How Much Can You and I Change in 93 Days?
I have to make some changes. It’s really hard for me to focus or to get anything done, and this isn’t helpful because I need to get my act in gear and find a place to live. I have been living off the kindness of friends ever since I came back from writing You Don’t Look Adopted in New York (where I still was two years ago today), and it’s time I support myself.
I just don’t know how to do it.
How crazy is that? The fact is the last time I fully supported myself was in graduate school when I had a stipend for teaching. That glory of self-support lasted one year, because the second year I got a student loan to help with living expenses. Doing the math, I have fully supported myself for 1/53 of my life.
Clearly I missed some essential lessons. Or I took classes most people don’t take on how to get by when you don’t have normal skill sets.
I don’t see how I am going to get from where I am to where I want to be—from the house of a friend to a place of my own. I make very little money and am still paying back the heavy debt I incurred while taking time off to write and travel and then to be in shock over what I had written.
The other day, I decided if I could write a book in 93 days, I can turn my life around in the same amount of time, so starting May 1, I am going to work with my favorite chiropractor Mark Lucas (we have shared office space—and what I mean by that is that he lets me work there for free) for years and years, and I will do whatever he tells me to do in order to find greater clarity of mind, strength of body, and overall sense of well-being. Our mutual goal is to get me--an adopted person who has recently come out of the fog and has realized that adoption has touched every aspect of her (my) life, mostly detrimentally—at home. Home both physically in the world—I am going to work my butt off to find ways to make enough money to support myself and find a place of my own—and physically in my body.
It’s easy as an adopted person to float through your life, inches or miles from your own skin. At least it was easy for me. As I said in my book, “I believe that part of my brain took a nosedive in the gap between mothers, and part of my brain decided I must not exist, and in some crazy, unexplainable way, nothing changed in that part of my brain, even as an adult.” (I know there is probably a special section in hell for people who quote from their own books, but I’ll risk it to get my point across.)
I was able to get by all these years, but my bag of tricks has emptied and I’m faced with myself and what I can actually do. I think this is part of getting older, whether you are adopted or not: things that used to work don’t anymore, and suddenly you see yourself in the mirror and you are like, Who the heck is that? and How did this happen?
At least that is what happened to me.
I have noticed that adopted people have all sorts of health issues, stemming, I think, from relinquishment trauma. I think if you start off your life in fight or flight and the sympathetic nervous system steers your boat for most of your life, you get sick. You have IBS and ADD and ADHD and skin conditions and ulcers and neuropathy and sleep issues and emotional problems and pretty much anything an exhausted physical and mental being can produce. The inability to focus and to feel like yourself, for example.
So I asked Dr. Mark if he would come up with a 93-day wellness protocol for me to follow as I look for home. I told him I’ll eat whatever he tells me will make me more focused and stronger and will do whatever exercises will make me feel more grounded and powerful. He’s intense. The guy is a motocross rider and a distance bike rider and he is ripped. I should be scared, but I’m excited and hopeful. I love goals. I love experiments. I love seeing what happens if…
Dr. Mark asked me to email him my list of health concerns. It's not pretty. You might want to skip this paragraph if you are at all a visual person. Here's what I wrote:
Super confused most of the time.
Very hard to focus.
Hard to get motivated.
Hard to do any exercise other than walking and a little bit of yoga.
Have what seems like zero muscle tone.
When I eat gluten I get diarrhea, so I eat gluten.
I don’t sleep all that well.
The skin on my legs looks old and crepey and weird—my calves in particular. They look like they belong to a great grandmother.
It’s like I’m on a different planet, just floating around.
I have long moments of clarity and joy and strength and insight. Most are after bullet coffee when I am walking and listening to podcasts.
You get the idea.
Here's the deal: I’m going to take you on the journey with me. I’m going to make daily videos and post them on YouTube so you can do what I’m doing if you feel like it. I believe adopted people are more powerful than most people because of all they have been through and all they have survived. I also believe they suffer more than most people because the rest of the world including doctors and the medical community as a whole is clueless when it comes to the side effects of relinquishment and adoption, leaving adopted people out in the cold.
My goal is to change that. I want to raise awareness as to what it is like to be in the body of an adopted person, and I also want to show what that body is capable of achieving with some help and support and understanding and (lord help me) probably burpees.
Part of thriving as an adopted person is taking responsibility for yourself even while your brain tells you have no value because even your mother didn’t want you. We carry so many stories in our brain that were formed before we even had language, so we don’t know exactly what we are battling. We may not even know we think we are garbage. We just act like we are with no idea why.
As a side note, I did just mow down on a huge muffin because I have a funny feeling that thing is not going to be part of my plan of attack next week. It was delicious, but I have that crampy feeling I get after eating bread, and soon I will want to sleep and my brain is already getting floaty. That’s how so much of my life has been: I know this won’t be great for me, but I do it anyway.
There are so many components to living a good life. When you are adopted and you live in a world where the operative word is “lucky”, as in “You were so lucky to be adopted,” you have to work harder than most people to first understand yourself so you can then let other people know what it is like to have lost your mother often before you could say hello to her, but I believe in transformation. Today Janet Neville Nordine told me that a butterfly carries none of the DNA that was in the caterpillar. Change is so wild. It’s scary and powerful and very, very exciting.
I’m just going for it. I want to see what I can do in 93 days. I want to see if I can find a home of my own. Worst case is that I eat healthy food, exercise, and end up exactly where I started. But I don’t think that is likely.
I hope you play along with me.
Let’s see what happens when we set our mind on health and self-love and the idea that anything is possible when you lean into self and community and wonder.
See you May 1.