell me over the phone that he had fallen in love with his nurse in the hospital. She even had two kids or something like that. I think he left me in New York because he knew I'd be so seething mad at him & hurt that I'd either commit suicide or kill him. I never did learn how to handle anger, so you see what my options would have been.


    My grandmother took good care of me that night when she woke up to hear me sobbing loudly. She gave me one of her valium super pills that made me sleep for two days straight. When I woke up she took me to the country club bar & got me drunk. (Yes, I was still 17 at the time.)


    It was then that I couldn't or didn't care about keeping my mouth shut when the assistant district attorney, who went to school with my mother, began to give me "pick up" lines at the bar. He had found out who I was & of course, always liking my mother & having gone to high school with her, he had to stop by & tell me all about all the things his wife wouldn't let him do.


    It was the only time my grandfather said a harsh word to me. I told the assistant district attorney that he was, "pussy whipped." My grandfather said, "I heard what you said to "whatever his name was" & nice girls don't say those things to men. I was very disappointed in you." I was sitting in the front seat of their Cadillac, between them on the drive from upstate New York to New Hampshire. I guess he had heard thru the grapevine about what I'd said & he woke up that morning with only one thing on his mind.


    How mad he was at me. To show me his disapproval - he was taking me home, toot sweet! My grandmother assured me that he would "get over it," like he did the time she danced on the table at the country club.


    But that was a very long time ago. I still feel like the girl I was back then - in my mind that is - or re-thinking that statement, it's perhaps in my heart that I'm still dancing around the room, listening to music, singing loudly - always knowing all lyrics.... slender, sexy... attractive, not super pretty, just really attractive.


    That was me... a free spirit, a flower child, at 17 I had the world in the palm of my hand - or so it appeared or so I wanted to believe.


    I'd been struggling with an extremely traumatizing experience since I was 16, when my mother forced me to have an abortion. Ever since the abortion, I wasn't the same. I broke up with my long time boyfriend of almost 4 years. The main trauma, "the abortion" I compared to the main diamond in a ring setting. (an engagement ring setting) All the smaller traumas that were surrounding the main one (the abortion) were like the smaller diamonds in the setting that surrounded the "big one in the center."


    Smaller traumas like my mother being in numerous car accidents, totaling the car each time, being at the receiving end of the phone calls from the police who had to tell her next of kin that she was in a hospital emergency room somewhere, bruised from head to toe, but alive. Smaller traumas like my grandparents (both sets) experiencing a flood in Corning, New York. My father's parents lost their house because it came off the foundation. They'd lived there their entire lives. My grandpa was in his late 80's. My father had gone to help them. He was so traumatized by it all that he quit going to church.


    It seems that trauma likes company, the company of other traumas, that is. There's never just one trauma for me. Starting in childhood when that sniper was on my front lawn shooting out car windows on the street. Or the time that we got a foster sister, she was 18 years old. She & my father did something very bad & she had to leave our house. My mother was devastated. Or the time that my mother was doing the dishes & a glass cut her veins in her hand. There was blood everywhere. I thought my mother was dying. I ran away to the neighbor's house for comfort. There wasn't much comfort at my house.


    I remember turning to sex for comfort in my teenage years. I was still so confused about sex and love. I thought sex was love. I needed to be loved. I needed some affection. My methods weren't working and they were putting me in danger.


    I was drinking heavily. I left high school early because I had enough credits to do so, then I'd just graduate with my class. I got a full time job. I had real "adult" lunch hours, that allowed me to consume 2-3 gin & tonics in a "tall" glass with extra lime. I'd get so wasted that when I got back to work, I'd put my head down on the switchboard & pass out - until the phone rang.


    I was spending my whole paycheck on Friday nights at the bar. I wasn't old enough to drink, but that never stopped me. I knew all the bar tenders, even slept with a few.... but the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak was when I woke up one morning at the crack of dawn, naked, not knowing where I was - on someone's couch, not knowing where my clothes were, where my boyfriend's car was & realizing I was supposed to pick him up & take him to work before I went to work. I had a horrible hang over as well.


    You see, that glimpse of a girl you saw above, the one I used to be & still felt like I was in my heart anyway; had actually checked out earlier than thought. The "being dumped" only triggered the original hurt to emerge, full force again.


    She'd truly abandoned herself during the abortion at 16, the forced abortion that literally took the life out of her, in more than one way. Before that abortion, I'd been more like any other teenage girl, walking down the street with my friends, trying to remember all the words to Don McLean's American Pie & singing Ventura Highway when we couldn't remember the last verse instead.


    That other girl, she just left the stage. She abandoned all hope of ever being normal again. Yet at age 48, I still feel like that girl on a good day. When I dream of myself I'm that girl. No matter what adult life situation I'm in within the dream, when I see myself - I'm her. The girl that felt happy at times, pretty, fresh & while I had my problems... Lord knew I did, I was who I wanted to be. If I had only felt loved by my parents, maybe I wouldn't have ended up in the sandpit, having sex on New Year's Eve & getting pregnant. Maybe that girl wouldn't have abandoned reality like she did.


    The only problem with abandonment seems to be that things are never the same again. There is always this sense of "uncertainty" of the way things might have been. I can feel it for those kids who were totally abandoned by a parent. Mine were physically with me, just mentally somewhere else. That sense of uncertainty though is haunting. There is such a thing as mental abandonment.


    I'm truly trying to integrate that young, pretty, full of life girl back into my personality. She'll not be exactly the same, slightly mature, but still ever so fun loving. I have moments when I can't help myself now & that hasn't happened in years. I've been associating songs to everything I hear. The kids kind of get a kick out of it. Whatever they say, I seem to be able to say, "I know a song that goes something like that!" & I pull the melody & lyrics out of my memory warehouse of songs to sing it.


    When I'm alone I can pull up that girl's essence almost. What I want more than ever is to look like her again. I want to be fit & thin. I want to be able to parade around naked & not be ashamed of myself, which I am now, even if no one is looking. I can't look in a mirror anymore because of the stark contrast between what I look like now & that girl. I always looked so young, now I look "worn out." I look like women who people say, "She looks like she's had a tough life." about. I hate that. It's true, my life has been tough, but once you've abandoned yourself, you're in for a rough ride.


    There's no self esteem for who's been left behind when one abandons oneself. The good girl took it all with her. What's left is a dark, gloomy aura that sinks into the darkness like a thick fog. There's no true joy or elation. There's a big sink hole where your heart used to be. It keeps getting bigger & bigger until your whole persona is an empty space of nothingness. Abandoning oneself is treacherous.


    So how do you get yourself back? How do you even invite that perky little gem back into your present life? How do you even dare to think it could happen? That's where I am now. I found out finally that she checked out & left the stage long ago, I'm present with that, I'm aware now of what happened to my self, long ago, but how do I get her back?


    I'm hoping that as soon as I can get totally honest with myself that she'll notice I've missed her. I'm hoping that as soon as I begin to do the hardest work that I have yet to accomplish, in getting total control of myself & my power back that she'll emerge from where ever she went all those years ago.


    I'm hoping that she'll support me in exercising & eating right. I'm hoping that she'll help me have some fun & feel light hearted again. That's what I'm hoping for, but with abandonment, that "uncertainty" is such a big wall to scale.


    So, I keep plugging. I feel as though I've made progress; huge progress actually. For awhile I was a "fantasy person." Ever feel like that? You make up a persona & you assume that role. I did that for a few years. I couldn't cope with myself any longer, so I was somebody else. The internet was helpful in that venture. It's easy to meet people on the Internet & be anyone you want to be. No one can see you. You're anonymous. I finally fired that persona & even felt sincerely guilty for acquiring her. I made some good friends in that time, but they were friends with someone who didn't really exist. That's so sad for us both. It's especially sad because now I don't have any friends. None; well besides my husband, that is.


    He didn't like that persona at all. So mentally, I have finally come to terms with reality & that's huge progress. I can't even fake a persona now. That's healthy & I'm thankful for it. I've worked hard to come back from it all. My true self (I think most people refer to that as a "false self.") would never be "fake," she's as genuine as anyone can be. I'm still trying, everyday, to make more progress. I'm learning more about myself as I read each article, process the information, reflect & turn inward to see my own truth.


    I'm being truthful with you all & that's progress for me personally. Truth has been important to me for the first time in my life. Ever since I was a little girl, I hated the truth because it always fooled me. I had believed that you weren't supposed to get in trouble when you told the truth, but my mother fooled me with that belief. (That's what you call a "false belief" or a belief that was established in childhood, a belief that you obtained somehow thru your parents.)


    She still punished me harshly after I finally confessed, after I believed her that she wouldn't. I watched her do that to everyone in our family, until I finally gave up on the truth. The truth didn't matter. The truth got you in big trouble. So finding truthfulness in my life as been refreshing & a novel find. I'm even happy about it.


    To all of you who have similar situations, abandoning your true self long ago, living with uncertainty, I associate it with that commercial about anxiety & depression - all those, "what ifs." I wonder if that is the problem with most people today. They've lost themselves & don't realize it. They're in pergetory    . They're wandering in a wilderness, a jungle of empty feelings. It's possible to find yourself again. I'm doing it, but I haven't done it yet. It's just almost exciting that I can see it happening one day instead of only praying for it to happen.



    Your Life : A Mistake Or A Miracle?
    By Ineke Van Lint
    As long you aren't sure about your mission on earth, about the reason WHY you're here, about your main goal in life, you'll feel like a ping-pong ball undergoing the commands of all your subpersonalities.

    We all are a mix of different subpersonalities. These are different aspects of ourselves that take turns expressing themselves and that may at times be contradictory. This split results in a sense of chaos and constitutes the most important hindrance keeping us from finding and implementing our mission.
    All of these subpersonalities are fighting for attention and keep us from focusing on what’s really important.

    We have a lot of subpersonalities, parts of ourselves, that are able to linger around due to a fatal mistake, a wrong idea we have about ourselves and this world.

    This is the main trait of our personality, the central misconception around which all the facets of our personality are orbiting like planets around the sun.
    The fatal mistake, the central misconception is an idea that is fundamentally flawed and that can never lead to the real goal of your life. Just like everybody else, you're battling your central misconception but you’re aiming too high or too low.
    This battle is extremely tiring, it can’t be won and you're being distracted from the goals that matter.

    Take for example somebody with the following central misconception:
    « I always have to do everything by myself ».
    The subpersonalities revolving around this idea could be:
    • the fearful who thinks she won’t be able to manage on her own
    • the accusing blaming everybody else
    • the complaining who goes on and on about how much she has to do in life without any support
    • the eternally fatigued crumbling under a load that is self-imposed
    • the diseased going from doctor to doctor hoping to find some miracle potion and so on.

    When you live in the illusion of being on top of your misconception, all of your “positive” subpersonalities will surface. You feel strong, happy, content, courageous, self-confident and so on.

    But as soon as you’re starting to lose ground to your fatal mistake, all of the “negative” subpersonalities rear their ugly head. You feel down, irritated, aggressive, depressed and so on.

    For most people, this is the very business of their life:

    • to prove that they're right concerning their central misconception.

    They say:

    “I told you I always have to do everything by myself!” and then follows a long list of convincing “proof”.

    Other possible fatal misconceptions:

    • Don’t expect anything and you won’t be disappointed. 
    • I am responsible for everything and I have to make sure everything is under control. 
    • At their core, humans are bad and you always have to be on your guard. 
    • Living is a sad occupation, we are here to suffer. 
    • I will never be good enough, no matter what I do. 
    • I didn’t get the right education, and will always be less than another. 
    • I can’t do thing on my own, I need a husband / wife. 
    • I have to hurry, because there is never enough time. 
    • Nobody loves me. 
    • Nobody cares. 
    • I am worthless. 
    • Life is one big disappointment. 
    • I am not beautiful / handsome / smart enough. 
    • Without a partner I am abnormal. 
    • Without kids of my own I can never be happy. 
    • Life is a drag.

    Here I invite you to write down the main misconception in your life, the fatal mistake around which all revolves. You can discover your main misconception by going back in time to moments of enormous stress, where you felt completely deserted, didn't know what to do anymore, were totally exhausted or raging mad.

    What’s that little sentence that comes up in those extreme moments? It’s always the same little sentence.

    As long as your life is about this idea, you're on the wrong track and you'll only exhaust yourself. This sentence represents a major misconception and it's a big bolder on your personal path.

    This is a very uncomfortable, senseless and sickening way to live.

    To escape from this prison, one needs to change course and focus on what really counts:

    your own personal specific reason of existence!

    Let your life revolve around what it is that you have on offer for this world and not around how sad and unfair life is treating you!

    Be involved in re-discovering your spiritual core, your true nature. This is a way of life that will bring you joy, love, health and satisfaction!

    You need to replace this misconception by another sentence that expresses your true, your Divine Nature, like :

    • “I am a Child of God”
    • “I am already perfect as I am”
    • “There is enough love for me in the world, I feel loved and I can give Love”
    • “Life is wonderful”
    • “I am a Light Person meant to spread Light around me”
    • “I am loved and there is as much help as I need”

    As it becomes clear who you really are and the more you occupy yourself with what really matters, the more the central misconception in your life will lose its hold on you. You're so much more than just a collection of subpersonalities.

    Before you started playing these roles, you were already your own person. You're more capable and brilliant than you think. The truth about yourself is to be emphasized.

    Everytime your misconception pops up in your head (usual under stress, pressure or fear), change it immediately by the truth about yourself!

    source: selfgrowth.com

    Good Anger, Bad Anger, Part 3. Self-Sabotage Leading to Self-Abandonment
    By Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.
    Adrian has many friends and no regular job. He works in intense short bursts for a few days at a time, becoming mentally and physically exhausted. As he recovers he begins to hate the life style he has chosen and becomes motivated to seek a more wholesome existence.
    But within an hour or two of imagining the life he craves for, he acts in a contrary manner. He backs out of plans and commitments that he wanted for himself. He tries to alter arrangements at the last minute knowing that it is unlikely to work.
    That way he can allow himself to feel legitimately aggrieved. Adrian subsequently looses friends and business associates. He feels angry with them for not accommodating him, when he has manipulated it so that they would be unable to meet his constantly shifting schedule. This anger serves only one purpose, that of self-sabotage. By ensuring that others cannot meet his requests, he feels abandoned, and that in turn fuels even more anger.

    Early in life Adrian was not encouraged to explore and fulfill his potential. He was constantly let down. As he grew up Adrian built up a massive reservoir of anger and rage. As an adult he expressed it by turning it inward. His internal voice would say," you think I am not worth anything because you always abandoned me, well, I'll show you exactly how right you are!"
    He lived his life attempting to prove his unworthiness. It was safer to experience the familiar feelings of abandonment than the terror of growing up and being responsible for himself. Clinging on to the rage allowed Adrian to point the finger elsewhere while feeling good himself.

    Each time Adrian goes through the cycle of denying himself the good things in life that he wants, setting it up so he gets disappointed and then feeling let down, he abandons himself.

    In effect he did to himself what his parents did to him. He would really like to be angry with and punish his parents, but instead he punishes himself. That is a double whammy. He got let down as a child, and now he repeats the behavior.

    As an adult Adrian has a choice. That would mean giving up the outrage and fury at being put aside as a child. He has to be the responsible adult that his parents couldn’t be, and give himself permission to go after the good things in life. He has to accept that he is the author of his life story and he can re-write his punishing internal dialogue. Below are some ways he could begin amending the script:

    • Writing out his anger to his parents and reading it aloud

    • Asking himself what the pay off is for setting others up to let him down

    • Appreciating that he is depriving himself of warm relationships and self-respect

    • Awareness that taking out his anger at his parents on himself isn’t satisfying in the long term

    • Realizing that punishing himself now changes nothing in the past, nor will he get reparation for it.

    source: selfgrowth.com
    Copyright Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

    Borderline Personality Disorder (BP): A Profile By Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D. MFCC, CCMHC, NCC
    July 6, 2000

    According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) the essential feature of Borderline Personality Disorder is a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects and marked impulsivity that begins by early adulthood and is present in a variety of contexts".

    Borderline Personality Disorder individuals cannot sustain emotional commitment. They change emotions in midstream and have difficulty holding on to feelings of love. Love turns to indifference, estrangement and perhaps back again to love.

    This dysfunctional cycle has its roots in early childhood. Borderlines lose their love for the parent of the opposite sex when the idealization of that parent breaks down. As a child, the BP experiences the opposite sex parent as being narcissistic, cruel and abusive. The child's love turns to hate and distrust.

    The opposite sex parent falls from the idealized pedestal and crumbles in the BP's eyes and heart. In parental relationships, the BP feels as though he/she has never really possessed mother. Mother is experienced as the one who abandons and is inaccessible as a real person. For the BP, this is experienced as a catastrophic loss and, as a consequence, may ultimately result in a serious depression.

    The Borderline feels eternally alone and abandoned. Intense abandonment fears and inappropriate anger are experienced when they are faced with separation or even an unavoidable change of plans.

    Consequently, when the impaired self is activated due to family frustrations, stress, etc., the BP will lose and withdraw feelings of love for a significant other. They will experience intense abandonment fears and inappropriate anger when faced with the threat of separation (real or unreal) or even an unavoidable change of plans.

    If there has been a death or some other loss, the BP looks to replace the lost nurturance  and sustenance. Hence, borderline patterns of relationships are unstable and intense. If a BP feels that the other person in the relationship does not care enough, they may quickly switch from idealization to devaluation.

    The unspoken expectation of the borderline is for others to "be there" on demand at all times. Temporary commitment, withdrawal and the search for a perfect, all loving, non-exploitive love object is the continuous and dysfunctional emotional cycle of the borderline.

    Many borderlines have a perfectly working, pleasant, alluring, seductive, competent, superman/woman facade and it's sometimes difficult to differentiate which self is being presented.

    However, the BP has an empty core at the center of identity. The feeling of emptiness (DSM-IV) may have its roots in a very early gestational trauma (Hannig, 1981). The embryo's drive to survive depends on the ability to attach itself to mother's body (uterine wall).

    The need to connect is very strong while the failure to connect inutero may lead to emotional and physical disintegration and death (spontaneous abortion). Trauma during gestational attachment creates disordered adults who have difficulty connecting emotionally with other people. In many interactions, the BP is not emotionally present, relating from only pieces or parts of the self.

    Borderlines have a strong and frantic need to control. For them, the loss of control signals the onset of some type of emotional or interpersonal abandonment or breakdown. When borderlines feel the world threatening to cave in, they become involved in external distractions that symbolically provide support, affiliation and the promise of salvation.

    The fear of being controlled by others will make the borderline hypersensitive to a therapist's style and interventions. It's easy to make inadvertent mistakes when relating to borderlines because of their hypersensitivity to parental control.

    Therapeutic Alliance

    To overcome the debilitating aspects of the Borderline Personality Disorder, it's necessary that the missing aspects of the BP's core identity and real self be felt, recovered and integrated into a solid whole.

    However, due to the borderline's hypersensitivity, a therapist's spontaneous feedback may be inhibited for fear of crossing the borderline's diffuse, undifferentiated boundaries. When boundaries are unconscious, sometimes the only way to discover them is by an inadvertent violation.

    If this occurs, it can trigger paranoia and a negative transference towards the therapist. Unfortunately, for both client and therapist, the end result is a "no win" situation with the client generally terminating the therapy prematurely. When such a hypersensitive situation does occur, it's in the best interest of both parties to process their interaction and discover the etiology of the hypersensitivity to control.

    Some Characteristics of BP:

    • A pervasive feeling of worthlessness, emptiness and feeling unfulfilled  

    • Relationships have an on again/off again, destructive and "on the brink" quality. 

    • Fear of ruining primary relationships. The partner of a borderline may react to the BP's emotional chaos with anger and rejection.

    • Borderline's test their partner's level of frustration tolerance and anger. Borderlines can push partners to the limits of their rage and reactivity. 

    • Need for an inordinate amount of assurance and affection to compensate for the heavy rejection experienced internally. 

    • Repetitive cycles of regressive behavioral patterns. The BP may make demands for intimate partners to satisfy a deep need and to alleviate the suffering for a lost, once loved parent. If these demands are excessive, it may cause distance and eventual rejection. 

    • To varying degrees, borderlines are able to be in a relationship while being partially or fully detached emotionally from the partner. 

    • An inability to be assertive in a healthy way. When feeling threatened or anxious, the borderline can become hostile, defensive, accusatory and provocative. 

    • Eventual transfer of negativity onto their mates; i.e., they lose love, withdraw and become aversive to touch and sex. Borderlines may transfer positively to extra marital symbols of unavailability, with the hope for fulfillment. Pathological fantasizing or obsessing may become an escape from depression, accompanied by paranoia about being helpless, immobile and unlovable.

    • There is a love/hate ambivalence toward the opposite sex parent and a feeling of abandonment by the same sex parent. This leads to the deflated quality associated with depression.

    Borderline Personality Disorder is a debilitating and destructive disorder. However, it can be healed. If you or someone you know displays more than half of these behavioral characteristics, please seek qualified professional help.

    source: selfgrowth.com

    Co-dependence & the Dependent Personality Disorder
    By Sam Vaknin
    There is great confusion regarding the terms co-dependent, counter-dependent and dependent. Before we proceed to study the Dependent Personality Disorder in our next article, we would do well to clarify these terms.


    Like dependents (people with the Dependent Personality Disorder), codependents depend on other people for their emotional gratification and the performance of both inconsequential and crucial daily and psychological functions.

    Codependents are needy, demanding, and submissive. They suffer from abandonment anxiety and, to avoid being overwhelmed by it, they cling to others and act immaturely.
    These behaviors are intended to elicit protective responses and to safeguard the "relationship" with their companion or mate upon whom they depend. Codependents appear to be impervious to abuse. No matter how badly mistreated, they remain committed.

    This is where the "co" in "co-dependence" comes into play. By accepting the role of victims, codependents seek to control their abusers and manipulate them. It is a danse macabre in which both members of the dyad collaborate.

    From my book "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited": "Inverted Narcissist

    Also called "covert narcissist," this is a co-dependent who depends exclusively on narcissists (narcissist-co-dependent). If you are living with a narcissist, have a relationship with one, if you are married to one, if you are working with a narcissist, etc. – it does NOT mean that you are an inverted narcissist.

    To "qualify" as an inverted narcissist, you must CRAVE to be in a relationship with a narcissist, regardless of any abuse inflicted on you by him/her. You must ACTIVELY seek relationships with narcissists and ONLY with narcissists, no matter what your (bitter and traumatic) past experience has been.
    You must feel EMPTY and UNHAPPY in relationships with ANY OTHER kind of person. Only then, and if you satisfy the other diagnostic criteria of a Dependent Personality Disorder, can you be safely labeled an 'inverted narcissist'."

    Finally, there is another form of dependence that is so subtle that it eluded detection until very recently.


    Counter-dependents reject and despise authority and often clash with authority figures (parents, boss, the law). Their sense of self-worth and their very self-identity are premised on and derived from (in other words, are dependent on) these acts of bravura and defiance. Counter-dependents are fiercely independent, controlling, self-centered, and aggressive. 

    These behavior patterns are often the result of a deep-seated fear of intimacy. In an intimate relationship, the counter-dependent feels enslaved, ensnared, and captive. Counter-dependents are locked into "approach-avoidance repetition complex" cycles. Hesitant approach is followed by avoidance of commitment. They are "lone wolves" and bad team players.

    From my book "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited":
    "Counter-dependence is a reaction formation. The counter-dependent dreads his own weaknesses. He seeks to overcome them by projecting an image of omnipotence, omniscience, success, self-sufficiency, and superiority.

    Most "classical" (overt) narcissists are counter-dependent. Their emotions and needs are buried under "scar tissue" which had formed, coalesced, and hardened during years of one form of abuse or another. Grandiosity, a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, and overweening haughtiness usually hide gnawing insecurity and a fluctuating sense of self-worth."

    The Dependent Personality Disorder is a much disputed mental health diagnosis.

    We are all dependent to some degree. We all like to be taken care of. When is this need judged to be pathological, compulsive, pervasive, and excessive?
    Clinicians who contributed to the study of this disorder use words such as "craving", "clinging", "stifling" (both the dependent and her partner), and "humiliating", or "submissive". But these are all subjective terms, open to disagreement and differences of opinion.

    Moreover, virtually all cultures encourage dependency to varying degrees. Even in developed countries, many women, the very old, the very young, the sick, the criminal, and the mentally-handicapped are denied personal autonomy and are legally and economically dependent on others (or on the authorities). Thus, the Dependent Personality Disorder is diagnosed only when such behavior does not conform with social or cultural norms.

    Codependents, as they are sometimes known, are possessed with fantastic worries and concerns and are paralyzed by their abandonment anxiety and fear of separation. This inner turmoil renders them indecisive. Even the simplest everyday decision becomes an excruciating ordeal. This is why codependents rarely initiate projects or do things on their own.

    Dependents typically go around eliciting constant and repeated reassurances and advice from a myriad sources. This recurrent solicitation of succor is proof that the codependent seeks to transfer responsibility for his or her life to others, whether they have agreed to assume it or not.

    This recoil and studious avoidance of challenges may give the wrong impression that the Dependent is indolent or insipid. Yet, most Dependents are neither. They are often fired by repressed ambition, energy, and imagination. It is their lack self-confidence that holds them back. They don't trust their own abilities and judgment.

    Absent an inner compass and a realistic assessment of their positive qualities on the one hand and limitations on the other hand, Dependents are forced to rely on crucial input from the outside. Realizing this, their behavior becomes self-negating: they never disagree with meaningful others or criticizes them. They are afraid to lose their support and emotional nurturance.

    Consequently, as I have written in the Open Site Encyclopedia entry on this disorder:

    "The codependent molds himself/herself and bends over backward to cater to the needs of his nearest and dearest and satisfy their every whim, wish, expectation, and demand. Nothing is too unpleasant or unacceptable if it serves to secure the uninterrupted presence of the codependent's family and friends and the emotional sustenance s/he can extract (or extort) from them.

    The codependent does not feel fully alive when alone. S/he feels helpless, threatened, ill-at-ease, and child-like. This acute discomfort drives the codependent to hop from one relationship to another. The sources of nurturance are interchangeable. To the codependent, being with someone, with anyone, no matter whom - is always preferable to solitude."

    Author's Bio

    Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East.

    He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, Global Politician, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.

    Visit Sam's Web site at

    source: selfgrowth.com

    "Old Agreements" from the Book Healing Shame and Addiction
    By Paul Stiles Randak

    I’ve been trying to make clear to you that the only worthwhile course of action, whether for a sorcerer or an average men is to restrict our involvement with self image, we must shatter our mirror of self-reflection.

    -Don Juan Matus

    When we look at the nature of addiction, we are looking at the nature and capacity of human beings to experience freedom and to love. When we speak of healing addiction we are speaking of finding and living through our authentic being.
    Our authentic self is the true quality of who and what we are as spiritual beings. It encompasses our relationship to the universal energy source - known to some as a higher power. Our authentic self has layers of beliefs and illusions that were created to insulate it from freedom.
    The purpose of insulating our authentic self was to make it conform to the Book of Law that we have written with the help of family, church, community, teachers, governments and society. Freedom from addiction exists in the ability to re-write our Book of Law.
    This is a process that will take patience and diligence on our part because we have spent a great deal of time writing our Book of Law and it is going to take a commitment to change it. We learned many of the rules within the Book of Law when we were very young.
    When we were children we heard the adults repeat to us the dream of the world. Telling us that things were this way or that way, frequently we choose to believe the dream of the world that we heard the most. As children we trusted what we were told by the adults in our life without question.
    As children we didn’t have a choice as to what beliefs we were taught. Most of these beliefs were handed down from human to human until someone taught them to us. Each belief we agreed to became part of our Book of Law. Children learn by listening and watching adults.
    Many of us learned to use drugs and alcohol as a way to self medicate from our parents or older siblings. Others learned more from social or peer interaction. We unconditionally adopted this agreement without knowing what we were doing at the time. We were being domesticated as human beings.
    The Book of Law can be understood as the voice of the Judge in our minds. This voice judges everything according to the agreements that we made and published in our Book of Law. We have made hundreds of agreements that do not support the freedom our authentic self seeks to liberate itself from the throws of addiction.
    Using drugs and alcohol has been one way that many have attempted to quiet the Judge’s voice. Others have used work or sex, shopping, greed or food. The outcome is the same. The voice of the Judge never goes away. It may be quieted temporarily; it may be sedated or ignored for a period of time, only to come back louder and stronger, shouting the most destructive agreement that we made with ourselves: we are not good enough to “live life on life’s terms”. By taking ownership of this agreement we became lost in this cycle of shame and addictive behaviors.
    The truth is that we are good enough. We haven’t wanted to acknowledge that we good enough because we have lived our life through a filter system where our innocence and strengths have become distorted. It is easier to lie to ourselves then discover when we became so uncomfortable or depressed in our own skin.
    The payoff for telling so many lies is so that the Judge can remain the ultimate authority. The Judge in our minds is the voice of the agreements that make up our Book of Law. The Toltecs’ call the voices in the mind the Mitote and for our purposes we compare it to a marketplace of chatter, gossip and judgment that run wild in the addict. Those struggling with addiction know only too well the destructive power of this voice. It tells the addict over and over again what a horrible person they are for using drugs, when all along we used drugs to try and quiet the Judge. It is the voice that breeds a restlessness that seems impossible to stop.
    The addict becomes a victim of everyone and everything in their life, especially the voices in their mind. Self-pity drives the voice of addiction. It justifies, rationalizes and minimizes the behaviors of the addict. The victim voice lives in self-pity for the purpose of enabling destructive and distorted behaviors. The Judge continually lies to us by fabricating and justifying even the most abusive behaviors. The Judge will say whatever it can to rationalize the next fix, the next sexual encounter, the next 16-hour workday or the next obsessive exercise workout.
    Our victim voice is so powerful that we will surround ourselves with those people that support the victim agreements. When everyone agrees that we are victims, then we must be. The Judge chooses our acquaintances by their ability to support the victim voice. The Judge will criticize people who disagree with the notion that we are victims. Anyone who tells us the truth about the victim is gone and not allowed to be part of the dream.
    Here is really the basis of what many addicts or those with addictive behaviors have come to understand as the insanity of addiction. We surround ourselves with those that share the very same agreements, we co-habitate with people that believe the same lies and share a similar Book of Law.
    The Law states: that the only way we can survive is to use our drug or behavior of choice to cope with our illusion of reality. Our dream is the one that we currently choose to live in. If you don’t agree with this Law, this judgment, then most likely we will not associate with you for very long.
    We are constantly on the look out for those people that we enable our addictive behaviors. It is not difficult to find someone who will agree that we are better off when we use a mind-altering substance to live life. There are millions of people that know no other way then to self medicate their feelings. They have spent most of their lives sedating the pain that results from the conflict between their “authentic self” and their Book of Law.
    The statement “living life on lives terms” means simply that we live life without our Book of Law, freeing ourselves from the constant prosecution of the Judge. The incessant internal dialogue judges our weight, our height, our success, our failure, our clothes, our hair, our color, our car, our home, our lies and our mind. The battle is not real, it only exists within our minds, but the results are obvious in the destructive behaviors that create a need to constantly self-medicate.
    As the victim we carry the blame, guilt and shame that our Judge punishes us with. Shame is the toxic foundation that addiction is built upon. We have learned to shame ourselves through years of abuse and abandonment of our authentic self. We may have abandoned ourselves as a child and were left feeling wounded. Some of us were emotionally, physically or sexually abuse. Many addicts were simply abused through neglect.
    I’ve observed over the years as a substance abuse counselor that there is a one common thread that all addicts and co-dependents share; that their shame and guilt is built on beliefs and agreements they made and put into their Book of Law when they were children. Many addicts may have abused in their past- abandoned by a parent, a friend, or a partner.
    These episodes of abandonment only give fuel to the guilt and shame that strengthen the agreement that we are not worthy of love. This is the big lie that most addicts share; that on some level they are not lovable. The power of this lie permeates everything that the addict does and distorts their world dream until they develop a complete set of behaviors that isolates them from everything and almost everyone. The only people that the addict allows close are those that keep this agreement alive and intact. We have become a society where millions of people have become the walking wounded - awake in the nightmare of abandonment of the authentic self.

    Healing is a choice.

    Peace be with you.

    Author's Bio
    Paul Stiles Randak is currently working on a degree in Social Work at the University of Utah Graduate School of Social Work. Paul works as a substance abuse counselor in Salt Lake City area where he resides with his partner Kristen and their children. Paul is a licensed massage therapist and takes a holistic approach to recovery and healing addiction. You can contact paul@spagyric.org

    source: selfgrowth.com

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