Coming out of the Fog and the Golden Chair
It seems like a few weeks ago, but I think it was more like eight years ago that Katie Peuvrelle, my life coach, gave me the homework to find a comfortable chair for my home.
I never found one. In that time I got married, got a new home, a new office space, but not the chair. Then I got divorced, gave up the home, the office space, and still, no chair.
The problem with a chair is that I have to sit in it.
I can find a comfortable floor almost anywhere. I love to lie down and close my eyes and feel the support of the earth from my heels to my head without undue pressure on my tailbone. In other words, I hate to sit on my ass.
The Buddha did not seem to have this problem. From all the statues I see, it seems the world was his comfortable chair. For generations, meditators have sat on their tush and found nirvana.
I want to be able to sit. Now, as I write this, I am on my bed. As a massage therapist, I am well aware of the damage I am doing to my cervical spine and musculature. The pillows are shortening my sternocleidomastoid muscles which leads to trigger points and headaches. The other thing about working on bed is that, as sleep specialists will tell you, your body then thinks this space is a work space and when you get in bed, your head goes to work instead of to sleep. At least mine does. I am awake more than I am asleep most nights.
At this point, you are assuming I am writing about chairs and sitting, which, up until this point, I have been. But here’s the switch: I learned something about sitting the other day which brought me to the idea of spine which brought me to the idea of power which brought me to the idea of coming out of the fog.
Ta-da! Mid-air major subject shift!
I had been reading The Untethered Soul and thinking about what it means to soften when I am faced with something agitating, trusting that a larger presence has my back. I imagined a chair of golden light I could rest in when the world before me felt as if it were on the attack. I felt the strength of the chair’s support on and in my spine and the lift of ease. I’d found my chair! Only it wasn’t something I had to buy—it was a state of mind. I didn’t even have to sit on my butt!
This (imagined) feeling (so not imagined because I felt it), and I’d been thinking about what it means to soften when I am faced with something agitating, trusting that a larger presence has my back. I was imaging a soft chair of golden light that I could rest against when the world in front of me felt as if it were on the attack. I felt the power of the chair in my spine, the lift of ease. I sighed just thinking about it, my parasympathetic nervous system kicking in, aaahing myself to peace of mind.
I’d found my chair! Only it wasn’t something I had to buy—it was a state of mind. I didn’t even have to sit on my butt!
I thought about how for years and years I was on the move. For Pete’s sake, I started running when I was 13. I mean, I wanted to be two steps ahead of my thoughts at all times because my thoughts did not make me feel good.
And here’s where the issue of relinquishment and adoption come in. I was on the move because my brain was saying things I could not even understand since my back brain was talking preverbal trauma which translates into feelings and not specific words. So I’d be walking to school, happy, when out of nowhere a terrible feeling would descend on me, my stomach would ache, my heart would race and it would be like I’d done something awful. Only I couldn’t remember what I’d done. That quickly would become the thought I am awful and the day would go in the shitter.
My friends thought I was moody. I thought I was moody. And I was, but it was because I was also getting beaten up from the inside by thoughts that had nothing to do with present reality. Old trauma was trying to find its way out, but since no one in my world knew about the effects on the brain when a child is separated from her mother, I had no one to help me create a pathway for these feelings to escape my body. In a million years I never would have thought the problem had to do with adoption. I thought my problems: my inability to focus in school, my unpredictable temper, my feelings of low self-worth, my fear of being separated from my parents, my inability to stay at a college, my eating disorders, my habits of lying and stealing, were all because there was something at the core wrong with me.
That is calling living in the fog.
Coming out of the fog was when I realized, at 52, that maybe adoption had affected my brain and body. That maybe I was in deep shit because everyone I talked to, my therapist at Kaiser, my friends, my family, thought that was a crazy idea. I was more alone than I’d ever been.
And that was the beginning of the really good stuff. That was when my life fell apart and I wrote a book about being adopted and I cried for a year and a half and was broke and basically homeless. This was all so wonderful because everything false was falling away.
Now, at 53, I am happier than I have ever been in my life. Every night before sleep and every morning as soon as I wake up, I list what I am grateful for, starting with my daughter. I lie in bed and I thank my pillow, my skin, and the windows for existing. I feel like a baby bird. I am so new.
I am skydiving through life now instead of holding onto the railing as I go up step by step, desperately hoping I’m getting it right and that everything will be okay. I mean, it is wild. I am in such good company. I have made new friends who are also new, who are also skydiving.
Instead of worrying about what could happen, I dream about what could happen. I wonder what I am capable of doing, and then if it sounds good to me, I go try. I don’t even care that much if I fail. It’s all so weird. I just don’t care.
I think the biggest change is that instead of being on the constant lookout for what will go wrong, I look for what will go right. And this is a result of coming out of the fog. I had to realize my brain was on constant high alert because I’d been separated from my mother at birth to know enough to change.
I should have come with a manual instead of an amended birth certificate.
I believe truth is the best way to heal the trauma associated with the whole adoption process. Adopted people and their family members should have books about adoption all over the house. In the bathroom.
When I Google “out of the fog” this is what comes up:
Out of the Fog
Personality Disorders are serious mental-health conditions which affect millions of people. They are often misunderstood and undiagnosed.
Just for the record, that is not at all what I am talking about what I talk about coming out of the fog. In adoption land, it’s a common term, but in Google-land, out of the fog is about something else.
This is yet another example of the disconnect between how adopted people and how the rest of the world communicates. How can we understand each other if we aren’t even interpreting words in the same way?
With this in mind I have started a new project on Instagram (anne_heffron) and Twitter (@anneheffron) called adoption dictionary. Today was day two and I already have 13 posts. It’s so fun! I may never sleep again. Good thing I have my golden chair.