on adoption and having two mothers

Sarah is my natural mother. My mother of origin. The mother of my origin. My birth mother. My biological mother. She lives in the Irish midlands, just a few miles from the very centre of the country. I was conceived within her, inside a white Ford Zodiac, parked up along a quiet country lane one evening. I grew inside her, and she gave birth to me. She had travelled to England when she was 7 months pregnant. She hid the pregnancy from her family, including my grandmother.

8 weeks after I was born we were separated and I was adopted.

Wendy is my adoptive mother. She raised me, with her husband, my very dear and now sadly deceased dad Bill. I never wanted for her love. She was always wired to give, as she still is. Age has now gifted her with blindness and disability, but her love, joy and gratitude for life are unabating.

Sarah came first. Wendy came second.

I’d wondered all my life about where I was from and when I was 26 I set out to find my natural mother. I found her very quickly, in another country, and a month later I flew to Ireland and met her, and soon after we met I went into complete turmoil.

I had grown up to know only one mother, my loving, kind mother Wendy, and now I had two mothers. But having two mother’s isn’t possible, and my body and head kept reminding me of this biological truth. I was almost constantly tormented by thoughts, streaming tumultuously forth and entangled with consuming physical aching and wrenching pain, as my soul surged and attempted to withdraw and I struggled to make sense of it all. I knew it was impossible to have two mothers, but now I had two, so it must surely be possible, but much as I tried to resolve this in my mind it was an impossible task. It was agony, and it was overwhelming.

For a few years this was on repeat. How could I have two mothers when we can only have one mother? Sarah was my mother, she had conceived me, grown me and birthed me. That was clear. But somehow I had another, Wendy, and she had been my mother as long as I could remember, giving me everything I ever knew a mother could.

I knew that this was core to my journey and to my very being. I didn’t try to exclude Sarah. I didn’t try to exclude Wendy. To do so may have palliated how I felt and may have brought me some semblance of peace or resolution, but I knew that however painful and difficult, and no matter how much I suffered, I knew I had to stay with it, even though it was splitting me and tearing at my soul.

One summer’s day many years ago, and years after I had found Sarah, I was laying in the grass in the grounds of friend’s parent’s stately home in Norfolk, England. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon. All the land as far as could be seen had been designed by the 18th-century landscape architect Capability Brown. Every tree that surrounded me had been chosen by him when still a sapling, knowing that it would be many generations until the full splendour of his creations would be enjoyed. The lake alongside me was the fruit of a monumental and considered excavation, dug without machines by the hands of thousands of workers. The totality of it all harmonising with the ground beneath me. I was in the company of many friends, making merriment and playing around.

I started thinking of my Irish mum. I was thinking of her married surname ‘Flower’. I was wishing that I could have been a Flower as well, but I knew that this could never have been, as she had conceived me with my father, the man she had laid with before she met her husband. The resisted familiarity of feeling a partial belonging to many families but not feeling that I truly belonged to any family pulled me away from any rest that I had.

And suddenly and literally out of the blue, I received a direct visitation. An unmitigated encounter with the divine. Not a vision nor a dream, but a cocooning and embracing by a cloud base that had come from nothing. And out of this sublime softness, she appeared, rising up and revealing herself to me. I was seeing her with my heart. She was the mother I had been yearning for, but not Sarah or Wendy…she was the mother, the source of everything, the divine mother, the source of all mothers. I met her and the source of her. The glowing mother from which all mothers manifest as beautiful facets, each reflecting her original luminosity and love. And in that moment she directly connected with me, and I saw and recognised her with my heart, and I felt my heart simply, gently and with such loving kindness, directly inform my head, and all the turmoil of my inner storm was gone. She showed me through direct experience that Sarah and Wendy were not separate, but are simply aspects of the one Mother, the Goddess, each expressing what She is in their own unique ways. Both of them perfect and complete. And as soon as I knew this in my heart, in the most exquisitely economical way she immediately merged back into the softness and left. As soon as she knew that I knew her she was gone.

And there I was again, simply laying on the grass, in the sunshine. It had all just taken a moment and my life was changed forever. And although I hadn’t moved nor made a sound, after some time I realised that everyone around me had also gone quiet, and as I lay there with my eyes closed my friend asked me “what was that that just happened?!” And through the tears that were running down my face, tears that had washed my vision clear, I told them that I had just met the mother, our mother, and that I was now at peace.

And that night I danced ’til dawn.

I was interviewed about adoption by the author and screenwriter Anne Heffron.

“I have been putting off writing this post because I can’t possibly do the topic justice. I feel like I’m going to try to describe a beautiful baby to you by just showing you the arm.

But what the hell. Here goes.

I read a post on Facebook where a guy, Daniel Burge, was talking about helping an adopted person heal by giving her a dose of oxytocin.

Did someone say oxytocin?

I thought you had to hug or eat chocolate to get that stuff, and there Daniel was dosing someone with it! I wrote to him immediately and asked if he’d let me interview him for a blog post. I didn’t know he was in Ireland. I didn’t know he was a homeopathy practitioner and that he worked with family constellations and adoption and identity trauma healing. All I knew was that he had dosed someone with oxytocin. I was like a dog hot on the scent of a bone: wild, intent, hungry.

I’m going to start at the end. Daniel was one of the most joyful people with whom I have ever spoken, and when we finished our conversation, I went into a funk. It had to do with three bottles of ketchup. I’m still so upset I had to pause right now to regroup. I just want to get those bottles and smash them up and get ketchup all over the walls like blood, but I haven’t figured out a good space to do this in and so these feelings are still in me, waiting to go berserk. Writing before I’ve done the ketchup carnage is difficult, but I want to get this out.

Daniel is adopted, and he talked about how we as adoptees go through something so epic—the transformational experience heroes go through in their journeys–something that causes the ego to fall away and a new, supercharged being to emerge, but because we are so small, we don’t have the brainpower to process this and what makes a hero a hero as an adult can leave us feeling damaged, flawed. Like an outsider. The loss experienced in being relinquished offers a taste of enlightenment, but we are too young to incorporate it into our being in a healthy manner, and so we, often, suffer.

But it is in us, this experience, this transformation, and it makes us amazing people. The trick is to realize what happened to our brains when we were young and to use what damaged us to our advantage.

Daniel explained to me the difference between stress and trauma. Normally, when someone gets stressed, the cause of the stress goes away and the person returns to stasis. What makes a situation traumatic is when the source of the stress doesn’t go away. So, for example, when a child experiences the loss of the mother and the mother doesn’t return, the stress can get intense because the child believes he won’t survive the situation, and he survives by splitting his brain. Now there is a healthy part, a traumatized part, and a survival part, and for the rest of his life, he lives from the survivor part. From then on the person is never really there as he is always waiting for the horrific thing to happen again.

(Not everyone experiences this, and so we have the word “resilient” to describe the ability to experience what others would interpret as trauma but to not interpret it as such.)

But, Daniel says, heaven on earth is available for everyone, even for those who are not now fully present. As a homeopathy practitioner, he works with the healing properties of plants and minerals, and I will write about this in a follow-up post because Daniel is like a Ted conference—there is too much life-changing information to get it in one sitting. How can I possibly talk about the plants when I am focusing on the ketchup?

This brings me to the time in our conversation when he mentioned family dynamics. And this is where things started to get me all worked up.

I don’t even want to write about it. I just want to throw my computer out the window, but because I care about you and I want to share what I learned with you, I’ll try to act like I’m in control of myself for a few more minutes.

I have never been a fan of ketchup, so I am very surprised it has been the object of my furied attention these last few days. I keep thinking about where I can smash the bottles, how it will feel to smash them, how I will feel after I smash them.

So let’s get to the why do I want to smash them part.

Daniel says he keeps a box of faceless figures in his office, but he said I could do this exercise with anything, ketchup bottles for example. Working with what he called soul movements (the important stuff, he said, moves slowly, and so we should connect to where we feel most deeply and move from that place), I can take one bottle and look at it as my birth mother and place it on the table. I can then take the second bottle, my birth father, and decide where it will go on the table, and the third bottle, as I’m sure you can guess, would be me. I could place that where I think it belongs.

As soon as Daniel mentioned “ketchup bottle” and “birth mother,” all I could picture was smashing the bottle against the table as hard as I could, repeatedly, ketchup and glass flying. When he mentioned “ketchup bottle” and “birth father,” I saw myself smashing the two bottles together (the birth mother bottle was miraculously whole again so I could do this), repeatedly, ketchup and broken glass flying. I could not even imagine where I would place the me bottle. I would just smash it against the edge of the table to get rid of it.

Well.

That was not expected.

I had thought Daniel and I were going to talk about oxytocin and how I, as an adopted person, could, frankly, get high.

I told him what I pictured doing to the ketchup bottles and he made some happy Daniel noise. “That’s the beauty of this work,” he said. “It lets you access murderous rage.”

Murderous rage? I had thought I’d pretty much come to terms with my birth parents, the whole adoption scenario. Good lord. What was going to happen when I brought my mom and dad and brothers into the ketchup situation? I can’t even get my brain to go there yet. I have to actually go out and do the first scenario to get it out of my system.

The thing with working with the bottles is that my brain is given images to work with, which is powerful in a way that straight talk-therapy does not access. I had never smashed anything in therapy. Never even thought about it.

Thinking about the bottles shows me that I am so angry with my birth mother for giving birth to me. I am so angry with my birth father for impregnating her, and I am so angry with myself for existing. This is heavy stuff. Maybe it’s part of the reason my stomach hurts much of the time. Maybe it’s why I get irrationally angry when things trigger me. Maybe after I smash the bottles I will be better able to access the sheer joy of being alive, better able to live out the miracle of the fact that two strangers had to meet and have sex in order for me to be born. Maybe then I will better be able to feel just how happy I am to be on this planet, to be me.

So I’m going for it. I’m going to do it outside somewhere tomorrow, on Thanksgiving. It’s the perfect day to make a mess in order to find the joy beneath it all.

I’ll tell you more about Daniel’s work soon. I feel so lucky to have found him”.

Anne Heffron and Daniel BurgeAnne Heffron is the co-writer of the movie Phantom Halo and the author of the memoir You Don’t Look Adopted. She blogs about adoption, writing, and motherhood at anneheffron.com.

Daniel Burge Wild Communion plant medicine. Photo of Foxglove Digitalis Purpurea

A commissioned piece from the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy on how we can enter into direct communication with nature. Since then it has also been published by The Knowing Field, the international journal for constellation work.

Recent research shows that there is more to the life of plants than we ever imagined and knew before. Intimate communications among them, sensory perception, and energetic responses are some of the new characteristics we have discovered when it comes to the plant world. What do these new personality traits mean for inter-species relationships between humans and plants? How can we utilize these new understandings to dive deeper into connection and relationship with our photo-synthesizing neighbors? In this week’s blog piece, Daniel Burge explores intimate communication and fellowship with plants in the surrounding lands of his home in Ireland. He tells of profound messages, longing, and a deep love which only a flower could evoke. May this piece inspire you to explore personal relationship and contact with the plant kingdom around your own home. Perhaps they have a message for you which you need to hear.

Wild Communion

I read this morning that 1,700 new plant species were discovered last year. The ‘State of the World’s Plants’ report, led by scientists at the Royal Botanical Garden Kew, has also listed 28,000 plants as having recognised medicinal uses.

Western medicine still attempts to heal by exclusion or opposition, creating ever more ‘anti’ drugs – the antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories and antivirals for example. In this inclusive world where everything belongs, this attitude can only fail, and we are witnessing this as humanity once again turns back to nature for original, natural and exceptionally powerful medicine.

The medicine of the plants is a real medicine, one of wholeness and encounter, and although scientists still attempt to isolate the ‘active’ components of plants to treat disease, it is only when a plant is fully intact, can its delicate and yet formidable web of intelligence work directly upon us.

Would you like to experience this potent medicine? To meet directly with the wonderful plants? To taste, feel and dance with their living medicine, as a communion of perfect aliveness in which everything is realised as one?

“Everything vanishes, falls apart, doesn’t it? Nature is always the same but nothing in her that appears to us lasts. Our art must render the thrill of her permanence, along with her elements, the appearance of all her changes. It must give us a taste of her eternity.” – Paul Cezanne

Nature is wild, so wild it can take over. And it always takes over. It also has a presence that is as permanent as it’s seasons; plants and flowers are momentary passings. If grace unlocks the door, and you open to the wildness, it will take over and assimilate you as well.

If any disbelief that you have about this can stop, even for just a moment, you may enter a wild and majestic world and see the truth of what I am sharing for yourself.

It isn’t called the Plant Kingdom for nothing.

As the ideas of being separate dissolve and you leave what the intellect knows behind, you may be left in awe and wonder at the indivisibility of all things: That you can communicate with nature, and that nature will communicate with you.

You are currently appearing in much the same way as a wave comes out of the ocean or a leaf grows into the world; the difference being that you think you’re divided from what is all around.

All we need to do to be in direct communion with nature is to suspend our disbelief that we are not already in communion.

It has been said that the only reason that someone isn’t happy is that they believe they aren’t already happy. Believing that happiness must look a certain way, this imaginary solution to the problem prevents experiencing happiness. The solution becomes the problem.

So come with me, into the forest and we shall simply leave the problem behind.

Daniel Burge Wild Communion plant medicine

The Plants

The plants are the sensitive ones- deeply feeling and sensing, highly intelligent and ready for relationship. If you are ready, you can reach out and meet them, and they will teach you the ways of the heart.

The plants are always harmonizing and balancing the environment. If you commune with them, they will bring you home to your natural, resonant, responsive and wild self.

A plant’s awareness is so advanced that they know when you are coming, and they will already have adjusted their phytochemistry so that when you meet, they will have already customized their medicine just for you.

So enter the safety of the forest, feel with your heart, trust your sensations, and commune with the medicine of awareness as you notice your walking and movements just happening.

If you listen and respond to the plants, they will speak to you. Don’t be afraid of the wild. It’s the wild that makes you alive.

Walking further into the forest, something will start calling- calling to you with an invitation to meet. Follow your feet. You may be struck by disbelief. Keep going.

Daniel Burge Wild Communion plant medicine. Photo of Bluebells.

Bluebells

It started with bluebells. We met in an ancient wood where I live- deep in the forest near a lake shore in the west of Ireland. Their magical floating carpet calling me in with intoxicating iridescence. Stunning me with extraordinary beauty; standing on the edge of everything, I felt a shift as I humbly asked their permission, granting me the entrance to their realm. Bowing to their collective presence, I climbed up and onto the grassy bank. There was no going back.

Moving slowly, following my body until the forest floor found me. I laid down, gradually nestling into the earth.

I am now on their level, they are standing tall and flowering down, I am aware, and aware of their awareness of me.

Flowers caressing my face, I turn my head to one side and want to connect as intimately as I know how, I open my mouth and let a few of the flowers drop inside, where they rest on my tongue. And I wait in anticipation.

And into my head, the bluebells speak…

“If anything is droppable, drop it”

I drop, deep into the ground, all holding on just drains away. My longing has been answered, and the yearning to hear nature speak directly to me is real. As clear as a bell. A bluebell.

Tasting the nectar of the forest and breathing in the shimmering light, I go home, stunned and in awe, to return the next day.

This time I ask them a question…

“What now?”

“You think you need something to reach the next step. You don’t”.

I instantly realize that I have everything I ever needed.

And the next day I ask them…

“What’s left?”

“Nothing,” they say

And there was nothing left to say or do. The next day, all was quiet. Every time I passed in the week, I never felt or heard a calling to enter. And two days later, while in my clinic and as I sat in wonder, I went through a spontaneous, deep healing process.

The Victorians said to be careful to not fall asleep in a field of bluebells, as you might wake up mad. I had awoken, and I could hear voices, but I wasn’t mad. I had become wildly sane.

The medicine of bluebell helps us to look inwards to find our true feelings and communicate with others, to simply be and to listen to our hearts. They help us to find the inner space and stillness to listen to our feelings and to belong.

A year passed and I waited for my beloved bluebells to return, which they did, but they came in silence. I felt them teaching me to know completion and to not linger on the past, however wondrous it had been.

Daniel Burge Wild Communion plant medicine. Photo of Foxglove Digitalis Purpurea

Foxglove

The bluebells became dormant but I felt like I was being watched, and a new silent calling awaited me. Magnificent green spears appearing everywhere adorned with purple cocooning slippers. Although I didn’t know their name, I knew what they were, walking amongst them and bathing in their unconditional welcoming. The magnificent Purple Foxglove, Digitalis Purpurea.

I experienced overwhelming feelings of falling into love. Standing in the kitchen one evening, my was heart aching. Overwhelmed with emotions, I apologized to my partner that I was sorry but I couldn’t stay- that I had to go back to the forest, to be with the foxgloves. The feeling was so strong and dinner was almost on the table, yet I couldn’t describe what I was feeling. She looked at me and said it was Ok and that I should go, as I was having a love affair. She was right.

Foxglove medicine seduced me to the core. Intoxicated by pure love, pouring through my heart, foxglove really does go straight into the heart, healing emotional turmoil as it harmonizes.

Foxglove is used for helping with grief concerning the father, when traumatized by their death or loss. They are clinically proven to treat congestive heart failure (CHF) and heart rhythm problems (atrial arrhythmias). A potent cardiotonic, physicians use foxglove to strengthen the force of the heartbeat. It contains molecules called glycosides that stimulate heart cells.

Daniel Burge Wild Communion plant medicine. Photo of Cow Parsley

I am in the very same woods as I write this, sitting amongst the cow parsley that is now growing where the bluebells were just a week ago. Their delicate snowflakes suspended in space, flowers of lace extending beyond physical form into a knowing field that soothes away anxieties that were below my conscious awareness until I felt them disperse into the air, dissolving the stress of the day.

You are more connected than your intellect can ever realize. Concepts such as systemic consciousness, and interrelatedness are as close as the mind can get to this.

You are beyond connectedness.

Breathe.

Relax.

This is it.

There is nothing that separates you from the natural world, as you are part of an indivisible edgelessness that is beyond anything that the thought stream that you refer to as your mind could ever comprehend.

Why would you want to stop a river?

What makes you believe that the space between thoughts is silent?

Where are the dividing lines between ‘things’?

Even ideas such as ‘being in the moment’ just reinforce the idea that there is a moment and a separate you that could be in it. No wonder it never really worked. Reality is so much simpler.
Meeting the plant kingdom is just like meeting your best friends. It doesn’t matter if you are shy. You may be fearful that it won’t happen to you in the same way it does to me or to anyone else. No matter.

This is a personal journey for you of trust and love. All that matters is that you show up. And if you do, the plants will meet you, and your life, most radically and for the better, will never be the same again.

You may just realize one day, or even this very moment, the spaces and splits that appear around us and inside us were only ever imaginary divisions, and that nothing has ever needed re-integrating. We yearn so to bridge by reaching out and seeking connection. Separateness is just an illusion, and we and everything else is perfect just as it is.

 


Daniel Burge lives in wonder in the west of Ireland and works with clients around the world. He can be contacted at www.danielburge.com

Relevant Websites
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/18/plant-hunters-discovered-1700-new-species-last-year
https://stateoftheworldsplants.com

On Friday 14th of this month, my beloved dad Bill drew his last breath and passed away, into the soft and gentle dawn.

The night before I had made him as comfortable as possible, and eased his bed up next to my mum’s to make a double, adjusting the heights so that she was able to lay in bed and hold his hand as they slept. I kissed them both goodnight and went to sleep in the next room. I knew that it wouldn’t be long, but how much longer, I didn’t know.

As my mum awoke, just after sunrise and still holding his hand, she realised that he had just gone.

Theirs was a 60-year love affair.

My father’s funeral is on Monday 1:15 pm at Seven Hills Crematorium in Suffolk. I’ll be telling everyone at the service how it felt being raised in a home with the most loving, gentle and kindest man I’ve ever known. And of course, I’ll also speak of the time that he and Marilyn Munroe shared a kiss. Although my mum wished that she’d been his first, she had made an exception for this.

I had my hair cut today for the funeral. Even the woman who cut my hair wanted to tell me that she’d met him a few times when he’d dropped my mum off. “I loved him”, she said. She then stopped cutting for a moment, paused and turning to look at me directly she said: “I really did”.

Joni once sang that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone. Thankfully when it came to my dad and me, we always knew what we’d got. It was only in the past few years that dad’s dementia stopped him hugging and kissing me every time we met but by then he was well into his 80’s. I remember growing up bewildered as to why other dads and their sons didn’t just hug and kiss each other when they were together.

Earlier this year I asked him, “Dad are you OK?”
“Yes, son.”
“Are you happy?”
“Yes.”
“Are you content?”
“Oh yes.”
“Is there anything that you would want to be different?”
Laughing gently, he said “no son, nothing”.

My mother, now blind and disabled, laughed and looked to me and said, “Well Dan, life couldn’t possibly get any better than this could it?”

William Fred Burge. 15th August 1931 – 14th July 2017.

Goodbye Daddio. You were the one.