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Understanding Emotional Sufferings and their Impact on our Lives with Pat Keen

The other night we enjoyed our first together-in-person EWP meeting since March and it was lovely to see everyone again, even if hugs and kisses were still off the menu. Social distancing was adhered to along with all the other pandemic requirements, and we had Debi and Tracy join us on Zoom.

It was also great to have new member Amanda, and her sister Rosie, join us along with many of our existing members.

After greeting one another in Tongan, Julie played the grand piano and sung one of her beautiful compositions called, Love, Peace and Truth.

Our guest speaker for the evening was Pat, who is an EWP team member in charge of organising Events and also assists Tisiola as an Educational Assistant, as well as designing and producing the EWP Blog.

Since arriving in the Southern Highlands she has worn many volunteering hats because she loves giving to others, from the Bowral Gardening Club, running a Meetup for Highly Sensitive People in Sydney, a group welcoming new people to the Southern Highlands and Red Cross Emergency Services giving Psychological First Aid to fire and cyclone sufferers, and by the time this goes to print she has probably added a few more, because she has a very big heart.

When you meet Pat, it is her generosity of spirit, warmth, and kind self -deprecating Irish humour that draws you to her.

To open her story, Pat played a beautiful song written and sung by Lee Harris, a global Energy Intuitive and Transformational teacher, who like herself was born an H.S.P. (Highly Sensitive Person). The song was called There is Light Here.

We then learnt that Pat was born in a small village in Southern Ireland by the Slaney River, where her father used to take her to sit on the riverbanks while he fished for salmon. She was very close to her Dad and he used to take her with him to meet his clients, help out in the family run shop and sweet factory which sold food and supplies to the local farming community. In their household, there was Mum, Dad, Grandad and Mrs Jordan, Pat’s paid Nanny.

Up to this point in Pat’s story, I was lulled into believing she had an idyllic childhood. But this was not the case, as from an early age Pat’s sensitive nature picked up that not all was well in the family and that there were issues her parents were struggling with.

Both parents were generous, but their generosity came at a high price for the family. Living in a small community of farming people her parents allowed interest free credit to enable the farmers to purchase food, household items and resources until harvest time came around and they were in a position to pay off their debts, but unfortunately this didn’t happen in many cases. Her father extended the business in other towns to try and mitigate the losses but the bank foreclosed and the business failed. Pat’s Grandparents started the business by selling cakes from the front window of their home and her Grandad, a very proud person, didn’t deal with the failure of the business well. Pat’s sister was born prematurely and died at the age of 10 weeks old around this time and as a result of all the pressures her parent’s marriage broke up. Her parents emigrated to the UK to earn a living independently. Pat remained living in Clohamon with her Grandad and paid Nanny but was broken hearted to wake up one morning to discover her parents had left Ireland and weren’t going to return. So from a reasonably happy and secure 7 year old Pat started the process of shutting her emotions down, developing the habit of eavesdropping on adults conversations to make sense of what was happening in her world, living in a fantasy world and becoming fearful of her future and engaging in negative self talk.

She remained in Clohamon for a further couple of years until her Grandfather died and Mrs Jordon her Nanny also moved to the UK.

Pat then moved in with her Mother’s parents, who lived very humbly living off their land. No power tool; just horse power, animals and hard work. Modest folks, who were rich in kindness and love, and passed on to Pat their love for the land. A passion that continues to feed Pat every day of her life.

Pat attended a small village school of 27 students, all taught by one teacher, Mrs Power, from the age of 5 - 13 years with the aid of the cane for discipline. She then moved to the UK and finished her schooling off in a large Comprehensive School in Guildford Surrey, UK which she hated and felt a real fish out of water.

Struggles of uncertainty, fitting in and negative emotions were her contact companion well into her adult life until she started work as an Insurance clerk and began to find a sense of purpose and belonging in her life.

When she became a wife and mother she became aware she needed to explore more about herself and her sometimes overwhelming emotions and was lucky enough to be recommended by a friend to a lovely lady called Barbara from Growing Unlimited. This was her get out of jail card where she learnt about the trait of Sensory Processing Sensitivity, more commonly known as HSP Highly Sensitive Person. This knowledge has helped her to understand the effects of suppressing emotion and the result of not having a secure attachment to her care giver.

Pat had to do a lot of work on the fact that she had no secure attachment to her care-giver. But again, her caring, sensitive nature, never wanted to hurt or put blame on either of her parents. She has never wanted them to know how much pain she suffered, as a result of their actions.

To this day, Pat is so appreciative of the tools Barbara equipped her with, to enable her to live her life fully in the world, she no longer feels like a square peg in a round hole.

In 2010 Pat and Geoff moved to the Southern Highlands, and in 2013, Pat established an H.S.P. group in Sydney where people like her can meet and support one another.

Pat’s second “Get out of Jail” card came when she made contact with EWP. She loves the transformative learning Tisiola’sTransformative Learning Centre provides, and has enjoyed Vision Board work, N.L.P. studies and the Enneagram Program she has studied to date. She also loves working with the other team members and is always conscious of implementing her learning wherever she can. She is currently working on what she calls the three B’s. Boundaries – Barriers – Bridges.

Pat’s story really is one of Transformative Learning. I know that many of us after hearing Pat’s story, and having known her for extended years now, thought, wow, really? Most of us had no idea of the trials she has lived thorough and very successfully, grown and developed through.

From a sensitive little seven years old girl Pat has become this outgoing, fun-loving, warm, compassionate woman, soon to celebrate fifty years of marriage. A proud mother of two successful, healthy boys and three adorable grandchildren; the owner of a beautiful Friendship and Memorial garden she has created. This woman gets great joy out of giving freely and learning how to live the best version of herself. This is Transformation.

And an important part of this transformation, Pat lays at the feet of the gratitude she feels for the things that have brought her to where she is today. Like, being thankful for her long marriage, her healthy family, for still having all those in her life who stuck by her when times were rough, and for all the new friends she has picked up along the way.

Yes, she still has to watch for her triggers, she says, but she now has the tools, confidence and strategies to handle them.

Yes, she still prefers to stay in the background, but hey, if she’s asked to, she is more than capable of “pulling on her big girl pants” and getting the job done.

Yes, she is still and always will be an H.S.P. but she is now able to view it as a positive rather than negative trait. She can now reframe situations in order to empower rather than disempower herself.

At the end of Pat’s talk, she answered questions, and as a group we discussed some of the things necessary to effect a transformation such as Pat’s.

Some of our prerequisites were: a need to know ourselves; a need to understand our emotions, not suppress them; know our triggers, recognise them, and call them out; know how to reframe situations; give voice to where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we are aiming for, and in this way take ownership of our story – because that act alone is very empowering.

And then, having looked at what was needed to enable us how to best use our experiences of suffering, we then discerned that some of the advantages of recognising our sufferings were things like: freedom from continuing to live with them; compassion for others after hearing their stories; the freedom to live your true life; the ability to heal others by telling our story and enabling them to do likewise; a freedom to explore and discern where and with whom you want to travel in life; the richness of knowing one another for who we truly are, so that we are enjoying authentic connections.

At the conclusion of our meeting, we individually called out the learnings we would take away from the evening’s discourse and some of them are listed below:

Light Understanding Stand In Your Own Truth

Honesty Be Kind to Others

Forgiveness Empowerment Generosity

Trust in Others Authenticity

We had a short poetry reading by Ricci, to close the evening, and all too soon, that was it for another month.

Except to add, that as well as seeing how transformative Pat’s life has been, and is, as she continues to evolve, her talk also reminded us how little, we all too often, know one another. For the most part, it is only on the perimeters, giving us the limited view of where they are now in their lives. Akin to coming into a story halfway through, with none of the preceding chapters to show us how they arrived.

We all agreed, that being privy to even a snippet of someone’s past enriches the story, deepens the relationship, and opens the gateway to our hearts that little bit more.

So let’s all continue to provide the safe places required, where we can share our stories, knowing that the threads of our life are going to enrich the fabric of the tapestry that connects us all.

Until next time,

Toodle pip for now,

Bella H

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