A Long Time Going - Part 1 : The Arrivals
I could see a glistening of sadness in my friends eye as I parted company after my goodbye dinner tonight. In that moment the reality of how my world was changing sank down into my heart. All these months of preparing and organizing, The plan remained just that, a plan in my mind. Yet, here now, 3 weeks to go before I leave this place that has been home, the weight of memory flooded over the realm of reason and took hold in the space of endless emotions.
When I arrived here ten years ago, I had romantic notions and unrealistic dreams. I was so naive. The wall of shock, cultural and otherwise hit almost right away. When I had moved to Japan in years past, I had prepared myself for all the change. I knew and read about how different everything would be. I expected it to be foreign. I never expected or prepared for that in moving to Ireland. My mind had notions of a mythical wonderful emerald isle where men were honourable and magic could happen. Either, I had been told a bunch of malarkey from times of yore or I was blinded by my own fantasies.
You see, I had for some years joked about my dream man “Liam” with his thick Irish brogue sweeping me off my feet and whisking me away to Ireland where I would live a life of passion and adventure. When it looked to be manifesting into reality I was certain that all my dreams were coming true. Although, I think perhaps, in retrospect, I should have been a tad more specific in my desires.
It was the summer of ’99. I wore a little stretch cotton black and white dress with no make-up. I was off to meet up with a man from work for a pint or 10 on the Danforth in Toronto. As we crossed the street to go into an Irish bar I noticed immediately the two guys walking up the street. There heads almost shaved, not a typical style for a Canadian man and something different in their manor. We got to the door practically at the same time. One of them stopped and held the door open for me. I was totally taken. I went down the back of the bar with my friend from work but couldn’t keep my eyes off of the man that had held the door for me. He wore a black T-shirt with “The Towers Restaurant” written in white on the front with a shadowed design of a turreted round building. I went up to the bar next to him and ordered a drink. I smiled and said hi. Now, I haven’t a clue where this came from as it seemed to flow as smooth as ever (which wasn’t my usual mode). “Do you know me?” He asked. “No, but, I am going to” I replied. And there it began. He wasn’t named Liam but, he was to be mine.
It was love at first sight. The smiling Irish eyes. The bounce in his step. As well as, of course, the Irish accent. It was a whirlwind. Within days I asked him to move in. What was the point of spending money on a dingy room downtown when he slept here anyway? Within weeks he told me he loved me and wanted me to come to Ireland with him. I was in Heaven. Apparently, I should have read the sign a little clearer because it read “Welcome to Delusion.” Heaven was another million miles up the road, just through The Valley of Hell. Retrospect is a wonderful thing isn’t it? You can’t see my slight sneer, but it’s there. Right so, love it was. I was picking out the shade of white for my picket fence. Everything, I owned was being sold. I was going to Ireland. I was going to live happily ever after. Fairy tales are real, aren’t they?
Just over two months and I was sent to fly off and meet my “Irish Braveheart”. I discovered I was pregnant. Now, don’t tut tut. I was 27. I was in love. I was delighted. So was he. That’s what he said. “Thats brilliant” he said. I ignored the long pause and the “Oh god” before that. I believe they call that selective hearing. He had returned to Ireland a couple of weeks before me to get us an apartment. When I finally arrived in Dublin Airport I was excited and tired. I made my way to Heuston Station and across country on the train all on my own, luggage and fetus in tow. I had no way of knowing what was awaiting me but boy oh boy, they so need to add a chapter in Lonely Planet’s Guide to Ireland.
Do you know how when you pour vinegar into milk it sours? Well, the universe was about to rain a whole lot of vinegar down on my honey and milk dreams and teach me some hard life lessons. Here I was pregnant in a new land and totally unprepared to deal with the effect of change that would all create. I had always been the party girl. Out and about, having a laugh with my friends and having flirty fun with my fella. Now, If you’ve ever been pregnant, you now that your body changes. I don’t just mean the obvious, I mean the smell of beer and cigarettes would send you gagging. The last place on earth I wanted to be was in a smelly smoky pub. Night after night, I would be alone in our room in a flat shared by his sister while he was down at the pub after college or work. He told me “we weren’t in Canada any more and I needed to learn be like the Irish girls. They didn’t complain about going to a pub when they were pregnant.” Never-mind the fact I wasn’t an Irish girl and I did have a huge problem with the concept of drinking while pregnant. I had studied the effects of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in college and I didn’t want that for my child. So, I could either stay home cold and alone or drag myself down to the pub to feel like a pleb sitting there feeling completely like a fish out of water.
It seemed like overnight I had gone from lofty dreams to a haunting nightmare. The pregnancy was fraught with problems within the first trimester. The morning sickness was so bad I had to be hospitalized for dehydration. My relationship was disintegrating before my very eyes and I was alone and terrified. He had proposed to me which kept me holding on but we weren’t to tell anyone as the news of the baby was still so fresh and he wanted to get me a ring first. I was so trusting. We got our own place. That didn’t help. Every night after work he went to the pub. That was standard here. My day consisted of getting sick, tidying house, going to the shop and cooking a meal that he would undoubtedly be late for. I had tried to work in a local pub but as soon as the news I was pregnant got out it was short lived. Weekends were worse. He got paid at the pub from his boss. One pint was never one pint. Sure he’d come home and shower and change and eat my reheated dinner and then it’d be back to the pub to meet with the lads. Three a.m. turned into five a.m., which would eventually lead to god knows what hour in the morning. You see in Ireland they have lock ins. It’s all who you know but a lock in is very possible if you are a local and especially if one of your sisters happens to be having a fling with a local hotelier.
They say that baby’s hear music and feel everything. I am convinced my son would have thought sobbing was his nightly lullaby. I was in and out of hospital. I can remember one morning the cramps were horrific. I would have only been somewhere in my second trimester. I was so scared. He was no where to be found and unreachable. I didn’t want to disturb anyone else in his family so I waited through the night curled in agony until 6:45 a.m. When I finally called one of his sisters to take me into hospital. He showed up finally at 2:30 in the afternoon. Tears flowed from his eyes as he apologized over and over. “It’s Ireland” he said. “As soon as I’m done college we’ll go back to Canada” he promised. I believed him. Why? Because I so desperately wanted to.
Nothing changed until I couldn’t take it anymore. I packed up his things and he moved in with his mother. I wasn’t breaking it off, I just couldn’t handle the stink of beer and curry chips weighing on top of my already sleepless nights. I wanted him to get it out of his system and then when the baby finally arrived I hoped he’d see sense and come home and be the father I so desperately wanted for my son and be the husband I longed for. Needless to say, that did not happen. Two weeks before I gave birth, he was sleeping at mine for the night after a night out. I tried to cuddle into him but felt nothing but a cold emptiness beside me. I needed to feel the love fill this void but it didn’t. Instead he ended the relationship with a swift and final blow. “I love you, I just don’t love you enough. If I loved you enough, I would want to leave the pub but I don’t.” And just like that, it was over. Well, that is except for the giant belly reminding me that I am no longer free to just walk out the door. Where would I have gone any way? I was alone. I was in a foreign country. I was too pregnant to fly. I was a wreck. This couldn’t be happening. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This wasn’t my dream.
That morning he drove me down to his mothers house. He didn’t think I should be left alone in this emotional state. How kind of him. I sat in the back garden on a chair watching a collection of his sisters thin beautiful bodies outstretched and tanning themselves in the spring sun. There were 10 in the family, 8 girls. They chatted and laughed, not knowing any of the loss I just went through. I looked down at my now ruined body and the tears began to flow again. They didn’t stop. Never in my life and hopefully never again will I cry like that. It was a steady stream. Like two taps opened and try as hard as I could it wouldn’t stop. I begged his mother to drive me back to my flat as I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want people seeing me like this. I didn’t want HIS people seeing me like this. She reluctantly drove me back to my flat and made me a cup of tea. I don’t know when the tears stopped. I don’t even know how many days passed on autopilot. I fed myself and went for walks but I was not there. My heart was shattered and I was lost.
Those two weeks before my son arrived I was in a permanent state of shock. Trying to formulate any plan or any answers was near impossible. I called to Canada almost nightly. I emailed my best friend daily. I probably uttered the same phrase a million and one times, “What am I going to do?”. No answers came. What could I do? I was stuck where I was and I could only hope for a miracle that my son would wake his father up. For 37 hours I was in labour. To be honest, I don’t know which was worse the physical pain of contractions or sitting beside a man that had just torn my heart to shreds. I had pictured this moment holding my partners hand and being fed ice chips like in the movies. I pictured him rubbing my belly and talking to the baby. Life isn’t like the movies. There was no holding hands. There was no ice chips. There was no belly rubbing. There was him there beside me cold and shut off. I looked into his eyes and silently pleaded him to return to the man I knew and loved in Canada, but he looked away.
The day my son was born was one of the saddest days in my life. My heartbreak overwhelmed the joy of seeing my son for the first time. I held him in my arms and I hated myself for failing him. He had been conceived in love but here in only 9 months he was born into anguish. I had so wanted to give him the start to life I had not had. I wanted him to know his parents. I wanted him to have family. I wanted him to have community. I wanted him to know his history. I wanted him to grow up without the big hole in his soul that I had carried with me always. I looked down at him and held his little foot in my hand and with tears in my eyes I whispered, “I am so sorry.”
A Long Time Going - Part 2: In Search of the Belly Button
Before I can go forward I need to go back. Back to the time when a piece of me went missing. Somewhere right in the center of me there grew a void. It started long before my memory can go back to. I was born. Nothing strange about that. My mother was still a teenager who was “overwhelmed by her circumstances” or so the adoption records read. They are the strangest records you could read. They go through the facts in such a matter of fact way you would think the writer was writing about the process of continental shift in a geography text book, not telling the story of a little girl in and out of foster care, surrounded by alcoholism, drug abuse, violence, and god only knows what other nasty things. It reminds me of the line “just the facts ma’am” and there they are in black and white. The facts of my people. The facts of my history. The facts of my background. All squeezed together onto 4 pages. A blurb here and a blurb there on “Birth Mother”, “Birth Father”, “Relations”, and background info.
“Our records show that you were born on the 6th of December 1972 after 24 hours of labour with a birth weight of 6 lbs 11oz.” It begins and then goes on to give me dates and details of my first 3 years of life. It talks of moving here and there, temporary placements, foster care, back and forth to relations, marriages, untimely deaths, and forced absences. It talks about what colour hair and eyes my relations had and their schooling. It talks about how my mother liked Volleyball and my Aunt could sew. Then it jumps into severe drinking problems, physical abuse, drug addiction, and worse. There is the ticker tape news real of my first few years. CAS out did themselves with this report.
What you have to realize is, I didn’t even get this report until sometime in my twenties, You see Canada Legislation held that all adoption info was to be sealed to protect all concerned. How exactly withholding information protects any one, I have yet to figure out. Luckily the CAS, has changed their view now and agrees that it is psychologically damaging to children remain in the dark. I believe all children have a right to truth. They have a right to know their history. That is the tie to the past that links you not just to your family but to all humanity. Without it you are free floating unconnected and confused. That is where the hole in the center of me came from. The cord that was supposed to be was no longer there. I was no longer tied in
I heard it best described by an elder at an Elders conference in Sault Ste. Marie back when I was in College. He talked of the tradition of when a baby was born the belly button that fell off was to be buried in the back yard. This way, the person always knew where their cord to their people was. He talked of how everyone now was so confused in life and looking for answers in all the wrong places because they were all just looking for their belly buttons. Humourous, yes. Yet, quite profound like most Native wisdom.
So here it was, now a mother myself with all the memory of my 27 years wondering, questioning, unsure of who I was, where I came from, or where I was going. All I knew, is that my son was the greatest blessing ever entrusted to me and I had to do everything in my power to make sure my son always knew where his belly button was.
I would not give up hope. I had to fight for his right for family, history, and wholeness. My son became my everything. I loved the midnight feeds, I loved holding him in my arms. I loved talking to him and singing to him. I loved his beautiful blue eyes and his tiny little body. I had painted up a colourful cot for him to sleep in but I couldn’t bare him being even 5 feet away. From day one, he slept snuggled in beside me. Every night I would hold on to his little foot as if to stop him from floating off into the place of lost children that I had been so many times before. It’s kinda funny, my friends often joke I’m away in dream land, maybe that's because I was never grounded by my history.
I took to being a mother very quickly which was amazing considering I never would have described myself much as a baby or children person. But, I suppose when it’s your own and when he’s the only family you have near to you with everyone else an ocean away, you bond big time.
Now before you go thinking I have no parents what so ever. I was adopted and raised in Toronto with one older brother who had also been adopted. My parents came over to Ireland when my son was born. It was during that week that I set about making myself try to look as much like a young beautiful woman again. I went out and got my hair done as I had remembered it was advised not to colour your hair while pregnant from a job I had as a receptionist in a hair salon. My son and I were going out to a dinner party at his fathers boss’s place so he could be shown off to all his friends. I was nervous and excited to get back to looking attractive again and hoped this was a good sign.
The first disappointment came when I tried to get my jeans on. When I say I was big when I was pregnant, I mean I was large enough to shade a small African village. Why I thought I’d have a baby and then be able to get back into my size 8 jeans in three days is beyond me. I slid off the corner of the bed and started to cry again as how was I ever going to win my son’s father back with this boob dripping, big butt, post baby body? I had to pull myself together. I reapplied the make up and I plastered the smile that said everything was okay on my face and out the door I went on a mission to prove I could be the fun party girl that first attracted his father and make my family whole again.
The problem was I wasn’t that girl.
We arrived all together. I didn’t drive so he had collected us. We walked into the quaint little cottage out in the countryside all together. If you had seen us you would have thought what a lovely little family. You would have seen me playing my part. Smile on my face. Holding all of my nerves in, praying with everything in me that this was real. The room was so heavily filled with smoke and as the evening progressed and the noise level increased I was so worried about my baby all tiny and new. I desperately wanted to be one of the gang but my baby needed me to be mother. I brought him out to a bedroom away from everyone and that’s where I stayed the remainder of the evening.
His dad came in and checked on us regularly. In fact, most of the night he was there. Playing with his new son, smiling, and looking happy. It was almost a happy moment if it weren’t for the fact it wasn’t real. I mean sure he was happy he had his son near but that changed nothing in my heartache. I took a deep breathe and asked “ will you come back home now?” He said, “No.” That night I didn’t cry, I wailed.
When I got up in the morning I looked like I had been in the ring with Mike Tyson. My face swollen and red patches. I didn’t bother trying to do anything to make myself presentable. At some point in the day I was caught in a photo that my father was trying to take of my son. I still have that photo to this day as a reminder to me of what is pain. I would have done anything to give my son family but my over sized body, and my not able to be the girl I used to be failed me. That is what I believed. I believed if only I could be thinner. If only I could be more fun. If only I could be Irish.
A Long Time Going - Part 3: The Habit of Holding On
This isn’t the first time I packed my bags with intent to leave. When my son was two months old I was still very much bewildered of where I should go or what I should do. My heart wanted something it couldn’t have, my mind seemed incapable of knowing what it wanted. My pride wanted me to take some sort of action of self protection, and my financial position left me totally at the hands of others.
I do have to say, the Irish system takes care of single mothers. It’s a chicken or egg scenario. I don’t know if there are so many single mothers because they know they will be set up with Rental Allowance and Lone Parents allowance or if the system was created because there were so many single mothers. I mean, it is unreal. At least from my perspective, coming from Toronto, where teenage pregnancy was very much looked down on and even being a single mom seemed to carry a degree of stigma attached to it. Here it was common place. Teenagers having kids, single mom’s, dead beat dads, non existent dads. You name it, I have heard some shocking tales. So really it is all a matter of what you compare yourself to.
I have discussed this often with other single moms here. Maybe it’s the Catholic church and the limited sex education in the school systems. Maybe it is the no abortion laws. Maybe its just become so common place that people don’t even bat an eye at the issue anymore. It is what it is. The government provided for this. Financially, I could provide for my child and be home to raise him. In actuality, to try to get out of the home is near impossible because the cost of child care exceeds the income you are provided with. It was a bit of a trap. A trap, I saw lots of women stuck in.
Those that did manage to escape from the trap usually did so through tweaking or outright scamming the system. There were girls that said they were single when they cohabited with the babies father. There were girls that worked under the table. There were girls that had family to mind the kids when they went off to work. Any way you look at it, they knew how the system worked and they knew how to use it. I even knew one girl once that was not only living with her babies father and claiming Lone Parents and Rent Allowance but she was working full time under the table at his restaurant and was paying a private Au pair. Mad crazy world.
As for me, I knew being a foreigner, I had best play by the books. In a small town in the west of Ireland, it is not what you know, it is who you know, and I knew no one. I lived in an old monastery, that I was convinced was haunted. I mean if you saw the place it’d totally give you the creeps. It had been separated into flats and it was cold cold cold. Now I know I am Canadian, and I should be well able to handle cold weather but there is a difference. Canada is a dry cold. You put on your winter clothes and you can handle it. I’ve been in -45º with wind chill when I lived in Sault Ste Marie but that is nothing to the cold you feel that seeps into your bones from the damp in an old breezy flat in the west of Ireland. Brrr.
That had been my home and now that my son was able to go on an airplane I was taking him back home to Canada. I had left instructions with one wonderful American Woman who had befriended me that I may send for me things. She and her daughter, who only a little younger than myself became my only connection to anything that made sense to me. In a state on continual confusion they were two beacons of light.
My son’s father had driven us to Dublin Airport and hugged us both goodbye. That single moment of physical contact was near electric for me yet at the same time like a volt of torture. Why wouldn’t he fight for us? Would he miss us? Would he miss me? I kept it all in and said my goodbyes as I boarded the plane to go home. My tiny baby in my arms, I held him in my lap the entire flight. You don’t think about things like that when you don’t have kids. My arms kept my bundle close to my chest for 7 straight hours and then for another 3 once we got to Pearson International as they lost my pram. If you want to see a woman on the verge of a breakdown go to the lost desk at an airport and look for the exhausted woman holding her baby and rocking from foot to foot in a panic.
Being home was good. I still felt so lost, unsure and confused, but I was in my place. I was safe. As it was summer now, I was up at the family cottage, north of Peterborough in the Kawarthas. A slice of Heaven by my standards. At my cottage I could breathe. I could just be. Then, came the dreaded question “What are you going to do?” and “If you are going to book your return ticket, you would want to do it soon.”
Book my return ticket? I just got home. I don't want to go back. I don’t want to think about going back. I don’t wasn't to think about anything except loving my son. There were very logical discussions about how financially I would be better off there. How his father had contacted them recommending I return as it was the only way things would be put right, and how I made these choices and now I had to live with the consequences. It felt like the choice was being made for me. The phone rang every 3 days. He missed us. Right so, I guess I will go back. Maybe it’ll be put right. He wasn’t saying much but he was saying that much. Isn’t that what I wanted? A seed of hope. My parents seemed to think I should go back. His father wanted me to go back. Maybe my wanting to stay here was selfish. I mean, I need to do what ever I can to make sure I can say I tried everything. I need to give my son his father. I need to be responsible.
I was back a week. Nothing had really changed. We were still in the routine of pretending to play happy families. I would spend all day with my son, his dad would arrive for dinner or after dinner depending. He would put the telly on and hold his son while I went and had a bath or cleaned up. It was always awkward and uncomfortable. There were things that were never said. I waited for that moment when everything was going to be made right but it never came. All that came was a constant tightness in my chest as I held on to my love, my pain, my desperation for release. He was a loving father and cuddled with his child. We were in the business of raising a child. There was no place for my love. So all I could do was hold it in.
A young girl, I had become friendly with who had had her baby, practically at the same time as I had mine had called over for a cup of tea and a chat. I put my son down in the car seat I used as a chair for him and went over to put the kettle on. She was bubbly and chatty.
“I can’t believe how well you are dealing with all of this.” She said eyes wide and smiling at me.
“All of what?” I replied sensing she was not referring to the cold routine of emotionless living that had become my life.
“Oh, my god, you don’t know” She said with almost a fervor. It was odd because I can recall there was a slight delight in her being the one to tell the news. It wasn’t until years later that I realized what a vile little gossip she actually was, and understood how this moment was almost a fix of pure pleasure, that she would be able to revel in time and time again, as she spread the story.
“HE is back with his ex and has been the entire time you have been gone!”
It’s a good thing I didn’t have my son in my arms because my strong body drained of all energy. My knees buckled and I hit the floor.
How could I have been so stupid? Why did I come back? Enter my old friends: Self Loathing, Despair, and Depression. The problem was I was breast feeding and I couldn’t resort to going on antidepressants. There was no relief or way out now. I was stuck. My son kept me going day in and day out. I tried the best I could to keep up appearances. I don’t know how well I really did at making it appear all fine. Everything was a performance. When he was over daily, it was the performance of family. When I managed to go out out with my friends, it was a performance of happy, but I don’t think it was a good one. Fridays became my night out and all I wanted was to drink the pain away. I was stuck in an endless circle like a record skipping. The same emotions would rotate. I just couldn’t let go.
I’m sure, you are thinking how could she hold on to loving a man that clearly did not love her? The answer is, I don’t know. The record would turn and it would skip right back to the beginning of the loop. I’d chase him. I’d get hurt. I just kept going back for more. At this point you can see there is something fundamentally wrong with this pattern, but for me at the time, I was blind. I was blind by a dream that had long ago withered and died. I stayed replaying over and over in my mind what I could have done differently and then I’d try that. I’d like to say I learned quickly but I didn’t. It wasn’t about letting go of love it was about letting go of family and I just couldn’t do it. So months turned to years and still the record played and skipped.
A Long Time Going - Part 4: The Begining of the End
If the purpose of this story was to paint a picture of heart ache and pain, I could go on to tell you countless examples of terrible occurrences. I could tell you about the time I took the three of us on a trip to Belfast for the weekend in hope of restoring my dream of family, only to be told he’d wish he’d never met me. I could tell you of the time his girlfriend crashed our sons Baptismal party, I had planned, even though I wasn’t Catholic, and he left in temper and I bought her a drink to save face. I could tell you about the dirty looks she would throw my way and the conflict she created between me and the extended family. I could tell you about being uninvited from family functions because “it was only for family and friends” (excluding mothers of family members apparently). I could tell you about the limited finances I had to live on and the feeling of being trapped, alone and afraid.
I imagine that alone gives you a clear enough picture, but this isn’t a story about heart break and pain. This is a story of survival and faith. This isn’t a black and white story meant to depict me as some endless victim of maltreatment. This is about my journey from believing myself not to deserve any better and allowing, to finding freedom through my own personal power. This is about me taking responsibility for the situation I was in.
Time seem to pass without any real change or direction. The record stayed spinning for a very long time. I tried my best to blend with the community even though it remained clear I was an outsider or a “blow in”. I had people I called friends. I dated men and even had some boyfriends. I worked and raised my son. It was a life. I had made my bed and now I was laying in it. This was it. Or was it? I had been put back on antidepressants when my son had stopped breast feeding. Days turned to years and the bleak cloud of numb confusion resided with me always. When my son was gone, I hit the pubs with vigour almost as if to prove that I was still fun. He told me once, he left because I was no longer fun and I believed that. I believed I had to try even harder to prove I was the best craic* in the place. The sexy clothes returned and I tried to prove I was desirable. The problem with trying to prove something to someone else is clearly you don’t believe it yourself.
I left myself wide open to be hurt. I became a magnet to people who were emotional vampires sucking me dry of confidence and trust. I might as well have stood there with my front door open and said, hey come use and abuse, because I have no self worth and a desperation to be loved. I am gullible, and foolish. I am a dreamer and a good soul come feed off me. I had friends gossip about me, stab me in the back, and betray my trust and I stood there wide eyed, confused and took it. You see the catch 22 with not loving yourself, is no one else will do it for you.
One night, after I removed yet another knife from my back thrown from a supposed friend, I picked up my journal and started writing. I wrote with a fervour and I just kept on tearing though pages in scrawling writing as tears streamed down my face. I couldn’t take it anymore. Why was life like this? Why was I like this? I needed to know. I needed to understand. How far back did this programing go? My whole life I struggled with relationships. Here is was over thirty and I was still struggling. I had to make it stop. I had to understand from a logical perspective so I could break this record. I realized the skipping song was not just this part of my life, is was my WHOLE life. Playing repeatedly until I would finally listen. Not listen to the tragedy of the melody, but listen to the lesson of the beat. If the melody is the external circumstances or story you believe is your life then the beat is the sound that lives within you. I wouldn’t realize until later, change the beat and the melody is forced to adapt to a new rhythm. I could barely hear it, but in the distance it was there. Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom! I wrote until 6 am and crawled into bed exhausted.
Now, what happened next, is no lie or exaggeration. As I lay there drained emotion I heard an exceptionally loud CRACK. It made me my heart jump and skip a beat. I thought perhaps someone had thrown a rock at my window but there was no one outside. I sat and looked up and down the street, the morning sky began to brighten and I saw no one. The world was still. Taking a breath, I went to sleep. A couple of hours later, I arose to discover the cause of the crack. Above my kitchen table was a large mirror and there in the center of it from top to bottom was a large crack splitting the mirror in two. When I looked at myself in the reflection I saw not one of me, but two, staring back at me. I was mesmerized by the very discernible sign that I was no longer one but two. The victim and the empowered. The story and the free. The ego and the spirit. I would not understand the implications of this split for some time, but I did know I no longer needed to be that person that believed the negative programs and tapes I heard in my head. I could choose to walk away and leave them there in the other half of the mirror. I could choose to focus on this other image of me, the image of me that was at a soul level; free. So began the disassociation of self.
I don’t want you to think from that moment on, everything miraculously changed and I can finish the story with “and she lived happily ever after”. This isn’t the end of my story. This is only the beginning.
I began a phase of social culling. I took a long hard look at the people I was allowing to influence me and saw the toxicity I was willingly accepting. I told a good few people to “fuck off” I am sorry if the profanity offends, but in times like these, it works. I wasn’t going to be a doormat any more! Some people were easier to let go of then others. In fact, when it came to the ones closest to the situation it was difficult to break completely from them as cords connected through children are trickier to sever. I started with the weaker bonds. I began constructing personal boundaries. Boundaries like self respect.
As I watched people responding horrified that I should dare stand up for myself. I felt a small twang of guilt. Self defence, was not something I was used to. My resources had in years past gone into appeasement and now here I was taking my sword of dignity and slashing ties left and right. It is not easy to walk away, let go, and say goodbye. If you want to get unstuck you have to detach yourself from the ties that bind you.
When learning to communicate and stand up for myself, I didn’t always do a great job of it. Sometimes my words came out to harshly. I had to learn the right degree of defence before it turns into an offence. People would have always described me as assertive but when it came to protecting me, I bounced between passive and aggressive without any control. Kinda like wild horses pulling a runaway carriage. The lesson of effective communication would take time to break in and tame. It is a lesson, I still struggle with from time to time. It is also a lesson I am repeatedly tested on, but I am fine tuning now.
My new me was beginning to form. Lessons of self protection, boundaries, communication, and letting go began to transform that person I no longer was. It was scary. Change always is. It was empowering. I look back at this time as the beginning of the cocooning process. The journey to discover what was inside that cocoon had yet to begin. I felt in me a courage like a soft spring breeze not yet able for the necessary thunderstorms of the summer, but ever present and warming the cold landscape of the winters past.
*Craic = is a Gaelic word, with no exact English translation. The closest you get is “fun.”
A Long Time Going - Part 5: One Step at a Time
My personal universe had begun a cycle of contraction. My world continued to get smaller and the landscape of the west of Ireland held me bound. I fought against what felt like rising quick sand holding me captive not understanding the blessing of what was occurring. I have read for some the dark night of the soul can occur rapidly and for others it can take a while. For me, it took a long while but the timing of each step was perfectly synchronized.
In my cocoon, I began to look within. My continual war with depression became top priority and I set about arming myself with the knowledge needed to tackle it once and for all. I wasn’t satisfied with living a life numbed by antidepressants. I knew there had to be joy somewhere and I wanted to find it. I read everything I could about the medications I was being prescribed with little to no follow up or counseling. I read case studies of countless others struggling with the never ending cycle of depression. I reread Caroline Myss’s Anatomy of the Spirit so many times that my copy became dog-eared, highlighted, and written in more times than any other book I had turned to. Over time, her words became more than words and new beliefs and understandings began to form. This book became a bible to me as it offered a new level of truth and awareness that made sense to me. Concepts of honour and loyalty, compassion and love, spirit and holistic health became more than concepts, they became practices. I learned for the first time that to honour others begins first with honouring myself. Understanding the mind, body, spirit connection and life’s lessons became imprinted and finally I had some real tools to work with to make drastic and lasting change. I have never met Caroline Myss, but if I ever did I would thank her for changing my reality.
I had made the decision to go off of all medications and in a phase of learning to live life without the padding of antidepressants I hit a break through. You have to understand that, I strongly believe that antidepressants act like a soft bandage to a deep festering wound. While on the surface layer it appears to keep the problem at bay and minimize the symptoms, at the deeper layer the infected dis-ease is never cleared out. Antidepressants make your life livable and because of that, there isn’t the drive to get to the root cause of the problem. Suffering is an excellent motivator. It motivates you to seek an end to suffering. If you numb the suffering, you numb the motivation. No one wants to suffer but if we can somehow learn to face the suffering and really hear what the message it is trying to tell us, then we have found the potentiality for actual freedom from that suffering.
For me, that moment came in the middle of the night with darkness surrounding me as I sat alone in my living room. It is always in the silence of the middle of the night that the distractions of the day disappear and whatever it is you are avoiding finds you. My mind was on overdrive. I knew exactly what was happening. I was slipping. I could feel myself going to that place where misery and suffering took over. I heard the voices what I called my demons getting louder. Now when, I say voices and demons, I am not talking about little horned devils running around outside of me I am talking of those negative thought patterns telling me I was useless, foolish, and a failure. I didn’t have the antidepressants now to quieten the voices. I didn’t have someone to call to distract me as it was 3 am. I was alone. I was scared. I was compelled to resist but then something happened.
I decided not to fight. I had tried all these years to fight against it and had not succeeded in finding peace so I looked into the darkness of the enclosing room with tears in my eyes and screamed, “RIGHT, DO WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO DO. GIVE IT ALL YOU GOT” then I looked up the the universe (what you may call God) and gave in to it’s will. “If this is my life so be it. You decide” and immediately the claustrophobic feeling dissipated the suffering began to subside. I had looked my fear in the face and instead of cowering away from it I welcomed it. I surrendered. My demons lost power and I became lighter. I say lighter, as I won’t say enlightened, as that in my minds implies the finish line. I wasn’t cured, but I was one stair closer to freedom. I was now open to listen and now ready to get to the source of my life long struggle.
The root cause of my depression I always knew was related to my adoption. Somewhere deep in the depths of the black hole lay festering emotions I had tucked away over 30 years ago. Emotions, that were now ready to be cleared out. I know there is no coincidence whatsoever that shortly after I began my quest to find emotional health I received a phone call from the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto informing me that the search I had initiated over 15 years ago had finally matched up a birth sister, who was now looking for me. Of course at the time I was in an absolute state of shock. I was elated and overwhelmed when 5 minutes later the phone rang and I spoke to my sister for the first time ever. I was amazed to discover she was in contact with our birth mother and there were 3 other siblings. After catching my breath, I was next contacted by my birth mother who informed me she had a contact to my birth father and he had 2 other siblings. Within weeks the unknown was starting to become known and light permeated the darkness within my soul to reveal the underlying pain of a scared and angry little girl.
For seven months emails were exchanged back and forth between myself, this new birth sister, my birth mother, and my birth father. Information and detail of past truths seem to take everything I once thought was truth and shake up all realities. I was so angry. No, I was enraged. All I could see was how there had been so many consequences to the actions of my birth mothers’ choices and she didn’t seem to have learned anything over the years. She had given me up, given my half birth sister up and then went on to have 3 more children by three more different men. I felt like the suffering I had endured was wasted on this woman and I desperately wanted to find some sort of positive meaning out of the situation.
My birth father had made mistakes in his past but somehow had managed to turn his life around and create a new world for himself. Here was someone I had hated over all these years for the information provided in my adoption files and he was in actuality, equally a victim in this. He was never told about my adoption. The Children’s Aid had not contacted his family who wanted me. They wanted me. I was wanted. Don’t you see how huge that is for a child who spend her life believing her own people didn’t want her? I am still to this day in contact with this wonderful man and one of his sons. I find it amazing how at the end of it all, the opposite of what I thought would happen, happened.
Instead of being given choice, the Children’s Aid Society and my mother choose my future. And from where I sat, I believed they choose wrong. I held them fully accountable for my years of depression. I was just a child. It was their job to fight for me. It was their job to protect me. It was their job to do better. Anger was coming out of everywhere. I turned to a local man who specialized in Shen Therapy - Energy Healing to help purge me of all this pain that was surfacing. I was overwhelmed with emotions. I did my best to process through it all and having the support of this guide was invaluable. Like an abscessed wound the infected sebum was at long last being removed. What was left behind was new and empty.
What I discovered in this new truth was everything I ever though about myself was no longer truth. It felt as if someone had come a long and stepped on my image of me and I was now a blob of clay empty and void of definition. Every belief, value, definition, and thought was questioned. If I no longer was what I thought I was, then I could be anything at all. The possibilities were endless. I could be free of all restrictions. The process of rebuilding myself could begin and I could define and shape myself how I wanted. I didn’t have to be Stacy, the party girl that I didn’t want to be anymore. I didn’t have to be Stacy, the sufferer of depression. Or Stacy, the Victim. I could now clear out all the crap that was holding me back by self debilitating beliefs. I could be free.
It is a process like a staircase and with each new stair comes new knowledge and mini miracles. The next stair in the process of self discovery involved the lesson of forgiveness. I had said how angry I had been at my birth mother for the choices she had made in her life that had so greatly impacted mine. I wanted her to feel responsible. I wanted her to be consciously aware of how her choices extended outward like a ripple on a pond. I wanted her to be sorry. I planned a trip back to Canada to meet with her, my birth sister, and my birth father. I knew I had to face her before my cleaned out wound would begin to heal.
What I didn’t know was how huge this would be.
I first met with my birth sister who had also been placed up for adoption around the same time I had been. She had been just a baby where I was well over 2 and a half. From what she had described she was raised in a nice family and had struggled over the years herself. I expected, we would be bonded by similarity in story. Our communication over the 7 months between the initial phone call and the trip to Canada had been sporadic and unusual. At times she was like a sister you would have expected to have known for life and at other times she was distant and delayed in responding for weeks on end. I didn’t realize the extent of her health issues until we were face to face.
We had planned to meet for the night at my best friends house. When the door opened neither me or my best friend were at all prepared for what we were faced with. In walked a rather large woman with flaming red hair, that shoved my friends extended hand away and grabbed her tight saying rather forcefully, “Any friend of Stacy’s is a friend of mine”. We were both taken aback by the rather direct familiarity and intro that felt more like a rhino coming at us. The next 5 hours was a constant stream of telling us about her Manic Depression, Crones disease, Migraines, verbally abusive hubby, children with violent outbursts and ADHD, and assortment of other dysfunctional family dynamics. She had been reconnected with our shared birth mother for some years and when I asked her why she decided to have a relationship with this woman that she clearly resented the response was “she gives my kids nice presents”.
“I could be wrong,” I replied “but, I am sure your kids would much rather have a happy healthy mommy.” I was dumbfounded.
The next day, I had the not so privilege of meeting her husband who’s first words were to insult this woman by stating how stupid she was to have forgotten her large bag filled with prescription medications. Her son, doped up on Ritalin sat on the couch next to my boy while we were heading out the door to meet our birth mother for lunch. Thank god for my best friend who supported me through this three ringed circus.
On the walk to the restaurant I kept up my deep breathing and tried to zone out the banter of this shocking couple, I was somehow related to. In the question of nature vs nurture I now lean very heavily to nurture, for aside from a few shared DNA strands I saw nothing in common with this woman at all. Not to be mean, but to paint a clearer picture I felt like perhaps some of Jerry Springer's cameras should have been filming this.
In the restaurant, our birth mother arrived and looked like a frail beaten woman. She was going deaf and was obviously an alcoholic. It was difficult to talk to her between the hearing loss and the dominated conversation of my birth sister who conveniently had sat in between us so I could barely hear or see our birth mother. I asked to switch seats. During the meal, our birth mother brought out old baby photos of me which seemed to irritate the sister as there were none of her so she and her husband left mid meal. Thanks for the support I thought, more relieved then anything with their exit. With things a tad more calm I was able to talk with my birth mother. When I looked into her eyes and saw the frightened little girl trapped in this woman’s aging body, I no longer needed to say anything. With a breath of air released I let go and forgave her. How could I not? She was just a broken woman who didn’t have the capacity to have done any better. In looking at her, I knew I had been given a better life than she could ever have given me and from this point on I would see my adoption as the seed that gave me hope instead of the seed of despair.
After I was able to take a day to let the dust settle I decided that there would be no further contact with these or the other 3 siblings my birth mother had born. I sensed that to do so would have sucked me backwards into a world I didn’t belong. I may have been born to and shared some biological matter with these people but I had worked too hard to pull myself up from the predisposition of my biology into a world of health and spiritual awareness to go back to the traps of DNA. If they were going to find freedom, they would have to walk their own path, I couldn’t give it to them. If I were going to continue on the path to peace and joy I had to now look forward not back.
A Long Time Going - Part 6: As Within, So Without
Retrospect is a kicker. So, often I have found myself in a position of looking back almost dumbfounded at how something that seems so obvious in the present was so far from my grasp in the past. I suppose, If we weren’t in the dark about things there wouldn’t be the motivation to get ourselves into the light or enlightened. Starting a new phase of my life with pieces of the puzzle finally put in place I didn’t know my next move. This was all new. A desire for health still played at the forefront of my mind. So, this became my main focus.
I took too swimming regularly at the local pool. My schedule of working from home doing my own kitchen based business of clothing alterations allowed me the opportunity to get to the pool and swim 3 to 4 times a week. That and my son’s visits to his fathers on the weekend left my weekends pretty much wide open for trips to the pool as well. I had no real interest in going out socializing. Maybe now and again, a blue moon would rise and I would venture out into the town but for the most part my routine of living something like a hermit had begun to form.
Swimming is such a great sport. Not only is the element of water so incredibly cleansing, it is an activity that one can do almost in a meditative state. I began to see this time as more than just exercise to shift the weight that had grounded me so well through the whole birth family situation but also as a time to start reprogramming my mind to allow for change to take place at a core level. I had recently read, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, but things weren’t manifesting over night like they talked about. The speakers in the video made it all sound so easy. It isn’t easy. I may have found a new level of inner peace from looking into the eye of my maker, my mother, and cutting cords of pain tying me to the past but in the present my circumstances of life had not changed one iota. I was still living in a foreign country basically alone. I was still financially stuck at a basic existence. Socially, I was an outsider. Emotionally, I was a newborn. I had made it to a higher level of awareness out of a pit of bleak depression, but I still had a mountain to climb before I was going to be anywhere close to using the lessons of the Law of Attraction.
You can’t change your wiring over night. Well, maybe you can, but I couldn’t. It takes time to go through, after a surge and begin to rewire an entire system of thought patterns, beliefs and values. I had to change everything. Absolutely everything. Thirty-four years of programing takes a while to go through and alter. The Secret is great but the key is all based in thought patterns. If how you think is intertwined with negative or tainted thought programing, then what you manifest in your life is going to reflect that. “You are what you think”. On a logical perspective, I got it. I really did. It made sense, but as I said, it wasn’t clicking into place. Thus, started the process of understanding that on a logical level is not where change happens but on a subconscious level.
I first created a huge visualization board. A giant Canadian flag. In the top right corner I placed pictures of all my friends back home that I knew, even though 8 years had slipped by, still loved me. This would be the social circle, I would call home. My best friend large and in the centre. I can honestly say, that more times than she is even aware I have called out to her and felt her spirit lift me up when I needed it through out the years. She restores my faith in peoples capacity for true and genuine love. Under these pictures, I placed the words, Happiness, Joy, Laughter, and Friendship. In the bottom right corner I dedicated to my abundance and financial well being. I put a picture of a house and a few things I wanted like a camera and an iPod. I placed the words, Security, Stability, Wealth and Abundance. In the bottom left I placed loads of pictures that represented health and well being to me. A woman jumping for joy. A woman with a fabulous figure stretched in a yoga pose and other key words cut from magazines. I wrote the sentence, “Beauty within, Beauty without”. To the top left of my flag I dedicated to my relationship house. I cut out a romantic scene from a holiday destination, I picture of my desired engagement ring, and a man enthusiastically jumping for joy, seizing the day. I dreamed of one day falling in love again. But, this time, I didn’t have notions of Irish accents and lofty daydreams. I had five words listed to describe my dream man and that was it. HONOURABLE, LOYAL, HUMOUROUS, INTELLIGENT, and PASSIONATE. Right in the very center of my flag I placed pictures of family and images from my life that made me feel Canadian. Swimming at the lake, snowball fights, boating, and canoeing. Toward the centre bottom I had a picture of a book representing my story I would one day tell.
I wanted to be proactive in implementing change in my life, so I sought out as much as I could by way of the net about personal development and spiritual guidance. I listened to audio books, lectures, and meditations from loads of the top speakers and leaders in the industry. Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Joe Vitale, Abraham Hicks. Robert Anthony, Shinzen Young, the list goes on. I read about and practiced different healing techniques such as E.F.T. (Emotional Freedom Technique), visualization tools, N.L.P. Techniques, and meditations, etc. The one message that kept coming through over and over is that you had to change the way you think before what you feel and finally see changes.
I understood that the very seed from which all negative thinking sprouts is that of a lack of confidence or low self esteem. The density of this low energy vibration can either trickle down or trickle up throughout your chakra system and cause any number of issues in either the emotional or even the physical body through fear, anxiety, and self perpetuated negativity. In my life it played out in many habits that seemed to get me no where. I had chronic lower back pain, repetitive tonsillitis as I lacked the ability to stand up for myself verbally, and I smoked as if to put a smoke screen over myself to hide the scared little girl within.
It is well and good to have the awareness but fixing the problem was going to take time. My mind or ego was smart, stubborn, and strong. It didn’t want change. It was rather comfortable playing the victim and enjoyed hearing the same negative records that kept me down. How to trick the trickster of the Ego? The answer? Use a multilevel approach. You can’t use only a logical argument to retrain the way you think because that in essence allows for an internal argument to ensue. How many times have you said to a friend “you are beautiful” and as logically correct as that statement may be, they do not believe it. I did not believe I was beautiful, intelligent, or good enough. I believed I was different, an outsider, and was basically a screw up. Telling me different, meant little. I had found confidence boosting C.D.’s by Bob Griswald of Effective Learning Systems and Louise Hay’s Self-esteem Affirmations. At first, I could hear myself argue with certain statements that didn’t feel true to me but I listened anyway. I used the affirmations while I swam. Each length became a repetition of one affirmation. Affirmations are great, but it was SLOW. I looked for ways to get in past my ego and discovered the power of subliminals, paraliminals, hypnosis, and theta-wave technology. The speed of transformation using this back door approach is nothing short of amazing.
There are many different products on the market for you to use Paul Scheele, Holosync, Intelligent Warrior, Paul McKenna, and my personal favorite Kelly Howell and Brain Sync. I tried them all and not a day went by were I didn’t listen to one of these types of audio healing methods. After seven months, of increased physical activity with swimming, nutritionally conscious eating, journalling, and audio programing my beliefs systems changed so dramatically that not only was depression a thing of my past but certain habits were forced to change as the were so incongruent with who I was now. After 20 years of puffing away, I quit smoking. I was a healthy person and smoking simply no longer fit with that reality. It wasn’t hard to do. Sure, for 3 days I was very irritable but, after that it was easy because I was a non smoker, not an ex smoker.
I changed the way I thought and therefore I changed who I was on the inside. Just like smoking no longer fit in my reality soon my whole world would change for the better as my outer reality needed to reflect my new inner reality. This is how the law of attraction works. If you want something outside of you to manifest you have to create that same energy within you first. The answer always lies within.
“AS WITHIN, SO WITHOUT” Hermessianex
Part 7 - Going, Going, Gone.
Almost amazingly, as if knowing I was heading in the wrong direction for my final part of this story, my computer crashed and gone were the words I had wrote. There was a time, when such an occurrence would have sent me into a proper temper, but now I am relieved that I am given the opportunity to write it better and in a new direction. Yet another example, of how drastic the changes in me have become. There are so many wonderful quotes that talk about how if you want to see a different reality, first you have to BE different. Then not only how you perceive is different, but the WHAT is perceived is different. I know this to be absolute truth.
Over the last year, I trekked along, focused on my dreams so intently there left no room for any other outcomes. For me, it was now so intense a desire to escape from my trap and return to my homeland that it was a sensation of do or die. There needs to be heavy emotion to propel a dream into manifestation and my emotion was so huge I could hardly contain it. In fact, I would admit to not containing it well at all. It was no secret to anyone how great my desire to return home was. I was completely fixated.
The how or the details around my dream were still completely unknown but I had FAITH. I oozed faith. Faith that the divine Universe would certainly know better than my limited brain, the answers to how, what, where, when, and even who was waiting for me. I had first turned to my parents to ask them for help, as I knew I wouldn’t be able to extricate myself from this trap. I do call it a trap, because no only geographically was I separated from all that I loved, I was living in a socio-economic trap of social welfare. And as much as I can from a spiritual perspective understand and accept the need for such a stuckness. It was now close to 10 years and time to be freed.
It is important to understand how fully, I accept and am grateful for the quicksand that held me prisoner in that small foreign and at times, hostile town. For, it taught me lessons greater than I ever anticipated. Distance and isolation, taught me to shed the illusions of who I thought I was and strip away all conditioning allowing my true self to be born free of depression, free of self doubt, and a new inner freedom awaiting a reflective outer reality. I was reborn in spirit. I had been tested and tested and tested. I learned vital skills like resilience, patience, strength, and above all FAITH.
Without minimizing, the depth of gratitude on a spiritual plain, the time was now in the creation of allowing the same freedom that had been created within to be perceived and seen without. My parents supported my decision to return on the condition that I stick out one more year and add to my education so that I might have greater opportunity for employment upon my return. I signed up for a hairdressing course at the local college. I should note here, that my skills at making money and being financially independent were lacking. In no way am I saying I don’t have either education or abilities. I am lucky to have a bit of both. But depression, lacking self confidence, and a potent fear of success were rather large blockades to overcome. I knew and understood I needed more knowledge and awareness of the energy of money for me to succeed in my career house. Going to school got me out of the house, where I had my small kitchen based business doing alterations and was a stepping stone in opening me up to receiving, at some point in the future. Why did I know this to be true? Simple. I had faith. I still do. This area in my life is still a work in progress and as I continue to chip away one small step at a time, I know it is just a matter of time before the right opportunity opens up. The hairdressing was just one more potentiality to add to the list of employable skills.
So, there I was. Full of faith. Going to school. Confidence at an all time high and focused on the goal of HOME. There were hiccups along the path and what I needed more than anything was support, inspiration, and some joy. Ask and you shall receive, and receive I did.
I had very unsuccessfully tried to get back into dating. I met some real winners - NOT! I tried my hand at Internet dating to widen the pool, and after a year of trying, I was left with 2 good friends and an attitude of “I give up”. It came to the point where I accepted, that if I was meant to be alone, then so be it. I was tired of trying so hard. “What ever is meant for me won’t pass me by” I said to myself. And then guess what? I fell in love. Kinda cliche how spot on everyone is with the “when you stop looking, you will find it” and the “you have to love yourself first” but, rightly so, that is exactly how it was.
I had first met my love, last summer at my best friends engagement party. I am the Maid of Honour and he is a groomsman. This fact, that my best friend’s fiancee is best friends with my love still to this day blows my mind. When we first met, I noticed him and he noticed me. Nothing more amazing than that. I wrote him off almost immediately, as he was recently separated and the obvious distance was vast what with the ocean between us. I would be returning to Ireland and he was in Canada. That was it, we noticed.
Through the wonderful world of Facebook, we remained in contact. I couldn’t have foreseen nor could I have planned any better the precision of timing that allowed for something to seed without my overactive saboteur jumping in to over water it. In fact, I didn’t even realize what was developing as it was so far out of my realm of a possibility that it was free to develop naturally and of it’s own accord. By the time it had taken shape, there was no denying that it was indeed love. Not only was it love but, to describe this man would be nothing short of my list upon my visualization board; HONOURABLE, LOYAL, HUMOUROUS, INTELLIGENT, and PASSIONATE. He was every thing I wanted, and everything I didn’t know I wanted. He was more and better for me than I could have created if I was left in charge. I gave room for the Universe to fulfil my dreams and it did so perfectly. He is not perfect. Nor am I, but he is perfect for me.
He counter balances me. We are the polar opposites in many regards but where we meet in the middle is a little bit of magic. We have so much to teach each other and so much to learn from each other. He is the the yang to my yin. He’s the blessing that reflects back my new reality and is my support, inspiration, and joy. He kept me focused on the goal and added fuel to the desire to be homeward bound. The course was now set and nothing, and I mean nothing, was going to stop my quest for freedom. Plans began to take form. Answers to questions of how, where, and when began to fall into place.
I did my time. I payed the price. I did the work. Now was the time of rebirth and renewal.
And so it is, 3 months since I began writing my story for the world to read. I have a new home to call my own thanks to my parents support and help. I have my son being offered greater opportunities of new experiences and a new level of awareness. I have a new love who challenges me to be the best me I can be. I have my health in the physical, emotional as well as spiritual sense of wellness. I am reunited into a social network of people that understand and support me on my journey. I have freedom, inspiration, and bliss and the best thing of all is that this is only the beginning. What ever tomorrow brings me will be nothing short of amazing for only when you see how far you have come can you truly appreciate where you are. My life is a miracle.