It was not until I was 47 years old that I learned that I am a Highly Sensitive Person. It was then that I read a book called The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D because I wanted to try and understand why I became overwhelmed easier than others, needed to be alone so often and have more “downtime” than other people I knew.
I had always felt different and did not know why. While this book resonated with me to some degree, it did not explain everything. In The Introvert Advantage, however, she referenced another book called The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron, Ph.D.
The title caught my attention. At my first opportunity, I went to the library and checked it out. I think it took me all of two or three days to finish. I could not hardly put it down. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I felt like she had written this book just for me. It suddenly all made sense.
Normal. Just different.
I was not flawed or defective. There was nothing wrong with me! I was just different. It was incredibly validating and literally life-changing.
I have learned to fully integrate it into who I am and not only accept it but to embrace it. However, it has not been an easy journey. I understand the pain that comes with being different.
My passion for helping other Highly Sensitive People is a direct result of my own struggles to come to terms with this normal trait.
Change, Loss, & Grief
In 1969, when I was eight years old, my father died suddenly at the age of 34. My mother became a widow at the age of 33 and was left with my two teenage siblings and me to raise by herself. I then experienced many other subsequent losses in the next few months, including the death of my father’s 28-year-old brother, the auctioning of our farm, a move to the suburbs of Kansas City, the many animals I loved and the attention and nurturing of my mother due to her own grief and depression.
All of this unresolved grief led to years of my own depression and dysfunction. It was not until I was 37 years old that I found a therapist who understood these issues and helped me heal.
Healing, Growth, and Realization.
Two years later, when I was 39, my mother suddenly died at the age of 65.
It was then that I knew I had to find meaning in all of the pain and loss that I had been through. What I discovered after a lot of introspection what that I was meant to help others on their own journeys of pain and loss.
Paying it Forward
I battled with depression for most of my life due to my own childhood loss and trauma. I finally sought help and received treatment at the age of 37. I would not be here or be the person I am now without the help I received from my own therapist.
Inspired by the awareness I gained through my own therapy, I realized that it was time to pursue my dream of becoming a therapist. So, at the age of 40, I began graduate school and earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work two years later, exactly 20 years after receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.
Calm Life Counseling is about “paying it forward”, to help others in the same way I have been helped - with compassion, care, and professionalism.