When you do, are, or have something different than others, they have a tendency to call you “wrong.” Humans tend to believe that “same = safe” and if you don’t look like them, act like them, talk like them, walk like them, and believe like them, then you are the one who is dangerous and wrong. (History has a looooooooong list of examples of this; the Crusades and Nazis being two of the examples that pop right into my mind.) The general consensus of “them” is that you must be the one to change because you are the square block in a group of big balls.
Because I am empathic and I can feel other people’s pain and fear, I have attempted to manage every situation for most of my life so that “they” don’t feel uncomfortable. I’ve done this because their uncomfortableness is magnified within me and I become excruciatingly uncomfortable. They are uncomfortable and I know it and they’re thinking something is wrong with me and I know that too. Suddenly, I begin to question if I am wrong. Suddenly, the way I do life is fundamentally flawed and I have no hope of ever being “right.”
Case in point:
“You are becoming a hermit,” she said.
“It seems like you’re hiding out there,” they said.
“You’re really keeping to yourself,” he said.
“I never see you anymore. It’s like you’ve gone into hiding,” she said.
And the worse one of all: “You always stay in the basement – or ‘your room’ or ‘the house’ (depending on the era of my life). What is wrong?”
This has been a common theme throughout my life for as long as I can remember. I have frequently received the feedback that I am isolating myself and becoming unsocial, incommunicative, and some sort of hermit. People who have told me this have often said it in tones that are laced with fear and/or very strong concern. They are seeing me as being in a danger zone and when they add the element of “wrongness” to that, all hell breaks loose.
I would listen to their terrified exclamations of me being in danger of sliding into oblivion because I was so “whatever they were fearing,” and I could feel their fear, I could feel their concern, and I could feel their belief that I was definitely malfunctioning. All of that fear and concern and belief became mine and I would freak right out. In the blink of an eye, I became broken and screwed up. And this is where I lived for the first 41 years of my life: broken, screwed up, and hopeless.
One day, I pitched a fit. I threw a tantrum. I screamed and wailed: “LEAVE ME ALONE!!!” Although I was doing it silently and without any movement, the explosion in my head and the mental gnashing of teeth and kicking of feet and pounding of fists was very liberating. It came on the heels of me conforming for all those years to be something that I deemed it necessary to be so that I could exist on this planet and realizing that all that conforming was making me miserable. It was literally making me insane.
I love love love people! I am a social being who likes to interact with people. I love to watch people and listen to people and hear their stories and be with them and hold space for them. I LOVE IT! It is why I do what I do as a Healer and Mentor.
I used to make myself be with people all the time because everyone around me kept complaining about my isolation and hermitability. They said it was “wrong” and I wanted to be “right” so I did what they told me to do. Because, why the hell not? I love love love people! Right? Shouldn’t I be able to do what I do with lots of people around? Shouldn’t I?!
I forced my curvilinear self into the straight lines required of me and conformed to ways of speaking, ways of dressing, ways of doing, and I was so friggin’ miserable that I nearly died… well, I actually did die. Twice. And on the second time, when I decided to come back, I pitched that magnificent mental fit I spoke of a few paragraphs above. Since then, I’ve done everything I can to understand what it means to BE me. I’ve begun to listen to those around me without conforming. I’ve begun to understand that BEING ME is something that only I can figure out. And it looks nothing like what everyone thinks it should look like. And I’ve gotten really clear on what is mine and what is everyone else’s. That last one is the key, by the way!
What I have come to discover is that it is imperative that I isolate myself to do what I need to do. I am a Creative, which means my brain fires with about a bazillion ideas a second. I am also a Sensitive, which means I am receiving about a bazillion sensory inputs a second, as well. When I am needing to focus on something, the least amount of stimulation in the environment, the better. I love to go to coffee shops, but I get no work done there because there are so many shiny people to observe and scents to inhale and flavors to taste and sounds to absorb.
While I do get a bazillion ideas and sensory inputs a second, I MUST MUST MUST practice singular focus while I’m working on something or else I get nothing done. I cannot multi-task at all. In fact, when I’m writing, there needs to be music playing – only very specific music will work and that specificity changes on a dime – to drown out all the atmospheric sounds. I have to be conscious of that. And, if anyone is in the space with me, I have to have earbuds in so that all vocalizations, snorts, sniffles, coughs, footsteps, door slams, and even breathing is not interrupting my thought patterns. I have learned that, while I am writing or doing research, I can have 3,313 documents, browser windows, and images open at once because it all pertains to the project that I’m working on. But, if I am creating art, I need the space to be empty and clear.
Learning how your Sensitivity works is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Receiving feedback from your loved ones is important so that you know where you are, but knowing yourself is more important. Finding your center, what works for you, and what is yours will be some of the most powerful work you will ever do.
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