Life as a Highly Sensitive Person

I’m warning you, this will be kind of a long post.:

Most of my life I have seen and felt things I have been unable to explain to people I know. I have generally refrained from sharing these moments with others for fear of being considered insane and then quickly recommended to attend the office of a clinical psychologist who will do nothing by smile as she leans back in her comfy office chair. Last week, however, began a very honest conversation with someone I know, and it opened the doors to us discussing how she is a sensitive. I didn’t know what that means, but last night I went out for coffee with a good friend and I brought the topic up. I then went over a handful of reasons why my previous conversations clicked with me, and why I felt open to the possibility that I might be one as well. I know that this is going to be a different type of post, and that some people might not agree with that I am saying. I am not, however, asking for agreement, but rather I feel the importance of sharing these experiences so that I might come to terms with an identity I never considered before. It’s an interesting aspect that I am now taking a look at, and I want to be able to share these moments with you as an audience so that I can properly mull them over in my head, so that I can hear feedback from others who may have previously felt uncomfortable coming out of the woodwork, and so that I may make further discoveries of myself.

If you are curious as to what a highly sensitive person is, read this article here, please.

My entire life I have always felt extremely sensitive, but the definition of sensitive in this context meaning that I have been easily bothered by sadness, and I distinctly remember moments when my empathy for another person was overwhelming in every way. It’s kind of hard to explain. So let me share a few vivid moments that are currently all clicking together like puzzle pieces for me.

1. I can’t remember exactly how old I was, but I want to say that I was probably eleven or twelve. (The years on these events will most likely be sketchy unless they are more current. I can never remember any numbers for my youth). I’ve always lived a few hours away from Chicago, but the majority of the time when we visited the city it would be to visit family who lived in the suburbs surrounding it as well, or we would go shopping and wander around Michigan Ave. My reason for saying this is because although we were in a city with a large homeless population, I do not remember exactly being exposed to those horrors until this specific moment. My family and I had decided to take a road trip to Boston, and we took one day to drive around NYC. Somehow, after we were done visiting the places we wanted to see, my parents were attempting to leave the city in our car, but they got turned around, and we ended up circling a pretty rough area. They became paranoid and made us put our heads down in the car, but I was determined to look out and see how bad it could be. I saw homelessness everywhere and this was the first time I ever remember realizing what was going on. The realization that those people pushing around carts full of their only belongings weighed so heavy on my heart I went into a full on attack of tears, and my mom did everything she could to calm me down. I remember her telling me that there were homeless people everywhere, it happens, and I felt at that moment that the empathy rising up inside of me could not be explained to her in a way that would make her understand. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to understand so much as I felt a disconnect on the way I felt and the way she saw things. I felt hopeless. I can still see the unbathed, aching, barely clothed people pushing empty carts around streets with blowing garbage.

2. This incident also happens to do with homelessness, and I have shared this with people on several occasions. I know this event happened after the NYC one, but again, I don’t know the year. My mom and my brother and I were walking around the city of Chicago and there were people everywhere. It was like streams of people on their cell phones, with their briefcases, taxis, people who don’t have to worry necessarily where their next meal was going to come from, and who were so tied up in their bubbles they did not comprehend the brokenness I saw. The light turned green, and this hunched over person around the age of fifty, with dark skin and tattered clothes attempted to shuffle across the crosswalk with nothing on their feet but boxes tied on by string. BOXES. I’ll take a moment to let that sink in while I take a moment to quietly cry. If I had been any older and had the ability to do so there are a few things I would have done in that instant. The light turned red. Taxis in their hurried self began honking as the person was struggling to cross the street fast enough. No one cared. It felt like someone was tearing the inside of my heart out. If I had been capable, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have ran up to that person, carried them over to the other side of the street, then asked their size shoe and ran straight over to Payless. I would have found a bucket and carefully washed their dirty feet and then placed new, comfortable shoes on their beautiful, broken body. There are few moments in my life that have so broken me, and this is one of the moments that stands out the boldest in a myriad of colors. This moment has been hard to write about.

3. In my teen years, I remember lying in bed and feeling a demon in my room. To the right of my bed was my window, and to the left, in the back of my room, was a closet entrance. The light cast from the moon allowed me to see a slight shadow around the being, but there were no eyes, and it was floating towards the ceiling right in front of my bed and next to the closet. More than seeing it, I felt it. The presence it emitted was powerful, and I was paralyzed in fear. All I could do was stare at it, and pray in my mind for it to go away. It didn’t. A week or so passed. Eventually I got enough courage to start singing hymns and repeating a botched version of a Bible verse I know my mother had shared with me and told me to use when I was afraid. Nothing happened. Finally, one night, after days of not being able to handle the fear, I ran to my parent’s room bawling and explaining everything. My mother said something evil must have been in my closet. I wasn’t that old, so I don’t know what could have lived off of the journal scratchings of a girl who only wanted to be saved by a prince charming, or several small dolls. But when I cleaned out my closet, the demon was gone, and I never really felt it in my room again.

4. I know there are ghosts where I live now. Nice ones. I hear them sometimes creaking around in the upper level of this house, but they have never bothered me. I only get scared when I’m home alone and I want to go upstairs, because I’m afraid that they might suddenly show their face, and I’m not quite sure how I would handle that.

5. I see things. A few years ago I had been writing before bed. I had an idea for a poem and I began writing it my notebook. I took a reprieve and lay my head on my notebook and fell asleep. When my husband was done reading, he gently prodded me to put the notebook down and go to bed. I did. When I woke up in the morning for work, I saw the character I had been writing about, sitting at the end of my bed. She was homeless, and I saw every curve of her skin and bones, her tattered clothing, the way she wore shame and sadness like cigarette smoke. I think I may have asked her to talk to me, to tell me her story. I jumped in the shower and the whole poem was there. I kept repeating it out loud, afraid it would go away, but I still to this day see every detail of that incident, the plot of her story, where she lived, her home in a box, her mom and dad and they way they loved drugs more than they could ever love her. She was the first to come to me. Her name is Suzie, and I felt like she was telling me a story that she wanted me to know because she had lived once, and her story needed to be told.

Another time, after someone had requested that I write a poem about human trafficking, I did some research. I came up with a name for my character, Moon, and asked her to show me her story, and it unfolded before my eyes. Each character and aspect. It has been this way off and on. I see characters, talk to them, ask them to share in their heartache. Not all of them have been written about, but they have all been witnessed by me.

6. A few months ago I was having trouble writing. I had been in the middle of a major drought of writer’s block, and it was suffocating. All I wanted to do was write, but nothing was coming to me, and I felt like I could stare at pages and computer screens until my eyes were blood shot and it would not happen. One night I had a lucid dream. A demon came to me and asked me to do something. I do not remember what his request was, but I do remember that he threatened to go into my right hand (which is the one I write with), if I did not comply. Obviously I denied his demands, and I saw and felt him twirl around and disappear into my hand in a mass of anger. I bolted awake and rubbed my hand. There was an awful sinking feeling accompanied by a great darkness that folded in around me. I know that writing is my gift, and that evil was at that moment trying to take it away from me. But I believe in better things, and I turned my cell phone light on until I could fall asleep. Since then, I have been writing a lot more. The block dissipated.

7. The other week I was playing a game on my phone, about to doze off, when suddenly I felt an enormous weight on my heart. It hit so heard I wanted to sob. I had been listening to music I use to write and to sleep, and felt this need to pray. Now. And desperately. Eventually the feeling faded, and I was overwhelmed by exhaustion and complete confusion. I fell asleep. I still have not been able to figure this moment out, but I know that what I felt called to pray for will all click in the future.

8. I see people wearing their despair. Like clothing they do not want, I see rejection and abuse clinging to their skin in ways they wish it didn’t. I sometimes see people and feel like I can sense their past. I have yet to sense a future, but I have seen the lines and the wrinkles and the way people’s eyes shine and felt a story lining up in my bones. I have seen their struggles weighing them down figuratively and that translates into those invisible clothes I see hanging on their ragged bones. It’s very hard to describe, but I feel that I sense things others don’t when they are around them.

9. There have been times I have pulled up next to someone while driving and feel an immense energy that I cannot explain. It has happened when people enter rooms, or in other instances as well. The energy is so strong and scary and deep, that I feel pressed into the need to pray. I feel overwhelmed and it can be draining. I try to focus on bringing positive energy to those situations, and am thankful they don’t happen very often, because when they do they are extremely draining.

So that’s it. Those are the nine things I felt the need to share with you today. If you have questions, comment below. I’d love to hear from you. I’m new to this idea, so I want to be able to discuss this with you if you are willing.

Advertisements

Finding peace in a world full of hate.

It always brings the demons back.  Sometimes I can hear the memories in the floorboard, slipping along the sunsets like a burnt out cigarette end. I can feel the pulse of the restless creaking, for it does not lull me to sleep any longer. It only signals the rising unrest felt between the sheets at night. Been this way for a while now—life has been all too frequently resembling something like poison-laced heroin. Oh god, it feels so good going in, rushing around the stem of my brain like the most beautiful sludge of ungodliness, until time settles in.  Until I remember that I don’t know what I’m aiming for, all I know is the vision of the future and I don’t know how to get there. And my toes curl at the joy I feel until I remember the choke of depression, tight on my vocal cords, shutting out the desire to speak. At all. To anyone. It has always been this way.  It’s like a rhythmic pulse of the underlying current in my life. For a while I can hold my head above the wreckage, until my bones become dry from not being plunged beneath the water. Sometimes I play around with my sanity, listen to it clanking boldly against the inner workings of my brain and realize deep down that, thankfully, at least I am not much like this world. I don’t need to breathe in the pollution to know what fresh air looks like, but maybe I’ve just been trying this whole time, too hard, to not feel senseless. So I fill myself up with all these memories of happiness, try to hallucinate on images of star filled skies and childhood laughter to make up for the deep sea of bad flashbacks I sometimes find myself consumed with.  I remember when my mom used to tell me that some suitcases were too heavy for me to carry as a child. Would shut me out when all I wanted was the truth, and she used to explain to me that sometimes children aren’t meant to know everything, we just have to wait until we are older to understand those burdens we carry around with us like boulders. Then a wildfire consumes my soul and I am reminded that she gave me the greatest burden of all to carry, and I wonder if she even saw the luggage she kept piling on my heart in the darkness. The irony life sometimes tosses our direction. It’s like an iron being pressed on your heart to smooth out all the wrinkles, but finding wretchedness in every corner, and you are left to wonder why it takes so much starch to make things right in your life. The realization that sometimes it takes a lot of heat and pain and suffering to make something beautiful again. To find the masterpiece that is found beyond the imperfections. Such a wilderness we find sometimes in the crevices of our brain when we delve into why we feel such wreckage at a sound. Curious things we find behind closed doors, or traps we thought we closed a long time ago. And then I remember that last week, God told me that he never meant for me to carry those burdens, but they were given to me, and He was sorry. And I wept, deep into my lungs I felt the heavings, the mending I have attempted a million times with friendships, late nights kissing necks in the dark, and desperate failed realizations that the bottom of a barrel of vodka isn’t a healing agent. The tears on my cheeks felt like rain in a desert, a well that needed escaping from the confines of life to burst forth and be free. I laid that baggage down at the cross, my last desperate attempt to be removed from captivity as a slave to the mind.

 

I can’t say that healing has been found completely. Or that I don’t look down at the insides of my heart and don’t see a little super glue still oozing from the stuck-together shards of my recently formed being. I still wake up a lot of mornings and try to pick up that familiar luggage again, hoping to breathe in the scent of pain again so I have an excuse to hold close when life is too hard for me to handle. So I can lean back on these past wars deep in my veins to explain to others why I sometimes struggle, as if struggling isn’t somehow innately human. I guess that somewhere along the search for healing I began the quest for everlasting perfection. I’m not the only one who has done so. The more people I meet along the way who have a checklist of pain sprawled in their sock drawer, the more I come face to face with the understanding that perfection is often looked at as a substitute that might suddenly be the beginning of an immaculate, beautiful existence. Suddenly. Why do we try to find such wholeness in attempting to complete ourselves with a mixture of insanity and impossible, unattainable goals? It’s just one more thing my mind haunts me with at night when I squeeze my eyes tight and try to rid my spinal cord of the weight of a million pressures I waged against this afternoon. Another scream flinging itself at my ear drums violently, hoping to make me aware of the hundreds of ways I fell short again. Today.. Somehow, our humanly feeble attempts at finding flawlessness in a world oriented in hate, only makes us more desperately cognitive of how far we fall short. I have to believe somewhere inside of me that God knew we would try to find healing in the way we run our lives. That we would try to find grace in the way we handled ourselves in public and that deep down we would hope it would fix those charred remains of our forests just before the fire. And He knew he had to make us imperfect, or we wouldn’t need help living our lives to the fullest of it’s capabilities. We would think that because we could win the war, we didn’t need people or relationships or to feel connected to anything else in the world that wasn’t neat and orderly and perfect puzzle pieces of sanity to tie in with the beautiful white floor in the kitchen. Maybe when we all stop trying to attain these unnatural expectations of beauty and health and imagination and just start being something other than insignificant, is when we actually begin to be memorable. And maybe at that exact moment when we allow ourselves to be set free from all of the unnatural expectations placed upon us from the moment we shot out of our mother’s womb, we are able to find ourselves amidst the rubble, we are able to expand our minds to accept the necessary connectedness each one of us is made for. There is music in your voice and the only way it can be heard is by unlocking the shackles around your feet and dancing amidst the tribes. Joining in the call of nature to love and to end the hate we see all around us like a virus.  And there is beauty in admitting our inadequacies, slamming our fists along the pavement, and finding life in the revolt. I dare you, to live walking against the current, even if that means coming close to being run over by traffic. Because at least, honey, you dared to live a little.