Lately, I've been contemplating how all my past painful life experiences are now useful. They are the mist through the branches of my mind. They are like a reference book I can check back with whenever someone tells me about one of THEIR experiences. And because this has been happening more frequently, and I've been getting more practice, I realized it doesn't feel as scary anymore.
But it hasn't always been this way. The memory of a bad experience would be like a monster in the closet that appeared in the night, giving me an adrenaline rush of fear. I think perhaps I was my own monster.
It just so happens that I recently read a B.J. Daniels' suspense novel titled From the Shadows - which contributed to my thoughts here. The murderer tells his most recent almost victim that an evil spirit was making him kill people. In an earlier scene, a young girl calls this evil spirit a monster. When I read that, I thought about the monster living in the closet of my mind.
I can shrink the monster down to the size of a bug. I can use one of my bug catchers to transport it outside. No, in general, I don't kill bugs other than mosquitos, gnats, and an occasional ant. Even a bug-size monster - like a scary hornet - can go live somewhere else.
My young caregivers often share with me what is going on in their relationships and circumstances. After all, we spend a lot of time together. I can relate to them because I had similar experiences. And since I am now so much happier, I can validate them and encourage them with the steps I took to get here. I am reminded of how far I've come and how much I've grown over the years.
At first, the memories that came up felt uncomfortable (monsters in the closet of my mind). I was tempted to return them to their previous subconscious containers. I didn't WANT to look back there. Now it is suddenly clicking that the intense discomfort is no longer there. If I hadn't had those experiences, there would be no 'trauma bonding' with other people.
Once I ALLOWED the memories to come up, I felt the healing effect of connecting with another person. Perhaps this is why support groups are so successful. Empathy sprouts from having a similar experience such as the loss of a baby, abuse, fear, a child who grows independent long before you're ready for them to be, and/or an accident that changes your life.
Meanwhile, as the compassion I feel toward my charges expands, I am learning to have compassion toward myself. In addition to reading that other book, I've been listening to the Sounds True Self-Acceptance series. I had no idea how many other people were dealing with what I had been dealing with. In addition to hearing once again the benefit of ALL emotions, I am hearing of numerous ways to befriend and soothe my inner self-critic(s). I am learning to accept the choices I made in the past that had poor results.
I'm the one who judged the experiences. I'm the one who concluded I was broken and a throw-away. But because I had not known very many people, I had not realized how common this was.
I tried my hardest to earn love from others who used my compassion, my time, my energy, my paychecks, my credit, my body, then abused and rejected me. I had concluded I was worthless.
THEY were the ones who felt worthless - undeserving of love. I was the empath who connected to that but made the wrong conclusions. They had so much emotional pain stored inside their hearts, minds, and spirits. I mistakenly believed that offering love could heal that. I mistakenly believed they were capable of loving ME and filling the emptiness I felt.
The best advice I give now is that no one else can complete you. No one else can fill you with the love you need. You must grow your own personal inner garden - focusing on feeding your own personal need for love. It takes time, but the divine love within you begins to grow and spread throughout your body, mind, and memories. You can imagine that this love comes from God, Jesus, Buddha, or others, but ultimately, it must come from inside of YOU.
Compassion. Kindness. For self. For all aspects of self.
As I was working on this draft, I opened to Page 192 of Thriving as an Empath: 365 Days of Self-Care for Sensitive People. The title? Stop Beating Yourself Up. I laughed at the not so random divine validation of what I was writing.
The following day, I found this on Facebook by Love Wide Open: We learn something from everyone who passes through our lives. Some lessons are painful. Some lessons are painless, and some lessons are priceless.