Ever since I was a child, I’ve somehow felt different and like I didn’t belong anywhere. Sometimes I even felt that there was something wrong with me or that some part of my brain was missing, because I just knew that the way I looked at, experienced and felt about people and the world around me was strange and unusual.
Most of the time I felt like an alien waiting for my spaceship to pick me up and rescue me from this strange planet.
In most social interactions, I constantly felt like I had to feign interest in various topics that didn’t interest me at all, and I was constantly trying to “hide” the real me, because in some ways I was even ashamed of myself. And that frustrated me a lot.
It’s not that I couldn’t find appropriate conversation topics and talk to other people. But this “thing” of fitting into the “real world” felt more like a business project to me rather than a pleasant social experience that left me relaxed.
That’s why I preferred to spend as much time as possible alone in “my world.” In those moments I didn’t have to justify myself, hide, conform, or talk about topics that didn’t interest me at all. I enjoyed being alone so much that sometimes it even frightened me. And there was such a big difference between the “real world” and “my world.”
In “my world”…
I wanted to know why people suffer. I tried to understand why a God who is supposedly pure love subjects certain people to “eternal punishment” (as some claim) and allows various injustices, irregularities, and wars in the world… and why children die of hunger.
I wanted to understand why people, even complete strangers whom I had just met, felt the need to tell me their life stories and reveal intimate details of their lives without my asking … and why this kind of thing even happens at loud parties – even though, if it were up to me, I’d much rather stay home and read a book, meditate, or watch a movie with a good cup of coffee. But I felt I had to show up at such parties occasionally just to fit in.
I wanted to understand why I automatically perceive a person’s emotional pain and feel obligated to help them – even if that person doesn’t specifically ask me for help – and why I sometimes feel another person’s pain (emotional and sometimes physical) literally in my own body as if it were happening to me.
I wanted to know why spending time in social gatherings exhausts me more than working out in the gym. I also wanted to know why, after being in a group for a while, I feel the need to spend a few hours in solitude with the lights dimmed.
I wanted to understand why I take nasty comments and criticism personally, even when I know they have nothing to do with me … and why it seems that such things concern only me.
I wanted to know why my body is like an antenna that picks up all the energies around me – both good and bad – and why I sometimes go from a calm and joyful state to severe anxiety or a sudden drop in energy for no apparent reason.
I wanted to understand why a part of me lives in an idealistic world and wants to please everyone around me by spending time with them and understanding their stories, even though I clearly feel that these stories completely drain and exhaust me.
I wanted to understand why talking about the subtle energies around us was considered strange and inappropriate. In my eyes they were as real as any visible and tangible object. “Do others not see and feel these energies, or do they all see and feel them, but there is an unwritten rule not to talk about them?” – I’ve often pondered this.
I wanted to understand why I wanted to comprehend everything I mentioned and much more … and why I had such a strong need to think about it for hours and analyze it from different perspectives … and why I couldn’t stop thinking about it … and why I just couldn’t focus on soccer games and other cool things.
I wanted to understand many things, but…
Who should I ask?
Where should I even start?
Who should I dare admit it to…? in the small, traditional community where I lived.
Once, in a moment of despair, I dared to talk with my former local Catholic priest about the above mentioned topic and various “invisible” energies, but after just a few minutes of conversation I realized that it wasn’t such a good idea 😉
At that time, I didn’t know that I was an empath and what that actually meant. I didn’t know anything about high sensitivity. I didn’t know that it was a completely neutral, innate personality trait and that it was up to me what I did with it. I just thought there was something wrong with me. I didn’t know how to protect it, embrace it, optimize it, and realize its full potential.
I just wasn’t aware of what was going on and what to do with “it. Instead, I saw this aspect of me as a flaw or disability that I desperately tried to hide from others and even from myself.
From today’s perspective, it would be nice if I had someone who was familiar with the phenomenon of high sensitivity and could briefly explain what it was all about and tell me at least the basic steps I needed to take to stop wasting time on things that just don’t work and to develop and nurture the aspect of myself that I most appreciate and love today!
It’s really hard for me to believe that I spent so many years of my life thinking that there was something wrong with me, and wasted so much energy suppressing my true self, my intuition, and my feelings, only to successfully hide and somehow fit into a “place” (read: planet) that deep down I knew I didn’t belong.
Of course, the suppression of my true self, my intuition, and the feelings I was experiencing led me to live for years with a slight sense of anxiety, not realizing that this anxiety was almost constantly present within me, haunting me like a shadow – even in moments when I thought I felt joyful and fulfilled. I didn’t realize this until I discovered Mindfulness and began practicing it daily … but that’s another story.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much literature or training on the topic of high sensitivity at the time. My first glimmer of hope came when I began to familiarize myself with the teachings of Orin & DaBen. They were among the first to write specifically about high sensitivity and offer practical solutions and training.
Just knowing that high sensitivity is a personality trait and not a disease or anything like that helped me to breathe more freely. And so, step by step, I dared to stop hiding and pretending to be someone else.
Today I accept the way I perceive and react to energies, people and the world around me. Today it’s not a problem for me to say NO. Today I have a different perspective on the concept of “responsibility for others,” and except in exceptional cases, I feel comfortable putting my needs first (I no longer feel bad, selfish, or less responsible when I do this). Today, I no longer feel the need to “fix” and “save” people because, as my dear author Judith Orloff, Ph.D., says, “every person deserves the dignity of their own path.”
Today, I accept my high sensitivity. Not only do I accept my high sensitivity, but I feel fortunate and blessed because it’s a wonderful thing. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to experience the moments that truly give meaning to my life. Without my high sensitivity I wouldn’t be able to experience what my soul wants to experience on Earth.
Today I know much better how to deal with my personal energy, and I know where I really belong – and that has nothing to do with the kind of “belonging” I’ve long sought in vain.
Today, I can’t understand why I was so rigid and hard on myself for so long, and why I systematically suppressed and clipped my own wings just because I felt “different” … and I still can’t understand why I gave away so much of my time and energy to people who didn’t deserve it, at the expense of myself, just because _____________________ (I honestly still don’t know why).