You are like the rain forest. Highly sensitive, colorful, intense, and complicated. Vulnerable to chainsaws. And the chainsaws are everywhere. They’re the coworkers who can’t keep up with you. The relatives who think you’re too sensitive. The teachers who want you to stifle your effervescence. The friends who disappear when you forget to modify your vocabulary. The neighbors who paint their houses orange.
But what if the chainsaws lived with you? What if they were your parents?
Being a psychotherapist, I know a lot about chainsaw parents. It’s my specialty. And like many counselors, I studied them in my own childhood.
If, in your family, there was abuse, neglect, shame, rage or fear, in some form or another, you suffered. You were changed by it. You found ways to cope by blaming yourself or parenting your parents or escaping into addictions. You found ways to cope by getting good grades in school or getting bad grades in school. You found ways to cope by reading Lord of the Rings twelve times. You found ways to cope by hiding your radiance and shutting down access to your true Self.
And now you’re living with the results. Anxiety, self-doubt, depression, shame. Oddly enough, it doesn’t show. Right? You’ve learned how to cope so well that you’ve managed to put together a good life. Maybe you have a fulfilling career. Maybe you have a compassionate partner. Maybe you’re raising your children in a loving, safe, trustworthy home. Maybe you didn’t become a serial killer.
This is what your rainforest mind has done for you. It’s made you resilient. Because even with all of the shame, fear and self-deprecation, your rainforest-y soul kept you off of Skid Row.
Now, I’m not saying that you don’t need therapy. There’s definitely work to be done. Lots of work. Good therapy or some other deep healing modality can make an enormous difference in how you view who you are. And how you live.
What I’m saying is that just because you’ve been resilient, doesn’t mean the chainsaw parents weren’t impactful. You may be minimizing the dysfunction you experienced because you turned out OK.
Don’t do that.
Instead, I’d recommend that you–
1. Thank your rainforest mind for its fabulousness.
2. Find a therapist who knows his or her way around the jungle.
3. Recognize that it’s now safe to be your radiant Self.
To my bloggEEs: I know that it may be hard to be your bright shining Self, for numerous reasons. In future posts, I’ll write about that and help you sort through the obstacles. I also know that this post may not apply to you. I’m writing about my personal experiences with gifted adults and there’s great variety within that population. Not everyone comes from a seriously dysfunctional family! So, don’t be discouraged if this post or another one isn’t quite right for you. OK? In the comments, let us know your thoughts and questions.