I am one of the people that has learned about self-compassion at adult age and like me, most if not all my clients. None of us can remember our parents sitting us down to teach us self-compassion and we can’t remember school having this conversation with us. So, when I meed people that struggle with this I have the understanding and genuine empathy towards them. The following case studies will show us how this early life deficit can impact on our adult lives.
She’s 29. Sensitive, sad and desperate. Her anorexia is unmanageable now. The boyfriend left. Her creative career is threatened. Family lost patience, the friends have given up “rescuing” her, all relationships seem to have broken down. She cries softly. “There’s nowhere to go from here…” she says. “Nowhere”, I ask? Silence sets in.
He’s 36. Quiet, embarrassed and hesitant. He lost his job. 15 years of hard work and a flourishing high top executive career vanished in a shameful instant resignation. His sexual addiction has progressed to unimagined levels and he is now facing 2 sexual harassment claims from female colleagues. He feels “small” and ‘unimportant”. “Don’t know how I got here”.
These are real life stories. Two dramatic situations sending 2 beautiful, bright and gifted people and their families on the brink of despair.
What do they have in common? They lost themselves, their real selves, and underneath their dysfunctions is the same cause: childhood trauma in various forms and shapes.
I aim to guide them reconnect with who they really are and recover their sense of self, but first I need to guide them see what stays in their way to being well.
At some point, I tell each of them that they started life in connection with themselves, in balance and equilibrium, and possibly something happened on the way.
It feels hard to see your own disconnection of self, though. Only suffering seems to give them a glimpse of awakening.
We talk about their past a little. Not too much to lose track of the present, but enough to help them illuminate their present events.
I wish I could make them feel good during these sessions, but our work together has other scope. I want them to be good for the rest of their lives and to get there I need to take them deep within themselves. That journey is rarely pleasant.
To take them there I need to stop them, I need to interrupt their justifications and the many defenses they built up over their years of affliction. I need to guide them check within themselves.
Eventually she sees it. She’s been brought up by a very successful and controlling father who repeatedly punished her to make her ‘better”.
He needs more time to make sense of his roots. His resistance is strong. One day he has the insight: his father has been through a similar case and his grandfather too. They all had issues with affairs. “Could it run in the family?”, I ask. “I don’t believe in such nonsense”, he quickly replies.
Clearing the path towards your authentic being
We talk about self-care and self-compassion. This is the only way within. I am hopeful that slowly-slowly, supported by me, they will move towards those painful feelings and that past there’s been for such long time suppressed inside them.
Each step brings in more clarity and understanding. It requires patience and genuine care for those extraordinary human beings to open up their hearts in front of me. I hold them tightly yet gently, with respect and appreciation for their humanness.
We are clearing the path towards their authentic being. I am amazed each time when someone’s real self emerges from beyond the hurt of the past and the contamination of our social conditioning.
It’s such an amazing process to see a human being in great distress and life hardship reconnecting with who they really are within, feeling transformed and regaining hope and passion for life.
She embraced change and sought additional help. We still see each other and we grow even more confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. She is on the path of recovery and is reconnecting with her real self step by step.
At the beginning, he was struggling. He could not let go of control, he was too used to be in charge and always right. He could not believe his sexual addiction. It did not exist. What happened to him was just an “unfortunate set of circumstance”, just saying and doing the wrong things at the wrong times.
A few weeks later the wife took the child to her parents. Shortly after he received the divorce papers. He was devastated. He’s not seen his daughter in a few days now. This is the rock bottom. There’s no one else out there for him. He lost ‘everything”. “There’s no point living”, he says. “No point”, I ask? “Not other than my daughter”, he adds in a convulsive outburst.
It’s hard being there with him in that intimate space. But I believe in him, I know he can make it. He feels me and he holds onto me to help him build a strong sense of self worth. We take it slowly towards recovery. He comes back a bit more excited each session. “I was so ignorant… The 12 Steps philosophy is actually pretty valuable”. He has now started the journey towards healing. He is becoming authentic and there is no way back from there.
I believe in change and movement in life. I see it happening all the time.
You can have that, too. You can overcome your difficulties and you can design a life you love living. Trust yourself and do it. Because you are worthy!