• Adrienne Lopez

Why the Smile?


Not many people know about the pain and struggles I've faced in my life--most likely, because I've always kept a smile on my face, been more concerned about comforting others with a joke or uplifting words, then revealing my own wounded heart.

Some have accused me of not being serious enough, being flippant, or being too idealistic or silly. This is only because they did not understand, couldn't see me in my fullness, or reduced me to a cut out copy of their own perceptions.

I'm not blaming-- I'm sure I've done the same to others. After all, it's the way most have been taught to deal with situations and individuals that trigger our own pain.

Someone once informed me, like the 6 O'clock news, that "life is not all rainbows and butterflies"--like I didn't know that already! How could they have known that focusing on positivity, hope, and beauty were my lifeline in the face of growing up as an em-path in an emotionally unstable environment. She didn't know that's what helped me survive sexual abuse and the mental illness in my family.

But I'm not alone in my share of pain or struggle. I have forgotten the statistics (probably on purpose) of how many children experience sexual abuse or the affects of mental illness in the home, but the numbers are astounding! The number of Americans alone currently taking anti-depressant drugs is mind blowing! The numbers are only one Google away--you can check them out. The ACES collection is a start in bringing attention to the effects of childhood trauma that much of our culture tends to skim over.

And so much has gone unreported--no one wants to implicate their loved ones, right? When dysfunction is all you know, it becomes your normal. It has to be your normal if you want to survive. At the same time, the more people I talk to about this topic, the more I find there are few that have not been affected directly or indirectly by childhood trauma.

Although the term trauma has often been reserved for severe conditions such as survivors of war, there are many layers. As Krishna informs Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita-- there is a war--and it's up to each of us to decide where the battle will be fought--in the "field" of the material world or in our hearts-- they are the same. What did Krishna mean by this? And why is this epic poem still read and studied today?

Most people are taught to cover trauma up, especially "good girls and boys" who hate to upset others with the reality of what they hold behind closed doors. As a child, I didn't have the cognitive understanding or vocabulary to process my experience, and would have to wait for many years later to contextualize the events I went through. In the meantime, I continued to suffer the repercussions without any useful tools in my box to honor my experience in relationships. I often blamed myself when I was triggered, having bouts of anxiety, fear, or reliving the trauma again and again. My brain had become wired that way, but I didn't understand. I was embarrassed, scared and felt out of control in my own body. This is a vulnerable place to be in-- and why would most people really want to look at it, feel it, or talk about it?

Through my own exploration and self-healing, I've found that many people get so good at hiding from pain, they forget it's there until it shows up in undeniable ways--in physical disease, emotional or mental illness, in broken families, relationships, and addictive behavior, etc. In this way, many people are living in a nightmare, a sort of pseudo life, removed from the love and magnificence of who they truly are. And this my friend can be considered a horrific way of life in many cases.

The fact is that this year, as I just turn 50 and transition into a new way of relating to life, I realize that I'm still coming to terms with the wounds I carry, inflicted onto me by the wounded warriors around me-- and the time and energy in my life I spent feeling responsible for, and trying heal, fix, and transform the hurt people in my life--the people who needed to do their own work and address their own pain.

I'm not trying to minimize the horrors of soldiers actually facing real life battlefields-- on the contrary. What I am suggesting is that if each parent and each child being raised right now was educated about the emotional, psychological, and physical cost of generational trauma, perhaps the need for war would fall away all together. Or maybe that's just me being overly optimistic again?

But please consider, that what I'm suggesting is that there is a deep divide in the human spirit--one that has caused me personally to live a double life--one seen and one mostly unseen. The one unseen was the one that largely shaped my life choices that were often out of alignment with my own heart. This reality was kept in the dark, because of shame, guilt, and the fear that originally caused the divide. It was kept in the dark because I knew of no magic or medicine that could hold it with the delicacy and compassion the divide deserved. This created a lack of integrity, trust, respect, and honor in myself. Although this was the model and template I inherited from my biological family, its not the only one available.

In these past 3 weeks, being surrounded by a spiritual family, I was called to realize that my innocence was never lost, paradise was never misplaced-- I was simply encouraged to forget my connection and alignment with my own Divine nature. And now, that I've remembered, I've given myself permission to fully embody my TRUE nature with the celebration and homecoming I deserve. Heck, its the homecoming we all deserve if we decide we are ready for it.

How would you like to join me? Reach out and let me know if you received some value from this edition. I'd love to chat with you to support you in remembering the truth and beauty of who you really are.


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