My oldest came bursting through the front door after school today in a state of complete panic. Breathless and frightened, he forces out a story in hysterics about how a house in our neighborhood was broken into in the middle of the day.
He is clearly distraught and visibly shaky, “DO SOMETHING DADDY!” His father and I look at each other with hopeless eyes, not quite knowing yet how to approach this. My husband calls our local police department to find out more information. In the meantime, I feel the anxiety level energetically rising between the three of us.
I take a deep breathe and sit down in front of him, “I understand you’re feeling nervous. But let’s take a minute to talk about all the ways you are safe in your home.” He nods and wipes his cheeks. We talk about our big “scary” dog, how we lock our doors during the daytime, and daddy is a policeman who knows how takes extra precaution in protecting our house.
As we go down the list of items, he starts to loosen a bit. He believes he’s safe from intrusion. He understands the message and yet, I can still see the disconnect in his eyes. He’s receiving my words but his mind is elsewhere. I feel my chest squeezing a sensation I identify through my Momtuition as his fear center. He’s racking his brain for deeper meaning.
A home was invaded, and his heart feels the same way. Someone has disrupted the normalcy and stolen his sense of security. His reality has collapsed. I know it will take time for him to process this event. My own thoughts drift to the family who is broken apart this moment. A family who, I’m sure is trying to soothe their own children’s fears.
Suddenly it dawns on me, what’s really happening….
As a highly sensitive child myself, I remember all the ways I (literally) felt the pain, sorrow, and wild range of emotions of people (ANYONE) who was suffering. Classmates, strangers… I felt everyone, I knew the emotions they carried. I cried for no reason, I felt fearful with seemingly no explanation, and I was genuinely terrified of almost everything. I heard a story on the news and believed it was happening to me. I could not separate their experiences from my own.
He was feeling this, all of it. The tug of suffering. The devastation, the disruption, the panic. The family whose home was invaded, whose lives uprooted, he’s feeling their pain. He feels worried, and he doesn’t understand it’s not his own. Empathically he is invaded with sensation. And he doesn’t yet know how to separate his own sensations from someone elses.
“Buddy, do you feel sad and scared right now, like the family whose house was broken into?”
“Yes.” He looks surprisingly relieved to hear me speak these words out loud.
“I understand. I’m sure they’re feeling worried. It’s okay to feel sad, it’s okay to express sadness because they’re hurting. But remember, you are safe here, in your home. You can feel sad for them and be secure in your house at the same time. It’s okay to feel both things at once.”
He takes a deep breath and nods along, “I think that makes sense.”
I follow up with one final thought, “We can always pray for healing. Ask God to send the Angels to comfort them. You can do that.”
He nods and smiles.
And that was it. I thought maybe he’d spend the day revisiting this. It’s something ordinarily, he would have wrestled with. But today he gave it closure, structure, and purpose. He went about his afternoon (AND evening) with no anxiety spikes.
Highly Sensitives can’t yet determine all the ways their empathic boundaries are open. But once they HEAR all the ways the sensations are REAL in their body, it alleviates unnecessary pain. Your child wants to know what he’s feeling is REAL.
For us, this experiences reminds us BOTH how important it is to teach him about his empathic body.
Highly Sensitives are empathic by nature. They can’t help it. They can’t help all the ways they feel pain in others. Images, sensations, people and places pack energetic punches. It moves in waves in their tiny little bodies. They pick up everything; seen and unseen from known to unknown. It’s not so much whether or not you believe it’s true, it’s a matter of whether or not you accept them for this truth.
What IS true is the way you guide your Highly Sensitive Child(ren) to understanding the perfect nature of his(or her) empathic body.
There is nothing wrong with experiencing the world this way, what’s wrong is berating the child until they are condemned to the silences, doomed to a childhood of emotional abandonment.
Give your child the space to express this. Help him empower his voice. Let this move freely through him. Don’t wish it away, work with it. Work with your child’s empathic-ness and give him the freedom to convey his truth in a way that makes sense to him. It is through your unconditional love and acceptance you are able to set him free.