Have you ever wanted something so badly it was all you could think of? All you could talk about, write about, dream about. Claire did. She wanted a horse. Finding Heart Horse is her journey and her search for her Heart Horse. It takes her from being “the girl most likely to succeed” to a life on the streets of Yorkville in the late sixties. As an adopted child she had no identity, no history, and no place where she “fit.” Her years on the streets lead her into many dark places, where she began to add more secrets and traumas to her already large collection in the wall of secrets. Life changed quickly in those days, from peace and love to war and violence. She went along for the ride not knowing where it would lead, just knowing that she had to find Heart Horse. If you know anyone who may be struggling, perhaps even yourself, Finding Heart Horse can give you hope where you thought there was none. We all have different journeys, but the essence is the same. We all want to be loved, to belong, and to be happy. Everyone at some point has yearned for something so powerful that, like a magnet, it pulls you into the unknown. Even if you weren’t really sure what it was for, you knew you had to pursue it. Life lessons are learned, spirituality discovered. The reality of opposites is proven. With pain comes pleasure, with despair comes hope, with sadness comes joy, and perhaps along the way even your Heart Horse may be found. (Description of first memoir FINDING HEART HORSE)
By Lara Trace Hentz
Hey there. As some of you know I have wonderful friends who write adoptee blogs and books. The books FINDING HEART HORSE (A Memoir of Survival) and THE WALL OF SECRETS (A Memoir by The Almost Daughter) are memoirs of the highest order, in my humble opinion. When a book can make you tense, then hurt then yell then cry often, then you know they are REAL and meant to be read, valued and savored. Claire is that special writer of these two memoirs and her blog THE ALMOST DAUGHTER. Claire’s life has not been easy. She suffered drug addiction and abuse by her adoptive mother who rivals Mommie Dearest in terms of terror and horror. And even though Claire has been ill, she found time to answer a few questions. So please read. The links to her books and website follow the interview. (I read Kindle versions of these books.)
Claire, your first riveting memoir needs to be a motion picture. How long did it take to write Finding Heart Horse?
Claire Hitchon: Actually, it was all one big pile of stories in the beginning, far too much for one book so I had to split it in two. It’s taken eight years to complete them.
I always felt there was a book inside me. I never had an ending and was too busy trying to survive and provide for my daughter. In 2006 the ending became clear. The end then became another beginning. Pain was like a poisonous inspiration for me. I began writing and couldn’t stop. As I relieved each and every trauma I realized how much I had survived and felt others could benefit knowing there is always hope.
So many people, especially young people are caught up in addictions, violence, pain and trauma, and adults, too, of course.
Sometimes, all we need is someone to believe, someone to give hope that healing is possible and that you have internally all that you need.
Did your early journals assist you in any way with your writing?
Unfortunately, many of my journals were stolen while living in Toronto. The next era of writing was destroyed when my friend and mentor Daryl died and I was in the hospital. Our mothers cleaned out the apartment and when I came home the apartment was empty, Daryl dead and all of our musical writing and my journals gone. I imagine they were all just disposed of. I remember many of the stories of course, but my music and poems I lost.
When writing, I surrounded myself with pictures from the internet and relived each and every moment written about. It was so real, I could smell my fathers pipe tobacco.
In an instant I went from “the girl most likely to succeed” to a 15 year old runaway living on the streets of Yorkville Toronto in the late 60’s (the hippie era). I became a street kid, a hippie that encountered every subculture you could imagine, always searching for were I belonged. The Peace & Love quickly turned ugly. From rapes, drugs to jail in a few short years, I experienced it all.
Spoiler Alert: Tell us about the transition from book one to book two?
As I mentioned above it really was one huge book to start with and had to be separated without truly disconnecting each book. Believe it or not, there were a lot of stories left out.
It’s as if part of you is erased, leaving you with many missing pieces to a huge puzzle. I set out, leaving an abusive home at the age of 15 to find these things. Overnight I went from the “girl most likely to succeed” – I was a classical pianist and planned on being a physician. In an instant, I took an abrupt turn, ending up on the streets of Toronto during the Yorkville Hippie era in the late 1960’s
It’s not the things that happen to us that cause us to suffer, it’s what we tell ourselves about them.
I know you have been in hospital. How are you handling your health issues and you do believe they are related to your being adopted?
As long as I searched for my biological roots, I searched for answers to my health issues. Many things now I wonder….if i had the knowledge then would I be as ill now…the answer being NO.
I have a rare mast cell disease, Systemic Mast Cell Activation Disorder. My biological grandfather died of leukaemia which is related and helped in my search for answers.
Unfortunately, the actual finding of my biological roots in 2003 set off a cascade of stress reactions which is one of the major triggers to mast cells. I still didn’t know my diagnosis but adoption reunion sent my mast cells into the abyss, taking me with them.
As I wrote out my history for a mast cell doctor in the USA, I couldn’t help but notice with each trauma I experienced, my illness was bumped up a notch… it was clear even back to my childhood with adoptive mother. Of course reunion being the most powerful.
For adoptees who read this, where are you in reunion?
Reunion: Somehow that puts an element of “happy” into a situation that was born of sadness.
I found my biological family in 2003. I had been searching for over 35 years. Totally shocked to find there were actual “people” attached. I know it sounds strange but we, as adoptees are so conditioned for rejection and I had spent a lifetime. I was doing it as a last resort, for closure.
In 2005, I was ill enough that I had to take disability from my Nursing Career that I loved as an RN, I decided that I would always regret not taking the next step, which was moving across Canada to get to know this family of strangers. My family.
My birth mother was quite ill and passed away 9 months after I arrived on Vancouver Island. BC from Ontario.
The reunion itself was fast and furious because of my birth mothers health. It also became the prime focus until she died leaving three siblings and myself in a place of grief. They had lost their mother, and I had just found mine, only to lose her in the next breath, never knowing what it was like to be mothered.
I was left with a family of strangers who had decades of history together. I tried several times to enter their world, to bond, to become friends hoping to be allowed in.
I was becoming extremely ill and finally realized I would never belong, never fit. My health had to take priority, So in my case…history won.
I was an only child and having siblings was beyond my wildest dreams…Reunion should be a time for family healing and growth. I can wish all I want, but the fact is, I’m still alone.
I would do it all over again in a heartbeat for the process has given me pieces of the puzzle and reintegration of self. I am, at last at peace.
The strength of the human spirit is unending…. Claire Hitchon
My thanks to Claire for her memoirs and for her tenacity, great writing and inner beauty to survive her journey and for this interview… Lara