What a revelation to find my tribe! I know the great benefit of sharing our stories publicly. If a young person reads this story and can identify with the feelings, my sincere hope is that they can then choose to follow the way and process suggested on this site, rather than the alternative choice that I made in ignorance as a teenager. The puzzle is starting to come together now that I’ve found this site and understood more about shyness – particularly the “born with” kind.
I kept searching for a “root cause” of my extreme shyness, but the anecdotes went way back to early baby years – crying whenever visitors arrived or being taken to a new place. At 4 years old, being taken to nursery school and then feeling so uncomfortable with the sudden onslaught of social interaction that I cried at the door until the teacher had to drive me home because I was starting to upset the other children. Although we had just moved into a new home that day, I gave her directions to my parents front door, much to their amazement – the keen observer within me was already alive and well. Needless to say, many such incidents prompted my mother to try everything to get rid of this shyness as I was growing up – sending me to drama classes, trying to get me to interact with other children. Instead, I chose to focus on one or two friends and refused to become involved any further.
My mother finally resorted to claiming that I was “just like my father” and that shyness is nothing more than selfishness! I vividly remember this hurting me deeply, knowing how intensely I cared about people and the world, but simply being overwhelmed by the depth of my feelings. I didn’t know how to express any of this, and so instead retreated even further into pained silence. As I grew up, my Mother started to believe that I was withdrawing from her as some form of punishment, and would go through my personal stuff in an effort to try and get to know and understand me. This made me become even more secretive and afraid of feeling the embarrassment of her reading the stuff I wrote or even see the drawings that I constantly doodled! And so the vicious circle continued. My pain became her pain, which pained me further.
I so desperately wanted to be “normal” and couldn’t fathom why I felt so estranged all the time. None of this was helped by the fact that I read vociferously, and had started including Philosophy (from my parents bookshelves) in my book diet by the time I was only around 9 years old. Because I absorbed so much of this stuff, I was yet further estranged from my peers who were busy with sports and parties and such outgoing and light-hearted childhood pursuits. I performed well at school, and teachers perceived my shyness to be “good behavior”. Little did they know the dread I felt at free/break times when spontaneous play would erupt around me without my knowing how to participate.
By the time I reached high school, the prison of my shyness had become almost unbearable. Until I discovered alcohol at the age of 14. I thought that I had found the magic elixir to switch off my mind and allow me to be normal at last. In the beginning, this seemed to be the right medication…I could participate socially for the first time. Let me be quick to say that this route led to years of sheer hell as it evolved into alcoholism. Because I was using alcohol to avoid the issue, I didn’t have a chance to hear my inner guidance. And not only that, the escapism I sought in alcohol led me to miss the vital, learning experiences of growing up. If any of you are thinking of trying alcohol as a means to cope with your shyness, let me share that my experience is that if you are shy, you will quickly become dependent on alcohol because it seems to work so well. Sadly, it took me 10 years to discover the lie of this solution. In those years, I stopped drawing and expressing myself artistically – thus almost missing a chance to become the person I was meant to be. Instead of focusing on the positive, sensitive qualities I had and learning how to cope with it, I almost destroyed the exquisite sensitivity with the mind and sense-numbing qualities of alcohol.
Today, I no longer have the need to use substances of any kind, and have not done so for almost 3 years now, thanks to the rediscovery of the real Spirit of the universe, not the false one I was trying to pour into me! There is great joy in rediscovering the sensitivity within me after years of living without it. Yes, in the beginning, it was difficult to cope with the extreme shyness that returned with the sensitivity. But here is a wonderful secret. The process that is suggested on this site really does work, if you work it. I took the plunge and started playing Netball with a group of Mothers at a school – even though I’m 29 now and without children. The benefits of bodywork are unmistakable for me. I want to dance – freely and unselfconsciously – something that my shyness used to inhibit. And so I have started with 10 minutes each morning alone at home before I go to work.
With practice, I’ll be able to dance with a small group of friends, and then maybe even out at a social event – what a gift for someone like me to discover! I have also started singing out loud in my car on the way to work in the mornings…getting used to freeing my voice. I do love people, animals, and nature… especially trees…now I have a chance to really be a part of it all. Earth can be Heaven for people like us, if we learn how to see our sensitivity and shyness as a gift to enjoy Heaven on Earth and as something important to share with others!
Thank you for bringing Shy and Free to the world – appreciated beyond words.
June 9, 1999