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  • Barbara Elk

A Calm and Clear Ocean

I recently connected with another relative who is a 60s Scoop Survivor and unfortunately, their story is similar to many other Survivors stories.

They told me it was difficult to share and talk about themselves and their struggles, especially when it came to the feelings of abandonment, loneliness, and the crippling fear that comes in crashing waves.

I reassured them it was the same with me as well and that they are not alone when dealing with trauma related feelings. I've read posts from so many Survivors who say the same thing. The main trait we all share is that we all feel LOST.


When someone feels LOST, it's akin to being on a small boat in the middle of a large ocean and there's no land in sight. There's not a map to help direct us to safety and there is no safety net. We live in constant fear of what is under the deep, dark water under the boat. The list is endless. We are frightened by the smallest thing whether it be words, expressions from others, plans that go astray, loud noises, no noise at all or thoughts. Each could jolt us back to a memory that is all too real. One of the worst reminders is watching intact families around us. As the rest of society moves along with family reunions, gatherings and dinners during holidays, the Survivors struggle during those times to keep their boat from tipping over from the gigantic, unrelenting waves around us. In other words, Survivors struggle with daily "Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) triggers".

PTSD sufferers can exhibit a strong facade. We can deny ourselves for the sake of looking "normal", even though we don't feel normal within. I existed like that for years, even marrying someone whom I allowed to mock my culture, my loss and pain. Early on, he told me that I needed to "get over it." He wasn't saying that to be cruel but that was his mentality. He came from an intact background and in a twisted way, I craved to have that in my life. So I allowed that to become my mantra for years. But that mantra and mentality couldn't co-exist with the LOSS I was constantly suffering from on a daily basis. It was as if I was trying to bury the LOSS in a shallow hole by covering it with water.

I may have appeared "normal" but I never felt normal. Even to this day, I find myself standing apart from others around me. But what I learned along the way, despite the many failings I've encountered trying to cope with the LOSS, is that even though I can't control the feelings of LOSS that wash over me, I can control what I do on a daily basis to help myself.


SELF-CARE

I tended to be a people pleaser because of my past. I would always put other people first. When I was 11 years old and living in my 2nd adoption home, my adopted father confirmed that for me by saying: "Your gift is to serve others."

And because I so wanted him to accept and like me, I swallowed those words and allowed them to grow inside of me.

I neglected myself, even after years of therapy, I couldn't shake the thought that "only if I can make others like me, I'll be okay." So I always put myself last.

It wasn't until a couple years ago that I was able to shake off that rusted metal that I imprisoned myself with. I was able to get to that point by working on myself and understanding that the only things I can control is what I do in my life. I made it a point to stop drinking entirely because for me, I noticed drinking alcohol didn't help me. More times than not, I would fall into depression and the LOSS became much more real. I stopped smoking cigars, (which I did from time to time) and strived to live a clean life. I desperately wanted to think and act clearly. I didn't want anything to muddy up the ocean waters around me. I wanted to be able to look into the water below me and see clearly. I also got rid of toxic relationships. I had always prayed on a daily basis from when I was a child so I continued further on my spiritual path, incorporating meditation into my life several times a week.

I eat better (Vegan) and exercise, and practice being a kind person. Yes, practicing kindness is a thing because it's so easy to be cruel and mean. If you don't believe me, just read the news.


After my 60s Scoop Survivor relative shared their story with me, we promised we would be there for each other if either one of us needed someone to listen. And to listen without judgement. We both understand that the only thing we can control is our actions. So we promised to reach out every day, even if it is a Facebook "wave".

We both need each other because it helps lessen the immeasurable LOSS we have experienced.

It helps calm the ocean around us.



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