Despite the fact that I've been on the healing path for years, I continue to learn about myself and how my painful childhood has carried into my adult years.
One wonderful insight has emerged: I've learned to reuse my pain. That may not be a sophisticated way to say it, but it helps me to think in those categories. Recently, people have said many nice things to me about being a good listener, encouraging them, and being compassionate.
For a long time I tried to stop them and said, "That's not who I am." I knew my heart, and when I thought about qualities such as compassion I'd grade myself about a C minus. I'm sure that's because I still struggled with my lack of self-esteem.
Then it hit me. When I was a child, no one listened to me, especially when I tried to talk about serious things. I don't recall anyone encouraging me or expressing compassion. Perhaps a few individuals did listen, encourage, or express sympathy, but I wasn't aware.
As I’ve acknowledged those positive qualities others perceive in me, I think of it as reusing my pain. That is, I give to others what I didn't receive. I turn my pain inside out. That wasn't a conscious decision, but it was a healthy reaction in coping with my painful childhood.
I was abused and hurt as a child;
as an adult, I reuse my pain by caring for others.