Feelings aren’t Facts.

The following are some phrases that I have heard throughout my life: “You should feel lucky…”, “Don’t be so sensitive…”, “You’ve got it all wrong…”, “You are the only one that feels that way…”, “You have a problem…”, “You shouldn’t let it bother you…”, “You make a big deal out of everything…”, “You take everything so personally…”. What do all these things have in common? They are all ways that we invalidate each other’s feelings. What happens when we invalidate each other? Invalidating someone else doesn’t just mean that we disagree with another but that it communicates to the person that their opinions and feelings are irrational, selfish, and wrong.

I am sure from time to time everyone has used some of these phrases, I know I am guilty of using them. Typically however when these words and/or phrases are not used when someone goes through something significant in their lives. It is in those times of emotional distress or struggles when these words can be the most hurtful. This does not mean that we cannot empathize with others but stating that someone’s feelings are incorrect is just as hurtful.

One of my favorite sayings that I have learned is that “feelings aren’t facts”. Let’s break this down. What does this mean? This means that even though we may feel a certain way that does not necessarily mean that those feelings are “correct”. Meaning that just because we feel something does not mean those feelings are facts.

For example, just because we may feel uneasy, scared, distrustful or apprehensive does not mean that we are right or wrong. Feelings are feelings, those are not facts and we should not let ourselves be fooled. What we feel is just that, feelings, those feelings do not lead us down a path to truth or fact, they just simply are. What we feel is neither good or bad, it is simply just how we are responding and what emotional response that stimulus produces. We are not understand that our feelings have overridden logic or common sense, but it is just how we are feeling based on the current circumstances.

These phrases, mentioned at the beginning of this post, are phrases in which those feelings are being invalidated. That those who are expressing those feelings are wrong or somehow incorrect. When those phrases are repeated over and over throughout someone life, it means that from an early age that person’s interpretations of and feelings about the things around them were bad and wrong. The affect that this has on someone can be devastating.

It can kill someone’s confidence and has the potential to worsens psychological disorders and emotional problems. This can cause further feelings of self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy and create people-pleasers. We begin to second guess our emotions as if they are misleading us down a forbidden path. Our senses begin to mislead us and we begin to question ourselves as well as each emotion we have. The world around us is no longer something exciting but more like an entire experience to mislead and confuse us.

I have heard these words. I can remember second guessing my feelings and trying to figure out what feelings I should be feeling.  It wasn’t until I went through therapy that I started to realize that it wasn’t normal to be second guessing my feelings. My therapist always told me, feelings aren’t facts. There are still times that I remind myself, that although I may “feel” a certain way, that does not make things into facts. It has been quite helpful over the last four years.

Remember the next time you “feel” something that just because we may feel a certain way does not necessarily mean that those are the facts. Our feelings are just that, feelings, nothing more and nothing less. Try to take an objective view of the situation or person and see if your feelings match the facts OR that the facts are different than your feelings.

 

Always,

J

 

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Self Destruction in 3…2…1…

At some point in our lives we self destruct. Am I right? Maybe it’s the pressure of every day life debating whether or not you are spending too much time at work or not enough time at work. It can even be that your child’s birthday party wasn’t like the one you saw on Pintrest or their classmates. Whatever the reason, we some point we hit our breaking point, the point in which we can no longer bear the weight that has been placed upon our shoulders.

Even now, years later, I can still recall my though process prior to making an impulsive, self destructive decision whether in middle school or even into adulthood. My thoughts were always the same, I had made up my mind that whomever I was currently infatuated with, was about to leave and had lost all interest in me…even though those thoughts were based off of my own feelings and not facts. Since whomever I was with at the present moment was about to leave, I justified my behavior believing that I was only moving on and showing the world that I was not hurt on the inside…that I was as tough as I claimed to me. This was not the case, the strength I pretended to have was a facade, it was all pretend. It was the way that I had learned to protect myself after years of feeling left behind and rejected.

I have included the links to the books that have helped in my self sabotaging behavior and helped me identify my triggers while showing me tools too help become more self aware. If you have the chance, please check them out. They have been worth every penny that I have spent. The following books have given me more explanation, tools and self realization than I thought were possible. For a long time I always felt alone and out of place. It was as if my experience made me unique and stand out from the crowd. It wasn’t until decades later that I would meet others that shared in the same type of struggle, that knew the types of feelings that I had experienced.

The light bulb above my head had been turned on and once I had gotten explanation for what I was doing to hurt those I cared most about, I knew it was time to fix it. Fixing it ended up being one of the hardest things to heal from. In fact, I am still healing. I believe this healing journey will be life long. I will tell you that there are days and situations in which I end up thinking the most irrational and ridiculous thoughts but now I know those thoughts are coming and I am prepared for them. Take care of yourself.

 

J

 

The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Revised and Updated: Surviving Through and Recovering from… by Susan Anderson 

The Abandonment Recovery Workbook: Guidance through the Five Stages of Healing from Abandonment… by Susan Anderson

Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Self-Sabotage and Healing from Abandonment by Susan Anderson

What I’ve Been Reading

I thought this post I would take a different take on things and include some of the books that I have been reading over the last couple of years. I have not included all of them but wanted to highlight some of the ones that really meant something to me. I have included the links to either the author website or their Amazon page. Please feel free to check them out. I will be reading them again soon.

The first book that I want to mention is “Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers”. This is a book that was recommended to me about two years into therapy. By this time my therapist and I had built a very good rapport and we began to dive into a lot of the issues.

Before I explain what this book is about, I want to make one thing clear. Neither my therapist NOR myself, have diagnosed any of my family members. The resources that were given to be were based upon the conversations, situations or comments that were brought up during therapy with regard to situations that I had throughout middle school and beyond.

My first initial reaction hit me straight in the chest. The main question asking us if we will ever be good enough was a hard pill to swallow. From middle school into my early adulthood, this is how I felt. I thought that no matter what I did or how I acted, I would never been good enough. I ordered the book off of Amazon and started to dive into it the first night I got it. I have to admit, there was a disclaimer from my therapist that I may not relate to everything mentioned in the book, because the topic of abuse is brought up and that is not something that I have experienced.

I was however able to identify with a lot of other emotions presented in the book. While reading through, I completed the exercises that were suggested and did my best to follow their instructions and tips. I felt better, as if someone truly understood what was going on through my head. It was such a comfort in the validation that came from hearing other people’s stories.

If you are interested in learning more, I will include the link at the bottom of this post.

The next book is one that I jumped into when I started attending my church small group. It was the only one that worked with my schedule. Each Tuesday at 6:30AM we would meet and start out our morning in prayer and discussing our current study. I joined this group in April of 2015 and it was one of the best decisions I have made. I have met some of the most amazing Godly women whom I call sister.

When I started this group, they were reading “Biblical Femininity” by Grace Church. The entire book focuses around how women are image bearers of God and the feminine qualities of God that we reflect. Women are called to be “helpers”. Mentally and spiritually, I was not in a good place when I joined the group. I was separated from my boyfriend at the time whom I had selfishly hurt in the worst way possible.

I desperately wanted answers to my brokenness, to understand what had happened. It was there in those early morning studies that I came to find the broken pieces. This book not only explains how women were created to be helpers, but also explains how we can be tempted and what happens when we succumb to those temptations. As we started to learn and read about our core temptation things started to fall into place. I started to understand my role as a woman and even more, understand why things had happened the way they did.

Since the first time I have read this book, I have read it two times since then. It seems that the more I read it the more I get out of it. It was one of those books that turned on a light bulb for me.

There are other books as well, however I am going to include those in the next blog post, because those are written by the same author and have an overall theme together. I have included the links to the two books I have mentioned today. They are worth the read. I will be posting more as I’ve got a nightstand full of books that I need to start reading.

 

 

 

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karly McBride, Ph.D.

Biblical Femininity by Grace Church

Dear Adoptive Parents Everywhere,

What you have is a blessing and a curse. The mere foundation of your family is built on someone else’s trauma. This thought of happiness founded on trauma never really occurred to me. Honestly, I had always assumed my biological mother was “better off” and that her decision to place me for adoption was in my best interest and hers. After speaking with other KADs, some of whom have reunited with their biological family and others who have decided the unknown will never be known. There is a possibility that some of these birth mothers were coerced into giving their child up for adoption. The circumstances surrounding adoptions may never truly be known and the intentions unclear.

As an adoptive mom, I know some of the struggles that my daughter will have. There are times even now that I have to be very mindful of how I word things or how things are phrased. She remembers that she has another set of parents, but she doesn’t remember what they physically look like. One time she even asked me why they couldn’t keep her and when she came to live with us. After speaking with her therapist, our answers continue to be age appropriate. We have never spoken badly of her parents to her, we simply stated that they were unable to keep her safe. “Safe”, a word she knows very well and a word I still struggle to feel. My daughter likes being protected, she needs to know and feel that someone is with her, that someone won’t leave her and that either myself or her dad will return. For now, that is the best answer I can give her.

Adoptees struggle being stuck in two different worlds, at least those in transracial adoptions. We belong to a culture that we don’t identify with yet we identify one in which we were raised. There is a constant inner struggle that goes on within each of us between the two worlds. We are not white enough to be white, and yet we are not culturally Korean enough to be Korean. We may look the part of being Korean, but most adoptees still struggle with identifying with the Korean culture.

Whether you are transracially adopting or not, it is important to know that we as adoptees have a lot going on underneath the surface. We may have memories that may be triggered by smells, locations, seasons, food or even sound. Personally, I am not sure that I have any memories sounded by these but I know there are some that have them based on food and seasons. We don’t always remember events, but our bodies do, we don’t remember any possible neglect or abuse, but our bodies do, and we especially don’t always remember the trauma of being separated from our biological family but our bodies do. Please support our emotional health as well as our physical, we may not know the cause of our pain but help us get the support we need.

Remember to show us compassion and love, sometimes we need an extra hug or an extra reassurance that we are safe and secure. Remember to support us if we decide to search for our biological roots. We are only curious to see where we came from, you cannot blame us for being curious, but we would never replace you.

*This may not apply to all adoptees, but in my experience, this is what I have seen*

Always,

J

Wait…Are YOU her Mom?

While I was checking out in the grocery store with my two children the cashier asked, “Um…where does the blonde hair come from?” My daughter does not have the same physical features that I do, her hair is golden yellow, her eyes are one of the most beautiful blues I have ever seen, and her skin is milky white, she physically appears the polar opposite to my monolid eyes, dark hair and olive skin tone. During the four years, I’ve been this little girl’s mother, I always heard the same types of questions. People wanted to know how me, being of Korean ethnicity came to be the mother of a blue-eyed blonde hair little girl. As a foster parent and eventually an adoptive parent, I never want to explain my little girl’s past to complete strangers, I felt it was intrusive an inappropriate. She is still very little and she doesn’t even comprehend her history or life before she came to live with us. My response was very curt, I simply stated that she got the hair from her father, it was quite the clever answer if you ask me, both her biological and adoptive fathers have blonde hair. Technically I wasn’t deceitful, I was able to provide an appropriate answer while still protecting my daughter’s privacy. The cashier asked if those were strong genes given that my hair is so dark, I nodded and proceeded to finish checking out my groceries.

Since this little girl came into our home, she was one of the best things to come into my life. She has challenged me in ways that my son never did and gave me a lot of things to self-reflect over. Part of the topics I discuss in my book is because of her, and my desire to provide her with the best home and mental support available to her. My hope is that she would be able to process things that had happened in her past and would be able to heal from them. By this time I had also started to become part of the KAD community (Korean Adoptee), this too aided in the self-reflection and hearing stories from other people.

Adoption creates something within us, it leaves a scar that only other adoptees speak of and understand, some of us can instantly connect even without meeting in person. The experiences and stories that I have heard are a comfort to know that it wasn’t just my experience or something unique to me. There are not a lot of adoptees who speak about their feelings or about the feeling of being stuck in two different worlds. Being a transracial adoptee AND adoptive mom has its own struggles and stories. There are countless instances in which I can feel and see the glares, the questioning looks, and comments that have been made.

There was one evening while I was attending a friend’s church, a woman approached me from the congregation and asked me if I felt grateful that my parents adopted me. Most likely from the look on my face, this poor woman didn’t realize what she had said. Grateful? GRATEFUL? My mind could not process being grateful, I was a baby when I was adopted, I wasn’t given a choice or an option on where to go, I was just sent where I was placed. Even now decades later I can only speculate what my life would have been like if my parents would have not adopted me. The different scenarios that someone could dream up are endless.

Why don’t we, as adoptees speak out more? For me personally, I was always concerned about what people would think or how it would make my parents feel. My intentions were never to hurt them but my feelings and experiences are different than others. However, I believe that adoptees need to tell their stories, that even pain and trauma can emerge from growing up in loving two parent stable homes. That there is something significant that happens when you adopt a child or even a baby. Our experiences are unique and significant for others to hear. If we don’t speak up and use our voices to tell our stories we have failed future adoptees and adoptive parents. Without us taking the courage to use the voices we’ve been given leaves an opportunity for nothing to change. Be courageous and tell your story, experience, and feelings even just to your friends.

Always,

J

Too Damn Nice

There was a point in my life that I used to joke I was only 2% nice, 3% on a good day or if you were in my close group of friends. However as I’ve looked back, I notice that I was too damn nice to those surrounding me, to those who may have not deserved it. Growing up everyone was a critic, someone somewhere had an opinion. Hell sometimes I still second guess myself and some of the decisions I make. As I’ve walked through this journey it finally dawned on me that I was not put on this earth to please everyone. In my adolescence I would spend so much time and energy into becoming a chameleon and putting everyone’s needs ahead of mine. Maybe I wanted to be liked, or hear words of affirmation but everything changed once I stopped. Once I had my own opinions and started making decisions based on what was best for me, my family and my children the waves started to come. Everyone had an opinion, and the toxicity started to run rampant. The environment was hostile and sometimes down right nasty, even during family gatherings I would get ambushed. After putting some distance between myself and this toxic environment I could finally breath. The realization that I would never be able to please everyone finally sunk in I finally had figured out that no matter how good something was or how much people pleasing I could do, it would never be enough and that was never a reflection on me. Toxic people suck the life out of you and in the midst of it you don’t realize how much you lose yourself. Over time the toxicity takes over and you start to become the very thing you hate. No more toxic people. No more allowing people in your life to make you feel less than. My mental health and stress level is more important then living up to someone else’s expectations of me. We were created all for something different and thankfully we each get the opportunity to choose our own dreams and goals. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever thought that I would be self publishing a book, much less writing about my experiences for the masses to read. This was MY goal, something I thought up. I didn’t have someone telling me to finish this or write it, I was finally in control. Damn it feels good. Removing toxic people from your life sometimes isn’t as easy as just cutting all contact, naturally that would be the easiest. While I started looking through and weeding through everyone in my life I began to pay attention to the way people would interact with me, friends and family included. My mind would make a mental note how often I would have to reach out to people, who reached out to me and I began noticing patterns. There were some that started to respect the new found boundaries I had made while others would immediately knock down my fence and ask me why it was there in the first place. During my first few interactions my fence wasn’t very strong, I would succumb to the conflict or guilt and I would spiral back down. The less I would reach out to these toxic people the better I began to feel, I could breath again and I would notice that my stress level would decrease. My anxiety was easier to control and I found that I spent more nights getting restful sleep. If you have toxic people in your life one way to start it to put up boundaries, know your limits and start limiting how much contact you have. Wishing you all the best. No more toxic people.

Always,

J

Stop the Stigma

Alright, it’s time to be truthful. Anxiety sucks. Depression sucks. There are days that I hate having to convince myself that some of my own thoughts are misleading and untrue. Do you know how exhausting that can be? How much work it actually takes to keep yourself put together even with the help of medication? I have struggled with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and complex ptsd since my adolescence and have only been on medication the last three years. I can’t imagine how my life would have been different if I had gotten help sooner, or had been surrounded by people who didn’t think mental illness carried such a stigma. Because I have been helped so much through medication and therapy I decided that it was time to be open about my experience and try to stop the stigma of mental health. There are days that I don’t want to do anything except lay in bed and eat take out while binge watching Netflix while refusing to shower. Thankfully those days are few and far between and if I get into that funk my kids usually want to cuddle up and watch a movie with me.

Why is this so hard to talk about? What makes anxiety, depression, bipolar, trauma, abuse, and other mental illnesses so difficult to talk about? Treatment for mental illnesses has made so many leaps and bounds since the days of straight jackets and haldol. I will admit that at first it’s difficult even for me, I was worried the looks I was going to get or if I would be seen differently by my friends. Once I opened up, it wasn’t so weird to have conversations about what medications were working and eventually a few friends started talking about their struggle with mental illness as well.

It’s time to stop the stigma. The quote above from Jennifer Lawrence says it all. We are able to talk about medication needed for diabetes, hyperthyroidism, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even acid re-flux but not about medication needed to help us mentally.  It’s not any different, some people cannot control the level of serotonin in their brain any more then someone can control the levels of insulin their pancreas is able to produce. We need to have more open conversations surrounding mental health and the time to start is now.

Inspiration for Bermuda Grass

Those of you who know me, know a little about my childhood. At the very least, you know I was adopted, loss my mom when I was seven and recently lost my dad. Over the years I never thought that I would ever write a book, much less be so open about my emotions. Back in 2014, I became a foster parent. Our first place arrived in October and we officially became her forever home in May 2018. At the time she was placed with us, I was working at a mental health facility. Most of the day I was around therapists and we would discuss various topics. In college I took a childhood development class and graduated with my BA in Psychology, so I know a little. From multiple conversations with different therapists, I knew our Little Miss would eventually need therapy. It was from there I began getting her involved in therapy. Several months later and after a conversation with a close friend, she asked me how I was so strong. She wanted to know how survived everything I had gone through. She was currently going through the loss of her aunt to breast cancer. It was at that point that I thought maybe I should show the world, through writing. During one Sunday at church, there was a small message about things being completed, at that point I knew I had to write a book.

*Keep watching and following to hear where I got the idea to use this grass as a symbol*

Thank you for all the support.

Always,

J