I am the “sensitive” one.
That’s how I’d normally be described as a child if I were being distinguished from my sister or my cousins. I was the one who cried a lot, got injured easily, felt deeply and took words very personally. I DESPISED being called “sensitive”. I remember wanting to tear the house up when I saw my ex-husband reading a book called “The Highly Sensitive Person”. His explanation? A way to “understand” me better. Sensitive wasn’t a compliment. I saw it as being called “weak”; mostly because I felt weak when I was having those “sensitive moments”. And I had a lot of them. Most of the time I’d lash out with my words (As a child, I wrote. As an adult, I cursed and went ballastic.) but then I went and cried in private. I also acted my moments out with my food. I either ate or didn’t eat. I never seemed to have a balance. So, it’s no surprise that when every sensitive bone in my body was emotionally fractured this week, I was faced with the motion sickness of swinging all the way to one side; “pretending” like everything was fine, falling apart, self-indulging by overeating or starving myself and calling it “stress”. Either way, I was punishing myself for being “weak” and the truth is I am very strong AND sensitive.
I had a VERY long week. My body was in overdrive from an out of town trip which will surely go down, in my book, as one of my least favorite. I had to repeatedly eat the same foods (vegan girl in a foreign spot while there is a tornado going on….not necessarily the best conditions for trying to meet your vegetable quota), delayed flights, disappointment and disagreements all over the place, a very painful phone call with a sick friend (and that’s just Friday through Sunday) and I found myself wanting to scream and cry. I was on the threshold of needing Dr. Phil, a cupcake showdown (I gave up sweets for lent) or jail time. By the time Tuesday came, I found myself running miles in tears just to fight back the anger and the hurt. I was repressing my emotions because being “weak” is something I did not want to be identified with because that just doesn’t sit well with the image I have created for myself. I AM NOT WEAK.
Friday rolls around and I am still running…..literally and figuratively. Friday afternoon comes and I open an envelope from my mother. I had asked her to send a couple of my “before photos” just to keep me “in check”. I opened the envelope, took one look at those photos and started to cry. I went back in time, almost fourteen years, in a split second and remembered how miserable I was and how I had “played happy” for my family because I didn’t want them to know that I had this new baby and was a new college graduate but my marriage was falling apart and I was severely depressed. It would make me seem “sensitive”. Staring at those pictures made me remember all the times I had not been who I truly am because of how I wanted to be “perceived”. I felt very uncomfortable. I did not like the feeling of hiding. “Hiding” is the reason why I am a recovering binge eater and I always do so in private. And yet, as my daughter was getting off the bus, I didn’t want her to know Mommy was sad so I “sucked it up” and went on with my day.
Until the 6:00 p.m. phone call came.
I never realized the power of emotion until I heard THAT name and the word “cancer” in the same sentence. I began to cry uncontrollably in the parking lot of the gym where I sat for several minutes. I never once thought about feeling “sensitive” or “weak”. I felt those words unlike I have felt very few things in my life. I wanted to talk. I didn’t want to talk. I wanted to eat. I didn’t want to eat. I wanted to sleep. I couldn’t sleep. And EVERY emotion I felt was o.k. because, well, I was authentically being me. I did not try to justify how I felt or how I should have been feeling. The rawness of that moment showed me that there is a sensitivity to life that is just part of my make up and if I had not cried right then, I seriously would have hurt someone today or hurt myself eating or trying to run 50 miles to suppress the emotions. I opened up to what was happening right then and there and, because of that, I am off the fence. I still feel the emotion and am slightly exhausted but I have a balanced perspective and do not feel out of control in any way.
Isn’t that how it happens? We get caught up into “performing” for others and “denying” who we really are and then, one day, something happens that pulls those traits right to the forefront and we are forced to embrace them or create more damage by running and/or hiding from them. It’s as if we are waiting for someone to say it’s o.k. for us to be sensitive or introverted or quiet or the outgoing or smart or talkative or persistent before we embrace it. How can we be fully present in our lives if we cannot accept who and what we are? There are no labels required for your existence. You are already a name brand. It’s called YOU.
I am Tasha and I am a sensitive, giving, dance and poetry loving soul. Who are you?