Why did I Hide My Sparkle?
February 19, 2018
This might go against everything your parents taught you but you deserve to know the truth. What’s the truth? The truth is there really IS a boogeyman. Yup.
But before you go lockin’ your windows and doors, let’s start with a question:
If hiding our inner sparkle feels so lousy, why do we do it? Why would anyone wanna hide who they really are? Well, in my book, there’s only one reason. And it’s one tiny little word.
But that’s not the boogeyman. Hahaaaaa! See how I tricked ya there? Yup, tricky Vicki. Come on…you ain’t gonna get away that easy. Cuz you haven’t heard my story yet.
Once upon a time, there was a wee baby chick. Her name was Chickie. Now, to all her barnyard friends, Chickie seemed quite normal. But Chickie had a secret even she didn’t know she was keeping—she was hiding her inner sparkle. And she felt miserable.
Why was Chickie hiding all her beautiful sparkly stuff inside? Because sometime, somewhere, somehow, she’d decided it wasn’t safe to be herself. Yup. On some level, Chickie didn’t feel it was safe to be Chickie. But how could she not know her own secret? How could she not know she made the decision to hide all of her awesomeness?
Well, that’s hard to know, for sure. Maybe she was distracted or sleeping when she made the decision. But probably not. More likely, she began making tiny changes in herself whenever she felt scared or uncomfortable. And day after day, these little changes added up to big changes. So maybe it wasn’t one big decision to hide her inner sparkle but maybe tons and tons of tiny ones. Until she just sorta grew into it.
What made Chickie feel so afraid she began tucking away pieces of herself? Grab some popcorn, get yourself comfy and read on, my little Chicklets.
For some reason Chickie never felt she was like the other chicks. She never quite fit in. She often felt overwhelmed with the activity at the farm and the cluck-school. Same goes for all the noise and chitchat in the chicken coop. So Chickie often scoped out quiet time in the cornfield to restore herself.
She also had a real fascination with deeper topics and found it difficult to engage in small talk for very long. And while Chickie felt disturbed by the other chicks’ bickering, she learned very quickly it wasn’t cool to be “so sensitive”. So she did her best to avoid anything that felt upsetting to her and opted to suffer silently.
What Chickie didn’t know until many years into chickenhood was that she was born with an innate trait found in approximately 15-20% of the population. This trait is called HSP, for Highly Sensitive Person.
Chickie discovered HSP’s aren’t just found in chickens, like her, but also in people and over 100 different species (Dr Elaine Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person). In a nutshell, Chickie learned her brain worked differently than the majority of her flock. How so? Well, she processed information much more deeply than others. She was more sensitive than most to subtle stuff. And she felt emotion very deeply. That’s why she was so easily overwhelmed and overstimulated.
Chickie also learned that given a supportive, enriching environment, HSP’s would tend to thrive even more so than non-HSP’s. But the opposite was also true. Any discord in her environment would likely affect Chickie much more dramatically than non-HSP’s.
Being highly sensitive meant most chicks (about 80%) wouldn’t feel the same level of distress over the same events as Chickie would. And because the majority of the chicken population wasn’t highly sensitive, it explains (at least in part) why Chickie may have felt so different.
Over time, Chickie internalized her difficulties fitting in. On some level, she musta figured if she could just be more like the other chicks, she’d be accepted. And maybe she’d feel more normal. So Chickie began stuffing the beautiful aspects of herself that made her uniquely her.
Life on the Farm
Chickie was raised on a beautiful farm with her parents, siblings, and a few other animals. She was also surrounded by many neighbouring and distant farm communities. But even though Chickie discovered leaving home was sometimes fun, she much preferred to hang out with Mama Chickie. It’s where she felt the safest.
Unfortunately, Chickie didn’t live in a bubble. And over time, she faced many harsh experiences. Chickie endured teasing, bullying and peer pressure at the cluck-school. She suffered the effects of physical discipline, familial alcoholism, depression, rage, and discord on her family farm. And Chickie was also sexually molested in a distant community.
Like most children, Chickie tended to make sense of stuff by blaming herself.
I’m so big and ugly and tall. That’s why the other chicks call me names.
I got my mouth washed out with soap because I’m such a horrible chick.
I never say or do anything right. No wonder Papa Chickie is angry all the time.
And then there was the effects of the sexual abuse. Well, that was simply too much for Chickie to process as a young bird. So she pushed the memories deep down inside herself where they would remain for many years—invisibly nibbling away at her from the inside out.
No, Chickie’s young life was no picnic. These traumatic experiences carried heavy messages which she internalized and used to form her sense of value. And they became fertile ground for burying her real self.
Chickie’s world was much bigger than her eye could see. That’s because chickens from all the neighbouring farms formed the countryside. And the countryside had a powerful influence on Chickie’s inner being.
You see, the purpose of the countryside was to ensure the survival of the group. If too many chicks deviated from “normal” chick behaviour, it threatened the longevity of all chickens. Encouraging sameness among members was one way the countryside ensured its survival. In other words, chickens were trained to be followers—to follow the countryside’s rules and standards. (I write about my hunt for happiness following society’s clues here.)
Some of the rules and standards of the countryside were healthy. But many weren’t. In fact, some of ‘em were a bit nuts. And confusing. But chickens had been following the ways of the countryside for so long that most didn’t even realize they were following them. And so they didn’t understand how much influence the countryside had on them.
Chickie was one of those chickens. But as she matured, Chickie started questioning things. And when she took a closer look at the countryside’s norms, she realized she’d been socialized into internalizing some harmful messages. Here are a few examples:
- Above all else, girl chicks are supposed to be good and nice.
- It’s important for girl chicks to attract and please the boy chicks, even if it means altering who they really are.
- Outer plumage is more important than inner beauty. And it’s more important to look beautiful than to feel comfortable.
- It’s best to keep feelings inside so as not to make other chicks and chickens feel uncomfortable.
- It’s more important to LOOK happy on the OUTSIDE than it is to FEEL happy on the INSIDE.
- It’s not cool to be different. It’s best to dress as others dress, speak as others speak and do as others do. But don’t be boring. Cuz that means you have no personality—likely because you’re not being yourself. Huh? What?
- Love and value aren’t free. They must be earned. And they’re earned because of what you DO, not because of who you ARE.
- Success is measured by what you accomplish and collect externally. It’s not defined by who you are internally.
- You’re not enough. And your only chance of being enough is if you keep following the rules of the countryside.
Chickie realized the countryside wasn’t helping her become a better chicken. It was helping her become a fake chicken. A chicken who was out of touch with her own inner being. And who didn’t think for herself but was controlled by rules, fear, guilt and shame.
Meet the Boogeyman
When Chickie reflected on her life, she realized she was no longer being guided by her own heart. In fact, she no longer even knew what was in her heart. Chickie had become so fearful of judgement, ridicule, and rejection she’d given away the most treasured parts of herself.
Little by little, she’d stuffed her beautiful attributes until all that uniquely Chickie stuff was buried deep inside. And her inner sparkle seemed unreachable and untouchable.
You see, the worst of Chickie’s suffering didn’t come from anything in her genes. It didn’t occur during those unfortunate events on and off the farm, or from stuff said or done by members of the countryside.
No, Chickie’s worst suffering didn’t occur during the actual experiences themselves. The worst, most enduring pain came from the messages weaved within those experiences. Because these messages lay, lurking in the darkness, constantly informing Chickie about who she was. Until escaping them seemed impossible.
Enter the boogeyman. You see, the boogeyman's work was to extinguish everything good and positive about Chickie. And replace it with a deep underlying sense of unworthiness.
So when the messages Chickie internalized about herself somehow became her own thoughts…
- She became more sensitive to the desires, and wishes of others than those living in her own heart…
- She gave greater respect to everything around her than anything inside her...
- She lost faith in her own ability to know anything…
- She became convinced nothing good lived within her...
- And she no longer believed it was safe to trust herself…
The final result? Chickie no longer harboured the absolute knowing she held value just for being Chickie. And without that, she felt about as worthy as dirt. THAT’S the work of the boogeyman.
Now here comes the sweet part of the story. Over time, Chickie began to paint a different picture of herself from the inside out. It didn’t happen overnight, but in time Chickie realized she had the strength, power, and ability to overcome anything.
She also made peace with her past. Because Chickie knew holding onto anger, hatred, and blame only meant she’d shoulder that negative energy for years to come. And that was unacceptable.
Chickie realized no one held the power to bond her to emptiness, pain, and darkness without her permission. So she said NO and stopped granting permission. She wanted more for herself and dreamed of light, love, joy, and freedom.
Today, Chickie is polishing up her inner sparkle and it’s beginning to shine brighter than ever. And the best part? Chickie’s finally experiencing joy. Real joy. In fact, joy’s starting to follow Chickie around like a little puppy. And Chickie couldn’t be happier to give her young friend a new home.
Don’t cha just LOVE happy endings?
I guess by now you’ve probably figured out Chickie is yours truly. Yup. Feathers’n all. My story is far from over but the tale of Chickie is my take on how I came to hide my inner sparkle.
A few things I learned along the way:
- There’s no honour or freedom in hiding. Because hiding is living like a prisoner in an invisible house of shame.
- We’re all souls trying to make our way in this physical world. And we’re all doing the best we can.
- The reason it’s easy to judge other people is because we’re on the OUTSIDE lookin’ IN. We have no idea how it feels to be that person, what pain they harbour or what they're battling inside.
- The present is all powerful. While the past helps us understand how we got here, I’ve learned not to linger. Because I’d rather invest my time learning more about who I AM and what I LOVE, than who I WAS and why it HURT.
- Only I know what’s best for me. Nobody else. Because they’re not me. Period.
So, the next time the boogeyman’s messing with your head, stick out your finger and poke’m in the eye! And remind yourself you’re WORTHY and have VALUE precisely BECAUSE you’re YOU.
Waking up to the truth of who we are is the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and everyone around us. Because the more “us” we are, the more love, peace, and beauty we bring to the world. And the best part? We secretly give others permission to be who they really are. So we can all shine together.
Does it get any better than that?
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and I’m not a mental health professional. Obviously. I can’t possibly know your full situation so please consult a professional before acting upon information from yourpurpleswan.com. Should you decide to act of your own accord, you do so at your own risk. Kinda like skydiving.
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