Archive for July, 2015

The Subconscious Search

When I was 20 years old, in 2003, I requested my “non-identifying” information from the LA County Adoption Agency, which basically gave me bits of information that did not disclose the identity of my birth mother.

As I had hoped, but could not yet see, these bits of information would be the basis of my search, providing clues and, eventually, direction.

So, let’s back up to when I actually requested the information. I was a sophomore in college pursuing a psychology major, in a severely codependent relationship with a guy not too much older than me.

Sophomore year, 2002/3, age 19

Sophomore year, 2002/3, age 19

I was this water polo player attending CSU Bakersfield on an athletic scholarship, having fun & meeting new people. I found myself hanging around a person who was in no way, shape or form able to care for me in the way I deserved to be cared for…and I wasn’t exactly caring for myself at the time either.

Alas, two unstable people bumped into each other, one of which screamed with inner torment expressed by his extreme body tattoos, face brandings and piercings…and then there was me. Although his mental state was producing episodes of paranoia, delusions and hallucinations and mine was not, I brought my own set of issues to the table, albeit not as extreme. I experienced depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, codependency, alcoholism and a lack of authenticity as a result.

To say the very least – this was not anything close to what I now consider a ‘relationship’. This year of my life spent with this person was at best ‘adventurous’ at times (like living out of my car or losing my car to my parents, because they ‘disapproved’ – gee I wonder why!), and at worst, well, let’s just say I’ve had a knife held to my throat, and on one occasion he walked into my room, sat down, pulled his loaded 9mm out of his jacket, that he carried on him at all times, due to his most recent delusion, and held it to his head. He told me he couldn’t do it anymore, pulled the trigger, and nothing happened. He played it off like he was surprised there was no bullet, but after the initial shock, I realized this was just another form of him messing with me. I didn’t stay much longer after that thankfully, and it’s too bad I was in so much pain and numbness that I didn’t leaver sooner.

collegeDuring my sophomore year while most of my friends and teammates were having more run-of-the-mill-type college experiences…I was on a serious life mission. I was investing large amounts of my time in, and hanging around someone who I obsessively tried to rescue, fix, save, etc.

Now, you may be asking yourself, why in the world would I seek this out? Why would I spend such a long time in such a dysfunctional way of life? These experiences were quite traumatic and affected everything in my life from my well being, to my water polo career, to my friends, family and academics. Why on earth would I stay??

Well, my theory is based on a well known fact that we are drawn to the familiar. And I am telling you that I honestly believe I was in search of that womb experience. That chaotic, naive, neurotic, egocentric, knowing-nothing-but-survival type of energy & environment. That’s what I think. And, it wasn’t until years later, after having recovered from this traumatic part of my life that I realized I was essentially chasing a ghost – my birth ‘mom’, reincarnate.

So, during this time, I guess it makes sense that I was inclined to request my non-identifying information from the LA County Adoption Agency. After all, I was searching for something in this world. And below is what I got…

Now before you read, imagine that these documents are the only thing that hold any answers for you about anyone who could possibly relate to some of your more biologically inclined characteristics… someone who might share your loud, but honest laugh…your nose that slopes like a ski jump at the tip…your natural and gleaming smile…your intense feelings and hyper-awareness to the world around you…your body development…your seemingly world-ending, insane week of PMS before your cycle…where did all these come from? Who gave these to me? Do my sisters relate…? My birth mother…? Do we know my father?

So first I’ll share a letter to my parents who adopted me, from the agency:

Adoption1Here is another letter to my parents from the agency:



me and mom and dad

This is when I was adopted! That’s me sitting in the judges chair on the left and then the judge with my new parents on the right.

Here is information about me as a baby, my birth mother, the circumstances surrounding my adoption:

Infant Info

Maternal1 Maternal2 Maternal3

I sat on this information for a while after I searched the internet a little. If you’re my age or older you can remember when it was less advanced back in 2003, when I got this information. I was searching on sites that had digital ‘wallpapers’ on their pages that were not formatted to fit the screen width, and so the design was tiled across the webpage, and usually had some sparkly animation to it. In fact I think there is still a page up that I searched on back then…

the seeker

In addition to these cumbersome websites, there were all these forums, filled with people posting who they were looking for. A lot of them had posted several years before and I couldn’t be sure if they checked their email or even had the same one. Email was still very new at the time in the early 2000s. So, needless to say it was overwhelming.

And then came the fear that if I DID invest a lot of time and energy into ‘the search’ and didn’t find anything, that I would soon lose hope and give up.

So, my manila envelope of non-identifying information was always kept close, and I pulled it out on few occasions to share with special people in my life.

While eventually I departed from the toxic and dangerous dynamic I engaged in and came out on the other side in one piece, I also learned a lot. Maybe I didn’t want to invite my mother into my life. If she was anything like the guy I hung around for a year, then maybe it really was for the best that I was separated from her. Maybe it was time to move on. And so I did.


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Moms and Wombs and Babes

How were you born? Were you induced? Natural delivery? C-section? Premature? NICU? Overdue?

How about your kids? What are their birth stories? Your siblings?

I don’t have one.

Well I have one but I don’t know it, and I don’t know anyone who does. I hadn’t thought much of it either, until more recently.

Over the past few years, as my close friends started having kids of their own, and as they journeyed through pregnancy, I would hear the stories of their own births. And then came the story of their baby’s birth, each seeming like a pure miracle. Some babies we didn’t get to meet, which is a whole heart-breaking story in its own right. But each child has been forever impressed with the emotions, experience and the overall tenor of his or her womb experience, and entrance into this world, which is manifested in their personality, preferences, and general way of being.


Here I am with three of those cute and cuddly babes, all born in 2013

And so by the grace of God I made it to full term, which made me wonder…

What was I ‘impressed’ with inside the womb? How about my entrance into this world…?

The origin of my curiosity…

In late 2013, I attended a presentation which included a panel of three women who shared on the topic of Pre and Perinatal Psychology.

(For those who don’t know me well I have studied psychology for quite some time)

One in particular provided compelling information on how important our journey is in being conceived and brought into this world. Her name is Anna Verwaal, RN. I’ve provided a link to her TED talk below this post.

In summary, she makes the case for having a fundamental balance between knowing how your womb and delivery experience contributes to your patterns, but not allowing them to sentence you to a life you do not want, nor deserve. This information made a big impact on me since she was correlating personality quirks with birthing experiences and I began to wonder if some of mine came from that early part of my life.

Well….did it?

Well, here is what we know about my birth mom: She was a paranoid schizophrenic, and she gave birth to 9 other babies. So, we know she’s fertile! But as far as the womb experience, I think it’s safe to say, the emotional ‘flavors’ that I was swimming around in, were a bit chaotic. And let’s not forget, we don’t know how often she was going to the doctor for check-ups along the way or if she was using drugs, drinking or smoking while pregnant. I just know she was hospitalized while she was pregnant at some point, due to threatening to kill herself and her other children. Yeah.

So there I was, I popped out into the world, not entirely sure how. But reassured that my mother was not in her right mind to care for me, and carrying the only experiences I had thus far from the womb – constant fluctuation from feeling high to low, being consumed with fear and terror, heeding an impending sense of doom… thanks to the terrible diseases of schizophrenia, addiction and paranoia.

To me it was no surprise I tended to focus on how negative aspects of a situation & possible negative outcomes affected me. Or, that I was constantly overwhelmed with maneuvering social relationships, struggling with depression and anxiety on and off. It was because I was always feeling the need to ‘survive’ my chaotic emotions – which made for a poor foundation in learning, a fertile ground for procrastination and a tendency for working best under chaos and pressure. I was never reaching my full potential because I was constantly playing a game of survival, so how could I master anything or develop intimacy when each day was dedicated to securing my basic needs?

What is so interesting is that even though I was placed for adoption in a loving home with a roof over my head, plenty of food, extracurricular activities, support, family vacations, structure, guidance, education, Girl Scouts, and a million other amazing experiences, I still felt like I was trying to survive on a daily basis. I mean, looking at my life growing up you would wonder how I was the way I was. It didn’t compute! And thus I think my parents were a bit at a loss in dealing with me.

So…what exactly do I mean by surviving? Well, here is a list of life experience I’ve gathered based on years of simply ‘getting by’…

  • People pleasing to the max
  • Avoiding my self at all costs by constantly surrounding myself with others who were just as chaotic if not more than me, taking up their problems and feelings, attempting to fix them, directing their actions or participating in this next bullet point with them…
  • When people weren’t around or available to help me distract myself from me, I drank, which usually led me to a party or a bar so I could continue to avoid myself and get involved with your life somehow to avoid my own!
  • Trying waaaaaaaay too hard to be liked and just coming off inauthentic and sad
  • Trying on different lifestyles until they didn’t work for me anymore

…while simultaneously getting caught up in…

  • Ruminating for hours on end over-analyzing EVERYTHING. All. THE. TIME.
  • Treating my parents without regard to their feelings OR the acknowledgement that they were investing so much into me, my safety and my future
  • Treating other people really crappy when they didn’t co-sign my bullsh%$
  • Lamenting over the hurt I experienced and if you were the type that didn’t engage with my anguishing I went to the other extreme and pretended I was so strong that I was too good for you and then became stand-offish

And be careful if you were ever stuck in my pathway. I would chew you up and spit you out so fast you wouldn’t even know what hit you. I was like a tornado. And I needed to survive!

tornado girl

So, have you ever heard that a person’s ‘mental capacity’ is stuck at whatever age he or she experienced trauma in his or her life? Or while you may have healed from the trauma affecting you on a daily basis, whenever you get triggered or get upset you revert back to that age? I think that what I’ve come to realize about myself is that my deepest wounds and traumas were all pre-verbal – in the womb, and then right after, when I was separated from my biological mother within the first day or two of birth and taken to foster care. Aside from adjusting to being out of the womb I was experiencing a loss, a separation from the only thing I knew before. And much of my outlook on stressors and discomfort was that of a helpless screaming infant. I think for some time I truly believed I had no control over how I felt and no sense of emotional regulation.

Something else I’ve learned is that we have a natural affinity for our biological mother no matter what troubles she has in her life or how badly she behaves. It’s biological. She’s our mom. It’s the FIRST thing I ever knew in the period of my existence. It’s the ONLY thing I knew for a while, until I was born, and then normally I would meet my family, and then your family’s friends and then my own friends and so on.

But for a while after one is born, you don’t realize you are a separate entity from your mother for several months. You assume everything you feel, she feels, and so when that person went missing, I think a part of me went missing. And so, much of my life I think I was seeking to find that high, those lows, and that chaos I knew in the womb – which was familiar and normal for me. It may not have been the best thing but it was the FIRST thing I knew, and it meant finding ‘mom’, finding ‘safety’, finding the rest of me.

Until fairly recently, I’d say within the last couple years, I truly wished I could crawl back into the womb, where I didn’t have to deal with you, or live this life. I didn’t ask to live it. I was forced to be here, and ill-equipped. And was tired of doing my dance to convince everyone I was capable of living it, which in turn caused you to tell me that I WAS capable of living a good, happy life. I felt like a fraud.

Here is what I looked like on the outside:


And here is what I felt like on the inside:

dark room

A big empty and dark room with no windows and only a door to get out whenever I possibly could.

So, to conclude my first post I guess I will say, it took a looooooong time to realize that what happened to me in the womb and at birth had such a huge affect on me. And as much as my parents love me and did everything within their power to support me, I don’t think they could comprehend the gravity of how the simple act of separation from my birth mom affected me. But, thankfully now I am in a place where I have acknowledged the trauma, and made huge strides in healing from it. Most of the severe symptoms of the trauma are healed, and now-a-days I work on tweaking my actions and inner dialogue to be that of compassion, love, kindness, strength, confidence, mindfulness and generally being present.

Stay tuned for my next post where I reveal the information the LA Country Adoption Agency gave to me in detail.


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