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The Trees: Bee-hind the Scenes

Updated: Mar 29

Parts Unknown...Well, Kinda

"The Forest for the Trees" is my journey into the heart of my inner landscape, guided by the living beings of Mt. Hood National Forest. It's my chosen path to explore and articulate the various facets of myself, offering a unique lens through which I've navigated some incredibly challenging experiences with a deep sense of intuition. In this post, I'm excited to delve deeper into one of the two animals that have already appeared on my Instagram. I'll share insights into the real-life nature of this animal, alongside what it symbolizes about my inner world and the experiences I've encountered.

Photo by Louise Ingram on Unsplash

Name: Bee

Scientific name: Agapostemon texanus 

Common Name: Texas Striped Sweat Bee

Favorite facts: Male Texas Striped Sweat Bees have slumber parties where they gather on a leaf or branch and sleep together through the night. (Read about bee slumber parties and more here.)

Bee is all about that tough shell of mistrust born from a lifetime of dealing with adoption-related C-PTSD. It's a complex dance of wanting help but being too scared to let anyone in, for good reason. You can't expect babies and children to understand the complex workings of systems and why they have been placed for adoption. Tiny nervous systems respond to environmental changes like adults without the frontal lobes' input on what is happening. Adoption is the quintessential "Too much, too fast" professional discussion in truama work.

I've been on this rollercoaster for 39 years, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's the power of opening up to the right people. It's like finding someone to help you lift the heavy rocks under which parts of you have been buried. As one of my fellow adoptees in Better Together said, "Baby's making major life decisions about how to show up and be safe emotionally is always going to be a disaster." Tina, you are not wrong, my friend. So I've spent my entire young adulthood and adulthood searching for safe people to help me uncover the parts of myself, the younger parts of me thought most prudent to keep hidden.

The safe people have been one good enough therapist, one excellent therapist, my husband, and some of the most vibrant friends I could have ever asked for. Still, I struggle. Take my husband and me—we've been together for 17 years and married for 13. You'd think I'd be used to him traveling for work by now, but I start planning his farewell party every time he mentions a trip. Like a full-on "Don't let the door hit you on your ass on the way out." type of situation.

One more again, for the adoptees in the back!

Yes, I am a therapist, and I said this was a behind-the-scenes deal, so there.

In the early days of our relationship, he had to travel for work a few times a year for long periods. We would find out a trip was planned, and suddenly, he would look at me the wrong way, sigh a little too loud, leave some crumbs on the counter, or ask a question with the wrong inflection in his voice, and I was ready to take our cat and bounce. One of our early arguments we laugh about now is when I yelled at the top of my lungs, "I'm not Mad." (not a good look, 23-year-old me,) which ended with us both in fits of laughter because one thing Ted is very good at doing is making me laugh, no matter the situation. The mirror that man held up that day made me participate in one of the most intense inner emotional inventories I had ever participated in. At the end of that conversation, I talked about my fears of him wanting to live without me in Bozeman, Montana. (no shade, Bozeman, okay, maybe a little.) He assured me he would be back. This is the stuff of rupture and repair, a significant pathway to healing. I had no clue, nor did he.

We would go through this process repeatedly without the language. It would be another eight years, three therapists, and a Master's degree before I figured out what my brain and body were doing. I had to read The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk, five times along the way. (which tells me this shit needs to be more accessible). By this time, I still had not fully connected adoption to the words C-PTSD.

It would not be until I had been working for about a year in 2015 that I connected the way Ted shows up with Poly-vagal theory. Ted uses "The Voice" as a way of calming me down. At first, it annoyed me; I thought he was patronizing. But eventually, I realized that his voice was my signal to breathe, to look into his eyes, and to accept one of his bear hugs. It was a turning point for me, realizing how this whole thing—mental health professionals call the polyvagal theory—works in real-time. It's all about understanding how our body and mind react to stress and returning to feeling safe and connected. We usually need to find another person to do this with. I've done it while looking in the mirror. It's not the same, and in a pinch, it can help.

(Those mirror pep talks you give yourself are brilliant; keep it up, my friend.)

Learning how our nervous system can switch between feeling safe and going into full defense mode has been a lifesaver. It's helped me see the importance of having those safe connections and how they can bring us back from the edge.

Bee's story, based on mine, is about the messiness of dealing with our pasts, the struggle to let the right ones in, and the incredible difference it makes when we do. It's a journey of finding those people who make us feel seen, safe, and understood and learning how to develop connection when connection has meant danger and pain in the past.

With Genuine Care,




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