Adverse Childhood Experiences and the path towards healing. You are not alone.
I share my trials, my victories, and my stories with you in hopes that if any of you were ever touched by childhood abuse or neglect, as I was, you will see yourselves in my experiences and feel strengthened to voice what you had not been able to before. I hope we can learn together why we respond to life through a particular lens, and that there are ways to climb out of this prison of pain, silence, and shame.
My name is Bess Hilpert

Who Needed To Hear This Today?

Love is a Powerful Antidote to Inner Pain…

I Love You. Breathe. Let that soak in. I love you.

Who needed to hear that today? Truly, who needed to hear that today, right now? It is okay to raise your hand. I did. 😊

Were you able to practice (like we talked about in last week’s newsletter) replacing “I am sorry” with “I love you”, friends? How did it go for you? Was it easy? Was it hard? Did you feel any shift in yourself as a result of reframing your personal dialogue?

Dr. Alane Daugherty explains that “a huge and motivating finding from neuroscience is how small changes go a long way. Each shift builds upon the next, resulting in grander changes. By taking a few and small different steps (like shifting from being sorry to being loving with yourself and others), we stimulate those novelty neural networks in our brain which lead us to continue down that positive path toward beneficial, lasting change.”

We have only one obligation in our lives – to be authentically ourselves. Love grounds us in that place. When we compare ourselves with others, or put ourselves down, feel less than, we neither see our true self nor the other we aspire to be. According to Mark Nepo, “Truth is the corrective story of how we return to exactly who we are. Compassion, sweet compassion, is the self-correcting story of how we embrace each other and forgive ourselves for not accepting our beautifully particular place in the fabric of all there is”.

When I was little, for no reason known to me, my father would unleash his full wrath on me. I would then be left alone, curled in a ball, in the basement to lick my wounds and cry silently.

According to Dr. Bruce Perry in The Boy Who Was Raised A Dog, “The only response at being attacked or hurt, is essentially to curl up, to make oneself as small as possible, to cry for help and hope for a miracle. This response appears to be driven by the most primitive brain systems, located in the brainstem, and immediately surrounding it.” 

It was always the reassuring hand of my mother rubbing my back and my grabbing her other hand to my beating chest that would help this small little girl self-regulate. Help this tiny little girl feel loved. Feel seen. Be able to crawl back into life.

Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk in The Body Keeps the Score explains: “The most natural way that we humans calm down our distress is by being touched, hugged, and rocked. This helps with excessive arousal and makes us feel intact, safe, protected and in charge. Being able to feel safe with other people is probably the single most important aspect of mental health: safe connections are fundamental to meaningful and satisfying lives.” We need to feel loved.

For those of us that have gone through or are experiencing adversity in any of its forms, finding meaningful connections can be difficult. We tend to look for love in all the wrong places or for the wrong reasons. It is hard for us to trust. It is hard for us to allow ourselves to be seen authentically for fear of being hurt/rejected. We feel we are never good enough.

Dr. Brene Brown in her book The Gifts of Imperfection, explains love this way: “We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them- we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged and healed.”

I had to learn to “cultivate” love; and, when I finally did, love was a powerful antidote to my inner pain. As hard as it might be to hear me or accept this, I love you. I am wrapping you all in the healing power of love. 

The love that Father Richard Rohr so eloquently expresses: “When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am not speaking of that force which is just emotional bosh. I am speaking of that force which all the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality.”

My prayer is that in this coming week you find a moment where you can sit with the wounds of the past and pour love into them. Sit with that hurt little person inside of you and gently hold her/his hand. What does it feel like? What is she/he wearing? What does she/he smell like? What does he/she look like? Can you wrap him/her in loving compassion? What does it feel like to provide this little person everything you ever wanted but did not receive. In that moment protect her/him and say, “I love you”. And if you are quiet enough perhaps you will hear the words repeated back to you.

I will leave this with you from Irish poet, John O’Donohue: “If you send out goodness from yourself, or if you share that which is happy or good within you, it will all come back to you multiplied ten thousand times. In the kingdom of love there is no competition; there is no possessiveness or control. The more love you give away, the more love you will have.”

Add Love to your ever-growing toolbox.

Until next time, friends.

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