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.

This is not a pretty story

This is not a pretty story

 

This does not have a happy ending.

 

I know there are valleys

and there are mountains

this is the rhythm of life.

I know not every moment

will strike my heart

in wondrous awe

because in order to celebrate

there must be nighttime,

but what happens

when you are traveling

between both at the same time

when there is beauty above

and darkness below

 

..I cannot find myself

I do not know where I have gone

 

I cannot find myself

 

When I grow old

and I tell my children

tales of my youth

what shall I tell them

about my twenty fourth year?

Shall I tell them

that I spend three-fourths of it

working until my bones were dry

and the rest

lying in bed

wondering

if I will ever

be worth something.

 

Will I ever be worth something

or will I constantly fight

the inner clockworkings

of this battered heart?

 

I cannot find myself.

I do not know what shadow

all my happiness has fled behind

even when goodness

overwhelms my heart

like gold

I cannot find myself.

I do not know

where I have gone.

 

Beauty–the ugly truth

I’m not a big fan of the title. It needs some adjustment. For now, I’m very excited to have the first draft of a concept that snuck up and took my soul by surprise last night–society’s standards of beauty. I’ve gotten in a lot of deep conversations regarding the idea of beauty and how it’s applicable to that person’s ideology about women and men’s designs and nature. Here’s a little rhetorical piece about my feelings towards that concept. 

 

Too often I’ve been told,

between worn out words

and conversations stuck

to the bottom of too many regrets:

“a little paint

on the old barn

 never hurt anyone.”

But I’m telling you, I’m am not

weathered,

though this ship

has wrestled enough

hurricanes,

twisted itself free

from the rocks along the shore

enough times to know

it no longer wants to see

the inside of the barrel

of a sawed off shotgun,

no longer wants to feel the poison

of revenge

pulsing in the space

between soul and spine.

 

I know what the inside

of a concentration camp looks like

for  I have been aprisoner

inside my own tower of bitterness

for far too long.

My mind has fought off scarlet fever—

infectious to the crewmembers

trying so hard to breathe—

long enough to try to dig holes

in the spaces where good memories

should live;

and clearing it out

took every ounce of strength,

took the backhand

of a machete

in the deep woods of anger

to knock down the walls

that asphyxiated freedom

from bursting in my heart,

exploding as a rose

growing through the rocks

in the desert.

 

So I pulse this prayer,

clinging close to some-day hope

that this world will comprehend

that beauty’s definition

is expansive,

it does not run with fear,

it cannot be expelled by naysayers,

and that only when we add “I”

to beauty

do we find freedom,

for we cannot be free

when this oppressive world chooses

so desperately to callous our hearts

with ill-chosen ideologies that revolve

around the correct curvature of the spine,

the proper part of the lips ,

or the sly way in which a smile

creeps along the face

after low blows to the intellect.

 

Sometimes true magnificence

is found marginalized,

marketed by few,

for society’s standards

spell implosion,

suffocation,

and does not comprehend

the definition

of redemption,

and the beauty that comes

from battling our demons,

not hiding them beneath

layers of makeup,

and false advertising

to make the barn pretty.

 

Our souls slither

between the space

of soul and intellect,

initiating realization

that fairytales

do not always come

pre-packaged,

they burst forth beaming

from circumstance.

Rise forth, queens of pain

summon your strength

for you are strikingly stunning–

surreal–

and society only serves

to suck

self-esteem

from the ones who know not

that their beauty is deeper

than any critic

could ever tell them otherwise

so let’s become a pandemic,

and strike this world confused

with our hearts heaving,

beating beauty, with every breath. 

 

Ruptured

can I kiss you with my scars,

make love to the littlepieces

you leave tucked in your

missingletter crosswords?

would it make for a better story

when our souls go out at night

and you are left with nothing

but the pale shadow form

of your sweat left behind

in the shape of your heartless body

from the night before?

 

and when I make sense

of all these tribulations

will you extinguish them,

or will you peel back

the exoskeleton

and add me

as another slash mark

splayed in your wallet,

as another discovery

conquered,

nothing more?

 

I want to be what moves you

when the world is full

of languid desire,

a restless form

sprawled neatly

across the pillowcase

as time ticks,

disintegrating our heartbeats

in brilliant unison. 

 

There’s still so much youth

that needs to be aired out of my bones

and right now

it’s lying smothered beneath my frailty

finding itself

in the rings left behind

after shots

taken alone in the kitchen

after emptiness

is wept out in the wind

and whispered

in broken book ends.

 

world,

I’m ready to puncture

every imaginative impulse

you’ve attached my name to

branded on pieces of rocks

to weigh me down,

leaving me to wonder

why pride

was my bedpartner

taking half the covers

and more than that

of my heart.

 

I shouldn’t have to explain

what fragments

of my past

lie on the path of destruction

for today.

What moments replay

–monumental against

the grain of the sunrise

I’m swiftly running towards.   

 

so tonight

is it okay if I just sweat out

the pain

and breathe in the mist

of your frantic longing

until the cradle

of this bottle

exhales me

as a full blown woman

and no longer

a frightened need,

a mist on the seas of change

hoping one day

to blow like the lilacs

and change the tide of the world. 

Poetic Fragmentations

Today I sat down to write. Not unlike every day of my life. I sit there straining and tugging at some mysterious heartstring, hoping to find something that connects to something real, and to be able to pull on it until it bursts, breaking forth from the abyss of my memories.

It’s been like this for too damn long. I’m sick of struggling to come up with anything that is inspiring. Or earth-rattling. Or explosive. I just write snippets and segments of ideas and than the drains in my brain get clogged. And I give up. I close the document. Slam the lid on the computer. It’s time to stop thinking I’ll get somewhere. Sometimes.

This afternoon. I shuffled though the documents section on my computer. Ya’ll should see this disaster. Seriously, it’s pathetic. You’d think after a year of not being able to push anything out of my mind but journal entries, I’d be ready to push forth into the great divide. It’s just not happening. Believe me. I’m sick of talking about all of this nearly as much as you are about hearing it. Promise.

So, in commemoration of my non-ability-to-write year, here are some snippets I found on my computer of poems. Which ones do you think I should pursue. What do you like better?

#1

spent themorning

writing

until myveins

could nolonger bleed

ink

#2

you speak asthough

beauty only belongs

to those willing

to weigh their intentions

against their actions

making sure they

hash out

to an even number

zero

#3

and for that second

in time

i was totally

and positively

helpless

to your love

#4

like a lit cigarette

thrown out

of a moving vehicle

at top speeds,

you hit the ground

burst

into a showof flames

and extinguish

smoke rising

towards the clouds

a moment of judgment

gone awry

#5

sometimes words

don’t make sense,

wrapped around

our tongues like

brillo pads,

scraping at

our intellect,

eating away

our last chance

of ever transforming

from an ugly insect

to a rainbow of color

waiting to delve

into the flowers

and blossom.

…and this is the current poem I was working on today:

#6

can I kiss you with my scars?

would it make for a better story

when our souls go out at night

and you are left with nothing

but the pale shadow form

of your sweat left behind

in the shape of your heartless body

from the night before?

and when I make sense

of all these tribulations

will you extinguish them,

or will you peel back

the exoskeleton

and add me

as another slash mark

splayed in your wallet,

as another discovery

conquered,

nothing more?

I want to be what moves you

when the world is full

of languid desire,

a restless form

sprawled neatly

across the pillowcase

as time ticks ,

disintegrating our heartbeats

in brilliant unison.

“The truth from the streets of every city you live in”

I have an entire series of poems I want to build upon this with. I have had them in the back of my mind for over a year, so I’m excited to delve into them. Please comment! 

 

From the pages of her body

she is the wind in his sails,

remaining a zypher,

a calm before the storm,

only turning into a hurricane

when the sharks

come out to play,

to transform her literature

into dog-eared writing

used to pass the time

while doing ungodly things

in the restroom.

There is poetry

hidden beneath

her bone structure,

found below the shelf

that is her breastbone.

There is more beauty

in her heart than those

who own her give her,

thrusting their decrepit bodies

against her,

starving for their share

of the meat.

 

She does not deny that her smile

hangs on her face

like a crooked addition

to a broken night sky

full of copper,

a satirical shape

in the promise of death

she carries around

like bad breath

and her mind is closed off

like road blocks,

sectioned off by labels

that brand her,

ruin her,

tell her she is worthless

because she’ll always

be a whore.

 

She does not attempt

to negate any of these

accusations,

only allows her legs to remain

the trenches of warfare,

that fondly familiar place

–work.

 

and though they might try

to convince her otherwise,

her body is a beautiful work of art

strung along like a windchime of bones

her hips whispers of the wind

silently singing secrets

to the birds.

but no one can see

that her lips are graveyards

a testament to the troubles

this world has pressed

and stamped her full of

as ugly as a newspaper,

ink smudging on your fingers.

She thinks the only way

she can leave an imprint

on your heart

is by slamming that ink into you,

bite you in the vena cava

with her array of poisonous

words.

 

Because it’s all she has left.

Her memories hanging

in the ceiling beams

that rest above the headboards

because that’s the only place

she’s ever made

anything worth remembering

because no one ever told her

that she’s beautiful

and that she’s worth,

so much more

than the street venom

she fills her cavities with

every day

of her lonely, lonely existence.

 

Her spirit cries out.

Desperation.

Sometimes I wonder if people think I’m schizophrenic

…when I tell people about my writing process.

About two years ago or so I began hearing and seeing the people I write about. Obviously they aren’t real, but if I’m patient they start to visit me. I know they aren’t real, so I guess that doesn’t technically count as schizophrenia, but I do talk to them.

I remember doing a little writing before bed one night. I had lain down in bed with my pen and paper. I started a few ideas, a couple really good lines to a beginning of a poem, but nothing that really was set in stone. I had a feeling that one day this poem would be completed, but when I woke up the next morning, it was already finished. I started whispering to myself out loud as my husband was still sleeping, and the words just started coming. In the matter of an hour, the whole thing was written in my head. I kept repeating the same lines over and over to make sure I wouldn’t forget them, and at the end of the day, there was a whole poem there.

What I remember is the thoughts of the night before still lingering in my brain. I woke up and at the end of the bed there she was. She told me her name was “Suzie” and I could see her story written all over her. Not literally, but I could see her just the way I described her in the poem. Her tattered clothes hanging on her. Ribs poking out. I remember deciding maybe I should ask her to tell me her story. And I did. When she told me about her past, what she was going through, I could see everything as though I had lived it out myself. Her  mother not wanting her, but wanting more money from welfare so she kept her. Living in a box. Her father on drugs. Everything. It was a vivid as if I was watching a movie. I know it all happened in my head, but all I can say was that it had to have been divine help. And I loved it.

When I took the time to write my poem about child trafficking, I came up with the character name and remember attempting to talk to her. Moon’s story came to me as well. It was nearly as vivid, not as distinct though. I had to coax her’s out. Beg her to share it with me. But eventually she did, and it was beautiful.

Lately, I have been desperate to see my characters. It hasn’t happened. I’ve been in this horrible poetic writer’s block, and all I want is to feel, to see the characters like I saw Suzie. I have a notebook with a bunch of beginnings in them. Characters that I have seen at one point or another in my mind’s eye. Their beginnings are there. But I need to see their stories and I haven’t.

I figure, when they are finally ready to share, they will open up their hearts and minds, and I will see their past surely as I see my surroundings right now. Until then, I’m going to blog until my fingers bleed.