Hi everyone. April is almost here and as highly sensitive survivors you may be experiencing what can only be described as Easter Guilt. Easter is a family time, when families get together and celebrate God and Jesus and hsps often contemplate very reason for being on the planet. Even for the non-religious, Easter causes many to deeply evaluate our true purpose and our humanity. It is similar to the Christmas holiday when we look at our lives and say to ourselves “Today I SHOULD be happy! Where is my happy extended family that loves and supports me!”
Depending on where you are in your recovery from narcissistic abuse or childhood wounds, you may have started your own new Easter traditions with yourselves or with your own children which are more loving and focused on celebrating Spring, the miracle of nature and new life, and appreciating the ability to renew yourselves by being more loving–you remind yourselves, your children, or new-found friends that God loves you as you are, unconditionally.
Still, the Easters of your childhood may hold onto your hearts this time of year. You may still unconsciously hold down the pain of Easter family get-togethers filled with religious abuse and guilt-inducement, or the pain of no celebrations at all at a time when other families and children seemed to be so happy and loved and celebrating. Holidays such as this can surface feelings of deep loneliness as you realize you are separated from your true selves and true potential because you may have had to manufacture a self that was pleasing to your narcissistic parent, a false self that was superficial and not at all the rich, deep, complex personality that you still feel ashamed to completely step into. You may want so badly to be good, kind, fair, and right with God so you may feel guilt not honoring the commandment that tells you to Honor Thy Father and Mother.
As part of your recovery from childhood wounds, you may want to include reading Alice Miller’s book, The Body Never Lies. I want to share with you a review of this book that I found on her website in order to support those of you who still struggle with guilt if you happen to be needing to enforce No Contact in order to heal from your childhood wounds:
“Norm Lee, May 2, 2005
Of Moms and Moses A Review of Alice Miller’s book, THE BODY NEVER LIES: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting
…. We have to break free of our (internalized) parents’ grip on us, that of the biblical injunction, “Honor (obey, worship,) thy father and thy mother.” Until then we, in a sense, feel and behave and think like the little children we once were; we cannot grow up. Worse, because as children we weren’t accepted and loved for who we were, parents repeatedly punished us in attempts to force us into the imaginary mold they had prepared for us, i.e., what a child should be. Dr. Miller’s message is that our bodies bear a detailed record of every childhood hurt and humiliation inflicted, every spank and slap, insult and indignity. And until or if those internal, psychic wounds remain unhealed, we can expect to continue to pay the terrible price in physical illnesses. Powerless to do otherwise, we suppressed our true and good authentic selves to win the love our emotional survival depended on.
Dr. Miller writes with astonishing and penetrating truth about the connections between childhood suffering at the hands of parents, and the physical consequences of obedience to the Fourth Commandment. The Biblical law, “Honor thy father and thy mother” is here challenged as the source of widespread – even universal – life-long suffering. As children we attempted to free ourselves from our feelings of fear, insecurity and confusion thru repression and dissociation/self-alienation. Whatever the cost (abandonment of our true selves), we persisted in loving and trusting our parents (we hardly had a choice) and strived to earn their approval, (and (thus) to please the Greater Parent in the Sky.)
Today, what stands between our bodies and the healing of those injuries is the hold the Fourth Commandment has on our minds. As we live and breathe, the fear of parental rejection/punishment lurks within that fear. It has to be brought to consciousness and examined before healing can take place. We walk carrying a sack full of personal history, the burden of wounds inflicted by all the punishment and indignities that have ever happened to us. Until we heal those internal wounds, we daily pay a terrible price in suffering, much of it physical illness, and make others pay as well. Those others are most often our own children. The claim so often heard, “I got spanked and I turned out OK,” cannot be upheld when it is understood how the denial of physical and emotional injuries are connected to present illnesses.
“…. Dr. Miller repeatedly emphasizes the tragic effects, in the form of physical ailments, of the body’s life-long yearning for parental love and affection. She touches on the way this suppression is expressed in religion: the command to love God, on pain of punishment when we fail to do so; the absurdity of inventing a parent-like creator, perfect and omnipotent, who craves our love. It is an odd god, an immensely dependent god, a Big Daddy who, if given the love demanded, will reward with an eternity in blissful heaven. (And the teenage suicide bombers of the Middle East are promised the bonus of 72 virgins to sweeten the deal.) Inasmuch as the Great Father is not loved, even worshipped, the alternative is agonizing punishment from now to the “end” of eternity.
We have to liberate ourselves from the propaganda imposed on us – and enforced on us on pain of punishment – by conventional morality. This book calls for a higher morality, as it applies to parenthood. We cannot truly love our parents, she asserts, until we are liberated from the infantile attachment, the idolatry, that trapped us in childhood.
Dr. Miller wants the reader to understand and accept that parents who abused us do not deserve our love and honor, regardless of a Moses-imposed commandment to do so. As we all must know, love is one thing that cannot be enforced. Like Sgt. Joe Friday, the body, in its wisdom, rejects illusions. It accepts only the facts, as higher morality is inherent not in the mind, but in our bodies. She takes to task all those friends and relatives and preachers and therapists who say, “Forgive your mother, forgive your father; they did the best they knew how. She changed your diapers, he sacrificed for you, and above all they loved you.” Miller will not hear it: forgiveness is a crock and a trap, laid to continue the dependency, and preserve the hope, that somehow, sometime, we will finally bask in the love that was so long ago denied us. Reading Alice is like hearing someone whisper, “I know the secret you are hiding in your past, the feelings of hurt and fright and shame and humiliation at the abusive treatment you suffered at the hands of your parents. And I’m asking you – urging you, challenging you – to come out of that dark closet and face up to it.”
In the valley where I live, the #1 fear at whatever age is parental punishment. And among adults, it’s primary defense is Denial. Behind the denial of childhood mistreatment lies the fear of punishment, therefore acknowledgement or recognition of it in adulthood can approach terror. But the price for denial is paid in physical as well as mental illness. When aware of it we see it everywhere: the suffering in the bodies and minds of strangers and of those dear to us. But we must begin with ourselves, confronting the punishing parent within.”
As supportive as this information is, I know how difficult it is to step away from your abusive family ties and go it alone and start a new emotionally healthier life so that you can heal and get stronger. You need support for such drastic actions and I offer you that support through my posts, articles, poems, songs and lyrics, my coaching, and a community here with many comments on my website that I hope lovingly states, “you are not alone, you are in the company of a community of survivors that is growing in number as they dare to come out of their darkness and speak the truth of what happened to them as children!”
As highly sensitive people (HSPs) you have many gifts to offer that are lacking in many of the people around you. Celebrate your differentness, celebrate YOU this Easter and open up to the love that exists from God and from other HSPs like yourself. I believe we HSPs are gifted with compassion and an ability to love deeper so that we can help each other through the negativity and dark energies that do exist around us.
Love to you this Easter season, may you realize your shining light inside of you and shine it on your children, spouse, friends, and especially your self! You deserve a wonderful Easter!
P.S. For more information on Easter Guilt for HSPs, please read my post from last Easter entitled, April 1, 2010 Guilt at Easter Time and How to Cope…
Hi everyone. We made it through the harsh weather of February. Yay! March has visions of early flowers budding up through the ground, warmer temperatures, and hopefully a lot less snow and storms. It was beautiful and fun at first, but here in the midwestern United States, the continuous snow and storms soon started to wear on us all. Now we can breath a sigh of relief as the temperatures gradually rise and we can get out and about easier and with less stress.
Stress relief is so important to highly sensitive souls who survived the stressful conditions of having a narcissistic parent or other childhood wounds. They may have stressed-out bodies and wounded hearts and they need to learn how to relieve stress in our lives. They have been controlled by guilt and compulsively take care of the needs of others instead of themselves. They often feel guilty even thinking about putting themselves first. But in order to truly have something real to give others, a real human emotional connection, they HAVE to make themselves and their healing a priority. This really begins with giving themselves permission to reduce the stress in their lives. They may be so used to stress in their life, that they don’t even recognize it as stress. Do you relate? Here are some examples:
1) Do you have long lists of SHOULDS in your life that you really don’t enjoy doing? Perhaps you even have a large house and yard to take care of and it never occurred to you that you would be happier in a smaller place with less chores to do on daily basis.
2) Do you have relationships in your life that drain you rather than help you to feel good about yourself? Do you have friendships with people who do not see your sensitivity as a uniqueness about you that makes you special, but instead make you feel like they put up with you and are willing to work around the nuisance it causes them that you are different? For example, food and seasonal allergies, needing more time alone, and frequent breaks from stressful work are not things you should be made to feel guilty about. These are things that, when tended to with care, help reduce your stress level from the busy lives we are thrust into, and give you more time and energy for the things that you deep down really desire to do with your life!
3) Do you find comfort in collecting THINGS that fill your time and fill up your house, but then you are overwhelmed because of the time it takes to maintain the care of these collectibles and things that you just had to have? Clutter can be draining to highly sensitive people. You may be beginning to be aware that a shift in your feelings about material things in your life is starting to happen. Does the phrase Less is More help you to realize that when we get rid of things in our lives that we don’t really need, then we have more room to relax and just be our true selves in the space around us?
When you empty a room, do you ever notice how your kids get excited and start to dance around and do cartwheels? Self-expression happens when we are not cluttered by unnecessary material things! It is difficult to get started sometimes because as highly sensitive people we often have deep emotional attachments to things that have been in our lives a long time. I solved this problem for myself by taking pictures of things before I get rid of them. Also, allow yourself to feel and grieve the thought of the loss of the item before you actually get rid of it. Sometimes it is helpful to set items aside in an out of the way place and wait a week or a month or whatever you need and ask yourself if you really miss the item–you may be surprised that you are now ready to let it go or you have completely forgotten about it and then it is easier to give it to Goodwill or someone who will get some use out of the item.
As highly sensitive people, reducing stress put upon us by the SHOULDS instilled from childhood and less sensitive others can make a big difference in the quality of our lives. You deserve to live the life that you envision for yourself and not someone else’s vision of what almost everyone else seems to be doing to be happy. The key to happiness for hsps in listening to your own unique guidance from within. Often it is only through the quiet of being alone that we can hear the truth of our inner needs and desires. Listen. Listen to your heart and not to what your chattering mind is saying. You can find inner peace and joy in your life if you can find ways to begin to really relax and enjoy YOUR life. Noone else can know what is right for you but you.