Growing up, I knew there was something wrong with me, but I didn’t know what. Only that I was tense and unhappy most of the time.
My mother had died when I was 2. My father remarried, but my stepmother showed me no affection. There were 9 of us children by the time I was 12. To many this might seem like a dream come true, but for me it was extremely painful.
To protect myself I spent as much time alone in my room with my hobbies or outside as I was allowed. I was deemed unsociable, selfish because I rarely joined in and was often teased unmercifully by the other children. Through all of this, my father was there for me. He was loving and kind, supporting and encouraging me emotionally and in the activities I was involved in.
I didn’t do as well as was expected of me in school. My full brother and sister were both high school valedictorians. And though I had girlfriends, I never dated.
My first college experience wasn’t any better. My father had died the summer before I started classes. I went from living in the country near a town of only 1500 people to a college campus of over 15.000 students from all over the world. After 3 semesters at Washington State University I had a nervous breakdown and hitchhiked 90 miles to my sister’s in Spokane.
In my 30’s I was diagnosed with depsession and anxiety. When my youngest entered school, I enrolled in Spokane Community College. This time I was armed with meds for both conditions. The program I had chosen would hopefully lead me to the career I wanted to pursue. I graduated with an Associates degree and a GPA of 3.8. I still wonder if it was my commitment, the medications, or merely the power of suggestion that got me through those two years, where before, just the thought of entering a classroom full of strangers put me in a mental and emotional stranglehold.
I have developed several mechanisms to avoid being overwhelmed by too much sensory input such as noise, people, and possessions. The first is minimalism- keeping my home, obligations, and activities simple and uncluttered. This is a rather simplified version of what is involved. There are many options for more in-depth articles on minimalism on the web and in the bloggiing community.
Another is avoiding situations that cause anxiety for me such as many public places and events. I do my shopping in the early hours or later at night. Even small groups of people such as a knitting circle, product party or group therapy are very uncomfortable for me. This is social anxiety. I have undergone counseling for this with no results. Honestly, I enjoy my own company and have no desire to be “cured” of this perceived character flaw.
Mindfulness meditation calms the body and mind and allows the subconscious to receive solutions to the questions and problems we seek to understand. This could manifest itself in the form of a person we might meet, an article or blog post we read, or a book we are led to.
I recently came across a a book titled “Highly Intuitive People” which was recommended by Amazon Kindle based on my previous reading choices. The author also talked about “sensitives”, which I immediately identified with. This was the explanation I had been waiting for most of my life.
If you, too are a sensitive, it is something you were born with and will need to learn to live with. You can embrace it or merely tolerate it, but you cannot change it. Either way, you must treat yourself with kindness and forgiveness. This means you no longer judge or condemn yourself for being “flawed.”
The book also suggests ways to deal with this part of your nature and make it work for you. The journey is yours to pursue. May you enjoy it with all your heart!