Could high sensitivity be the result of trauma?

Today I want to broach a difficult subject. If you feel any resistance to reading this, know that this is natural. If you have a history of trauma and you are in a place where it’s not safe to get triggered, please postpone reading this post or skip this post entirely. I trust that you know what is right for you.

A few years ago I discovered the concept of the highly sensitive person (HSP). This concept was coined and researched by Elaine Aron and she wrote several books on the subject. Others have picked up this concept and published works on it and there are internet communities devoted to raising awareness about this way of being and wanting to offer a home to people who identify with being highly sensitive. I’ve been and continue to be a member of an internet forum and several Facebook groups for HSPs. At first it really felt like coming home to people who truly understood me. They understood my challenges with daily life, interacting with others, loud noises and living with an easily overwhelmed nervous system. The theory being that this highly sensitive nervous system is genetic and we are born with it. It’s completely natural and we need to learn to see the gifts it brings us instead of only the challenges.

Although I think a more sensitive nervous system can definitely be genetic, I’ve been having increasing doubts if everything about being a HSP is natural and benign. As I grow older, I notice that my sensitivity is increasing and that it’s becoming harder and harder for me to function in busy modern daily life. I’ve noticed and experienced with other people identifying as a HSP a high level of reactivity and sometimes abuse, which left me baffled and occasionally traumatised. Although I don’t see myself or those others as fundamentally flawed, I do think there are certain mental health issues that need to be addressed and not swept under the carpet of ‘it’s all good and natural’.

I’m currently reading a book on trauma and it seems to really hit home to me. I’m becoming more convinced that trying to live with unresolved trauma is what is causing this increasing bodily and mental sensitivity in me, not to mention having very little energy reserves and feeling fatigued most of the time. With trauma I don’t mean only going through life-threatening disasters or experiencing overt physical or sexual abuse, although those horrible situations are obviously included. You can get traumatised by any experience where you felt helpless and out of control and where for whatever reason you weren’t able to fully process what happened. The feelings you experienced then stay with you and freeze your nervous system in time. As a result, you are still, often unconsciously, trying to deal with what happened then and you have less resources available to deal with life as it is happening now. Your nervous system might easily go in overwhelm trying to deal with present challenges and you might unconsciously try your best to avoid situations that might trigger those earlier feelings of trauma.

As for me, I was born into a family that dealt with offending behaviour by raging and physical abuse. There was very little space for being present with feelings and learning how to self-regulate difficult emotions. I have to add that the hitting I experienced in itself wasn’t with extreme force and didn’t leave bruises, but the combination of experiencing and expressing strong emotions, feeling terrified as a result as I was chased through the room and smacked by my father and feeling utterly alone, helpless and unsafe did leave a very strong mark on my further development. I notice I get triggered everytime I see an adult imposing their authority on a child and I remember that feeling of helplessness and utter aloneness in a wave of overwhelming and confusing emotions.

I also had big difficulties making friends and was bullied for most of my childhood and early teens. My brother played a part in this bullying and my parents intervened very little and often vented their frustrations on me on top of it. Dissociating with my feelings and body became second nature as I’d never learned how to process what I was going through in a safe environment. There was no peace or homecoming and the only respite I got was when I locked myself in my room and entered a kind of fantasy world. Even the therapist I had during my early teens advised me to just ‘ignore’ the bullies, which possibly was the worst and most uncaring advice you could give to someone. But ignorning became my coping mechanism and even today I have a tendency to ignore and postpone any situation that might cause me stress and anxiety.

This is a bit of my story. I might share more in the future because I believe writing it out can have a healing effect and it’s always good to know you’re not alone. I think every person who identifies with being highly sensitive should thread carefully. There is nothing wrong with you, but if there is lingering trauma in your nervous system, attention and care need to be paid. I’d advise you to seek a good therapist to help you heal, but I’ve been feeling a lot of resistance towards going to therapy myself and I know it’s not an easy or self-evident step. Thinking about talking about my past negative experiences for a whole hour fills me with terror, to be honest. Can I trust this person sitting opposite me to guide me effectively through the process and to make sure I don’t get retraumatised? My body finds it hard to do.
I’d also advise you to be careful with other people identifying as a HSP. Again, not because they are bad people, not at all, but because unresolved trauma can cause abusive and unhealthy interactions. Be careful with who you trust with your story and take good care, dear one.

May you be happy.
May you be peaceful.
May you be healthy and full of vitality
May you be filled with loving presence, held by loving presence.
May you be free.

<3 <3 <3

There is nothing to fix

Dear one,
There will never be a time when life is completely perfect
although there may be perfect moments.
There will never be a time when you are completely ready
and have ‘conquered’ all your fears.
Conquer is an aggressive word, why would you fight yourself?
Can you reach deeper and touch the suffering underneath?
Would you smack a crying toddler who has tripped and hurt himself
or would you hold him close and whisper soothing words
until the pain has been forgotten and he can go out in the world again?
Would you think there is something wrong with him for screaming
or would you understand that to trip and lose control is so scary
for this gentle, innocent being?

We all have parts that are frozen in time, waiting to be held,
waiting to feel safe again.
Can you take a step back from all your self-improvement plans
and inch a little closer to all your fears and insecurities?
What’s happiness but the carving out of space for yourself
and making yourself matter to you?

Dear one,
There is nothing wrong with you anymore. There is nothing to fix.
Can you breathe that knowledge in and see how miraculous you are?
What power keeps your heart beating and created your eyesight?
How incredibly amazing it is that your fingers follow your exact command,
without you even having to think about it.
You were not created in vain, you have immense worth, just by being you.
You belong here, there is space for you.
Whenever you feel not good enough, reflect on the miracle of your existence.
A miracle science cannot fully explain or recreate.
Can you breathe in the knowledge that you were always
so much more than good enough?

I Am Alive


Animals raised for the industrial meat market have a HORRIBLE life filled with pain, torture and disrespect. Don’t think for a moment that they only suffer at the moment of slaughter or that the circumstances they live in are in any way ‘natural’. It’s my sincerest wish that as many animals as possible may be spared this horrific daily abuse and I dream of a world where animals are treated with love, care and respect for their sensitive souls and have the space to roam free and feel the sunlight on their precious faces. Maybe that’s unrealistic but I will never give up on this dream.

Originally posted on Milena's Gentle Rain:

All life is sacred, this is the truth.
Tell me, what makes the force, the power, the passion
flowing through a cow’s or chicken’s veins
any less worthy or meaningful than human blood?
We mangle, kill and destroy the soulful beings who have no voice
just as we kill off our own silent instinctive nature.
We feed our children the flesh of another mother’s baby
and give them the milk meant to nourish that young animal life
to drink, as if animal bodies are ours to own and mistreat.

Tell me, if we believe that our soul lives forever,
who is to say we won’t return to this green earth
as a pig huddled in a cage, without any right to live?
Would the argument that people give to possess you,
that you have no voice, no intelligence, no dreams
be enough to ignore the coldness of your chains at…

View original 66 more words

Gentle inspiration as the cloak of night descends

I don’t mean to sound preachy here or to make any definitive statements about God or whether you should believe He exists or not. I was writing in my journal and these words just kind of flowed through me, without much effort from my part. This is my personal experience and what I believe. 

God is infinitely merciful, alhamdulillah.
I felt His presence today as I was working on my paper and I understood that He was gently guiding me towards the light, towards truth. I also felt that it was a very intimate matter, between Him and me, and that it was nobody else’s business what I did or didn’t do.

Nothing can replace real faith, real certainty in the existence and mercy of God.
No law or opinion or friend or video. It’s there or it isn’t, and God is infinitely
patient, except with the unjust. There is retribution when you intentionally set out
to hurt or destroy, but again, no more than is just, for God knows you by heart
and knows everything you’re struggling with. He knows what you need to grow and to break through the cycle of darkness and fear. He is with you, even at the end of all things.
He knows you, He is there. Even in your loneliest hour He is there, listening. Not to judge you, but to sustain you like He sustains all life.

The seed blooms into a tree. The same intelligence, love and mercy has a blueprint of beautiful, spectacular, tenacious growth for you. Life is always asserting itself without apologies.
So don’t apologise for choosing to live in abundance over merely existing. Look at nature, it was meant to be this way. Winter turns into spring and all the hidden seeds start blossoming. And when it’s time to let go, you will land gently on a patch of leaves and be reborn in a different form. But He remains. Your love for Him remains and you will know yourself exactly as you are: infinite.

Reblog Monday: Draw Your Sword and Mark Your Line in the Sand


This is so powerful and important to remember! <3

Originally posted on Milena's Gentle Rain:

Just because you are willing to stand naked in your truth
does not mean that others will suddenly ‘get you’
and play by the same rules of integrity

Stripping away the false images of hype and strategy
leaves you naked and open to those
who would scratch and claw away at your raw

But draw your sword and mark your line in the sand

There are others who are standing strong
unwilling to compromise and sell their souls
and these are the ones
that your soul will meet and
be nourished by and
these are the ones whom you will feed

The feminine is meeting the masculine within
and the warrior-ess is making her way forward

She has the instincts of the mighty lioness and can smell
the small minded thinkers even when they have donned the
masks of trickery

She is keen to the games

View original 33 more words

Poetry Sunday: Hermitage

By Joseph Fasano

It’s true there were times when it was too much
and I slipped off in the first light or its last hour
and drove up through the crooked way of the valley

and swam out to those ruins on an island.
Blackbirds were the only music in the spruces,
and the stars, as they faded out, offered themselves to me

like glasses of water ringing by the empty linens of the dead.
When Delilah watched the dark hair of her lover
tumble, she did not shatter. When Abraham

relented, he did not relent.
Still, I would tell you of the humbling and the waking.
I would tell you of the wild hours of surrender,

when the river stripped the cove’s stones
from the margin and the blackbirds built
their strict songs in the high

 pines, when the great nests swayed the lattice
of the branches, the moon’s brute music
touching them with fire.

 And you, there, stranger in the sway
of it, what would you have done
there, in the ruins, when they rose

from you, when the burning wings
ascended, when the old ghosts
shook the music from your branches and the great lie

 of your one sweet life was lifted?

It’s Enough to Know You by Heart

How my heart longs for you, my Beloved.
Who are you to me?
What kind of magic pulls me towards you,
against all the odds?

It feels irresistible, yet my mind is clouded with doubts.
Are you a mere past mistake, repeating itself infinitely
until I give up on love completely?
Believe me, my love, I am not far away from that.

My solitude, once cold, bitter and unwelcome
is becoming a warm blanket, wrapping me in safety and bitter-sweet tears.
I give infinite space to my emotions as they are bursting into being,
the distance between me and the outside world becoming so vast.
People’s voices becoming a distant echo,
my long and tiresome walks to respond to them becoming more and more rare.

As such, my heart will not be given away lightly,
only to sob with disappointment and self-doubt.
Enough of that!

Yes, I will love you from a distance,
replaying your words in my head for a while,
then exhaling them and letting go.
You too will become a memory,
stirring my weary heart over a silent cup of tea.

Yes, my Beloved, it’s enough
to know you
by heart
for a while.


Reminder for Today: I Am OK

I am ok even if you’re not ok with me.
I am a fundamentally good person who tries her best.
I have the right to act on what feels right to me.
I have the right to listen to my own intuition.
Go ahead, abandon me, live out my biggest fear.
Teach me how well I can take care of me,
even with nobody else around.

Go ahead, be upset, be angry, be pissed off.
Shame me for speaking my truth.
Yes it feels so uncomfortable
and all I want to do is run after you and apologise.
But I won’t, because I’ve done nothing wrong.
I’m not a needy person for having needs and wants.
I have a Self, with thoughts, wishes and emotions
I am entitled to make those matter to me.

Most importantly, I am ok even when you’re not ok with me.

I am ok

Don’t You DARE Turn Me Into Something Acceptable

My anger is not the enemy. It is an ally, shaking me awake when I’m wrapped up in politically correct thoughts, when I gasp and shake my head when I write something bad about others in my journal. ‘Oh my God, how selfish I am. I cannot expect others to cater to my needs. I’m just going to detach until this rant is over and I can go back to my sane self.

wild woman

Well, NO. My anger is not going to let me go back to being sane. She keeps tugging at the chains of my prison, my low self-esteem.
I want you to buy a notebook and keep me with you everywhere so you can hear me. Stop trying to be some bloody saint. You are human with human needs and there is nothing wrong with that. Guess what, if others don’t take care of you by being friendly and being considerate of your needs they have NO PLACE in your life!!! You don’t have to mold yourself into something acceptable or hold yourself back. If I am angry it’s because I don’t feel respected and there is NOTHING shameful about that. Don’t you DARE turn me into something acceptable to please others. I will NEVER be conquered by any convention or politically correct behaviour.

Looks like I have some Kali energy in me that needs exploring. :) She also gave me some ideas on how to best employ my creativity and I can’t wait to get started on that. No matter how pissed off and seemingly self-centered she gets sometimes, I know that she is not the enemy. She’s an ancient force that pierces through any limitations that I place upon myself in order to fit in and keep myself small. It’s a comfort to know she’s looking out for me, making me look at the truth of things when I’m too busy being nice.

Wild woman 3