“Awareness, Authenticity & Accountability”
Since the workshop “Awareness, Authenticity & Accountability” with Nancy Verrier, I’ve been wondering who I am – who is my authentic self – can I find her? Am I brave enough to find her? What is the coping me? Is that the me everyone sees?
I know that I am a wife and a mother. I know that in the past 2 years the role of wife has become more clear to me than it ever was in the previous 31 years. With my husband’s illness – being a wife, being his wife has been learning about what and who is important, and healthy for both of us.
I also know that I was a daughter, to two women. I don’t think that either of them had the authentic daughter, nor did I have the authentic mum. Adoption robbed all of us of the ability to be we really are, it robbed us of being our own true personality. That statement may not be totally true for all three of us. I know it robbed me of my own true personality, or the ability to let my own true personality to come out. I think that in the case of my mothers, they had their own experiences/trauma, which took their authentic selves away and left them or all of us full of coping mechanisms that hindered our real personalities from being able to surface.
Nancy Verrier said that adoptees are full of coping mechanisms, we have no reference point for who we were before, so we have learned to cope – to be who we need to be. I believe our natural/birth mothers have had to do the same – they have also become full of coping mechanisms in order to survive the loss of their children.
If our response to a situation is over the top – perhaps the feeling is triggered by our past experience, and we need to learn to STOP and THINK – is this really about the present situation?
Nancy Verrier asked “What belief is bothering us/me? I wrote down “that I don’t matter.” Her next question was “What memory created that? Who am I and how did that belief get there? Is it the truth or is it ‘A’ truth?” She said to challenge that belief and give it a different meaning.
That’s hard to do, on a surface level. On a surface level that wouldn’t have been my response “that I don’t matter”, on a surface thinking level I wouldn’t go there…………ahhhhhhhhh, for surface thinking…….. So to give that belief a new meaning, takes a lot of work. Work that Nancy continued to suggest that we do as the workshop continued. She suggested that who we are gets stuffed, our personality and behaviors become entwined and we learn to cope.
There are ways we can find ourselves, by using simple questions to start. These questions aren’t really so easy though if we take the time to answer from our real being and not the self that we have been playing. The first questions appear to be so easy……or are they? What is your favorite ice cream…..What is your favorite color……….What is your favorite color to wear? Yes they do appear to be easy, and it was fun when we went out for dinner on Saturday evening to listen as each of us were ordering, how many of us changed our minds as the next person ordered…..as if what we had ordered was wrong. Interesting. What Nancy was saying is that it helps to find ourselves if we can answer these questions without thought, because we know that they are the true answers from our being, and not from our coping selves. Of course there are some questions, such as ones about politics or religion that we don’t necessarily need to vocalize, what we do need to know is our opinions for ourselves. Who am I – it does matter. We need to be able to write down our strengths and weaknesses.
On our adoption journey we hopefully can, at some point, get to a place where we are okay with what is. It may not be where or what we wanted, maybe it will be a place where we can say, “I am okay.” Maybe not happy, but maybe okay and content knowing that I did all that I could, a place that I can live with.
This journey can also help us learn that we don’t all have to agree, we don’t have to rely on others agreeing with us. Those that don’t agree aren’t trying to control us. They may be making suggestions that we need to listen to, suggestions of support. It’s okay to agree to disagree.
There is a fear of change. “Different versus wrong.” Change may seem wrong or scary because it involves taking a risk. However with baby steps it may not seem so scary, we can make a flip in the words and think it’s different, not wrong. If something feels wrong, is it? Or, is it just different?
“How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
- Nancy Kato
This is how we have to work on making the changes that we need to…….one baby step, or one bite, at a time.
Perhaps what is most necessary, is that we modify our expectations as we work to finding out who we are. I suppose as we work on finding out who we are, it becomes easier to modify our expectations as we become more comfortable with ourselves. This is a journey where we learn to compromise and better communicate our expectations.
Being aware of our authentic selves helps us to be who we really are, and accountable for the empathy and compassion that we all deserve on this journey called adoption.