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Tag Archives: emotional abuse

The Eruption of Post Traumatic Stress is a Healing Opportunity

Hi everyone.  I hope you had a wonderful summer and are enjoying this beautiful fall season.  Wow.  Two weekends of Indian summer was such a blessing!  In my eyes the beauty of the season makes up for summer coming to an end.  I hope it is beautiful wherever you are located!  It has been a while since I have written, I have had some ailments that have added some stress to my life.  But as always I feel there is a lesson in everything that happens.

Two ailments occurred on top of each other.  I was already in distress about a painful ailment when something randomly flew in my eye and temporarily blinded me and with such severe pain that I could not drive myself to the doctor to get it removed.  This caused me to over-react in such a distressing way that it caused me to experience some childhood emotional pain that had been hidden from me until then.  The object was removed from my eye and it healed completely in the next 4 days but during this stressful time, I remembered a comment my mother had made. It was an epiphany–an aha moment!  Her comment was, “When you were 1 1/2 years old, you had severe diarrhea and were in the hospital for over a week and the doctors never figured out the cause.  The nurses wouldn’t let me visit you because you would try to climb out of the crib to get to me.”  Years ago when she told me this, I had no emotional reaction to it.  But the stress of these health events caused an over-reaction in me that now makes a lot of sense!  Because of this epiphany, the reason for all of the overwhelming feelings I was experiencing came clear.  I realized I was feeling all the repressed emotion of an abandoned toddler who was terrified that her parents were never coming back, who felt she was being punished in this crib in the hospital, who was confused about why all this was happening and it seemed like the end of the world.  This hospitalization at an age where attachment is so crucial and separation anxiety is at a peak, my whole world crumbled and my security completely gone, I emerged from the hospital traumatized.

Now it took me a while to figure all of this out, but analytical and self-aware person that I am I was fascinated with the process, even though it required releasing these unbearably painful emotions that had been frozen in time, finally freeing me in their release.  I believe that when traumas like this occur and never get worked through, they remain stuck in our bodies causing an energy blockage that can cause illness and disease (dis-ease). (Louise Hay and Dr. Christian Northrup–see Recommended Books.)  Talking through this and releasing the pain and having my husband for a witness, I started feeling like I was finally healing from this ailment that had been chronically stressing me.  Yay!  It was shocking yet exhilarating for these facts about this trauma to be unearthed the way it occurred.  So many unexplained fears that I have had started to make sense to me.  Their origins were from this trauma that had been hidden from my memory my whole life.  It was a post traumatic stress event that now has given way to new understanding of the origins of some of my irrational fears and insecurities.  Now, I feel stronger and less fearful and I am healing those deep insecurities by releasing the pain and having someone witness and validate my feelings–a safe person that I trust completely.  This is the process of inner child healing.  I thought I had worked through all of my previous traumas but it turns out that I had one more vitally important trauma to work through.

At the time I was releasing the pain I felt it would go on forever and that I would never recover.  I very soon felt better though as I released these fears that were from my childhood trauma. Releasing the emotions had to include my memories of clinging to my mother for dear life for years after this event, and my needs for security were not met and my trauma never acknowledged.  She didn’t understand all the attention I gave her, clinging to her in fear like that.  I laid in her lap on car trips and never left her side.  Intuitively gifted even as a child, I took care of her emotional needs so that I would not feel rejected–after my unhealed trauma I couldn’t bear the thought of it, even though, I now understand that I was obedient and good out of extreme fear.  I remember the stories of how she did not send me to kindergarten and a neighbor discovered my age and brightness and made it clear she must send me to school finally.  I feel much gratefulness for that neighbor stepping in.  My memories of how I flourished in those few months in kindergarten and how the teachers built me up and I was proud of myself are the memories I hold onto of my true self persevering and shining through.

If you have had some traumatic incidents like this in your childhood, and most HSPs surely have, I understand your pain.  Writing out what happened and/or talking to a safe person is important. It helps to think back to a memory of a happy time before the age of 5 or 6 (5 or 6 is the age when we usually give up, (if you have a narcissistic parent or an unsupportive or unsafe environment or some trauma), and develop a false self to survive–Alice Miller).  This memory is your true self making itself known to you. Thinking back to that moment can give you strength as to your positive happy potential.  You can recover your true self again if you can see that you didn’t get the validation of your feelings that  you deserved. Then finally release those painful emotions.  The next time you over-react to stress or have a full-blown post traumatic stress episode you can look at it as a healing opportunity.  Learn to recognize and release your painful feelings and then relate them back to the origins of when they occurredthis  is how true healing occurs.  Hopefully you can find a counselor or coach who has experience with inner child healing as a safe person to trust with your truth.

I had first remembered my mother’s comment about my early hospitalization with no emotion at all for that experience on the tiny sensitive child that I was.  Now I have much compassion for the pain I experienced and that all infants and toddlers go through in these early childhood hospitalizations without parents present.  Nowadays, doctors know not to keep parents from their children at these young ages when attachment and security is so crucial but back in the 60’s they hadn’t learned this yet. Thank goodness times are better now.  I was encouraged to stay and sleep in the hospital room for several days with my first-born when he had pneumonia when he was 2.  And my second born never left our room after she was born and I gave her first bath. I am grateful to have experienced such compassionate hospital experiences for my own children.

This ailment that I mentioned is still causing me stress even though it is beginning to heal.  I won’t go into detail about it except that it is chronic pain, slow to heal, and it has become clear to me that it requires more of my attention, more rest, and I must make some adjustments in my activities.  So unfortunately I must take a temporary leave of absence from this blog. 😦  You might call it a sabbatical because I am determined to return stronger than ever and with even more wisdom and insight to share. It is my hope that during this time you will support and answer each others comments since I will be unable to do so.  This has already been happening by some regular commenters, which has been wonderful to see–when you reach out and support someone else who is hurting, the good feeling that you receive from helping others is exhilarating and wonderful.  I hope that you will try it out and see what I mean. 🙂

I am not going to say goodbye, I am just going to say take care of yourselves and each other while I am gone and I will be back!  🙂

Warmest wishes and love to you all,

Roxanne

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The Process of Inner Child Healing and a Poem of Hope for Highly Sensitive Survivors

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

Hurts So Good?–Through Pain You Grow Stronger–Processing Childhood Emotional Pain So You Can Heal

Hi everyone.  Today I was out on my patio getting my morning dose of Vitamin D from the sun (hallelujah, the warmth is finally here to stay!) and writing down ideas for my next post.  When I was finished, the song “Hurts So Good” by John Mellencamp came on the radio I was listening to.  You know the one…”sometimes love don’t feel like it should…”  Anyway, I had to laugh out loud with amazement as it seemed like a sign from the universe/God that my topic was approved–it seemed clear that I should trust my intuition to write about what I had decided to focus on and that was:  what hurts the most in life emotionally can reveal the truth of who we really are–and physical pain can teach us the exact lesson we need to learn to move forward–both kinds of pain help us grow and heal to become our best selves.

Of course the lyrics of the song do not imply that, but the title jumped out at me as confirmation and I have always loved that song!  It always makes me want to get up and dance and celebrate being alive for some reason.  Sometimes when you are feeling the pain from childhood wounds, acknowledging you were wronged, and you know you didn’t deserve it, you feel so much more alive and you have the right to your feelings about it!!  Your anger can be channeled into positive energy to take action for your self and improving your life and moving forward towards your dreams!  Also the song implies that you know how love should feel but you are willing to take the painful risk of loving again for the chance of being loved in return.

I so look forward to dancing again to songs like this and forgot how much I missed it until it was taken away when I recently injured my back/hip (S.I. joint)!  My pain has almost completely healed. Yay! I still have restricted movements but I have so much to look forward to.  And I am on my way to complete healing and I learned much–I will spare you the details until the end of this post for those interested.

Okay, so about the lessons to be learned from the emotionally painful things that happen to us….   I believe that all of us are here on this planet to learn lessons about who we are, what we are capable of, how to achieve inner peace, love ourselves the way we deserved to be loved, and how we can use our gifts to help others.  For those of us who are gifted with high sensitivity and intuition it is so difficult to figure these things out until we realize that a lot of the pain we experienced as children was pain of the people around us that we just absorbed and internalized as our own.

One of the most complex examples contributing to many of my clients’ childhood wounds are when the parent is a malignant narcissist. I am sharing these examples of extreme cases in the hopes that they will be the most helpful. When a malignant narcissist starts to feel any emotional pain they get rid of it immediately by blaming the people around them. The highly sensitive child is the perfect target to take away the malignant narcissist’s pain because they absorb it completely and don’t retaliate.  As kind and loving spirits, highly sensitive compassionate children would never dream of blaming someone else for anything so they can’t imagine that their parent might be wrong or sick or unhealthy in any way.  Now that they are adults they are starting to see the light of how they were “used” to take away the parent’s shame, self-hatred, blame, and self-doubt. Hsps can heal as they acknowledge the truth that they were fine before malignant narcissistic parents took away their hopes and dreams and gave them their pain in its place.  They absorbed it all and believed it to be true–saying to themselves, “I am to blame, there is something wrong with me, I am not good enough, I must try really hard to be someone else other than who I am in order to be loved, I am not as good as I think I am, I cannot trust my feelings, I must not make any mistakes, I am unloveable, I am unworthy, I hate myself, or I must be a disgusting human being for upsetting my parent in such a way.”  This is what a highly sensitive compassionate child can determine to be true when they are not seen for the kind and sensitive soul they are but used for the dumping ground of the negative emotions of a highly dysfunctional family.

They numb their feelings to survive as children–They repress the pain and decide to be obedient (if they were the Golden Child) or they rebel (if they were the Scapegoat).  Either way their mind protects them with illusions about their parents in this case because they need them to survive.  They were after all children doing the best they knew how–there is no way for a sensitive child to detect danger when for as long as they can remember, this is what a loving family looks and feels like and it is ingrained in the neural pathways in their brains.  They believed the distorted view that their malignant narcissistic parent presented to them and insisted upon because they believe in the goodness of life innately–they trust completely which is a beautiful thing.  It is a wondrous gift to be able to trust in life, to trust in the universe, that it will support them and show them the way if they trust their feelings and our intuition.  We have the inner guidance and wisdom to be happy and fulfilled, enlightened and loving, full of vitality with the perseverance to press on through the ups and downs of life.  They all (HSPs) have this ability inside of them, this trust in the goodness of life, but it was taken away from them.

But what happened to them is not really about them at all.  They were victims, yes, but they don’t have to be victims ever again when they work through the truth of what happened to them as children–layer by layer, injustice by injustice, voicing the truth of how much it hurt, how they didn’t deserve it, and see how they lost their trust in themselves and their feelings.  Once you start this process of healing the layers, you feel lighter and a little kinder to yourself each time.  It is a blessing when you are in the midst of an episode of despair because someone you trusted criticized you and you suddenly realize, “Oh wait, this is how I felt as a child when my malignant narcissistic mother would feel threatened when I expressed a brilliant creative idea and put it down–I was smarter than she was!” –or something to this effect.

DOCUMENTING YOUR TRUTH STATEMENTS is a method I invented during my years as a life coach.  Journaling these revelations by writing statements of what you learned about yourself when a new layer of pain is uncovered  helps to document your progress.  Then when you are feeling lost, depressed, or blocked make yourself get out your journal and read over these statements and you will see the true voice of your soul being uncovered.  Statements like “I had brilliant creative ideas as a child”, “I discovered I was actually smart”, “I was kind, caring and innocent and did not deserve to be criticized and abused!”  These are truths come to light and will forever be true about you–they will help you change the internalized beliefs about yourself so you will develop your true voice.  This will help you stop listening to your inner critic and say,” No!  That is not true about me”.  Then say your new-found personalized positive affirmations (truth statements) to yourself instead. Your self-doubts will gradually fade and your confidence will grow stronger and stronger.

Childhood pain comes up to be healed in layers–it is like the truth of your untold story from childhood wants to be told and when you are strong enough, the painful feelings pop up unexpectedly in your lives.  You sometimes unconsciously provoke painful situations in our lives so that the original trauma can be healed.  For example:  you are feeling grouchy, irritable,  numb, and lost, and you criticize your husband for not supporting you enough, for not just listening, (he is trying to solve it and tell you what to do and you just want to be listened to and heard).  He responds with, “Something else must be wrong because I have been listening to you a lot lately but you are still really grouchy.”  You blow up and yell, “I wanted an apology but instead you are attacking me” and you fall in a heap of crying, blaming, angry despair. The feelings directed at your husband are so real to you but you are actually experiencing post traumatic stress from your childhood.  Your husband deserves about 10% of the anger that you are feeling but the other 90% is from your childhood. (90/10 Principle.  John Gray,…Venus and Mars).

In that moment you are reexperiencing the unresolved feelings of your self as a small child with legitimate needs to be seen and reassured and loved–you were perhaps rejected by a malignant narcissistic mother who was too busy with her own agenda to stop and be the loving mother you needed in that moment.  Perhaps instead she lashed out at you for being too sensitive, told you to knock it off and be quiet so she could think.  When you cried harder she may have slapped you on the bottom, screamed at you, and told you that you were giving her a headache and to go play somewhere.  You went to your bedroom and cried and cried and she ignored you–you felt rejected, scared, and humiliated but you felt so ashamed that your mother was angry at you that you wiped away your tears and went out and said, “I’m sorry Mommy I will try to be good”.  Then, she smiles at you and says, something like, “good, you learned your lesson about obeying me”.

This is horrible abuse for a highly sensitive gifted child whose only way of surviving this situation is to be a shell of her former self, deny all of her legitimate feelings and needs for pursuing her gifts and talents and dreams, and become a little robot shell of a person with all her feelings pushed way down deep to the point of repression.  A child incorporates the internalized message of, I must not trust my feelings or I will upset my mother/father and I need her/him.  To the less than sensitive observer this exchange seems harmless enough and they might even think “what a good child” or worse “what a good parent to have such a child that obeys so well”.  That is one reason that it is difficult for HSPs to change our negative beliefs about ourselves–most of society doesn’t yet understand or support a childs need to express needs contrary to the parent in charge.

You won’t feel guilty about leaving your abusive narcissistic family members behind when you understand that if malignant narcissists are in emotional pain for even a second, they lash out and blame someone else for it–they are not feeling pain the way you and I do–they get rid of it immediately.  They put on acts of great suffering because they know it works to make us feel guilty.  Don’t fall for it–it is all an act.  They are going about their merry way without a trace of remorse or guilt. They pull out the tears and anguish when other family members are around to get them against you–they get relief and control back from these antics so don’t feel guilty about leaving all of the craziness behind.

So back to how pain is helping you have a better life….  The truth too painful to bear as children has to come up as the painful truth or you can’t acknowledge that it happened, release it, learn from it, and find yourself!  It is a painful process but you are worth it!  Your true voice has been in hiding for far too long.  Next time something happens to you that is so painful it makes you want to give up on a person, try telling yourself,  “this pain is exactly how I felt as a child when ___ happened to me!”  Then write it out with all the pent-up emotion you can conjure up and see if you don’t feel better when as you write you realize you were an innocent victim and have a right to all of those feelings!

You may just be so grateful for the realization that you were a child who deserved so much more that you will even feel grateful for the person in the present that hurt you! They helped you bring a painful truth from your childhood to the surface to be healed.  You healed a layer of pain from your childhood!  On to the next!  Soon you will begin believing in your goodness and see your inner wisdom and kindness. You will begin attracting only loving giving people like you because your bright shining light of your special highly sensitive intuitive soul can now shine through the existing layers making them much easier to process through.  The illusions that helped you survive will fall away and a new-found confidence and ease will emerge.

So remember, from the layers of pain and hurt emerges the wonderful and amazing true YOU!  You can do it!  I hope that my words can assist you through this complex healing process.

Part 2

Okay, now for the health update:  The recent painful injury to my low back/hip sacroiliac joint (S.I.) is another example of how the universe/God  helps us along our path with painful obstacles that are lessons in disguise.

My holistic chiropractor was unable to answer my many questions about what I could and couldn’t do and what would help and hinder my recovery.  So I made an appointment with a physical therapist that was prescribed by my family doctor. She was able to tell me exactly what ligaments I had sprained, the reasons for my pain, exactly what movements to avoid and which ones were so safe so I could heal in the fastest amount of time.  She explained exactly why it had happened to me–with no core strength in my pelvis from lack of exercise, the ligaments were sprained severely requiring 6 to 8 weeks to heal completely.

She explained that sitting and standing hurts because those actions depend entirely on the ligaments I strained, whereas walking uses different muscles.  I can sit for a one hour at a time now, can drive for short periods, am allowed to walk on flat surfaces only, and should avoid all stairs as much as possible until I am fully healed.  She showed me the correct way to pick up something from the floor, bending at the knees and holding onto something for support–I had been doing it wrong every time.  She has given me homework of daily exercises to start strengthening my core muscles as I heal and I am doing them diligently!

Before I went to my physical therapist, there were 3 occasions when I had no pain in the morning (that is usually when I was in the most pain).  I  had gotten so excited I ended up doing too much that day and the next day I paid for it with pain that sent me back to the couch with ice and rest.  The third time it happened I had this surreal moment of anguish but at the same time a moment of grace and surrender–a reminder of how, even though I was exiled to the couch, I had a glimpse of what I had learned spending most of the month of May on the couch unable to move without the severe pain recurring.  The month of May gave me an entirely new perspective on my life and this moment of grace made me permanently slow down and appreciate that the small things in life were actually huge things to be grateful for.

It made me realize:  the things I missed being able to do most were things I did not expect because they were lost in all the busy activities I took for granted.  I missed most being able to sit up and play my guitar and sing my songs without pain. I missed being able to sit and write creatively on my computer for long periods (my last post I had to write and edit in long hand first).  I missed being pain-free so that I could concentrate again and get back to coaching my clients–having chronic pain is exhausting and I had to put my coaching on hold for a while (but it has now resumed 🙂 ). Biking, hiking, and dancing were also activities I loved and never found time for.  These are all things that have now been moved even higher on my priority list–maybe this injury is the only way for me to really learn what is most important to me in life.

A bonus from all this is that my husband had no idea how much I did around our home and has a new appreciation for all the years I spent managing our home because suddenly, he had to do it all!  I didn’t even realize how much I took on. Now he has wonderfully agreed to continue taking on his share of these tasks even after I fully recover (including half of the grocery shopping 🙂 ).  After all, I have a successful career too now and it is only fair!  My husband was really amazed at how much work it was and he now has a new appreciation of how much time and energy I spent doing it.  As I recover I am learning to delegate tasks that need taken care of, but more important than that, I learned to just let the unimportant things go so we can just spend more quality time together and be in the moment enjoying life! I am very grateful for a husband with such a kind and compassionate soul.

With every new victory in my physical abilities, we celebrate together and both of us appreciate our life together and our health so much more.  Soon I will be able to dance again.  We both loved to go out dancing together when we were younger–why don’t we do that more often!  Now with my physical therapist teaching me core strengthening exercises, I am determined to get strong and enjoy things with my husband that we both love to do together: biking, hiking, and dancing! Yay!  Through pain came important changes: the ability to slow down, be grateful, and relax and live in the moment; delegating tasks so I have more time to commit to the work and activities that I love; commiting to getting and keeping core strength and stamina; and letting the unimportant things go!

I hope my words have inspired you to look for and find the lessons amidst all the wonderful ups and painful downs of life.  I hope I have helped you to find strength in the truth re-experienced by your wise and gifted inner child. And I hope I’ve helped you to slow down and discover the joys in the small blessings in your life.

With Love,

Roxanne

The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and The Body–An Awakening To the Importance of Listening To It and Core Strength

Hi everyone.  I am back and writing again. Yay!  I hope you are enjoying the beauty of this spring season and all the brilliantly colorful flowers. Thank you to those who commented or emailed me such wonderful wishes.  It was quite a traumatic ordeal for me but I believe there are lessons in all things that happen to us–especially the painful things.

As a highly sensitive child, I have always been sensitive to pain and felt my pain more acutely than others–both physically and emotionally. I have childhood wounds related to how I was cared for during illnesses and also a hospitalization as a toddler.   Being “laid up” as I have been the last few weeks has broken open many of those wounds so that I could remember, reframe them with the truth of who I was, and finally grieve, release and heal the repressed emotions.

I had always had a hard time when I was sick–I would beat myself up, blaming myself for causing it–always finding it difficult to rest in order to heal–sometimes even prolonging my illnesses because of the stress I added to the illness.  I discovered this 2 years ago when I had 2 bad viruses back to back.  I had to face up to the fact that I had to change how I pushed my body too far and was terrible at resting and relaxing.  Things like this always have their foundations formed in childhood.  My husband could see the patterns I couldn’t see as clearly.  “Don’t be so hard on yourself, relax and let your body heal “, he would always say.  “Take it easy, don’t do anything today but rest.” It helped but as soon as I recovered I’d go back to my bad habits of not listening to my body.

If you’ve read my post from June 15, 2010 on HSPs and allergies and stress-related illness you know that I am recovering nicely from adrenal fatigue. Developing stronger boundaries has definitely helped reduce the negative energy in my life and the “fight-or-flight” responses to stress that I had a pattern of.  When your body reacts to stress with a fight-or-flight reaction you have increased cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body in the form of adrenaline.  This is an “extreme fear” reaction that I believe many HSPs with  childhood wounds do not even realize they are experiencing because it is combined with the numbing or anesthetic effect that goes along with the adrenaline rush.  What I now have learned is that even positive events in life can trigger this fight-or-flight response if you had the daily trauma in your childhood.

It’s like post traumatic stress in a way–any event, positive or negative,  can open the wound and the internalized belief  “I am not good enough as I am, I must work extra hard to be perfect to be loved”.  These are the roots of the compulsions of perfectionism, workaholism, burnout, and exhaustion etc.  It is automatic and unconscious until we become aware of it, give voice to it,  and then can reassure ourselves and calm and slow ourselves down. Sometimes it takes an accident, illness, or an injury for us to awaken to the knowledge of:  “this pattern has to change–I am hurting myself by doing this!” 

For me it was the event of both my children coming home.  My 24-year-old son who lives 3 hours away and I hadn’t seen since Christmas was coming home for 4 days at Easter.  And my 20-year-old daughter was coming home from her semester studying abroad in Australia 2 days after Easter. I overdid it!  I was drained and exhausted but still so excited by the end of Easter evening–my low back/hip was aching but I ignored it. My son left after a wonderful visit but my daughter would be home in 2 days.  I ignored my hip pain and exhaustion and just had to go to the grocery to get her favorite foods, just had to go to the party store to buy welcome home decorations and balloons, just had to clean up her room and get it ready for her, just had to hang up the banners and reach and stretch to hang lots of streamers in the main area of the house. All that stretching and twisting was way too much for my already injured sacroiliac joint! (I had moved boxes out of my son’s room to prepare for his visit).  I thought I just needed a chiropractic adjustment and I’d be good as new–but I was continually injuring the ligaments to my sacroiliac joint!  I didn’t listen to my body–it was begging me to stop, begging me to rest, “all this isn’t necessary, don’t do it” my intuition whispered to me. But “I have to” was a louder voice.  I now realize my childhood fear of “not being good enough as I am” was playing out my trauma from the past into the present.

I did cut back on some things I had planned to do and rested with heat and ice packs for 3 hours before we picked up my daughter at the airport–but it was too late!  The damage was done!  And as the adrenaline wore off and my daughter settled into our home with “Mom, you shouldn’t have!”, she ended up being so right!  I shouldn’t have!  And I will never forget this painful lesson of ignoring pain in my body again.  (I ended up in the ER with excruciating pain 1 and 1/2 days later–see my last post for more info.)

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.  Besides adrenal fatigue, I have never had anything chronic and this was chronic excruciating pain. I thought I had discovered a healthy alternative to exercise with my specific carbohydrate diet that was and is the perfect solution for my highly sensitive digestive system.  Avoiding complex carbohydrates and sugar gave me more energy and kept my weight down.  So I fooled myself into believing I didn’t need to exercise.  (I tried exercising occasionally with fits and starts but the pain always made me quit–I now see there was emotional pain from my childhood tied into “getting stronger”.  I learned that often childhood wounds related to our bodies can have complex origins. Hsps can feel shamed with looks of disgust or disapproval when expressing themselves joyfully through their bodies–dancing, running, and playing can be seen as threats to a N parent who need their hsp children to stay dependent and near and “take care of them forever”.  This may be an unconscious act on the part of the N parent–The mixed message of “grow up”/”don’t grow up and leave me” leaves many HSPs to feel guilt about growing strong and competent and enjoying having strong bodies. HSPs can sense this message even though the parent may be completely unaware that they are projecting this onto their child.

Now I am told that if I’d had more core strength and the overall strength and stamina that only exercise can provide I could have avoided this injury.  With weak core muscles I put strain on the ligaments related to my sacroilliac (SI) joint and injured the ligaments severely. Sprained ligaments like I have takes 4-6 weeks to heal.  And you must be very careful not to reinjure them by doing too much too soon–I read that if you reinjure certain SI areas 4 or more times, you could end up with chronic pain there for the rest of your life!

And this week I did have a setback.  3 weeks in I was doing well and was finally able to pick things up off of the floor and drive etc. but I must have done too much and remember one sudden jolt that retriggered my pain and set my progress back a whole week!  Ugh!…back on the couch just when the pain was beginning to lessen.  But I learned from it and am now even more careful and even more grateful for the activities I took for granted before.

As bad as it sounds, this traumatic experience has changed my life for the better.  I learned:

1.  I avoided exercise because of the pain it caused me but that is nothing compared to the pain of being immobile and unable to function normally and perform the simplest of tasks like putting on ones own socks!

2.  I must commit to regular exercise as soon as possible after I heal.  My plan is to start walking and doing core strengthening daily and then I am going to do Pilates or yoga and join jazzercise again.  I loved Jazzercise classes in my 20’s and 30’s–I had stopped in 1999 when it became too fatiguing and painful for me (I didn’t know then that I already had symptoms of adrenal fatigue).  The adrenal fatigue is now better so I should be able to get back into it if I am very gradual and process the emotions as they come up.

3.  I must get in shape and get core strength for the first time in my life and stay that way!  I hope to get up to doing Jazzercise  3 times a week. Also I plan to do lots of hiking and biking with my husband which he loves to do but has always done without me because….well… honestly… I couldn’t keep up.  My body has now taken a front seat in my life–I am sorry I didn’t listen to it sooner!  Fear of this pain returning is a great motivator–muscle soreness is nothing compared to the intense chronic pain and the pain of being immobile and dependent on others for everything.

4.  I am too young for this kind of injury–I am only 49. Now my body has caught up to the “new beginning journey” that my heart and mind were already on!  And so for this wake up call I say, Thank you, Universe, for all that it taught me!!!

Wishing all of you love and kindness to your spirit, mind, and BODY!!

With love,

Roxanne

Moving on from a Narcissistic Parent–The Obedient Child’s Journey Towards Freedom–Way Over Yonder

(This post is the most viewed post on this blog with over 18,000 views and 146 comments at the present time. It was updated and revised in March of 2017. If you are looking for the original version of this post, you may email me at hopesinger11@gmail.com. Warmly, Roxanne)

As a life coach I have experience helping HSPs with emotional wounds from childhood often stemming from one or both parents being a malignant narcissist.  Emotional abuse is an especially horrible experience for a highly sensitive child.  It may be that you felt there was no caring about your feelings whatsoever.  You may have felt invisible and as if you don’t matter. …As if your feelings don’t matter!   If you were emotionally abused or continually diminished as a child by your parent it’s not healthy to hold that in! Let it out–voice it or write out the truth, acknowledge what happened and then continue to practice letting it go–releasing it–sending it out away from you to be replaced by comfort, compassion, and love for yourself.  It’s not healthy to hold onto blame–but admitting it is important and the start to healing repressed and denied emotions.

At under age 2, when we can’t express ourselves with words, we can only cry to get our needs met.  A sensitive child becomes obedient out of mortal fear but you can’t tell–they don’t look afraid because they have repressed it. As an obedient highly sensitive child, you put your own needs away and focus on pleasing others–but lying under the surface those unmet needs are still there!  Begging for attention!  Longing for love!  There is nothing wrong with you!  You are just afraid to speak up and ask for what you deserve.

And in some families there is no genuine love to be given.  And even as a tiny child you know it.  As the sensitive child in the family you felt it’s absence and it hurt like hell!  And you cried and complained and may have had tantrums of despair in the grocery store!  But then at some point it was too much and you stopped crying or complaining and you stopped being …YOU.  The fear of being hit or just the mean look from their eyes would feel like a spear of pain through your heart and it would shut you up over and over again until you gave up and became obedient.  And that is the trauma!  The pain so unbearable to a child that you cannot survive it and so the repression happens. (See Alice Millers’ book, The Drama of the Gifted Child.)

If you experienced this too, the fear you had to repress also held down your true self and all the feelings that went with it.  You became obedient and fearful from the trauma but instead of expressing your rage at the injustice of it all, you pushed your feelings down so deep you hid them even from yourself.  You didn’t know ’til now that you have such a rich and deep inner life, and a wonderful, loving personality.  It was all hiding in fear.  Until now.

Now it is safe to come out.  For whatever reason, your beginning years were spent in an environment of fear and no love, but there is love out there to be found! Get some support and start a life with stronger boundaries so that you can fully heal.  You may need to cut the strings so you can feel safe and free.  You deserve to live a life of peace that is free from guilt-inducing manipulations, negative comments undermining your confidence, fear-inducing threats, comments about the rewards others will get for being “good”.

It’s wrong to take care of the feelings of anyone who continually diminishes you in any way at the expense of yourself. It’s difficult but very necessary to set boundaries with malignant narcissists.  It’s especially hard being blamed and turned into the bad guy more than anything. It’s excruciating!   But you are worth the fight and you must be strong. You have to take care of yourself and your health.  You will also feel a sense of exhilaration and freedom and pride in yourself for being honest and no longer pretending like you approve of how they treat you.   With support from your new loved ones in your life you can move forward and go for your dreams!  You can learn to comfort yourself through the hard times.  Know the truth and be strong and hang on ”til the good times–“the sweet tasting good life”…   I love that song…”Way Over Yonder.  …the sun shinin’ golden, shinin’ right down on me.”

For more on the subjects I have written about today please click on “Recommended Books”.  Thank you so much for reading.  Please leave a comment about your story.  It will help others to know they are not alone.

With love,

Roxanne

Way Over Yonder lyrics
Songwriter: King, Carole

Way over yonder is a place that I know
Where I can find shelter from the hunger and cold
And the sweet tasting good life is so easily found
Way over yonder, that’s where I’m bound, that’s where I’m bound

I know when I get there, the first thing I’ll see
Is the sun shinin’ golden, shinin’ right down on me
Then trouble’s gonna lose me, worry, leave me behind
And I’ll stand up proudly in true peace of mind

Talkin’ about a, talkin’ about a
Way over yonder is the place I have seen
In the garden of wisdom from some long ago dream

And maybe tomorrow, I’ll find my way
To the land where the honey runs in the rivers each day
And the sweet tasting good life is so easily found, yes it is

Way over yonder, that’s where I’m
That’s where I’m bound, talkin’ about, talkin’ about
Way over yonder, that’s where I’m bound

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