Life Is For Living By Christy Jones

How meditation helped me dive into the pool of life and not just test the water with my big toe

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Fear of abandonment heralds the dawning of life-long loneliness

Overview
Christy’s story is about how fear of loving morphs into fear of living. Christy’s level of fear of abandonment shut down her spiritual and emotional growth. The fact she was able to tolerate the fear of abandonment, every minute of the day, is a testimony to her inner strength. Please read this story if fear of loving controls your life or the life of someone you know. Christy’s story is a story of hope, fulfillment of dreams, and flying on the wings of the soul.

Background
There are developmental milestones in an infant’s life that are marked by fear. One of the first of these is fear of strangers which typically begins around 12 months of age. Another is separation anxiety happening between 9 to12 months of age and seen when mom or dad leaves the infant. Generally an infant’s response in this situation is to cry, pull away from the stranger and grab for, or cling to, the trusted person. These normal developmental reactions are instinctual and serve a purpose – to protect us from danger. If a child receives genuine love and support when they begin to experience fear for the first time, and throughout the process, they will learn to react to fear appropriately. If they do not feel safe and protected, when these milestones are reached, there is a significant chance the infant will learn maladaptive reactions which harm their ability to have meaningful relationships. Children naturally have different degrees of reaction to fear because they are born pre-wired with temperaments. There are three types of temperaments: 1) Easy, where children quickly adjust to most situations, 2) Difficult, where children respond to any and all situations with powerful reactions, and 3) Slow to warm, where children react to new situations cautiously but with time and support they adjust. It is important to understand temperament and normal development related to fear in general, but fear of abandonment especially, when you read Christy’s story.

Meet Christy
Christy was born to Andrea, a teenager who was not sure who the father was. Andrea herself had been raised by a “part time mom” and many foster moms because her mom was addicted to drugs and alcohol. Andrea was addicted to alcohol by the time she was 12 years old. When she had Christy, at 15 years of age, she had been sober for almost 8 months, thanks to public health support. Andrea loved her baby and when Christy was born she tried to be a good mom. But, as is often the case with addiction, Andrea slid back into alcohol use and Christy was put into foster care when she was three months old. Christy had a slow to warm temperament so her adjustment to this transition was difficult and took some time to happen.

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Christy was left in this home for 6 months. She had routine weekly visits with Andrea at the social service office. At these times, the foster mother would bring Christy to the office and Christy, Andrea, the foster mother, and the case worker played for about 30 minutes. Christy did not recognize Andrea when she would come in the room and preferred to be held by her foster mother. It would take Andrea and the foster mother, working together for about 5-10 minutes, before Christy would let Andrea hold her and play with her. This made Andrea sad and mad and she wondered why her baby didn’t want her more than the foster mom? When Christy was about 12 months old, a judge placed her back with Andrea. Andrea was ecstatic but Christy was devastated when the foster mom handed her to Andrea and left the room. Christy wanted to go with her foster mother. She looked at Andrea as if she was a total stranger and pushed her away and cried and screamed. The case worker stayed with Andrea and Christy until the baby calmed down a bit and the sobbing subsided. Christy looked crestfallen and lost. She did not understand what was happening. Andrea was shaken by Christy’s violent reaction and kept telling her that “Mommy’s here, mommy’s here”, but - Christy’s mommy had just walked out the door and left her with two strangers. Christy and Andrea settled in together in a small apartment Andrea was sharing with her boyfriend. Christy’s case worker stopped by every day to check in with Andrea and to see how Christy was doing. If you could have read the case workers notes, you would have read that the baby displayed the expected behavior a baby did when loosing a trusted caregiver. She was listless and didn’t play with her toys much. She didn’t smile and talk as she had been doing in the foster home, and only nibbled on food. As Christy adjusted to the change in her life, her behavior changed and she smiled and talked and interacted with Andrea. She looked to Andrea for comfort when she was sad and she was sad when Andrea left her with a sitter. Everything seemed to go well for about 6 months when Andrea and her boyfriend went on a 3 day drinking binge and left 18 month old Christy to fend for herself. Neighbors called the police when they saw Christy out in the yard with no clothes on in 40 degree weather. Christy was taken away from Andrea and placed in a temporary foster home until they could find a more permanent placement. Christy went into a type of shock in the new placement. She sat in a chair and rocked and rocked. She wouldn’t eat. She watched the family members but did not interact with anyone. She cried for several hours at a time with no provocation and she slept in the chair only. After about a week in the home, she started to eat and play with toys, she slept in a bed, and interacted with family members When the social service agency found a more permanent home for Christy and the interim foster mom gave her to the permanent foster mom, Christy grabbed for the interim foster mom but she had to be carried, out of the social service agency, kicking and screaming, by her new foster mom with much fuss.

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Christy’s transition into the permanent home was similar to the last one. She sat for hours and rocked her body back and forth. She did not play or eat. It took being in the new home for a little over two weeks, before she slept in a bed, ate, and played with toys. Her affect was typically flat with little smiling, no laughing and only minimal talking. She lost ground developmentally. Her skills were more similar to a 13 to 14 month old than an 18 month old. Now, fast forward 10 years to when Christy was 11 and had entered middle school. By this time, she had been in 8 foster homes and had many broken attachments to the people in her life. She was leery of new people; she kept all of her things in a box so she wouldn’t loose anything if she had another move. She hadn’t seen Andrea in over two years as Andrea had moved out of state with a new boyfriend. The court was close to terminating Andrea’s parental rights and soon Christy would be available for adoption. Until she was adopted, Christy would continue to live in foster homes. Not long after starting school, Christy was diagnosed as Mildly Mentally Retarded and put into special education classes. She had behavior problems related to accepting rules and she often had emotional outbursts that resulted in hitting other children, herself, and the teacher. Everyone felt there was more to Christy than she showed on test scores but test scores don’t lie. Do they? Fast forward another 5 years and Christy is now 16 years old. She has lived in three more foster homes since middle school and she is getting close to being adopted by a loving couple, Maria and Peter, who had two older children. This may seem unusual to be adopting a young woman of 16 but Maria and Peter were both truly unusually wonderful people. Maria was the librarian at the school where Christy had been attending since placement with the latest foster family. She had gotten to know Christy because she was sent to the library to complete homework assignments. Maria was fascinated by Christy. She believed Christy had an aura that belied her special education diagnosis. She thought Christy was a broken child with many hidden secrets that if unhidden would reveal a bright, talented caring young woman. When Maria met Christy, Maria had been practicing meditation for over 4 years. In fact, she believed meditation saved her life when she was despondent over the death of one of her children, by cancer, at the age of ten. Maria and her husband Peter both found meditation to be the only comfort they had in their grief and they now felt like they wanted to share their blessings by adopting an older child. A side effect of meditation for Maria had been that she developed an intuitive power that let her see through the exterior of a person right into their heart and soul. Maria knew why she was taken by Christy. She could see beyond Christy’s pain and see a young girl who had gifts the world would miss if someone didn’t help her. She and Peter talked about whether Christy was the child they had wanted to adopt and decided she was. They moved forward with the process quickly after the decision was made. Maria knew Christy needed to heal and she wanted meditation to be part of the healing process. She also knew that trusting in the permanent love of a mother and father who would not leave © www.project-meditation.org

her was another part of the healing process. There could be other things that needed to be included in the healing process but these would be a good start. Christy, Maria and Peter would give to each other the perfect gift – love. Christy was 16 years old when the adoption was final. Maria and Peter knew Christy was not retarded. In fact, they suspected that Christy had at least average intelligence, if not higher. They loved Christy from the moment they decided they wanted her to be their daughter. They knew she was old for adoption, but she wanted to be adopted and they wanted to be her parents. Christy’s life with her new family was filled with getting to know each other better and talking about what each of them wanted for their family. Christy talked about being able to trust that she could unpack the box she took from foster home to foster home. She wanted to be able to have friends from school over. Maria and Peter talked about what they wanted for Christy. They talked about knowing she was an intelligent and creative young woman who could do anything she wanted with her life, even go on to college at some time. Christy looked puzzled and explained to them that as she was in special education how could she go to college? They asked Christy to tell them what she wanted to do when she got out of school. She said she wanted to be a case worker and help little kids who had to live in foster homes. They then talked with her about what was needed to meet that dream and would she be willing to try a few things just to see if it could happen. She said she would. They talked to her about their idea to have her learn about herself through meditation and asked if she would try meditation and she was OK with the idea. They took Christy to their meditation center for an appointment to meet with the Master and to talk with him. They had met with the Master a few days earlier, told him about Christy’s life, and their feeling that the real Christy was locked inside waiting to be released. The Master listened to Christy and her family, while they were at the center, and suggested two things. The first was that Christy practice meditation to grow in understanding and be at peace with her life. The second was that she works with a specially trained attachment therapist who The Master said… with patience and practice Christy would look into her self and see who she was meant to be. She was a good student. She listened to the Master. She asked thoughtful questions, she learned to meditate, and she practiced. She began meditating twice a day and went with her parents to the center in the evenings. She was good at focusing on her breathing and after a few months she was able to go into a deep meditative state. When she had been practicing for several months, she asked the Master what love was, how it grew and how it died. They talked about these questions over many sessions. Working with the attachment therapist was harder for Christy than meditation. It was difficult for her to remember her early life and her mother. It was difficult for her to use feeling words. One © www.project-meditation.org

time, early on in her therapy, she was asked to tell how a little girl would feel if she was taken away from her mommy and all she could say was – bad. When asked the same question, after the conclusion of her conversations with the Master on love, she said, “It would hurt so bad that the little girl would promise herself never to love anyone else again. But if, when the little girl grew up she learned how to meditate and to talk about her feelings she would know that to stop loving does not stop the pain, it makes you more sad. The wisdom of meditation could be heard in her response. Christy continued to meditate and work with the Master and attachment therapist for the next 6 months. During this time, she took an intelligence test and scored in the average range. This news was so exciting for her and her family because it meant her dream to be a case worker could come true. Christy had missed out on much of the content taught in school because of the emotional issues going on in her life. She and her parents decided for her to graduate and not stay in high school until she was 21. Maria would home school Christy until she passed the GED. As Christy was learning more and more about herself, through only meditation now, she was also picking up academic knowledge quickly. Home schooling might take less than a year. What a miracle! Christy had found herself through meditation and attachment therapy and now there was no limit to the how high her soul would soar.

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