I have always been a sensitive person. It has been at times a curse and a blessing – although it took me a LONG time to see it as that! I am an emotional person – I feel things deeply! I remember as a kid all you ever had to do was raise your voice at me or give me a stern look and I was instantly remorseful and in tears! Any type of criticism – good or bad (but mostly bad) was taken personally and would cause me to shut down and withdraw; almost like a turtle retreating back into my shell where I was safe from any unkind words or critiques about me as a person. I was bullied as a child and made to feel that almost everything that made me me was wrong – I looked different (i had awful glasses and my skin color was darker as a child – neither of which are bad things or worthy of being judged!), I acted different and I didn’t belong. Moving a lot as a kid didn’t help either – because each new school meant a new bully – a new sense of doubt, fear and insecurity, the feeling of not belonging and of being the outsider. I slowly began to build up walls, to put on masks so I could fit in. Being so sensitive to what others thought of me made me lose myself. I even stopped drawing and painting because a teacher told me I had no talent and should just give up…so sadly I did – I took all those words as truth, I felt like they were solidifying the belief that I was not good enough – not enough. I don’t belong.
My sensitivity has also made it difficult to deal with conflict – I’d rather just avoid it. It makes me feel too emotional – inevitably I end up crying – which makes me feel weak. When I get mad I cry, when I am sad I cry, when something touches me deeply I cry – this is NOT a weakness, but an expression of my emotions. Yet, while I know this logically, I feel weak when I cry while in conflict with others – like I am giving in to my emotions rather than controlling them like others seem to do so easily. It is frustrating! I take on all the things that are being criticized and attacked and feel them to my core. All those insecurities and negative beliefs come bubbling up to the surface and I feel trapped, I feel anxious, and when push comes to shove I will lash out right back – because hurt people hurt people. It is not the best way to deal with conflict I know and I am working on it!
Where this sensitivity became a blessing is easier to see now – I am extremely sensitive to the feelings others – I feel their pain and their aches. Feeling overly responsible for there pain at times, taking on their pain as my own. My mom always said I had a sensitive heart – I would cry for others who got hurt, I would feel sad when I realized someone didn’t have a home or a place to live or food to eat – how can that be? How can we walk right on by and not share what we have? How can we not see them? I hate seeing others suffer and not being able to do something to help – it makes me physically ache. Something that has made it both very easy and at the same time extremely difficult to work in the helping field. How do you do it well and effectively without being bogged down by all the obstacles? How do you not just weep from all the sorrows and pain you hear? How do you avoid burnout and carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders? The only answer I have found to those obstacles is Jesus – he carries the weight of the world for me. He has shown me grace and mercy each day, he shows me love and courage through the faces of those I serve. He teaches me to come to Him, because I cannot do it on my own. That is what works for me, and believe me I tried doing it on my own for a long time!
I have been given a burden. I have a heart for women who have been ‘broken’ and made to feel ‘damaged’ – they are not, they are perfect in their own ways. I relate to the women I work with because we all have the same hurts and fears deep down – and so I feel their pain because it is also my pain. My hurts and fears may have come from different places & situations (I know that I have been blessed – I have not been hurt to the same degree as those I work with), but we all struggle with similar core negative beliefs about ourselves. That is at the core of recovery – facing those negative beliefs and battling them – what/who put them there? Why does it hold power over me? And then finding freedom from them by giving up the control we thought we had over them – because we do not! Once we acknowledge these fears and negative beliefs, once we face them they begin to lose the control they had over us. We can begin gaining ourselves back. It is hard and challenging to do this – it is a painful process and can feel like it will break you before its over, but it won’t – you are stronger than you know! I know because I see it each day. I know because I have gone through it and am still working through it – it is a journey. I am so blessed to work with the women I do – they teach me bravery and courage and so much more every day – they are beautiful!
By viewing this part of myself that I have hated for so long and fought hard against as a blessing – a tool to use to help others, a gift of compassion – I remove the negative power over-sensitivity had over me. It is no longer a weakness but a strength. I can more clearly see myself as I am – strong and not weak, flawed but not broken, beautiful and loveable! You see I feel things deeply – I have a deep heart. I have the capacity to be deeply hurt – but ALSO to love deeply. My sensitivity is not a curse – it is a gift of compassion – one I freely give to others and am learning to give to myself. I can value it as a gift from God, and can see how it has helped to make me into the woman I am now. All the pain I have endured, all of my life experiences both good and bad have shaped me and molded me. I will still struggle with being too sensitive, I will still cry when I don’t want to, I will still try and do things on my own at times, I will still have bad days. BUT I can remember who I am in Christ and who I was created to be – I can look to Him for peace and acceptance. I can look outside myself at the beautiful women I work with and be reminded that I am not alone, I am strong because they are strong and there is hope.
So to all my over-sensitive sisters (and brothers) out there you are a blessing! You have a deep heart!
PS, I love the lyrics of this song so I thought I’d include it 🙂