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Tag Archives: post traumatic stress

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 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

More Helpful Tips–For Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) With A Narcissistic Parent–Part 1

Hi everyone. As highly sensitive people, many of you are struggling with how to cope with your relationship with your narcissistic parent and your unsupportive siblings and extended family.  First of all I want to tell you that as a life coach for people with childhood wounds, I understand your pain and how hard it is. There is very little support in our society for not having a relationship with ones’ parents no matter how negative and destructive they are to you or were to you in your childhood.  Many people have difficult parents but they tolerate them and seem to get by okay so why can’t you, right?  The pressure is very real.  But let me help you understand the difference between you (an HSP) and everyone else with some more helpful tips that are very important for you to know.

1. Know that your greatest gift is your intuition.

As a highly sensitive person (HSP), you were naturally giving and loving and trusting as children.  You had high hopes for yourselves and others including your parents.  People with loving and supportive parents are more likely living lives full of vitality and creative fulfillment and healthy boundaries to keep negative, manipulative, harmful people at a distance naturally and sharing their unique gifts with others.  These people don’t feel guilty about not getting along with everyone–they just “know” there are some people who are unhealthy and dangerous–they pay attention to their natural instincts.  But people with a narcissistic parent were taught at a very young age, even from birth not to trust their own instincts, their own intuition.  The horrible thing about that is, that was their greatest gift, “their sensitive intuition”, and it was often used against them.

2. Know that you may have repressed a terrible trauma from your childhood–the loss of the knowledge of your gifts.

Possibly, if you had an N parent, then part of your sensitivities were seen as a gift for “them”.  They could control you easily because of your trusting nature–so often they used fear to get you to be quiet, anger to get you to obey, and shame to keep you from feeling independent and strong.  And it worked.  You trusted them and needed them to take care of you and protect you from a world that overwhelmed your sensitive souls so you…experienced a trauma that caused you to shut down your true selves and become what they wanted you to become.   Something happened that was “the last straw” for your fragile but wise self that was developing.  Typically it happens around age 5 or 6, according to Alice Miller (Author of The Drama of the Gifted Child).  After an incident that you can’t remember because you have repressed it, suddenly, you are obedient and sweet wanting only to please.  And please them you did.  And that is why it is so hard for them to let go of you now.  You took care of them.  Completely and amazingly.  They felt loved by you and validated by you filling a void inside of them that was caused in their childhood.  It is as if you were the loving parent that they never had.  That is how gifted you were.  Those gifts of intuiting the needs of others are still there–they were just misused and abused by your needy and narcissistic parent.  Those gifts of being a loving and giving and caretaking soul were mis-directed.

3. Know that your childhood holds the roots of your anxiety, self-doubt, post traumatic stress, and co-dependence issues.

As you grew up and tried to do some of the creative endeavors that were driven by your soul, your parent probably did not support you because they did not want you to leave them or stop taking care of their emotional needs or they just saw no harm in controlling you.  As narcissistic parents with no conscience or guilt, it was easy for them to manipulate you, so they did.  The pain of your original trauma at the age of 5 or 6 would come up for you each time you tried to express your true self and these outbursts of emotion may have been shamed and punished by your parent and made you give up each time.  This is the beginning of the post traumatic stress that still plagues you today. ” Why do I over-react in these explosive ways”, you may have asked yourself.  This is why.  Your true self and all your repressed feelings and desires from childhood still want badly to be heard and understood and validated and “loved”.  Your narcissistic parent was not capable of giving you this love and still is not and never will be.  Your love needs are still unmet.  You searched for love from others but sometimes, because parts of you are still undeveloped and childlike, you end up being attracted to people who seem wonderful and charming at first but then turn out to be needy and manipulative and unable to comfort you when you need it most–just like your N parent.

4. Know that there is hope and you can heal.

So what is a highly sensitive person with an N parent to do?  You can heal and learn to love yourself and slowly unblock all those creative parts of yourself that never got a chance to be expressed.  You can learn to trust your self and your gifts of emotional intelligence and intuition that were seemingly robbed from you and misused and abused.  You can gain clarity amidst all the confusion, and hope amidst all the despair.  You can learn that it is okay for you to say no to other people’s demands and put yourself first.  You need to learn about extreme “self- care” (Cheryl Richardson–author of the book Life Makeovers) and you need a journal to pour into all the feelings from your deepest heart.  You need support from like-minded, highly sensitive, safe people to share the pain and grief from the loss of a childhood that feels as if it was taken away from you.  All your desires and free impulses were repressed so that you could survive with an illusion that your parent’s needs were more important than your own.  But surviving was not really living your life.  Surviving is not good enough.  Your survival skills just cause you trouble because they are not driven by your heart, they are driven by a needy inner child trying to please a parent that felt unpleasable and without remorse about what they did to you.

5. Know that the answers are inside of you and support is available.

You need to take a new direction.  A direction into your own soul.  You need to excavate the desires of a child who never had a say in the development of his/her own life!  Write it out!  Talk it out! Cry it out!  Shout it out!  You can do this in a journal that is meant for your eyes only.  Or you can find a counselor or coach who does inner child healing therapy.  It’s important to find support somewhere so you can find your true voice and express it.  There are HSP meet-up groups in larger cities.  You might also look into Unitarian churches or Unity churches to meet people of a spiritual nature who are not necessarily “religious”.

6. Know that no contact with a malignant narcissistic parent is not just recommended so that you can get the time you need to heal, it is vital!

One of the first steps into this new direction of healing for yourself is ending the old song and dance and unhealthy relationship that you have with your narcissistic parent.  If you’ve tried everything else and you are still miserable, that means setting boundaries on contact is an important step so that you can heal and move on with the life that you always deserved.  The fact that you understand the words Malignant Narcissistic is crucial here.  We are not talking about a parent that is capable of being remorseful about your childhood and trying to change, we are talking about a parent who blames you every time the relationship isn’t going their way–they resent the loss of control over your life that they always had. Control is not love. It may be time to cut off contact so you can finally heal.  You do not owe them another ounce of your precious energy.  You owe it to yourself to stay away from them as you heal, because being around them at all always takes a toll on you,  a toll that is much heavier and destructive and stressful and toxic to you than you may realize.

There are a total of 12 tips that I have written about here today, but I am going to stop here and give you the other 6 in my next post in two weeks because this is getting really long. I hope that what I have written has been helpful to you.  I hope that you can enjoy this last week of summer and get out in the warmth of the sunshine–slow down and feel the connection to God’s love that nature provide’s and really take it in. Walks in nature are a great way to recharge your energy.  Your highly sensitive soul and body deserve this special treatment.  It’s never too late to start on the path to the healing you deserve.

With Love,

Roxanne

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