Hi everyone! Summer is upon us and I hope you are enjoying the many opportunities that arise in this beautiful season. For those of us in the midwestern United States, we know the warm weather is short-lived so we try to get outside and enjoy it while we can. As highly sensitive people though this “pressure” to enjoy the outdoors can add to our “to do” list that is already too long as it is! Please look at the weather as a bonus to get outside in nature to recharge from the usual stress in our lives–just setting aside even 10 minutes alone in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening to walk, ride a bike, or even just sit outside and look and marvel at the sky or walk barefoot in the warm grass will help you enjoy the moments of summer more fully and not feel like the summer is passing you by yet again.
Today I woke up with a very strong feeling of shame and dread. Along with it though there was very strong clarity about the truth of these feelings and the shame and dread very soon faded away as I got on with my day. So I wanted to share with you the process that I go through and how I got to this emotionally healthy place!
Immediately when feeling this strong dread and shame this morning I went straight to comforting myself and saying to myself, “Wow, I must have done something really great for my true self yesterday–I must have really been expressing my truth and shining my light…. these feelings from childhood coming up to heal are the evidence and so I must be extra kind to myself today.” I KNOW this now because of many years of analyzing and paying attention to my own emotional patterns. I learned that when I wrote a great song, poem, or even when I just had great uninhibited fun or even exercise, this strong shame feeling would always pop up for me the morning of the next day. This is because these feelings from childhood were my experience day in and day out until I had to give up as a child and repress my true self and all of the memories of this unbearable shame in order to survive.
Back then as a child, when I expressed my true wise self, or my joy in my own creativity, I felt shamed to the core. I KNOW this now. I no longer allow these dreadful feelings when they arise in me to negatively spiral in the following way: My inner critic used to say, “What is wrong with me that I feel this shame, it feels terrible, almost unbearable, I feel disgusting, I must have done something horrible and shameful, I thought I had a good day yesterday but it must not be true, what was I thinking, I am never going to feel better, why do I even try”…blah blah blah, down down down the spiral went, draining all hope and positive energy out of me, leading to a depressed feeling and sometimes just numbness (dissociation) as I trudged though the day. Wow, it’s hard to believe I used to spiral this way!! But I did! My inner critic has now completely been replaced with positive affirmations that I KNOW are true. I don’t let my inner critic take over and I over-ride it with love and compassion for myself. It took a lot of inner work but the whole process was well worth it.
My thought and feeling cycles are so different now as I know that how I treat myself with my inner thoughts create the kind of day and experience I am going to have. This is more than just positive thinking or law of attraction techniques. I had to go through a grieving process that actually changed my core beliefs about myself to the point that I learned that I had a lot to be sad about, angry about, and plenty to comfort myself through. I had to delve into the past to see where the negative beliefs came from and get justice (inwardly) for the little girl inside who felt so much like an inferior being. It was not the truth and I had to figure out what the truth was for ME.
As a mother I knew, and my college education in child development told me, that NO child is inferior and deserves to be shamed–so the inner grief work was a challenge for me to put together this puzzle to find out the truth about what happened to me to make me feel so bad about myself. Memories started coming back to me and feelings that had been dormant and frozen in time became “available” to me again and I learned compassion for that little girl inside. This took a while and everyone’s journey to healing will be different and take as long as it takes to work through your layers of illusions that keep you from seeing the truth of your brilliant shining light and true self.
So please be patient with yourself if you are in the middle of feeling all the pain and not yet seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Or if you are feeling comfortably numb but joyless and lacking motivation. The light is there. It is because you had this bright light and higher spiritual level that bullies in your life had to put you down and put out your light. You may have been a threat to their distorted view of the world where “their” feelings were the center of the universe. But your light never went out–it was just dimmed or covered up with illusions and blocks that are not true about you. You have the power within you to turn your light back up high yourself! No one can do it for you. It takes time to learn how to process through the layers of dormant feelings.
Writing out your pain in a journal for your eyes only is so important to the healing process because it gets you out of your left brain’s spiraling or scattered thoughts and connects you to your right brain’s compassion for yourself and creativity. Document your progress in the journal and then go back and make yourself read the hopeful stuff you write, you will begin to see how amazing and wise you are that you survived it all and that there is so much to look forward to as you grow and grow in your own compassion for your wounded inner child. As you grow to protect your inner child and stand up for the rights to all of your feelings, the negative thoughts about yourself begin to change.
Another thing I had to realize was that no one was going to rescue me but ME and I had to make a decision to never ever beat myself up again. I remember saying to myself once, “That is it!!, that is the last time! I am never going to waste my time in such misery again!” And it stuck. I still had bad days when shameful feelings came up to heal but I comforted myself instead. Maybe I stayed on the couch that day BUT I was kind to myself instead. I put away my to-do list, watched a favorite movie, made myself my favorite warm soup or hot tea, wrapped myself in a soft blanket, “loved” myself through the bad feelings and had compassion for my inner child who deserved love and comfort. And I allowed myself to grieve the happy carefree childhood that I never had. This is so important to learn to do for ourselves–we hsp survivors may feel like we got skipped as we nurture our children and everyone around us–I realized this was important for me to take the time to mother my self for a while. Then I would feel SO much better after I took a day for myself like this–I would feel renewed and recharged and it started a habit of a positive cycle of healing and change.
These were the new patterns and beliefs that were laying groundwork for new neurons in my brain for a new future and over-riding the shame from childhood. This is the process of recovery from emotional abuse. It is not easy. It is not fun. It is painful. But with delving into the pain at first I noticed that I at least felt more “alive” and this was a “spark” of light that kept me going towards the painful truth and not escaping into a comfortably numb existence of denial and dissociation that had for years kept me from moving forward towards my dreams and desires. Instead I started continually delving into and through the pain to find my truth and aliveness—I acknowledge the painful feeling and released it layer by layer in my journal or to a trusted, safe witness and gradually I emerged on the other side of it all. The shame and dread that I wake up to is now just a weak residue, a glimmer of the truth of the past and all I worked through to get here–to where the joy in my heart can’t wait to get started on another day of being me in a Universe that I feel connected to and know that it supports me!
And so I say to all of you out there who are on what feels like an endless healing path, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is awesome! When you can tap into the light and love from inside of you and believe and know that you deserve it, then you will be able shine your light and recharge and renew yourself anytime you want to!
P.S. More posts are coming soon! I am working on putting together a post with all of the comments and replies from a frequent commenter who calls herself Belinda. Her story is an inspiring example of a highly sensitive soul with bullying parents whose painful drama unfolded here on this blog–she bravely reached out and expressed what was in her heart and she came out the other side and into the light–and now she is shining her own light to help others. Other commenters and my replies will be highlighted in upcoming posts as well. (I ask all commenters for their permission first before highlighting it in a post.) Be kind to yourself, HSPs, and I’ll be back in touch soon!
Hello everyone. Whenever I write a new post, I “tune in” to you, my readers, and write from my heart. Sometimes I plan what I am going to write and other times I write something entirely different from what I had planned. At the beginning I used to worry, “how can I top that last post”, but now I just trust in the process and I know that what I write will turn out all right.
It is wonderful to feel such confidence. It is such a contrast to how I used to feel years ago before I gained access to the truth of who I am. It was “self-doubt”–a looming horrible anxious feeling of dread and guilt…or more often a feeling of numbness and compulsions to avoid feelings by keeping busy with tasks that I felt I “should” be doing. I had no access to my truth–I had hidden away my truth to protect myself from the unbearable pain that I experienced as a child.
Through my journaling I discovered a process that helped me to heal more than anything else I tried–it was writing out my pain from my inner child’s point of view. I knew from all of my reading and training in psychology that blocks happen in childhood–and I had been encouraged by two helpful counselors to continue to write out my feelings in order to uncover them (I had been writing poems about my feelings since the age of 14).
Writing from my inner child’s perspective just kind of naturally happened and I found it to be the most powerful healing tool in my own recovery. I discovered “her” voice by writing out “her” pain and then I had no choice but to feel compassion for what “she” went through and over time “she” became clearly “Me”! And as I began trusting in this process of trusting “her” view of what had happened to me I began trusting my self. My inner dialogue then gradually changed from critical to compassionate. I remember that I started feeling emotions that had previously been repressed and could then label them.
I was excited about this process. For example, I’d be at the grocery store and suddenly become aware of a feeling such as shame and say to myself , “this feeling is really familiar but I never knew until now that it is “shame”. Wow this is shame from my childhood coming up.” I realized I was feeling these feelings for the first time since I had hidden them away in childhood. Rather then get caught up in them I was able to observe them and acknowledge them and release them. I would often go right away and write in my journal about the origins of these painful feelings. Repressed memories would often come back to me during these times. It wasn’t always so simple–sometimes I would unconsciously drag my husband into a drama only to discover I was replaying a trauma from childhood so that I could finally voice my feelings of anger, grief, or fear to my envisioned N parent. My knowledge of what was happening luckily allowed me to be aware of the process of healing–I would quickly reassure my husband what was happening so that he could then support the release of my feelings as a supportive witness without feeling blamed in any way. Seeing me recover my feelings in such a way and feel relief helped my husband to understand this healing process as well and he began processing his childhood pain in a similar way (he had a Narcissistic parent too).
I am planning to put together a book in which I include the best of my healing writings directly from my journals that show this process of healing first hand from age 18 to the present. Although it will be very personal I am hoping that it will help others to heal and develop compassion for their inner child and what they went through if they are unable to write out their feelings in such a way that I was able–I consider it a gift that I was able to do this and I am grateful to have such a vivid memoir of my recovery. I believe this gift of writing I have been given is another way that I can help other highly sensitive souls to recover and to help them to feel relief from the inner prison of emotional abuse by a Narcissistic parent. Please let me know if you would be interested in reading such a book.
Recently I wrote the following poem when I “tuned in” to you, my readers and fellow highly sensitive survivors. I was planning to save it for my book but I have decided to share it with you now instead to show an example one of the kinds of writings that will be included. Here it is:
Poem of Hope and Healing for the Highly Sensitive Survivor
By Roxanne E. Smith
March 22, 2011
Pain so deep, I can’t see the light
I know it’s there but it’s not very bright
The sadness is thick, despair all around
I envision a child giving up with no sound
Pain so deep, I hide all my hope
Afraid to come out, I feel like a dope
Worthless and horrible, don’t ever try
The pain is unbearable, can’t even cry
I can’t feel the love, I need it so bad!
So much fear without it, it’s really so sad!’
I am feeling much better just admitting this truth
You have to have love when you’re in your youth!
Without love you can’t heal all the hurts that come by
When bad things do happen we need love when we cry
Someone has to hold us and give us new hope
If there’s no one for comfort than there’s no way to cope
No wonder I hid my talents away
When I would do well then I was their prey
The taunting, the teasing, “Who do you think you are?”
Shame became my deepest scar
But who was this child all hidden in shame
An innocent victim who will never be the same?
She thinks she is nothing but she is so wrong
The truth is she’s beautiful, wise, and so strong
Scoop up that child all broken and battered
Love her and hug her and tell her she matters
She’s awesome and wonderful, they were so wrong
Talented, creative , and smart all along
Sensitive soul you were so beaten down
But you figured it out and now you can leave town
You’re safe now and free–no more bullies outside
Shine your light, spread your wings, don’t believe all the lies
Be kind to yourself when the pain comes back ’round
Love yourself through it, your true self is found
You know the truth and now you can be free
Fear is from “them”–in the past, don’t you see?
Relax into the pain and it will dissipate
Because the pain is from lies and it’s never too late!
To believe in yourself and your talents and dreams
You are good at compassion and so many things
They did not want you to succeed with your gifts
So they made you give up and they threatened with fists
You were small so you gave up but now you are grown
You can heal all the pain and make it now on your own
You can do it!–the words you’ve long waited to hear
Say them to your self! And say NO to the fear!
Give them back all the bad feelings that they gave to you
Imagine this energy going outward from you
Then let in the light and the love from a place
Where angels don’t want you to live in disgrace
You know what love is because you give it so freely
To others who need it when they’re feeling needy
Give to your self all this love all the time!
You will find your true purpose and all will be fine
These lessons are so hard that we learn from our pain
But we discover our strengths again and again
So sensitive souls who survived from abuse
Your gifts are so needed to be put to good use
I know how you feel and I hope you feel better
Because we can overcome it if we do it together!
I hope that this poem has helped you to feel loved
You are!–and I send it to you from above!
I understand and I want to comfort your pain
I hope this is helpful. Love, Roxanne Elaine
Hi everyone. It’s November!—and there’s a briskness in the air and the awareness of the holidays approaching. For many highly sensitive survivors that comes with a bitter-sweet feeling–of light and love from God above (the true reason for the season) mixed with the grief of a lost childhood and sad or painful holiday memories of being misunderstood and diminished. Or it can be an overwhelming feeling of dread on some days for many reasons related to your present relationship with your some bullies in your life, and on other days of stress–being caught up in the busy-ness of getting ready for the big days ahead for your loved ones–often too busy to feel anything at all.
Depending on where you are in your recovery, it is normal for you to be feeling all of these different ways. Be kind to yourself no matter how you are feeling and please try to slow down, breathe deeply and take self-care breaks–stop and be aware of the negative messages in your head and change them to kind words that you deserved as a child such as: Everything is going to be all right, You are doing a good job, It’s okay to make mistakes, You are special, deep, and a rare gift to this planet.
Affirmations you can say to yourself are: I love and approve of myself, I am safe, and, my favorite, I give myself permission to be the best that I can be. This last one is helpful especially because often others may have been threatened and jealous of your gifts and so, sensing this, because you were highly sensitive and empathic, you protected them by hiding your gifts away so they would feel better. Giving yourself permission to be the best that you can be can be so empowering and satisfying–like suddenly realizing, “Oh, wow, I don’t have to protect anyone anymore and I can just relax and be awesome!” Many of you feel guilty for everything even for your own creative and artistic gifts! A caretaker from childhood may have caused you to feel shame for expressing them. Please take your gifts out of hiding and take a good look at the truth of the gifts and talents that you brought with you to this planet. They are your gifts and yours alone and you deserve to enjoy and feel good about them and share them with others!
For more about overcoming creative self-doubt please read my post from January 28, 2010 On Overcoming Self-doubt–The Story Behind My Songs Of Hope and Healing.