This is not some excuse for hypersensitivity simply because I have many of the symptoms of a highly sensitive person (also known as an HSP – read the difference between HSP and hypersensitivity over at Psychology Today). I have known far too many people who hide behind being an HSP as if that means they can have a hissy fit any time someone disagrees with them, and excuse it with the claim to being an HSP.
I am sensitive to my environment. I smell things often stronger than other people do, as well as experiencing “phantom smells.” I hear both above and below normal human hearing range, but get confused an agitated if there is too much auditory stimuli. I also experience what can be called “word deafness” intermittently which becomes worse if there is far too much auditory stimuli. I hear the words someone is speaking, but my brain translates the actual words they are saying into entirely different words. I often either have to verify what has been said or read someone’s lips if the communication is important. I am also what is called a “super-taster,” which often means I need to eat blander foods than those around me because I am sensitive to anything hotter than paprika on the Scoville Scale.
Thing is, the quotes above, when taken one-by-one seem reasonable. And, in some ways they are.
Except, when they have been repeated again and again by the same people. And when they are repeatedly said in response to me stating a reasonable boundary. I have the right to say that someone has stepped over the line into hurtful/harmful territory. Saying “just kidding” doesn’t fix the harm.
Sadly, the first — and sadly the worst — culprit in this area was my father. It made me question myself for a long time. Was I truly that thin-skinned? Why was it that I reacted so badly, when I knew my father loved me?
What it eventually meant is that I grew up feeling like I was not ever really heard. And a talk with my sister recently actually caused an epiphany. I have tried writing diaries or private journals. They’ve never actually helped me work through any of my issues. It seems strange, if all I wanted was to get it out of my mind and onto paper so I could evaluate its relative truth or bullshit level, you’d think any form of journaling would be effective for that.
But, it wasn’t ever enough. I’d do it for a week or two, then never pick it up again.
When the Internet happened, and I came across LiveJournal, I found a place to start working through my thoughts. I didn’t necessarily write for my audience, but for myself. It seemed that the only thing having an audience did was make me actually want to journal on at least a fairly regular basis. Then I came across Facebook, and transferred my journal writing over to it.
Of course, by then, I had gotten in the habit writing longer posts – which many people on Facebook really don’t necessarily want to read. There’s a bit too much of a culture of “TL:DR” over there. Oh, who am I kidding? Our entire culture has become one of “TL:DR.”
What came to me while talking to my sister is that what blogging does for me, at its very foundation, is gives me a platform in which I f inally feel that I am heard. That I’m not that invisible girl from Buffy, Season 1, Episode 11 – Out of Mind, Out of Sight. It’s that I finally am heard and understood.
I’ve repeatedly said to many people over the years that all I really want as a human being is to be understood. I don’t need approval. I’m not waving a red flag to be paid attention to. And even acceptance is only something I want from those who are actively inside my life.
I don’t ever actually expect anyone to approve of my choices or actions. I firmly believe that people need to live their lives according to their consciences just like I am doing with mine (well, now I’m doing it again…after years of not doing so).
But to be understood. That is my Holy Grail. To be seen as who I am, not the person someone else’s perspective is painting on me. To have someone take a few moments of their day to understand where it is that I am coming from.
I don’t think that is being over-sensitive. And stating a boundary for myself isn’t being over-sensitive either. You have a simple choice, respect my boundary and have me in your life; or ignore my boundary and have me limit our interactions. I am not expecting anyone to “change for me” anymore. I expect people to be themselves, and it is their choice. If being themselves mean they have to not respect my boundaries, then that is their choice. It is only myself that I can control.