Silent Grief

Silent Grief

I have decided to share some of my story because thousands of woman live with this silent grief. Un-named, locked away, deep inside ourselves. We hold  this grief silently in our hearts while we ‘get on’ with our lives.  I feel that it is time, to bring this grief out of the shadows, into the light.

Writing is something I do alongside gardening. It helps to take the words that float in my mind and put them outside myself. This seems to help my own healing journey.

I am one of the thousands of women and sometimes children who lost our babies to adoption. Our stories are deeply buried under a social construction that defined us as sluts. Some of us conceived from rape, some of us from the man who was loved.

I have reached  70 years on this Earth. Death does not seem so far away these days. I had the good fortune  to hear  Doctor Kubler Ross speak when I  was 33 years old. She worked in hospitals teaching medics, how to be with death in a more natural way. Doctor Kubler Ross talks about ‘unfinished business’. She suggests it is good to clear unfinished business, as a preparation for the inevitable. When it is my time,  if possible, I want to glide into death peacefully, with unfinished business cleared.

I was almost 18 years old in 1965 when my baby was born. One decision I did  make was to be open about having my baby. I was told ‘to get on with my life and forget.‘  I was never able to forget. As a consequence of my telling people, I had a baby adopted, women often said to me “I could never give a baby up.” Counsellors told me “I must feel guilt” I never knew what to say, sometimes I felt angry.   I was puzzled by their response, was I hiding the guilt ? A couple of years ago I looked  the word guilt up in a dictionary. This  word is used when one has committed a crime, done something wrong. I had done nothing wrong. I was relieved to discover the meaning of quilt because I thought I may have been in denial.  That concern put to rest helped but I  wondered if  I was stuck in my painful story for the rest of my life.

When I left my baby in the country hospital a few days after birthing, I dared not look back.  There were no tears. My body had reduced itself to six and half stone. I had to hold my skirt up with safety pins.  I was alone, little money, no choice.

I write my story with compassion and love for myself. I found these feelings when I began to heal.

Joni Mitchell helped me understand myself. Her song, Little Green is about her daughter which she relinquished to adoption. I also connected with a group of woman during the 1990’s   who had similar stories. One of them called adoption ” baby stealing” .  As the years went by, I found I wasn’t alone. The term ‘Birth Mother’ was developed as a name for us. However, that name doesn’t feel right to me. I prefer to be called ‘ Mother who lost her baby to adoption’.

I was a nurse when I became pregnant. Shame, replaced grief.  After the birth, I couldn’t go back to the hospital where I had begun my training. Instead I went to Sunnyside hospital, in Christchurch. A Mental hospital /institution and began work as a nurse aid. There I found women/patients with very sad stories and pain. I began my life again, looking after others, I viewed as more troubled than myself. That became an addiction for many years. It  helped hold my own painful story still and in place without expression.

While pregnant in 1965, I entered a world that now defined me as fallen woman,  a slut, an unmarried mother. When I was told I must feel quilt and I was the kind of woman who could give her baby up, I developed deep self loathing. I buried those feelings along with the grief.

I was changed forever. I lived as an outsider. I could no longer fit in the world I was brought up in. During my twenties I watched other women get married and have children. That had been a dream for me but it died.

I have been through some serious troubles in my life. However, I am very good at finding the positive. The gold that gets spun from straw. From that time in my life when the church and society rejected me,  deep inside I knew I had done nothing wrong.  Looking back, I can see that feminism was waking up in my bones. I had a new strength, a kind of rebellion. My world view had changed never to be the same again. I became a fringe dweller. I am very proud, living my life as a fringe dweller. I began to question and open myself to new ways of thinking and living in the world.

A year after the birth of my son. I met an older woman who was to change my life, in ways that have served me well. Edith Eilers, she was in her sixties an artist, vegetarian into organics and Krisnamurti, a fringe dweller. I listened  to her and read the books she gave me. I still bake the bread she taught me to bake. Edith taught me how to build compost, I have eight compost bins today.  She taught me about natural child-birth, nature cure and my next babies were all born at home.  I was ripe for a new world view because the one I grew up in abandoned me. My self-worth was in the gutter but I was not afraid to be different.

My Grief

At first my grief took the form of looking at children in prams in the hope I might just catch a glimpse. I yearned to know he was safe, loved. Every birthday, I  silently wondered. I hadn’t held or seen him, he was taken away by the cruel nursing Sister as soon as he was born. My memory, even as I write is very clear. My baby is lying next to my leg after birthing, I can feel him.

While I was birthing, the same cruel Sister took me to the birthing theater. I had to lie on the high table, she told me to stay there. I rang the bell once to go to the toilet, she came in and said; “go by yourself ” I crawled on the floor because I was scared I would fall, my walking was not steady, I was left alone. Even after birthing my son, I ate alone in my room. I wasn’t to talk, or be with any of the other women. I was firmly in my place.

A few days after his birth I was in a lawyer’s office signing my baby away. Swearing on the bible I would never search for him. I had been a practicing Christian.  As a child I loved the stories at Sunday School. My relationship with the bible and the Church stopped.

One year, a so-called friend working for Social Welfare looked up my file. She told me she knew where my 11-year-old son was but she didn’t feel I could be trusted. That was the first time I saw my anger. I was washing a milk bottle at the time and suddenly found myself throwing this in her direction.  I loved my son, I would never disrupt his life. All I wanted was to know was alive and safe. I figured from what she found that he was alive.

I didn’t understand I was grieving.  Joss Shawyer wrote a book called Death by Adoption. I found the book in the 70’s and it was the first time I felt as if someone understood. From then on I changed what I said, I was able to say “I lost my baby to adoption.”

When my next son was born  in 1976, I noted I was very neurotic. I couldn’t leave him with anyone. If he disappeared out of my sight as a toddler, I panicked. I knew why I was reacting like this.  From my reactions I became aware that I needed to heal because it wasn’t healthy to be this way with my son.  Social welfare wanted to visit me because I was single. I refused and told them ” if they were to visit every new-born, that would be fair”. I was  financially self-sufficient. I was so paranoid I didn’t register my son until forced to. Yes, grief was showing up but still with no tears. Even my desire for home birth was to keep authority away from me and my babies. I had two more babies. Each birth brought back to me the reality of the past loss.

My son and I were reunited in 1986. The night before I met him I couldn’t sleep and I began to cry, these were my first tears. It has been a slow process, my grief had been frozen solid. Three years ago I broke my arm badly. I went to a man David Chittenden who did the healing side of Aikido, Kiatsu. David  asked me one day “what was the grief in my bones” ? Ironically, David was blind from birth.  On my next morning walk, the grief started to roll down my checks with sounds of sobs. I realized, I held the grief in my bones because that was all I had to hold. I was now ready to let this flow.

I came to understand that indigenous people had their children taken. It is a sure way to bring a nation to its knees. They too were seen as not fit to raise their children in a manner that suited the colonizers. I wept when I read the book Stolen Children, the indigenous Australian stories. I could always cry for others.

I have worked in  Mental health for a few years. I saw suffering mothers who had lost children and adopted people who were wounded in different ways. I began to read to help me understand my sons story. Continue reading

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Dark Night of the Soul

Ruby’s eyes were smiling as she watched me doing my yoga, on the mat beside her. Ruby became my dog companion 6 years ago. She was very traumatized her bodily reactions told me her story. Her eyes have softend and she is beginning to trust me and her own personal dogness. Ruby could feel that my dark night of the soul was passing.

I could feel my body again from the inside, as I moved and breathed into each yoga pose. I have a great teacher, Mike from Astanga yoga studio in Wellington. While I practice I hear his voice in my ear, “go soft.”

Go soft, such a different approach from the Western way. I began yoga to strengthen and stretch my body. My body was telling me about places that needed yoga. It was time. However, Western Society was telling me, “this is old age, get ready for a rest home” My answer to that is “I couldn’t eat the food in those places, I would get sick and die.”

I made a commitment 36 years ago to face my inner pain.  It felt it an important reason for being here. I wanted to live with inner peace. It is a journey I am still on and no doubt will be when I embrace death.

2017 brought with it some deep change. I had a feeling this would happen after my travel to the  Israel attending the Dead Sea Aikido seminar the year before. By the time October arrived  in 2017 I thought I had made the changes. However, by then what is generally called depression was slowly creeping into my thinking. I recognized it when I had thoughts of  “I don’t fit in this world .”  For me in the past those thoughts, led to suicidal thinking or planning. This time, I was alert to them. My body was already slowing down. I had gone to my personal dark night of the soul.

This blog is my own personal experience and views from my own journey and many years of listening to others. I have different views on physical and mental health from the mainstream. For myself it is making sense of my reactions so I can grow.

When I began my search for meaning in 1981, there was not much around. I had worked in mental health and saw the effects of medications, isolation and shock treatment. However, even as a young 18 year old I could see the patients were rather like myself, human beings that had a story of sorrow.  One of my addictions was caring for others because doing that eased my own pain.

I met Krisnamurti when I was 23 years old, attending his talks and I will never forget the feeling I got from him. When he held my hand, his eyes met mine and there was something very different about this man. I realized years later it was pure love. I believe that meeting  kick started my journey.  Ten years later in 1981 I began to read and over the years I have evolved into reading Pema Chodron, Thomas More, Eckhart Tolle, Gabor Mate, Dr Kaye Gersch and many others who have helped me make sense of my personal journey.

However, after 17 years of relative inner peace, I found myself back in the dark night of the soul. Although this time was different. When I couldn’t sleep one night, I was weeping. When I went to meditate I wept. I began to let myself weep without trying to work out why.  Looking back that was good for me. My conditioning as Scottish, Shetland, Nordic was to be stoic. I grew up in the 50’s when everyone had deep sorrow and loss from the war. I had been trained well in pick yourself up, stop moaning and carry on.

2017 had serious events for me which began to stack up behind my daily practices. My meditation, Aikido, my healthy living.  ( I was doing all the right things) However, I knew yoga was releasing deep grief in my bones. I could feel it changing me physically.  My mantra is ; old dogs can learn new tricks.

I spent time with a dear friend today. We have different sorrow stories but one thing we have in common. We both understand the pain and the journey. She left me a book, Invisible Heroes- survivors of trauma and how they heal, a very good read. As Gabor Mate says, trauma leaves us disconnected and the healing is finding connection with our -selves and others.

My thoughts of not fitting in, were that disconnection. Many folk who have come to sit with me tell they felt that they never fitted in. I get that and today I feel why would I want to fit into the ‘norm.’ I often encourage others to be the beautiful self that they are.

For me I am a nature based human. I do not fit into a competitive, patriarchal society, even as a child I disliked sport. Chellis Clendinning wrote a book called “I am in Recovery from Western Civilization my copy is well thumbed, falling apart, with many  words and sentences underlined. It was my friend for years. If there had been a 12 step group for that I would have joined.

My struggle was to find meaning, to find my place, to be the unique woman I am. I grew up when being defined as a female was very much restrained by patriarchal conventions. Even within music and the arts. I eventually found  Joni Mitchell’s music while on my adventure to Los Angeles in 1974. In those days a woman traveling by herself was not common. Joni’s music warmed my heart and helped me feel connected in a way that some of the music produced by males of the time never did.

Sometimes people say “why is there so much depression and anxiety just now ?” My view is, that at last, we in the Western world are allowing feelings to be expressed.

When I was raising my babies I got told off for carrying them and demand feeding them. In a phycologists report, for the family court it stated, I was breast feeding overly long and creating unhealthy dependency with my children. Today it is called baby wearing or attachment parenting. People often refer to me as an old Hippy. Hippy-dom was the only group that didn’t think me strange when I was younger, although I didn’t fit there either.

This time I have not become stuck while I visited the dark night of my soul.

I can congratulate myself, all the facing my personal addictions and being with the pain/grief is my path. Aikido has taught me to go with my internal conflict. I understand what the founder  Morihei Ueshiba means when he said; Aikido is victory over oneself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rape aftermath and recovery

I cried when I read  the pychologists report which said; Ms Cheyne clearly satisfies the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Ms Cheyne’s symptomology is highly unlikely to resolve without extensive psychotherapy over a number of years. Ms Cheyne is an excelent candidate for therapy. Nevertheless, even with intensive therapy she will continue to experience some degree of symptomology throught her life. ” To me this felt like a life sentance. My life living with these sypmtoms was not a life that I wanted.

However, along with feeling hopeless something woke up inside me. I knew what I was expeiencing was what I called rape aftermath. Before the horendous experience  my son and I had been through, I was your adverage,dsyfunctional, functioning mother and woman.

I agreed with some of the symptoms listed that made up the diagnosis.However, I could also add to the list.P.T.S.D originates from Shell Shock. This was the diagnosis given to soldiers returing from war. This diagnosis intiled them to insurance and some form of treatment in the U.S.A. There are connections to rape aftermath but also differences.

Rape aftermath carries a social stigma. No Anzac days, no hero’s welcome. The comparison I found was to Vietnam soldiers. They still struggle today, to be regonised. A woman who has been raped lives with shame,quilt,silence and many other unique symptoms. I was told by someone the pack rape that I experience, had something to do with my life style. I found some family and friends withdrew from me. I experienced a lot of alienation. Now given a mental illness, I had a double barrelled stigma to carry. My sufferring was even used against me in the family court. During that time, I feared losing the care of my children.

I experienced a lot of pain, anger, at times suicidal thoughts and other symptoms that were very hard to live with. The opinion that I might not be fit to parent my children was awful. I know they suffered at times from the aftermath I was experiencing and my son had his own aftermath. There was little help or understanding.

However, I was doing Women’s Studies and my feminist understanding was growing along with my determination to recover and prove “them” wrong. When I was twelve a teacher told me I was a determined little  girl but he was a determined man, so he said. We were locked in a battle of wills. There was always a core inside me that knew the truth and could could stand firm and never give up.

I was in recovery from a severe attack on my person and spirit which had triggered other trauma stories I carried silently inside me.It was this knowing that sent me on a search for inner peace. In 2000 I found it, this was a year I hit rock bottom for many reasons.However, I have had no symptoms for sixteen years. I now frame the trauma’s in my past as part of my personal, rich, tapesty , this is a part of who I am.

I am a human being and life brings change this is not always comfortable and can be confronting. I had burried past traumas’ very deeply, they continue to surface at times. However, I am aware, I even welcome them, so I can let them go and grow. I recieve them as compost which feeds my inner peace my compassion.

I found Aikido, I found N.L.P./ self hypnosis, meditation, gardening all ways that help me return to my center. I live with my flight/fight response reset like a perfectly tuned smoke alarm. Only there when needed, not going off when the toast is burning. My relaxation reponse is alive and well.

I understand that human beings have a knowing deep inside them, a knowing which is their own personal, pathway, to inner peace.This pathway takes some training but it takes one to full awareness which continues to grow and enhance inner peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hiding Grief

I remember, the day I felt my mothers’ life force wain as if it was yesterday. We were on holiday, staying in a Crib at Riverton. Walking back from the beach, holding our wet, sandy towels,my hand in hers.  Mum stopped to catch her breath. She often did this, her neck would pulsate while the blood in her body struggled to flow. Mum had suffered rhematic fever twice and a valve in her heart was damaged. However, this time was different. My own heart skipped a beat because I knew it this was not good. For the next nine months until she died on August 5th there were many times  I watched my mother fading away, I was twelve.

It was the late 50’s, not long after the war. Many familes had lost loved ones. The current way was to just carry on, that’s just how it was. After Mum was burried life for me, just carried on, school, I became and adolesent. I moved towns. It was my life but now very different.

Grief seems to hide in the cells of my body, no where to go, just waiting to be noticed.

I recently found some grief while sharing this story with a beloved friend. (We both agreed that death is best done beside those you love.) As the story came out of my mouth, tears sat in my eyes and one dropped on my face.

The story; During the last weeks of Mums’ life, she mostly lay in a big, black oak, bed. Under blankets and a beautiful pink, fawn croched cover, lined with pink satin. Mum was a craft woman, she knitted, sewed, gardened, she had made this bed cover. It was for her and Dads’ bed but on weekends we all five kids piled in as well.When Dad was there he would make up stories about birds with a big grin on his face. My young brother and me were spell bound.

Now Mum was ill, I would climb on the bed with a small ,black comb in my hand. I would snuggle close to her while I used the comb to loosen the drandruf in her thick black, greying hair.As I write I can feel the oil from her hair soothng my dry hands.

Mum would become so still I had to check to see if she was still breathing. She would almost go into a deep, peaceful, sleep. The last session of this closeness between us, she told me she was dying and would be by 1pm tomorrow and that I would be ok. I said to her “No Mummy you are not dying ” I knew she was telling me truth but I choose to hold denial for a moment.

The next morning I was sent to school and Mum to hospital alone.

Later that day my teacher told me my sister was here and wanted to talk to me.As I left the class room I looked at the big, white faced clock, on the wall above the piped heater,it was 1pm. My sister told me what I already knew.

 

 

 

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Getting to Peace

Getting to Peace a guide for healing from rape and abuse

This book is dedicated to my friend Shelia Evans who said ” this must be done for the children.”

It includes many women’s stories including my own. However, it is very much based in healing.

Part 1 Has a focus on the identification of the trauma, aftermath.

Part 2. What helps your personal the healing journey.

Recovery,peace and happiness after rape and abuse is totally possible.

Chapter 1 Many women speak of rape touching their soul,spirit, life force and inner self.

chapter 8; Healing comes from within and the nature of the healing journey.

If you are able to get in touch with your inner healing wisdom and allow that to grow, you reclaim your life. giving birth to who you are.

Chapter 11  Healing Ways

The root meaning of the word heal comes form the Anglo Saxon word haelen to be or to become whole. The journey to wholeness can be likened to gathering pieces of ourselves that have broken off.”

Rape and sexual abuse are crimes that are often shrouded in silence.

Sometimes because of stigma, shame,it happened within family, or the innocent have to be protected.

If you want a copy please contact me brendacheyne@gmail .com

I also provide an audio Inner Peace.

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Depression gone by 2 instalment

The delay in my writing has been a fall which resulted in a broken, upper arm, in a few places. Two weeks now and doing well. I have had no depressive reaction which could have been the case. I would have done the self- blaming thoughts, anger etc. My daily life has had to change. No training, not much gardening. Gardening and training are important activities for me. My days have no distractions ( i don’t have T.V.) I can’t rush at all.

My focus is my re-hab day by day. I realise in someways I was doing this before when i was wanting to be emotionally well. I worked out that no one but me was going to get me out of the ‘hole’. I had to take action. Back then, Aikido was the first plan so i could defend myself.The training helped me focus on something else, even if it was only for 2 hours. That 2 hours was a window of freedom. Freedom from negative thinking. It was physical movement. When I was a girl I wanted to be a dancer but I was told I was to heavy footed. Aikido is like dance. I often say depression is suppression. Suppression of self, who you truely are.

After 25 years practice, my Aikido training is coming in handy; focus, practice, everyday I try to do something new. I watch my arm slowly getting more movement. I can watch Aikido on line. I have my gee hanging in the bedroom so i see it every day. I dream being back at training. I practice the foot work.

When I was experiencing depression I could never see a future. Even doing Aikido during those early years I didn’t even imagine I would be a black belt. Grades just happened because I kept at it. I really get the way of practice these days.

I am also meditating twice a day for longer periods. I began meditating in 2000. It suits me, I need quiet time, it is a part of me, and relaxtion /stillness helps my body heal. I have also found that meditation will bring to the surface any old buried emotion. For me i think the depression i experienced was also buried pain from the past.

That’s it for now, off to do my exercises for my arm (5x a day)

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New Login Page

The WordPress.com Blog

Sense something different today? Well, if not, log out of your blog and log back in again. Wait! What’s that? A new login page!

Okay, let me explain. A long time ago, there were seven guys, including myself, who started a project named Shuttle. Shuttle’s mission was to redesign the WordPress back-end and it sort of happened, but it didn’t go as far as we wanted it to. One of my missions here is to see that Shuttle finally makes its debut in whatever form we as a team see fit.

The login page is the first step towards that. Remember, baby steps. 🙂 This particular design was made by Michael Heilemann during the course of the project. I hope you like this little change, and be sure to expect lots of other changes to come.

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