I hesitate to write this, because there are so many people out there much better qualified to talk about it. Still, it’s come into my head and it’s lodged there like an ear worm and won’t go away until I write it, So I suppose I’d better write…
There’s a huge amount of non-sense spoken about sensitivity and highly sensitive people, so perhaps I can add a modicum of sense, or maybe just more nonsense.
I wouldn’t generally count myself among these people (which is why I don’t feel particularly qualified to write about them) but I seem to have some kind of magnetic attraction to them. They keep showing up in my life. Once they are there, they tend to stick around. Whenever that happens with people in our lives, it means we have something to teach or learn from each other – probably both.
So let me give you a very personal, no-holds-barred snapshot of how it feels to be a neuro-typical individual, living and working amongst highly-sensitive people.
They’d like to fit in with the rest of us. They really would. It would make their lives so much easier and they know this. Some of them elect to go down the route of medication aimed at suppressing their sensitivity, dulling their responses and turning them into rather sad but apparently average people. Many, many more prefer to self-medicate, using recreational drugs and/or a mixture of caffeine and alcohol to render their daily lives (or at least parts of them) more manageable. Both of these seem to me a tragic waste – partly because of the unpleasant side-effects and partly because all these substances mask the true essence of who they really are. Nevertheless, I understand the reasons behind the choices. For those of us living and interacting with these people, we’re faced with a double problem of trying to understand their innate differences from our way of being and to deal with the challenges faced when dealing with anyone who is drugged up.
I frequently feel hurt, offended, rejected and dismissed by those I care about and love who live within this spectrum of being. As a ‘typical’ person I crave affection – and some occasional expression of this, attention – such as responses to messages or to be looked at once in a while, reassurance that I’m getting things right, and trust. I’ve discovered, slowly and painfully, that I will only get any of these by explaining my needs very carefully, providing detailed instructions on how I would like the person to react and then being satisfied with what they are able to provide, even if it does feel more like a rehearsed trick than a genuine, spontaneous action on their part.
Does that sound terribly harsh?
If we look at it from their perspective, they do NOT lack emotions and feelings. They have them in such abundance that their fragile human bodies are just about incapable of containing them. They probably dealt with this as newborns by screaming endlessly, as children by throwing tantrums or head-banging, as adolescents by almost total withdrawal from society and family and immersion in music, video games or self-harm. During that long, painful process, they have learned to suppress almost all emotion, except fear and anxiety, which just won’t go away. They care and want to please as much as anyone, but it’s deeply scary for them, and any tiny steps they can take should be welcomed with deep gratitude by those of us who can’t even imagine what it is costing them.
They know and feel and see things we don’t. They’ve learned that in our society, people who know more than others are usually considered clever, so they can easily become so supercilious and self-opinionated that I want to punch them. They’re frustrated when we don’t get what seems ludicrously obvious to them. I find myself thinking, ‘Good grief, here you are, treating me like a five year old, when you can’t even walk into a shop and buy a pack of underwear.’
So why is it like this?
In my opinion, all of us are – first and foremost – pure consciousness. You can call it soul or spirit if that works for you. We have all chosen to bring a portion of this pure, rarefied consciousness into physical bodies – to be born as humans. It involves a fair bit of give and take to do that. If you think of the consciousness as Light, there is only so much we can squeeze into a human body. Most of us have been happy with that trade-off as it means we can experience physical existence and use this unique way of (human) being to grow in a way that can’t be achieved otherwise.
Now think of the way consciousness works. There is an innate wish to push the boundaries – to go farther, faster, higher than anyone else has done. Consequently, ever-growing numbers of conscious beings are trying to squeeze more and more Light into the frail, delicate human bodies they are being born into.
It means the fit is not great. They can’t bed down into their bodies so easily and some of the Light isn’t properly held in. I keep getting this mental image of Wallace frantically screaming, “Grommit – these are the Wrong Trousers!” in the wonderful Aardman animated film!
And I often feel like poor old Grommit, frantically trying to avert disasters and melt-downs, and help my enLightened friends, students, relatives and acquaintances to fit into the crazy trousers-of-life they’ve entered, while assisting them to understand that yes, the world DOES need the Light they’ve brought with them and that their brilliance is an absolute gift to all of us.
So stay with us, all you wonderful Wallaces. Try your best to function in those trousers. We Grommits will keep trying to help you in every way we can – because that’s why WE incarnated.