Sensitive souls

Down the rabbit hole to Wonderland...

I think everyone is born with a different level of sensitivity to the world around them. For better or worse, I feel everything. By everything, I mean the whole enchilada. As a kiddo, I had no way to manage the intensity around me, and was consequently perceived as rather odd. When people are in pain, I can physically feel it. If they are emotionally distressed, I know the root of it. Not in a psychic way, but a feeling and empathic way. I've come to understand that this isn't a "typical" human experience. Luckily, over the years I have managed to figure out how to navigate my feelers to help others, and not fall down the rabbit hole to Wonderland in the process. It's not uncommon for highly sensitive people to suffer symptoms consistent with depression and anxiety, but the fact is, it's not pathology- but a gift that needs a little wrangling. 

With the promise that they would be dead in the morning...

As a child, I used to get horrific stomach aches, worrying or anticipating everything that could possibly go wrong in the world. The house could catch on fire while I slept soundly, my dad could die in a plane crash on a work trip, or the rapture could happen without me, and I would be left alone so survive the wreckage of an apocalyptic dystopia. While others were happy to play make believe with Barbie/Ken marriages, I polished marbles to calm my nervous spirit. I know, not a normal pastime. Now that I know what I know, I was doing a little compulsive self-soothing. Way better than a 10-year-old whiskey habit, if you ask me. As I got older, the broken masses found me to show me their self-inflicted wounds, leave suicide notes in my pack of cigarettes, and lead me on a goose chase through a cemetery in the middle of the night- with the promise they would be dead in the morning. The problem was, I felt it. I swam in their hopelessness, and it choked me. Directionless, and without boundaries, I was nothing short of a codependent empath with a garden of misfits to call my own. When I wasn't babysitting friends "robo-frying", I would ooze poetic prose from my fingers trying to make sense of the chaos piling on my shoulders.

 I have known a good share of cutters- sensitive souls. Hurting...

I have known a good share of cutters- sensitive souls. Hurting...

Bright episodes of fairy dust...

According to the dictionary provided by Google's superior robot brain, a calling is defined as "a strong urge toward a particular way of life or career; a vocation." I couldn't have chosen a better path for myself if I was able to take a DNA sample and calculate a perfect profession to match my skillset under a microscope. This was it, without question. In my office, people's hearts bleed, and I sop up the puddles with my words. I do this with my education, my therapeutic training, but most of all, my sensitive soul. I wouldn't trade it for the world. There's just one problem. Stuff hurts me. When I worked in hospice, I found myself having difficulty breathing, drained energy, twitching muscles, the list goes on. Not to mention increased hopelessness, and generalized dark thick gunk swimming in my insides (official terminology here folks.) Sure, some magic happened during those years. Bright episodes of fairy dust and thinning veils that allowed me to flirt with angelic goosies, but some of this was a little too much for a "sensitive" like myself to take. 

It's pretty much global...

Lucky for me, my current job only comes with intermittent jabbing chest pain and shortness of breath, which has has been largely controlled in the last year. But guess what? This sensitive gig isn't just limited to work-related fun. It's pretty much global. I stopped watching the evening news years ago because of it. First of all, news tends to be epically crummy, second of all- I feel everything anyway. Floods of everything. For example, several weeks ago I attended a suicide prevention walk with my daughter. As a social worker, I feel very passionate about this topic as it relates to my patients, veterans, teens, the mentally ill- everyone. One small problem, pretty much all of the attendees were grieving. Big fat monster grief. Here I am, surrounded by several hundred pained individuals and BAM- waves of loss grabbing me by the throat. I was drained for hours after. How do you think it feels when international news hits? Hate crimes? Natural disasters? Political upheaval? It's not just opinionated rhetoric to me. It actually hurts me. My body feels heavy, my attention is shot, head pounds, muscle weakness- I can't sleep. My throat is thick with borderline weeping, and I can feel mothers crying. It's bigger than me, and I hate it. I know other people don't experience this. I understand that some may find it entirely looney, or call me a liar. I wish I were.

It's inside my gut...

To my girl Sadie- Ani is our religion this week...

My nerves are twitching...

This week has been a festival of BAD for my heart. When I can feel everything- that means the fear, separation, defeat and deep sadness of the liberal masses. I can feel the pride, hope, and relief of those believing that good things will come. I can also feel the supremacy and erupting hate of the previously closeted bigots and oppressors, delighted to have a platform in which to grow their own agenda. I feel it all. Every side, angle and shadow- lurking. It's inside my gut. My nerves are twitching and I feel very protective of my heart. I want to lock myself in my house and listen to music that grounds me. I want to move my body in the foothills and breathe air that used to elicit freedom in my spirit. I want to gather with my tribe and feel their love for eachother, for the world. I want to hug my child and promise her that I will protect her from every unknown the world throws at us. To other hurting hearts out there, I hear, and feel your cry. I send you light and comfort in the darkness. This is the price of caring, and I wouldn't wish it away. Not for anything. With pain comes growth, and I'm ready to spout with these kindred sensitive souls, for we are mighty, and we choose love.

AM