One of the ways I Personalized my own family trauma was to take on the belief that I was too small. (Read more about Personalizing Trauma)
I rationalized and believed then that my smallness of size and stature contributed to the trauma around me. I became deeply ashamed of my smallness. I believed that if my friends were to know how truly small I was, I would suffer from them trauma similar to that I had suffered in my household. So I created a secret. I attempted to hide the reality that I was small. This was an involuntary secret. It was involuntary because at the time I wasn’t aware I was using secrecy as a tool to protect me. (Read more about Involuntary Secrets)
Now, in a way I was fortunate to live in the seventies, because, in that decade, you could buy platform shoes and cover your platforms with bell-bottom pants. And this is exactly what I did. I went everywhere and did everything in my platform-bell-bottom combo.
I scored a whole lot of goals as a soccer player on the school playground in those platforms: if you knocked on my front-door you would be standing outside waiting for as long as it took for me to put on my bells and zip up my platforms. During late-night teenage parties, if I was tired and had to go lie down, you would find me sleeping in my bells and platforms.
I was so successful at the disguise that one morning I was caught in a rainstorm and I arrived late for school. My platforms were soaked through, so I unzipped them and placed them on the radiators for a few minutes to dry. Inevitably, I was caught in my stocking feet by a passing student. I still remember him making the comment I so dreaded to hear: “I didn’t realize you were that small.” I felt a deep humiliation when he said that and a panic that he would go to the rest of his friends and tell them that he had uncovered my secret. I vowed I would never be caught out again. Never, under any circumstances, not for anybody, would I remove those shoes in a public situation again.
My shame was the part of me who felt small and therefore inadequate and deficient. (Read more about Parts)
My defenses were the parts of me who believed that if this aspect of me were to be known, the “pain” of this shame would be felt again, and so their job was to creatively keep this part – the Small Part – out of sight: out of your sight – and out of the sight of my own awareness. (Read more about Defenses)
Had you asked me how tall I was back then, I would have added a couple of inches onto my answer. In reality, I am five feet, two inches tall. (Even now as I write this, as I reveal this once hidden fact to a wider public audience I feel an ever so slight twinge in my stomach in reflection of a defense part deep down who still whispers, “Are you sure you know what you are doing? Do you want to risk rejection from your readers?”).
In the seventies, I was five feet four inches tall – five inches if I could get away with it. To take my shoes off and stand in front of you as five-feet two, would have been for you to see my pain: the shame of my inadequacy. I held inside the expectations that you would taunt, bully and shame me.
So, instead, I created a secret – an involuntary secret. Except, I would never have told you that I have a secret, nor did I admit to myself that I have a secret. (Read more about Secrets)
What aspects of yourself do you feel shame towards?
What parts of your character and personality do you withdraw and hide from your world?
Do you hide them from yourself, meaning you will never admit to yourself that they exist, or that you feel that way about yourself?
What started this secret?
Is there a cost to your secret now?
How might your life be different if chose not to hide away these parts of yourself?
You have just read an excerpt from Pietro Abela’s forthcoming book, A Return to Consciousness
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