I was long embarrassed over my painful and difficult upbringing.
There was nothing healthy or exceptional about my childhood. My parents divorced when I was very young – about 3. They hated each other and by extension my father was none too fond of me and moved far away and started a new family. Seldom did I hear from him. My mother and step-father were alcoholics and I believe my mother self-medicated to numb the mental illness that plagued her.
Of course as a little girl none of this was evident. I just understood back then that I had to stay low and tread lightly because the situation was volatile and often unsafe, especially when I became the object of my mother’s frequent explosive and violent temper.
In other words my childhood was pretty much a war zone.
Although this chaos was vaguely defined back then, we’ve come a long way in identifying the effects of this kind of childhood emotional turmoil. Today it’s called developmental or complex trauma and my story of dysfunction is unfortunately not unusual or unique. Quite the opposite, trauma – and the difficult emotions like anxiety, shame, depression, and anger tethered to it – are of epidemic proportions in our culture.
But back then in my little kid brain all I could see was that there was something terribly wrong with me given how I was demeaned and neglected. As a young adult I tasked myself with being a super achiever and perfectionist to prove to others that I could earn their approval. It’s exhausting and futile because if you don’t believe yourself worthy, then no amount of acceptance from out there is going to change your thinking.
This painful pattern calcified in full-on adulthood as I desperately grasped for high profile accomplishments that would assure my acceptance by others. As a university journalism major, I discovered I loved to write and create. I went on to have a career as a news reporter and executive producer in TV and radio and eventually owning and publishing a magazine. I enjoyed this media work and was good at it – but knowing what I know now, the high visibility of being a news anchor, reporter and publisher fed my insatiable need to “be seen” and admired. This makes sense now with my science-based insights and perspectives (later in life, I trained both as an emotions therapist and clinical nutritionist, which was steeped in the biological sciences).
With the current brain science available, it’s clear that the on-going childhood abuse resulted in my primitive “lizard” brain being in charge most often – that is, I was frequently, what’s clinically called, emotionally aroused. In other words, my physiology was so used to being in crisis mode that I lived with a body and brain that whispered or screamed (depending on the perceived “threat”) most of the time, “be afraid, be very afraid.” I would alternatively be in panic, lash out in anger, or fall into despair.
If you’ve taken the time to read this and if any of this resonates for you, your intuition is beckoning you to get in touch with this shadow part of yourself. Because when we have the skills to receive what we’re feeling and know how to respond, then we can begin peeling off the layers of trauma – a little or a lot – that are keeping you small and unhappy.
If this resonates for you, my 8-week Fall of YOUR Awakening
is coming up in October. I’m not promoting it in any big way yet. But I like to register people who know NOW that they want to do this – and an early commitment means significant early savings for you. So take a look at this Fall Masterclass Course
and if you’re called, hop on my interest list as I will be in touch soon.