Hello everyone! Today’s post is a compilation of all the comments between Belinda and myself. Belinda is the name used by a commenter and follower of my blog who reached out for assistance when her attempts to create healthy boundaries for herself were followed by aggressive and fear-inducing actions by her parents in order to control her. Her comments were spread throughout different posts so, with her permission, I decided to put them all on one page so all of you can benefit from her open and honest sharing as she persevered with much inner strength through the backlash of going no contact with her narcissistic parents. (There are comment replies to Belinda from 2 other blog friends which I did not include here–you can click on the post at the side if you wish to find and read all the related comments from others too.) I hope you find inspiration and hope in all that transpired in the following interactions:
Submitted on 2011/05/06 at 2:14 am
Mother’s Day weekend is fast approaching and today I have made the final step in walking away from my narcissistic mother. I have asked my father for no contact from both of them. It is so ironic that it happened today. I was in the midst of contemplating how to handle mothers day. I did not want to send her a card, but knew the guilt I would face if I did not. I feel relief which only goes to show me that the decision is right even though it was so hard. Your story is helping me tonight. I know I have a long way to go but it has to get better from here. Thank you again and God Bless!!
Submitted on 2011/05/23 at 10:36 am
I am entering my second month of no contact with my family. I am currently feeling better as far as less stress and anxiety. I am slowing down and trying to be patient with myself. However, as far as anything else I am still in a state of shock. I know I have been verbally abused by my parents but I find myself constantly researching narcissism. It seems I am needing to constantly remind myself that I’ve been abused and I am trying to validate it to myself. It’s like I am doing a research project for someone else until I look in the mirror and realize I am researching about ME!! My whole life I felt like I was watching what was going on in the world but not really being a part of it. I have forgotten who I am, or better yet I never had the opportunity to get to know myself. I am trying to learn about myself and at the same time trying to heal my broken spirit and at the same time trying understand and at the same time trying to not call my family. Phew!! That’s how I feel. I break down in tears often from these overwhelming feelings
I never really explained to my parents that I no longer want to contact them ever again. It sort of fell in my lap. The last conversation I had with my dad, he suggested that they not call me and I said that would be best. So, I am assuming they are waiting for me to call. That leaves the ball in my court and the pressure of that is almost too much to take. I want to email them and tell them the no contact rules because I actually fear them trying to call me or see me. I am not strong enough right now to fight for my right for space but I know I desperately need it. I try to spend my time keeping my mind busy. That is what is making this the most difficult. My own mind. It is constantly thinking about everything. I have to work at staying focused on the here and now. Having my husband and little girl around always seems to help but it seems like a temporary fix. When alone, my mind takes over. I have been going to therapy for 2 months but there is little change in my spirit. there is much change in my surroundings, though so I guess it is a good start. I must have a long way to go. I sum it up this way…the knowledge of knowing is not enough to heal the spirit!!! I have the knowledge but where do I go from here?
I find myself trying to find someone else to fill the void that I have. The desire of approval from others and trying so hard to please seems to get in the way of making friends. People see that I am trying too hard. I expect too much out of other people such as a neighbor that has become my friend. The problem with that is she does not understand where I am coming from so in trying to discuss my current situation I end up receiving advice I know is not right for me. She does not know my family so I know that she had the best intentions but the words wound me. I know it’s not the right way to be. I need to learn to rely on myself and validate my own feelings. That was the biggest abues to me. My feelings were never validated. EVER!!! I am constantly searching for approval. I started a journal a few days ago, hopefully, it will help in my healing. I am learning slowly through trial and error. Thank you so much for this website. It gives me a voice.
Hi Belinda, Thank you for your comment. You so eloquently expressed what many highly sensitive people are going through when they first go no contact. Wow. So well said! You will help many others who feel the same but are not ready to leave comments. The pressure you feel to call them is guilt that they induced in you and that you internalized since you were a little child. It may help you to get in touch with some of your anger at having been so controlled and manipulated as a child. Journal out your feelings, all of them, including how angry you must have felt as a child but you were not allowed to feel it or express it then. But now you are safe and you can let it out. Releasing your truth will heal your spirit. When you connect with your true self and have compassion for the child inside of you that suffered, you will feel less needy for other peoples approval. It takes time to heal all the layers so be patient with yourself. You are stronger than you know. Thank you for the kinds words about my website. If you would like me to give you ISO’s email address just drop me an email and I will email her to get her permission as well. with Love and Light, Roxanne
Submitted on 2011/05/27 at 3:36 am
Iso and Roxanne,
Thank you both for keeping in touch. I feel relief of anguish with every word you say. Roxanne, I think it would be great to get in touch with ISO. I feel like we have such similar sithations that exchanging email addresses would be a good idea. I will continue writing about my journey here b/c Something good must come out of my struggles. I’ll be honest, good things for me have already begun to happen, but I want someone else to learn from this. Something positive has to come out of this experience!!! Just like the last Oprah show, I related so much to what she was saying. Everyone in this world just wanted to be validated that whatever pain or hard time they were going through someone out there understands and relates. That’s what made her show so amazing. My favorite part was when she stated we are all responsible for the energy we give out. This statement hit home for me for 2 reasons, My parents are accountable for actions and behavior, but there is a time when I must be accountable for myself. Now that I know, I have no excuse. I must be responsible for what I portray to everyone around me. I must try to be the person I have always wanted to be. I can no longer be the person I feared I may have become. Most of all, everything my parents did to me is already done to them. I have to believe this in order to try and move on. I don’t want to be the one to spend the rest of my life blaming my parents but I have no guilt in giving blame right now. For the 1st time in 41 years they deserve it. Now that I know the truth, I am working on being accountable for what I give in this world. I want to be a person of caring and empathy. I want to not be judgemental and to love unconditionally. But most important, I want to trust my own feeling. I am hoping to get there some day.
Iso, your comments about good and bad memories coming back is exactly right!! I have said the exact thing about never talking to and treating my daughter the way she did to me. I may not have mentioned but I have a younger brother of course we are not talking, can I say triangulation. I am beginning to recall a few memories about me but the flow of bad memories about my brother are coming at me like a tidal wave. He was a different child than I was. I was extremely scared, but my brother was a fighter so he received the grunt of the abuse. I used to think, man my little brother is not too bright, why is he fighting he knows that he is going to lose the battle, but now I realized he was fighting for his voice. He was so strong for a little guy. He fought them alone. I feel guilt over not being there for him as his big sister, but I can’t really deal with that now. I plan on addressing this at a later time when I am stronger.
For those of you contemplating no contact, remember it can be on you terms. If you want it for a little while or forever it is your right. Let me assure you it may be the hardest decision you make but speaking from experience it will reward you ten fold. Stepping away for a little while just to figure youself out is highly recommended. I have walked away from my parents more than once in my life but only now am I contemplating forever. Only now with the knowledge I have possessed do I really believe this is the safest and healthiest situation for my family. Stay strong, but be gentle to yourself.
Submitted on 2011/06/23 at 3:03 am
I sent an email to my parents a few days ago outlining my request for complete NO CONTACT from them. I found it necessary for them to know b/c I found some clothes hanging on the front door of my home. The clothes were for my daughter and there was a card inside from my mom. I am assuming they came to my house and dropped them off and left. I was shocked that they would do that if they really did? We have not been talking or seeing one another so I decided to let them know not to come to my home or contact me and my family. This action disturbed me.
Well, I received an email from my dad tonight. I feel threatened and scared. I understand the email to say that they are insisting on family therapy meaning all of us or they will proceed with a lawsuit of defamation of character. There was much more said but I will have to put my online therapy on hold which pains me. I want to be able to express my feelings openly and honestly, but I do not know what to make of what I’ve been told by them. I was hoping to work through some serious things, but it is going to be in my best interest to stop writing on here until I find out more about this. I am numb right now and whatever progress I have done up to this point is now ruined. What now???
Submitted on 2011/06/24 at 12:33 am
Roxanne and Lily,
Thank you so much for your support. I am realizing that dealing with this type of situation is a rollercoaster ride. Right when you think you’ve got it under control, their crazymaking sends you spiraling out of control. I made an emergency call to my therapist, printed the email and brought my husband for support and his input. It was the best thing I could have done. She analyzed the letter and Roxanne, you hit the nail right on the head. Major scare tactic which is how they always controlled me. It was worth all the anguish to finally get my husband onboard as well. He was shocked by the threat and terribly disappointed in my family. Having my therapist explain things to him, helped him in realizing the truth about the long term abuse I have been receiving adding my intense reaction of fear and anguish he saw first hand the scare tactic in play.
My therapist suggested I just continue ignoring all emails but print them up for the future…just in case I need to do something a little more serious. As far as his threat to sue me for defamation of character. he has nothing…abolutely nothing. I had scheduled an appointment with a lawyer right after her just in case I needed to give him a retainer fee. I was prepared to fight but ignoring is the best defense, so I cancelled the attorney. I know I will not be afraid in the future if I need to go that route. I came out stronger today. I bet they would be hot if they knew that what they caused actually showed me how strong I could be if I had to be!! I overcame intense fear today. I was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the day but I learned a little about myself.
Roxanne, Thank you for your quick response. As soon as I read your response, I was inspired to leave work and handle this situation immediately. I was not going to let it interfere with another night. Your support means more to me than you know. I feel empowered again, but I remain cautious. This situation showed me how fragile I still am. I am a long way away from recovery, but at least I have created a support system. I can pat myself on the back for that. I reached out for it and look I have people that care for me.
Submitted on 2011/07/13 at 12:06 am
Thank you so much for speaking from your heart. I relate to what you are saying so much. It feels good to know that someone else feels the way I do. I know you have been keeping up with me and my personal struggles and I just want to thank you so much for being there for me. If i could I would hug you, really tight. I am having good days and bad days but you know what through all of this I am learning myself and listening to my body and trying to finally take care of myself. not only do I have a heart but others do as well. I have made a pen pal that provides wonderful support for she also had a narcisstic parent. We seem to be journaling together and helping each other along the way. I recently mentioned something to her that is starting to happen to me. the dark cloud surrounding me is starting to clear a little and I am beginning to see small mircles and joys in life. From my family to co workers to complete strangers. I am connecting to the world. It is very small but I am recognizing this and I am so thrilled.
The family update… After I emailed my parents and asked for no contact my father responded by threatening to sue me, I am sure you remember. I ignored the email. I received 2 other emails after that. In the second email I was basically called a coward for not responding and then he threw the guilt trip on me about how could I do this they are my parents.. Then the same day I was told by a neighbor that my father was driving by my house. I was also aware that he was calling my husband behind my back. He was trying to sneak attack my husband. Luckily my husband refused to answer the phone. In my own way I believe I was being stalked. I’ve heard it is quite common. I was very scared but I sat down that night and let him know that I was aware of all he was doing behind my back and I do not want any contact from him. The last email I received, he stated that he thought I was crazy and needed therapy (he has no idea I’ve been going for months) and actually told me that I could potentially hurt my daughter (what a horrible thing to say to your only daughter). He ended the email telling me that he and mom did not want anything to do with me. Wow, really??? isn’t that what I’ve been asking for all along. It’s as if no one is going to tell him the rules he is going to tell me the rules. Does it really matter to me who ends it , no as long as it ends. I felt is was necessary to explain the behavior because to me it validates everything I believe my parents are. Crazy making control freaks!!! It is as if he was having an adult temper tantrum because things did not go the way he wanted them to go and I didn’t do what I’ve done in the past. I am no longer their little liar!! I will not lie about who they are to me and how I feel they have treated me. My feelings are the truth. they no longer tell me what my truth is. I feel like a prisoner who has just been set free. Thank you God!!
I am still working through a lot of pain, but I know that I am better already and I am beginning to feel I mean really feel. Care for others and allowing them to care for me. Most of all I am paying close attention to myself and trying to take good care of me. I am happier and apparently it’s contagious because I truly feel like my family is happier. Thank you, again Roxanne!! Continue your work in healing, I know it’s helping me and YES I would love to buy your book!! All things are possible, my new father told me that!! The father that promised to always love me and promised to never hurt me!!My lord and saviour!!
Submitted on 2011/07/20 at 5:49 am
Well, I am really needing your support tonight. My anxiety and stress is at an all time high right now. My father showed up at my home unexpectedly tonight at around 9:30 pm. We did not answer the door, but my husband turned on the front porch light so he knew we were home. I was finally forced to get the authorities involved. I called the police but my dad had left before they arrived. I can’t believe this is happening to me. I had a feeling that I was going to have to call the authorities at some point in time because of the nature of the emails I had received from him and the threats and insults he was making towards me. Fortunately, I printed up every email I sent to him asking for no contact and he also sent to me discussing the threats and insults . It was proof to the authorities that he should not have showed up at my home. The officer contacted him tonight at my home and spoke with him directly. It was necessary that the officer explain the reprecussions if he were to try to contact me and my family or if he were to come onto my property again.
1. It would be considered trespassing
I am scared to think what might have happened if the door was opened. My 4 year old daughter was in the house at the time and I am grateful that we did not answer the door. What was he thinking, we would sit down and have a chat. It would have turned out ugly and in front of my child. I remain in constant fear. I only hope that the information he received from the officer will deter him from futher contact, but really who is to know. I am fearful that he will still try to reach me, and rightfully so. Apparently, I am going to have to live with this fear. I don’t possibly know how to let something like this go.
I have been seeking therapy for a long time to try to heal from this, but with every attempt they make to reach me, it’s like starting all over again. Has this ever happened to anyone else, is anyone familiar with a situation like this. Is this something n parents have been known to do? I am truly at a loss of words. I still feel like I can’t keep this a secret. I know someone else out there has either gone through the same thing or is going through the same thing. I am very proud that I handled things this way. The officer said I did the right thing and I know he was right, but it is probably the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I called the police on my dad. I could just cry. I am not sure I will ever be able to get past this. I just pray and hope that this will stop. I will not be bullied, I will not be scared, I will not be abused.
Pray for me,
Submitted on 2011/08/11 at 3:12 am
I always receive your messages at the exact moment I need it the most. What a wonderful reminder to enjoy these hot summer days. You are a reminder to me that yes I am a hsp who is still recovering from an abusive past. It is a good reminder for me because it teaches me to take care of myself. You are a gentle reminder to me that it is ok to celebrate me and it is ok to take care of me and most of all I should not feel guilty about it. I am in the process of building that family unit that cares for me so until then I have been relying on you to be that support. You have earned that trust through your kinds words and unconditional love and support from the start.
From the last time we spoke, I had a lot to tell you and again today is the same. I want everyone to know what is going on for many reasons. I want to help someone else as much as you, Roxanne, have helped me and continue to help me. I want to speak up about the abuse I received as a child and I continue to receive as an adult. Most of all I am realizing that every time I write my story it’s as if what happened gets left here and I can move past it better. As soon as I write down my pain, the pain is diminished. So here it is…After the last fiasco, I had forced myself to enjoy the summer with my family, go to the pool with friends and my husbands family and try to enjoy. Through my socializing I came across a job that became available. I interviewed for it and just recently was offered the position. I am so excited about this new opportunity because it is allowing me and my family the chance to move. I have wanted to do this desperately to try and lose complete contact from parents but felt like it was impossible, but God put me in the right place at the right time. So the family will be moving soon and I am so happy for us right now. It could not have come at a better time because last week I received a letter in the mail from our county courthouse. My dad is suing my husband and me over some money we borrowed several months ago before I went nc. I knew he was going to try and sue us but I expected him to try the defamation of character lawsuit he had threatened to me in the past but I suppose he realized he had nothing on me. I’ll be honest the money is owed to him and believe me I want to get him paid quickly. I suppose from my standpoint I feel like he is just relentless in his pursuit. When will he just leave me alone and let me be. To me this is a pattern of his attempt to over power and intimidate. to my husband (who happens to be a father to a 24 year old daughter and 4 year old daughter) he sees it as just pushing a daughter further away. My husband personally would never think of doing such a thing to his own children, but once again my parents have managed to show their true selves through this. In the past, I would have had a total meltdown and panic attack, but now I lose little sleep over their temper tantrums. The money will be there but for fun we will not send it until the last minute. Of course, It will be sent through an attorney letting them know that after this payment there will be not reason for further attempt for communication. Am I scared, yes but scared less. most important, I refuse to give them an opportunity to see me in court. Just what they want a dramatic ending to their sad story. I am sure they are hoping to add more lies to their adoring fans ( the family). The idea that they are getting sympathy from everyone when they know what they had been doing to me only intensfies my frustration. To them impression trumps truth, so I am not only no contact with them I have remained no contact from everyone. What do I call this… casualties of war. Due to the nature of our family structure it has always been if you are not for us you are against us and that means all of us. well goodbye all of you and your toxic lives… It’s time for me to stand my ground and…I won’t back down. hehe!!
I loved your statement about us being late bloomers, it is absolutely true as a matter of fact I am still blooming. I am finding that being a late bloomer has it’s advantages when raising a toddler. I am enjoying her more now than ever!! Roxanne, thank you again for giving me a voice and enjoy blowing out all those candles. I will be smiling for you on September 9th and wishing you a wonderful and blessed birthday.
Submitted on 2011/09/30 at 10:28 pm
It’s been several weeks and I’ve had a yearning to communicate with you but I am having a hard time trying to determine or explain how I am feeling these days. In walking away from my family, I have made every change possible within my control..emailing no contact, moving away, changing jobs, changing numbers, etc. I have also been making it a priority to exercise, I keep thinking that if I take better care of myself I will feel better. After all this, all I know is that I ache. It is a feeling that is not going away. I know that I am much better off now that my family is gone. The panic and anxiety and pressure to please is gone but it seems to have been replaced with an ache that I can’t seem to describe. Like I am at the verge of crying but it won’t come out. I don’t know what to do with this feeling and I am at a loss of how to fix it.
My hometown is in Georgia. I am compelled to tell you this because here in Georgia nothing is more important than family. Everyone I know has and loves their family. Every country song sings about family and friends. My parents moved from New York and eventually made their way to Georgia when I was a baby. So along with their narcissism also came a sense of being a foreigner. They are Puerto Rican and all my life they never really embraced Georgia and the southern culture. Growing up, I learned to love country music. I love the way southerners are, they know no strangers, but I felt my mom frowned heavily upon it So while growing up I always thought they kept people out because our cultures were so different but actually they kept out everyone that would see how they really are. I never belonged, never felt able to belong and now that I am away from them I feel more alone then ever. I really have no idea who I am, who I want to be and more importantly how to live in a town that would never understand walking away from family. It’s like an ugly secret that I can never really feel comfortable revealing. This is but a small aspect of what’s bothering me about my life.
How do I fix this or do I just live with this feeling? I am just so sad.
Submitted on 2012/05/27 at 6:53 pm
Hi Roxanne, I am not sure if you recall me…you have a lot of wonderful followers but I just had to write to you. You have been on my mind for a long time. You helped, supported and loved me through the most difficult part of my life. Walking away from my narcisstic parents was the hardest thing I ever endured. I went no contact around this time last year and I know I could not have done it without your kind words and encouragement. I am so far removed from the girl I was last year…I can’t actually believe I lived through all of it. I know before you I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown or really to be honest I had one and you helped me through it. From threatiing emails, to having to call the police on my own father I look back and can’t believe the inner strength I had to have to pull away from their scary, intimidating and threating ways. But today after one year away I must say I am happier then I have ever been. Yes, I have a long way to go…I am working on a lot of personal growth. I am still healing, don’t get me wrong but I am really coming out of the fog!! Roxanne, thank you so much for this website and know because of you I am paying it forward. I have signed up to dailystrength.org and I blog, journal and positively support anyone in my group that needs it. I want to be there for someone who had to endure the same abuse I endured. I want to be there for someone like you were there for me. I have a testimony now and I share it with anyone that needs support and you are part of my testimony. May your website continue helping others find their true sensitive, wonderful and beautiful self!! Be Blessed!!
Submitted on 2012/06/13 at 6:07 pm | In reply to Roxanne.
Wow, I don’t really know what to say. I am truly overwhelmed with emotions…Sure, feel free to use my blogging any way you find it will help your website. I only hope that it helps someone else. After all this I am 100% a supporter for no contact. I support it, I encourage it, and most of all I try to let everyone know the true benefits of it. Reflecting back, my situation in the beginning felt like a lose lose situation but after time and therapy it turned into a win win. It doesn’t happen overnight, it does take time but I have to let people know what can lie ahead if they just hold on!!. I really want to be the support during the lash out phase, when a person is on the brink of cutting off contact. It is the most intense, scary, out of control place to be when you first walk away from a Narc!! I don’t wish this on anyone, but if they can just hold on, I promise that happiness is just over the mountain. It is the abolute crossroads between choosing to live a deep, fulfilling soulful life or handing your soul over to the devil and dying slowly everyday!! Roxanne, be blessed in your journey and please keep writing!!
Thank you, Belinda, for allowing me to share your story! Feel free to comment here on this post any time you wish as well as keep us updated on how you are doing! 😀
And to everyone else: Now that I have a busier schedule and am working on other projects, I am no longer able to answer each comment with emotional support and guidance as I did here, but it would be great if this new post became a forum of support for all of you HSPs who are struggling to find the courage to go no contact with your narcissistic parents! Express your voice here and leave a comment–I am sure many out there who are suffering in silence will be helped by all of your stories as many were and are helped by this one–The Story of Belinda. It is my hope that you all become “free to move on” to become your true selves and help others in the process if you so desire. (It’s okay if you are not ready to speak out and help others yet, compassion for yourself as you heal is rule #1–time alone to heal is important, HSPs 🙂 )
With warmest wishes for inner strength, comfort, and love to all who identify with this story,
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!
Welcome To The Blog For Highly Sensitive People, Intuitives, Empaths, and INFJs In Search Of Emotional Support and Guidance
(May 23, 2012–No you are not seeing double–except for parts of the first paragraph I copied this post and turned it into my new static Home page. So if you have already read this post, check out the comments here and then just scroll down to find the other posts. Welcome to my blog and it’s new format. New posts coming soon! 🙂 )
Hi Everyone. I am back and feeling great. Thank you to all for your prayers and well wishes. I hope you are doing well also. I learned much while I was away and I have much new knowledge and wisdom to share. My Coaching is thriving and I feel very blessed. I love my work–there is no better feeling than helping other highly sensitive souls to feel good about themselves and their lives and to help them to heal their emotional wounds. In my opinion, my clients are among the kindest, most compassionate, gifted people on the planet!
It is interesting for me to take an objective look at this blog now that I have had a break from it for several months–there is so much content here. The first post I wrote back in January 2010. In my last post, I talked about how I feel I healed my final trauma-wound—an abandonment wound from the time when I was only 1 and 1/2. I couldn’t remember it of course but the emotional pain had been dormant within me and in my body in the form of an energy blockage. Both ailments that I suffered from in the last year were in my root chakra–I never knew about the chakras before and I had been kind of resistant to learning about that kind of stuff. But it kept coming up in my search for answers to how to heal from this last ailment. It helped me to put it all together when I read that health issues in the root chakra area may have to do with issues of abandonment. Then it all came clear in the AHA moment I talked about in my last post (see Oct. 2011) and I was able then to process and heal this inner trauma.
Since then I feel different–healthier, physically stronger, and wiser and with so much more clarity and calmness. For the last month, when thinking about what I was going to write for this post I was trying to think of a word to describe this feeling. Then I saw Jane Fonda speak on Oprah and on Dr. Oz and some other shows and I resonated so much with what she was saying about “wholeness” and I realized that is it! I feel “Whole”.
I feel I have come full circle into living my life with the vitality of my whole true self. I feel more centered and grounded with an exhilaration about the wonderful things to come and for all that I have learned from where I have been. I am so grateful for what feels like a second chance at life without chronic pain. I have learned how to relax and enjoy my life. It has been such a rollercoaster of a spiritual journey to come to this place and time where I can say that with confidence and amazement. In 2004, when I started writing my songs and process through the layers of grief and pain that kept coming up and were holding me back, I never would have dreamed it was possible–the pain seemed endless as I worked through my childhood truth that had previously been long hidden away from me. There was something inside of me that KNEW that going through the pain was the only way to get to the other side–that finding my true self was only possible by changing the “faulty BELIEFS” about myself that had formed in early childhood.
And now here I sit feeling very much healed with a new-found ability to recharge and comfort myself and find inner peace no matter what life throws at me and know with complete confidence and trust that everything is going to be okay. I am telling you this because I want all of you to know it is possible for you too. I feel so strong in spirit now with so much to give to assist other highly sensitive souls to heal from their abuse from a narcissistic, emotionally abusive parent or to heal from childhood wounds from an event or trauma from childhood.
I look at the content on this blog and there is so much self-help information here–I am amazed at how I did it! I remember it just flowed out of me easily for almost 2 years, ideas coming to me all the time. I really was just going with the flow in my life at the time–it takes a lot, getting informative posts ready for public view. I look over this blog and it feels like it is “complete’–I have had people tell me that it is an entire self-help book in itself. Some people tell me they read 2 posts a week and it helps them so much. Others tell me they start at the first post and read it like a book.
If you are looking for some emotional support and guidance, there is much content that I have written in the comment sections of each post where I have in the past answered each and every person’s comment. I am no longer able to do that now that I am Coaching a lot more. Frequent commenters have been jumping in occasionally to give support to other commenters when I am not able–it is wonderful to see this happening. Thank you to those of you who have reached out to help others in this way.
I will be answering comments just sporadically and occasionally from now on because of my busy Coaching schedule. But please know, I am here–I am available for Ask the Coach services and for Coaching. I am reading your comments and I know you are out there–I understand and KNOW first-hand the emotional pain you are experiencing as you try to make sense of the confusion and destruction of the spirit that is left behind by a narcissistic parent or narcissistic family members. I send my love and message of hope to you all. I hope this blog will be a safe place that you can come to for comfort, encouragement, compassion, and most of all healing.
UNDERSTANDING THE HIGHLY SENSITIVE PERSON:
In my early forties, I felt empowered when I discovered that I am a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). I now understand that being an HSP is a gift and for this I am truly grateful. It means I am highly “intuitive”–not highly “insecure” or “weak” as many people have been wrongly led to believe by our American culture and media. It also means that I am “Sensory”-sensitive which is not about emotionality–it means I am sensitive to sensory input that causes me to feel overstimulated at times–HSPs take in 5 to 10 times more stimuli in our environments than non-HSPs. HSPS are highly creative and often visionaries. Here are some other things I learned about being an HSP that I would like to share:
1) MANY HSPS ARE HIGHLY EMPATHIC. Until you understand the benefits of being an HSP, it can be very difficult to understand why you are so different from those around you and why you yearn to “fit in”. HSPs feel things more deeply and we can empathize with the feelings of others so completely that we often unwittingly “take on” the negative feelings of those around us. We can end up feeling “bad” and have no idea why and blame ourselves for it when actually the feelings belong to the person we were just talking to (or sometimes even someone we have just been near). When we feel bad for no reason, the common reaction for HSPs is to blame ourselves and mentally beat ourselves up. For example, we say to ourselves, “what is wrong with me; I should be happy; everyone else seems happy and carefree so there is something wrong with me that I feel this way; I must have emotional problems; I am flawed compared to everyone else” etc. When we can recognize that the emotions we are feeling are from others, we can learn to stop this negative self-talk and let go of and release this negative energy that we have absorbed.
2) HSPS ARE OFTEN TOO HARD ON THEMSELVES. Becoming aware of how you are treating yourself in your head is becoming aware of your “inner critic”. Your inner critic is always negative and always wrong about you. Becoming aware of your inner critic is powerful. Once you become aware that you are listening to your inner critic you must stop and say to your self, “No, that is not true about me!” Then replace these thoughts with positive affirmations such as “I love and approve of myself; I am safe; I am supported and cared for by the Universe (God); and I am a highly intuitive soul and I am sensitive for a reason”. Being able to change the way you treat yourself and talk to yourself will change your life!
3) HSPS ARE LOVING, COMPASSIONATE SOULS. When you love and approve of yourself as you deserve to be, you begin to shine the light that is inside your soul. This light is the gift of the highly sensitive soul: you innately see the good and the potential in other people; you look to yourself to improve rather than blaming others or expecting them to change; you are able to empathize with other people’s feelings with compassion; you are a trusting and loyal friend; and a very good listener. These are wonderful gifts for a person to have for they are rare—and it is usually only the rare and highly sensitive friend that would point this out to you.
4) HSPS OFTEN NEED TO LEARN HEALTHY BOUNDARIES. Being the kind and caring soul that you are, if you are not seeing the value of that, your worthiness, you will often attract relationships with the kind of negative energy that your inner critic is reflecting. Also, people who are less sensitive and not intuitive at all are often drawn to HSPs because we absorb their negative feelings and they feel better around us. Some of these relationships can really confuse us because these non-HSPs can “act” very kind and generous when they want something from us. These are actually people we need to avoid because they drain us and are unable to reciprocate the giving nature that we need and deserve in a friendship. Ending relationships with people who are really takers and manipulators rather than givers is a giant leap towards becoming the person you dream to be. When you are able to take this final step for yourself and start listening to your inner guidance that is your gift, you are well on your way to a life of emotional vitality and wholeness.
Here are lists of links to important posts within this blog:
As a final note of support, I want to say that as a highly sensitive and intuitive person, you are part of a group of 15 to 20% of the population that is deep, caring, and compassionate with much love to give. Our giving nature is an inspiration to others who are also part of this 15 to 20%. You do not have to be around anyone who makes you feel bad. One fifth of the population is over 1 BILLION PEOPLE–and empathetic compassionate people are out there. When you begin to love yourself as you are, stop comparing yourself to others, and protect yourself and your energy from the negative people who diminish you by staying away from them while you are healing, you will start attracting and finding more compassionate people like yourself in your life. Do not settle for superficial relationships–take the road less traveled. It is the path to love and enlightenment and inner peace.
With love and warmest wishes,
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. 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…
Updated March 2016
Hi everyone. Today I want to write about a subject that many of my clients and readers can relate to as Highly Sensitive People. It is something called Learned Helplessness. Learned Helplessness is that feeling of powerlessness that we all feel at times, and for some of us it is more pervasive and all encompassing than for others. There is much hope in talking about it because if you can understand the roots of this feeling, you can understand that it is “learned” behavior and that you can become aware of it when it hits you and ultimately heal from it completely.
I first heard about Learned Helplessness in my introductory psychology class in college. And you probably have heard the story as well–the story of Pavlov’s dog. Pavlov used a dog in an experiment in human behavior to demonstrate the result of conditioning. I can’t recall the exact details except that the dog was given rewards or withheld the rewards and the resulting behavior of the dog was recorded and studied. There were other dog experiments by a psychologist named Seligman in which he shocked sets of dogs to demonstrate learned behavior and conditioning and punishment.
The main thing I remember vividly about the whole thing was that at the end of the Seligman experiments, the dogs were shocked repeatedly both when they completed a task correctly and also when they did not. The poor dogs were so confused that they layed down depressed and GAVE UP and even whined–and this was Learned Helplessness that the dogs were experiencing. I still remember learning about this vividly because I felt SO bad for these dogs–I was empathizing and upset beyond what the average person reading this would expect to be.
At that time in college I did not have the insight or self-awareness yet to realize it was because I resonated so much personally with how the dogs were treated. As a highly sensitive, empathetic person I knew just how those dogs must have felt and I related to them giving up and laying down, hopeless, and helpless, in fear, and self-doubt. Those dogs were experiencing the same damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don’t no-win situation that those who were bullied consistently (or even neglected or controlled) by a caretaker or narcissistic or controlling parent were subjected to day in and day out as children. Years later I remember talking to a counselor about this, knowing just how a dog in those experiments must have felt and it helped the counselor have a picture of the frustration, fear, desperation, loneliness, despair, hopelessness, and helplessness.
After I voiced this to the counselor, I was able to picture myself as a small child with the same compassion I had for such a dog and finally realized that I deserved so much more. The roots of my anxiety were then exposed–no wonder I felt anxious all the time, no wonder I was a perfectionist and afraid to disappoint anyone, no wonder I didn’t know how to relax, no wonder I had no access to my own dreams and desires and was filled with self-doubts and negative messages in my head. It helped to talk to someone about how I felt what I experienced could compare to the treatment of those dogs–the feeling of not being given consistent love and support and feeling rewarded only if obedient and punished with emotional rejection if not.
My life coaching experiences and studies have taught me the following in regards to those highly sensitive people with a narcissistic parent: The Scapegoat child of a N parent can very much relate to this constant punishment and criticism. But the Golden Child (GC) can relate as well because they are often the obedient one who needs desperately some kind of loving approval and, out of fear, becomes what the parent or wants for them to become. Outwardly to others it may appear as if the GC has it all–the love, attention and admiration of the Narcissistic parent. But inside there is so much emptiness and pain, an absence of the knowledge of self and true feelings–feelings that had to be hidden away because they were too painful to bear. The false self is developed and honed in, the GC knows exactly how their N parent feels even before they do. The GC develops a radar that helps them to survive the lack of love and support–and they develop an illusion that they are the ones at fault if, even with their best efforts, they fail to win the acceptance of the N parent. They blame themselves and have very low self-esteem, crushed by criticism, holding relationships at arms length so no one will get too close and cause them further pain.
The roots of co-dependence are also linked to this learned helplessness–victims of such abuse telling themselves that there must be something wrong with them and that they are deeply flawed and it usually goes in one of two ways–either they decide they need to find another person to love them and take care of them and then they will be happy (co-dependence) or they become a porcupine not letting anyone one else near, lashing out at anyone who suspects that they just might have some insecurities underneath their outwardly successful yet workaholic exterior shell. People who suffer from panic attacks and even agoraphobia often have learned helplessness from childhood as a root cause as well.
“What can a person do?” you may be asking if you relate to what I am describing. Plenty! Just being aware and believing that this happened to you as a child is the first step. Just as you have compassion for the dogs in the experiments, you need to develop this same compassion for yourself and make a decision to stop being so hard on yourself. Make a decision to be kind to yourself every time you are feeling bad–it is almost always childhood pain coming up to tell you the truth of what really happened to you. Become aware that the negative messages in your head were put there by someone else and that you did not deserve them. Change them to positive messages. Write in a journal all the things you were good at as a child and never given credit for. Writing out the truth is powerful and go back and read it often to remind yourself.
It takes time so be patient with yourself. Taking baby steps in the direction of healing is wise because there is pain to work through and release but you can do it! You have many gifts and talents that have never been acknowledged yet and only you can bring them out from their repressed state of Learned Helplessness.
Whether you were the scapegoat in your family or the obedient golden child, you can heal from the trauma of Learned Helplessness. Often people who experience post traumatic stress from an abusive childhood fall into this state of learned helplessness when their wounds are triggered. It can feel like an inability to function, a numbness–but sometimes the feelings along with that are a mix of rage and despair.
If you have lashed out at loved ones with an intensity beyond what is appropriate then you probably were a victim of a person that controlled you in an abusive way far far too much with no remorse. If you were extremely sensitive (extremely emotionally gifted 🙂 ), just a mean look from his/her eyes could cause a traumatic reaction in you as a child and the fear may have felt like a spear through your heart. The rage and despair you feel is understandable and appropriate but needs to be directed, voiced, and released at the person that did this too you in a journal, letter that won’t be sent, and/or perhaps even read outloud with a safe witness friend, counselor, or coach present (never to them or to their face) . You will find a sense of relief each time you release some of this truth and the light inside of you will become brighter and brighter and you will feel lighter and lighter. You will begin to experience the essence of your true self and the vitality you deserve. This is the process of healing. Don’t hold onto the anger and resentment that comes up but release it completely each time, visualizing the negative emotions going up to heaven or into the earth,whichever appeals most, to be healed by love and light–Imagine love and light coming to you as well to replace these negative emotions each time to center yourself again to a peaceful state.
Why did you experience learned helplessness while your siblings did not? Perhaps you had the gift of high sensitivity and along with that the knowledge and expectation of a higher level of love. And when you did not receive this love that you innately knew existed, you had no choice but to blame yourself because…it made no sense to you. Your siblings possibly just got mad at your parents and rebelled–they may have had no higher vision of a loving existence so it didn’t feel as traumatic to them.
So you see, the cure and the answer to all of your self-doubt and learned helplessness is LOVE. Love yourself as you deserved to be loved and give yourself the love that you so easily give to others because that is your gift. Compassion and love for yourself will help you overcome all of the many symptoms of Learned Helplessness just as consistent love and affection and kindness would help Seligman’s abused dogs to learn to trust people and trust themselves again. I hope my words have been helpful to you.
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.
Hello to all of you sensitive souls. I hope you are enjoying this beautiful week of Indian Summer we are having. The news says that most of the U.S. is experiencing gorgeous mild temperatures and colorful changing leaves right now. It is definitely my favorite time of the year and it feels like such a gift from above now that I can relax and take it in and be in the moment and fully appreciate it. As many of you who follow my blog already know, it wasn’t always this way for me. I used to be numb to my feelings, keeping too busy to feel, compelled to be a people-pleaser and a perfectionist, and full of self-doubt and anxiety.
There are many facets to my journey to finding my voice as a person, many of which I describe on my blog so that I might inspire other highly sensitive people (HSPs) to believe in their dreams. Writing out my feelings in a journal has been one of these many facets that contributed to my awakening to my true spirit which was hiding inside. I have been writing poetry in a journal since the age of 14, but it wasn’t until about 2002 that I set out to to try to do Julia Cameron’s morning pages (3 pages of free writing every day) which turned out to be extremely therapeutic “inner grief work” that took place over a period of 5 years. It was during this period that I wrote about the feeling that I was “growing a backbone” and this felt very miraculous indeed. I knew I was finding my voice finally and it had been hidden away in fear for so long. I was writing songs and poetry and it never really occurred to me to seriously share them with others until one day when an extra special one poured out of me. When I wrote this poem, it dawned on me that I had been transformed and now, finally, I could reach out and help others–something I had always wanted to do but I always felt I had to figure myself out first. I had a new found sense of self and there was no going back. I am very happy to be sharing it with you today.
After I wrote this poem, I got the idea to write a book sharing many of my poems and my growth along the way to finding my voice and that this poem would be the final one in the book–a finale of sorts. However, since then I have written even more special poems and songs so I have decided to go ahead and share a shortened version of it here in my blog. (I haven’t written my book yet but I plan to start it in the near future.) This very special poem is entitled, “Joy, Our Birthright, Waiting There”. I want to explain that I wrote this with my children in mind– when I say “and I was never there for you the way I thought I was, it’s true”. What this means is when I went through growth and gradually had more access to my true self, then I couldn’t help but feel regret about the past when I had been doing my best but I was not able to be my strong confident true self yet. When I expressed this regret to my children expecting them to agree and feel relief and tell me it had been hard for them, they both instead said they always felt I was always emotionally available to them and it meant a lot to them that I always apologized to them whenever I made emotional mistakes and they felt fully validated at each step along the way in their upbringing. For this I feel extremely grateful because nothing has ever been more important to me than my children feeling good about themselves and their unique gifts and breaking the cycle of dysfunction that my husband and I experienced as children. Still…I can’t help but wish I knew then what I know now….
So here it is:
Joy, Our Birthright, Waiting There
By Roxanne Smith
Feb 21, 2007
Telling someone helped me heal
All the pain inside was real
No wonder I had been so tired
My whole heart had been so mired
So much grief to lead the way
Let it out, so much to say
I was never there for you
The way I thought I was, it’s true
Because I was empty – none to give
Alive but I just now learned to live
Soulful is the proper word
I have “me” – it sounds absurd
Let your painful feelings out
You can’t be whole and live without
Expression of unfairness do
Your soul will help you live anew
And learn compassion for your self
Don’t put feelings on a shelf
Any doubt is harmful thought
The truth is–look how far you got!
Negativity and blocks
To true self and joyful shocks
Being blamed can stunt our growth
Fear of feelings: anger, both
Also fearing joy and bliss
Pain comes up and we all miss
The connection to our rightful heir
Joy, our birthright, waiting there!
Love is what we all deserve
Joy it feels when then observed
Share it then and it comes back
Filling up the past we lacked
Helping others heal their wounds
Nothing like it – glowing moons
Stars are twinkling, warming sun
Nature loves us one by one
Let the love come down on you
It is there don’t block the view
Doubts of self will keep it blocked
You must trust your soul’l be rocked!
With this truth I’m trying to tell
Creative soul fear-blocked is hell
Heaven is a word away
Love is here please let it stay
You deserve its welcome home
Inside you it does belong
Love yourself I’m trying to say
God is trying – just light the way
Ask him to comfort your soul
Believe! And he will rock and roll!
I’m not kidding this I know
I let out grief and felt a glow
A light inside I did believe
I’m OK. I feel. I grieve.
Compulsions all have fear beneath
God has no “shoulds” or “work hard” teeth
Be yourself and kindness do
Serve to help others heal anew
Help them see that love transcends
We can all relax and mend
“Relax and enjoy your life
and everything will be alright!”
This phrase came in a dream so real
I hope this poem will help you heal
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Hi everyone. I am a life coach for highly sensitive people with childhood wounds and I specialize in inner child healing. Today I am releasing Part 2 of my More Helpful Tips post for those of you Highly Sensitive Souls trying to figure out how to thrive when you have a narcissistic parent. It may help for you to review tips 1 through 6 in my last post. To summarize, they were about: your gift of intuition; the childhood traumas you repressed to survive; anxiety, self-doubt, co-dependence and PTSD; there is hope; inner child healing can help; and no contact with your Narcissistic parent may be vital to the healing process. So here are tips 7. through 12.:
7. Know that the GUILT is relieved by acknowledging the anger and hatred you felt as a child that you were forced to repress.
The guilt of setting boundaries in your relationship with your Narcissistic (N) parent will be strong! Ignore it! It is guilt induced from elsewhere that you internalized since you were a tiny child. That has affected your freedom as a gifted child to become your own wonderful self! It may feel as if they took that from you and gave you guilt, shame, and fear in it’s place. So what do you do with the guilt you feel when stepping out on your own to become the person with freedom to do whatever you want with your life? HSPs tend to feel guilt for feeling anger–allow yourself to feel angry about it! Righteous anger is a healthy emotion that you were not “allowed” to express to them–but it is important that you release this anger in harmless ways (not to the parent who abused you) . Acknowledge it, tell a safe person, or write it out in a journal (for your eyes only) in detail the anger you feel for all that you lost. Because this rage inside that comes out sometimes in your life at the wrong people has an origin that needs to be acknowledged and let go of. You have a right to acknowledge this repressed anger for the traumas that happened to you as a child–it was too painful for a child to survive this kind of excruciating, unbearable emotional pain of hating your parents when you needed them so desperately. So the trauma is repressed and the truth of what happened to you needs to be released so that you can finally be free. Punching a mattress with your fist and/or screaming into several pillows for as long as you need to is helpful to release the rage you have kept inside all these years. It helps to have a supportive and safe person present to validate your feelings as you release them. Do not hold onto this intense anger–release it and imagine this energy going away from you forever. (Forgiveness is important but not until all the layers of repressed anger are worked through and this takes time and patience with yourself–do not attempt to forgive too soon or you may get stuck in a guilt about not being able to forgive cycle.)
8. Know that grieving the loss of your childhood is part of the healing process.
Often after the release of anger you will begin to feel all the hurt and pain of not being truly loved as you deserved. Letting this out and releasing this is so important as well in the healing process of your wounded soul. It helps so much to talk to another empathic human to feel fully validated and comforted through this grieving process–but if there is no one possible then you can write this pain out and you may even surprise yourself by the poetry that pours out of you. (No rules when you write–just let it pour out). These words of your soul will always surprise you– you will discover a richness and deep inner life inside of you that you never knew existed. Because it was hiding in fear all this time–a very real fear–fear of your parent’s judgemental rejection and abandonment of your budding wise self.
9. Know that it is okay for you to be FREE of them and put yourself first so you can heal.
It is a free country! You are a free person to do as you wish. And noone knows the pain that a narcissistic parent can do to the soul of a highly sensitive child except those who have experienced it. So stop waiting for approval from the rest of society. You may need to stop all contact with the harmful, negative, malignant narcissistic parent in your life forever and always if that is how long it takes for you to feel safe and have inner peace. You do not even need to attend their funeral if that is something that worries you. It is okay to protect yourself from all the negative energy and judgements of others at family gatherings if you are feeling this will happen. (This all depends upon your own personal spiritual beliefs–I personally now believe our souls live for eternity and those who truly love and support you will be there in heaven and watch over you in spirit–they will understand your reasons for staying away. I believe you don’t need to go to a funeral to say goodbye or to appease family members who don’t support you either. This is something that must feel right to you and your own personal spiritual beliefs) And to support you further, I just happened to hear on the radio today, a Christian counselor reminding someone that “Honor thy father and mother” DOES NOT APPLY when they are emotionally abusive and use fear to control you. Fear is the opposite of love! It is a deal breaker and they are no longer honorable parents. God wants for you to protect yourself and go towards love in your life and away from those who induce fear. I agree with this. Loving parents want you to feel safe and loved–N parents do not care if you feel safe and loved, they want you to obey or else! Please get yourself safe and free.
10. Know that Narcissistic people are known as “Crazymakers” for a good reason.
If you have malignant narcissistic parents, they are not going to change and they are not going to stop trying to make you wrong. You are not wrong for putting your life and your dreams first for a change. This is your time! This is your life! This is your time for healing and dreaming and learning to love yourself as God has always wanted for you. Malignant Narcissism is mental illness. It’s a severe problem and insidious in nature because they appear to fit in with other people and have friends and thrive and look fine on the outside. They may even be religious and say they are devoted to God but it is not true! It is just words! They may even appear to change and will be on their good behavior around your children but don’t believe it. They may even turn your kids against you in an instant if they are able. There’s a hidden self-hatred there underneath in a narcissist and a desire to control others with no remorse and no desire to change as a disconnected self-protection from emotional pain–a complete separation from their soul’s true essence. That’s enough knowledge for you to know you need to get you and your children safe with safe boundaries in place.
11. Know that highly sensitive people absorb the negative energy of others. Time alone and the beauty of nature can help recharge your positive energy.
Malignant narcissists are like energy vampires sucking the good energy out of you and replacing it with all their unconscious negative feelings about themselves. You feed them, so to speak, and they take it and feel better about themselves. And they constantly want more, not seeing or caring how it is hurting you. Only you can stop feeding their endless need for your supply of positive energy. This is what it means to develop healthy boundaries. It is your very essence, your “gift” that they are taking–your ability to give light and love to others. You must protect this gift. It is meant for those who are also of light and love so that we can build each other up and help each other so that all of our dreams can come true and we can improve life on our planet. These dreams and desires that you have deep inside are the innervoice that connects you to God and the light that feeds all of us (HSPs). It is the LOVE that you never got from your N parents that you begin to feel has been inside of you all along. As you begin to connect with your real feelings and your vitality you connect with God and the love and bliss that was there innately in our true selves. Love exists and you can give it to yourselves when you realize you were loved all along and were born with this love to give to others who don’t exploit you.
12. Know that you can rescue yourself! Noone can do it for you.
Take the first steps and start on a path of healing today! Be strong and stay away from your malignant narcissistic parent while you heal and anyone who judges you for doing so. You don’t need to explain it to anyone. Most highly sensitive people will understand without explanation. They are out there–don’t give up! I am proud to be a highly sensitive person and now as a life coach of inner child healing I shine my light brightly to help other sensitive souls out of the dark. You have a light inside of you that has just been hiding in fear. Everything is going to be all right now as the truth of who you are comes to light. Please take extremely good care of yourself so your highly sensitive soul can shine and inspire others. I hope these tips have been helpful to you.
With Love and Light,
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.
Perfectionism, The Highly Sensitive Person, and How Grieving Our Childhood Pain Is Essential To Healing
Hi everyone. I hope you are enjoying the summer. I hope you are not heaping lists of “shoulds” on yourself (home improvements etc.) to accomplish–only to realize, “What was I thinking?! I can’t do all this stuff!–the KIDS are home!” ha ha. Yes I remember, and I still do it somewhat but this summer is SO much better. Back then it was a priority for me to make happy, fun summer memories for my children and connecting with them emotionally. I always ended up throwing out my long list of shoulds. If you don’t, you end up saying to yourself, “I didn’t get this done and I didn’t get that done. Instead make a list of all the things you DO accomplish after they happen–write down each special conversation, each walk in nature, each memorable meal together etc. By the end of the summer you will have a wonderful memoir of how special your summer actually was instead of a list of what you didn’t get done.
Even with my best efforts when my children were growing up, I was too busy satisfying their needs for a fun summer and way too many “shoulds” for myself that I often felt like I missed it–summer would just zip by me and I was left feeling regret.
I think often times we are busy like that to avoid our painful feelings that we may have experienced in childhood. We found ways to cope and survive the lack of love, encouragement, acknowledgement, and acceptance we all desperately wanted and needed. We are perfectionists, compulsive over-workers, compulsive shoppers, compulsive list-makers, and then call ourselves procrastinators because we put things off–but it’s really because we have unrealistic expectations of what we need to accomplish.
As highly sensitive children, it seemed to us that nothing we ever did was praised or applauded as we deserved unless it was something others wanted us to be doing. This was so confusing to us so we rationalized that we must not be doing enough or doing it well enough. Now when we overwork because of perfectionism it is because we are still trying to fill an unmet need from childhood–one that will never be met but can be resolved if we allow our sadness about the truth of it all to come to the surface. Grief is a positive, healthy emotion that is necessary to heal your childhood wounds. You deserved so much more–you deserved…”love”. You did not get what you felt you needed and you may feel you are still not getting it. The problem is not with you…you are so loveable! Aren’t you! You know it. You are smiling right now aren’t you because you know it on some deep level. 🙂 That is the truth that you must listen to. The love you need and deserve exists–we know what we deserved.
For some reason, we may feel we were born into situations where we couldn’t get love the way our souls needed to be loved. I had a hard time resolving this–it didn’t make sense. I was drawn to reading a lot of new age books on spirituality to figure this out. Reading all these books really helped me get a new perspective. I now believe that I may have more innate inner strength than certain family members. I am able to grow and give to others even more because of my childhood wounds. We (HSPs) see the truth, we KNOW we deserve love and better treatment and we know we don’t deserve feeling bad about ourselves any longer. When someone sees you as LESS THAN and you know you deserve more–you don’t have to be around that person. You may need to try a few times to get them to see you and understand you, but if you keep on coming up short in their eyes, and this is causing you a great deal of stress, then it’s time to distance yourself from them and get some healing support. Some of us can’t even try to be ourselves with them–it’s too excruciating to re-experience the rejection, so we must just leave for as long as it takes so that we can begin to heal.
We all NEED acceptance. It’s very important to look elsewhere for people who accept you and understand your self-expression for support. We (HSPs) eventually grow from the pain of it all, and we learn to rely on our selves if we can get away from the negativity that unhealthy family members, bullies, and/or society use to control us and keep us DOWN. They know we are different and special and yet maybe they are not as evolved as we are and so it seems they do not have the inner strength to say, “Wow you have these great gifts of sensitivity and awareness and depth–you are different from us, you should go out into the world and share your knowledge, vision, gifts, and message of love and peace to the world–we understand and we are in awe of you. So GO, fly away and be the best that you can be!” ha ha Wouldn’t that be the greatest to hear anyone say that!?!
In order for them to say that to us, they would have to be very secure and love themselves a lot (or be an HSP like you). It could be they don’t love themselves at all. They may want to control us because they have so much pain and if we leave them it makes them feel their pain so they blame us. They may not have the “insight” to see what we see or want what we want and to see that their pain has nothing to do with us. We are holding ourselves back, waiting for their permission to leave.
Reading the books on spirituality helped me to believe that my spirit (everyone’s spirit) is going to live for all eternity and the lessons I learn in this lifetime will never be forgotten. I believe we all evolve at different levels and different speeds and some of us souls are more advanced than others. We (HSPs) are continuously healing our post traumatic stress from our very real childhood wounds, and it is necessary for us to separate from those who caused these wounds and move forward toward new healthier people. We must not feel guilty for healing–I believe GOD wanted us to be all that we can be and he is with us in all our healing. We each have different limits to what negativity we can be around–we need to honor these limits and take care of ourselves whatever it takes! Alice Miller often talks about the “never-ending work of mourning” in her books and how important the grieving process is for our recovery–we must accept it as essential to our healing and to our eventual freedom from our inner-prison of self-doubt.
Perhaps our highly sensitive souls are more evolved and we chose (with the gift of God’s free will) to have these experiences in this lifetime to learn about the pain of rejection and about our own strength in overcoming it. Maybe we chose them so we could learn what not to do to our own children and develop empathic skills to help others by surviving such treatment as children. I know that I am finally glad to be me, and I am proud of myself for all that I have figured out and how this knowledge has helped a lot of other people to heal.
The grieving process has opened my life up to the most wonderful feelings of joy, love, and trust in my creativity, and this is what keeps me going in this direction. When I love and value myself and my feelings, all of them, I have more to give others to help them to heal as well. I believe we are all highly sensitive for a very special reason and may need to heal separately from our families until we are strong enough to not be triggered and to give back to others…others who are ready to heal and ready to feel.
With support we can grieve for not getting the love we feel we needed and we can have a happy, healthy, guilt-free, and independent life. The joy and relief you will feel when you allow yourself to grieve will feel wonderful and so you will know you are going in the right direction. If you need help grieving and someone to listen, this is what this blog community is here for. Thank you sensitive souls out there for being here on the planet.
Thank you to all my commenters for sharing your pain and experiences and encouragement–your words are so helpful to others who have not yet found their voice.
Please also check out my new pages called “Portrait of an INFJ, …INFP, and …INTJ”. Very many of my clients have turned out to be these three temperament types (but not all) and I believe it would benefit those who are to read the description of your true potential as was written in Keirsey and Bates book on temperament types. (See Recommended Books). It certainly gave me hope when I read it and I hope it does the same for you.
Hi everyone. The Fourth of July is coming soon! I hope you are able to enjoy Independence Day with the knowledge that you are a special highly sensitive person (HSP) and you deserve independence and freedom to be you. 😀 Because this is typically a family holiday, it can bring up and trigger memories and childhood wounds of loneliness and pain–large get-togethers with people and possibly not one of them really understanding you because you were an HSP. And in most cases you were probably an “introvert”–70% of HSPs are! The word introvert is highly misunderstood and it is important to me that I set the record straight on the true meaning of the word and how it’s perception and judgement can be damaging to those of us who are born-introverts.
When you hear the word introvert or introverted you probably have heard the wrong meaning with such comments as: “He became introverted because of his fear of his abusive father”; or “I used to be an introvert but then I got some confidence and came out of my shell”. These examples of the word are used very often in the media but these usages are incorrect! The correct word in these examples should be the word “insecure” instead. The real meaning of introvert is not insecure or turned inward out of fear as most people have been taught to believe.
The book Please Understand Me by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates explains about each of the temperament types in a wonderful and positive way and explains the true meaning of being an introvert. When I was 23, I was told about this book by my counselor at the time who had her PhD in Clinical Counseling Psychology and, when I read it, it changed my life in a major way due to its wonderful explanation. Since then I have known I am an introvert like her and am very proud to proclaim it!
The book explains it so well: In 1920 Jung invented the psychological types and believed that people are different in fundamental ways. In 1950 the idea of temperament types was revived when Isabel Myers and her mother Kathryn Briggs devised the Myers-Briggs type indicator–a tool for indicating 16 different patterns of action. Keirsey and Bates later came up with a book with a similar temperament sorter and a self-test to take. Here is Keirsey and Bates’ definition of an introvert, word for word, from their book:
“…the introvert is territorial. That is, he desires space. Introverts seem to draw their energies from a different source than do extroverts. Pursuing solitary activities, working quietly alone, reading, meditating, participating in activities which involve few or no other people–these seem to charge the batteries of the introvert. Thus, if an extreme introvert goes to a party, after a “reasonable” period of time–say half an hour–he is ready to go home. For him, the party is over. He is not a party pooper; rather, he was pooped by the party.”
“Introverts, too, are likely to experience a sense of loneliness–when they are in a crowd! They are most “alone” when surrounded by people, especially strangers. When waiting in a crowded airport or trying to enjoy themselves at noisy cocktail parties, some introverts report experiencing a deep sense of isolation and disconnectedness. This is not to say that introverts do not like to be around people. Introverts enjoy interacting with others, but it drains their energy in a way not experienced by extroverts. Introverts need to find quiet places and solitary activities to recharge, while these activities exhaust the extrovert. If the latter goes to a library to do research, for example, he may have to exercise strong will power to prevent himself, after fifteen minutes or so, from taking a “short brain break” and striking up a conversation with the librarian.”
“It is quite the opposite with an introvert, who can remain only so long in interaction with people before he depletes his reserves.”
“The question always arises, “Does not an extrovert also have an introverted side and does not an introvert also have an extraverted side? Yes, of course, but the preferred attitude, whether it be extraversion or introversion, will have the most potency and the other will by the “suppressed minority”. The preferred attitude will be expressed in the conscious personality. The suppressed minority is only partly in consciousness and reflects “what happens to one.” This less-favored side of a person’s temperament is less differentiated and is less energized, and is apt to be more primitive and undeveloped. Jung even claims that if, through pressure on the part of the mother, the child is coerced into living out of his inferior side, this falsification of type results in the individual’s becoming disturbed in later life.”
“If a person prefers extraversion, his choice coincides with about 75 percent of the general population (Bradway, 1964). Only 25 percent reported introversion as their preference, according to Myers (Bradway, 1964). Indeed, Western culture seems to sanction the outgoing, sociable, and gregarious temperament. The notion of anyone wanting or needing much solitude is viewed rather often as reflecting an unfriendly attitude. Solitary activities frequently are seen as ways to structure time until something better comes along, and this something better by definition involves interacting with people. As a consequence, introverts are often the ugly duckling in a society where the majority enjoy sociability. There is the story about a mother heard to protest loudly and defensively, “My daughter is not an introvert. She is a lovely girl!””
“Introverts have reported that they have gone through much of their lives believing that they ought to want more sociability, and because they do not, are indeed ugly ducklings who can never be swans. As a result, the introvert seldom provides adequately for his very legitimate desire for territoriality, for breathing room, without experiencing a vague feeling of guilt.”
“Cue Words: The main word which differentiates an extrovert from an introvert is sociability as opposed to territoriality, but the extrovert also finds breadth appealing where the introvert finds the notion of depth more attractive. Other notions which give a cue to this preference are the idea of external as opposed in internal; the extensive as opposed to the intensive; interaction as opposed to concentration; multiplicity of relationships as opposed to limited relationships; expenditure of energy as opposed to conservation of energy; interest in external happenings as opposed to interest in internal reactions.”
Reading this for the first time really validated who I was on a deep level and changed me for the better! I was so excited! Finally I had an explanation for who I was and I felt relieved of the shame and the sense of being flawed and not good enough! I hope this information does the same for you. You may want to go out and buy the book and read the whole thing as I did–I highly recommend it as a handbook for your life and helpful in understanding yourself and in understanding all the other temperament types as well.
Fellow introverts, it is my own belief that introversion is innate in us and that we cannot change it. I believe that it is helpful to explain it to others by using the word introspective or inner-directed. It is an innate gift of introspection and inner-directedness that connects you to experience everything on a deeper level. Extroverts who do not understand this might have you believe that you are LESS THAN because you are different and thoughtful before you speak. Shyness, however, is more prone to the insecure extrovert and NOT to the introvert who can be happy alone and without fear because the confidence comes from within and not needing validation from others but only from the self. This inner-connectedness can feel spiritual and healing to us when we learn to recharge by allowing ourselves to feel connected to God and nature and the magic of the universe.
If you are an introvert, I hope that this information has been helpful to you. Introverts can experience painful rejection and judgement from 75% of the population who through no fault of their own have been incorrectly taught about the meaning of the word or taught to judge others who act more introspectively. I don’t know very many extroverts who really understand introverts. Years ago, I showed the above quotes to an extraverted friend with her Masters in Social Work, after I explained and showed her the book, kept saying to me, “are you sure you are an introvert? You don’t seem like an introvert?” And a sensitive yet extraverted professor of psychology in college made me feel just awful about myself repeatedly for not being more outgoing and more like “him”. ‘But there are extroverts who do get it and appreciate introverts and all others for all their differentness and uniqueness so please don’t judge extroverts now that I’ve explained how wonderful introverts are! Nevertheless we are outnumbered by 75%! We introverts must learn to love and appreciate ourselves exactly the way we are and start standing up for ourselves and educating the world on the true meaning of introversion. I love being an introvert! It is a very big part of who I am and I am very proud of it and wouldn’t have it any other way!
Elaine Aron reports on the home page of her website that 30% of all HSPs are extroverts so to you extroverted HSPs who get comfort and encouragement from my site, I apologize for leaving you out of this weeks post. Please know that my intention is to educate everyone that not one type is better than any other and the whole point is for us all to see the specialness in each other as unique souls with unique talents and gifts that we bring to share with the world. Thanks to all for reading!
Hi everyone. Yay it’s Spring! I hope you are enjoying the beauty of nature as it comes to life again. That’s how I’m feeling too–as if I am coming to life–happier than I’ve ever been in my life. And it is a new feeling–I catch myself out of habit being tensed up in my shoulders and neck and then I realize it and relax. It feels like for the first time I can finally… really relax! It is really quite amazing to me–this feeling of exhilaration with my life and how I can feel happy in the moment. As highly sensitive people (HSPs) we are all too hard on ourselves–as children it HURTS to be different from almost everyone else around us–so without proper encouragement and support, we hide our gifts away to protect ourselves from further pain.
It’s taken me so long to come to this place where I understand what it means to be my own best friend. I used to hear people say that or I’d read about it and it just sounded like Blah, Blah, Blah, (like the adults sounded on Charlie Brown ha ha). But now I get it. I found it difficult to feel good about myself or love myself growing up. I grew up in a time when I felt I wasn’t even supposed to like myself. I could feel the “Who do you think you are?” judgement of those around me much of the time. I didn’t know who I was but I felt who I was trying to be was never ever good enough.
I have realized that illusions play a valuable role in our survival as children when we have been emotionally diminished (abused), whether it was intentional or not. The pain of our disappointment is too great to bear as highly sensitive children, so we make decisions about ourselves that help us to cope with the situation. For example, rather than facing this pain we say to ourselves, it must be me, I need to act differently in order to get love and approval so I will become obedient and do what others want, then I will be loved and seen. And it appears that we feel accepted as long as we keep up this facade and keep our “real” selves and feelings hidden away. I believe this is why journaling “for your eyes only” works so well to uncover the truth of how we really feel about things–and we can then break through those illusions and gradually free ourselves from our false self that we created to survive and eventually find our true voice. But you really need to do it often enough that the voice in your journal (and your heart) becomes dominant over the negative voice in your head. I know I’ve written about this before, and I apologize if I am repeating myself. But I guess I feel it is crucial to really make this point–the way you speak to your “self” is ultimately what ends up mattering the most in your ability to be able to comfort yourself and relax and enjoy your life in the way you truly deserve.
I apologize if I make it sound easy. It can be really difficult if you don’t know where to start and when you write it’s all bad feelings and it doesn’t help you feel better. I guess my real success in journaling really didn’t start until after I had found a person I could trust to talk to–an outside support for the hidden “me” that I was sure was supposed to be hiding away because I was sure I was flawed and thought “something is wrong with me”. I had forgotten about the fact that I really felt that way most of the time but it wasn’t even in my awareness–I didn’t know I was hiding–I just existed that way–it was completely hidden from me. I thought, this is who I am–an insecure and anxious person who will always and forever need someone else to take care of me. Until that special day–the day I went to my first counselor who turned out to be the best counselor I’ve ever had in my life–and she really changed my life.
At the time I had no idea how hard it would be to find another counselor who came close to her compassion and depth of understanding ever again. But I will never forget her words and wisdom and how she saw the potential in me that I didn’t dare even imagine. I was 22. She listened and cared and I learned to trust her with my deepest feelings and I shared some of my poems with her. She told me, to my surprise, that I was a gifted writer and that I could be my own psychotherapist if I kept on writing in this special way. Together we discovered the roots of my self-doubt and she revealed to me that she had benefitted from counseling too in the past. She confided that, as a counselor, she felt it was important to have been on both sides in order to really understand the helping process. Another very helpful part of this special counseling experience was when she had me take the character and temperament test from the book Please Understand Me (See Recommended Books). My results were that I was an INFJ–Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judicial and that this type is only 1% of the population. Then she told me I had the gift of empathy like her and that she was an INFJ too. (I will explain more about the 16 temperament types in a future post). I thought how could this be…like her? She had a Ph.D and was a successful professional clinical psychotherapist and yet she said I was like her. Unbelievable…could all those hopes and dreams I had in the back of my mind actually be a possibility? I went out and bought that book and I studied it a lot. The book talks about the positive aspects of each of the types and my type described me so well I felt special and normal and understood for the first time in my life.
I went to see her once a week for 6 months and then I had to stop because our health insurance only covered 25 visits per year. During that time, my confidence soared and, I remember now, I joined the Sweet Adelines and had fun performing in a barbershop quartet. (It was easy to perform with these other ladies on stage with me–I continued to have stagefright about performing alone or singing the kind of music where I expressed my soul though, but it was a start in overcoming it ). I also started taking some guitar lessons and learning to play and sing the songs I had always loved. Even though I had my college degree, I had temporarily taken a job at JCPenney’s catalog ordering service because I thought I wasn’t ready to help other people until I figured myself out first. But she said this job was way beneath me and encouraged me to go to graduate school in counseling psychology. (Even with a 3.8 in my major, much praise from my professors, internship experience, and letters of recommendation–when my graduation was barely acknowledged, all my confidence had evaporated.) “Make sure it is a program that is APA approved,” she said. And I listened. And I grew in confidence and continued writing my self-help poetry. And you know what happened next…I was so confident in myself, I thought I could even change my relationship with my extended family! Without talking to her first, we moved many states away from my wonderful counselor. We decided to start a family and I put graduate school on hold…
And now, telling you my story, I realize I do NOT want to emphasize how tragic it was…and that I had to wait so long to find myself and be happy and figure myself out so I could finally be that counselor/coach and writer that she saw that I could be. Instead I feel strongly that it all really worked out for the best. I grew so much as a person watching how my children thrived with our unconditional love and emotional support and I saw the world through their eyes and healed my soul right along with them experiencing the wonders in this world. And I continued to write in a way that I was able to be my own psychotherapist–writing through the layers of pain and breaking through the illusions that helped me survive a childhood of feeling emotionally diminished and misunderstood.
And I see how I had to try everything before I had the ability to start setting boundaries in certain relationships in my life. My counselor back then never used the word narcissisism and I wonder if that would have helped me realize the futility of my quest for healthy give-and-take in certain relationships in my life sooner. It is all right though, because I know the meaning of the word now and had to find out the depth and scope of it’s meaning in my own way. I hope my journey inspires you to embrace the path you are on but also to look inward and explore your true feelings and write about them–and keep listening to your hopes and dreams that exist in the back of your mind . For I believe that is the voice of your true self that you must not ignore.
Finding a caring, empathic counselor to support the true reasons for my deepest fears, and self-doubt, and to believe in my unique gifts made all the difference in my life. Her words kept me on the right track and kept me writing through the layers of pain that would arise between the numbness or anxiety. Her words kept guiding me towards the release of my pain and ultimately to the joy and pride on the other side. It changed the course of my life and to her I will always be grateful. I hope my story has been helpful to you and provides you with some comfort and encouragement.
Today I am releasing the lyrics for the song “This Too Shall Pass”. This song was written to ease myself through a period of my worst grief and anger when I started setting some boundaries for myself–and instead of getting respect and love, I felt rejection and experienced guilt-inducing manipulations. It was a pivotal point in my recovery when I let go of my illusions about the potential of certain relationships and grieved for what would never be and comforted myself by writing this song. After writing it and singing it, I felt stronger than ever before that everything was going to be alright and that ultimately I must take care of myself and honor my feelings. This song still comforts me when I am feeling my worst and I hope it does the same for you. I hope you enjoy it.
With love, Roxanne