Remaining a Square in a Triangle World
How I Recovered My Authentic Self
This story was written by a participant in the Deep Emotional Healing Retreat and the Highly Sensitive Person Retreat.
Even though I am a very capable person and I dearly love God, I have battled feelings of worthlessness and shame my entire life. No one would ever guess this by looking at me. I can remember as far back as preschool that I didn’t like myself.
It’s been a little over a year since my last retreat with Benita A. Esposito. I’ve attended two breathwork retreats with her about a year apart along with a handful of individual sessions.
About five months before the last retreat, I was feeling stuck in those feelings and decided to draw my experience in hopes of gaining some clarity. That’s where the “square-triangle” diagram came from. I titled it “On being marginalized and diminished.”
Marginalized is defined as treating a person as insignificant. I used the word diminished to mean becoming less in size, importance, authority, reputation, and value.
Explanation of the diagram
When I was born, I started out as a happy and content little square. Early in my life, I began to receive the message that it was not right to be a square. I was left alone in my crib to cry myself to sleep. I was denied breastfeeding. In general I was not given sufficient time for close emotional bonding with my parents.
I felt as if the corners of my lovable square were being cut off. I felt confused and hurt.
As I grew older, criticism and lack of praise cut away more of my square. Sadness increased as the years progressed.
Gradually I accepted that this was my life: to be modified into something other than what I was.
It was not a place of joyful and peaceful acceptance. It was more like defeat and numbness.
By my teenage years I felt angry about the implication that I was somehow lacking and not enough. The pushing and molding continued. Even though I now resembled a right triangle, I was not yet an equilateral triangle, which is apparently the best kind.
Part of me felt angry and resistant, and another part of me was desperate for love and acceptance. I did my darndest to do the equilateral triangle dance. I would grin and bear it as much as I could and then relax into my squareness when the unsafe people weren’t looking.
The unfortunate thing was that I didn’t feel complete as a square either. I had lots of bumps and bruises, and parts of me were missing altogether.
My goal for the retreat was to move toward wholeness and happiness as a square. I wanted to feel peace and joy in my innermost being. I ventured into the breathwork hoping to experience this transformation.
As in the previous retreat, I allowed my body to move and flow when the music began. I let my body shake and tremor and release the tension of trauma held there for decades.
As I continued with the vigorous deep breathing, I was taken to a place deep inside where this grief was stored. I began to sob and wail. I took my time going from one phase of life to the next, from infancy to adolescence, grieving the absolute and utter loneliness that I felt.
I believe this was about 30 minutes of very loud emotional crying. Benita was supportive during this time, touching me to let me know that it was safe for me to express these things.
I am happy to report that breathwork and deep grieving were highly effective for me. I no longer experience feelings of being marginalized and diminished on a regular basis. I am by no means immune to feeling insecure about myself when others judge me. But I do live most of my life feeling like the happy and content square.
I had done years of psychotherapy prior to this with various professionals. I also found chiropractic neurology to be immensely helpful in reducing underlying feelings of anxiety. The breathwork, though, was crucial. It allowed me to access a place inside myself that regular talk therapy did not touch, despite many years of trying. I am hugely grateful for this experience and the transformation that has taken place.
~ Anonymous LPC, Marietta, GA
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Retreat Facilitator: Benita A. Esposito, MA, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Georgia. She offers her services as a Life Coach and a Spiritual Counselor worldwide via videoconferences.
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P.S. Benita Esposito’s bestselling memoir and teaching stories, The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self, is available on Amazon.com. View the book video on the home page at www.SensitiveIntrovert.com.