Day 1: Choosing to Love Myself and Own My Life Day 12! Friday, December 18th – 2015. Today’s post is going to be a little different. Yes, I did my morning routine after Mira went to work. But then something a little out of the ordinary happened. If you’ve ever heard me share my story on a webinar, podcast, or in writing (it’s around) – you’ll know that I’m adopted. My parents adopted me, at birth, from the Cradle Society, an adoption agency/organization based outside of Chicago. This information was shared freely with me as a child, and I even had a couple friends and/or classmates growing up who were also adopted. It wasn’t anything strange or weird to me, and really wasn’t a big deal at all. Other people have always seemed to be more interested in the whole thing than I have been. People would ask me all the time if I’ve searched out my biological mother/parents, if I knew anything about her/them, and a bunch of other questions, which I now know are standard questions that all adoptees face on a regular basis. Years would pass without me giving even a little bit of thought. (Literally) As I’ve also talked about, I’ve struggled with unhealthy behaviors, habits, depression, anger, abuse of intoxicants, fights, and other deep mental, emotional, and spiritual challenges throughout my life. I’d never seen these things as related, in any way, to my adoption. A few years ago, I attended a workshop hosted by JP Sears, who you may recognize from our webinars with him, or from his (now famous) Ultra Spiritual videos on YouTube. JP has been a great friend and teacher of mine since I met him when he taught my first CHEK Institute program. At the end of the workshop, JP went around the room and had everyone tell him (and the group) what it was that they’d like to change. Either a behavior, thought pattern, something they weren’t able to do, or whatever it might be. At the time, I was really struggling with changing my lifestyle to match what I was teaching people, and where I knew I wanted to go with my life. As you likely know, I come from a pretty unhealthy past/background. When I transitioned from the service (bar/restaurant) industry to personal training, to nutrition/health coaching – it took me a long time to let go of many of my habits and need for a “social life”/acceptance. I was always the center of my own social life – and I was afraid to lose that. I was one of the last people to take my turn with JP that evening. By the time he’d gotten to me, I’d watched at least 5 other people either come close to, or completely break down into tears. When he would ask them questions (which seemed he was reading their minds) pertaining to the history/past, in relation to their current challenges, it would seem to unlock or uncover something with each person. All I can remember is thinking to myself “wow, these people are messed up. It’s a good thing I don’t have anything like that for him to get me to talk about!” I wasn’t nearly as open or transparent (with myself or others) at that point, and wasn’t about to let this weird dude make me cry in front of all these people. After explaining my own situation to JP (and the room), he immediately asked me if it were okay that we talk about my adoption. I honestly don’t remember ever telling him I was adopted, but I’m not 100% positive that I hadn’t. I said “Sure. It’s not something I really think about much, so I’m not sure what good it’ll do… but we can go that route if you’d like.” Less than a minute later, while repeating some words he was saying, directed toward my biological mother, I started to feel immense pain, sadness, panic, and fear. I was able to suppress it, and push it back down before things go too out of control… but it was something I remember very vividly. Fast forward to this past March. During our Primal90 launch event, Joe and I were both stressed out of our minds, and had placed an unfathomable amount of pressure on ourselves. Personally, many of my conditioned beliefs about myself (not good enough, don’t deserve success, always going to fail, etc…) were rearing their ugly head, and I was having (what I now know) panic attacks pretty regularly. I reached out to JP to help me, and started working with him one-on-one. The first place we went was my adoption, and I learned a lot about adoptees and issues we commonly face in life. After some work on my acute anxiety and stress, which was extremely helpful and allowed me to get back to being productive (and ultimately quite successful) with the launch – I turned my focus more towards this adoption idea. I ordered a couple books and started reading one of them. It was like reading a biography/life story of myself, written by someone who’d never met me. I won’t get into details, but it was the first time that I felt I could relate to something on a deep level that was absent for me for my whole life, in a way. It was comforting, validating, and definitely raised my interest into the whole subject. Seeing as this can be a very touchy subject within families, I spoke with my parents about what I was doing. I didn’t want anything to be taken the wrong way, and wanted to let them know that I was considering making contact in some way with my biological mother. JP and I had discussed the possibility of doing so, and that it may be helpful for me in resolving some of my inner conflict, reprogramming long-held beliefs, and healing on a deep emotional/spiritual level. I’d never honestly been interested before in my life… but now, since I had kind of decided to go down the rabbit hole of self discovery, personal growth, emotional/spiritual healing/development, I felt it was the next logical step. This past summer, I reached out to the Cradle Society to see what my options were. Long-story short, I could write an anonymous letter to my biological mother, which they would deliver for me – as an intermediary of sorts. They were great, and provide counseling free of charge. I could also order a copy of my original, unedited birth certificate from the state of Illinois. (Only recently had the law been changed to allow me to do this) That’s what I did first, order the birth certificate. It arrived a few months ago, and I have to say – opening and reading it was one of the strangest experiences and feelings of my life. I think I was in a bit of shock – and didn’t really know how to react. So I just went to boxing and went on with my evening. From there, I really didn’t do much with it, or even think about it much. The name, the information, etc… I didn’t write the letter. I don’t really know why, and I’m not going to spend time or energy here psychoanalyzing myself. It was actually really strange, I was very numb to the whole thing. Then, about a month ago – just before Thanksgiving, the case worker/counselor who I had spoken to at The Cradle emailed me. It turns out my biological mother also had reached out to them, and had passed along a letter with a bunch of pictures, as well as her name (which I had already), address, phone number, email address, etc… It turns out I have one full sibling (older brother), and three (I think) half siblings. She sent me pictures of everyone, and wrote about them, their kids, a little about her, her life, etc… To say it’s weird to read the information, look at the pictures, etc… would be a gross understatement. I’ve read through it a couple times, and I still have some kind of strange mental block around it. For instance, I don’t/can’t remember (without looking) any of her other kids’ names, or their kids names, or where everyone lives, etc… Sometimes, I can’t even recall her full name. (Her first name is Deborah) I didn’t write back immediately, and had kind of put it on the back burner… although I felt a little guilty about not writing back, because she was very, very excited, and I know she was anxiously awaiting my response. Then, this week, I got another email from the case worker at The Cradle, letting me know that she’d be away from the office for two weeks starting Friday at 2pm CST. If I wanted to get a letter back to Deborah before the holidays, etc… I’d have to do it now, basically. So Friday morning (Day 12), after going through my morning routine, I whipped up a letter. I didn’t outline it, plan it, think about, or even proof read it. I just wrote it. I attached some pictures from our wedding, a few others I had handy on my computer, and that was that. I kept it basic, and anonymous (I’m not yet on board/ready for a full open relationship/discussion, etc…) – using only my first name. I looked over the photos to make sure there was nothing identifying in them (which seemed more important to me than proofreading or making sure the letter was “perfect), and then I clicked “Send”. About 10 minutes later, I got a response from the case worker at The Cradle. She told me she’d read hundreds, probably thousands, of “first letters” throughout her career, and that mine was “amazing, one of the best I’ve ever read” and that she’s sure Deborah will be very happy with it. Mira also read it (I didn’t tell her I was doing this) and said it was “beautiful” and that I’d done a good job. So I guess there’s that. I still feel strangely numb to the whole situation, and since the case worker is gone for a couple weeks – I won’t hear back until at least then. I’m not looking for another “family”. I have a family. I’m just looking to make peace with something that I’m learning has had a major impact on me, who I am, and my life as a whole. I’m sure it’s had a massive impact on her also. I’m not going to share the letter here, but I’ll share an excerpt, which I feel sums up my feelings towards her and the entire situation.
So that’s what happened today. Tomorrow, we’ll return to regularly scheduled programming. ]]>My parents are very loving people, and have given me every opportunity in life. I’ve never gone without, and they’ve been extremely supportive of me. I’m very grateful for the life I’ve had – and hold no resentment towards you what-so-ever. I’ve been reading a lot about adoption, the struggles that adopted children often face (I’ve had mine), and the struggles biological mothers often face after the adoption as well. That’s what led me to reach out for communication with you. I’m sure we’ll talk more about the circumstances around my birth, decision for adoption, etc… but I just want to be clear that I’m grateful for the decision you made, and I realize that it was probably extremely difficult and painful. You did what you felt was best for me – and I can assure you that my parents (which I’m not sure how involved you were in choosing or not) have cared for me (even when I made it difficult), supported me (even when I didn’t make the best decisions), and have always allowed and encouraged me to be myself and loved me for who I am, no matter what (I’m very different than they are in many ways).So… Thank you. If you do carry any doubt or guilt or anything else of the sort, you don’t have to anymore. I hope that’s comforting for you and gives you peace.