The Adopted Man

In my previous blog post, I described my insights from the book “De Fontein” (The Fountain) from Els Van Steijn.  I was amazed to read about the power of downward spiraling energy and influence through family lineage. Even more, I was struck by learning what might happen when you no longer find yourself in the right position in that “fountain” of family lineage.  People that no longer benefit from that natural downward energy channelling, often struggle with stubborn – unexplainable – unfavourable patterns in their life. Once you get back in your position in your fountain, you would feel the energy again from your parents, older brothers, older sisters, etc. Unpleasant patterns would disappear and make one’s life again more bearable.

The book also refers to the practice of “family constellations” (familie-opstellingen). These therapeutic exercises would help to understand and feel what is really blocking you in life. Once you face your fears, disbalances, frustrations, etc., you will feel relieved. You will feel ready to handle issues in a different way. I was becoming very keen to experience such a kind of family constellation practice. Hoping that I could reveal and break nasty patterns in my life.

As a clear sign of life, a Facebook ad popped up – promoting a seminar for adopted men in The Netherlands. The organiser De Adoptiecoach launched a try-out of a seminar for adopted men to share and learn from their challenges in life.

I enrolled myself quite fast but was nervous as this event was only set-up for men. No mixed audience, but a men only gathering. In the past year, I have become more comfortable to share my emotions and expression of my authentic self predominantly with women.

The event in the Woudschoten hotel in Zeist (The Netherlands) became a nice memory for the participating adopted men. I deliberately wrote “participating” as this word underlines the fact that we took our responsibility and decision to start changing our life. The common theme of the participants is that they struggled with challenges in life (for some professional, others relational or family matters etc.) following trauma’s in their adoption history. But, we all decided to participate to this seminar and for sure in other life changing actions to come.

The seminar offered an interesting mix of theoretical considerations, outdoor actions and exercises similar to family constellations. I gained interesting insights in this seminar and got a lot of confirmation of “I’m clearly not the only one suffering from the primal wound and related life challenges”. It feels good to recognise that the primal wound is a common theme amongst adopted men. It’s not just a theory…

I also finally understood why it took me over 40 years to wake up and start feeling my primal wound, start seeing my fears and patterns in life. Most of the other adopted men amongst the participants also started digging deeper only  in their forties.

Below graph shows why for some people it can take longer than others to face challenges in life related to their primal wound, adoption history, … (note: I created this graph based on my interpretation of a Dutch version shown during the seminar).

My personal interpretation: adoptees start with some degree of background stress dependent on the severity of their historical trauma’s. While they tend to develop effective coping mechanisms to deal with changing environments and life challenges, some life incidents can push the stress level to the critical boundary of their maximum load level. It’s important to become aware, understand and accept stress impacts in order to lower the stress level below the danger zone.

In my first 40 years I was enjoying life and taking on all challenges as if it was almost a natural gift… My coping mechanisms helped me a lot. I was born to become a chameleon – which is typical for many adoptees.

I learned several languages, practiced multiple hobbies, travelled a lot for my job and found my way in life – mostly on my own (no surprise for an adoptee…).

However, several life incidents (my adoption mum passing away, divorces…) slowly started pushing up the stress bar until the moment I could no longer handle it. I collapsed end of 2019 at the age of 45… Do note that the graph shows that adoptees, regardless their agility to cope with changing environments and circumstances, already start with a backpack of background stress following historical trauma(s). I never realised that until last year.

In the afternoon session, having enjoyed enriching discussions and moments of recognising similarities, the facilitators Hilbrand and Sandor took the boys out to play 🙂 We all could revive our manhood again while fighting each other with swords and fight gear. Loved it. Especially my boy’s dream to become a fearless ninja was about to become true 🙂

Following this amusing break, the afternoon session brought us very intensive and emotional moments. Volunteers could share their life challenges and fears in the group based on which participants engaged in a sort of role play (“substitution” as known in systemic therapy).

This was the first time in my life that I experienced such expression of emotions, energetic dynamics and even witness other men cry. It’s a good thing that men can share emotions and show their tears as opposed to what society teaches us “boys don’t cry”…

Impressed by the sense of trust and vulnerability in this group of adopted men (although we didn’t know each other at the start of that seminar), I was really wanting to bring forward my personal case. But I didn’t. I wasn’t ready yet. I felt that I still had some fears to cope with – which I couldn’t face yet.

Let’s hope that I’m ready to reveal more in my next post…

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