Warning: naughty language ahead
You’re way too sensitive. You’re too soft. You’re too vulnerable. You’re too emotional. You’re too nice. You care too much.
Oh, for fuck’s sake, just spare me already!
Have, you too, felt the sting of similar statements?
Criticisms like this were catapulted towards me for years, thrown like poison darts, each one piercing the grand bull’s eye: my heart. Always when I least expected it. Always knocking me, slapping me, kicking me down. Always making me feel anything but good enough.
It hurt so much. Confused me so much. It made me feel raw and bruised on the inside.
I wanted to hide under my blankets for about a thousand years.
Being sensitive and soft in a harsh world is shockingly painful experience. It can feel almost humiliating, and break you down to the point where you feel like you have no right to exist.
People think you’re lazy, scattered, high-maintenance and downright ridiculous. And, they’ll have no problem telling you this. But really, you’re just struggling to make it through the day because stimuli actually affects you differently—more intensely, more personally. You feel things so deeply. It’s truly not an excuse—extreme sensitivity can be maddeningly difficult to manage.
For so long, I felt completely see-through. Like I was a pane of glass and everyone could peer in and see my squirming pain on the inside.
And, the last thing I wanted was for people to know how their judgments spread through my veins like the most toxic venom, triggering a chemical reaction of the worst kind. The kind that caused my spirit to seize up and become paralyzed.
My heart was frozen shut. Locked. Closed for business.
And, I lost the key for a while.
Those years are a blur to me. I really don’t remember much, just that I felt so desperate and scared and did not know where to turn. No one tells you how to deal with the “yucky” feelings: the isolation, anxiety, rejection, confusion, and self-hatred.
Meanwhile, the pain still swirled deep within, as I tried to push it further and further down. Things started to get really violent on the inside.
I distracted myself by becoming compulsive in almost any way I could.
Flirting on the edge of eating disorders, self-harming, abusing cold medicine, entering into emotionally volatile relationships. Anything that could anesthetize the deep-seated feelings of grief that tortured me daily was appealing. I remember self-destructive behavior feeling glamorous to me then. The grand danger of it all had such a seductive quality.
By the age of 15, I had developed a deep disdain for myself.
Because of this, self-torture of any kind actually felt good. It was like I had an inner contract to beat myself up every hour, on the hour.
I really thought that I would feel this way forever. It felt normal to hate myself and have no sense of acceptance for any of my qualities. And, my life did continue like this, for a long time. After several major meltdowns, I felt broken open.
And, I had this crazy thought: What if who I am is okay?
What if I could decide to rise from the ashes, born again, like a phoenix?
What if I, too, am allowed to soar, in all my sensitivity?
It took me about ten years to dig myself out of the pit of self-loathing and despair. To realize that I’m beautiful just as I am, sensitive and all. To realize that there is so much power in softness, kindness, empathy, emotionalism and vulnerability.
I’m still digging away. But, there’s so much gold. I wouldn’t change my experience for anything.
Fuck, if I wasn’t sensitive, I couldn’t write this to you right now. I couldn’t tell you that I know exactly how you feel and that your sensitivity is stunningly gorgeous. That it’s a rare gift and you should nurture it every single day. That it’s what makes you intuitive, empathic, creative, and unique. I couldn’t tell you that I’ve been there.
But, I sure as hell have been. And here’s what I really want to say:
If you’re sensitive, soft, emotional, and kind, well…thank god!
You are exactly what this harsh, hardened, and hectic world needs.
You don’t need to “toughen up.” You need to just be you, sensitivity and softness included.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Jess Sheppard/Editor: Catherine Monkman