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ontological shock

Coming out of the fog, deconstruction, and ontological shock.

Before I knew about deconstruction, I knew about what we call in adoptionland “coming out of the fog.” This is the sometimes gradual, sometimes sudden realization of the impact adoption loss has had on you. It’s initially devastating and destabilizing. There’s anger, there’s grief, there’s an urge to shake others awake; snap their rose-colored-adoption lenses in half. There's a risk of turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Later, the parallels to religious deconstruction would be immediately noticeable: a gradual or sudden realization that everything you knew was wrong. It’s devastating and destabilizing. There’s anger, there’s grief. There’s an urge to wake everyone else up. Or withdraw and spiral.

I was listening to Jordan Peterson and Tim Ferris discussing psychedelics and the varying spiritual responses to trips: “bad trips”=ontological shock. Disruption of fundamental axioms. The feeling that everything you thought you knew was wrong as a result of a profound personal experience.

It’s what happens when you discover an affair. It’s what happens when an adoptee goes through reunion and is shaken by the unexpected depth of complicated emotions and realizations. It’s what happens when we read outside of our religious “approved” texts and realize we haven’t had the truth the way we thought we did. It’s what happens when you’re told negative things about yourself your whole life and then you stumble upon the people who get you, appreciate you, embrace and empower you. It’s what happens when we experience life-altering tragedy. It's what happens when you hit rock bottom. It’s what happens when birth parents stumble upon adoptee voices and realize adoption wasn’t as simple as they were led to believe. It’s what happens when Christian kids from strict households grow up and go to college and realize they actually have a lot to learn from their surprisingly compassionate non-Christian friends, that they're out of their depth in religious conversations. It’s what happens when kids from toxic households move out, or have kids of their own and realize the impact their household had on them. It's what happens when life experiences dismantle our organized construction of meaning, when our previously tidy answers fall flat in the face of our own loss.

It’s what happens when we open ourselves to allowing the pain, and consequently allowing the real growth. Let the old understandings die. Let it hurt. Wait. See what grows in their place. Repeat.



new life.

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