Testimony for a Grief Booklet.

I was asked by a fellow Birth Mom if I would include my thoughts on two topics for a grief booklet that she is putting together for her office that will be distributed to birth mothers post placement.  

This is such a beautiful and vital gift for these women, to hear from others, to educate themselves and to be able to prepare themselves for what is coming.  It is NEVER easy and having access to other stories gives hope for their own future.  

I am honored to be a part of this project and I wanted to share my two topics with you here.  

5. How you are or did rebuild your life post placement-

In April 2015 it will be 9 years post placement.  I am married and we have two beautiful children, a daughter and a son.  We live in a beautiful home and I own and operate a nationwide women community.  I am so deeply blessed with a loving family and friends.  I have an open adoption that is constantly changing and adjusting.  I am very happy in my life.  But this was not always the case for me.  Life after placement has not been easy and it took years to truly come to a place of acceptance and healing, and then the true journey began.  I struggled for years with substance abuse, casual sex partners, depression and more.  It is my prayer that you will have an open mind and heart as I share some of these things with you.  I want you to know that you are loved and that you are not alone.  This is an impossible time and the task seems daunting.  Learning who YOU are after placement is one of the greatest challenges of a birth mother.  Everything you are experiencing right now is normal.  There are just a few key things that I wanted to share with you that worked for me and I hope you will find comfort in them as well. 

The real question that I think you need to ask yourself if how bad do you want it? You will have an ah-ha moment, that one event that will “flip the switch”.  You will know it when it happens, and that is when everything changes.  I had moments over the first few years of placement that I would make small changes, tell myself that things were going to be different, that I was going to stop doing this or that but I was NOT connected to any of it, my body mind and spirit were not in alignment and I didn’t truly want it.  Then my moment happened.  My ah-ha moment and I knew it was time to fight. To fight for a life that I truly wanted and one that I truly deserved! 

1.  Make the Sacrifice.  Like so many things, there has to be sacrifice to truly work for what you want.  Whether that is time, money, energy, emotion....You have to be willing to do the work!  I put in a great deal of work into my healing, I sacrifice little pleasures to pay for the classes, books, and coaches that I need and want.  I make the time in my crazy life to work on myself. To meet those things head on so that I am not digging things out of a hole years later.  

This is NOT going to be something that will fix itself, it won’t fix overnight and you can NOT expect others to do the work for you.  We tend to get in a cycle of feeling sorry for ourselves, waiting for God to step in and tell us what we need to be doing, and expecting others to carry us.  Do I believe that others can encourage and lift and support? Absolutely I do.  

"I believe that community healing is vital to this journey, we can NOT do it alone no matter how you process...at some point you are going to need to surface and have help." 

 Do I believe that God is with us and has a plan for us?  YES.  But I also believe that he is NOT going to tell you what to do.  You have your agency here, you are in charge of your life.  He wants you to make decisions for yourself and he will let you know if you are on the right track!  

How bad do you want it?  Are you willing to DO THE WORK? 

2.  Have a Daily Practice.  Every single one of my #soulmagic people have taught me a great deal about having a daily practice.  Whether that is a spiritual practice of prayer and scripture study, a practice of meditation and soul searching, or simply sitting with your list of desires for the day.  No matter your belief system, your connection to God or the Universe, your thoughts about spirituality. Get in a daily practice of setting up your day with intention.  What do you want from your day, what will you do with your day, how is your day going to make you feel, what will get accomplished and why?  These are all things you should be sitting with every. single. morning.  

I promise that if you will get in the habit of sacrificing (there is that word again) 15 minutes of your time in the morning to set up your day it will change your life!  Before you check your phone, before you wrestle the kids, before you jump into routine...take 15 minutes.  Get quiet.  Process.  Feel.  Get aligned with your soul desires.  Feel your feet here in the present.  And then, get after it!

*a bonus tip.  Taking 15 minutes at the end of the day to process your day, to release the hard and celebrate the good, and to give thanks {GRATITUDE} is a great way to book end your day!!  

How bad do you want it?  Will you set your day up with intention?


3.  Keep your Space Positive.  I know we all say that we are going to "clean up" our Facebook pages, and remove those in our life that don't lift, support and encourage, and we are going keep happy and positive thoughts at all times.  How many of us actually do that?  

The recovering co-dependent in me has to work very hard at this.  I know that so many of us, especially women, are typically "people pleasers" but I have learned from my #soulmagic that those that are truly living their divinely inspired lives, those that are getting after it every day, those that are showing up for their life are the ones that are saying NO unless it is a HELL YES. They are not trying to please you, they are not trying to be something that they are not, and they are not competing for attention or friendship or approval.  They are living their authentic life, they are true to their word and they are loving and lifting and encouraging in every way that they can, allowing haters to hate, and lovers to love.  

Doing this kind of work for yourself, working this process is selfish work.  You have to be willing to let go of the "people pleaser" and just do what you need to do.  This includes actually cleaning up your social media, putting on your Big Tough Girl panties and getting out of bed and doing it any way, walking away from bad relationships, putting the drink down, WHATEVER it is that is NOT keeping your space clean has got to go.  

I am in love with social media.  It truly makes the world go round.  

How many times have we seen this or done this our self??  

You are in a place of healing and processing and you are scrolling through your news feed and all you see is hard, because we all have it, you see negative and you want your space to be clean and free so we make the public post:  I am sick of all the negativity and I am going to delete people that don't post stuff that serves me, if you can't post happy stuff you are gone!"

Guess what?  That is negative... you are looking for attention and you are hoping that people will ask to stay your friend, that they will prove that they are loyal to you. That people will give you permission to have a clean and positive space, you are looking to the approval of others.

"Don't make an announcement that you need better in your life, JUST DO IT."  

You don't owe any one anything and you cannot worry that you might hurt someone by deleting them on social media...do not let others dictate your life!  You have a choice...every single day you have choice to keep your space clean.  Do things happen that make a crappy day?  YES.  We all have them.  Do we have to be sunshine every day?  NO.  Are we allowed to feel whatever the hell we need to feel?  YES.  

You control the space around you, you control what you let influence your mood, your desires, your inspiration and motivation.  What does that look like?  What do you want?  Find people that want those same things and immerse yourself in it!  

IT IS OK TO BE SELFISH.  It is ok to do things that are the VERY best for you and your life.  You are the one that has to live it.  

How bad do you want it?  Will you be your OWN PERMISSION SLIP!  

4.  Stop the Comparisons.  Just stop it!  It is not serving anyone, especially yourself.  Why is it that we think our own very personal and sacred healing that needs to be done should be compared with another's very personal and sacred healing process?  How does that even make sense?  

 "(said with love" who do you think you are?" -Danielle LaPorte

Why is it that we think that others care so much about what we are doing, AND why do we think we need to be anything but who we are!?  I have women message me, brave amazing women and share their jealousy of me.  They think that I am so much further along, that I am some SUPER woman that has my shit together, that I am never effected and just keep this amazing attitude all the time....


I am a mess.  I am triggered daily, I have many things in my life that are HARD and many demons that I fight.  I make mistakes and take 10 steps back with a tiny bunny hop forward, I am a ashamed in many aspects of my life, I am imperfect and I REALLY need a shower!  

BUT the biggest thing that makes me different from you is that I am NOT you.  YOU ARE YOU and you need to live your life, find what works for you, make it work...AND live YOUR divinely inspired life that is just waiting for YOU, you are the only one that can live it.  You have been given talents that I have not...find them, rediscover your inner goddess and go kick ass!  

This truly is not rocket science. ANY ONE can do it.  We all do it differently, we all go at a different pace...but we can all do it.  STOP comparing, stop looking outside yourself and trying to make and mold your life to look like someone else...including your healing process...the brave face that you put on will only get you so far!  You have to find your own process and you have to look inside yourself at who you are to make it happen! 

How bad do you want it?  Will you stop comparing yourself to others? 

5.  Own It!  Quit giving a shit about what other people think about you.  YOU are the only one that can live your life that can tell your story...everything else has already been done!  Be who you are, imperfections and all.  Does that mean that you get to puff out your chest and act like a fool, bragging about your mistakes, or poor choices or slip-ups?  NO.  It means that you accept your full responsibility in the things that have happened.  You hold yourself accountable where and when you need to.  You understand the things that trigger you, you recognize your "inner critic", and you are working every day and grinding it out, and you get back up even if you fail...again!  

 We cannot truly work through this process if we are not willing to OWN our full, true and authentic story!  If we are leaving parts out to spare some back lash or embarrassment or shame we are not serving our self in this process.  It is NOT easy to throw ourselves under the bus.  It is not easy to admit the darkest secrets about ourselves.  It is not easy to bring those to the surface, face them and find healing and understanding in those things that we hate.  However I have found that the things that I hate about myself the most, my greatest weaknesses have in turn become my greatest tools in this process.

Ashley Mitchell, Big Tough Girl™ 


7. Coping with grief and loss

How long is Grief supposed to last?
It's the equivalent of asking, "How high is up?" 
-Dr. Alan Wolfelt

People ask me all the time what I do for myself to work through my grieving process.  The service that I give to others is one of the most fulfilling things that I do in my life but it can be VERY draining emotionally and to re-live some of these pains over and over can be very difficult.  I get extremely tired and overwhelmed and burned out and need to have time for myself, for my own healing.  

Let me start off by saying that I KNOW that the pain you are feeling is real.  I know that the loss seems a fate worse than death.  I am standing with you.  You are not alone and I am hurting with you.  There is hope for the future but right now it is about the present  and that is where we need to start!

"There is not harder, there is just HARD." 

Please remember that your hard is relevant.  Your "hard" and what that means to you is important.  Don't shirk away from sharing your hard, reaching out, owning it because you think that people may not understand or think it is not important.  My hard is not harder than your hard, it is just magnified because it is happening to me.  Having great compassion for others is a skill that I try to perfect every day of my life.  

"Something in one’s life may seem small and insignificant to you, but to them, it may be bringing the walls down."

Most people have hard things in their life, daily struggles, lifelong battles that they are fighting, rough seasons and stages of change and adjustments.  

We all have hard in our life.

One of the greatest things that you can do for yourself is to face your grief.  March out and go toe-to-toe with it.

Why is it that so many remain stuck?  Why is it that so many never fully recover from such a tragic loss?  Refusing to face your grief and hiding from it may work for a little while but I promise you (and I know from personal experience and know with every fiber of my being) that it will surface, that there will come a time in your life that you will have to face your demons and it just gets harder with time.  It takes a great deal of courage, of moxie to face your grief and it hurts and it is hard but it truly will be the best gift you give yourself. 

If I am being honest I would have to say that for the better half of 10 years darkness was my constant companion.  I knew darkness intimately.  It knew how to draw me back in, to keep me without sight, without warmth, without any glimpse of my future.  I remained in this dark place.  A prisoner locked with my own demons and fears and guilt and regret and pain.  Even in the worst of places it brought a familiar comfort that I learned to live in.  

I am learning more and more that those moments were great teachers to me.  Life lessons that shaped my present path.  An appreciation for the light, a deep rooted desire to live in light was formed.  

Living in darkness can cripple you from feeling worthy of the light, yet teaches you to know an opposite so unmistakably that you will never want to live without it again.

I was in so much pain.

My pain was telling me something.  My pain has been telling me that I have been betrayed, hurt, judged, made out to be a bitch, misunderstood, talked about, disrespected, shunned, pushed out, forgotten, taken advantage of, and so much more.  Some by people that claimed to love and care about me, some by those that have never taken two seconds to get to know me.  My pain was telling me that something was wrong, my pain was telling me that something wasn't working properly.  And like the physical pain that is ignored the emotional pain becomes chronic, it becomes crippling, it becomes consuming.  Maybe a little masochistic.  

It is time to BLEED IT OUT.

I can't ignore the pain any longer.  

As I slowly unwrap the wounds, as I finally take the time to acknowledge the pain, clean out the wounds, show them some tender loving care, play doctor to myself I am feeling relief.  I am allowing myself to recognize what has been happening, the power that I have given others, the pain that was caused that I refused to attend to.  

If I were to cut off my finger I would not ignore it and hope and pray that it would fix itself, that it would just go away.  

Why would I do that to the emotional cuts?  I am bleeding out and I am not even paying attention.  

No more.  No more ignoring the pain.  No more pretending that it doesn't matter, no more pretending that I AM FINE when I am not.  

My pain is telling me something.  My pain is telling me that something is not working properly.  It is telling me that relationships have to change, that I have to let go of a few things, that I have to forgive myself and forgive others.  

The pain is lifting, the medication is kicking in, and the wound is breathing and is thankful for the acknowledgement.  It has been shouting at me for months. 

I am doing right by myself, physically and emotionally.  It is time to clean the wounds.

I am learning to manage the pain before it can manage me.  I am learning to say "you should see the other guy".  I am learning to listen to the pain, to locate the damage and to attend to it immediately.  I am letting go, the wounds are breathing, and they feel better, they feel like they are healing...from the inside-out.

You need to allow yourself to feel everything that you are feeling.  Don’t run from it, don’t hide from it.  It really is okay and it is a part of this story.  There is NO such thing as a painless adoption. 

I truly believe that the greatest miracle of adoption is that we do survive! 

Don’t ever allow yourself to ignore what has happened, the loss that you are experiencing and the mourning that must take place.  It is VITAL for your forward movement.  Listen to your body, to your soul and your pain.  It is telling you something.  Pay attention.  Don’t ignore the wound, it will cripple you BUT remember ALL wounds take time to heal and there is always a scar. 

Be patient with yourself, love yourself through the process, take your time and don’t forget to breathe.

Ashley Mitchell, Big Tough Girl™