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Remembering Columbine Trauma – 17 years ago

Seventeen years ago today, I was horrified and traumatized as the Columbine Trauma  unfolded, along with everyone else.

Along with all of you, I was horrified as the events of April 20’s tragedy unfolded, and saddened even more when the connection became known  of high sensitivity and giftedness to this catastrophe. My family and I had just moved into the Columbine West neighborhood.  Two of my sons were in high school, although they had not changed schools to Columbine High School. I drove by Columbine on my way to my counseling office, and I frequently walked around Johnson Lake, within a stone’s throw of the school.

For you see, one of the Columbine trauma shooters had been in gifted school programs for several years. And unfortunately, he was not alone. The shooters in the Aurora theater shooting, the Arapahoe High School shooting and other school shootings were also gifted, sensitive  students.

Why do I remind you of these tragedies? First, because HSPs and GT/TAG people are deeply affected by the trauma associated with this, and other violent events–often more deeply impacted than are most people.Second, because highly sensitive and gifted people may need sensitive, intelligent ways to heal from trauma. 

The morning after the Columbine shooting, I awoke about 3 o’clock and couldn’t go back to sleep. I got up, and as is my usual practice, especially when I am overwhelmed with emotion or need to sort things out, I wrote. The results is an article on trauma – what it is, its effects on humans, especially highly sensitive and gifted humans, and how to heal from it. That article has since been published in Australia’s Gifted Journal and on the SENGifted website. If you would like to read it, here’s a link to it.

Second, because the stresses that weighed so heavily on these students and overwhelmed their positive coping abilities still exist. Today’s HSP and GT/TAG students need help to find positive ways to cope with being their differences and the effects of this on their lives. I can’t count the many highly sensitive or gifted children, teens and adults of all ages who have told me that they have known from an early age that they were different from most people and that this difference meant that there was something deeply WRONG with them.

Many Highly Creative, Acutely aware, Super-sensitive, Intense and/or Gifted youth and adults, I call CASIGYs™, are also often assumed to have an (unfair) advantage over others because of these higher abilities. Unfortunately, a CASIGY’s™ experience of life may stand in stark contrast to the privilege and advantage that you are rumored to be experiencing.

Many CASIGYs™ dumb themselves down, underachieve, cop out or drop out. Some tragically go down the spiraling path of deviancy or violence. Still others live, what appears to be a normal, even a privileged life, while feeling alienated and deeply discouraged.

Again, I turn to writing to address the concerns that impact me deeply. I have written an article, “Different By Design, ” which will re-introduce CASIGYs™ to your mascot-hero, the legendary Four-Legged-One-with-Antlers-and-a-Red-Nose who may be familiar. Because of his difference (which everyone perceived as a defect) our mascot-hero was ridiculed, excluded, and banished into exile. He returned from exile when his ‘defect’ was recognized and utilized as a great asset.

Different By Design enables CASIGYs™ and those who care about you to grasp how, like our mascot-hero, you can cope, heal and transform your perceived defects into gifts. Different By Design empowers CASIGYs™ to develop your distinctiveness and make your unique creative contribution. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here.


Featured Quote

Imagination is the sympathetic medium in which dialoging with images occurs, the faculty through which w establish compassion, understanding, and respect for things other than ourselves.

— Shaun McNiff, Art as Medicine