Can we talk about how incredibly frustrating it is to be a sensitive person? Specifically, a people-pleasing sensitive person?
In just the last year or two, I have finally begun to come to terms with the fact that I am one of the most emotional people I know. A dear friend of mine uses the analogy that if each emotion is an excited dog at the end of a leash, then I am constantly walking every dog I know. I cry over television commercials and minor plot points in episodes of Friends.
If someone looks at me the wrong way, the entire rest of my day may be spent trying to figure out how I offended them. My life is a roller coaster of attempting to meet the expectations of others so that no one's feelings are hurt, while at the same time constantly living with unmet expectations and hurt feelings of my own.
And it is exhausting.
The people-pleasing part of this is, of course, within my control. Recently I have been attempting to be more clear about my needs and expectations with the people closest to me. I'm learning to view this less as being "high maintenance" and more as being an honest human being. This type of honesty is its own kind of challenge, though. When you've spent twenty-six years pretending that you don't have any expectations, teaching your loved ones how to treat you is - surprise! - also exhausting.
But when I began this process some months ago, I thought that over time as I was more honest with myself and others, the intensity of my emotions would subside. If the first step to overcoming a problem is admitting that you have one, I had hoped that the first step to not feeling so damn much would be admitting that I had the feelings to begin with.
No such luck.
Instead, we have days like yesterday. Several things happened all at once that caused me to feel unwanted, unloved, and unappreciated. So I looked at the situation and said out loud, "This sucks, but the behaviors I'm seeing in others are probably not even about me." Isn't that great? Wouldn't you expect that saying that out loud would help the feelings of betrayal and heartache to dissipate? I sure expected so!
But no. I stood there, firm in my belief that the situation in which I found myself was not only not my fault, but not even reflective of my relationships with the people who inadvertently hurt me. And yet I was still sobbing. Friends, I straight-up stood there and calmly told my husband all the logical things while the tears just kept on coming.
Apparently, I really am just that sensitive.
And it sucks.
It sucks it sucks it sucks it sucks.
It sucks because it is so incredibly stereotypical to be a female abuse survivor who can't stop crying to save her life. It sucks because some days my response to every emotional stimuli is to burst into tears regardless of whether I'm happy or angry or sad. It sucks because I still believe after everything I've lived through that somehow I'm less-than because I feel too much. And it really sucks because the only other option I have is to make everyone uncomfortable with my morbid humor, and no one wants that.
It sucks. It is also a perfectly acceptable way to be a human.
Yesterday I stood tall with my shoulders squared while I told my husband that if I could, I would happily just stop being this way. Even without anxiety and depression, being this sensitive just hurts too damn much. But he reminded me that the world needs people like me; that being extra-emotional is not a bad thing. He said that I shouldn't want to be somebody I'm not.
And that's the truth right there. To remove this too-easily-broken heart of mine, to replace the three-dozen metaphorical dogs with a couple of standoffish metaphorical cats, or to stem the flow of tears at every single Las Vegas commercial (yes, you read that right - I cry over Las Vegas commercials), would be to become someone I'm not. Which would suck more than the crying, since I've worked so long and so hard for the right to be myself.
So, if I'm attempting to be more honest - and I am - I can say two things. First, it is inordinately painful to care this much and feel this deeply all the time. It is decidedly not fun! Second, it is very much who I am. There's no wrong way to be a person, even if that means that my way of being a person annoys the crap out of me.
Good luck with whatever your weird being-a-human things are. We all have them, right? ... Well, I'll just keep telling myself that we do regardless. ;)